Brave Woman Counts Coup
White River Sioux
There was once a chief with four children, three boys and two girls. The three boys all wanted to be warriors. The three boys battled the Crow, but every single one of them died. The sister was admired by many, but would not marry. She said she wanted to count coup on the deaths of her brothers.
A band of Crow had settled nearby and a war party was going out to attack them. Among them were two men who admired Brave Woman. Red Horn and Little Eagle. Brave Woman took her brothers’ weapons and her father’s war bonnet into battle. Her father let her go to war, even though he knew that he might lose her as well. The two young men were given her brothers’ weapons to fight. Brave Woman at first did not fight, but soon got into the fray of things.
Her horse was wounded and she was on the ground defenseless. Red Horn rode past her without helping her, but Little Eagle stopped to help her. Little Eagle sent the pony off with a smack and went back into battle on foot. Brave Woman also led an attack, but Little Eagle was killed. The Crow were driven from Missouri. Brave Woman cut her hair and her skin. She told people that she was the widow of Little Eagle and that as how she wanted to be remembered.
Supposedly Brave Woman was real. I didn’t meet her so I couldn’t say for sure. She was definitely brave if so, even if she wasn’t real, the idea of Brave Woman is still brave.
Vengeance isn’t really a thing people espouse as a common practice. In Christianity, the Lord says that vengeance is his. It may be bad-a** that Brave Woman went and got vengeance on her brothers, but it’s not necessarily the thing a person wants to remember about this story.
She honored someone who helped her, maybe not in the most productive way, but she did. A warrior risked his life for her, and for battle, and ultimately lost it. She honored his memory by becoming his widow, even though he may have never been married. Like other stories I’ve read about the natives, it’s a great sign of honor to remember someone for helping you out. If someone does something amazing for you, why not immortalize their memory? I wouldn’t necessarily act like a widow the rest of my life because of it, but I would find a way to remember this person.
My brothers would never do anything like this for me.
Would you do this for your siblings?
How would you have commemorated Little Eagle?