American Horse
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American Horse

American Horse
Wasicu Tasunke

Newspaper Notices of His Death

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Father: Sitting Bear
Mother: Walks With

Wives: Red Spotted Calf (Spotted Elk Woman), Sleep, Josie (sister of Sleep), Goes Out Looking, Fannie Hard Woman

Sons: Charles American Horse, Robert American Horse, Samuel American Horse

Daughters: Maggie Stands Looking, Lucy, Alice Vina, Julia American Horse

American Horse (1840-1908) was a rising young leader among the Loafer Band of Oglala at the Red Cloud Agency during 1876 and was not with the northern or "hostile" Oglala. In fact, it was his cooperation with the U.S. Army in disarming the hostiles as they came in to Red Cloud that earned him government support. The Loafers at Red Cloud were originally under the leadership of Blue Horse (brother of Big Mouth shot by Spotted Tail at the Whetstone Agency). With the rise of American Horse's prominence among the Loafers during the Sioux War of 1876-77, as well as the rise of another Oglala named Three Bears, Blue Horse's leadership was largely eclipsed. By the time the Oglala moved to the Pine Ridge Agency in 1878, the Loafer's split into three separate bands, including one under American Horse.

During the 1870's, there were several Lakota and Northern Cheyenne named American Horse. George Hyde was incorrect in referring to the Oglala by this name as American Horse (the Younger) and the individual killed at Slim Buttes as American Horse (the elder). They were not related; nor were they ever referred to this way by their own people. Unfortunately, historians have continued to contribute to this confusion since 1876!

The Oglala American Horse (1840-1908) did participate as a young Bad Face warrior in Red Cloud's war in the late 1860's. In fact, later in life, he claimed to have personally killed Lieut. Fetterman and his war club which he used is now on exhibit at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument. He was made a "shirt wearer" along with Crazy Horse, Sword, and Young Man Afraid of His Horses. However, by the 1870s, American Horse was a rising young leader among the progressive band, the Wagluhe or Loafers (probably by marriage) and no longer fighting the whites. Your brief summary of the man killed at Slim Buttes is a mixture of several different people.

The original source for the man's name killed at Slim Buttes was scout Frank Grouard. However, natives present at the battle say that Grouard was incorrect, that the man's name was Iron Plume and that he was not a prominent leader; rather, he is described as a brave individual. We actually know virtually nothing about his background.

He Dog: "I was in Slim Buttes fight. . . . The tribe massacred there were Minneconjou, who were out deer hunting. No chief was killed here. The man wounded in bowels and died here was not a chief. He was a Sans Arc relative of mine." (Camp Interview)

American Horse (Oglala), when asked about the man killed at Slim Buttes: "There are only two American Horses and both are living, himself being one. The other lives below the battlefield on Wounded Knee and is a brother to Woman's Dress. He says there was never an American Horse killed." (Ricker Interview)

There was a headman among the Two Kettle Lakota named American Horse (born about 1836) who according to records at the Cheyenne River Agency left there on May 21, 1877. Apparently not at Little Bighorn.

There was also a Northern Cheyenne named American Horse who later surrendered at the Red Cloud Agency and was transferred to Indian Territory with other Cheyennes in May 1877.

I think for the list of Little Bighorn participants, there should be an entry for Iron Plume, though we are not certain that he was actually at Little Bighorn. A number of Minneconjou and Sans Arcs fled from the Cheyenne River Agency in the fall of 1876 when the military was preparing to disarm them and remove their ponies. There were many of these kinds of people in the Roman Nose village at Slim Buttes in September 1876. That does not necessarily mean they were at the Little Bighorn as well.

Anyway, I just wanted to help try to clarify the confusion about the several individuals named American Horse and to contribute that the Oglala individual by this name was NOT at the Little Big Horn.

