LODGE POLE (WASHITA) MASSACRE (November, 1868) 
THE FAMILIES' STORIES
The Stories The People
The following are exerpts from "The Lodge Pole Massacre Site (Washita, 1868): A Cheyenne Enigma", by John Sipes, Southern Cheyenne Historian, that was published in the Watonga Republican Newspaper, on Jan. 15, 1997.

On Nov. 27, 1868, Custer and the Seventh Cavalry charged into a Cheyenne village on the Washita River in Indian Territory. The result was a massacre of children, women and elders of the tribe and the total destruction of their camp by burning.
The horses owned by the Cheyenne were slaughtered. George A. Custer chose to attack the village and murder women and children. Thus he also chose his manner of death, by massacre in 1876 at the Little Big Horn River.
In October, 1867, Major Elliott led an escort of advisors to the Medicine Lodge Creek in Kansas. Here the infamous Medicine Lodge Creek Treaty was signed. Congress did not act on the treaty until July, 1868.
Up to this time the Cheyennes had waited for provisions promised and they never arrived.
During this tense time on the plains, Gen. Phillip Sheridan took command of the Dept. of the Missouri, U.S. Army, in March 1868. Disputes were soon reported involving the Cheyennes. The Cheyenne felt they had once again been betrayed by yet another treaty and were for lack of promised provisions by the Government.
Orders were sent to Agent Wynkoop to use his best judgement in the case of issuing supplies. The order came too late.
The Cheyennes were now warring on the Pawnees and settlers in the land they considered theirs.
On Nov. 22, 1868, Custer received orders from Sheridan to leave Camp Supply on a 30 day scouting mission. When Custer reached the Canadian River he sent Major Elliott upstream to scout. Twelve miles upstream he came on a fresh Indian trail and notified Custer. Custer ordered him to follow the trail.Custer headed south and found the trail and left his pack train of supplies there with a guard.
When Custer reached the trail Elliott had already passed this point and went into camp to wait for Custer and Custer caught up to them in the camp.
Custer followed this trail to the Cheyenne camp and when three of his scouts located the exact location of the camp the plan of attack was set in motion. He surrounded the camp and at dawn on Nov. 27, 1868, he attacked the sleeping camp.
This camp was headed by Chief Black Kettle, a Suhtia, who had married into the Cheyenne band of his wife.
Black Kettle had no wolves (scouts) out to guard the sleeping village and the sleeping village was unaware of the attack and slaughter of the people that was to happen.
(Standing Bird oral history states--- Man on Cloud to Measure Woman Standing Bird to Cleo Sipes and Woodrow Goose to John Sipes) "that Iron Shirt and Man on Cloud with a small scouting party came to Black Kettles village before Custer surrounded the village, warning Black Kettle of troop movement from Camp Supply toward the vicinity of the village."
What followed was a massacre of the people from the pregnant Cheyenne women being cut open at the womb and babies left on the frozed ground dead with their mothers. Women, children and elders alike were shot down as at a turkey shoot.
Custer took 52 captives back to Camp Supply and they were later transfered to Ft. Hayes, Kansas, as prisoners of war.
Thus this needless massacre just four years almost to the date later from the Sand Creek Massacre and to the very same bands and families nearly wiped out this extended kinships of families that had survived the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 in southeastern Colorado.
(Sipes Cheyenne Files- Lodge Pole River (Washita) Massacre)

According to George Bent these people were murdered at the Lodge Pole Massacre, (Washita) 1868.
Black Kettle, Suhtai Council Chief; 
Little Rock, Cheyenne Council Chief.

There were 11 warriors killed:
Bear Tongue 
Tall Bear
Blind Bear 
White Bear 
Cranky Man 
Blue Horse 
Red Teeth 
Little Heart 
Red Bird
Hawk 
were among them.
1 Arapaho and 2 Siouxs (Lakotas) were killed in Black Kettles camp.
16 Women and 9 children were killed.
Most were shot down running toward the icy Washita River or shot while trying to get across the stream.
There was little chance of escape. Yet those that did escape were fortunate and several were wounded, mostly little children.
Many families that escaped from the Sand Creek Massacre four years earlier died or were wounded at the Lodge Pole River Massacre as the deliberate genocide upon the Cheyennes continued in November of 1868.
 


