Rubbing Out Long Hair, by Col. Rodney Thomas. This is imo the best book analyzing the Indian ledger art work pertaining to the Little Big Horn Battle. And author Rod Thomas should be highly commended for his hard work and commitment in putting this research together for all to share and learn from. It should be noted that on page 97 (and also on the cover photo of the book) there is a picture drawn by a Cheyenne named Little Skunk of a mounted Indian counting coup on a buckskin clad, mustachioed officer being defended by a dismounted trooper holding a rifle. The author speculates that this drawing may well be that of an Indian counting coup on General Custer at the Little Big Horn (the description of the picture only states "before 1879"). However, it is my own view that this drawing better represents a coup being counted on General Nelson A. Miles at the Lame Deer Fight on May 7, 1877. The distinctive mustache drawn on the officer is very similar in style to the one worn by Nelson Miles, as opposed to Custer's. And the trooper protecting him is clearly Infantry based on the fact that he is using a rifle, as opposed to a carbine, normally carried by cavalry. This incident, I believe, would have occurred immediately after Lame Deer himself had been shot after his nephew Iron Star broke the parley by firing a shot that nearly hit Gen. Miles.
Last Edit: Jul 28, 2020 17:30:53 GMT -5 by moderator
Author Rodney Thomas sent this reply to my post above at a different forum:
Bill Rini, first of all, thank you for the kind words about Rubbing Out Long Hair-Pehin Hanska Kasota and the work that went into researching the warrior art of the fight. It was, as you know, a labor of love over a 12 year period of time (active duty, retirement new job, etc.) to get to print. In the intervening decade, my study of this art/history has increased my respect and appreciation for the men (almost exclusively men) "telling" their histories with art. I've also come to question some of the analysis of some of the artwork and the Little Skunk drawing is one. I'm currently researching several Cheyenne ledgers and the explanation you give above is spot on. Thank you. There are other depictions of this incident and fits nicely with your view. Another drawing that has changed over the years is the Little Wolf drawing of the army casualties in the valley fight - page 102. Readers will note that I thought the figure at top of the page, beheaded and knife jammed into the mouth was Isaiah Dorman. Lilah Pengra, Dorman's biographer, suggests it is Bloody Knife instead. The darker skin depiction on the body that I thought represented Dorman, she feels is the burned remains of Bloody Knife. I agree, especially after ten more years of learning. Thank you...I've printed your analysis off and placed it in my editing copy. Oh BTW, this is exactly one of the reasons I did the book...to get to where both sides tell their stories. The other was to enable folks to find more art and with four additional paintings that has been successful.
Last Edit: Jul 28, 2020 17:32:56 GMT -5 by moderator
This is a good example of Art and History walking hand in hand to produce a narrative that promotes debate and discussion, especially on the LBH battle, that is much too often mired in controversy for the sake of controversy.
Here is a very perceptive excerpt taken from Col. Rod Thomas' conclusion, p. 328, of his book Rubbing Out Long Hair:
Frankly, if there was some form of ambuscade, planned and executed by a "West Point educated" Indian leader, the winners would have told about it as well as graphically shown it. There is no record of such a plan. If there were large numbers of cavalrymen committing suicide the winners would have told about it and graphically shown it. There is no record of such. If the cavalry were spent and broken down the winners would have shown that. They didn't. If soldier's weapons jammed in large numbers the winners would have shown that. They didn't. ... Additionally, the Springfield carbine jamming is of concern only in this battle. This was not the single largest gathering of Plains Indians ever and popularly believed to be from three to five miles long. The people in the village quite frankly showed the size of the encampment whose size figures to be about one and a half miles from upriver to downriver. Estimated width is more accurately given as three-fourths of a mile and the art supports that spacing.
The discounting and reluctance to study and analyze Indian warrior testimony about the battle has been general among White historians for as long as the warrior narratives have been available. Using the warrior art has been even less considered and probably because the sources were not well known. ... but with his publication, errors included, using the art to understand the narratives should become a respected source of the battle history.
While it is true that the land on which the battle was fought was "Indian" land, it is often overlooked that it was the land of the Crow people -- by time and by treaty. It remains Crow land to this day. The Lakotas and Cheyennes were interlopers on this land as were the Whites. They fought the Crow people for several decades for possession of it and is a fascinating history for another time. ... While Lakota and Cheyenne warriors fought to protect their families, and euphemistically their "way of life," White Swan and Half Yellow Face fought for their land as well as the Crow people. ...
The history of this event is so mangled with myth and misunderstanding that at times some descriptions of it defy understanding. To have discounted the narratives and portrayals of those whose lives were directly impacted that day as next to useless decreased everyone's understanding of the event.... While the discrepancies and inconsistencies still exist in the Indian narratives, it is better now appreciated that these attributes pertain to both sides of the participants.
On page 310, figure 2, of Rubbing Out Long Hair, by Col. Rod Thomas, Yellow Nose draws a scene wherein a warrior carrying a shield and red sash has been shot twice and wounded, in the arm and the side, along with his horse being killed from a skirmish line of 9 soldiers firing from a prone position. The warrior is also holding a fancy bridle he has removed from his dead horse. In addition to the red sash, the warrior is wearing a fringed buckskin shirt. There is no indication as to who this wounded warrior is, but I would speculate that it may well represent the wounding of Ice's son, Noisy Walking, who was shot down in the same sector of fighting in which Yellow Nose had led several charges against Keogh's men deployed in a dismounted skirmish line on the west side of Battle Ridge close to where the Cheyenne Chief Lame White Man had been killed, likely by the same firing line of troopers on the ridge above. Noisy Walking was actually shot 3 times (although only two wounds can be seen in this picture) and was found after the battle in upper Deep Ravine just below the Keogh sector on Battle Ridge. Noisy Walking would later die the next day in the Cheyenne camp. The account of his aunt, Kate Big Head gives us a further clue as to the identity of this wounded warrior when she told Dr. Thomas Marquis in her account of the battle published in 1927: "Some women told me he [ie. Noisy Walking] had expected me to be there, and he had wrapped a red scarf about his neck in order that I might know [or recognize] him from a distance."
Last Edit: Jul 30, 2020 22:44:44 GMT -5 by moderator
Rubbing Out Long Hair, by Col. Rod Thomas, page 258, has a drawing by White Bull (Minneconjou) depicting his horse being shot several times while he charging mounted by a volley fired from a 3 man soldier skirmish line. White Bull is charging directly towards this small group of soldiers when his horse is hit four times, then turns around and rides away from the soldiers before falling down. This event would likely have occurred at a location against the Yates' squadron of either E or F Co. to the west of Last Stand Hill according to White Bull's own description of the event. Here are White Bull's descriptive comments that accompany this drawing:
"This is White Bull. I was twenty-six years old [at the time of the Little Big Horn Fight]."
"His horse was wounded in several places and fell. It was in the fight with Long Hair['s men] that my horse was shot from under me. It was a hard fight, my friend. Many brave deeds were performed on that occasion, my friend, warlike deeds of the most difficult sort, friend."
Last Edit: Jul 30, 2020 22:46:23 GMT -5 by moderator