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  • Writer's pictureJohn Graybill

Two Whistles

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Born I856. Mountain Crow of the Not Mixed clan and Lumpwood organization. Never achieved a recognized coup, but at the age of eighteen he led a party consisting, besides himself, of two others, which captured a hundred horses from the Sioux. Participated in four severe battles against Arapaho and Sioux, one being the engagement at the mouth of Pryor creek (see page 96 NAI, or below). First fasted at the age of thirty-five. The first night he saw the warbonnet of a Sioux; the next day he cut the skin and flesh of his arms in representation of eight hoof-prints; and that night the moon came to him and said, “At Lyéhopiśh (the country about Livingston, Montana) are buffalo and horses mixed; you will never be poor.” In the outbreak caused by the medicine-man Wraps Up His Tail, at Crow Agency in 1887, Two Whistles was shot in the arm and breast, necessitating the amputation of the arm above the elbow. His medicine of hawk was purchased with a horse from a Sioux. Portrait, folio plate 111.

Apsaroke and Nez Percés Against Lakota Five years after the fight at the mouth of East Pryor, about two hundred lodges of us — the rest were away with the River Crows — were hunting buffalo along Arrow creek, and some animals were seen with Lakota arrows sticking in their backs. Scouts were sent out, and we moved northward to the Yellowstone country where we could have a good fight.

We found the Lakota along Crooked Face creek*, about four hundred of them, a war-party in search of us, living there in little low lodges that looked like sweat-lodges. They saw us at the same time, as we could tell by the signals they flashed to one another. With us were eighteen lodges of the Nez Percés under Looking Glass and White Bird, who had been visiting us.

That night we had a war-dance, and so did the Nez Percés. Looking Glass came forward and struck the drum, and said, in signs, “Crow Men, look at me. To-morrow I am going to get off my horse and fight. Beat the drum once for me.” White Bird stepped out, and said, “When my friend jumps off, if no one helps him, I will. If a Lakota gets off his horse and is surrounded by Nez Percés and Crow Men, I will dismount and take his gun away from him. Beat the drum once for me.”

In the morning scouts were sent out, and they reported the enemy divided, a portion being on each side of Pryor creek. So we separated to meet them. As the sun came above the earth, the division on the west side charged down from the hills and one of our parties went to meet them. Those on the east side, seeing our camp empty, charged down from the hills, intending to cross the creek and strike us in the rear; but just then our other party, which had been concealed in the hollow, rose in front of them. They were surprised, and went back. I was with this band, and the Nez Percés were divided among the two forces. They were proud men. The Lakota on the west side were pushing the Apsaroke back when Looking Glass dismounted. The Lakota came on each side of him, so that we could not see him for a moment; but the Apsaroke turned quickly and charged, driving the enemy back. Looking Glass still had his horse with him: the Nez Percés and the Flatheads, when they dismounted in battle, kept their horses and did not turn them loose as we did.

A Lakota horse was shot, and his rider ran on foot. A young man who had been captured from the Shoshoni when a child rode after him and struck him. The man on foot shot him through the stomach. Another man caught up and struck second, and was shot through the breast. A third Apsaroke counted third coup, and the Lakota shot him through the thigh. Then suddenly another of the enemy appeared from somewhere and took his friend on his horse and went.

White Bird kept his promise. When a Lakota was on foot and shooting, he rode up behind, jumped off, seized the gun, and ran.

We always knew when the Lakota were ready to run, and now when the time came we gave war-cries and charged. They began to run, and their friends on the other side went too. We chased them over the heights, and stopped there to catch horses, pick up robes and weapons, and to plunder their abandoned camp. In the running fight we killed eleven horses and then broke the heads of their riders. War-bonnets were flying loose, and they threw away robes and ledhorses. There were about a hundred and fifty of us and about twenty Nez Percés; we lost three and our friends one. 

*A stream flowing into Pryor (Arrow) creek, a few miles upstream from Huntley, Montana. The fight occurred in I869. See HIGH HAWK’S WINTER-COUNT, Volume III, page 179 NAI. 

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