Moving Robe Woman ~ Hunkpapa Lakota

Published on March 13, 2013 by Christian

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Moving Robe Woman
Moving Robe Woman

“I was a woman, but I was not afraid.”

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Moving Robe Woman was a woman who had only a moment’s notice to decide if she would run or fight. As her words above show, her spirit said fight.

Moving Robe Woman (Tȟašína Máni), also known as Mary Crawler, was a member of the Hunkpapa Sioux tribe living on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in 1876. On the morning of June 25th, while digging turnips with a stick, the twenty three year old woman saw a cloud of dust rise on a bluff near the Little Bighorn river. It was the first warning her people were about to be attacked by cavalry soldiers.

After returning to camp, she found her brother dead and her father preparing for battle. As soldiers fired into her village, she took a relative’s revolver and shot a known scout who had betrayed them. Then she painted her face red, chanted a song for her dead brother, and joined the warriors.

In an interview given in 1931 to interpreter Frank Zahn, a then seventy-seven year old Moving Robe Woman recalled her part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn:

“Father led my black horse up to me and I mounted. We galloped towards the soldiers. Other warriors joined in with us. When we were nearing the fringe of the woods, an order was given by Hawk Man to charge…the charge was so stubborn that the soldiers ran to their horses and, mounting them, rode swiftly towards the river … Some of the warriors rode into the river and tomahawked the soldiers.”

These same warriors then chased the remaining group of soldiers (part of Reno’s men) over a bluff and killed them before returning to the river.

“Someone said that another body of soldiers was attacking the lower end of the village. I heard afterwards that these soldiers were under the command of Long Hair (Custer). With my father and other youthful warriors I rode in that direction.”

Moving Robe Woman is said to have killed at least two in battle. Some even suggest she put a knife in Custer, though this isn’t supported by the condition the general’s body was found in, which apparently was riddled with bullets. But her presence on the battlefield was not in question. Rain-in-the-Face, a fellow warrior in battle that day, described what he saw:

‘Behold, there is among us a young woman!’ I shouted. ‘Let no young man hide behind her garments!’ I knew that would make these young men brave! The woman was Moving Robe, whose brother had just been killed. Holding her brother’s war staff over her head, and leaning forward upon her charger, she looked as pretty as a bird.

We don’t think any of us knows for sure what we’d do in her situation, but we admire her for not running away when her village was attacked. And just so no one misunderstands, it isn’t the killing that distinguishes someone as a warrior, it’s more about their bravery when confronted by the enemy. That is badass.

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