In the Eleanor Hinman interviews, He Dog's brother Short Bull said the following about the issue of American Horse versus Iron Plume:

"Our next fight was the Slim Buttes fight... [Here the interpreter, John Colhoff, put in a word, saying that he had read in a book that the chief American Horse was mortally wounded and taken prisoner in this battle; but that was a mistake. American Horse was not taken prisoner in this battle; neither did he die of wounds received there. Short Buffalo confirmed the younger man in this. Asked who the man was who was shot through the intestines while concealed in the sand-pit, and who died that night and was left for the Indians to bury, Short Buffalo replied:]

"Iron Plume was the man shot in the sand pit. There were women in that pit too. Iron Plume didn't give up until he was too badly wounded to live. It was Iron Plume, not American Horse..." Ephriam Dickson

American Horse
— Charlie

I know some books which mention American Horse married to Red Cloud´s daughter, but they all seem to cite the Ricker interviews. If my sources are correct, American Horse's winter-count was begun by his grandfather in 1775/76 and later was continued by his father Sitting Bear. Army surgeon Dr. William H. Corbousier collected several winter-counts from November 1879 to April 1880 (American Horse, Cloud Shield, White Cow Killer) at Pine Ridge Reservation. I assume this is the reason why all of these winter-counts ended around the year 1879/89.

Several books rate American Horse as a Southern Oglala. Richard Hardorff is one of these authors. According to him American Horse, nicknamed Spider, succeeded his father as band leader of the True Oglalas and was elected shirt-wearer in 1868. Further he said that American Horse married Red Cloud's daughter and joined latter in 1871 to become a reservation band chief.

Interestingly Sitting Bear in his younger days was also named American Horse. Hardorff made another statement about the second American Horse, who was a leader of a “wild band” of Northern Oglalas. He was a son of Old Smoke. Neither he nor the other American Horse were at Slim Buttes. Catherine Price wrote that True Oglalas who once followed the Itancan Bad Wound later chose Sitting Bear and American Horse as their leaders.

American Horse with his wife/one of his wives. . . .

American Horse and Wife

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

If we have to give credit to C.Eastman's statements in "Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains", American Horse's father (which would have been Sitting Bear - we know his name thanks to the winter count's entry of the year 1839-40 "Sitting-Bear, American Horse's father, and others, stole two hundred horses from the Flatheads") "was killed in battle while he was still very young". Eastman goes on stating that "The American Horse band was closely attached to a trading post, and its members in consequence were inclined to be friendly with the whites, a policy closely adhered to by their leader." (a description which would fit the Wagluhe band). Eastman was well acquainted with American Horse, which would make him a reliable source, but then he falls into inconsistencies as identifying the warrior killed at Slim Buttes (Iron Plume) with someone sharing American Horse's name and being his uncle.

Interestingly enough, in the Ricker interview American Horse stated that there was only another American Horse other than him, and that it was Woman's Dress' brother (which would make him the grandson of Chief Smoke), while "there was never an American Horse killed".

About the notion of American Horse being married to Red Cloud's daughter: here's the comment about the following image recently sold at an auction:

"American Horse, married to a daughter of the war chief Red Cloud, was a chief of the Bad Face (Ite Sica) band of Oglala, later called the Loafer (Wagluhe) band. He was also elevated to the position of an Ongloge Un or Shirt Wearer, one of the four leading chiefs of the Oglala. The deerskin garment which signaled this honor, trimmed with beaded bands and locks of human hair, is displayed atop the posing stand at left... American Horse died Dec. 16, 1908, at the age of 68."

Here's the image:

Another picture that would confirm the existence of a family connection between American Horse and Red Cloud is the one below, where American Horse poses with some members of his family:

American Horse and Family

The house on the background is clearly Red Cloud's (it was the only 2 story house at Pine Ridge in those days). Why would American Horse pose in front of Red Cloud's house if there wasn't any family connection between them?

Thanks for the information about "Sioux Jim" being Little Big Man's brother. I suppose there's no way to find out what was the guy's real name. . . . On the other hand, American Horse's descendants might know something about the original winter count and if there had been other entries following the 1878 one.

