Buffalo Calf Road Woman, b. ca. 1844-1879

Cheyenne Warrior

Series: Outstanding Native Women | Story 13

KB Schaller

Buffalo Calf Road Woman

It was not until 2005 that Northern Cheyenne storytellers broke their silence about what really happened at the Battle of The Little Big Horn-known mainly to Native Americans as the Battle of Greasy Grass, and to non-Natives as Custer's Last Stand.

But it took more than a century before Buffalo Calf Road Woman, a Northern Cheyenne who was also known as Buffalo Calf Trail Woman-was revealed as the Native American heroine who played a pivotal role in the conflict's ending.

When Chief Comes in Sight, her brother, was wounded in the 1876 Battle of the Rosebud (as the United States called it ) and left to his fate on the battlefield, it was doubtless because fellow Native fighters determined it was too risky to attempt rescuing him.

But as the saying "blood is thicker than water" goes, with her pony galloping at full speed, Buffalo Calf Road Woman thundered onto the battlefield, hoisted her brother from the battleground to horseback, and carried him to safety. To honor her bravery, the Cheyenne re-named the Battle of the Rosebud to "The Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother." Buffalo Calf Road Woman also fought alongside her husband, Black Coyote.

Her heroic rescue of Chief Comes in Sight would further help to rally the Native American warriors in winning the battle of The Little Big Horn, which the Natives referred to as the Battle of the Greasy Grass. During that battle (June 25-26, 1876), the allied tribes of the Arapaho, Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne united under the combined leadership of Chiefs Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull, and Gall; Chief Lame White Man, a Southern Cheyenne, would be the only Cheyenne chief to die in that battle.

At some point, it is reported that Buffalo Calf Road Woman, club-like object in hand and her horse again at full gallop, charged onto the battlefield. This time she struck a blow to the head of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer-Cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the American Indian Wars-knocking him off his horse.

Custer survived the blow to his head but would die in battle from bullet wounds. In a resounding victory, the Native Americans would wipe out five of Custer's Seventh Cavalry's twelve companies. Two of Custer's brothers, his brother-in-law and a nephew would also die in the battle. All of Custer's men would eventually perish in that battle, along with several of the Seventh Cavalry's Indian scouts.

But the Northern Cheyenne storytellers would not break their more-than-a-century silence and publicly reveal Buffalo Calf Road Woman for the roles she played in the outcome of that war until 2005.

After the war, Buffalo Calf Road Woman's husband, Black Coyote and two other Cheyenne men, would attack and kill two U.S. soldiers. Five days later, on April 10, 1879, soldiers from Fort Keogh hunted the family down. Black Coyote and the two men with him were tried, found guilty of murder, and sentenced to be executed.

While her husband was in jail, Buffalo Calf Road Woman-known also as Buffalo Calf Trail Woman-died from "the white man's coughing disease," probably malaria or diphtheria. When Black Coyote heard of his wife's death, he hung himself while in prison.

Nearly one hundred years would pass before the full story of Buffalo Calf Road Woman, and the war named Fight Where the Girl Saved Her Brother, would be shared with the world.


Britannica webpage


Native Tribe Info webpage


KB Schaller is the International Book Award-winning author of 100+ Native American Women Who Changed the World, Women's Issues Category. Whatsoever the Sacrifice, her latest work, and other KB Schaller books are available through amazon.com and other booksellers.

***The Pencil Rendering of Buffalo Calf Woman is the Author/Artist's concept***