Hollow Horn Bear

Hollow Horn Bear
Matȟó Héȟloǧeča
Hollow Horn Bear LCCN 2016858434 (2) (cropped).jpg
Brulé Lakota leader
Personal details
BornMarch 1850
Nebraska Territory, U.S.
DiedMarch 15, 1913 (aged 62-63) [1]:43[2]:671
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Spouse(s)Good Bed[3]:Ch. 2[a][b]
RelationsGrandson, Albert White Hat
ChildrenJohn Hollow Horn Bear[7]
ParentsFather, Iron Shell

Hollow Horn Bear[c] (Lakota, Matȟó Héȟloǧeča[d]; March 1850 – March 15, 1913) was a Brulé Lakota leader. He fought in many of the battles of the Sioux Wars, including the Battle of Little Big Horn. As police chief of the Rosebud Indian Reservation, he arrested Crow Dog for the murder of Spotted Tail, and later testified in the case of Ex parte Crow Dog, argued before the Supreme Court of the United States. He was the chief orator and negotiator for the Lakota, making multiple trips to Washington, D.C. to advocate on their behalf, and later taking part in the inaugural parades for both Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. He died of pneumonia in Washington after the last of these trips.

He was featured on a 1922 US postage stamp and a 1970 $10 Military Payment Certificate. Some sources record him as the basis for the image on the 1899 US five-dollar silver certificate and other depictions of Native Americans. A historical marker was erected in his honor in South Dakota in 1962.

Early life

Hollow Horn Bear was born in modern Sheridan County, Nebraska.[2]:671 Named for his grandfather, he was one of seven sons of Chief Iron Shell.[8]:186[4]:177[e] His mother was Wants Everything.[f] During the Battle of Ash Hollow, he was a child and captive along with his mother at Fort Laramie, until they were released in October 1855.[9]:489

Hollow Horn Bear took part in 31 battles of the Sioux Wars.[10][g] He was involved in his first battle at age 12.[8]:186 At age 16 he and his father fought the Pawnee near present day Genoa, Nebraska, and as a teenager he participated in raids against settlers and miners across the present day states of Montana, Wyoming, and North and South Dakota.[11]:62 He went on to fight against the US Army in Wyoming and near present day Crow Agency, Montana, and then, in 1869, in actions against those constructing the Union Pacific Railroad.[2]:671

In 1874 Hollow Horn Bear married Good Bed with whom he would have seven children. The same year he began working with the US Army as a scout.[5]

In 1876 Hollow Horn Bear was with a band of Two Kettles Lakota searching for lost horses, when they happened upon a group of soldiers under the command of Alfred Terry. After two days of following Terry's men, they broke off and went ahead of the column to meet with camp of those under Sitting Bull. After five days there they took part in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. For his part, Hollow Horn Bear claimed to have there personally fought against Marcus Reno as well as George Armstrong Custer.[12]:150[13]

In 1880 he traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss issues regarding the reservation with the US government.[5]

Arrest and trial of Crow Dog

Hollow Horn Bear was appointed the head of police of the Rosebud Agency in South Dakota, as part of the Indian Police organized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[5] He arrested Crow Dog for the murder of Spotted Tail on August 5, 1881. Testifying in 1883 at the trial in Ex parte Crow Dog, Hollow Horn Bear recounted:

Mr. Lelar gave me a paper for the arrest of Crow Dog. Found defendant on a hill between White River and Rosebud Creek, where I made the arrest. Defendant had no clothes at the time, except a blanket, breechclout, and leggings and was on horseback. I did as I was ordered and took defendant to Fort Niobara.[14]

Once found, Hollow Horn Bear testified he told Crow Dog he "wanted him to go with me to the post", to which he and Black Crow, who was with him at the time, agreed. Hollow Horn Bear had been a long time friend of Crow Dog, and testified he had attended his wedding when he was nine years old. The case, argued before the US Supreme Court, became an important milestone in federal legal dealings with tribes, and contributed to the passage of the 1885 Major Crimes Act.[14] Hollow Horn Bear resigned the position as head of police five years later due to illness.[2]:671[15]:1078

Later life

Hollow Horn Bear riding the 1905 inaugural parade for Theodore Roosevelt, along with Buckskin Charlie, American Horse, Little Plume, and Geronimo[16]

Hollow Horn Bear was an advocate for the Lakota throughout repeated negotiations from 1890 to 1910. Although as one source put it, he was unable "to prevent the government from violating the 1868 treaty",[h] his "presence at the negotiations clearly pushed the agreements in the direction of Lakota interests", without which "things would have been much worse" for them.[5]