I'm inclined to think that the young woman is actually American Horse's wife, as the customary use at the time was to have husband and wife or a whole family's pictures. For example, Red Cloud, the most photographed Indian of his times, was never portraited with any of his daughters (while there are shots of him together with his wife and his son Jack); Geronimo was photographed with both his daughter and his niece, but not with just his daughter.In other words, it seems to me that the ideal pair for such portraits was husband and wife.

I agree that the woman in the picture looks much more younger than American Horse, but taking young wives wasn't unusual for Indians. I remember reading somewhere that He Dog took a young wife when he was in his 70s - will check it in the next days.

Here's the pic of one of American Horse's daughters:

American Horse's Daughter

And here's a link to an article appeared on the New York Times' March 1st 1880 issue, in which a picture of American Horse together with his wife and daughter (but not with his daughter alone!) is mentioned.
— jinlian

American Horse's daughter in the Godkin photo looks pretty much like the wife (the inscription says squaw) in the Trager picture. I would say they are the same person. Trager and Kuhn photos are not known to be very accurate relating to identifications. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I've managed to post a higher resolution copy of the Trager and Kuhn picture. The Smithsonian (Godkin) picture of American Horse's 'daughters was taken in the late 70s, while the other one is dated 1883 and it's surely early 80s (from American Horse's looks). The woman in the Trager and Kuhn picture nevertheless looks almost younger than the other one.

The girl in the Smithsonian picture looks like Maggie Stands Looking, one of the first girls sent to the famous (or infamous) Carlisle Boarding School. Here's a picture of father and daughter together with teachers and other Indian students a Carlisle - the girl is obviously the Godkin one and doesn't look like the wife(?) portraited in the Trager and Kuhn cabinet card.

Carlisle Indian School Group Photo

— jinlian

According to Mike Stevens´ genealogy website, American Horse married his wife Sleep after 1862. She still was his wife in 1904 when they were counted for the Pine Ridge Census Records. After 1882 he married Josie (born 1864). I don't know if he had other wives. The list of his children doesn't seem complete either on that website, hence Maggie is not listed.
— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Stevens's genealogy, being based only on census and not on oral family records sometimes isn't complete and the records are not so accurate. . . . For instance, it doesn't list among American Horse's children neither Robert American Horse (obiously following Eastman, who has Robert as American Horse's nephew while on Carlisle's records he's definitely his son) nor Maggie Stands Looking, who's mentioned several times as American Horse's daughter in Pratt's records and other Carlisle related documents. — jinlian

According to American Horse's children as recorded in his army pension file (thanks to Tom Powers who brought this to our attention), he had five wives:

1. Red Spotted Calf, also known as Spotted Elk Woman, who he married in 1868. She died in 1889.

2. Sleep, whom he married in the fall of 1871 at the first Red Cloud Agency.

3. Josie, a sister of Sleep, whom he married about 1886. Following American Horse's death, Josie married Whirlwind Horse.

4. Goes Out Looking whom he married in 1888. They separated in 1889. His son recalled that they lived together for only eight or ten days before they separated.

5. Hard Woman, married in 1889 and separated in 1890.

When American Horse died in 1908, he was still married to Sleep and Josie.

As for "Sioux Jim", the comment that he was a brother of Little Big Man is from William Jordan, son of Charles P. Jordan (clerk at the Red Cloud Agency in 1876-77; later Indian trader on the Rosebud Reservation). William Jordan and George Colholff are the sources for the fact that American Horse lost his scalp shirt over the killing of Sioux Jim. The only other name that I am aware of for Sioux Jim is Fish Guts (probably Iyuhota Hogan).

As to American Horse's original band ("band of birth"), I am not 100% percent certain. We do know that his family originally came from among the Southern Oglala, the Kiyaksa, but as to which band within the Kiyaksa I do not know. As mentioned above, he became a headman among the Wagluhe (Loafers) during the 1870s. By 1890, he was a headman in the Iyasica, a band associated with the Hokayuta. — Ephriam Dickson

I guess we may speculate that if the notes in Ricker's book are accurate, and American Horse actually married one of the daughters of Red Cloud, that should have been Red Spotted Calf, since in those years American Horse was associated with the Ite Sica (in Ricker's interview American Horse reported many of Red Cloud's war exploits, including an assault to an emigrant wagon train they planned and carried on together). But this is mere speculation.

