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From law breakers to law makers, suffragists to unionists, bronc riders to ball players, Bold Women of Montana celebrates Women’s History Month in our state! Learn more about 23 bold women of Montana. Listen every weekday in March at 8:42 a.m. and 2:04 p.m., and find the latest episodes here.

Bold Women: Buffalo Calf Road Woman, Woman Warrior

 Buffalo Calf Road Woman circa 1870.
Buffalo Calf Road Woman circa 1870.

The Blackfeet woman Running Eagle is legendary not just as a warrior, but as a war chief. She led hundreds of men on raids and died in battle at age 30, probably around 1850.

But most Montana tribes had woman warriors. Some went along with a male family member for adventure, or to protect him. But when motherhood called, they went back to traditional women’s roles. Buffalo Calf Road Woman, of the Northern Cheyenne, was already a mom when she fought.

In 1876, the U.S. Army was pushing Cheyenne people and their allies off land designated as theirs, because gold had been discovered.

Buffalo Calf Road Woman was camping with her family and her band near Rosebud Creek when soldiers attacked. Her brother’s horse was shot. He fell. She rode into battle and saved him.

A week later, in the Little Bighorn battle, Buffalo Calf Road Woman rode near her husband, firing a six-shooter. The allied tribes won that battle, and some say the last people to touch George Custer alive were Cheyenne women. They pushed him, wounded, off his horse, then punctured his ears because he would not listen.

The Cheyenne fled, hunted by the army. During that time, Buffalo Calf Road Woman had a second child. Three years later, she died in prison of diphtheria. Her husband committed suicide.

But the Cheyenne people live on and honor Buffalo Calf Road Woman to this day.

Celebrating Women's History Month, Bold Women of Montana is brought to you by Mountain Press, publisher of Bold Women in Montana History, and is produced by Beth Judy, Jake Birch and Michael Marsolek. Theme Music by Naomi Moon Siegel.

Beth Judy is the author of Bold Women in Montana History and a limited audio series based on the book. She previously hosted and produced The Plant Detective, a locally produced and nationally syndicated program.
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