Dull Knife was born on the Rosebud River (present-day Montana) in about 1810. He was a principal chief of the Northern Cheyenne. His people called him Wahiev, which means Morning Star; however, the Lakota (Sioux) called him Tamela Pashme, which means Dull Knife. He acquired the name in battle with a Lakota warrior; his knife could not pierce the opponent’s tough buffalo-hide shield.
With his people’s safety in mind and hopes of gaining peace, Dull Knife was one of his tribe’s representatives who signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which promised peace between the area’s Indians and the federal government. It was not to be.
Dull Knife and his Northern Cheyenne warriors fought in numerous campaigns, including the Colorado Cheyenne-Arapaho War(1864-65), and the War for the Black Hills, which included the Battle of the Rosebud (1876), and the Battle of the Little Big Horn (1876).
Following the masscre of Lt. Colonel George A. Custer and his men at the Little Big Horn, the U.S. Army responded by increasing their presence in Indian territory and staging punitive expeditions. At daybreak on a November day in 1876, soldiers commanded by Colonel Ranald Mackenzie attacked Dull Knife’s camp on the Red Fork of the Powder River in Wyoming.
Most of his tribe escaped, but with heavy losses. The army also destroyed 173 lodges, all their garments, blankets, and stores of food, and confiscated 500 ponies. The survivors made a desperate attempt to reach Crazy Horse’s camp. Eleven children died on the trail. With his people succumbing from starvation and exposure, Dull Knife finally surrendered in the spring of 1877. The government forced his Cheyenne onto a reservation in Oklahoma with the Southern Cheyenne.
Chief Dull Knife Quote: “You may kill me here; but you cannot make me go back.”