Incidentally, I've found the American Horse family picture on the Oglala Lakota College website:

American Horse's Family

— jinlian

I still tend to believe the woman in the Trager photo is more likely his daughter than his wife. But if she is, she can only be Hard Woman, I guess. Trager made most of his photographs around 1890, so there is a possibility that she was pictured with him. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I've checked Goodyear's book on Red Cloud and it's clearly stated that Trager and Kuhn opened their studio in Chadron in the summer of 1889.

And yes, if we assume that the woman in the picture is American Horse's wife, the strongest possibility is that she's the fifth one.

Now, after checking "Plains Indian History and Culture" (which quotes the Report and Historical Collections of the South Dakota State Historical Society, I'm more and more confused about Sleep and Josie being both married to American Horse at the time of his death, since it reports that:

"When the missionaries told Sioux Chief American Horse that Christians had but one wife, he replied: "I took my wives according to the custom of my people. They have been with me in my joy and in my sorrow; they are the mothers of my children. They are now old and I cannot throw any of them away but if the time ever comes when I have but one wife, I will join your church". That time did come. American Horse joined the Episcopal church and was buried in its mission cemetery" — jinlian

A good Lakota man always had many wives. A Lakota woman always married at 14 to 15 years old. If a man was known as a warrior he had many wives. We know that the govenment demanded the men to give up their wives so many just did not report them on the census. — Ladonna Brave Bull Allard

Yes, having more than one wife was indeed a sort of status symbol.

Regarding the government pressure on Natives to persuade them to adopt monogamous households, the attempt of applying the Edmunds Act (originally devised for Utah and Mormons) in Indian Reservations, in 1895 led to to the arrest of many people on charge of bigamy both in Pine Ridge and Rosebud. American Horse was one of the most prominent victims of this measure and his arrest made quite a sensation (even the New York Times published reports as "American Horse is arrested" and "The over-married red men".

It was probably hard to accept a "progressive" "friendly Indian" (as American Horse was considered) living in polygamy.
— jinlian

Interesting that there are two stories as to why American Horse killed Sioux Jim. One, because the latter was a) some kind of Indian outlaw and b) going to leave the reservation to join the non-treaty bands and roamers; therefore American Horse was doing both Indians and whites a tremendous favour b) American Horse was secretly passing rations to the northern bands and Sioux Jim ratted on him! — Grahame Wood

According to information I found at, Sitting Bear's wife, American Horse's mother, was called Walks With. American Horse later took the christian name Matthew. American Horse married Fannie Hard Woman in 1879. She was born in 1855. They had two daughters, Lucy (born 1880) and Alice Vina (born 1882). — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Here are some early notices of American Horse (1840-1908) that go some way to identifying his band affiliations.

Early notices do confirm Billy Garnett's statement to Ricker that American Horse belonged to the Bad Face band. During the 1860s and 70s this band name seems to be used interchangeably with True Oglala (Oglala-hca). Perhaps this is the source of Hyde's identification of the American Horse family with the True Oglala band.

The first documenetary notice I've found of American Horse is in a list of chiefs and headmen that the Loafer band peace envoy Big Ribs was to contact in fall 1865. It has been transcribed in John McDermott's fine book on the war of 1865 CIRCLE OF FIRE, p. 147. The list was the product of intense talks with Indians and traders around Fort Laramie. Separate lists were prepared for the Brules, Oglalas, Bad Faces, O Yoki ha pas (Oyuhpes), Miniconjous, and Cheyennes. Among the listed Bad Face band headmen is "Steals the White Man's Horse". That this is our American Horse is confirmed by the next name, that of his father Sitting Bear.

