Big Mouth (chief)

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Portrait of Big Mouth.

Big Mouth (1822-October 29, 1869) was an Oglala Lakota chief during the nineteenth century. Big Mouth was the first son of Old Chief Smoke and his third wife, Burnt Her Woman. He was the elder twin brother of Chief Blue Horse.

The Oglala Lakota[edit]

Chief Big Mouth and Chief Blue Horse, his twin brother served as Indian policemen in Old Chief Smoke’s civil administration at Ft. Laramie, Wyoming around 1864.[1]

Big Mouth became headman with Blue Horse of the Wagluhe Band of the Oglala Lakota upon the death of Old Chief Smoke in 1864.

Chief Blue Horse and his twin brother, Chief Big Mouth

Murder[edit]

Chief Big Mouth opposed Chief Spotted Tail’s Lakota leadership and criticized his negotiations with Washington politicians. On October 29, 1869, Spotted Tail called at the door of Big Mouth’s lodge, and asked to speak with him. On his appearance, he was seized by two warriors, who held him fast, while Spotted Tail drew a pistol, placed it against his body, and shot Chief Big Mouth dead. Captain DeWitt C. Poole at the Whetstone Indian Agency reported Chief Blue Horse’s shock and anger to Chief Big Mouth’s murder. “Blue Horse started a violent harangue in the Sioux language. He had a rifle in one hand and a strung bow and a bunch of arrows in the other, and when he dropped his blanket, two navy Colts and a big scalping knife could be seen in their sheaths at his belt. He was in a raving fury, leaping and bounding about the room as he hurled accusations and threats at Chief Spotted Tail. Chief Big Mouth died toward dawn. Some hours later, Blue Horse came to agent Poole’s office and told he that he felt so sad over the death of his great and good brother that he would have to wash off the paint he had put on his face for the feast the day before and begin mourning. The interpreter warned Poole that if this Indian washed his face and started mourning, it would mean the reopening of the feud and more shootings. The agent would give Blue Horse two blankets, that would comfort him, and he would refrain from washing his face and going gunning for Spotted Tail. The blankets were handed over, and the grieving brother went quietly away.”[2] Poole later reported that Chief Spotted Tail made a prompt payment of a stipulated number of ponies to Blue Horse and that aboriginal law had been vindicated.[3] Chief Blue Horse, Big Mouth's twin brother, was pressed to avenge the murder, but chose the path of non-violence and instead moved with his Wagluhe band to another locality. Chief Red Cloud was also aggrieved by his brother's murder. Nonetheless, Chief Red Cloud continued to work with Chief Spotted Tail in delegations to Washington, D.C. to protect tribal lands, enforce broken treaties and preserve Lakota culture.

The Murder of Chief Big Mouth by Chief Spotted Tail, 1869

References[edit]

  1. ^ George E. Hyde and Harry H. Anderson, “Spotted Tail's Folk: A History of the Brule Sioux”, (1961) at p.117.
  2. ^ George E. Hyde and Harry H. Anderson, “Spotted Tail's Folk: A History of the Brule Sioux”, (1961) at p.167-168.
  3. ^ Dewitt Clinton Poole, “Among the Sioux of Dakota: eighteen months experience as an Indian agent” (1881) at p.165.