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Spotted Calf, aged Indian

Spotted Calf, aged Indian

Submitted by: Mollie Stehno

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Ponca City News
September 11, 1927

SPOTTED CALF CUSTER’S SLAYER, AGED INDIAN EYEWITNESS SAYS

September 11, 1927—Ponca City News—Mitchell, S. D.—Out of a mass of contradictory story and legend, Foolish Elk, Brule Sioux Indian and an eyewitness of the death of General George A. Custer, has emerged to name Spotted Calf, Santee member of Chief Inkpaduta’s band, as the real slayer of the cavalry leader at the battle of the Little Big Horn.

Foolish "Elk, 80 years old now and blind, unable to read or speak the English language, unaware of the long controversy over Custer’s death, has told his story to William J. Bordeaux, federal Indian interpreter for the United States district attorney at Sioux Falls, S. D., who presents the new version of the slaying in a copyrighted article in the Mitchell Republican.

For Bordeaux, himself a quarter-blood Brule Sioux, the evidence of the old Indian culminates a long effort to discover Custer’s actual slayer. The effort was begun by Bordeaux’s father, Louis, now, dead, long an Indian trader.

Custer was slain, Foolish Elk says, early in the battle; and the famous painting by Frederick Remington, "Custer’s Last Stand" which pictures the cavalry leader, with his locks flying, standing alone in the midst of a circle of howling, riding Indians is in error.

The Indian’s tale, as set down by Bordeaux, relates that Foolish Elk had been wounded in a battle against General Crook in 1865 just eight days before the battle of the Little Big Horn, and that when Custer’s cavalry charged the Indian villages Foolish Elk sat in the door of his wigwam, saw Custer and one or two officers cut off from his troops, and saw Spotted Calf, the Santee, a survivor of the Santee massacre of 1863 in Minnesota, fell the cavalry general with one blow of his tomahawk.

The statement that Spotted Calf was Custer’s slayer stands undisputed among the Sioux, Bordeaux declares.

In substantiation he has among several statements one made by Crazy Horse on that chief’s deathbed in 1877, in the presence of his father:

"No on could identify Custer in the excitement of the battle. But we disposed of the leaders in a very shot time and if he was unfortunate enough to be one of the groups in th lead he was one of the first to fall."

Bordeaux’s conclusion is that doubt no longer exists that Custer was one of the first to fall and that the Sioux, know rightly who killed him: Spotted Calf, the Santee, avenging a massacre of his own people 13 years earlier.




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