Posts Tagged ‘White Swan’

In  June 1876, a young warrior named White Swan was one of six Crow scouts assigned  to the 7th Cavalry. The outnumbered Crow had aligned themselves with the U.S.  government against their traditional enemies, the Sioux and Cheyenne, in  exchange for a promise from General George Armstrong Custer of a return to their  old way of life, and a return of land stolen from the Crow by other  tribes.

History would have  been altered had Gen. Custer followed the advise of the Crow scouts who urged  him not to lead his forces into the valley of the Little Big Horn. In the  ensuing battle, White Swan was severely injured, and after a long recovery,  returned to Crow Agency seriously disabled.

In 1894 White  Swan, crippled and unable to hear or speak, created a series of drawings on  pages from an accounting ledger book to explain his role in the famous battle to  his friend, the pastor at the Congregational Church.

—  Billy Markland

The  photo below is White Swan around 1899 taken at the Crow Agency, Montana, by  Arthur M. Tinker, an inspector for the Indian Office and amateur photographer.

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum®

Another photo of  White Swan holding his war club:

TMI number 00466, Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898, © Omaha Public Library, 1998

TMI number 00467, Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898, © Omaha Public Library, 1998

Painted at Crow Agency, 1897 by Elbridge Ayer Burbank

Joseph Henry Sharp (1859 - 1953) oil on canvas

Sharp moved to the West,  establishing homes in Montana and New Mexico, in order to live among the  subjects he wanted to portray. Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Whitney Purchase  Fund (18.61)

— Grahame Wood

White Swan was at  the battlefield with some of the survivors of the LBH battle on June 25th  1886:

— Dietmar  Schulte-Möhring

Half Yellow Face (Ischu Shi Dish) was in the valley and hilltop fights. A Crow Indian scout, he was enlisted in the 7th Infantry on April 10, 1876, for six months by Lt. James Bradley. He was the leader of the Crow Scouts. On detached service from June 21 with the 7th Cavalry, he was assigned to Major Reno’s column. He accompanied Lt. Charles Varnum on the trip to the Crow’s Nest, arriving there about 2.30am, June 25. He was one of ten Indian scouts who participated in the Valley fight on the skirmish line with the Reno column. For more details on all the Crow Scouts, see Graham, The Custer Myth, pp. 7 – 27.

(Source: Custer & Company: Walter Camp’s Notes on the Custer Fight, edited by Bruce R. Liddic and Paul Harbaugh [University of Nebraska Press, 1998], p. 72)

Graham (op. cit., p. 9) notes that “‘the official report of Col. M. V. Sheridan of 20 July 1877* [clearly indicates] that neither Curley nor Half Yellow Face, both of whom accompanied him to the battlefield in 1877, were able to furnish any information of value concerning Custer’s fight. . . .”

*Sheridan’s report on the expedition to better bury the dead of Custer’s command and recover the bodies of Custer and other officers.

Camp (op. cit., p. 118), writing of White Swan notes: “He [White Swan] was wounded in the Reno valley fight. He was deaf and after he was wounded twice, still wanted to stand and fight the Sioux, but Half Yellow Face prevailed upon him to get out of there and he did so and Half Yellow Face led White Swan’s horse up the bluffs and White Swan thus rode his own horse up. Now Half Yellow Face made a travois and took him to the boat. He sat doubled up between the two travois poles just behind the horse and was carried very nicely and many of the soldiers commented on his ingenuity.”

I’ve not been able to locate a note of Half Yellow Face’s date and place of death.

— “George Armstrong Custer”