Native American Tales

The Death of Head Chief and Young Mule

The Death of Head Chief and Young MuleThe Death of Head Chief and Young Mule

Northern Cheyenne

In 1890 all the Cheyenne had been put on reservations. There was no more buffalo and there was very little food. Head Chief decided that he had to get some food for his people. A young man, named Young Mule, always followed the chief around. The chief was teaching him how to be a man. The two set out to find food for the people, but there was no more game on the reservation. The two decided to go off of the reservation to find food, after all, hadn’t the land from horizon to horizon belonged to the tribe before?

They found one lone cow, which belonged to a white man. The chief shot it. A man came running out, having seen that the chief shot the cow, the chief shot him too. He was buried and the cow was butchered. It did not take long for people to realize that the man was missing and it was soon found out that the chief had shot him. The chief was to stand trial for his crimes, but he didn’t want to die like a white man; he wanted to die like an Indian.

He asked that the police be lined up. He would come at them, as if to count coup, but they would shoot him down. He would die a warrior’s death. The officers weren’t so sure of allowing this to happen, but it was reasoned with them that if it didn’t, the others might have to rise up and defend their chief, so the officer allowed it. Many people came out to watch the head chief count his last coup. They came to watch the execution of the chief who had fed his people. He did not show up alone. Young Mule was there as well. The chief did not want him there, but Young Mule knew it was as good a time to die as any, after all the chief had taught him much. What there a better way than to die than by his side?

The whole thing commenced. There were shots from the white men, but the old chief was counting coup, almost right and left, so was Young Mule. It took some time for both the chief and Young Mule to go down. When they did, one of the chief’s feathers was tied to a rock that was in the spot where he finally hit the ground. It stayed there for a long time. The feather has gone since then, but the rock will be there forever.


This happened. Maybe it’s a little embellished, but this actually happened. A man named Hugh Boyle was really killed by two Cheyenne when he discovered them butchering a family cow. It seems the two really put up a fight when the authorities came to get them. All I can say is, “Rest in peace.”


This is so sad. The laws and the world changed. The world was dragged right out from underneath the feet of the Native Americans on the Americas. They were hungry, but had no food. If they went out to get food, they were killed, because that cow belonged to somebody. I get that a cow belongs to somebody–what I don’t get is not supplying people with enough food. If you’re going to round-up a bunch of people and keep them in such a manner that they cannot provide for themselves, you better give them food.

I’m glad that these two men were able to die in a manner that gave a legacy to their culture. It’s sad that they were so hungry that they had to break a law to get food. Feeding yourself and your family isn’t a crime. It shouldn’t ever be. This incident is a travesty in American History.


There are probably many people who can say they’re alive today because of the actions of these two men.

Weigh In

Is there ever a case were persecuting someone for feeding their family is morally permissible?

Should anyone have been prosecuted over this incident?


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