Two Moons (1847–1917), or Ishaynishus (Cheyenne: Éše'he Ôhnéšesêstse),[1] was one of the Cheyenne chiefs who took part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn and other battles against the United States Army.[2]

Two Moon
Ishaynishus, Éše'he Ôhnéšesêstse
Two Moons Cheyenne Chief.jpg
Cheyenne leader
Personal details
Resting placeAlongside U.S. Route 212, west of Busby, Montana
Parent(s)Father, Carries the Otter
Known forParticipation in the Battle of the Rosebud, Battle of Little Big Horn, and the Battle of Wolf Mountain; Indian Scout; Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation; One of several models for the Buffalo nickel.


Two Moons was the son of Carries the Otter, an Arikara captive who married into the Cheyenne tribe. Perhaps known best for his participation in battles such as the Battle of the Rosebud against General Crook on June 17, 1876, in the Montana Territory, the Battle of Little Big Horn on June 25, 1876 and what would prove to be his last battle, the Battle of Wolf Mountain on January 8, 1877. Two Moons' defeat at Wolf Mountain by General Nelson A. Miles led inevitably to the surrender of his Cheyenne band to Miles at Fort Keogh in April 1877.[3]

After the surrender of his Cheyenne band, Two Moons enlisted as an Indian Scout under General Miles. As a result of Two Moons' pleasant personality, the friendliness that he showed towards the whites, as well as his ability to get along with the military, General Miles appointed him head Chief of the Cheyenne Northern Reservation. As head Chief, Two Moons played a crucial role in the surrender of Chief Little Cow's Cheyenne band at Fort Keogh.[4]

Northern Cheyenne ReservationEdit

Two Moons was one of the models for the Buffalo nickel.

Two Moons traveled on multiple occasions to Washington, D.C., to discuss and fight for the future of the Northern Cheyenne people and to better the conditions that existed on the reservation. In 1914, Two Moons met with President Woodrow Wilson to discuss these matters.

Two Moons was one of the models selected for James Fraser's famous Buffalo Nickel.[5]


Two Moons died in 1917 at his home in Montana at the age of 70. Two Moons' grave still lies alongside U.S. Route 212, west of Busby, Montana.[6]


  1. ^ Cheyenne Dictionary[permanent dead link] by Fisher, Leman, Pine, Sanchez.
  2. ^ Curtis, E. (1907) The North American Indian. Vol.6 The Piegan, the Cheyenne and the Arapaho..
  3. ^ Hardorff, Richard G. Indian Views of the Custer Fight. University of Oklahoma Press 2005, p.107
  4. ^ Garland, Hamlin. "Account of The Battle at Little Bighorn (Recalled in 1898 by Two Moons)." McClure's Magazine, 1898
  5. ^ Bowers, Q. David (2007). A Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels. Atlanta, Ga.: Whitman Publishing. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-0-7948-2008-4.
  6. ^ Hatch, Thom. The Custer Companion. Stackpole Books 2002, pp. 221–222
  • Time Life Books. (1993). The Wild West. Time Life Books.
  • Richard G. Hardorff, Cheyenne memories of the Custer fight, University of Nebraska Press, 1998 ISBN 0-8032-7311-8.