Arikara scout and Little Bighorn fallen hero
Bloody Knife was born in 1840 to an Hunkpapa Sioux father and a Ree mother. He spent his first 16 years with his father, but was frequently taunted, beaten and abused for being a "half-breed". At age 16, he left the Sioux camp with his mother, but returned in 1860 to visit his father. Bloody Knife was still despised by the Sioux, and was almost killed during his visit. Chief Gall, a leader of the Hunkpapa, killed Bloody Knife's two brothers in 1862. Bloody Knife was married to She Owl in 1866.
In 1868, Bloody Knife enlisted as a scout in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 7th Cavalry. He quickly became George Armstrong Custer's favorite scout. He was insolent toward whites and ridiculed them. He often amused Custer by ridiculing his marksmanship. Custer never got angry with Bloody Knife and often gave gifts to him.
In 1874, Bloody Knife guided the 7th through the Black Hills. He was with Custer in the Little Bighorn campaign. Bloody Knife was assigned to Major Marcus Reno during the Battle of the Little Bighorn and was killed by a shot to the head as he was standing beside Reno in the battle. Reno was attempting to ask him what the Indians were doing when he was shot and his blood splattered Reno's face. Reno then lost his sense and barked out orders that did not make sense before fleeing.
Bloody Knife was beheaded by the Sioux, who took the head to their camp. She Owl received $91.66 in wages owed to Bloody Knife in 1881.
"Bloody Knife was naturally mournful; his face still looked sad when he put on the presents given him. He was a perfect child about gifts, and the general studied to bring him something from the East that no other Indian had.
He had proved himself such an invaluable scout to the general that they often had long interviews. Seated on the grass, the dogs lying about them, they talked over portions of the country that the general had never seen, the scout drawing excellent maps in the sand with a pointed stick. He was sometimes petulant, often moody, and it required the utmost patience on my husband’s part to submit to his humors; but his fidelity and clerverness (sic) made it worthwhile to yield to his tempers."
Libbie Custer (in her book Tenting on the Plains)