 
C&A Letterbook, Vol. 1, Page 356.
To Nicholson From John Miles, 5-10-76.
I am informed that Agent Williams is giving his Indians a short leave to secure buffalo.
Cheyennes and Arapahoes are very anxious to secure some skins for the purpose of replacing their old lodges as there was no material for lodges in their annuities for the year. Buffalo are said to be very plentiful in the vicinity of the Washita Battle Ground about 90 miles southwest from this agency. I would propose if they are permitted to go to send a representative with them. Also ask for a small detail of troops and predict the time out about 20 days.
Their lodges need renewing, and I think it would be well to let a few of them go and if necessary to repeat the hunt a few times until they have enough hides to fit them out with lodges. /S/ John Miles.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Central Superintendency, Field Office, Letters Received.
John D. miles to Wm. Nicholson.
C&A Agency, June 19, 1876.
A messager just arrived from the Cheyenne hunting party and reports they have struck buffalo in abundance a short distance east of the "Black Kettle battle ground" about 70 miles distant from this Agency on a tributary of the Washita River. All were doing fine.
(Sipes/Berthrong Cheyenne Coll. Washita Massacre, 1868.)
 
Red Bird was 18 years at the Lodge Pole Massacre. He was a full brother to Standing Bird. He was born in 1850 to Cut Arm (Cheyenne) father, and Big Woman /Mahkie (Cheyenne) mother born 1832 and died 1900.
As he fought off the troops while his family escaped by crossing the icy waters of the Lodge Pole River, he fought bravely standing between his fleeing family and the troops. He was not married at this time.
Red Bird had a war horse that stood beside him, never moving as he fought. This war horse would not get excited if it heard loud nosies such as gun fire or sounds of fighting for it was trained by Red Bird himself to be a war horse.
Finally, Red Bird was overcome by the troops and killed. A family member took aim and shot Red Birds war horse that continued to stand by its fallen owner as he lay on the snow covered ground. The war horse fell beside Red Bird as it was the custom of the Cheyenne Warrior to be with his war horse in the spirit world.
Measure Woman /Tah-nea was 5 years old at the massacre. When she grew up she married Standing Bird, brother to Red bird. She would relate in oral stories to her grandaughter, Cleo Wilson Sipes, that she remembered Red Bird. He was a kind and helpful individual. She told how she tried to look back as she ran across the Lodge Pole River knowing Red Bird was standing off the troops so they could escape. Others would tell her not to look back and keep running. She was finally struck in the hip by a bullet and was scooped up by an adult family member and rushed off to safety. She never knew Red Bird was killed for she asked about him constantly until she was told he did survive the troops attack.
She would tell Cleo that she missed him for a long time after that and knew that he gave his life so she and the other family members could escape the troops.
His two sisters, White Buffalo Woman (Goose) and Little Woman (Curious Horn) came back to the massacre site after the troops left and wrapped his body in a sacred robe and gave him a warriors burial by putting the body on a wooden burial scaffold. After two years the scaffold fell and his bones were scattered among the ground his two sisters came back with other family members and rewrapped the bones and took his body way off to the southwest of the massacre site and here he is buried in the rock cliffs with all the honors of a Cheyenne warrior.

(Standing Bird Oral History- John Sipes Collection-Lodge Pole Massacre (Washita 1868) 

( Family Oral Stories In Interviews And Stories Told To John Sipes On Sand Creek Massacre (1864) and the Lodge Pole (Washita) Massacre (1868) By Family Elders):

Verna Standing Bird Yellow Cloud, Wilbur Standing Bird, Cleo Sipes, Woodrow Goose, Sherman Goose, Pete Bird Chief, Jr., Gladys Red Bird Beartusk Barton, Prairie Woman Red Bird, Small Back Snake, No-wa-hy (Cora Prairie Chief Flynn), Susie Standing Bird Reynolds, Everett Wilson, and my many gt. aunts and gt. uncles of the Standing Bird and Medicine Water extended family that took time to share stories with me on Cheyenne history and culture.

These oral stories were handed down from Medicine Water, Man on Cloud, Iron Shirt, Measure Woman Standing Bird, Sprinkle Horse Woman, Standing Bird, Goose, Little Woman Curious Horn, White Buffalo Woman Goose, Bird Chief, Woista (White Girl Beartusk Wilson), John Wilson, Man Riding on Cloud and many other elders of the family.

