Buffalo Calf Road Woman delivered Custer’s fatal blow

In 2005, after observing a vow of “100 summers of silence,” Northern Cheyenne storytellers gathered at the High Plains Book Festival in Billings, Mont., to share for the first time their side of the Battle of Little Bighorn and the killing of Lt. Col. George Custer.

According to the descendants of the warriors who engaged in that bloody battle in 1876, the blow that killed Custer was delivered by none other than Buffalo Calf Road Woman.

Known by multiple names, including Buffalo Calf Robe, Buffalo Calf Trail Woman and Brave Woman, she first displayed her fierce battle skills earlier that same year.

U.S. troops and their Crow and Shoshone allies had engaged in battle with the Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux in what became known by Americans as the Battle of Rosebud Creek. Buffalo Calf Road Woman had ridden into battle with her husband, Black Coyote. As troops closed in on her brother, Chief Comes in Sight, Buffalo Calf Road Woman came to his rescue and saved his life. The incident was such a remarkable moment in Cheyenne history that they called it the Battle Where the Girl Saved Her Brother.

Following the Battle of Little Bighorn, the Northern Cheyenne were rounded up by U.S. troops and relocated to a reservation in Oklahoma. But a band of renegade Cheyenne, including Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Black Coyote and their two children, broke loose and headed back to Montana. En route, Black Coyote killed a Cheyenne chief, causing the family to be banished from the group. He also was involved in the death of a U.S. soldier in a separate incident.

U.S. troops eventually captured the family, and Black Coyote was jailed in Miles City, Mont., where he was convicted of murder and sentenced to die.

While her husband was imprisoned, Buffalo Calf Road Woman died of diphtheria in May 1879. According to reports, Black Coyote hanged himself when he learned his wife had died.