Published on February 22, 2011 by Amy
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Rain-in-the-Face, known also as Ito-na-gaju, was a war chief of the Hunkpapa Sioux within the Lakota nation, and was one of the Sioux’s greatest and most respected war heroes. As a war chief he was among the Indian leaders who vanquished George A. Custer and his U.S. Army 7th Cavalry regiment at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
He did not inherit the title of “Chief,” because his lineage on either side contained no chiefs. That meant he had to earn his title, which he did by displaying his leadership and courage during the Lakota wars of the 1860s.
Rain-in-the Face was born around 1835 in the Dakota Territory, along the Sheyenne River, in present-day central North Dakota.
He received his name when he was still a young boy, when he became known as a tough fighter for his age, by his fierce passion for battle, and by repeatedly winning games and mock battles in which he participated.
Once, at about the age of 10, during one of the battles with some Cheyenne boys, he was matched up against a boy who was a good deal larger and older than he. During the course of the battle, both boys struck several blows, and, despite the disadvantage in size and age, he emerged from the fight victoriously. His face was sprinkled with blood and his face paint had streaked looking much like it had been hit by rain, hence his name, Rain-in-the-Face.