Red Hawk, Oglala Lakota Biography

Red Hawk
Red Hawk on horseback, circa 1905.

Red Hawk.  Oglala Lakota.  Born 1854.  First war-party in 1865 under Crazy Horse, against troops.  Led an unsuccessful war-party at 22 years old against Shoshone.  First coup when twelve horse-raiding Blackfeet were discovered in a creek bottom and annihilated.  Led another party against Shoshone, but failed to find them; encountered and surrounded a white-horse troop.  From a hill overlooking the first Red Hawk saw soldiers dismount and charge.  The Lakota fled, leaving him alone.  A soldier came close and fired, but missed.  Red Hawk did likewise, a thump and “O-h-h-h!”.  A Cheyenne boy on horseback rushed in and struck the soldier, counting coup.  Engaged in twenty battles, many with troops, among them the Custer fight of 1876; others with Pawnee, Crow, Shoshone, Cheyenne and even with Sioux scouts.

Red Hawk fasted twice.  The second time, after two days and a night, he saw a vision.  As he slept, something from the west came galloping and panting.  It circled about him, then went away.  A voice said, “Look!  I told you there would be many horses!”.  He looked, and saw a man holding green grass in his hand.  Again the voice said, “The will be many horses about this season”; then he saw the speaker was a rose-hip, half red, half green.  Then the creature went away and became a yellow-headed blackbird.  It alighted on one of the offering poles, which bent as if under a great weight.  The bird became a man again, and said, “Look at this!”.  Red Hawk saw a village, into which the man threw two long-haired human heads.  Said the voice, “I came to tell you something, and I have now told you.  You have done right”.  Then the creature, becoming a bird, rose and disappeared in the south.  Red Hawk slept, and head a voice saying, “Look at your village!”.  He saw four women going around the village with their hair on the top of their heads, and their legs aflame.  Following them was a naked man, mourning and singing the death-song.  Again, he slept, and felt a hand on his head, shaking him, and as he awoke a voice said, “Arise, behold the face of your grandfather!”.  He looked to the eastward and saw the sun peeping above a ridge.  The voice continued: “Listen!  He is coming, anxious to eat”.  So he took his pipe and held the stem toward the rising sun.  This time he knew he was not asleep, or dreaming: he knew he was on a hill three miles from the village.  A few days later came news that of five who had gone against the enemy, four had been killed; one returned alive, and followed the four mourning wives around the camp singing the death-song.  Still later they killed a Cheyenne and a Crow scout, and the two heads were brought into camp.

This biography was written by Edward S. Curtis in The North American Indian, Volume 3, Page 188.

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