In 1895 he was arrested over a dispute involving reduction of wages paid to members of his tribe who were working for the railroad. Wages were originally cut by half, although at the time of his arrest, this had been lowered to a reduction of 35%.[17] The New York Times report summarized the tension saying:

Hollow Horn Bear appears to have an excellent record, extending back nearly twenty years. Col. Guy V. Henry is quoted as saying, in view of his services in 1876 and again in 1890, consideration should have been shown him unless he had committed some grievous fault more than the reports from that region have indicated. Still, threatening to burn the agency buildings and summoning large bodies of Indians to intimidate the agent must be accounted a grievous fault...[17][i]

In 1889 he was chosen to represent his tribe in negotiations with George Crook, over land sales aimed at opening up eastern parts of the Dakota Territory to the Black Hills.[5][15]:1078 He was an opponent of the selling of native lands in the Black Hills as part of the Black Hills Land Claim dispute. He instead wished to sell land in modern day Gregory and Tripp counties in South Dakota, which "he saw as worthless prairie lands in comparison to the rich Black Hills."[18]:154 He believed that individual ownership of land would protect his people legally, while commonly held land would "always be open to unilatral annexation by Congress".[5]

The US government had earlier made the decision to improve their offer from the previous $1.00 per acre to $1.25, 160 acres (65 ha) to 320 acres (130 ha) of land for homesteads to the family heads, and provide horses for plowing rather than oxen. Hollow Horn Bear asked instead for $1.50 for the best land.[19]:32–3

As reported by The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Hollow Horn Bear was part of a delegation to Washington, D.C. in 1891, which met with then Secretary of the Interior John Willock Noble. According to the paper, after taking the floor he:

asked that those Indians who had lost property during the late trouble might be reimbursed and went into financial matters in connection with the old and unfulfilled treaties.[20]

He asked that money which was owed the tribe, and was to be spent on beef, be instead spent on cattle and horses, as crops had been a failure, but raising cattle had been successful. He asked for more housing to be built, and that promised school houses would be as well. As the paper phrased it, "He wanted the children to have an opportunity to learn something."[20]

In 1901, Hollow Horn Bear served as part of the Sioux delegation to Washington, D.C. after the Great Sioux Reservation was broken up into smaller reservations.[19]:129[j] In 1905, he was invited to take part in the presidential inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt, and was one of the Native Americans who rode in the inaugural parade on March 4, 1905. The others were Geronimo (Apache), Quanah Parker (Comanche), Buckskin Charley (Ute), Little Phime[k] (Blackfoot) and American Horse (Oglala Lakota).[2]:672[11]:62[l] Along with Geronimo and American Horse, also took part that year in the Louisiana Purchase Exposition held in St. Louis.[11]:62

Hollow Horn Bear converted to Catholicism in later life. His daughter was baptized in 1907, taking the Christian name Emelie. Much of the family was baptized afterward. Hollow Horn Bear was baptized and took the name Daniel, Wants Everything took Susie. Many others were baptized along with them.[5] He was a guest speaker in the 1906 convention of the American Federation of Catholic Societies in Boston, and played a role in most of his tribe jointing the Catholic Church.[10][23]


In 1913, he attended the dedication of the National American Indian Memorial where he spoke on behalf of the tribes represented at the ceremony, and took part in the inaugural parade for President Woodrow Wilson, where he presented Wilson with "a peace pipe made of South Dakota red clay".[24][25][26] He caught pneumonia during the visit and subsequently died on the morning of March 15 at Providence Hospital.[25][27] A funeral service was held in Washington, D.C., and newspapers reported several hundred in attendance, and a sufficient crowd that police were needed to clear the aisle so that the coffin could be brought in.[25]

Writing on March 22, 1913, the Sacred Heart Review described the scene at the funeral:

Chiefs of the Blackfoot, Crow, and Sioux Indians, resplendent in feathers and colors, followed the body to the altar with heads bowed in grief. Kneeling in the front pews of the dimly-lit church, the red men paid their last homage to the dead chief. The funeral attracted a great crowd.[10]

His body left Washington via Union Station under military escort, by order of Secretary of the Interior Franklin Knight Lane.[28] It was returned and buried at the Rosebud Reservation, at the St. Francis Mission there.[9]:490[3]:Ch. 2


Hollow Horn Bear as featured on a 1922 US postage stamp

Hollow Horn Bear was featured on a 14-cent postage stamp and on a five dollar bill.[3]:Ch. 2 Although identified as simply an "American Indian," the stamp, designed by Clair Aubrey Houston, was based on a photograph of Hollow Horn Bear taken by De Lancey Gill.[29][30]

A historical marker was erected in Todd County, South Dakota on U.S. Route 18 in 1962 which states in part:

Hollow Horn Bear, born in 1850, fought the whiteman where he could find him in Wyoming and Montana, but after Spotted Tail was killed in 1881, he became Police Captain at Rosebud and in the Treaty of 1889, with General Crook, was the Indians chief orator and negotiator.[31]

On currency

A number of sources report Hollow Horn Bear as the basis for the image featured on a US five-dollar bill, including The National Magazine[32] and The Numismatist, a publication of the American Numismatic Association.[33] One newspaper recounted in 1909, that upon visiting the Indian Bureau to secure about $300,000 in federal payments owed his tribe, "Hollow Horn Bear hopes to take home about 50,000 copies of his picture on the $5 certificates."[34] Another contemporary source records him commemorated on both the five and 20-dollar-bills, stating "Hollow Horn Bear made a great speech in congress in 1889, and as he is a good looking specimen [sic] of his race, his picture was engraved on both the $5 and $20 dollar bills."[35] However, this is disputed by other sources which record that the image on the five-dollar note was instead based on that of Running Antelope, a leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota.[36][37][38]

At least one source speaks of his being on the buffalo nickel.[39] However, the creator of the design for the coin, Janes Earle Frasier himself stated "Before the nickel was made I had done several portraits of Indians, among them Iron Tail, Two Moons, and one or two others, and probably got characteristics from those men in the head on the coins, but my purpose was not to make a portrait but a type."[40][41]:38–9

Hollow Horn Bear was featured on the 1970 to 1973 Series 692 Military Payment Certificate issued by the US Military.[42][43]

1899 US five dollar note
Series 692 $10 US Military Payment Certificate
The 1899 US five-dollar-bill (top) described as depicting either Hollow Horn Bear or Running Antelope, and the 1970 $10 US Military Payment Certificate (bottom) depicting Hollow Horn Bear

See also


  1. ^ Also recorded as Good Bed Woman.[4]:177 One source records Hollow Horn Bear as having a harem of seven wives, "as befitted a great chief," but lists only Good Bed by name.[3]:Ch. 2
  2. ^ Also transcribed Wastewin or Wisica Wacin Win[5][6]
  3. ^ Christian name, Daniel[5]
  4. ^ Also transcribed as Mato Heli Dogeca[4]:177 and Mato He Oglogeca[3]:Ch. 2
  5. ^ The seven sons are listed as Bear Dog, Hollow Horn Bear, Peter Iron Shell, Bird Necklace, He Frightens, Pretty Bird and Stephen Brave Bird[3]:Ch. 2
  6. ^ Transcribed as Wisica Wacin Win[5]
  7. ^ One source says specifically "Hollow Horn Bear was in all the battles fought during the Sioux uprising," although it is unclear specifically to which portion or portions of the Sioux Wars this refers.[9]:489
  8. ^ See Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868)
  9. ^ It is unclear, but this may be a reference to Guy Vernor Henry, who was serving in the area at the time.
  10. ^ See also the Dawes Act of 1887
  11. ^ Recorded by modern sources as Little Plume[16]
  12. ^ American Horse appears to be incorrectly identified in the contemporary newspaper source as Cheyenne.[21] He is elsewhere identified as Oglala.[22]:121