Apart from his role in the Fetterman fight, little is known about American Horse during the Bozeman Trail War. A document generated by the 1867 investigative commission indicates that in spring 1867 a nascent peace faction of Northern Oglalas was formed, seating four men as Wakichunze or Deciders to head their village organization. These men were Old Man Afraid of His Horse, Sword-Owner, Good Thunder, and White Man's House - I'm sure that last word is misprinted from horse, i.e., American Horse. At the end of the year American Horse was one of the peace envoys to visit Fort Laramie in the preliminary treaty talks. In a report by Indian Agent A. T. Chamblin he notes the visit in late December by a sizeable deputation of Brules and Oglalas, the latter including American Horse, "one of the Red Clouds' leaders in war parties."

In early April 1868 Indian messengers located several villages of Lakotas then preparing to deal with the Peace Commission. Clustered around the northwest edge of the Black Hills were several Oglala camps, as follows:

Oyoucapos, Ogallala, 75 lodges on Head of N. Fork of the Cheyenne River.
Red Cloud and Man Afraid of His Horse, 90 lodges, on Bear Lodge Creek
American Horse, 50 lodges, Head of Bear Lodge Creek
Bad Faces, 100 lodges, Belle Fourche

This is an early indication of American Horse's following becoming semi-independent from the larger Bad Face band.

In February 1871 the 66 lodge camps of American Horse (by now a Shirt Wearer, seated as such in summer 1868) was among the Oglala camps gathered near Ft. Laramie during the talks to locate Red Cloud Agency. Something seems to have happened at this stage, because two more detailed lists were prepared by civilian and military authorities, one in March and one in December 1871. Neither one lists American Horse or his father Sitting Bear. It is as if their camp had broken up and been absorbed by other bands. Interestingly, Red Cloud was counted at 78 lodges in February. When recounted the following month "Red Cloud's band" was enumerated in three camps, one of 35 lodges (headman Big Foot the Oglala), one of 108 lodges (headman Brave Bear, Red Cloud's brother-in-law), and one of 53 lodges (headmen Big Foot and Yellow Breast). Although unclear, it seems that the American Horse camp had been absorbed into the Red Cloud camps.

In March 1874 Lt. Col. J. W. Forsyth reported on the military takeover of Red Cloud Agency No. 2. In so doing he transcribed a working document of Agent Saville's, used as a basis in assessing rations at the agency. The Bad Face band is there rated at a total of 237 lodges (certainly inflated), comprising nineteen sub-bands. Among them are American Horse, 14 lodges, and Sitting Bear, 7 lodges.

Sometime between spring 1874 and summer 1876, the American Horse camp became identified with the Loafer band. Perhaps this reflects a distancing from Red Cloud's ongoing feud with agent Saville?

After the final settlement of the Oglalas at Pine Ridge Agency, there is a final shift in American Horse's affiliation. Beginning in 1880 the Oglala bands settled along the creeks draining north into White River. The major bands settled as follows:

Oglala proper (Bad Faces, Loafers, Payabya, Spleen): White Clay Creek
Oyuhpe: Wounded Knee Creek
Wazhazha: Porcupine Creek
Kiyaksa: Medicine Root Creek

American Horse and his band settled along the west fork of Medicine Root, near the Kiyaksa. Pine Ridge interpreter John Colhoff (1880-1953), very knowledgeable about Oglala bands and headmen, consistently identified American Horse as chief of the Kiyaksa band. Could one or more of those wives Ephriam told us about, married in the 80s, have been Kiyaksa? Alternatively, was American Horse's mother a Kiyaksa?

By the way, American Horse's father - Sitting Bear, also known as Three Bears - is said to have been the father of the Cheyenne headman Tangle Hair. So were American Horse and Tangle Hair half-brothers? — Kingsley Bray

The source of is Donovin Arleigh Sprague's book "Pine Ridge Reservation"; a curious thing is the statement on this "Matthew American Horse" (born in 1831) being the son of True Oglala's Sitting Bear, but not being the Oglala appointed shirtwearer during the Bozeman Trail War. Sprague clarifies then the parentage of current tribal leader Joe American Horse, as being the son of Louisa Kills Crow, daughter of Charlie American Horse, son of our American Horse. I suppose Chief Joe American Horse was Sprague's source. . . . I wonder if they have kept a family tree or something....

