Cutthroat Gap Massacre

Published on February 17, 2013 by Carol

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History of Cutthroat Gap

The Kiowas were surprised, outnumbered and disorganized so they had no choice but to flee. Panic surrounded the camp as women struggled to find their babies and people ran in all different directions, hoping to get to safety. The Osage thundered into the camp, killing the women, children and the elderly mercilessly. They decapitated and murdered the victims in the camp and burned down the teepees. One old man escaped and managed to alert the nearest camp, enabling them to send a relief effort to help Islandman’s struggling tribe.

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Acts of Bravery
There were many inspiring acts of bravery that happened during the massacre. A visiting Pawnee warrior attempted to fight off the Osage warriors to allow some women and children to escape. In addition to this, a father is said to have carried his son with his teeth as he charged through the destruction, putting him down to shoot arrows at the Osage and then picking him up again to run. A young boy placed himself between the Osage warriors and the women and children and repeatedly shot arrows at the enemy. Also, a mother fought off an Osage warrior singlehandedly while carrying a baby in a cradle board on her back and holding her young daughter’s hand.

The Aftermath
When the Kiowa warriors returned to the camp, all they found were the decapitated, mutilated bodies of the women, children and elderly that the Osage had killed. The victims’ heads had been placed in cooking pots left at the camp. The Osage had also took the sacred Tai-me medicine bundle that was necessary in order to perform the Sun Dance and a pair of siblings, a boy named Thunder and a girl named White Weasel captive. As a result, the Kiowa were not able to perform the Sun Dance ceremony for two years after the massacre until they negotiated with the Osage and got the Tai-me back.

After the massacre, Islandman was greatly dishonoured for letting his tribe be surprised and attacked. As a result, he was removed and replaced by Chief Dohasan who led the tribe until his death a few decades later. It was this new chief who managed all relations with the Osage and the return of the Tai-me. He also refused to be pacified by the United States and the Kiowa tribe was one of the last of the Plain tribes to surrender to the United States government and their society.

Cutthroat Gap used to be a popular place for the Kiowa to camp but since the massacre, they have never used it again. Some even believe that the spirits of the victims still wandered the area and could be heard.

Osage and Kiowa Relations
After they returned to camp, the Osage decided that they needed to make peace with the Kiowa. As a result, they resolved to take White Weasel back to the Kiowa as a peace-offering. Her brother, Thunder, had died during captivity but White Weasel was returned to the Kiowa tribe during the first Dragoon Expedition of 1834 which greatly improved Osage and Kiowa relations. In addition to this, the Osage allowed the Kiowa to take the Tai-me medicine bundle back in exchange for one pony, lessening the hostility between these two tribes

Source: Legendsofamerica Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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