  1. ^ Mohatt, Gerald; Eagle Elk, Joseph (October 1, 2002). The Price of a Gift: A Lakota Healer's Story. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803282827. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e Thrapp, Dan L. (August 1, 1991). Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography: G-O. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803294196. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Brave Bird, Mary (November 18, 2014). Ohitika Woman. Grove Atlantic. ISBN 9780802143396. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Hardorff, Richard G. (1991). Lakota Recollections of the Custer Fight: New Sources of Indian-military History. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803272934. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Hollow Horn Bear (1851–15 March 1913) and Duane Hollow Horn Bear". American National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/anb/9780198606697.001.0001 (inactive August 20, 2019). Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  6. ^ Standing Bear, Luther (November 1, 2006). My People the Sioux. University of Nebraska Press. pp. 211–12. ISBN 9780803293328. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  7. ^ "John Hollow Horn Bear - Sioux - No. 1000". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  8. ^ a b Curtis, Edward S. (1908). Hodge, Frederick Webb (ed.). The North American Indian. Volume 3. ISBN 9780742698031. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  9. ^ a b c Waggoner, Josephine (November 1, 2013). Witness: A Hunkpapha Historian's Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas. University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 9780803245648. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c "Dead Catholic Indian Chief". Sacred Heart Review. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  11. ^ a b c Dodge, Richard Irving; Rogers, Will (2000). The Indian Territory Journals of Colonel Richard Irving Dodge. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806182131. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  12. ^ Wagner, Frederic C. III (July 25, 2016). Participants in the Battle of the Little Big Horn: A Biographical Dictionary of Sioux, Cheyenne and United States Military Personnel, 2d ed. McFarland & Company. ISBN 9781476664590. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  13. ^ Harper, Gordon (June 20, 2014). The Fights on the Little Horn Companion: Gordon Harper's Full Appendices and Bibliography. Casemate Publishers. ISBN 9781612002804. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  14. ^ a b Harring, Sidney L. (1989). "Crow Dog's Case: A Chapter in the Legal History of Tribal Sovereignty". American Indian Law Review. 14 (2): 191–240. doi:10.2307/20068289. JSTOR 20068289. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  15. ^ a b Ricky, Donald (January 1, 2009). Native Peoples A to Z: A Reference Guide to Native Peoples of the Western Hemisphere, Volume 8. Native American Book Publishers. ISBN 9781878592736. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  16. ^ a b "A Century Ago: They Came as Sovereign Leaders". National Museum of the American Indian. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  17. ^ a b "The Roadbud Agency Troubles". The New York Times. September 30, 1895.
  18. ^ Braun, Sebastian Felix (August 26, 2013). Transforming Ethnohistories: Narrative, Meaning, and Community. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806143941. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  19. ^ a b Burnham, Philip (2000). Indian Country, God's Country: Native Americans And The National Parks. Island Press. ISBN 9781475959024. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  20. ^ a b "Had a Long Powow. The Sioux Chiefs State Their Grievances in Washington". The Brooklyn Eagle. February 8, 1891. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  21. ^ "Indians at the Inaugural : $2,000 to bring Geronimo and Others to Washington". The New York Times. February 3, 1905. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  22. ^ Bray, Kingsley M. (October 30, 2014). Crazy Horse: A Lakota Life. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 9780806139869. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  23. ^ "Federation Notes". The Sacred Heart Review. August 8, 1908. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  24. ^ "Indian to be Orator, Hollow Horn Bear will Dedicate New Monument in Harbor". The New York Times. February 20, 1913. Retrieved March 6, 2018.
  25. ^ a b c "Christian Rites for Big Chief, Impressive Services Held at Washington for Chief Hollow Horn Bear, After Ceremonies Body was Taken west to its Last Resting Place". The Bismarck Tribune. March 21, 1913. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  26. ^ "The day book". March 4, 1913. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  27. ^ "Indian Chief Dead". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 15, 1913. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  28. ^ "Noted Indian Chief Pneumonia Victim". Washington Times. March 15, 1913. Retrieved March 3, 2018.
  29. ^ Juell, Rod. "14-cent American Indian". Arago. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  30. ^ James R. Glenn (January 1983). "De Lancey W. Gill: Photographer for the Bureau of American Ethnology". History of Photography. 7 (1): 7–22. doi:10.1080/03087298.1983.10442742..
  31. ^ Nelson, C.B. (2017). "South Dakota State Historical Society Markers" (PDF). history.sd.gov. p. 186. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  32. ^ The National Magazine. Bostonian Publishing Company. 1913. pp. 11–.
  33. ^ The Numismatist: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine for Those Interested in Coins, Medals, and Paper Money. 1913. p. 222.
  34. ^ "Hollow Horn Bear at Indian Bureau". The Aberdeen Democrat. February 5, 1909. Retrieved March 2, 2018.
  35. ^ "Hollow Horn's Picture on the Greenbacks". The Spokane Press. October 31, 1908. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  36. ^ Hölbling, Walter; Heller, Arno (2004). What is American?: New Identities in U.S. Culture. LIT Verlag Münster. p. 47. ISBN 978-3-8258-7734-7.
  37. ^ King, Thomas (September 1, 2013). The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. University of Minnesota Press. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4529-4030-4.
  38. ^ Saurman, George E. (August 2012). We've Done Them Wrong!: A History of the Native American Indians and How the United States Treated Them. iUniverse. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-4759-4488-4.
  39. ^ King, C. Richard (October 31, 2008). "Teaching Intolerance: Anti-Indian Imagery, Racial Politics, and (Anti)Racist Pedagogy". Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies. 30 (5): 420–436. doi:10.1080/10714410802426574.
  40. ^ "Minting the real America". Irish Daily Mail. December 29, 2017. Retrieved March 5, 2018.
  41. ^ Bowers, Q. David (2007). A Guide Book of Buffalo and Jefferson Nickels. Whitman Publishing. ISBN 9780794820084.
  42. ^ Berman, Allen G. (1997). Warman's Coins and Currency. Wallace-Homestead Book Company. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-87069-747-0.
  43. ^ "US Paper Money & Scrip – Military Payment Certificates". CoinWeek. June 27, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2018.

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