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Asawaki Rarihuru

Big Spotted Horse

Told by Owen Echo-Hawk Sr to Roger Echo-Hawk on January 2, 1982, Out West, near Pawnee Oklahoma; edited by Roger Echo-Hawk, 1997-1998, 2007.

I used to hear stories from our own blood relatives
about Big Spotted Horse
but I heard later
somebody trying to say
that Big Spotted Horse
was from their family. I don’t know
exactly how he was related
to our family
but I have two living witnesses
who will verify
he was in our family-line:
Phillip Jim and Burchard Hopkins.
Burchard is older than I am.
His parents were old
and he can speak our language really good.

He said that Big Spotted Horse
was of our family
and Phillip just told me the same thing
within this last year.
I don’t know where these other guys make their claim from.

When Big Spotted Horse was 10 or 12 years old
he was just a kid
following his mother around.
The women at that time
used to have their gardens
around the edge of the town
around the mud lodges.
They had their gardens and they would go out there
and work them every day.

Well, Big Spotted Horse was out there
playing around one day.
In those days
the boys played with bows & arrows
and the bows
were made from the local wood
the arrows
were made from bluestem grass
and they were quite stiff.
Big Spotted Horse carried them
and used them for arrows.

He was playing around on the edge of his mother’s garden
one day
on the side closest to the town.
On the opposite side
there was timber along the field.
The women
were working there
when all of a sudden
a band of Sioux warriors
rode out of the timber
and galloped right through those women
knocking them down with their clubs and spears
and then charging toward the town.

Big Spotted Horse was playing there
between the garden and the town
with his bow & grass arrows.
The leader of the Sioux warparty
had on a warbonnet
and rode a spotted horse. When he saw
this boy, he turned his horse
and charged right at him.

Instead of running
the boy just stood there
waiting until the Sioux got right up on him.
Then he pulled back his bow
and let go of that bluestem arrow

it hit the Sioux
right next to his eye and went in
and punctured his brain
and he fell off his horse

After this
everyone predicted
the boy would be great.
Perhaps this incident
is where the boy got his name “Big Spotted Horse.”
I don’t know.

Big Spotted Horse was somewhat of a loner
and he preferred to go
off on the warpath alone.
He’d be gone for a while
and then show up with some horses
and he got to be very good at capturing horses
and he made a name for himself as a warrior and horse raider.

Apparently he had great endurance and stamina.
They used to say
that he was one of those guys
who went out on the warpath
on horseback

maybe this was not unusual among our people
but they typically went out on foot.

Big Spotted Horse would start off about daybreak
and ride until about noon.
Then he would wrap his hands in the horse’s mane
and he would run alongside the horse
all afternoon.
That horse would go at a lope like that
all afternoon and he would run with it.
He would travel like that
for three or four days
until he arrived in the country he wanted to visit.
Then he would tie his horse up
and go in on foot
and steal more horses.

This was when
the Pawnees still lived up there in Nebraska

Big Spotted Horse did those things
and was respected
among the warriors. But he wasn’t worried
about maintaining a macho image.
It was considered unmanly, for example, for a man
to carry a baby
in his arms
and go out to the garden to help his wife
but he would do things like that
and no one would ridicule him
because of his accomplishments
and because he stood about 6'2"
and had broad shoulders.
Big Spotted Horse was real fatherly
and affectionate toward his children
and he was good to his wife.

I have heard
that he objected to the Pawnees moving down here
from Nebraska.
One of the conditions for the move
was that the Pawnees
could not raid for horses anymore.
All these other tribes down here
Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and especially Comanches
they knew the Pawnees
as horse raiders.

After the removal to Oklahoma
Big Spotted Horse used to go
up into Osage country to raid.
When I was growing up
my dad, Elmer, used to go
to peyote meetings
in Osage country
and they would come down here.
They still talk
about Big Spotted Horse
and his ability to steal their horses.
He was well-known among the Osages.
They used to call him “Big Foot”
because he had one foot
that was bigger than the other.
They could identify his tracks
along the riverbeds
because of this difference.

I remember one time
I was at a dinner and these Osages
got to talking about Big Spotted Horse.
Several of our younger people
had gone up there and married Osages
and these Osages said, “Your young people
always come up and marry our women
but before
Big Spotted Horse
used to come up here
and take our horses!”

