When the Europeans first began arriving on this continent they were amazed that Indian women were very much unlike European women.

 Indian women were not subservient to men, they often engaged in work – such as farming and warfare – which the Europeans viewed as men’s work, they had a voice in the political life of their communities, and they had control of their own bodies and sexuality. Unlike the patriarchal European societies, Indians were often matrilineal, a system in which people belonged to their mother’s clans or extended families. When Indian people spoke of a neighboring tribe as “women” or as “grandmothers”, the Europeans often misinterpreted this compliment as a derogatory statement.

During the nineteenth century Indian women, and particularly Indian women leaders, were invisible to the American government. Some Indians have gone so far as to say that the Americans were so afraid of Indian women that they would not allow them to sit or speak in treaty councils with the United States government. Even today, Indian women are conspicuous by their absence in American history.

When asked to name some famous Indian women, most people have difficulty in recalling anyone other than Pocahontas and Sacajawea. Both of these women have legends which are more based in non-Indian fantasies about Indian women than in the reality of their accomplishments. For both, their fame is based on their association with non-Indians.

Europeans have always viewed war as “men’s work” and their interpretations of Indian warfare, as seen through the writings of non-Indian historians and anthropologists, assume that only Indian men were warriors. They often fail to see that women warriors were common among Indian people. Women warriors went with their husbands on the war party. Some of the examples of nineteenth century women Indian warriors are briefly described below.

Fallen Leaf (often called Woman Chief by the Americans): While Fallen Leaf was a Crow warrior, she was actually born to the Gros Ventre nation and was captured by the Crow when she was 12. After she had counted coup four times in the prescribed Crow tradition, she was considered a chief and sat in the council of chiefs. In addition to being a war leader, she was also a good hunter and had two wives.

Running Eagle: she became a Blackfoot (Piegan) warrior after her husband was killed by the Crow. To avenge her husband’s death, she sought help from the Sun and was told “I will give you great power in war, but if you have intercourse with another man you will be killed”. After this she became a very respected war leader and led many successful raids on the large Flathead horse herds west of the Rocky Mountains. She was on a raid in Flathead country when she was killed. She had had sexual relations with one of the men in her war party and for this reason lost her war power.

Anonymous representation
Colestah: In the 1858 battle of Spokane Plains in Washington, Yakama leader Kamiakin was nearly killed when a howitzer shell hit a tree and the tree branch knocked him from his horse. Riding into battle with Kamiakin was his wife Colestah who was known as a medicine woman, psychic, and warrior. Armed with a stone war club, Colestah fought at her husband’s side. When Kamiakin was wounded, she rescued him, and then used her healing skills to cure him.

Buffalo Calf Robe: In the 1876 battle of the Rosebud in Montana, American troops under the leadership of General Crook along with their Crow and Shoshone allies fought against the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux. The Shoshone and Crow shot the horse of Cheyenne Chief Comes in Sight out from under him. As the warriors were closing in to finish him off, Buffalo Calf Robe (aka Calf Trail Woman), the sister of Comes in Sight, rode into the middle of the warriors and saved the life of her brother. Buffalo Calf Robe had ridden into battle that day next to her husband Black Coyote. This was considered to be one of the greatest acts of valor in the battle.

Moving Robe: One of the best-known battles in the annals of Indian-American warfare is the 1876 Battle of the Greasy Grass in Montana where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was defeated. One of those who lead the counterattack against the cavalry was the woman Tashenamani (Moving Robe). In the words of Lakota warrior Rain-in-the-Face:

“Holding her brother’s war staff over her head, and leaning forward upon her charger, she looked as pretty as a bird. Always when there is a woman in the charge, it causes the warriors to vie with one another in displaying their valor.”

It is evident from the words of Rain-in-the-Face, that having a woman lead an attack was not unknown to Lakota warriors.

Responses to "True Story: Native American Women Warriors in American History. "

  1. crzy2364 says:

    Nonhelema Shawnee Tribe in my family tree

  2. Unknown says:

    Native women were strong of body, soul and eill. Is it any wonder theyes lead alot of bsttles.

  3. Unknown says:

    NATIVE WOMEN ARE strong of body, soul and will. It is no wonder that they led so many battles..

  4. Anonymous says:

    strong women,left out of history

  5. Anonymous says:

    This makes me a very happy woman! Thank You!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Anyone know of Five Killer's wife? The english pronounced her name Nancy. He died and Nancy took up his rifle. Apparently she became the beloved woman of the Cherokee and if my family is right she is my 6th great grandmother.

  7. pennyspen says:

    Five Killer's mother's name was Nancy. Five Killer had siblings. Look up Nancy Ward and Kingfisher.

  8. Unknown says:

    Excellent article commentary on the important roles our native women had, yet continue to lead in different aspects today.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Surprised there is no mention of Lozen and Dahteste of the Apache

  10. Unknown says:

    i have Miami Indian in me

  11. Unknown says:

    I always love to read of TRUE stories of the history of the world, especially where giving credit where it is due is involved. Often, those who keep such records use the culture in which they are accustomed to for explaining how things happened because they believe that will be the only way it will be understood. But each culture has their own way of life, living and their own pursuit of happiness. It will never be universally understood by all cultures because we all come from various backgrounds. So, we can only TRY to bend a little to leave room for understanding.

