100 Voices from the Little Bighorn by Bruce Brown Deluxe CD-ROM Bundle Edition

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100 Voices: Sioux, Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Crow, Arikara and American Eye-witness accounts of the Battle of the Little Bighorn

100 Voices: Full List * Crow/Arikara * Sioux/Cheyenne * American * Rosebud

Guided Tours: Crazy Horse at the Little Bighorn * Crazy Horse at the Rosebud

Features: Who Killed Custer? * Who Killed Custer? Audio Book
Features: Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger * Winter Count of Crazy Horse's Life
Features: Bogus Crazy Horse Photos * Unsung 7th Cavalry Scouts Saga
Features: Indian Battlefield Tactics * Woman Warriors
* Little Bighorn Maps
Features: U.S. Medal of Honor Winners * U.S. Atrocities * Indian Atrocities
Little Bighorn Mysteries * Virtual Museum

This is a FREE EXCERPT from
Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...

'The Revenge of Rain-in-the-Face'
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In that desolate land and lone,
Where the Big Horn and Yellowstone
Roar down their mountain path,
By their fires the Sioux Chiefs
Muttered their woes and griefs
And the menace of their wrath.

"Revenge!" cried Rain-in-the-Face,
"Revenue upon all the race
Of the White Chief with yellow hair!"
And the mountains dark and high
From their crags re-echoed the cry
Of his anger and despair.

In the meadow, spreading wide
By woodland and riverside
The Indian village stood;
All was silent as a dream,
Save the rushing of the stream
And the blue-jay in the wood.

In his war paint and his beads,
Like a bison among the reeds,
In ambush the Sitting Bull
Lay with three thousand braves
Crouched in the clefts and caves,
Savage, unmerciful!

Into the fatal snare
The White Chief with yellow hair
And his three hundred men
Dashed headlong, sword in hand;
But of that gallant band
Not one returned again.

The sudden darkness of death
Overwhelmed them like the breath
And smoke of a furnace fire:
By the river's bank, and between
The rocks of the ravine,
They lay in their bloody attire.

But the foemen fled in the night,
And Rain-in-the-Face, in his flight
Uplifted high in air
As a ghastly trophy, bore
The brave heart, that beat no more,
Of the White Chief with yellow hair.

Whose was the right and the wrong?
Sing it, O funeral song,
With a voice that is full of tears,
And say that our broken faith
Wrought all this ruin and scathe,
In the Year of a Hundred Years.


The two primary accounts of the battle by Rain In The Face are very different, and frankly contradictory. The first (actually the second chronologically) by Santee Sioux Ohiyesa is sympathetic and respectful -- essentially a death bed conversation between two old friends -- while the second by American journalist W. Kent Thomas is glibly exploitive -- Thomas purportedly got Rain In The Face drunk to induce him to tell his tale.

Yet both accounts sound like the same man talking, and they both have something to contribute, even if they contradict each other at many important turns. For instance, in the Ohiyesa version, Rain In The Face identified an Anonymous Youth (who was subsequently slain) as Custer's killer, while in the Thomas version, he said no one knew who killed Custer -- "it was like running in the dark." In the Thomas version, Rain In The Face said he cut out his old nemesis Tom Custer's heart and spit it in his face, while in the Ohiyesa version he denied the whole Tom Custer battlefield episode -- "many lies were told about me."

Even so, the Battle of the Little Bighorn story most closely associated with Rain In The Face is probably still the famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,"The Revenge of Rain-in-the-Face," which features Rain In The Face cutting out Tom Custer's heart in "revenge" for his abusive treatment of Rain In The Face at Ft. Lincoln the year before, witnessed by Frank Huston, who saw Tom Custer "kick and slap Rain while troopers held him."

Historically speaking, Longfellow's poem is steeped in misconception. For starters, neither Custer nor his men were carrying sabers (as Rain In The Face correctly recalled in the W. Kent Thomas interview). More importantly, Seventh Cavalry surgeon Dr. H.R. Porter, who examined the corpses the day after the battle, said neither George nor Tom Custer's heart was not cut out (although Charles Roe, who was on the burial detail after the battle, disagreed). Furthermore, based on the eye-witness record, it appears that Oglala Sioux war chief Little Horse or Minneconjou Sioux warrior Lazy White Bull were more likely Tom Custer's killer.

Nonetheless, Rain In The Face was a force at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Ohiyesa said Rain In The Face was a leader of the Indians' first counter-charge against Reno, which forced the American troopers to abandon their defensive line in the open and fall back to the timber along the river. Thunder Bear called Rain In The Face the bravest man in the battle.

Little Knife said the Rain In The Face was the only Indian who took a Seventh Cavalry prisoner during the battle.

-- Bruce Brown

The Concise Encyclopedia of the American Indian by Bruce Grant with illustrations by Lorence F. Bjorklund, Gramercy 1989

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