Most everyone has heard of Chief Black Kettle. He is known for being a peace loving advocate of the Cheyenne Tribe. While not all within the Cheyenne Tribe agreed with Black Kettle’s stand for peace, he was always respected.
Those in the Cheyenne Tribe who chose to fight were mostly young men known as Dog Soldiers. The Dog Soldiers did not trust diplomacy and were angry at unjust attacks against the Cheyenne Tribe. The Dog Soldiers isolated themselves from Chief Black Kettle. However, many understood that Black Kettle was holding true to his traditions of faith, truth, humility and respect.
The Dog Soldiers raided and killed whites throughout Kansas. In retaliation, the United States government sent soldiers to hunt down the raiders. Chief Black Kettle was known to fly a white flag and a flag with the colors of the United States from his teepee. Despite this, on November 27, 1868, George Armstrong Custer attacked Black Kettle’s camp that was stationed on the banks of the Washita River. Black Kettle, along with women and children were killed.
It is said that Black Kettle’s camp was taken and secured in less than a half hour. Upwards of nine hundred horses and other livestock were slaughtered and personal items, lodges and blankets were burned. Other Cheyenne bands, along with Kiowa and Arapaho were camped downstream from the raid. They responded with gunfire against the Army.
The nomadic life of the Cheyenne Tribe soon ended after Black Kettle’s death. Within a few short years most of the Cheyenne Tribe would be forced onto reservations. Chief Black Kettle is greatly admired to this day. Accounts of his death have been depicted in many books and movies. It is interesting to note that Black Kettle was living on land that was guaranteed to him under the Treaty of Fort Laramie.
Joseph Paige © 2006