Published on April 30, 2012 by Amy
Pine Leaf was a chief of the Crow tribe who counted coup in the 1830s. She is described in the autobiography of James Beckwourth as well as in Edwin T. Denig’s chronicle on the tribes of the upper Missouri River.
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She was born to the Gros Ventres and at the age of about 10 taken prisoner by a raiding party of Crows. She grew up in this tribe and showed a disposition to assume masculine habits. While always dressing in female clothing, she was learned in horse keeping, hunting and warfare, mostly against the Blackfoot. She had at least four female wives and earned a strong voice in the tribes council, ranking the third person in the whole tribe of 160 lodges. In 1854 she was killed by Gros Ventres Indians near Fort Union. She was compared with the Berdêche and can be considered two spirited.
Beckwourth describes her as a fearsome warrior, and claims that as a child she took a vow to kill at least one hundred enemies by her own hand. He further describes adventures experienced at her side, including a romantic relationship and marrying her immediately before he left the Crows. It is possible that Beckwourth may have exaggerated this relationship, as historian Bernard DeVoto wrote that Beckwourth is reliable save for three areas: numbers, romance, and his own importance.