I add the link to Mike Stevens' Oglala Genealogy Resource page concerning AH: — jinlian

One more note about the Trager & Kuhn photo: There is a better version of this picture in the Eli S. Ricker interviews of the University of Nebraska Press. Vol.1. The inscription says:

Chief American Horse with Squaw No. 2
Copyrighted Jan 30 1891
by the N.W. Photo Co
Chadron Neb

From the same book: "American Horse told Ricker that his grandfather was ninety-six years old when he died in 1886."
This would mean his name must be somewhere in a Pine Ridge census record before that date. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I've found the reference on American Horse and the Cheyenne on the same book (Ricker Interview , vol.1) pp.284-85 in a certificate issued for American Horse to Lt.Col Hatch from Sgt. MacKenzie on October 25, 1876:

The bearer of this letter, American Horse, a chief of the Loafer Band of the Sioux, is the man who killed Sioux Jim, a member of his band who refused to be arrested by the troops, for which reason I think him a very good Indian and I wish you would have him well treated when at your Post. I wish you would also have Mr. James to introduce him to the Comanche Chiefs as a friend of mine and tell them to treat him well and take him Buffalo hunting if he wishes to go....

P.S. American Horse thinks his sister is with the Southern Cheyennes. Please give him a line to Agent Miles and ask him to assist him all he can, as he is a very good Indian.

I've been told that Mari Sandoz also mentioned a sister of American Horse being married to a Cheyenne in Cheyenne Autumn, but I have to check that - what's more, I don't have that book.

Incidentally, in the preface of this interview dated August 13, 1906, Ricker speaks of the "two wives" of American Horse (thus corroborating Ephriam's notes on American Horse being married to Sleep and Josie only after 1890) and of two daughters named Alice ("put to school when she was seven and not released till she was seventeen") and Julia.

About American Horse's grandfather: It would be interesting to get the whole 1884 census and get his name, supposing that he was living with American Horse (who had at least another brother). It shouldn't be forgotten that it was American Horse's grandfather who began keeping the family's wintercount. — jinlian

Julia American Horse
Julia American Horse

Charles American Horse
Charles American Horse

Samuel American Horse and Wife
Samuel American Horse & Wife

Now... this is an interesting picture. I can't remember seeing too many photos of a "squaw" dance. American Horse should be the man standing left with the cane.

"Squaw Dance," Pine Ridge, 1908

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Here there are two of the latest pictures of American Horse:

American Horse, December 1906
American Horse, December 1906

American Horse, 1907
American Horse, 1907

— jinlian

Head Chiefs of the Pawnee and Sioux Nations

The usual image from this session features Buffalo Bill in place of Sgt. Bates. — Grahame Wood

American Horse joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West at least for the 1886 Staten Island tour (as attested by some pictures and newspaper reports) but I don't know if he toured with Cody in later years. I remember reading somewhere that one or two of American Horse's sons joined the Wild West Show (one of them would be the Native leading the "Sioux Ghost Dance" in the 1894 Edison video) but can't remember where I got this info right now. I'll check in the next days.

Update: I found the reference about American Horse's son joining the Wild West and featuring in the Sioux Dance video:

"Playing at Being Indian: Spectatorship and the Early Western"

"It is possible that the Sioux dancer who gestures defiantly at the camera in Edison's Sioux Ghost Dance is the Sioux performer American Horse. A photograph of him taken by Gertrude Kasebier around 1900-01 appears in Fleming and Luskey." Then this son would be Samuel, the one photographed with his wife in the picture posted by Dietmar. — jinlian

Here are two photos from the Beinecke Library:

American Horse

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I think I got an idea about the identity of the boy after reading "Cincinnati" on the bottom corner of the picture. The New York Times on March 1st 1880, reported the following news:

From the Cincinnati Commercial, Feb. 28

"A schoolboy in this city was moved recently by a letter published in the Commercial to write to the Indian Chief American Horse and send him some pictures. The great chief was pleased and dictated to his young friend the following letter, in which was inclosed a photograph of himself and wife and daughter. . . . " (I think I mentioned this article in one of my previous postings.)

