Native American Tales

Chief Roman Nose Loses His Medicine

Chief Roman Nose Loses His MedicineChief Roman Nose Loses His Medicine

White River Sioux

The Sioux and the Cheyenne have been friends a long time and would often battle together against an enemy. There was a great chief among the Sioux, he was called Chief Roman Nose. He had the proud face of a hawk. He rode into battle with a stone tied in his hair. He had special medicine that made him bullet proof. He could still get pierced by arrows or cut by knives, but he was bullet proof.

The only catch was that he was not supposed to eat from metal at all. His food could not be cooked in a metal pot and he could not use a knife or a fork.

He got word of a battle. He hastily ate a meal that had been cooked in a metal pot. He prepared for battle, but was told not to fight because his medicine would not work. He was told to purify himself for four days. He said that four days from now was not the time to fight. Today was the time to fight. He said he would fight and he would die, but only the mountains are forever. He charged into battle, but was hit with a bullet in the chest and he died. His warriors stopped their battle to give him a proper burial.

Chief Roman nose showed everyone that sometimes it was more important to act like a chief than live to an old age.


You know, our stories that we tell do have mentions of people who have a power to do something as long as they don’t do something else. Samson was the strongest man, until his hair was cut. The same goes for a man named Porter Rockwell, well, he wasn’t exactly the strongest man. In the not too distant past, Porter was promised that if he didn’t cut his hair no blade or bullet could pierce him. Porter did actually cut his hair at one point because a widow was in need of a wig and he was a big old softy apparently, despite being Utah’s version of Wyatt Earp. Porter didn’t die in battle, but didn’t live to a ripe old-age either.


The entire idea of this story is that Roman Nose acted like a chief and faced death straight-on knowing he would die, but also knowing that he would still be a leader figure of his community. He was not going to back down just because he lost his medicine.

I am, so far, not a fan of the idea of being very old. I’m not very old, nowhere near it, in fact, but if was a hundred and ten one day, I don’t think I would be very thrilled about it. There are times when I have already felt very worn down by life and just don’t think I could take living to be that old. I’d be stepping out on busy streets and the great-grandkids would be like, “Grandma, you have to watch where you’re going!” There’s just a point when you have to say that you’ve had enough.

I doubt Roman Nose was at that point in his life. He was probably still fairly young, but he was also chief. With a leadership position comes responsibility. You have to act like a leader, you can’t just get up there and pass laws and then run around playing golf all the darn time. You have to embody the entire idea of being a leader. You’re not just a leader when you’re up on a dais, you’re a leader when you’re walking down the street, and when you’re at dinner, and when you’re on vacation, and when you’re in a public restroom. No matter where you are, you’re still a leader. You do hold a responsibility to act the part. Be the person people think a leader should be.

Roman Nose knew that his people would expect him to ride into battle despite his personal safety. Seriously, which of our presidents has gotten out of the white house and decided to go fight alongside the troops recently? None. If Roman Nose had hid away for his own safety, he would have set a precedent that it’s ok to hide away, as a leader, when times are dangerous. When you’re a leader, you’re supposed to face the danger and set the example for everyone else. Roman Nose knew this. If he could not be brave, how could he expect his warriors to be brave?


I admire this guy.

Weigh In

If someone told you that you could have a special power by not cutting your hair, would you not cut your hair?

Do you think Roman Nose was a good example of a leader?


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