Shawnee Chief Cornstalk

Painting of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk
Shawnee Chief Cornstalk (aka Keigh-tugh-guawas, Hokoleskwa, Hokolesqua, Wynepuechsika, Peter Cornstalk and Peter Fry) was born in 1720, in Mason County, Virginia (now West Virginia). He became chief of the Shawnee Native Americans and led them to battle against the Americans (particularly the Virginians).  He later became the chief of many tribes.

Painting of Shawnee Chief Cornstalk

Chief Cornstalk was a prominent leader of the Shawnee nation just prior to the American Revolution. His name, Hokoleskwa, translates loosely into “stalk of corn” in English, and is spelled Colesqua in some accounts. He was also known as Keigh-tugh-qua and Wynepuechsika.

Historians believe he may have been born in present-day Pennsylvania, and with his sister, Nonhelema, moved to the Ohio Country, near present day Chillicothe, when the Shawnee fell back before the wave of expanding white settlement.

Dunsmore’s War of 1774

Cornstalk played a central role in Dunmore’s War of 1774. After the 1768 Treaty of Fort Stanwix, settlers and land speculators moved into the lands south of the Ohio River in present-day Kentucky.

Although the Iroquois had agreed to cede the land, the Shawnee and others had not been present at the Fort Stanwix negotiations. They still claimed Kentucky as their hunting grounds. Clashes soon took place over this. Cornstalk tried unsuccessfully to prevent escalation of the hostilities.

The Battle of Point Pleasant
The greatest battle in which he led his forces was the Battle of Point Pleasant on 10 October 1774.  On that date, when the white settlers were moving down into the Kanawha and Ohio River valleys, the Native American Confederacy prepared to protect their lands by any means necessary. The nations began to mass in a rough line across the point from the Ohio River to the Kanawha River, numbering about 1200 warriors.

They began to make preparations to attack the white settlers near an area called Point Pleasant on the Virginia side of the Ohio River. As word reached the colonial military leaders of the impending attack, troops were sent in and faced off against the Indians. While the numbers of fighters were fairly even on both sides, the Native Americans were no match for the muskets of the white soldiers.

The battle ended with about 140 colonials killed and more than twice that number of Indians. The tribes retreated westward into the wilds of what is now Ohio and in order to keep them from returning, a fort was constructed at the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers.  Many Native Americans were killed and many Americans were killed.  Overall, the Native American forces were defeated. 

American Revolution
With the American Revolution began, Cornstalk worked to keep his people neutral. He represented the Shawnee at treaty councils at Fort Pitt in 1775 and 1776, the first Indian treaties ever negotiated by the United States. Many Shawnees nevertheless hoped to use British aid to reclaim their lands lost to the settlers. By the winter of 1776, the Shawnee were effectively divided into a neutral faction led by Cornstalk, and militant bands led by men such as Blue Jacket.

Cornstalk Made Peace

As time passed, the Shawnee leader, Cornstalk, made peace with the white men. He would carry word to his new friends in 1777 when the British began coaxing the Indians into attacking the rebellious colonies. Soon, the tribes again began massing along the Ohio River, intent on attacking the fort.
Cornstalk and Red Hawk, a Delaware chief, had no taste for war with the Americans and they went to the fort at Point Pleasant on November 7, 1777, to try and negotiate a peace before fighting began.
Cornstalk told Captain Arbuckle, who commanded the garrison, that he was opposed to war with the colonists but that only he and his tribe were holding back from joining on the side of the British. He was afraid that he would be forced to go along by the rest of the Confederacy.


When he admitted to Arbuckle that he would allow his men to fight if the other tribes did, Cornstalk, Red Hawk and another Indian were taken as hostages. The Americans believed that they could use him to keep the other tribes from attacking.

They forced the Native Americans into a standoff for none of them wanted to risk the life of their leader. Cornstalk’s name not only stuck fear into hearts of the white settlers up and down the frontier, but it also garnered respect from the other Indian tribes.

He was gifted with great oratory skills, fighting ability and military genius. In fact, it was said that when his fighting tactics were adopted by the Americans, they were able to defeat the British in a number of battles where they had been both outnumbered and outgunned.

Although taken as hostage, Cornstalk and the other Indians were treated well and were given comfortable quarters, leading many to wonder if the chief’s hostage status may have been voluntary in the beginning.

Cornstalk even assisted his captors in plotting maps of the Ohio River Valley during his imprisonment. On November 9, Cornstalk’s son, Ellinipisco, came to the fort to see his father and he was also detained.

Death of Cornstalk

When, on November 10, 1777, an American militiaman from the fort was killed nearby by unknown Indians, angry soldiers brutally executed Cornstalk, his son Elinipsico, and two other Shawnees.

When the soldier’s bloody corpse was returned to the fort, the soldiers in the garrison were enraged. Acting against orders, they broke into the quarters where Cornstalk and the other Indians were being held.

Even though the men had nothing to do with the crime, they decided to execute the prisoners as revenge. As the soldiers burst through the doorway, Cornstalk rose to meet them.

It was said that he stood facing the soldiers with such bravery that they paused momentarily in their attack. It wasn’t enough though and the soldiers opened fire with their muskets.

Red Hawk tried to escape up through the chimney but was pulled back down and slaughtered.

Ellinipisico was shot where he had been sitting on a stool and the other unknown Indian was strangled to death. As for Cornstalk, he was shot eight times before he fell to the floor. 

American political and military leaders were alarmed by the murder of Cornstalk; they believed he was their only hope of securing Shawnee neutrality. At the insistence of Patrick Henry, the governor of Virginia, Cornstalk’s killers (whom Henry called “vile assassins”) were eventually brought to trial, but since their fellow soldiers would not testify against them, all were acquitted.

Burial, Monuments and Curses

Grave Monument of Chief Cornstalk, ShawneeThe bodies of the other Indians were then taken and dumped into the Kanawha River but Cornstalk’s corpse was buried near the fort on Point Pleasant, overlooking the junction of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers. Here he remained for many years, but he would not rest in peace.

In 1794, the town of Point Pleasant was established near the site of the old fort. For many years after, the Indian’s grave lay undisturbed but in 1840 his bones were removed to the grounds of the Mason County Court House where, in 1899, a monument was erected in Cornstalk’s memory.

In the late 1950’s, a new court house was built in Point Pleasant and the chief’s remains (which now consisted of three teeth and about 15 pieces of bone) were placed in an aluminum box and reinterred in a corner of the town’s Tu-Endie-Wei Park, next to the grave of a Virginia frontiersman that Cornstalk once fought and later befriended.

 A twelve foot monument was then erected in his honor.

