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  • Writer's pictureNotes From The Frontier

Who Killed Custer? It might surprise you.

Updated: May 11, 2023

Here's something we never learned in history books! Female Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors fought at the Battle of the Little Bighorn-Custer's Last Stand-with distinction. Cheyenne warrior Buffalo Calf Road Woman fought a number of battles in leadership roles, and tribal lore passed down for 143 years credits her with killing George Armstrong Custer.

She wasn't the only female warrior at the Little Big Horn. The Arapaho Chief, Pretty Nose, fought there, too. She lived to be 101 years old and her grandson served in the Korean War as a U.S. Marine and later an Arapaho chief, just like his grandmother. 

You may be interested in this related post:

• Who Killed Custer? Part 2

"Who Killed Custer? Part 1" was originally posted October 14,, 2019 on Facebook &

"Who Killed Custer? Part 1 & 2" is our second most popular post after "Stagecoach Mary."

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Cheyenne warrior Buffalo Calf Road Woman fought a number of battles in leadership roles, and tribal lore passed down for 143 years credits her with killing George Armstrong Custer. The Arapaho Chief, Pretty Nose.

PHOTOS: Left photo by Edward Curtis, around 1876. Right photo by Laton Alton Huffman about 1879. Montana Historical Society. 

1,959 views4 comments


Gary Coffrin
Gary Coffrin
Feb 02, 2022

The Curtis image at the left, a woman he identified as CHEYENNE and not Arapaho, was copyrighted in 1910. Curtis was born in 1866, and would have been only 10 years old at the 1876 date presently listed for the Curtis photo.

Miles City (Montana) photographer L.A. Huffman identified the woman at the right as CHEYENNE and not Arapaho. It was not unusual for persons of different tribes to have the same translated name. Note also, I've never found or even heard of any reference for the presence of a single Arapaho woman at the Battle.

Of the MANY conflicting legends surrounding Custer's death, L.A. Huffman believed that Chief Rain-In-The-Face had killed Custer.

Aug 30, 2023
Replying to

Interesting post. I'm very appreciative of this contribution.


Sep 15, 2020

Women are fierce


Mike Renz
Mike Renz
Jul 09, 2020

History is often a lie that is told so frequently, it is taken for the truth. I am no historian but the events at Greasy Grass are a prime example. I have read where the battle field archaeology is consistent with the native accounts - and disproves the flattering myths cultivated by white historians. I have long wondered about Custers fate and suspected he took his own life. I find it gratifying to hear that a woman put an end to him.


Deborah Hufford

Author, Notes from the Frontier

Deborah Hufford is an award-winning author and magazine editor with a passion for history. Her popular blog with 100,000+ readers has led to an upcoming novel! Growing up as an Iowa farmgirl, rodeo queen and voracious reader, her love of land, lore and literature fired her writing muse. With a Bachelor's in English and Master's in Journalism from the University of Iowa, she taught students of Iowa's Writer's Workshop, then at Northwestern University, Marquette and Mount Mary. Her extensive publishing career began at Better Homes & Gardens, includes credits in New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Connoisseur, many other titles, and serving as publisher of The Writer's Handbook


Deeply devoted to social justice, especially for veterans, women, and Native Americans, she has served on boards and donated her fundraising skills to Chief Joseph Foundation, Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), Homeless Veterans Initiative, Humane Society, and other nonprofits.  


Deborah's soon-to-be released historical novel, BLOOD TO RUBIES weaves indigenous and pioneer history, strong women and clashing worlds into a sweeping saga praised by NYT bestselling authors as "crushing," "rhapsodic," "gritty," and "sensuous." Purchase BLOOD TO RUBIES online beginning June 9. Connect with Deborah on, Facebook, and Instagram.

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