Wild West Discussion – August 2010

If asked to pick the top fighting Indians of the Wild West, most people would name the Sioux (Lakotas) or Apaches. The Sioux led the way at the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, of course, while small bands of Apaches caused havoc for the U.S. Army well into the 1880s. Which tribe is No.1? What about the Cheyennes and Comanches?

9 Responses

  1. Andrés Ortiz

    Difficult to say. But one point for the Apaches is that they fighted the europeans and their descendents for two or maybe two and a half centuries, wich is not the case of the other tribes mentioned here. So, at least in terms of the time of war against the spanish, mexican and angloamerican conquest, the Apaches are one of the hardest fighters.

  2. Kaele Kapiko

    The Apaches not only fought for at least Two and a half centuries against the europeans expansions but also after 1900 still fought in old Mexico and raided into the United States–up untill at least 1935ish—

  3. Mike Livingston

    Just read Eve Ball’s “Indeh” or Grenville Goodwin’s “Apache Raiding and Warfare” and you will see that their culture had raised them as warriors and the mere harsh climate they lived in set them up to fight for everything they needed to survive. Hands down on this one boys!

  4. Nathan Barton

    The length of time fighting is important, I will grant, and my Inde ancestors and relatives did set a record. But the intensity and the cost to the enemy is equally important, as is the outcome. This leads to the conclusion that neither the Inde nor the Lakota deserve top billing. Yes, the Tsitsistas (Cheyenne) did well, also, especially those who escaped from Fort Sill and make it back to the Powder River; and my Numu (Comanche) ancestors and relatives did VERY well for a century or more. But we need to consider some others as well: I submit for your consideration at least two: the Modoc (Moatokni maklaks) of California and Oregon and their one-sided war against extermination, and the Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu) demonstrated skill which outshone the Lakota totally in Joseph’s flight and fights across Montana. Honor especially the Nimi’ipuu!

  5. John Koster

    What other tribe ever encircled and destroyed two separate units of larger than company strength and destroyed them both to the last man within earshot of larger numbers of soldiers? Lakota oyate lela wasteh akitchitin. The Cheyenne also played a major role in both these battles — and the Indian people in general showed amazing courage and resilience in the face of overwhelming odds….Come to think of it, how do we know this isn’t a white man’s trick to get Indians to fight other Indians….Lakota, Cheyenne, Apache — I’ve had friends in all these tribes and totally respected their valor. Most other peoples would have simply vanished — the best fighting tribes are all still around, Only the gentle, peaceful Indians have gone extinct. Sad, isn’t it?

  6. Beagle Mike

    I base my opinion on the fact that the Lakota people’s held the best hunting ground and most prime territory. This signifies that they had defeated and drove other tribes from the ground they occupied. Reading several accounts such as Chief White Bulls, these warriors knew how to fight and were brought up in warrior societies were battle was the only path to glory. Even general Miles who subdued many of the “hostiles” was astounded by the bravery and daring of the Sioux (white bull he notes as the most daring). Combine these attributes with the fact that thy were fighting to resist encrouchment and retain their life blood, the buffalo made the Lakota very formitable

  7. Steve McCarty

    People seem to forget that the life of the warrior, the Indian Brave; was around much longer than the era of meer Europeans. The Indian’s developed a culture centered on warfar thousands of years ago. Those peoples who decided to live on the steep bluffs of Mesa Verde didn’t do that for fun your know. They did it for survival and from raids from other Indians.

    While tribes differed one from another to some degree, war was at their very core. One of the first things that Lewis and Clarke tried to do was to negociate peace between waring tribes. While it is possible that Indians sometimes traded it is more likely that they fought. Just read Absaraka Home of the Crows.

    When Indians completed a raid on another band/tribe of Indians the first thing they did when they returned home was to start planning another raid. All Plains Indian men lived to raid, count coup, take scalps, steal horses and hunt. Indian women knew that they achieved status by marrying brave men, and they exorted their men to fight hard and often.

    To be brave in battle was an Indian’s man’s greatest dream, and they were very good at it. They went into battle with a whoop and a shout! (as Custer did). Nor did Indians hesitate to fight, it was their life’s work.

    Nor did Indian men participate in the domestic work of the tribe. No one understood “women’s work” more than an Indian. Indian men were either preparing for war, or fighting, or teaching their children to fight. An old Indian man was asked how to pitch a tee pee. He replied “How should I know, women did that”.

    Indians survived in the Americas for 14,000 years. They populated the entire hemisphere. They developed detailed cultures, but peaceful they were not. Being anything other than warlike had shown itself to be a method for failure, and defeat. To an Indian they acquired their strength through power and not by business powess, as many Europeans did.

    To a European battle was a necessary evil, to an Indian it was the source of status, power and personal success.

  8. Larry C

    The Indians of most of western Canada (with some exeptions in the NW of B.C.) were not war-like. There were few raids by them and fewer on them. There were no massacres of them as happened in the USA. They are a much higher percentage of the population of Western Canada than Indians in any other region of N. America. This negates the statement that peaceful Indians have disappeared.

    What is also true is that the Indians of Western Canada have the least assimulation with the rest of society. Depending on one’s view, this is a major negative or major positive.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.