Medicine Man, Head Chief of the Northern Arapaho


arapaho tipiMedicine Man was the chief of the Long Legs band and the head chief of the Northern Arapaho during a crucial time in our period during the 1860’s. As leader, he had great influence over the tribe and determined that peace with the white man was our best option.

“So far as we Arapahoes are concerned, we are like the ants. There are a lot of us, but the white men are like the blades of grass on the prairie. We would have no chance if we started to fight them.”

Medicine Man attempted for years to secure a reservation for the Arapaho without success. He petitioned Colorado Governor John Evans and other officials to establish a home for the Northern Arapaho in the Cache la Poudre area. On November 29, 1864, hope for a reservation was crushed after the brutal attack by the Colorado Militia on a peaceful village of Cheyenne and Arapaho. Many Northern Arapaho, mainly women and children, lost their lives in the incident now known as the Sand Creek Massacre.

By 1865, Medicine Man led his nomadic small band to the Sweetwater River area. They ranged north to the Big Horns, west to the Rockies, east to the Black Hills and south to the Cache la Poudre following the trail of the bison.

When the chief learned of the Wagon Box fight in 1867, he appointed a crier to announce the facts to the camp with words of peace… “The Arapaho are a peaceful people and want to keep their treaties. Don’t do like our friend Red Cloud. Keep out of these fights and always be friendly with the white people.”

Under his leadership, the Northern Arapaho did not become “stay around the fort Indians” and continued to hunt. In 1868, sixty-nine lodges of the Long Leg band brought in 2,000 buffalo robes to Ft. Fetterman for trade. They also received trading credit for army horses that they returned.

Medicine Man continued to lead his tribe in a search for a home to call their own and this led them to the Wind River area with Black Bear and Friday. Although they did not fight the non-Indians, they continued their raids against the Shoshone and Crow tribes, stealing horses and claiming their hunting territory.

In 1871, Medicine Man died after eating bad rations at Ft. Fetterman. He never did accomplish his goal but he helped to guide the Northern Arapaho on their journey during a time when a strong leader was needed.

1 Comment

  1. I am a descendent of the Long Legs!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *