Red Bear was the Mountain Crow principle leader since the late 1840's, around the time the Kicked In The Bellies separated from the Mountain Crows. Red Bear (aka Sits On The Edge Of Fortification) was the second signatory of the 1851 Horse Creek Treaty, behind Big Shadow who was considered head chief of all the Crows from that time. Red Bear was never leader of the Kicked In The Bellies, nor was he ever appointed head chief of the Crows. (Twines His Horses Tail/Rotten Tail was the leader of the River Crows at the time.)
Right after First Feather Of The Tail's death, the distinction of principle headman of the KitB was held by Sits In The Middle Of The Land, better known as Black Foot. At the same time, Black Foot also became the head chief of all the Crows, a position he would not relinquish until the 1870s. I do not know for certain if First Feather actually held that position as well, but I expect so. His prominence was so short, he is all but forgotten by history.
It is therefore interesting to note then that the three successive tribal head chiefs all came from the Kicked In The Bellies, a fairly new offspring of the Mountain Crows. A testament to the quick rise of KitB political power among the three Crow bands during this important decade.
Carlo. I do know that it is a custom to among the Crows to "carry" the name of a distinguished deceased family member. I believe that this could possibly be the case of mistaken identity for the Crow Chief killed at Crowheart Butte. Everything that I have read on the Crowheart Butte battle says that it occurred in 1866. Can you please give me your sources that substantiate the 1858 date? Kingsley stated in "Lone Horn's Peace" that Big Robber was killed by the Sioux. The Lutheran Missionaries stated that he was killed by the Blackfeet. I have not heard the Crow oral history. Is it specific?
There was only one Big Robber/Big Shadow, a very prominent war leader and head chief of the Crows. I therefore highly doubt that this is a case of mistaken identity. There are no specifics from Crow oral history on the Crowheart Butte fight, yet this is the best argument why this happened in 1858; we know for certain he was killed then, so it may be indeed possible he was killed in this fight. Could also be Blackfeet, Lakotas, yes, but I am not sold on the latter given the battle took 30 Crow lives and no Lakota record of that exists.
Now, if we take the intertribal relations between the two tribes, then 1866 is certainly quite a stretch, if not to say impossible, for the Crows and Shoshones to be fighting a large scale battle. They were off and on allies (most of the time) and enemies (some of the time), but by the mid 1860s they were definitely at peace. From what I have found, all the secondary sources placing the fight in 1866 all are repeating the same source: a roadside marker at the location. And we all know how accurate these can be!
[There are quite a few others as well, but I haven't noted these down as my interest do not specifically include Crow-Shoshone fights.] New independent sources would be most welcome if you can share, but that would be for another thread.
Concluding: Big Shadow may or may not have been killed at Crowheart Butte, we may never know. But we do know it was not in 1866 as he was killed by enemies in the summer of 1858.
Carlo, I was told one story of the capture of the Crow Woman by the Shoshones in the days of conflict leading to the Crowheart Butte battle. It said that the women were away from the main camp picking berries when they were surprised by the Shoshones and she was captured. I was told this story by a one of the woman's Crow descendants. As Big Robber was already deceased by early July of that year it is doubtful that any berries would have been ripe enough to pick at the time of his death. The story did not specifically name the Crow Chief killed. Also, the Report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs did not include mention of any Crow conflict with the Shoshones in 1858. You would think that this would have been mentioned and recorded as the conflicts with the Flatheads, Nez Perce's and Sioux were; especially a battle of this nature.
Carlo, I would like to add that in the wars with the Blackfeet, Sioux and Flatheads that the Crows had a total of 30 warriors lost when the report was filed. This does not sound like the losses occurred in a single battle but in several skirmishes that would possibly not have been recorded.
Carlo, My great-grandfather was Frank Shively, (Braided Scalp Lock) the noted statesman and interpreter of the Crow Tribe. He graduated from Carlisle in 1898. Here is a quote from a letter that he wrote in 1926: "I am a member of the Mountain Crows of the Absarokee Tribe, being the direct descendant of the great chief of all the Crow Indians, Hes-an-en Du-wem-isa. He was the chief that signed the treaty of 1851 with the United States. His other name that appears in the Treaty books of the United States, is Arra-tu-esahs--meaning Big Shadow or Big Shade, for he was so tall and broad the Indians nick-named his as casting a big shadow like a big mountain." I have not been able to find anyone who can interpret Big Shadow's real name from the Crow of 90 years ago as it appears that the language has evolved so much. Would you have any idea what the translation would be for his real name? Also, from your research would you have any idea how Big Shadow came to be called Big Robber? Thank you for leading me in the right direction for the date of the Crowheart Butte battle. So far one source has stated that the battle took place in the fall of 1858 or the spring of 1859. This would possibly clarify the berry picking by the Crow women and would mean that Big Shadow could not have been killed there as he would have been deceased for several months when the battle took place.
hconroy, I have not seen any other name for Big Shadow. Unfortunately I can't help you with the translations as I have no knowledge of the Crow language. Maybe you could try contacting the language dept. at Little Big Horn College? On your follow-up question, from what I gathered the misinterpretation of Big Shadow's name to Big Robber is that the words in Crow must be similar. I believe this comes from Joe Medicine Crow's writings, if I recollect correctly.
Gentlemen, I have shown the phonetic spelling of Big Shadow's real name to several people who are all very fluent in Crow and so far no one has been able to tell me what it means. I will continue to pursue this. LBCH is a very good suggestion. The book "The Shoshoni-Crow Sundance" by Fred W. Voget describes Big Shadow's sundance in 1844. The descriptions are given by Robert Meldrum, who spent most of his life among the Crows as a fur trader, especially at Fort Sarpy. Meldrum only references Big Shadow as Big Shadow, the name specifically ascribed to him by my Great-Grandfather. An acquaintance recently told me that Meldrum was in fact Big Shadow's brother-in-law according to tradition. Robert Meldrum was the Crow interpreter at the Horse Creek Treaty grounds. Here is a description by B. Gatz Brown of the Missouri Republican, witness to the treaty negotiations: "Mr. (Robert) Meldrum, the Crow interpreter, has been many years among them, and is, in feeling and habits almost identified with them. He is, withal, an intelligent man, understands their language perfectly, and is capable of comprehending the extent, effect, and importance of the propositions submitted." Given these bits of information it is inexplicable that Big Shadow's name became Big Robber in the news reports when he actually signed his name as Big Shadow on the treaty! One can only guess as to why this happened. Perhaps there was more than one interpreter. Perhaps Big Shadow had another nickname given to him by his enemies due to his success as Pipe-Carrier that was relayed to the reporter aside from the speeches at the Council. This is certainly a mystery! On another note; there is a picture of Bear's Head taken in 1859 with several of his warriors in the Plenty Coups museum at Pryor,Mt.
The photograph of Bear's Head was posted by Grahamew on July 6,2009. In the picture of four seated warriors Bear's Head is identified as being 3rd from the left. This is the earliest known photograph of the Crow and was supposedly taken near Fort Sarpy. The likeness of Twines-His- Tail (Rottentail) was recorded by Kurz the artist near Fort Union in the fall of 1858. Does anyone know of any likeness of Big Shadow? I have not been able to find one, along with Two Face and Red Bear.
The photograph of Bear's Head is the third one down in the posting by Grahamew of July 6, 2009. It is somewhat fuzzy around the edges but shows Bear's Head clearly. Note the claws on his moccasins! The identities of the others are not given in the display at the Plenty Coups museum.