Clara Caufield: Northern Cheyenne celebrate Little Wolf's return

The following was written by Clara Caufield. All content © Native Sun News.

Northern Cheyenne gather at Little Wolf Capital Building to observe Little Wolf Homecoming. Tim Lame Woman, direct descendent holds the Eagle Staff. Tribal Vice-President Winfield Russell, key note speaker stands next to him. COURTESY/Diane Spotted Elk

Northern Cheyenne celebrate Little Wolf’s return from exile
By Clara Caufield
A Cheyenne Voice

LAME DEER, Mont. — “I am always honored when asked to speak –to represent our Tribal government when Northern Cheyenne recognize important events in our history,” said Vice-President Winfield Russell on Tuesday, April 1, when tribal members gathered to remember the date when Chief Little Wolf and a loyal band of followers made it back to Montana, beloved Cheyenne home land, coming from Oklahoma. It was long hazardous journey from the hated and harmful southland.

Russell spoke to a small, but hardy group of descendants in an event organized by Tim Lame Woman, direct descendant who gathered other Cheyenne to walk in honor despite deplorable weather conditions. Tim says “We had two great Chiefs and Leaders in the 1880’s who led us back from Oklahoma to regain our beloved homeland in the Tongue River Country of Montana. The ones who followed Dull Knife came to a very bad end in Nebraska (Fort Robinson Massacre) but those who followed Little Wolf made it back to Montana, in spite of all odds. I am honored to be one his descendants and humbly remember him on this historic date.”

Little Wolf and only about 150 loyalists reached Montana after a very harsh winter of travail and ultimate sacrifice on the trek, often driven to eat horses and enduring other unbelievable sacrifices. When they reached near present day Miles City, they were approached by Cheyenne scouts in the employ of General Miles, under Chief Two Moons, and then employed by General Miles at Fort Keogh. “Surrender”, those Cheyenne scouts advised.

The Cheyenne under Little Wolf were prepared and ready to die. Little Wolf one of our great leaders thought about that. “We have to consider,” he replied, sending some of his scouts to the Fort. There General Miles had two horses, a bay (his war horse) and a fancy white one (his parade or peace horse.) The Cheyenne knew this well about their old adversary, judging his moves by that. Such a simple thing was profound to “people of the horse”.

According to other military reports, that morning General Miles advised his staff: “I haven’t ridden the white horse for some time. He needs exercise. Saddle him up today.”

Did he know destiny was in hand?

“Tell me which horse he rides, Little Wolf asked his fellow warriors. The “wolves” saw that General Miles rode the white “peace” horse, reporting this to Little Wolf.

“We must now surrender,” the great Northern Cheyenne leader determined. “The children are starving. This (the white horse) is a good sign from Maheo’o.”

On such a small thing destiny turned.

(Clara Caufield can be reached at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

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