Kicking Bear

Kicking Bear (Lakota: Matȟó Wanáȟtaka,[1][2] March 18, 1845 – May 28, 1904) was an Oglala Lakota who became a band chief of the Miniconjou Lakota Sioux. He fought in several battles with his brother, Flying Hawk, and first cousin, Crazy Horse, during the War for the Black Hills, including the Battle of the Greasy Grass.

Kicking Bear
Matȟó Wanáȟtake
Oglala Lakota who became a band chief of the Minneconjou Lakota Sioux leader
Personal details
BornMarch 18, 1845
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, U.S.A.
DiedMay 28, 1904 (aged 59)
Manderson-White Horse Creek, South Dakota, U.S.A.
Spouse(s)Woodpecker Woman
RelationsFlying Hawk (brother)
Black Fox II (half brother)
Crazy Horse (first cousin))
Parent(s)Black Fox (Great Kicking Bear) and Iron Cedar Woman

Kicking Bear was one of the five warrior cousins who sacrificed blood and flesh for Crazy Horse at the Last Sun Dance of 1877. The ceremony was held to honor Crazy Horse one year after the victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn (known as the Battle of the Greasy Grass to the Sioux), and to offer prayers for him in the trying times ahead. Crazy Horse attended the Sun Dance as the honored guest but did not take part in the dancing.[3] The five warrior cousins were brothers Kicking Bear, Flying Hawk and Black Fox II, all sons of Chief Black Fox, also known as Great Kicking Bear, and two other cousins, Eagle Thunder and Walking Eagle.[4] The five warrior cousins were braves considered vigorous battle men of distinction.[5]

Kicking Bear was also a holy man active in the Ghost Dance religious movement of 1890, and had traveled with fellow Lakota Short Bull to visit the movement's leader, Wovoka (a Paiute holy man living in Nevada). The three Lakota men were instrumental in bringing the movement to their people who were living on reservations in South Dakota. Following the murder of Sitting Bull, Kicking Bear and Short Bull were imprisoned at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Upon their release in 1891, both men joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show, and toured with the show in Europe. That experience was humiliating to him[citation needed]. After a year-long tour, Kicking Bear returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation to care for his family. In March 1896, Kicking Bear traveled to Washington, D.C. as one of three Sioux delegates taking grievances to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He made his feelings known about the drunken behavior of traders on the reservation, and asked that Native Americans have more ability to make their own decisions. While in Washington, Kicking Bear agreed to have a life mask made of himself. The mask was to be used as the face of a Sioux warrior to be displayed in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. A gifted artist, he painted his account of the Battle of Greasy Grass at the request of artist Frederic Remington in 1898, more than twenty years after the battle. Kicking Bear was buried with the arrowhead as a symbol of the ways he so dearly desired to resurrect when he died on May 28, 1904. His remains are buried somewhere in the vicinity of Manderson-White Horse Creek.

Sculpture from life mask of Kicking Bear by Alexander Phimister Proctor, on Q Street Bridge, Washington, D.C.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Matȟó Wanáȟtáka, pronounced / matȟó wanáȟtaka /. See Lakota language.
  2. ^ Buechel, Eugene; Paul Manhart (2002) [1970]. Lakota Dictionary: Lakota-English/English-Lakota (New Comprehensive ed.). Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-1305-0. OCLC 49312425.
  3. ^ Edward Kadlecek and Mabell Kadlecek, To Kill An Eagle: Indian Views on the Last Days of Crazy Horse, 1981, p.40.
  4. ^ "Young Black Fox was the half brother of Kicking Bear and Flying Hawk. On September 4, 1877, Young Black Fox commanded Crazy Horse's warriors in his absence. The courage displayed on that occasion earned him the respect of both Indians and whites alike. In the same year Young Black Fox sought sanctuary in Canada, but he was killed on his return to the United States in 1881 by Indians of an enemy tribe." See McCreight, Firewater and Forked Tongues: A Sioux Chief Interprets U.S. History, (1947), p.4.
  5. ^ Kadlecek,p.143. Also, see Kingsley M. Bray, Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life, 2006, P.314.

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