Chief Cornstalk statue at Pt Pleasant

And this is not the only monument dedicated to the period in Point Pleasant. Another stands 86-feet tall and was dedicated in August 1909, one month behind schedule.

Originally, the dedication ceremony had been set for July 22 but on the night before the event, the clear overhead sky erupted with lightning and struck the upper part of a crane that was supposed to put the monument into place. The machine was badly damaged and it took nearly a month to repair it.

MonumentLegends arose about Cornstalk’s dying “curse” being the cause of misfortunes in the area (later supplanted by local “mothman” stories), though no contemporary historical source mentions any such utterance by Cornstalk.

The legends say as he lay there dying in the smoke-filled room at the fort, he was said to have pronounced his now legendary curse. The stories say that he looked upon his assassins and spoke to them:

I” was the border man’s friend. Many times I have saved him and his people from harm. I never warred with you, but only to protect our wigwams and lands. I refused to join your paleface enemies with the red coats. I came to the fort as your friend and you murdered me. You have murdered by my side, my young son…. For this, may the curse of the Great Spirit rest upon this land. May it be blighted by nature. May it even be blighted in its hopes. May the strength of its peoples be paralyzed by the stain of our blood.”

He spoke these words, so says the legend, and then he died.

The monument was finally dedicated and stood for years, until July 4, 1921. On that day, another bolt of lightning struck the monument, damaging the capstone and some granite blocks. They were replaced and the monument still stands today.

But what is this bedeviled obelisk that seems to attract inexplicable lightning on otherwise clear evenings? It is a monument to the men who died in the 1774 Battle of Point Pleasant, when Cornstalk and his allies were defeated.

Could the freak lightning strikes have been acts of vengeance tied to Cornstalk’s fabled curse? Many believed so and for years, residents of the triangular area made up of western West Virginia, southwest Pennsylvania and southeastern Ohio spoke of strange happenings, river tragedies and fires as part of the curse.

Of course, many laughed and said that the curse was nothing more than overactive imaginations, ignoring the death toll and eerie coincidences that seemed to plague the region for 200 years after the death of Chief Cornstalk.

Many tragedies and disasters were blamed on the curse:

1907: The worst coal mine disaster in American history took place in Monongah, West Virginia on December 6, when 310 miners were killed.

1944: In June of this year, 150 people were killed when a tornado ripped through the tri-state triangular area.

1967: The devastating Silver Bridge disaster sent 46 people hurtling to their death in the Ohio River on December 15. Many have also connected this tragedy to the eerie sightings of the Mothman, strange lights in the sky and odd paranormal happenings.

1968: A Piedmont Airlines plane crashed in August near the Kanawha Airport, killing 35 people on board.

1970: On November 14, a Southern Airways DC-10 crashed into a mountain near Huntington, West Virginia, killing 75 people on board.

1976: In March of that year, the town of Point Pleasant was rocked in the middle of the night be an explosion at the Mason County Jail. Housed in the jail was a woman named Harriet Sisk, who had been arrested, for the murder of her infant daughter. On March 2, her husband came to the jail with a suitcase full of explosives to kill himself and his wife and to destroy the building. Both of the Sisk’s were killed, along with three law enforcement officers.

1978: In January, a freight train derailed at Point Pleasant and dumped thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals. The chemicals contaminated the town’s water supply and the wells had to be abandoned.

1978: In April of that same year, the town of St. Mary’s (north of Point Pleasant) was struck with tragedy when 51 men who were working on the Willow Island power plant were killed when their construction scaffolding collapsed.

And there have been many other strange occurrences, fires and floods. Most would say however that floods are a natural part of living on the river, although Point Pleasant was almost obliterated in 1913 and 1937. It might be hard to tie such natural occurrences into a curse, but what about the barge explosion that killed six men from town just before Christmas 1953? Or the fire that destroyed an entire downtown city block in the late 1880’s? Some have even gone as far as to blame the curse for the death of Point Pleasant’s local economy, an event linked to the passing of river travel and commerce.

So how real is the “curse”? Is it simply a string of bloody and tragic coincidences, culled from two centuries of sadness in the region? Can it be used to explain why the area seems to attract strange happenings and eerie tales? Or is the area somehow “blighted”, separate from any curse, and attractive to the strangeness that seems to lurk in the shadowy corners of America?

The reader is asked to judge the validity of such curses for himself. For the most part, the deaths and tragedies seem to have waned over the years, perhaps dying out at the bicentennial of Chief Cornstalk’s death. Largely, the curse has been forgotten over time and today, Point Pleasant is better known for its connection to otherworldly visitors like Mothman than for Indian curses and bloody frontier battles.

Fact or coincidence? Who can say… but I hope, for the sake of the people of the Ohio River valley, that Chief Cornstalk will finally rest in peace!


Cochise Bio, Apache Chief

Cochise was born about 1805 in an area that is now the northern Mexican region of Sonora, New Mexico, and Arizona as a member of the Chokonen-Chiricahua Apache tribe.


Cochise grew to be about 5’10” tall and weighed about 175 pounds. He was very strong and in his language his name was “Cheis” which meant “having the quality or strength of oak.”

Photo of Apache leader CochiseAt first, Spain and later Mexico tried to take over the land where the Chokonen-Chiricahua lived. The Chiricahua resisted the attempts and warfare broke out which the Apaches won most of the time.

The Mexican forces, with the help of American and Native American mercenaries, began to kill Apache civilians. The father of Cochise was one of these victims. This hardened Cochise against Mexicans and Americans and he resolved to get vengeance.

The Bascom Affair

An Apache raiding party had driven away a local rancher’s cattle and kidnapped his twelve-year-old son (Felix Ward, who later became known as Mickey Free).

Cochise and his band were falsely accused of the incident (which had actually been perpetrated by Coyotero Apaches). An unsuspecting Cochise was invited to the Army’s encampment by an inexperienced Army officer (Lt. George Bascom), who assumed that Cochise was responsible.

Although the Apache leader truthfully maintained his innocence, and offered to look into the matter with other Apache groups, the young officer attempted to arrest him.

Cochise jumped to his feet and immediately escaped by drawing a knife and slashing his way out of the tent. Cochise may have been shot as he fled. Bascom did succeed in capturing some of Cochise’s relatives, who apparently were caught by surprise as Cochise escaped.

Cochise eventually also took hostages to use in negotiations to free the other Indian hostages. However, the negotiations fell apart, mostly because of Bascom’s ignorance, but also because the arrival of more U.S. troops made Cochise believe that the situation was spiraling out of his control.

Both sides eventually killed all their remaining hostages, and the Apache leader went to Mexico while things cooled off. Cochise’s brother and two of his nephews were among the hostages executed by Bascom, which served to further enrage the Apache leader and foment about 11 years of relentless warfare which left southern Arizona a mostly burned-out wasteland (in terms of white and Mexican civilization).

