Bloody Knife bigraphy, stories - Native American scout with the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment who was killed at the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Bloody Knife : biography

1840 - 25 June 1876

Bloody Knife (Sioux:Tamena Way Way or Tamina WeWe; Arikara:Nes I Ri Pat or Nee si Ra Pat; ca. 1840 – June 25, 1876) was an American Indian who served as a scout and guide for the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment. He was the favorite scout of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer and has been called "perhaps the most famous Native American scout to serve the U.S. Army."

Bloody Knife was born to a Hunkpapa Sioux father and an Arikara mother around 1840. He was abused and discriminated against by the other Sioux in his village because of his background, in particular by Gall, a future chief. When Bloody Knife was a teenager, he left his village with his mother to live with the Arikara tribe. His brothers were killed during a Sioux raid led by Gall in 1862. Bloody Knife found employment as a courier and hunter for the American Fur Company and later served under Alfred Sully before scouting for George Custer on several military expeditions. He died from a bullet wound to the head on June 25, 1876, during the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

Black Hills Expedition

In 1874, Bloody Knife took part in the Black Hills Expedition, which included over a thousand men, geologists, infantry, cavalry, two miners, several reporters, and sixty-five Arikara scouts. Shortly before the beginning of the expedition, the Sioux attacked the Arikara village at Fort Berthold, killing five Arikaras and one Mandan. One of Bloody Knife's sons was killed in the attack and another scout, called Bear's Ears or Bear's Eye, lost a brother in the same attack. Bloody Knife blamed the death of his son on Gall. Many of the Arikara on the expedition wanted to avenge the attack and when they found signs of a band of Sioux in the Black Hills, they began to sing war songs and adorned their horses and themselves with war paint. Custer was not interested in solving tribal feuds and ordered the scouts not to attack any Sioux unless fired upon first. Bloody Knife and twenty-five other Arikaras were sent out for more scouting and found a small camp of five lodges. The scouts waited for Custer to arrive with his interpreter, Louis Agard, before taking any action. Although some reports suggested the presence of thousands of warriors in the hills preparing to attack, and most of the expedition thought that a fight would occur soon, Bloody Knife discovered a group of only twenty-seven Oglala Sioux, who had been cutting lodgepoles and hunting in the Black Hills and intended return to the Red Cloud Agency, one hundred miles south of their location. The group had no knowledge of the soldiers in the area and all but one Oglala ran away when Agard and some of the scouts approached them.

On August 7, 1874, Bloody Knife encountered a grizzly bear roughly seventy-five yards from where Custer was searching for a campsite. Custer, having had a lifelong dream of killing a grizzly bear, shot the bear twice with his Remington rifle, hitting it in the thigh, and Bloody Knife and William Ludlow helped with the kill. The bear was an old male with broken teeth, covered in scars, and weighed . Though Custer took credit for the kill, some believe that the fatal bullet was fired by Bloody Knife, and 2002 biography The Custer Companion states that the coup de grâce was a cut to the jugular vein by Bloody Knife.

During the Black Hills Expedition, several wagons became stuck at a bank. Custer asked whose fault the delay was and a scout named Charley Reynolds blamed Bloody Knife for the incident. Custer drew his revolver and fired shots in the two scouts' direction. Bloody Knife and Reynolds hid behind some trees. Bloody Knife then told Custer, "It is not a good thing you have done to me; if I had been possessed of madness too, you would not see another day." Custer replied, "My brother, it was the madness of the moment that made me do this, but it is now gone. Let us shake hands and be friends again." Bloody Knife agreed and shook Custer's hand.

While most Indian scouts earned $13 a month, the same amount of pay as the troops received, Custer arranged a job for Bloody Knife with the quartermaster as a guide, where he earned $75 ($ at today's prices) per month. On November 30, 1874, Private Bloody Knife was discharged from service, and for his efforts in the Black Hills Expedition, he received an additional $150 for what was called his "invaluable assistance".

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