The letter reports only the boy's name, Edwin. Most probably, American Horse visited him in 1880 while en route to Carlisle. (The pictures of American Horse taken at Carlisle portray him in more or less the same regalia he wears in Dietmar's pictures, see below.)

American Horse at Carlisle, 1880
American Horse, Carlisle, 1880

— jinlian

American Horse, Buffalo Bill, and Red Cloud, 1897, New York

American Horse was photographed with Cody and Red Cloud during the 1897 tour at Madison Square Gardens by David Barry. Red Cloud and American Horse were east on business, however, not with the show.

Is the Godkin [photo below] the earliest American Horse portrait, or was the 1877 delegation earlier? When was he working? It can't have been much later than 77 or 78.

American Horse, 1877 or 1878

Here's the rather famous American Horse-Red Cloud photo taken 1890-1, I believe.

American Horse and Red Cloud, 1890 or 1891

And another from 1897:

American Horse and Red Cloud, 1897

— Grahame Wood

I don't have specific information about Godkin's activity, but yes, in that portrait American Horse looks quite the same he does in the 1877 delegation picture, at least if you mean this one:

1877 Delegation

The last of the Red Cloud-American Horse pictures you've posted was taken on January 1891 near Deadwood. — jinlian

In a rush but I wanted to say that the earliest photo including American Horse, that I'm aware of, is the one taken during the 1875 delegation visit to Washington, featuring leaders from Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, and Cheyenne River agencies, outside the Treasury Building. American Horse is seated on the ground in the front row. — Kingsley Bray

1875 Delegation
1875 delegation (American Horse sitting second from left)

Tribal Council, Pine Ridge, 1903
Tribal council, Pine Ridge, 1903 - American Horse stands in the middle; Red Cloud is sitting on the right.

A less known picture of American Horse:

American Horse, 1900
1900, from the Heyn and Matzen collection.

I've finally managed to scan the picture of the 1888 Lakota delegation to Washington. American Horse is marked with number 53; at his left (n.54) is George Sword. N. 39 and 40 are John Grass and Gall. N. 42 is Standing Rock agent McLaughlin.

In the front row, first from left, R.H. Pratt. Second from left is Commissioner for Indian Affairs J. Oberly.

1888 Lakota Delegation

I've been wondering about this point for a while, and recently thought about another possible explaination to both the American Horse - Cheyenne connection and the strange fact of Sitting Bear's importance decreasing more and more along the years. Could it be that American Horse's father (called Sitting Bear in the winter count, but also American Horse as it is stated in Red Cloud's autobiography- by the way, Kingsley, where did you get the info that Sitting Bear was also known as Three Bears?) at one point took a Cheyenne wife and went to live with a Cheyenne band (a thing that would also explain American Horse's statement to Sgt. Kenzie as reported in the Ricker book "American Horse thinks his sister is with the Southern Cheyennes"), thus disapperaring from the Lakota camps? Also, is there a possibility that the Sitting Bear mentioned in the documents was in fact not American Horse's father, but his own grandfather (something that would also explain the relevance given to this relative by American Horse both in the Ricker and Eastman reports)?

Thanks to the courtesy of the editor of the Annals of Wyoming, I've got a copy of Mr. Belish's article, "American Horse (Wasechun -Tashunka) The Man Who Killed Fetterman," and it does provide answers to at the least some of the questions raised in the present discussion.

1. About American Horse joining Buffalo Bill's Wild West: He was with the show from April 1886 to February 1887 and visited St.Louis, Dayton, Wheeling, Cumberland, Hagerstown, Frederick City, Washington, Philadelphia, Staten Island.