The death toll may have reached as many as 5,000 settlers and travelers (many historians believe this number is an extreme exaggeration, that the toll was more likely a few hundred).

The treachery of Lt. Bascom is still remembered by the Chiricahuas’ descendants today — they remember it as “Cut the Tent.”

Battle of Dragoon Springs

At the Battle of Dragoon Springs, Cochise joined with his father-in-law Mangas Coloradas (Red Sleeves, Kan-da-zis Tlishishen), the powerful Chihenne-Chiricahua chief, in a long series of retaliatory skirmishes and raids on the white settlements and ranches. The Battle of Dragoon Springs was one of these engagements.

During the raids, many people were killed on both sides, but the Apaches quite often had the upper hand, mostly because the United States was distracted by its own internal conflict — the looming Civil War, and did not have the resources in the area to deal with the Apaches from any position of strength.

Additionally, the Apaches’ were highly adapted to living and fighting in the hostile and unforgiving terrain of the southwest.

Apache Pass Conflict

At Apache Pass in 1862, Cochise and Mangas Coloradas, with around 500 fighters, held their ground against a New Mexico-bound force of California volunteers under General James Henry Carleton until caisson-mounted howitzer artillery fire was brought to bear on their positions in the rocks above.

Capture, escape, and retirement

The Cochise Stronghold was in the Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona. Following various skirmishes, Cochise and his men were gradually driven into the Dragoon Mountains but were nevertheless able to use the mountains for cover and as a base from which to continue attacks against the white settlements.

Cochise managed to evade capture and continued his raids against white settlements and travelers until 1872. A treaty was finally negotiated by General Oliver O. Howard, with the help of Tom Jeffords who was Cochise’s only white friend.

Cochise then retired to his new reservation, with his friend Jeffords as agent, where he died of natural causes (probably of abdominal cancer) in 1874. Cochise was buried in the rocks above one of his favorite camps in Arizona’s Dragoon Mountains, now called Cochise Stronghold.

Only his people and Tom Jeffords knew the exact location of his resting place, and they took the secret to their graves.

Cochise’s descendants are said to currently reside at the Mescalero Apache Reservation, near Ruidoso, New Mexico.

Cochise’s Family

He married Dos-teh-seh, the daughter of Mangas Coloradas, in the 1830s.

Chief Red Fox, Silent Film Actor


Tokalu Luta was born on 11 June 1870, on the Pine Ridge Reservation,Thunder Butte, in the Dakota Territory. He was a Ogala Lakota Sioux Native American. He became known as Chief William Red Fox. His father was Chief Black Eagle and his mother was White Swan, the sister of Chief Crazy Horse. Thus, he was a nephew of the famous Sioux leader Chief Crazy Horse.

ChiefChief Red Fox lived through Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn and gives a chilling account of it in his memoirs. He was six years old at the time of Custer’s Last Stand.

The Memoirs of Chief Red Fox were sold at action for $1500 on April 17, 2010. The following is part of his memoirs.

Memoirs – Battle of Little Big Horn

“I was six years and fourteen days old at the time of the Custer fight. As it was told to me by my father Chief Black Eagle and my mother White Swan, the sister of Chief Crazy Horse….We left Pine Ridge [Reservation] the eight day of May 1876. We arrived in Montana about June the fifth.”

” My people expected truble they divided up into three different villages. In case of attact they would not be caught in a trap. They knew Custer had left Fort Lincoln for the Little Big Horn. Chief Gall and Chief Two-Moons sent word to my uncle Chief Crazy Horse that they were on their way to join him in case of trouble with Custer.”

“They hated him for the killing of the fifty-three old women, men, and children and for burning their village several years before, [This is a reference to the battle of Washita River, Nov. 27, 1868.]”

“Custer Raped Black Kettle’s fourteen year old daughter during the attack. She gave birth to a boy who is known as Yellow Hawk that they claim is his son from that attack.”

“On Sunday morning, June 25th 1876 Custer…divided his forces into four groups and sent Reno to attack my people from the southwest of the Big Horn River. “

“Benteen was to come from the northeast. Godfry and McDugal were with the supply train….He told them he would…make the attact at four oclock….About 2 PM…we heard shots fired. Later we were told that my father and Chief Standing Bear had blocked Captain Benteen from crossing the river. Ghost Dogs, and Crow King had blocked Reno and his men. Stinking Bear had Blocked Godfre and McDougal. “

“About 3 oclock Custer appeared and my uncle Crazy Horse rode out and they retreated like they were afraid. Custer came riding on then. Chief Gall came out to the left side of Custer and Two Moons and his Cheyenns came to the right of Custer. When Custer saw this, he started his charge then he dismounted, placed his men on high grounds, with his horses placed under sentries.”

“The Indians made a circle around him, then rode their horses accross the circle kicking up dirt [to] stampead his horses. Then the Indians made their attack. Custer bugle sounded for the sentries to bring the horses but they had been killed. His bugle then sounded for retreat but…most of his men and horses were killed.”

“Some said he was the last one to die but that is not true. Captain Kegho was the last man to be killed and his horse Comanche was the only horse alive….my people said no one knows who killed [Custer] or when he fell. They say the battle lasted forty minutes….the Indians had better guns than the soldiers, good horsemen, and knew the country and planned how to fight the battle….”

Wild West Show
In 1893, Colonel William Frederick Cody, better known as Buffalo Bill, visited Pine Ridge Reservation to recruit Native Americans as performers in his “Wild West Show,” and asked Chief Red Fox to join the troupe of performers who were about to make an appearance at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (better known as the Chicago World’s Fair). Buffalo Bill also asked Chief Red Fox to serve as a translator and “have charge” of the Native Americans that were in the show. Red Fox agreed to join the traveling show and worked for Buffalo Bill for many years. In 1905, Chief Red Fox “scalped” King Edward VII in a stagecoach robbery scene in a Wild West show performance in London.


Chief Red Fox appeared in over 100 movies, many of them were Silent Movies. He appeared in the following Movies:

War on the Plains,
When the Heart Calls,
Daughters of the Tribe,
Toll of the Warpath,
Red Fox and Wild Flower,
Perils of the Plains,
Medicine Boy,
The Covered Wagon,
The Vanishing American,
Desert Gold,
The Wild Horse Massacre,
The Flaming Arrow,
The Law of Crippled Creek,
The Round Up


Chief Red Fox died on March 1, 1976, in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He was almost 106 years old.

