Lame White Man
A Hero of the Cheyenne Elkhorn Scrapers
Roman Tadič (Ahanatamao'o)
According to the Cheyenne tradition, Hémo'eóhkéso or the Elkhorn Scrapers were among the three oldest warrior societies, beside Red Shields and Kit Fox or Coyote Soldiers, whose creation was initiated by the Great Prophet Motsé'eóeve himself. The society was called variously in various times and on various places — Elk Soldiers, Hoof Rattlers, Crooked Lances (among the Southern Cheyennes), or Blue Soldiers. In contrast to some other Cheyenne warrior societies, its members came from the Northern even Southern Cheyenne men. However, it was more powerful among the Northern Cheyenne bands.
The most sacred object of the society was probably an elkhorn scraper carved into the shape of a snake. An antelope shin bone belonged to the scraper too. They rubbed it over grooves on the elkhorn snake’s back. The Elkhorn Scrapers used this musical instrument during their ceremonies and feasts. Also, it was instrumental to drawing buffalo during so-called sacred hunts. Other society insignia were crooked lances and rattles with elk cloven-hooves.
The society survived to this day among the Northern even Southern Cheyennes. In the course of its long history, it enjoyed a great respect and many prominent men belonged or belong to it — Roman Nose, White Bull, George Bent, Charles and Gilbert Whitedirts, Standing in the Water, or famous Little Coyote (Little Wolf) who was a head chief of the society for a long time. Here, we are going to commemorate Lame White Man, an Elkhorn Scrapers’ headman.
Lame White Man (Vé'ho'énȯhnéhe), also known as Mad Hearted Wolf or Rabid Wolf, was born about 1838 or 1839 among the Southern Cheyennes. He became a headman of the Elkhorn Scrapers and was one of the bravest men in his society. Only the Chief Little Coyote or maybe the great warrior Roman Nose had more coups on their account. After the Sand Creek massacre, he joined the Northern Cheyennes and appeared in many battles against the US Army, in the Platte Bridge Battle of 1865 and the Fetterman Battle of 1866 for example.
In 1873, he and some other Northern Cheyenne leaders travelled to Washington, D.C., where he was photographed by Alexander Gardner. He was chosen for a Southern Cheyenne chief in 1874. He and his band stayed near the White River Agency. In the spring of 1876, they left the agency and joined the Northern Cheyenne band of the Chief Old Bear who camped in the Powder River Valley. They moved together and Lame White Man found himself in the large Lakota and Cheyenne camp at Little Big Horn on 24th June. The Elkhorn Scrapers took him for their speaker.
In the moment of the Reno’s attack, Lame White Man was sitting inside a sweat lodge. He crawled out and ran toward his tipi to get his family away. Then, he wrapped a blanket around his waist, put moccasins on, grabbed a belt and a gun, jumped on his horse, and rushed against the white soldiers. He stopped yet and called to his wife Twin Woman, “I must go across the river. I must follow my boys!” He had no time to take his warbonnet but he dressed a captured army coat on way.
Lame White Man was killed in the place of “Custer’s Last Stand”. Lakotas reconed his dead body in the blue army coat, laying among killed soldiers, for an Indian scout’s corpse and one of them scalped him. They recognized their mistake and returned the scalp later.
Lame White Man left behind a wife and two children, little son Red Hat and young daughter Crane Woman. White Shield, known as Young Black Bird in his youth, said Lame White Man was one of the bravest and wisest Cheyenne men of his time.
To Ma'eve'ėse or Red Bird, Vé'ho'énȯhnéhe's great great… grandson, who keeps long and glorious story of the Cheyenne people in his heart.