2. About the discussion on the 1888 land treaty: Belish suggests that American Horse wasn't in fact neither pro nor against the treaty, seeking rather to get more information about every point of the agreement and then, when he was in fact taken in by the idea of private property, he started speaking against its fiscal implications. However, there's some disagreement in American Horse's role in the 1888 commission talks (Hyde and Olson gave opposite explanations, while Larson provided a third theory which would conciliate the first two), but at this point I'd need to read all the original U.S. Congress documents about it.

About American Horse's parentage: I'm thinking of another theory regarding Sitting Bear but I'm waiting for other material to corroborate it.

In the meanwhile, here's another picture of American Horse which hasn't been posted before:

"Council of War"

American Horse is second from left in the sitting row. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to retrieve any info about the year and location; American Horse looks to be in his late fifties. — jinlian

Found another nice image of American Horse in my folder, its from Stevenson El Reno.

American Horse

— Henri/apsalooka

I'd say it was taken when American Horse was touring with Cody (1886-7).

Thanks to a friend's courtesy, I've got another pic taken at the 1898 Trans-Mississippi in Omaha.

1898 Trans-Mississippi in Omaha

American Horse, marked n.1 , sits in the first row (first from left); fourth from left is Geronimo; wasn't able to identify the last Indian in the first row (in the book he's identified as "Two Moons, Cheyenne", but this identification somehow doesn't sound right to me - was he in Omaha actually?). Fourth and seventh in the standing row are Naiche and Josh (Apache).
— jinlian

Isn't it Hollow Horn Bear in the group photo above? He was with American Horse in Washington. I've seen another photo with him, American Horse, Geronimo, Buckskin Charlie and Quanah Parker. . . .

Here it is:

Little Plume, Buckskin Charlies, Geronimo, Quanah Parker, Hollow Horn Bear, and American Horse Left to right: Little Plume (Blackfeet), Buckskin Charlie (Ute), Geronimo (Apache), Quanah Parker (Comanche), Hollow Horn Bear (Brule), American Horse (Oglala). — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Here's the Smithsonian Archives' record for the Trans-Mississippi picture. American Horse should be the second from left.

Trans-Mississippi Parade

Speaking of American Horse's distinctive features, Diane's mentioning a "lazy eye" in the Red Wing thread has made me think of a particular I've always wondered about, but, don't know why, I've never mentioned in this discussion. In all of American Horse's portraits is quite evident that one of his eyes looks definitely smaller and somewhat less "lively" than the other one.

American Horse

American Horse at Carlisle

I wondered if this was just a peculiar reaction to the camera (I strongly doubt it, however) or some kind of pathology (a little strabismus, maybe?). I've no medical background to define it, anyway.

Found another version of the photograph showing the Wild West cast during the Staten Island tour (1886) I've posted:

Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show cast, 1886, Staten Island, New York

American Horse is standing at the far left.

Still from the image above, a close-up of American Horse:

American Horse, 1886, Staten Island, New York

For those who have not seen it:

Billy Garnett, Charles Ash Bates, American Horse, 1907

Record says: U.S. allotting surveyor and interpreter making an American citizen of Chief American Horse, Oglala Sioux, 1907. Left to right: Billy Garnett, Charles Ash Bates, American Horse. — jinlian


The following publications contain information about American Horse:

Article: "War With the Sioux: Indian Fights and Fighters; Part III – End of the Sioux War" by Cyrus Townsend Brady • Pearson's Magazine • November 1904.

Article: "Redskins in the White House" by Jay F. Kay • Truth, honor, loyalty and justice were part of Chief Hollow Horn Bear's makeup. • Golden West • Vol. 1, No. 3 • March 1965.

Article: "American Horse (Wasechun-tashunka)" by Dan L. Thrapp • Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography •  Spokane: The Arthur H. Clark Company • 1990 •  Volume I, Page 22.

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