Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Great Plains Quarterly 33:1 (Winter 2013).


Copyright © 2013, Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


I dedicate this article to all the current Cheyenne Council of Forty-Four Chiefs, headmen of the warrior societies, and combat veterans, as well as modern tribal leaders, warriors, ceremonial practitioners, and tribal citizens who continue to use eagles in the traditional manner, thus ensuring the survival of the warrior ways.

In 2010 a war bonnet belonging to Oglala Lakota chief Fools Crow was repatriated to hereditary chief Mel Lone Hill of Batesland, South Dakota, which is located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Fools Crow’s war bonnet was of the original warrior types, made of immature golden eagle tail feathers, tipped with yellow-dyed plumage, with a double trail that extended beyond the wearer’s height. The headpiece is comprised of nearly 100 immature golden eagle tail feathers, likely to have been made from the tails of as many as ten golden eagles or three captured eagles. Chief Fools Crow was a prominent spiritual and traditional leader who earned international notoriety after the Wounded Knee incident of 1973, and was prominent in efforts to introduce American Indian issues to the United Nations. In 1982 he, along with a coalition of Cheyenne and Lakota ceremonial leaders, brought the suit against the State of South Dakota in Fools Crow et al. v. Gullet et al. for American Indian religious freedom rights to practice ceremonies undisturbed at Nóvávóse (Bear Butte).