Clarence “Bisco” Spotted Wolf
Clarence “Bisco” Spotted Wolf, Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Council of Forty-Four
Many people with health problems are waiting to move into the Heritage Living Center, among them my old friend, Clarence “Bisco” Spotted Wolf, the grandson of the famous chief who led the Cheyenne against General Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud and a week later fought against Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Bisco inherited his grandfather’s place as Chief of the Northern Cheyenne Council of 44. Through the years he distinguished himself as a horseman and roper. At the age of seven he astonished his family by roping an elk to feed his family! Popular with area ranchers, Bisco once roped 400 calves in a row without a miss at branding time.
In the 1950s Bisco served as Tribal Councilman for his tribe and during that time, I asked him if he would work with me at St. Labre Mission. I told him I wanted a man I could trust. I handed Bisco the keys to the Mission and told him jokingly that he could keep the keys until I found a better man. That day never came and today Bisco still treasures the original keys as a keepsake.
It was Bisco who translated a 1973 tape recording of a chiefs’ meeting and gave it to me to read. On the tape, several old chiefs, by then deceased, expressed their concern about elderly neglect and the need for an old folks home on the reservation. Chief Charlie Sitting Man’s closing comments: “Father Emmett will help us,” was a message from the grave. It touched my soul and brought me out of retirement to build the Heritage Living Center.
Since that day Bisco has become the guiding light as the Heritage Living Center emerged from early sketches to the final building plans. He was honored when we asked him to turn the first spade of dirt at the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the Heritage Living Center. But his work was not finished. After the ceremony, I asked him for one more favor: “When I’m not here, will you watch over the construction for me?” Throughout the construction phase, Bisco has never let me down. He calls me immediately when something needs my attention.
The Heritage Living Center is the fulfillment of a need expressed by the old Cheyenne chiefs many years ago. They have all moved on to the “next camp,” but I know that the chiefs stand with me in spirit as each day I ask “Maheo,” our Creator God, to bless you. The elders and I send our greetings and gratitude to you for helping to make a “miracle” happen on the beautiful hill overlooking the Tongue River Valley.
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