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Wooden Leg, 1915

After a battle at Rosebud on June 17th, 1876, the Cheyenne and their allies were celebrating at their temporary camp at the Little Bighorn. For six nights they stayed in one area, celebrating their victories with feasts and dancing. Every day, hunting parties went out to the near-by buffalo herds and brought back the meat for the woman to prepare.

It was during this time that Wooden Leg, a Cheyenne Elder in the 1930’s, reported that six Arapaho men came to their camp. The following are excerpts from Wooden Legs Autobiography. Note that he mentions six Arapaho and not the five that the Arapaho themselves claim were at the battle.

 “Six Arapaho men came to the Cheyenne camp while we were at this place. They said they were afraid of soldiers, as they had killed a white man on Powder river. Many Sioux and some Cheyennes suspected them as spies, but finally all of us were satisfied they wanted to stay with us as friends. They were invited into lodges of different ones of the Cheyennes. Some more of our own people from the reservation joined us here. It is likely some Sioux also arrived, but I am not sure about that.”

“The six Arapaho men were attached to the lodge of Two Moons, one of the little chiefs of the Fox warrior society. One of his two wives was an Arapaho woman.”

 Wooden Leg, A Warrior Who Fought Custer, Interpreted by Thomas B. Marquis, Chapter Seven, Soldiers from the Southward, pages 204 & 209

The Fox warriors were on duty at the time as the camp policeman so that may have helped the Arapaho cause since they were attached to the ones responsible for keeping the order in camp. There were an estimated 1,600 Cheyenne camped in the area and a total of an estimated 12,000 people of varying tribes in the entire camp.

After the fighting, Wooden Leg joined the other warriors in looking for scalps and anything else worth taking from the dead Calvary soldiers. Among the dead, he found the body of the Cheyenne Warrior Chief Lame White Man who had been killed and scalped by mistake by what the Cheyenne believe must have been a Sioux. It was not the only mistaken death of the battle either.

 “A dead Uncpapa Sioux received something of the same kind of mistaken attention given to our Lame White Man. The dead Sioux was mixed in with dead bodies of the soldiers. An Arapaho and a No Clothing Indian supposed him to be a Crow or a Shoshone belonging to the white men fighters. They jabbed spears many times into the body. They were much embarrassed when they learned of their mistake.”

Wooden Leg— Chapter 8, The Coming of Custer, page 245

I wonder who that sixth Arapaho was? Or was he even an Arapaho and perhaps from another tribe? The one who was “embarrassed” was Left Hand.

Hohou!