Cross Linked

Chief Black Hawk

Makataimeshekiakiak was born in spring 1767, in in the village of Saukenuk on the Rock River, in present-day Rock Island, Illinois. He was born into the Sauk Native American tribe. Makataimeshekiakiak means Black Sparrow Hawk, which was later shortened to Chief Black Hawk by the Europeans.
War Chief

Sauk Chief Black Hawk, also known as MakataimeshekiakiakBlack Hawk became a war chief because of his prowess as a war leader.  Although Black Hawk was never a civil chief, he killed his first man by the time he was 15 years old and was appointed a chief because of his abilities to lead war parties. Before his 18th birthday he had led war parties to victory.


The civil or ceremonial chief of the Sauk tribe was Quashquame. Quashquame is best known as the leader of the 1804 delegation to St. Louis that ceded lands in western Illinois and northeast Missouri to the U.S. government under the supervision of William Henry Harrison. This treaty was disputed, as the Sauk argued the delegation was not authorized to sign treaties and the delegates did not understand what they were signing.

Black Hawk, a frequent visitor to Quashquame’s village, lamented this treaty in his autobiography. The Sauk and Meskwaki delegation had been sent to surrender a murder suspect and make amends for the killing, not to conduct land treaties. The treaty was a primary cause of Sauk displeasure with the U.S. government and caused many Sauk, including Black Hawk, to side with the British during the War of 1812.

Black Hawk War
Angered by the loss of his birthplace, between 1830 and 1831 Black Hawk led a number of incursions across the Mississippi River. He was persuaded to return west each time without bloodshed.
In April 1832, encouraged by promises of alliance with other tribes and the British, he moved his so-called “British Band” of more than 1500 people, both warriors and non-combatants into Illinois.
Finding no allies, he attempted to return to Iowa, but the undisciplined Illinois militia’s actions led to the Battle of Stillman’s Run. A number of other engagements followed, and the militias of Michigan Territory and Illinois were mobilized to hunt down Black Hawk’s Band. The conflict became known as the Black Hawk War.
Captivity and Tour After the Black Hawk War
Following the Black Hawk War, with most of the British Band killed and the rest captured or disbanded, the defeated Chief Black Hawk was held in captivity at Jefferson Barracks with Neapope, White Cloud, and eight other leaders.
After eight months, in April 1833, they were taken east, as ordered by U.S. President Andrew Jackson. The men traveled by steamboat, carriage, and railroad, and met with large crowds wherever they went. Once in Washington, D.C., they met with Jackson and Secretary of War Lewis Cass.
Afterward, they were delivered to their final destination, prison at Fortress Monroe in Virginia. They were held only a few weeks at the prison, during which they posed for portraits by different artists. On June 5, 1833, the men were sent west by steamboat on a circuitous route that took them through many large cities. Again, the war chiefs were a spectacle everywhere they went, and were greeted by huge crowds of people in cities such as New York, Baltimore and Philadelphia.
In the west, closer to the battle sites and history of conflict, the reception was much different. For instance, in Detroit, a crowd burned and hanged effigies of the prisoners.

Near the end of his captivity in 1833, Black Hawk told his life story to Antoine LeClaire, a government interpreter. Edited by the local reporter J.B. Patterson, Black Hawk’s account was the first Native American autobiography published in the United States.

The Autobiography of Ma-Ka-Tai-Me-She-Kia-Kiak, or Black Hawk, Embracing the Traditions of his Nation, Various Wars In Which He Has Been Engaged, and His Account of the Cause and General History of the Black Hawk War of 1832, His Surrender, and Travels Through the United States.

Also Life, Death and Burial of the Old Chief, Together with a History of the Black Hawk War was published in 1833 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The book immediately became a best seller.

Death and Burial

After that tour, Black Hawk was transferred back to his nation. He lived with the Sauk along the Iowa River and later the Des Moines River in what is now southeast Iowa. He died on October 3, 1838 after two weeks of illness, and was buried on the farm of his friend James Jordan on the north bank of the Des Moines River in Davis County.

In July 1839, his remains were stolen by James Turner, who prepared his skeleton for exhibition. Black Hawk’s sons Nashashuk and Gamesett went to Governor Robert Lucas of Iowa Territory, who used his influence to bring the bones to security in his offices in Burlington. With the permission of the Chief’s sons, the remains were held by the Burlington Geological and Historical Society. When the Society’s building burned down in 1855, Black Hawk’s remains were destroyed.

An alternative story is that Lucas passed Black Hawk’s bones to a Burlington physician, Enos Lowe, who left them to his partner, Dr. McLaurens. Eventually workers found the bones left by McLaurens after he moved to California. They buried the remains in a potter’s grave in Aspen Grove Cemetery in Burlington.

Saginaw Grant Biography

Saginaw Grant  (born Morgan Saginaw Grant) is a respected member of the Sac-n-Fox,Iowa and Otoe-Missouria Nations. He is a a Native American actor, traditional dancer, and motivational speaker.His most recent role was in The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp.

Saginaw Grant photos
On July 20, 1936, Saginaw Morgan Grant was born to Sarah and Austin Grant Sr. at Pawnee Indian Hospital in Pawnee, Oklahoma. He was raised on a farm in Cushing,Oklahoma with two brothers and one sister.

Having a traditional upbringing by both parents, Saginaw was especially influenced by his grandparents. His grandpa Kirvin was a strong medicine man and his other grandpa Saginaw (whom he is named after) was also a very spiritual man. They taught Saginaw their customs,culture, and traditions and the importance of this way of life. As a result, Saginaw witnessed many special ceremonies and events taught to very few.

Native American actor Saginaw GrantAs a young adult, Saginaw experienced all the situations both good and bad every young person faces in today’s society. Yet he overcame the obstacles that challenged him, and with that he took his courage to become the man he is today.

In high school, he attended Ponca Military Academy in Ponca City, Oklahoma.

He is an United States Marine.

During his life in Oklahoma he took on employment in various industries such as dry cleaning, also gaining knowledge and a better understanding in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other vocations in which he enjoyed interacting with people. This gave him the opportunities to hear different philosophies, beliefs and religions.

Grant said he never endeavored to be an actor. One day in the ‘80s, Grant was speaking at a seminar near San Francisco. A man approached him and asked if he’d like to play a role in a car commercial. Saginaw took the role and he’s been acting ever since.


He resides in the Southern California area, where he is called upon for counseling, lectures, and family events, while also pursuing his acting career.

Saginaw Grant’s most recent role was in The Lone Ranger, with Johnny Depp.  He played Chief Big Bear in the 2013 film. The same year, he appeared as a Native American man who sells his truck to Walter White in the Breaking Bad episode “Ozymandias.” Grant has appeared in numerous films and television shows.



