An Oglala Sioux's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn
EAGLE ELK' MEMORIES
source: Lakota Recollections edited by Richard G. Hardorff, pages 99 -105
Art : Michael Schreck, http://michaelschreckart.com
DIFFERENT BANDS were camped [together]. They had a victory dance all night. Next morning I came towards this camp. There was a battle on a creek called Rosebud. Some of them came back and had a victory dance. About four days later the Custer fight took place. When day came, it must have been about eight in the morning, when the people stopped dancing to eat. Just at that time, a Hunkpapa woman called me and said, "Attackers are approaching fast, they say." (Natan uskay.) While I was with the others, a second call from the same woman repeated the same thing: "Natan uskay." I said, "I am going home. There is something to that [warning]." Someone said, "Don't go. They are not going to kill us all at once."
I took my blanket and started [walking] and someone came along and said, "Friend, I am going home, too." It was Red Feather. We started together across the camp circle. Just then we heard shooting towards the river. Red Feather and I ran and got to our home. Just at this moment my brother had driven the ponies in from the water. As we were running to our teepee, I came across a pony that I knew belonged to a relative, so I caught the pony and rode him. I then got my own horse and gun. I was on a fresh horse and started towards where the excitement was going on.
I went a little way and another Indian came along, and he had a horse that belonged to me and was a good horse. I changed to that horse and went right on. Just about that time they were chasing the soldiers. The older people ran away, but the Indian men went right out to fight the soldiers on foot. As I was going along, I saw that the Indians were chasing the soldiers. There were two Indians, one on a black and the other on a white horse, chasing the soldiers. Suddenly, the man on the white horse got among the soldiers. He had a sword and used it to kill one soldier. The other Indian fell off his horse. The horse ran back to the camp. Some man brought the horse back, and that man was Crazy Horse. I did not see where Crazy Horse went from there.
As I was going along, my brother came, and he had a gun, too. He wanted my gun, which was a Winchester; and so I gave it to him and took his. As I went along, I saw a man sitting on the ground, and a woman came along and stopped by him, and first I thought she was pointing at him. She drew back her arm and pointed at him again, and the gun [she was holding] went off and the man dropped. The man was a Hunkpapa who was with the soldiers, and [he] got wounded and fell off his horse.
When the woman came up, he said that her husband, or son, must [have] be [en] shot in the battle. She came with her gun, and the man said, "Do not kill me, because I will be dead in a short while, anyway."
The woman said, "If you did not want to be killed, why did you not stay home where you belong and not come to attack us?" The first time she pointed the gun it did not go off, but the second time it killed him. I heard that this woman is still living among the Hunkpapas. Her name is Her Eagle Robe.
Then I saw that a bunch of Indians were chasing the soldiers up the creek. It was deep and flooded. The Indians could kill the soldiers in the water as they tried to swim [across]. There were two men who ran away from the rest up the hill. They were two Rees who were with the soldiers. They were singing as they ran away, so we knew they were Indians. I was not doing very much, but was keeping back and watching. The two [Ree] Indians escaped and ran up the hill. Before they got away, a Sioux rode up to them and was going to attack the Ree. The Ree shot the Sioux, and he fell off his horse. After that a man with long hair and all stripped got right up to him and they were both on the ground, and the Ree and Sioux were shooting at each other. The Ree was shot down and fell. Just at that time, the other Ree was fighting with another Sioux, and the Ree shot the Sioux off his horse. The stripped man shot the Ree.
I did not see any soldiers who escaped; all I saw were killed. Just about that time, some Indians started a fire because soldiers were hiding in the tall grass." Just then someone said more soldiers [Custer's battalion] were coming. There was a party of eight Indians and I who started that way and got to a point where they could see there were soldiers all right. We nine went down and saw the [Custer] soldiers on the ridge. Before we crossed the water, we were the first to make a charge. One man went out of the bunch and took away the flag that one soldier had. The Cheyenne was shot through the heels, and his horse stumbled and broke his legs. We went right up to the soldiers. Just at this moment we noticed that the other Indians were charging from the south end." From that time, the others were coming across the creek after the soldiers. The soldiers were shooting a lot, so the Indians were thrown back.
I saw a yellow spotted horse running and no man was on him. Just then I saw an Indian running who was shot through the jaw, and [he] was all bloody. My brother saw him and came up and helped him, and then we went on chasing the soldiers. I had a brother with me, and as we made a charge, they shot back very heavily, so we swung back. Just then my brother's horse was running [off] and he was not on him. I thought he was shot off, and just at that moment there were four soldiers' horses running. I chased after them. I was chasing the horses and got two of them, and gave them to another Indian. At that moment I saw a horse shot through the head near the ear. He did not drop, but went around and around [in a circle].
An Indian came and said, "Your cousin is shot off his horse. He is lying over there." But I did not go back to look for him. Another man said, "There is a man shot through the head." I found him and saw the man. He wore a bird on his head, and the bullet went through the bird and his head. One of the soldiers' horses that I caught (above) was bay and the other sorrel. The bridle reins were tied together. I got off my horse and another man was getting off. This man who was shot through -- we went there; and it was behind a ridge so there was no danger.