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Dull Knife

Dull Knife

Northern Cheyenne

Born: 1810, Rosebud County, Montana

Died: 1883, Rosebud County, Montana

Burial: Lame Deer, Montana, near Dull Knife Memorial College


Little Wolf and Dull Knife, 1873
Little Wolf and Dull Knife, 1873

Dull Knife (or Morning Star, as he was called by the Cheyennes) was not at the Little Bighorn. He was one of the few Northern Cheyenne Council Chiefs that had remained close to the White River Agency to show the whites that he wished to remain at peace. Other Chiefs who stayed at the agency were Turkey Leg, Standing Elk, Spotted Elk, Living Bear, and Black Bear.

The most important Cheyenne Chief Little Wolf only arrived shortly after the battle ended.

Most of the other 44 Council Chiefs of the Northern Cheyenne were at the Little Bighorn at the time of the battle. The two Old Man Chiefs Old Bear and Black Moccasin (a/k/a Limber Lance) were regarded as the principal Chiefs. (See Father Peter Powell: People of the Sacred Mountain.)

In some Indian accounts you can find the name Dull Knife. Often he is confused with Lame White Man. I guess the other reason is that Dull Knife's son Bull Hump, often called Dull Knife himself, was in the battle.
— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Apparently Dull Knife was either unlucky or did not have enough skill as a leader.

It was his village that was attacked in November 1876 by the military that broke the back of the Northern Cheyenne. This after several warriors insisted that the village stay put and celebrate all night over some minor victory over other Indians.

It was Dull Knife and Little Wolf that separated the band. Dull Knife's people were eventually captured and sent to an army fort and imprisoned in barracks after they refused to go to another reservation. They broke out of barracks on a winter night after the military refused them food, water, and heat only to have most of them shot down. Little Wolf's band hid out for the winter and eventually surrendered under better conditions. — Crzhrs

Dull Knife was one of the most peace-loving chiefs of the Cheyenne. He was elected as a council chief in 1854 when he was some forty-six winters old. Although he was a brave warrior in his younger days, he by then already possessed the wisdom of years. He was a strong peace man, who believed that the Cheyenne and the Whites must get along together. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

I read in Joe Starita's book about the Dull Knife family that Chief Dull Knife (or Morning Star by his Cheyenne name) had one son (Bull Hump, his eldest) and four daughters with Pawnee Woman, his first wife, who he had stolen once from the Pawnee.

He had a second wife named Short One (or Slow Woman) who bore him three sons and three daughters.

So altogether he had four sons and seven daughters, who were called the “Beautiful People” by the army troops.

His wife Short One, his son Little Hump, and two daughters were killed on the flight back north in 1879.

His youngest son was George Dull Knife, born in 1875. Because he was only about three years old in 1879 and too weak to travel the hard way, he was left behind at the Darlington agency in Oklahoma with some Cheyenne relatives. He came to Pine Ridge in 1883 with 300 other Cheyenne and settled down in Yellow Bear's Oglala camp. Since then George Dull Knife and his family is rated as Lakota not Cheyenne. — Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

This is often said to be a photo of Dull Knife. Perhaps it's Buffalo Hump, his son:

Buffalo Hump — Grahame Wood


The following publications contain information about Dull Knife:

Article: "Death Trail of the Cheyenne" by James Long • Real West • Vol. VII, No. 37 • September 1964.

Article: "Outrage at Oberlin" by Fred Kiewit • Frontier Times • Vol. 39, No. 5, New Series No. 37 • August-September 1965.



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