William Yellow Robe
William Yellow Robe, The Last Cheyenne Scout
One of the greatest Cheyenne warriors I met during the first year I was at St. Labre Mission in 1954, was William Yellow Robe, the last of the Cheyenne Scouts. He must have been over 90 years old but he remained tall and husky with broad shoulders.
I was just a young priest, wet behind the ears, and my meeting with Yellow Robe at his cabin along the Tongue River left me completely in awe. It was a thrill to know that I was actually in the presence of a warrior who had witnessed the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.
Yellow Robe’s two-room cabin was sparsely furnished with a bench, a pail of river water, a wood burning stove and a table with a couple of chairs. He motioned for me to sit down and he offered me a cup of coffee. Then the old fellow took off his neck scarf ring and showed it to me with obvious pride. General Nelson A. Miles had given it to him. I must admit that when he handed me the brass ring with the military emblem of the Cheyenne Scouts, I was so impressed, that I forgot where I was for a second.
He told me that in 1877, he and his band of warriors were attached to Troop A, U.S. Indian Scouts, 22nd infantry. During the next 14 years Yellow Robe witnessed several campaigns including the surrender of the great Nez Perce Chief Joseph, near the Bear Paw Mountains. When their military duty came to an end, General Miles kept his promise to recommend to the President of the United States that because of the meritorious service of the Cheyenne Scouts, they should be allowed to return to their homelands, with a reservation provided for them in eastern Montana.
I met with William Yellow Robe several times before his death in March of 1957.
He had been ill for two weeks in the Miles City Hospital and, because it was hard for him to speak, he had as his interpreter, Frank Little Wolf. His two granddaughters, Martha Little Whirlwind and Carol Ann Whitewolf, remained at his bedside until he passed on to the spirit world.
In his last days he spoke with pride of his four grandsons who had served their country in the Armed Forces. The old Scout advocated military service for his descendents. He was survived by two sons, Hugh Walks Along and Charles Yellow Robe.
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