(The research on the Sand Creek Massacre of families who were there should include the families who are related by intermarriage to the Sioux and still today live on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Other Sioux Sand Creek descendants have been traced to link with Cheyenne families through the research of Ruby Bushyhead and John Sipes and the Donald J. Berthrong Collection.
Not all the Northern Cheyennes from Montana will be descendants of Sand Creek Massacre. Only certain bands of the Cheyennes were located on the Arkansas River (Colorado) during the time of Sand Creek and the other bands of Cheyennes were located on the North Platte River and Powder River areas.

The Sand Creek Massacre has remained a mystery of what actually happened. Researchers from the National Park Service and certain appointed Cheyenne and Arapaho consultants have been working to locate the camp site in Colorado. Reports state they have found the site and are working to make a memorial site there to be managed by the National Park Service for the tribes. As of September, 2004, reports are that the Sand Creek descendants who had families who died and survived or were wounded there need to get written permission from several appointed representatives of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes to enter the site whether it be for sacred ceremonies or to visit the site now managed by the National Park Service.

There is other research and documentation that has been compiled on the Sand Creek Massacre site that will beyond a doubt show the present site is only a small portion of the actual location and needs to be addressed and looked at by all parties involved with the site research.
During the last 15 years there has been much artifacts and human remains returned to the Cheyenne Sand Creek descendants through the NAGPRA (Native American and Graves Repatriation Act) through tribal appointed representatives and the Sand Creek descendants are today still requesting reports on this so much more history can be added to the massacre by families,

The Ft. Marion POW project will be working in this area as the POWs were all Sand Creek Massacre descendants and descendants of the Washita Massacre.

Information on the students that attended Carlisle Indian School and other boarding schools from 1879-1930 will be researched and compiled as these students were Ft. Marion, Sand Creek Massacre, and Washita Massacre descendants also.
Oral stories from the descendants will be added to the POW project.)
(Sipes Notes On Sand Creek, 2004)

Colony Courier, Sept. 1, 1910.
A buckskin dress beaded with porcupine quills and one of which Custer destroyed at his battle with Black Kettle on the Washita forty-two years ago is being remade and nearly completed which is to be displayed at the coming Indian fair next October, but it is beaded with common beads instead of porcupine quills but it will be the same style as the old one. The old one had been worn by Chief Black Kettles neice Miss Red Feather before Custer attacked them and this new one is to be worked on by Lilly Page Miggs, a former Colony student, and whose Indian name is Red Feather, named after the old wearer of the dress. 
(Sipes/Berthrong Cheyenne Coll. Washita Massacre, 1868)
Watonga Republican Newspaper, March 31, 1921, (Thursday).
White Fool died Monday last. Matches Woman, 89, wife survives him.
He was probably the last of the chiefs who fought at the Battle of the Washita.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.

Watonga Republican Newspaper, April 14, 1921.
Matches Woman, who was married to White Fool, 65 years ago in Colorado was wounded at the Battle of the Washita. Living on the White Fool allotment near Watonga.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.

Watonga Republican Newspaper, Sept. 18, 1930.
Charles J. Brill enroute to the site of the Battle of the Washita near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Interviewed Chief Magpie and Little Beaver, Cheyenne warriors.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.
 

Watonga Republican Newspaper, Sept. 18, 1930.
Charles J. Brill enroute to the site of the Battle of the Washita near Cheyenne, Oklahoma. Interviewed Chief Magpie and Little Beaver, Cheyenne warriors.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.

Arapahoe Bee, May 14, 1939.
Mrs. Black Wolf, who died at the age of 80 on her allotment near Clinton was one of the few who escaped the massacre on the Washita River near the town of Cheyenne in Roger Mills County in 1868.
........Another Indian who escaped was Stacy Riggs, well known in Custer and ajoining counties. Stacy was 12 years old at the time of the Washita massacre he relates.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.

Geary Times-Journal, Aug. 19, 1920.
Thunder Bull, prominent Cheyenne of the old days, died about three weeks ago at his home near the Seger Indian School. He was a scout, at the Custer fight, Indian Policeman at Seger Agency and well liked among prominent whites and had many friends among several tribes. He was about 60 years old.

Text Copyright (c) 2004 Sipe/Berthrong Cheyenne Collections.