the most accurate translation of his Lakota name, Mahpiya
Icahtagya, would be Touch the Clouds (as opposed
to Touch the Cloud). According to Buechel & Manhart,
Lakota Dictionary (2002), the word mahpiya
means "the clouds" (p. 193). The word is already
plural. If you were speaking of a single isolated cloud,
you would distinguish that by saying mahpiya ayaskapa.
The Lakota word icahtagya means "touching,
as a cup-board does a wall, or as a man leaning against
the wall" (p. 101). —
name is also sometimes given as Mahpiya Iyapato.
Buechel & Manhart 'Lakota Dictionary' p. 251 defines
the verb iyapato as "To butt against, to
be struck by; to press on, be cramped by e.g.,
a short moccasin". So this version has the sense
of Pressed Up Against the Clouds. —
the Clouds was the son of the prominent Minneconjou headman
Lone Horn (who died shortly before the Sioux War of 1876-77).
Touch the Cloud's uncle, Lame Deer, was one of the last
Minneconjou to hold out.
the Clouds was not at the Little Big Horn. Rather, he
and his band were living at the Cheyenne River Agency
on the Missouri River in June 1876, where documents show
that he was counseling the Army: "Have compassion
on us. Don't punish us all because some of us fought when
we had to." (Touch the Clouds, in council at Cheyenne
River Agency, July 29, 1876).
the Army began preparing to surround the friendlies to
confisgate their horses and arms in the fall of 1876,
many of the Minneconjou fled the agency, including Touch
the Clouds. They joined the hostiles about the first week
of October 1876. The arrival of influential Minneconjou
headmen like Touch the Clouds, Roman Nose, Bull Eagle
and Spotted Elk introduced a more moderate element into
the leadership within the northern village.
the hostile camp scattered, Touch the Clouds' band settled
on the Little Missouri River where Spotted Tail found
them in February/March 1877 and persuaded them to come
in. They accompanied the Brule chief to the Spotted Tail
Agency where they surrendered their horses and guns in
mid-April 1877. Touch the Clouds remained at this agency
for the remainder of the year, serving as a sergeant in
the Indian Scouts and accompanied Crazy Horse to Camp
Robinson at the time of his death. When the Red Cloud
and Spotted Tail Agencies were moved to the Missouri that
fall, Touch the Clouds camp joined the Oglala at Red Cloud.
He returned to his own agency at the Cheyenne River Agency
in January/February 1878. Agent Irwin at Red Cloud wrote
(Jan. 21, 1878): "I have the honor to state that
the following named Indians (Minneconjous) have asked
to be transferred to your Agency. Touch the Cloud, chief
has been very obedient and orderly during his stay with
me and with his band remained behind when all the others
left here. Owing to his conduct I consider him as deserving
of attention and respectfully request that the transfer
meets with your approval." The list included Touch
the Clouds and son, with 1 woman and 2 girls.
the Clouds lived the remainder of his life as a prominent
leader of his band at Cheyenne River.
was photographed several times in 1877, including several
photographs by Mathew Brady and one image attributed to
Ulke which he later used as the basis for his painting
of Touch the Clouds. —
The Clouds was my grandmother's brother. He was Crazy
Horse's first cousin. Lone Horn, a/k/a One Horn, was Rattling
Blanket's brother. I have the full family tree. Chief
Black Buffalo's children were Afraid Of Her, Hump, One
Horn, Lone Horn, Pretty Woman, and Rattling Blanket. —
Carl C. Dupree
taken by C. M. Bell during the 1877 delegation to Washington
when Touch the Clouds
would've gone along as a representative of the 'Northern'
delegation photos, both taken in 1877 by Matthew Brady.
photographs clearly show that Touch the Clouds was not
seven feet tall.
are, as noted above, a number of photographs of him from
1877. He was photographed by Charles Bell, Matthew Brady
and one of the Ulke brothers in Washington D.C. (The Ulke
portrait was used then to produce a painting of him).
Touch the Clouds was also photographed at the Spotted
Tail Agency by James H. Hamilton in the fall of 1877 (holding
a rifle); also Private Charles Howard apparently photographed
him as well though I have not been able to find a copy
of that image yet. He was also photographed by Alexander
Gardner in 1877 in the large delegation view at the Corcoran
to the shirt, yes, it is the same one worn by American
Horse, William Garnett (Billy Hunter), Little Wound, and
others in both the 1877 and 1880 delegation photographs.
The original shirt is now preserved at the Buffalo Bill
Cody Museum. It was apparently packed in a trunk returning
from Washington D.C. in 1880 and lost at that time; the
trunk and its contents was found years later and auctioned
off, with the shirt eventually arriving in Cody. —
the case of Touch the Clouds, we have several documents
in the Cheyenne River Agency files at the National Archives
that mention Touch the Clouds at the Agency, including
one in which he spoke at a council in July 1876. In addition,
a ledger book in the records of the adjacent Army garrison
records the date when Touch the Clouds and other Minneconjou/Sans
Arc fled the agency that fall. We also have several Lakota
accounts of the Minneconjou joining the northern bands
that fall. […]
The mentions in documents of Touch the Clouds at the agency
through the spring and summer of 1876 suggests that he
was not at the Little Big Horn. That is my interpretation
based upon the available evidence.
By weaving together the data/facts and interpretations/perspectives,
we create a hypothesis or idea of what we think was happening.
In the case of Touch the Clouds, I think that he was a
moderate headman who, like his father before him, had
successfully walked the fine line between the agency bands
and the northern bands who remained away from the agencies.
During this period, there was considerable political tension
and polarization as each of the bands and their leadership
struggled to come to grips with the overwhelming flood
of whites engulfing their territory and way of life and
did so in different ways. I see Touch the Clouds in some
ways as a moderating force between these two tensions,
though leaning more towards the agency band side by the
end of the Great Sioux War of 1876-77. Now that is my
hypothesis, based on the available data and my interpretations
of that data.
also have notes on a Hunkpapa named Mahpiya Iyabeto, variously
translated as Push Against the Cloud, Reaching Cloud or
High in the Clouds. He was a headman within Sitting Bull's
band, surrendered with Sitting Bull and went to Fort Randall
with the chief in 1881 as a prisoner of war. After returning
to Standing Rock Agency, he was recognized by the agent
as a headman and had his own band. —
is a much debated photograph of Touch-theClouds, when
he was with his wife at the Transmississippi & International
Exposition at Omaha in 1898. The picture was done by F.A.
Rinehart. It is not clear, if this was the Minneconjou
"Touch Cloud and Woman (Sioux)"
TMI number 00889
Photograph by F. A. Rinehart, 1898
© Omaha Public Library, 1998
Carl, and Scott Dupree of Cheyenne River are descendants
of Touch The Cloud (no 's'). —