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Red Tomahawk




We had photographs of Red Tomahawk, who shot Sitting Bull, in other threads.

I have often seen him identified as Yanktonai, but now I have found information on him in the Walter Campbell research notes. The information was recorded by A.B. Welch:

Marcellus Red Tomahawk
(Tacankpe Luta)

Born – "We found a dead Indian in a log house winter." My winter count shows this to have been 1849-1850

Age – “I was 16 years of age when we run off the beef herd from Fort Rice.” (This was in 1866 – Welch)

Father – Maka Opape – “Strikes the Earth” (A Sihasapa Sioux, Blackfeet)

Mother – Was Hunkpapa Sioux.

Police – Was among the first to be a U.S. Indian Police at Fort Yates. Continued as police until 1895.

Married – First wife was Maka Towin (Blue Earth Woman), a Hunkpapa. She belonged to the family of Rain in the Face (Ito Magaju), being a daughter of his youngest sister. Father of Maka Towin was Wahkiya Luta (Red Thunder). This man was not however, the famous Red Thunder who led the Yanktonaise [sic] to Detroit during the War of 1812.

Family – Thirteen children by at east three wives. Francis, a Carlysle [sic] graduate, now living, was the son of Maka Towin. At this date, AUGUST 7th, 1931, there are three sons and three daughters living.

Died – At Cannon ball, Standing Rock reservation, N.D., Aug. 7th/´31.

Buried – At cannon Ball Catholic cemetery, July 11th, 1931. The Riders of the White Horse Society were in charge. Speech was made by A.B. Welch.
—Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

There seem to be a confusion with the dates, but that's exactly how it was recorded in the Walter Campbell notes. I guess that 11th August 1931 is more likely the date of burial.
—Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I am also a descendant of Red Thunder who was the brother of Rain in the Face, Their father was Bear Face. The Red Tomahawk family still live in the area of Cannon ball.

The Red Tomahawk Family was given allotment in Cannon Ball.
— LaDonna Brave Bull Allard

Red Tomahawk´s profile is indeed on the road signs. He had a son called Joe Tomahawk, who shot himself in 1909, according to the Ring Bull wintercount at Buechel museum. The son of Maka Towin was called Francis. He was at Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania.

There is a photograph of Francis Red Tomahawk in Sprague´s "Standing Rock Sioux", page 113. In the same photo are Peter Red Tomahawk and his wife Edna Windy (Red Tomahawk), and Florence Melvin. Other descendants/relatives of Red Tomahawk shown in this book are Barney Red Tomahawk, Brenda Red Tomahawk, Kathleen (Vetter) Red Tomahawk and Ernestine (Huravitch) Red Tomahawk.
—Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

From a website:

In 1921, Marshal Foch, commanding general of the Allied Forces during the Great War, was invited by the American Legion to participate in their annual conference in Kansas City between November 1 and November 3. A few days later, he took part in the consecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, where he certainly met Chief Plenty Coups. Then the war hero went West, having previously expressed his desire to see Indian tribes. At Bismarck, North Dakota, he was welcomed by Red Tomahawk. Dressed in full war regalia in honor of his visitor, Red Tomahawk made an eloquent speech and gave Foch an Indian name¬"Charging Thunder." Marshal Foch then visited the Crow Indians in Montana where Plenty Coups met him and smoked the "traditional pipe of peace with him." A headdress, a shirt, and another name¬Napoleon-of-Napoleons¬were given to Foch. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Sioux County Pioneer
Volume 13 Number 18
THURSDAY, DEC 29, 1927

RED TOMAHAWK by Frank Fiske

On Dec. 15, 1890, just before daybreak, thirty-nine Sioux Indian policemen entered the camp of Sitting Bull, on the Grand river, with orders to arrest the Chief and bring him to the crossing of Oak Creek, about fifteen miles to the north where they were to meet two troops of cavalry. From here the Prisoner was to be escorted to Fort Yates.

Sitting Bull was the virtual leader of the so-called ghost-dancing Sioux who believed that all white man were about to be exterminated and the good old hunting grounds restored to the Indians so they would be free to hunt, dance and make war on their old enemies, the Rees, forever unmolested by the white people wh wanted them to farm and draw rations instead of drawing the bow for a living.

Bull Head, Shave Head and Red Tomahawk were the ranking members of the police force, and they were bringing Sitting Bull from his cabin when they were attacked by nearly two-hundred hostile Sioux. Bull Head and Shave Head fell at the first shot, but as he went down Bull Head fired into Sitting Bull's side. Red Tomahawk was directly behind the group and carried a small revolver that he had taken from the chief. With this he shot Sitting Bull in the head. Thus Red Tomahawk is given the credit for killing the most famous of Sioux Chiefs, and ending for all time the long standing warfare between the Indians and the white people.

When Red Tomahawk enlisted as a policeman, the government gained a valuable man for in his younger years he had won for himself glory in meeting the hereditary foes of the Sioux far out on the prairies to the west and north. But with the end of Sitting Bull a permanent peace came to abide in the Sioux country and fighting became a lost art.

Residing near Cannon Ball, N D Red Tomahawk often meets famous personages who visit the state before whom he is called to represent his people as a prominent type of the old time Sioux. The silhoette of his profile adorns the road markers of the state in honor of the man who served the government magnificiently.

For these reasons the Hokanson's Store at Fort Yates, N. Dak present this calendar that we may not forget that to be brave, competent and faithful is a trait exemplflied as of the Sioux by Red Tomahawk - who killed Sitting Bull.


— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Dakota Datebook: "Red Tomahawk and Hoover"

and here is an article where Red Tomahawk´s son is mentioned:

A big pow-wow was being held in the heart of the Black Hills. A pale-face was explaining a new deal the Great White Father was preparing in Washington. It was to be a Bill of Rights for the Indians. They were to get back the land they had lost to the dispossessor during the last fifty years. The Great White Father and his chief aide in the new plan, John Collier, who is white of skin but Indian at heart, had decided that, after all, it was better to make an Indian a good Indian rather than a poor white man and that the way to help him was to put him back on the land and restore to him his tribal rights and customs.

Here were Flatheads, Crows, Cheyennes, Black feet from Montana, Chippewas from Turtle Mountain, near the Canadian line; Arapahoes, Mandanes and Shoshones from Wyoming; Winnebagoes from Iowa, Sioux from the Dakotas. Young Red Tomahawk, son of the Indian who killed Sitting Bull, acted as Sioux interpreter.


Marcellus Red Tomahawk and family, 1908

The above photograph has been sent by Wakalapi.
— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Red Tomahawk

Tacanipiluta-Marcellus Red Tomahawk-born 1849

Father-Sintemaza –Peter Iron Tail-Yanktonais
Mother-Wamlisapa-Black Eagle-Hunkpapa

Marchellus Red Tomahawk
Spouse: Marcella Red Tomahawk: born 1866
Spouse Catherine born 1853
Spouse Ella
Spouse Winona Black Bear born 1848

Francis Red Tomahawk born 181879
Catherine Red Tomahawk born 1883
Joseph Red Tomahawk born 1887
Henry Red Tomahawk born 1891
Barnard Red Tomahawk born 1894 died 1977

Franics Red Tomahawk- Spouse Lucy
Barnard Red Tomahawk-Spouse Louise Blackhoop
Henry Red Tomahawk-Spouse Annie and Maggie.
— Ladonna Brave Bull Allard

Just a few additional notes a friend of mine found at familysearch.org:

Marcellus Red Tomahawk
birth: 1854

birth: 1856
marriage: 1878 Standing Rock, Ft. Yates
Francis RT born 1879
Barnabas RT born 1894

Catherine Upiwastewin Pretty Skirt
marriage: 30. Aug. 1903 St. Eliz Can Ball, North Dakota
mother: Bowlder Tunkanla

There also was Red Tomahawk family at Rosebud.
— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

From Minnesota Historical Society

Indian workshop, Standing Rock, North Dakota; Red Tomahawk on horse in foreground.
Photographer: George W. Scott
Cabinet photograph ca. 1891

From Library of Congress:

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Curious detail, that of the Crow loop necklace...I suppose such items became quite popular among the Lakotas by the end of the 19th century - I remember having seen at least two pictures of Lakota women wearing the traditional elk-teeth dress. — jinlian

I have read that Marcellus Red Tomahawk was the Captain of Police at Standing Rock in 1892, 1893 & 1894. Also, David Standing Soldier succeeded Marcellus Red Tomahawk in 1895 as Captain of Police at Standing Rock. David Standing Soldier supposedly remained as Captain from 1895-1902. — Wakalapi

Utley (in The Lance and the Shield) describes the Indian Policeman Red Tomahawk who assisted in the arrest of Sitting Bull in 1890 as "a mixed Yanktonai-Hunkpapa who lived on the Cannonball north of the agency and was unfamiliar with the people or the country to the south." (p. 298) If he was unfamiliar with Sitting Bull and his people, this would imply that he was not at the Little Bighorn.

This Red Tomahawk is listed in the 1900 census for Standing Rock Agency in the northern part of the agency in North Dakota, age 47 (born about 1853) and married 25 years (about 1875). His name is given as Yacaurpeduta, written in the Dakota dialect, not the Lakota dialect of the Hunkpapa. He is not listed with the Hunkpapa surrendering at Standing Rock in 1881. — Ephriam Dickson

He was probably the Red Tomahawk who spoke at the 1926 anniversary of the LBH.

National Archives, Kansas City, Standing Rock Agency Records: Copies Received and Copies Sent: Box 27, contains enlistment of Indian Police at Standing Rock, reported by Agt J.A. Stephan on July 1, 1881.

Captain Afraid of Bear
Lt. Crazy Walking

1st Sgt Crow Feather
2nd Sgt Iron Eye
3rd Sgt Eagle Man
4th Sgt Fool Bear
5th Sgt Standing Soldier

Broken Head
Keep the Eagle
Red Hawk
White Black Bird
Bald Head
Grey Bear
Spotted Face
Red Tomahawk
Yellow Wolf
Red Fox
Afraid of Anything
White Weasel Bear
Shave Head
red Top
The Middle
Takes the Gun
Iron Thunder
High Bear
Red Bear
Nick Kiddat
Good Wood
Little Eagle

— Kingsley Bray

What I can offer you on the identity of the family of Red Tomahawk taken 1908 would be information from the census records.

From left to right:
Henry Red Tomahawk born 1891 and son of Marcella and Marcellus Red Tomahawk;
Catherine Pretty Skirt born 1854 wife
Louise Red Tomahawk born 1905 daughter of Catherine and Marcellus Red Tomahawk;
Marcellus Red Tomahawk born 1852 died Aug 11, 1931;
Catherine Red Tomahawk born 1882 daughter of Marcella and Marcellus Red Tomahawk.
Source is the 1892 census and the 1908 census.

— Jean Sweeney


The following publications contain information about Red Tomahawk:

Article: "Red Tomahawk Back from East; Is Guest of Lions Luncheon" The Bismarck Tribune June 24, 1929 Page 7.

Article: "Custer's Revenge" by Joseph Mizrahi There was a time for peace and a time for war. The Sioux had fought and won at Little Big Horn, but the Red Man's defeat of Custer had enraged Washington. Fourteen years later, the end of the Indian had come Oldtimers Wild West No. 1 February 1977.


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