Ralph Crawford 

Dull Knife...

Northern Cheyenne


Chief of a tribe who intermarried and often hunted with the Sioux, Dull Knife and his people were attacked at dawn, while still in their lodges, November 25, 1876, by Col. McKenzie under Three Stars (General Crook), at the head of Crazy Woman Creek in the Big Horn Mountains.  The revenge seeking soldiers utterly destroyed the camp and the survivors were left to travel, cold and hungry, to the camp of Crazy Horse, where they were given food and comfort.  


Dull Knife had, indeed, taken an active part in the Battle at Greasy Grass.  When Custer attacked, Sioux and many Cheyenne led by Dull Knife and Two Moons charged across the river and forced the troopers to fall back.  It was a fight in which the well armed cavalrymen, usually in a superior position, were at a disadvantage because of their rifles.  Making their stand on a ridge, each shot fired meant that the soldier had to rise up to aim, thus exposing himself to the hidden Indian who, from a prone position, could arc arrows down on the lower ground.


However, in spite of the Indian victory, it was temporary, and in the spring of 1877, Dull Knife and his people surrendered at Camp Robinson.  Shortly after they were forced to march to Fort Reno in the desolate Indian Territory.  Hungry and dissatisfied there, in July, 1878, three hundred Cheyennes, led by Dull Knife, and others left the reservation and headed north to their old homeland.  After several running fights on the way with soldiers, they separated at the North latte.  Again they were captured and held at Fort Robinson, however their refusal to return to Indian Territory was followed by punishment and starvation.  Dull Knife and about 150 followers then escaped into the winter hills, followed by soldiers.  Many of the Cheyenne were killed or wounded and the rest captured and returned to the Fort, only Dull Knife and his family escaped by hiding in a cave.  Again he traveled in the cold and with little food and made his way to Pine Ridge Agency and friends.  In 1883 he died in his homeland.