  • 1988 War Party– Freddie Man Wolf
  • 1996 Small Time– The Holy Man
  • 1999 Grey Owl– Pow Wow Chief
  • 2002 Legend of the Phantom Rider– Medicine Man
  • 2004 Black Cloud– Grandpa
  • 2005 Social Guidance– Red Hightower
  • 2005 The World’s Fastest Indian– Jake
  • 2007 Beyond the Quest– Apparition
  • 2007 Slipstream– Eddie
  • 2009 Maneater– Stanley Hipp
  • 2009 Walking on Turtle Island– Catches the Bear
  • 2013 Winter in the Blood– Yellow Calf
  • 2013 The Lone Ranger– Chief Big Bear
  • 2016 The Red Man’s View – Chief Great Eagle (pre-production)

Television Roles:

  • 1993 The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles- episode – The Mystery of the Blues – Grey Cloud
  • 1993-1994 Harts of the West- 15 episodes – Auggie
  • 1996 The Last Frontier- episode – The One with the Friends’ Theme – Alaskan
  • 1997 Nash Bridges- Ol’Larry/1 episode
  • 1997 Stolen Women: Captured Heartss- Chief Luta/TV movie
  • 1997 Baywatch- Eyes That See At Night/1 episode
  • 1999 Purgatory- Gatekeeper/TV movie
  • 2002 Auf Wiedersehen, Pet- Medecine Man/3 episodes
  • 2002 Skinwalkers- Wilson Sam/TV movie
  • 2003 Miracles- Most Respected Elder/1 episode
  • 2003 DreamKeeper- Old Medecine Man/TV movie
  • 2005 The Fallen Ones- Joseph/TV movie
  • 2005 My Name is Earl- Dakota/1 episode
  • 2007 Saving Grace- Mudwa/1 episode
  • 2011 American Horror Story- Tribal Elder/1 episode
  • 2012 Eagleheart- Saginaw/1 episode
  • 2013 Family Tree- White Feather/1 episode
  • 2013 Piper’s QUICK Picks – episode – Lone Ranger Awesomeness! Jerry Bruckheimer, Chad Oman & Saginaw Talk Silver & American Indians! – Himself – guest
  • 2013 Breaking Bad- Native American Man/1 episode
  • 2014 Shameless- Great Grandfather/1 episode
  • 2014 Community- Chief Blue Sky/1 episode


Sac and Fox Song

Sac and Fox Peyote Song

Time: 4:14min


Old Chief Joseph (Tuekakas), Nez Perce Chief

Headstone of Old Chief Joseph in Wallowa Valley in Oregon

Old Chief Joseph (Tuekakas), was leader of the Wallowa Band and one of the first Nez Percé converts to Christianity and a vigorous advocate of the tribe’s early peace with whites, and father of Chief Joseph (also known as In-mut-too-yah-lat-lat or Young Joseph). He was chief of the Nez Perce from 1785—1871.


Modern history first records Joseph, principal chief of the Wallowa band of Nez Perce, in 1834, when he welcomed Captain Benjamin Bonneville as he led the first white men into the Wallowa Valley. Joseph, father to the now more widely known Chief Joseph, was in his late forties at that time.

The Nez Perce treated the Bonneville party to a feast of deer, elk, and buffalo meat, served along with fish and roots, before they settled in for a long talk. Joseph was eager for news of the United States, and Bonneville did his best to sell him on the merits of the American nation.

Missionaries Come to Lapwai

When the missionaries Marcus Whitman and Henry Spalding arrived in Lapwai in 1836, they were intent on converting the Indians to Christianity. Joseph was drawn to the new religion, and moved to distant Lapwai for long periods of time for instruction.

In 1839 Joseph and Timothy were the first Nez Perce to be baptized into the Christian faith. Following his conversion, Joseph and his wife, Khapkhaponimi, who later came to be called Asenoth, married again in their new faith in Spalding’s church. Their children were also baptized, and given Christian names, including a boy, Ephraim, who was likely the future Chief Joseph of Nez Perce War fame.

Following the Whitman tragedy of 1847, the influence of the missions was broken, and Joseph returned to Wallowa Valley. By some accounts he then reverted to his native beliefs, but others describe him as a practicing Christian and friend of the whites for at least another fifteen years.

Treaty Councils

At the Walla Walla Council of 1855, Joseph remained largely quiet, saying only, “I have a good heart, what the Lawyer says, let it be.” When the call for signatures came, Joseph signed along with the other chiefs. But in the years that followed he refused to accept treaty payments, insisting that he had given nothing at Walla Walla and expected nothing in return.

Joseph refused to sign the treaty drawn up at the Lapwai Council in 1863, and by that time the reservation had been so reduced in size that his homelands were now outside its borders. From that point on, Joseph became a leader of the “non-treaty” Nez Perce. He erected boundary monuments to mark his land, and destroyed the Bible given to him by Spalding many years earlier. With this symbolic gesture, Joseph turned his back on the American government.

By 1869, Joseph had gone blind, although he continued to instruct his sons with regard to his perceptions of white men, treaties, and Mother Earth. He told them, “when you go into council with a white man, always remember your country. Do not give it away. The white man will cheat you out of your home.”

Headstone of Old Chief Joseph in Wallowa Valley in Oregon
Gravesite of Old Chief Joseph in Wallowa Valley, Oregon – See Genealogy Chart

Upon his deathbed, old Joseph told his son:

When I am gone, think of your country. You are the chief of these people. They look to you to guide them. Always remember that your father never sold the country. You must stop your ears whenever you are asked to sign a treaty selling your home. A few years more, and the white man will be all around you. They have their eyes on this land. My son, never forget my dying words. This country holds your father’s body. Never sell the bones of your father and your mother.

Nez Perce War

By 1877, the federal government had tried to force the “non-treaty” bands, including the Wallowa Nez Perce, now led by Young Chief Joseph (Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekht), out of their homelands and onto the more restricted reservation. The Indians’ response was the Nez Perce War.

“For decades,” wrote Robert Ignatius Burns, “the Nez Perce were considered as tame Indians, underrated and even mistreated despite their unswerving friendship for the Whites. They won fame and respect only when they went to war.”

Although young Chief Joseph’s brilliance as a war chief won sympathy from the American public, when defeat came to the defiant Nez Perce, they were nevertheless sent into exile at the Colville and Lapwai agencies.

Old Chief Joseph is buried at the fork of the Lostine and Wallowa Rivers on the Nez Perce homelands in what is now Oregon.

Drury, Clifford M. Chief Lawyer of the Nez Perce Indians, 1796-1876. Glendale, CA: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1979.

Nicandri, David L. River of Promise: Lewis and Clark on the Columbia Tacoma: Washington State Historical Society, 1986.

