Published on February 24, 2011 by Alice
Edward Rose, also known by the names: Five Scalps, Nez Coupe and “Cut Nose,” was the son of a white trader father and a Cherokee and African American mother. As a youth, Rose lived with the Crow people in what is now southern Montana and northern Wyoming. He quickly acquired their customs as well as their language. According to the historical record, Wilson Price Hunt, a prominent fur trader, employed Rose in 1811 as a guide through Crow Territory; Rose was dismissed, however, when he was suspected of leading the traders into an ambush.
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By the early 1820’s, Rose had also learned the Arikara language and was residing with them in North Dakota. In 1823, while serving as a guide and interpreter for William Henry Ashley’s expedition up the Missouri River, Ashley disregarded Rose’s warnings about an impending Arikara attack. As a result of Arikara depredations, Colonel Henry Leavenworth mounted his 1823 campaign against the Arikara, and Rose served under Leavenworth as interpreter and envoy to the Native Americans in the region. By September 1823, Rose had joined Jedidiah Smith’s expedition journeying from the Black Hills to the Rocky Mountains. In 1825, Rose was Colonel Henry Atkinson’s interpreter during his Yellowstone expedition.
Shortly after this expedition, Rose resumed residency among the Crows and became a famous war chief. The Crows named him “Nez Coupe,” meaning “Cut Nose,” because his nose was scarred. Rose was sometimes called “Five Scalps” because he killed five Blackfoot single-handedly in battle. Although the exact date of Rose’s death is unclear, some say that he died on the Yellowstone River along with two mountain men as a result of an Arikara attack in 1832 or 1833.
Bruce E. Johansen and Donald A. Grinde, Jr., The Encyclopedia of Native American Biography. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1997); Daniel F. Littlefield, Cherokee Freedmen (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1978).