Big Spotted Horse
confused and frustrated
the old-time Osages.
If they chased him on horses
they could follow him.
If they chased him on foot
they never could catch him.
He used to deliberately get along the riverbed
and when the Osages
would see his tracks
they wouldn't know
whether he was going backward or forward.
He'd walk a long way
and the Osages would be going that way.
Those Osages said
“He was just like a wolf!”
So they remember him.
All of these Indian tribes
think of the Pawnees as horse thieves.

There’s a book written by Pawnee Bill
the white showman.
He tells about being chased
by a bunch of Indians.
He says in there
he went to the Arkansas River
he went under the bank
of the river where it was cut back
and he was hanging onto a root or something
and he looked up
and there was a water moccasin
right near his head.
He said he just stayed still.
The Indians went up and down the river
with long spears
poking around.
They even burned the grass
all around there and then finally
gave up the search.

Damn! My dad Elmer was mad! He said
“That’s Big Spotted Horse’s story!
He used to tell
about when the Osages chased him.”
Pawnee Bill heard that story
and then claimed it happened to him.

White people told the Pawnees
that Pawnee Bill
brought good publicity
so the people said, “Just leave him alone.”

Elmer was in Pawnee Bill’s circus.
He remembered
how Pawnee Bill
used to come by with white guests
and pretend to speak Pawnee.
He would just mumble anything.
He told the Pawnees, “If you guys
will answer me back in Pawnee, I’ll pay you extra.”
So when they would “talk” with Pawnee Bill
they’d talk real dirty
and nasty to him in Pawnee
and Pawnee Bill would pretend
in front of his white visitors
to be holding a real conversation
with the Pawnees.

Big Spotted Horse continued to steal horses
after the Pawnees
moved to Oklahoma
and the agent got word of it. At that time
they had an Indian police force.
The agent went to them and said
“I want you guys to go and
bring in Big Spotted Horse.
He’s stealing horses.”
But those guys wouldn’t go after him.
They said, “No telling what
Big Spotted Horse would do to us.”
Finally one man volunteered to go.
He said, “I’m related to his people.”

That’s what Burchard Hopkins was telling me.
Burchard said, “This is the story that my dad told me.”
The superintendent
tried to get those guys to pick up
Big Spotted Horse
but they wouldn’t do it. Burchard’s dad
stepped out and said, “I’m related to that guy.”

Burchard has a sister
and every time she sees me she tells me
“Remember, we’re closely related.”
So Burchard’s father
went out there to talk to Big Spotted Horse
and he said, “I’ve come out here
to tell you that the superintendent
is mad and he wants to get you.”
Big Spotted Horse was unworried, he answered
“Okay, let’s go up there.”
So they went up to the agency.

The agency used to be
right where the campground entrance is now:
that gate. There used to be
a blacksmith in there.
They came riding on horseback
across the draw and they saw
all those deputies
in front of the agency.
Big Spotted Horse said, “If you guys want me
you’re gonna have to come after me
because I’m not going
to give those horses up.
If you want to fight, we’ll fight.”
None of those guys would fight
and finally he went home.
Those guys never said anything
to Burchard’s dad.
Big Spotted Horse was pretty tough
an independent rascal.
He was an individualist.

My dad Elmer
said that
the white people
killed Big Spotted Horse
up there in Caldwell, Kansas.
He had determined
to return to Nebraska

so he loaded up
his family and started out.
When he got to Caldwell
he went into a butcher shop to buy some meat
and there was a little white child
in front of him
standing there waiting to get served.
When she turned around
there was this big Indian
standing behind her.
He was a good-sized guy
and had on a big hat. This frightened her
and she began to scream and holler.

Elmer said that
when some Pawnees went up to investigate
they found that Big Spotted Horse had been shot
in the back of the head
and there were big powder burns.
Somebody had stuck a gun
right up to the back of his neck
and killed him.

I don’t know where he was buried.
There is a photograph of Big Spotted Horse
and my grandpa Echo Hawk
owned that picture. I don’t know who
Big Spotted Horse was related to
in our family.