Josephy, Alvin The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

Josephy, Alvin M. The Patriot Chiefs: A Chronicle of American Indian Resistance. New York: Penguin Books, 1976.

Burns, Robert Ignatius. The Jesuits and the Indian Wars of the Northwest. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966.


Nez Perce Chief Lawyer “Hallahotsoot”

Nez Perce Chief Lawyer, 1861

Chief Lawyer “Hal-hal-hoot-soot” was the son of a Salish speaking Flathead woman and Twisted Hair, the Nez Perce man who welcomed and befriended Lewis and Clark in the fall of 1805. He was designated as Head Chief of the Nez Perce for the signing of the 1855 and controversial 1863 Treaty.


Hallalhotsoot’s father had positive experiences with the white explorers, which greatly influenced Lawyer. He firmly believed that the best prospect for the future of the Nez Perce was through friendship with non-native peoples.

Nez Perce Chief Lawyer, 1861“Lawyer” was a nickname given to Hallalhotsoot by the mountain men of the early 1830s. He was known as “the talker,” and his speaking abilities and wisdom enabled him to influence both native and non-native peoples.

The Nez Perce and Christianity

In 1831, six Nez Perce embarked on a journey through the Rocky Mountains to invite Christian teachers to come to the tribes. Two of the party turned back at the mountains, but four proceeded on to St. Louis. The story was reprinted widely in American newspapers, and set off a frenetic missionary movement to the West, one that changed the course not only of the Nez Perce people, but of the entire Northwest.

One of these missionaries, Marcus Whitman, hired Lawyer to live at his mission and teach him the Salish and Nez Perce languages. Whitman provided food and clothing to Lawyer’s family in return. It was here that Lawyer, once a buffalo hunter, began to adapt to the culture and religion of the white man.

Lawyer emerged as a leader of the Nez Perce following the Whitman tragedy on November 29, 1847. He traveled to Salem to meet Joseph Lane, Governor of the Oregon Territory, and requested aid in the capture of the Whitmans’ murderers.

The Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855

Lawyer’s friendly attitude toward white culture led Isaac Stevens to select him as the designated leader of the Nez Perce at the Walla Walla Treaty Council of 1855. Lawyer was one of the first chiefs to be sketched by the artist Gustav Sohon at that council, an indication of his importance among non-Native observers.

Sohon’s inscription describes Lawyer as Head Chief of the Nez Perce Tribe, but some observers believe he only became the main spokesman after being selected by Isaac Stevens.

After the Council In the years that followed the Walla Walla Council, Lawyer was widely ridiculed by anti-treaty groups within the Nez Perce tribe after the terms of the treaties failed to be honored by the U.S. government. When the promised payments began arriving in the early 1860s, cynical observers would note that they seemed timed to coincide with the government’s desire for more land from the Nez Perce.

The second treaty, signed by Lawyer in 1863, reduced the area of the tribe’s reservation by 90 percent, transferring away the homelands of many Nez Perce bands. This was done without their Lawyer defended his actions by arguing that resisting white encroachment was useless and that the wise and practical course was to simply adapt to changing circumstances.

Despite his trust that Governor Stevens and the American government had good intentions, Lawyer experienced great disappointment when promises made in the treaties were not honored.

In a speech delivered in the goldrush boomtown of Lewiston, Idaho, in 1864, Lawyer spoke eloquently to the failure of the government to live up to its promises:

If [Stevens] had told us that the reservation was to be flooded with white settlers, or that the saw mill was to be used for the exclusive benefit of the Whites, we would never have consented to the treaty. That flour mill and saw mill were pledged to me and my people. All the stipulations of that treaty were pledged to us for our benefit.>br?>br> Nine years have passed and those stipulations are unfulfilled.

[W]e have no church as promised; no schoolhouse as promised; no doctor as promised; no gunsmith as promised; no blacksmith as promised.

Lawyer devoted his life to making peace with the white population and following the terms of the treaties he signed. Nevertheless, in 1870—after holding his post for twenty-five years—he voluntarily stepped down from the leadership of the Nez Perce.

His descendants tell the tale of his death on January 3, 1876, in this manner:

It was Lawyer’s custom to fly his American flag from a pole in front of his lodge or house. On the day that he died, knowing that his end was near, he instructed some member to gradually pull down the flag.

The flag would be lowered a bit and then Lawyer, after a time would say: “Pull it down a little more.” So the flag was lowered a little more. This was repeated several times and when the flag touched the ground, Lawyer died.

Today many Nez Perce people continue to live in their homeland- some on and some off the reservation. Others have moved to cities around the country.


Drury, Clifford M. Chief Lawyer of the Nez Perce Indians, 1796-1876 . Glendale, CA: The Arthur H. Clark Company, 1979.

Josephy, Alvin M. The Nez Perce Indians and the Opening of the Northwest (American Heritage Library).New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1997.

Nicandri, David L. Northwest Chiefs: Gustave Sohon’s Views of the 1855 Stevens Treaty Councils .

Quotes from Cochise, Apache

Quotes from Cochise, famous Apache warrior. Cochise, like Crazy Horse, was never photographed.


“When I was young I walked all over this country, east and west, and saw no other people than the Apaches. After many summers I walked again and found another race of people had come to take it. How is it?

We were once a large people covering these mountains. We lived well: we were at peace. One day my best friend was seized by an officer of the white men and treacherously killed. At last your soldiers did me a very great wrong, and I and my people went to war with them.

The worst place of all is Apache Pass. There my brother and nephews were murdered. Their bodies were hung up and kept there till they were skeletons. Now Americans and Mexicans kill an Apache on sight. I have retaliated with all my might.

My people have killed Americans and Mexicans and taken their property. Their losses have been greater than mine. I have killed ten white men for every Indian slain, but I know that the whites are many and the Indians are few. Apaches are growing less every day.

Why is it that the Apaches wait to die — That they carry their lives on their fingernails? They roam over the hills and plains and want the heavens to fall on them. The Apaches were once a great nation; they are now but few, and because of this they want to die and so carry their lives on their fingernails.

I am alone in the world. I want to live in these mountains; I do not want to go to Tularosa. That is a long way off. I have drunk of the waters of the Dragoon Mountains and they have cooled me: I do not want to leave here.

Nobody wants peace more than I do. Why shut me up on a reservation? We will make peace; we will keep it faithfully. But let us go around free as Americans do. Let us go wherever we please.”

Zuni men come into the light

Eight years was but four days and four nights when the world was new. It was while such days and nights continued that men were led out, in the night-shine of the World of Seeing.

For even when they saw the great star, they thought it the Sun-father himself, it so burned their eye-balls.

