Chief Black Kettle (Moke-ta-ve-to) (1797-1868)

Black Kettle (Peace Chief, Southern Cheyenne)
Black Kettle (Moke-ta-ve-to) (Peace Chief, Southern Cheyenne)

NPS Photo

Black Kettle, born in the Black Hills of South Dakota about 1803, proved himself in his youth to be a fierce warrior against his tribe's enemies. By the early 1860s, however, this proven warrior had become an advocate of peace between his people and the white settlers.

He was known to have signed such treaties as the Treaty at Fort Wise (1861), and the Medicine Lodge Treaty (1867). Despite his efforts, he barely escaped with his life at Sand Creek (Colorado Territory) in 1864, when at least 150 Cheyenne and Arapaho people were slaughtered by Colorado Volunteer Cavalry under Colonel John Chivington. Four years later, in 1868, Black Kettle would be present for another attack on a Cheyenne village, this time in Oklahoma Territory along a river named the Washita.

The night before the Washita attack, Black Kettle returned to his village after a 100-mile trip to Fort Cobb, where he and Arapaho Chief Big Mouth unsuccessfully petitioned the post commander, Colonel William B. Hazen, to have his village moved closer to the fort. Still confident of their safety, he resisted the entreaties of some of his people, including his wife, Medicine Women Later (Ar-no-ho-wok), to move their camp closer to the larger Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Kiowa encampments downriver. As a result, Chief Black Kettle and his wife were shot and killed by soldiers while crossing the Washita River, attempting to escape to the villages downstream.


Grinell, George Bird. The Fighting Cheyennes.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1955. (pgs 133, 146, 158, 167, 170-176, 188, 202, 245, 254, 270, 299, 305)

Hardoff, Richard. Washita memories: eyewitness views of Custer's attack on Black Kettle's village.
Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008. (pgs 54-57, 427-431)

Hatch, Tom. Black Kettle: the Cheyenne chief who sought peace but found war.
Hoboken: John Wiley and Sons, inc., 2004. (pgs 21-23, 80-82, 146-166, 229-231, 239-242, 245-254)

Last updated: February 5, 2018

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