Sunday, September 21, 2008

Native American Warriors: Dull Knife


Dull Knife, who was also known by his Lakota Sioux name of Morning Star (Tamílapéšni), was a chief to the Northern Cheyenne people. He (on right in photo) was born in Montana in about 1810 and gained a reputation as a successful warrior at an early age. He was only nine years old when his family was separated from the rest of the tribe while on a buffalo hunt. His father was away and his mother busy, and he was playing with his little sister on the banks of a stream, when a large herd of buffalo swept down upon them on a stampede for water. His mother climbed a tree, but the little boy led his sister into an old beaver den whose entrance was above water, and remained in shelter until the buffalo passed and they were found by their distracted parents.

Dull Knife was described by many of the 19th century writers as "an admirable outlaw". In 1868, he represented his tribe at the signing of the Treaty of Fort Laramie. As the U.S. government broke one promise after another he soon came to regret it. Following "Custer's Last Stand" at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, Dull Knife became an ally with the Dakota and other tribes against army troops. However, after a disastrous raid by American soldiers (the Dull Knife Fight) in which 153 tepees were destroyed and 500 war ponies captured, most of the Cheyenne were eventually forced to surrender and move to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. But because they were unable to hunt on the trip and were given very little rations by the government, many suffered from starvation and disease.

Dull Knife saw what was happening, and in September 1878 he decided to lead the tribe on a 400 mile trek north again toward their ancient homelands. Fighting 1,000 soldiers the Cheyenne were unable to win a battle against U.S. soldiers in the Nebraska Sand Hills. On Oct. 23, 1878, Dull Knife and his people surrendered peaceably to the Army and were imprisoned in nearby Fort Robinson (Nebraska). When they refused to return to Oklahoma, an attempt was made to starve them into going, and the Indians were not given heat, food, or water.

They broke out of prison on January 9, 1879 and, in their dash for freedom, 64 were killed and 78 were recaptured, but six people, including Dull Knife and surviving members of his family, escaped and made it to the relative safety of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. By this time public opinion was on the side of the Indians, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs were forced to a establish a reservation for the northern Cheyenne on the Tongue and Rosebud rivers, where Dull Knife and his people (fewer than 80 remaining) were finally allowed to settle. Because of his courage, the Northern Cheyenne today still possess a homeland in their traditional country (present-day Montana). Dull Knife lived out his days on a reservation assigned to the surviving Cheyenne in the Rosebud Valley. He died in 1883 and was buried on high ground near his home. Find out more about him at: www.legendsofamerica.com/NA-Dullknife.html

Research info gathered at: www.wikipeida.org

Now, here's one of my poems that can cut you too:


Do You Read Me, Copy?

His chair can purr.

He takes it everywhere he goes.
Some say he feels this unusual
closeness because the chair
reminds him of the basic
animal instinct in all of
us. Others insist the
chair is simply his
“security blanket”
he’ll never have
to wash. Whatever
the reason, year after
year he carries it over a
shoulder. He once even had
it upholstered in a flame-stitch
pattern using colors taken from the
rainbow. But the chair remained
non-committal with sturdy
legs. It prides itself in
being a perfect
dance
partner and
never eats meat.
It can be positioned in
an endless variety of angles
and has a built-in microphone.
Best of all, when he finishes this
life he can just fold it up and ship it
by parcel post to that place, rumored
to be somewhere beyond the white light.


Poem first published at: http://www.sundress.net/21stars
Poem Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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