Men and creatures were more alike then than now. Our fathers were black, like the caves they came from; their skins were cold and scaly like those of mud creatures; their eyes were goggled like an owl’s; their ears were like those of cave bats; their feet were webbed like those of walkers in wet and soft places.

They had tails, long or short, as they were old or young. Men crouched when they walked, or crawled along the ground like lizards. They feared to walk straight, but crouched as before time they had in their cave worlds, that they might not stumble or fall in the uncertain light.

When the morning star arose, they blinked excessively when they beheld its brightness and cried out that now surely the Father was coming. But it was only the elder of the Bright Ones, heralding with his shield of flame the approach of the Sun-father.

When, low down in the east, the Sun-father himself appeared, though shrouded in the mist of the world-waters, they were blinded and heated by his light and glory. They fell down wallowing and covered their eyes with their hands and arms, yet ever as they looked toward the light, they struggled toward the Sun as moths and other night creatures seek the light of a camp fire.

Thus, they became used to the light. But when they rose and walked straight, no longer bending, and looked upon each other, they sought to clothe themselves with girdles and garments of bark and rushes. And when by walking only upon their hinder feet they were bruised by stone and sand, they plaited sandals of yucca fiber.

The Origins of Zuni Totems and Names

Birds Of The Zia Pueblo

Now the Twain Beloved and the priest-fathers gathered in council for the naming and selection of man-groups and creature-kinds, and things. So they called the people of the southern space the Children of Summer, and those who loved the sun most became the Sun people.


Birds Of The Zia Pueblo
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Others who loved the water became the Toad people, or Turtle people, or Frog people. Others loved the seeds of the earth and became the Seed people, or the people of the First-growing grass, or of the Tobacco.

Those who loved warmth were the Fire or Badger people. According to their natures they chose their totems.

And so also did the People of Winter, or the People of the North. Some were known as the Bear people, or the Coyote people, or Deer people; others as the Crane people, Turkey people, or Grouse people.

So the Badger people dwelt in a warm place, even as the badgers on the sunny side of hills burrow, finding a dwelling amongst the dry roots whence is fire.


Quotes from Black Elk

Quotes attributed to Nicholas Black Elk [Hehaka Sapa] (c. December 1863 – 17 August or 19 August 1950) was a famous Wichasha Wakan (Medicine Man or Holy Man) and Heyoka of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux). He participated at about the age of twelve in the Battle of Little Big Horn of 1876, and was wounded in the massacre that occurred at Wounded Knee in 1890.


The Sacred Pipe (1953)

The Sacred Pipe : Black Elk’s Account of the Seven Rites of the Oglala Sioux (1953), as told to Joseph Epes Brown.

  • Grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure, and, therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.
  • All the things of the universe are joined with you who smoke the pipe — All send their voices to Wakan-Tanka, the Great Spirit. When you pray with this pipe, you pray for and with everything.
  • The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness, with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells Wakan-Tanka , and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us. This is the real peace, and the others are but reflections of this. The second peace is that which is made between two individuals, and the third is that which is made between two nations. But above all you should understand that there can never be peace between nations until there is known that true peace, which, as I have often said, is within the souls of men.
  • The Great Spirit is everywhere; He hears whatever is in our minds and our hearts, and it is not necessary to speak to Him in a loud voice.
  • The power of a thing or an act is in the meaning and the understanding.
  • Perhaps you have noticed that even in the slightest breeze you can hear the voice of the cottonwood tree; this we understand is its prayer to the Great Spirit, for not only men, but all things and all beings pray to Him continually in different ways.
  • [The Sun Dancers] also put rabbit skins on their arms and legs, for the rabbit represents humility, because he is quiet and soft and not self-asserting — a quality which we must all possess when we go to the center of the world.
  • This center which is here, but which we know is really everywhere, is Wakan-Tanka.
  • It is good to have a reminder of death before us, for it helps us to understand the impermanence of life on this earth, and this understanding may aid us in preparing for our own death. He who is well prepared is he who knows that he is nothing compared with Wakan-Tanka who is everything; then he knows that world which is real.
  • Of all the created things or beings in the universe, it is the two-legged men alone, who if they purify and humiliate themselves, may become one with — or may know — Wakan-Tanka.

Black Elk Speaks (1961)

Black Elk Speaks : being the life story of a holy man of the Ogalala Sioux (1961), as told to  John Niehardt


  • Everything an Indian does is in a circle, and that is because the power of the world always works in circles, and everything tries to be round.In the old days when we were a strong and happy people, all our power came to us from the sacred hoop of the nation, and so long as the hoop was unbroken the people flourished.
    • Ch. 17 : The First Cure
  • Everything the Power of the World does is done in a circle. The sky is round, and I have heard that the earth is round like a ball, and so are all the stars. The wind, in its greatest power whirls. Birds make their nest in circles, for theirs is the same religion as ours. The sun comes forth and goes down again in a circle. The moon does the same and both are round. Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back again to where they were. The life of a man is a circle from childhood to childhood, and so it is in everything where power moves. Our tepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.
    • Ch. 17 : The First Cure
  • When a vision comes from the thunder beings of the West, it comes with terror like a thunder storm; but when the storm of vision has passed, the world is greener and happier; for wherever the truth of vision comes upon the world, it is like a rain. The world, you see, is happier after the terror of the storm. … you have noticed that truth comes into this world with two faces. One is sad with suffering, and the other laughs; but it is the same face, laughing or weeping. … as lightning illuminates the dark, for it is the power of lightning that heyokas have.
  • If the vision was true and mighty, as I know, it is true and mighty yet; for such things are of the spirit, and it is in the darkness of their eyes that men get lost.
  • With visible breath I am walking.
    A voice I am sending as I walk.
    In a sacred manner I am walking.
    With visible tracks I am walking.
    In a sacred manner I walk.
    • Song of the White Bison Woman who brought the sacred pipe to men.
  • A long time ago my father told me what his father told him, that there was once a Lakota holy man, called Drinks Water, who dreamed what was to be; and this was long before the coming of the Wasichus. He dreamed that the four-leggeds were going back into the earth and that a strange race had woven a spider’s web all around the Lakotas. And he said: “When this happens, you shall live in square gray houses, in a barren land, and beside those square gray houses you shall starve.” They say he went back to Mother Earth soon after he saw this vision, and it was sorrow that killed him. You can look about you now and see that he meant these dirt-roofed houses we are living in, and that all the rest was true. Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.
    • Wasichus was a term for the white men.
  • Then a Voice said: “Behold this day, for it is yours to make.Now you shall stand upon the center of the earth to see, for there they are taking you.”
    • Describing a childhood vision he had while very ill and near death.
  • Then I was standing on the highest mountain of them all , and round about beneath me was the whole hoop of the world. And while I stood there I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the shape of all shapes as they must live together like one being. And I saw that the sacred hoop of my people was one of many hoops that made one circle, wide as daylight and as starlight, and in the center grew one mighty flowering tree to shelter all the children of one mother and one father. And I saw that it was holy.
  • I saw ahead the rainbow flaming above the tepee of the Six Grandfathers, built and roofed with cloud and sewed with thongs of lightning; and underneath it were all the wings of the air and under them the animals and men. All these were rejoicing, and thunder was like happy laughter.
    As I rode in through the rainbow door, there were cheering voices from all over the universe, and I saw the Six Grandfathers sitting in a row, with their arms held toward me and their hands, palms out; and behind them in the cloud were faces thronging, without number, of the people yet to be.
  • A good nation I will make live.
    This the nation above has said.
    They have given me the power to make over.
    • Song of power he sang towards the end of a childhood vision
  • They told me I had been sick twelve days, lying like dead all the while, and that Whirlwind Chaser , who was Standing Bear’s uncle and a medicine man , had brought me back to life. I knew it was the Grandfathers in the Flaming Rainbow Tepee who had cured me; but I felt afraid to say so. My father gave Whirlwind Chaser the best horse he had for making me well, and many people came to look at me, and there was much talk about the great power of Whirlwind Chaser who had made me well all at once when I was almost the same as dead.