  12. it makes me so proud

  13. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for sharing these amazing stories. More people need to know these pieces of real history. If women only knew how powerful they really are this world would be different.

  14. Anonymous says:

    So much is left untold about Native Americans both women and men. History books always depicted Native people as bad. I hate that fact that these books are still being used in public schools. It's time to throw them away and tell the truth.

  15. chicha says:

    I love this

  16. stephen says:

    Very good, informative and important. Please keep these types of articles coming thank you.

  17. Unknown says:


  18. Thanks for the research. I am proud to be 1/16th Blackfoot. So many of the Indian warriors you cite were in Montana. My mother's tribe was the Salish/Kootenai (sp?) Her people lived near Helena for generations and many are still there today.

  19. I like hearing the TRUE history of the Origanal people !

  20. Unknown says:

    My ancestors are the Crow that reside near Billings Montana. I am very proud to have Native American Blood in my veins. God Bless all Native Americans we lost so much . ❤ I

  21. This has lifted my heart in song and praise. To every female warrior out there, protecting what is her's, fight the fight and always keep an eye on victory for it is sweet

  22. Unknown says:

    Hoka Hey! Strong Hearts to The Front! We must protect & defend out Earth Mother from the attacks on her from exploitation in the name of profit of this evil incarnate administration & it's supporters.

  23. Joseph says:

    The UGLIEST wo-MEN on the planet. NO wonder Indians are WEAK like all Matriarchal tribes...Masculine wo-MEN cut down the species, thank God for the Bible...

  24. Anonymous says:

    I'm not surprised, there were indian women who were warriors, and chiefs. Back in the ancient times, it was custom in Europe as well. My people, very few know it, are the remnants of the ancient native europeans, and their culture. It was very same to traditional indian cultures (closest are the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota culture and their relatives) Our creation story tells (based on ancient fired clay tablets):
    Te-Ram-Tu (Creator/God) created An (skies/heaveans) and sky-inhabitans, he created Lil (soul- or spiritworld) and Ki (Earth / material world). Each world was ruled by his powers (lords), An ruled over the skies, En-Lil ruled over the spirit-world, En-Ki over the material world. When creation was done, each world have protectors except Earth, so the sky-inhabitants with one-will asked En-Ki, that he shall make a protector for Earth too. En-Ki created man from earth, En-Lil breathed soul in it. Nin, mother of all life gave one of its branch to him, and when they arrived on Earth, the goddess, little Nin-Ti take the form of woman, and being called Héve. They were the first pair of humans, Em-Bar (Goddess and her mate). After 9 month, first child was born, and he called the man Ada-Mu (my father). It's a story, you will never heard or read anywhere. Our agglitunative language is very difficult to indo-europeans and semites, so it's not really available in english language. Slowly but surely it will be erased from history (intentionally), with our culture as well. Our only weapon against total destruction is of our mother-tongue, our language. Keep it, teach it to your children, all the wisdom of your ancients and their origins lies within.

    Those indo-europeans you know as europeans came much later, and their culture is based on the Roman Empire, which was an evil soul-less vile abonimation of mankind. What romans did is something that indo-europeans followed through their history. They continued it. It's based on wrong ideas, thus each and every empire they make, will fall in time. US is not exception of this rule.
    I'm glad, you're still on Earth. Stay alive, keep your traditions and time will come for you to rise once again.

  25. Joseph says:

    WEAK tribes hide behind wo-MEN who pose with guns in wars THEY LOST. Any tribe that reveres wo-MEN, is a weak tribe that is cut down. fe-MALE warriors are a myth, and are perpetuated by WEAK species. wo-MEN are inferior to MEN in the natural order of God. pATRIARCHY is necessary. "God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of MAN, and MAN is the head of wo-MAN"

  26. Unknown says:

    The story of Lozen, of the Apache, is also fascinating.

  27. Unknown says:

    I'm very sure of my words and thoughts here, a nation is not defeated until the heart of women are on the ground.. ☮️

  28. Woolif says:

    Joseph's comments reflect his ignorance and fear. Bibles are human inventions, other beliefs beside christianity are worthwhile. Educate yourself before showing yourself as a misogynist, bigoted, dufus.

  29. Joseph says:

    Doesn't matter if your Native American/JEW/or Kurdish...if your wo-MEN look like Gene come from a hermaphroditic tribe. Not a surprise the castrated tribes are cut down by ugly wo-MEN/ good news.. is it doesn't matter what your affliction, salvation is just a matter of repenting to JESUS...aka God himself

  30. MB says:

    How About the Apache named Lozen, who was a fearless warrior woman, who also was a medicine woman. Fought and was sent into exile with Geronimo.

  31. Ka says:

    Although not in history books, we may have family stories of women warriors who are ancestors...

  32. Unknown says:

    Hello, does someone know who is the young woman on the right next to Running Eagle in the photo? Thank you!!

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