is some information about the Soreback band of the Oglala
and its leading family:
He Dog's family was a large one. His father was Black
Rock, a headman in the Tasnaheca or Ground
Squirrel band of Oglalas. Synthesising census data
with family traditions, I think the following were
sons of Black Rock:
Bad Heart Bull
Short Bull (all allegedly sons of one mother, Blue
Day Woman, sister to Red Cloud).
Other sons were
High White Man
Little Spotted Horse
Bull is not the Ghost Dance leader - the latter belonged
to the Wazhazha band of Brules but, according
to Pine Ridge interpreter John Colhoff, the two Short
Bulls were cousins.
was at least one girl in the family: He Dog's family
in the 1887 Pine Ridge census included his sister
White Cow. In the 1881 tally of Oglalas from Canada
enrolled at Standing Rock (the "Big Road Roster"),
some thirteen lodges are included in the Sore-Back
band. This was a typical size for an extended family
band like the Sore-Backs. Several such groups would
make up a strong band. The Sore-Backs were a sub-group
within the larger Bad Face band. —
to Lt. W. P. Clark, He Dog had fourteen lodges (not
eight) with him in the Northern Cheyenne village when
it was attacked by Gen. Crook’s troops in March 1876.
As Kingsley noted, He Dog’s brother Short Bull (or
Short Buffalo as Eleanor Hinman wrote it) was not
the same individual as the Wajaje Brule man by the
same name of Ghost Dance fame.
Dog (Sunka Bloka) and Short Bull (Tatanka
Ptecela) were both the sons of a prominent Oglala
named Black Rock (either Inyan Sapa or Tunkan
Sapa; both names are later known among the Lakota).
Black Rock was from an influential family among the
Tasnaheca (one of the larger bands within the southern
Oglala or Kiyaksa Tiyospaye) and one source
suggests that he may have been the brother of the
noted Oglala headman Bad Wound.
Dog gave his mother’s name as Blue Day, a sister of
Red Cloud and a member of the Kuinyan band.
Short Bull gave his mother’s name as Scatter the Feather.
It is unclear with the current sources available if
Blue Day and Scatter the Feather are different names
for the same woman or if perhaps Black Rock had two
has noted in his research that there were a number
of marriages between families from the Tasnaheca
and Kuinyan Oglala bands, suggesting that
it was out of these marriages that the Ite Sica
or Bad Faces first arose, with Red Cloud eventually
emerging as the most prominent leader among them.
Black Rock and his young family appear to have left
the southern Oglala and joined the Bad Faces as they
came to prominence. While the Southern Oglala had
shifted their primary hunting grounds to the Republican
River region following the killing of Bull Bear in
1841, the Hunkpatila Tiyospaye or what later
became known as the True Oglala remained in the Fort
Laramie area, hunting to the north in the Powder River
country. The Bad Faces grew during the 1850s and 1860s
to become one of the most influential bands ("head
band") among the True Oglala.
Dog was born about 1840 on the head of the Cheyenne
River near the Black Hills; Short Bull was born about
1852 near Fort Laramie. Black Rock died (or was killed)
while Short Bull was young, perhaps in the 1850s,
and the youngest boy was raised as an orphan. Short
Bull, however, enjoyed a large extended family with
a number of “brothers” like He Dog that “stuck together”
as interpreter John Colhoff has noted. It is important
to note that the Lakota word generally translated
into English as “brother” actually has a more expanded
definition in Lakota culture. In addition to Short
Bull’s male siblings like He Dog, the term also refers
to the male children of his father’s brother, part
of the extended kinship system among the Lakota. So
when we refer to the “brothers” of He Dog and Short
Bull, it is important to bare in mind that these might
include kin we would refer to as cousins. Colhoff
and others have included Bad Heart Bull, Eagle Hawk,
Running Eagle, Little Shield, High White Man and Soldier
Hawk as some of those other “brothers.”
these brothers formed a new band among the Bad Faces
called the Cankahuhan or Soreback Band. You
can think of the Sorebacks as either a smaller grouping
(wicotipi) among the Bad Faces or as a split-off
of the Bad Faces that maintained a close relationship
with its parent band.