    Everybody was glad that I was living; but as I lay there thinking about the wonderful place where I had been and all that I had seen, I was very sad; for it seemed to me that everybody ought to know about it, but I was afraid to tell, because I knew that nobody would believe me, little as I was, for I was only nine years old. Also, as I lay there thinking of my vision, I could see it all again and feel the meaning with a part of me like a strange power glowing in my body; but when the part of me that talks would try to make words for the meaning, it would be like fog and get away from me.

    I am sure now that I was then too young to understand it all, and that I only felt it. It was the pictures I remembered and the words that went with them; for nothing I have ever seen with my eyes was so clear and bright as what my vision showed me; and no words that I have ever heard with my ears were like the words I heard. I did not have to remember these things; they have remembered themselves all these years. It was as I grew older that the meanings came clearer and clearer out of the pictures and the words; and even now I know that more was shown to me than I can tell.

  • I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age, I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that 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.
    And I, to whom so great a vision was given in my youth, — you see me now a pitiful old man who has done nothing, for the nation’s hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead.
    • Speaking of the Massacre at Wounded Knee.
  • Grandfather, Great Spirit, once more behold me on earth and lean to hear my feeble voice. You lived first, and you are older than all need, older than all prayer. All things belong to you — the two-leggeds, the four-leggeds, the wings of the air and all green things that live. You have set the powers of the four quarters to cross each other. The good road and the road of difficulties you have made to cross; and where they cross, the place is holy. Day in and day out, forever, you are the life of things.
    Therefore, I am sending a voice, Great Spirit, my Grandfather, forgetting nothing you have made, the stars of the universe and the grasses of the earth.
  • To the center of the world you have taken me and showed the goodness and the beauty and the strangeness of the greening earth, the only mother — and there the spirit shapes of things, as they should be, you have shown to me and I have seen. At the center of this sacred hoop, you have said that I should make the tree to bloom.

    With tears running, O Great Spirit , Great Spirit, my Grandfather — with running tears I must say now that the tree has never bloomed. A pitiful old man, you see me here, and I have fallen away and have done nothing. Here at the center of the world, where you took me when I was young and taught me; here, old, I stand, and the tree is withered, Grandfather, my Grandfather!

    Again, and maybe the last time on this earth, I recall the great vision you sent me. It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then, that it may leaf and bloom and fill with singing birds. Hear me, not for myself, but for my people; I am old. Hear me that they may once more go back into the sacred hoop and find the good red road, the shielding tree!

  • In sorrow I am sending a feeble voice, O Six Powers of the World. Hear me in my sorrow, for I may never call again. O make my people live!
  • He was the chief of all the horses; and when he snorted, it was a flash of lightning and his eyes were like the sunset star.
  • And as I looked ahead, the people changed into elks and bison and all four-footed beings and even into fowls, all walking in a sacred manner on the good red road together.
  • … behind me there were ghosts of people like a trailing fog as far as I could see – grandfathers of grandfathers and grandmothers of grandmothers without number.
  • Flames were rising from the waters and in the flames a blue man lived.
  • Then the bay horse spoke to me again and said: “See how your horses all come dancing!” I looked, and there were horses, horses everywhere — a whole skyfull of horses dancing around me.
  • My bay had lightning stripes all over him and his mane was cloud. And when I breathed, my breath was lightning.
  • Crazy Horse dreamed and went into the world where there is nothing but the spirits of all things. That is the real world that is behind this one, and everything we see here is something like a shadow from that one. He was on his horse in that world, and the horse and himself on it and the trees and the grass and the stones and everything were made of spirit, and nothing was hard, and everything seemed to float. His horse was standing still there, and yet it danced around like a horse made only of shadow, and that is how he got his name, which does not mean that his horse was crazy or wild, but that in his vision it danced around in that queer way.

    It was this vision that gave him his great power, for when he went into a fight, he had only to think of that world to be in it again, so that he could go through anything and not be hurt. Until he was killed at the Soldiers’ Town on White River, he was wounded only twice, once by accident and both times by some one of his own people when he was not expecting trouble and was not thinking; never by an enemy. He was fifteen years old when he was wounded by accident; and the other time was when he was a young man and another man was jealous of him because the man’s wife liked Crazy Horse.

    They used to say that he carried a sacred stone with him, like one he had seen in some vision, and that when he was in danger, the stone always got heavy and protected him somehow. That, they used to say, was the reason that no horse he ever rode lasted very long. I do not know about this; maybe people only thought it; but it is a fact that he never kept one horse long. They wore out. I think it was only the power of his great vision that made him great.

  • “Behold” he said, “all the wings of the air shall come to you, and they and the winds and the stars shall be like relatives.”
  • All around the circle, feeding on the green, green grass were fat and happy horses…

Quotes about Black Elk

  • Black Elk and Lame Deer were Heyoka which means that you literally say and do things backwards in a humorous manner but whose spirit helpers are the powerful thunderbeings.
    Lame Deer was the last true Heyoka. If you look at this world most things flow in a clockwise cycle but you also have that small element in life that goes the opposite direction. There are things that Black Elk and Lame Deer did and said things in a way to divert the tensions at that time when the pipe way was under attack.
    • Zintkala Oyate, as quoted in Heyoka magazine (6 December 2006)