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Shirtwearer Ceremony

About the Shirt Wearers ceremony: there seem to have been at least two, possibly three or four such ceremonies in the summer of 1868. The first took place in late June or early July at the village of the Man Afraid of His Horse faction of Northern Oglalas - i.e. the people whose leaders had signed the treaty of Ft Laramie in May. The men inducted were Young Man Afraid of His Horse, American Horse, Sword-Owner, and Crazy Horse. The Naca Okolakiciye or Chiefs Society (Short Hairs, Big Bellies, etc.) were the council in this division of the tribe. The main parts of the Hunkpatila, plus elements of the Bad Faces, Spleen and Loafer bands seems to have been in this village, which I believe approximated 200 lodges.

The second ceremony was held in the village of the Red Cloud faction of Northern Oglalas - those people holding out from signing the treaty until the Bozeman Trail posts were abandoned. The council was formed around the Ska Yuha or White Horse Owners Society. The main parts of the Bad Face and Oyuhpe bands were represented, another approximate 200 lodges. He Dog and Big Road were inducted as leaders. I'm rather wary of assigning them Shirt Wearer status, since in an unpublished interview with Scudder Mekeel in 1931 He Dog stated that he had not worn a ceremonial scalp shirt until 1870 (when his uncle Red Cloud presented him with his scalp shirt for the duration of Red Cloud's visit to Washington). Maybe He Dog and Big Road were appointed Wakicunze (Deciders) or even akicita leaders? In the present state of knowledge I just don't know.

Later, but I'm sure later that summer after the abandonment of the Bozeman Trail posts, the Ska Yuha council appointed Red Cloud and Black Twin as chiefs of some sort or other.

Lastly, there may have been a ceremony on the Republican River when four Shirt Wearers were appointed by the chiefs' council of the Southern (Kiyaksa) Oglalas. Little Wound, Whistler, Big Head, and Slow Dog may have been the appointees. This may tie in with contemporary newspaper accounts which state that in late August the Lakotas on the Republican, drawn into the Dog Soldier war then igniting on the central plains, selected new war chiefs.

Mari Sandoz's account of the Shirt Wearer ceremony is wrongly dated and contexted. as late as summer 1868 Crazy Horse (although he had already won imperishable fame as a war-leader in "Red Cloud's War") was identified with the faction of the tribe that favoured treaty relations. His growing dissatisfaction with the political strait-jacket this represented resulted in the crisis of 1870 - his notorious adultery, wounding, and de-shirting, and his permanent alignment with the non-treaty faction of the Oglala tribe. — Kingsley Bray

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