Old Crow – Helping the Cheyenne Escape

Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife.

Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife.

Old Crow was a Crow Indian, who was allegedly one of the members of Dull Knife’s band of Cheyenne, which left the reservation in Indian Territory in 1878. The group made a memorable raid across Kansas in September and October 1878, killing 32 citizens and destroying much property. They were pursued and several were captured and confined at Fort RobinsonNebraska.

Their wives succeeded in smuggling them a number of guns, which were used on the morning of January 21, 1879, in making a dash for liberty. Captain Wessells, at the head of a squad of troops, immediately gave chase and the next day fought a desperate battle in which the Indians were almost entirely exterminated with only seven men and 16 women and children surviving.

Old Crow and six of his brother warriors were taken to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and later to Dodge City, Kansas. Their trial was set for June 24, 1879, in the District Court of Ford County, the charge against them being murder. A change of venue was asked for by the defense which was granted, and the case was sent to the District Court of Douglas County for trial at the succeeding October term. At this time all the Indians were liberated.

Dull Knife Prisoners

Dull Knife Prisoners

Army officers acquainted with Old Crow said that he had been employed by the government as a scout and had proven faithful, valuable, trustworthy, and bore a good reputation. They said he belonged to the Crow tribe instead of the Cheyenne and could have had no hand in the depredations of the latter in Kansas the previous year. He claimed to be a Sioux and is said to have been an Indian of more than ordinary intelligence.

Compiled and edited by Kathy Alexander/Legends of Kansas, updated February 2022.

Also See:

Historic People of Kansas

Kansas History

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Native American History in Kansas