Soreback Band’s role in the Great Sioux War of 1876-77
is well documented, in part from the interviews that
He Dog and Short Bull gave to Eleanor Hinman in 1931.
All or part of the Sorebacks were camped with the
Northern Cheyenne in early 1876 when General Crook’s
column launched its offensive and hit the village;
He Dog and Short Bull both fought in this opening
engagement of the war. They were also at the Rosebud
and Little Bighorn Battles and their roles are well
of the Soreback Band surrendered in the early spring
of 1877, the last of them surrendering with Crazy
Horse in May. Both He Dog and Short Bull were enlisted
in Lieutenant William P. Clark’s Indian scouts at
Camp Robinson, along with Crazy Horse. Short Bull
was sent with other scouts to persuade Lame Deer’s
band to come in and was not at the Red Cloud Agency
when Crazy Horse was fatally bayoneted at Camp Robinson
in September 1877.
the removal of the Red Cloud Agency to the Missouri
River, a number of the recently surrendered “northern”
bands fled north to join Sitting Bull (as recounted
recently in Kingsley’s excellent article in Montana
History). He Dog is recorded as having left the agency
in January 1878; presumably his brothers in the Soreback
Band left at this same time. They remained in Canada
for two years, surrendering a second time at Fort
Keogh in 1880. In June 1881, all of the surrendered
Lakota, including the Sorebacks, were transferred
to the Standing Rock Agency where they remained for
nearly a year. They were transferred to the Pine Ridge
Agency in May 1882 and settled in the White Clay District.
In the 1890 census for the Pine Ridge Agency, the
Soreback Band numbered 26 families or 94 people total.
Dog received his "scalp shirt" at a different
time than He Dog, Young Man Afraid of His Horses,
American Horse and Sword (the elder brother of George
Sword). The debate seems to be precisely when did
he receive his shirt.
the late 1860s/early 1870s, the Oglala appear to have
been divided into the three main groups (tiyospaye):
the True Oglala (originally known as the Hunkpatila),
the Kiyuksa or Cutoffs (sometimes referred
to as the southern Oglala) and the Oyuhpe.
It appears that each of these three tiyospaye chose
four individuals to serve as "shirt wearers",
if in fact we are interpreting this office correctly.
Crazy Horse and the other three young and upcoming
leaders were chosen for the Hunkpatila, while
older men such as Little Wound and Whistler were named
as shirt wearers among the Southern Oglala. The Oyuhpe
chose their own shirt wearers, including Big Road.
noted above, Black Rock (He Dog's father) had shifted
from the Southern Oglala to the True Oglala Tiyospaye
when He Dog and his brothers were young, becoming
part of the Bad Faces. By 1876, however, it appears
the Sorebacks may have shifted a second time to join
the Oyuhpe camp circle. Or at least, they were part
of the True Oglala who became closely associated with
the Oyuhpe and the core of the "northern resistance"
against the Army. I suspect that He Dog, along with
Big Road and others, were selected as shirtwearers
for the Oyuhpe Tiyospaye but I am not certain
the time of his surrender at the Red Cloud Agency
in May 1877, He Dog appears to have been a man of
growing prominence, especially as a war leader. He
married during the winter of 1875-76 and had a daughter,
so his life was going through change as he matured
from a young single warrior to a man of growing responsibility.
During his time in Canada (1878-80), he appears to
have taken a greater leadership role. In 1881 when
he arrives at the Standing Rock Agency, he is shown
in the Big Road Roster with a pipe and pipe bag, symbols
of his status now as a civil leader. So I wonder if
he received his scalp shirt while in Canada.
— Ephriam Dickson