The story of Dull Knife and the Cheyenne

dull_knifeDull Knife was a leader of the Cheyenne, this is the sad story of the last years of his leadership, and a reminder of what followed. It’s one of the many tragedies that go to make up the history of the USA, worth remembering as we head in to Thanksgiving, and Native American Heritage day.

As told in a series of eleven tweets.

On 25/11/1876 The US Army exacted terrible vengeance for their defeat at Little Big Horn, swooping on an unprepared Cheyenne encampment.

Some Cheyenne managed to escape as the soldiers swooped, but the attackers destroyed their food and winter clothing. Many starved or froze.

After an 11 day walk to the Lakota at Tongue River many of the half naked Cheyenne were dead. Next spring Dull Knife decided to surrender.

The defeated Cheyenne were sent south, and before too long the final Plains tribes were sent to join them. Many died of diseases there.

“There we found a Cheyenne cannot live. So we came home. Better it was, we thought, to die fighting than to perish of sickness.” Dull Knife

Dull Knife later led his people in a bloody and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to return North, many more Cheyenne were killed.

Dull Knife himself died in in 1883, in Southern Montana, bitter and grieving the loss of his wife, three sons and two daughters.

And the killing hadn’t ended: in 1890, after the reservation lands were denuded of bison many Lakota were massacred at Wounded Knee.

“When I look back… I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch…”

“Something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A people’s dream died there. It was a beautiful dream…”

“the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.” Black Elk of the Lakota.

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