WOODEN LEG

( Kummonk'Quiviokta )

 

Northern Cheyenne Chief

1858-1940

 

Wooden Leg was a veteran of the 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn and later atribal judge.

As judge, he was told at one point that the Bureau of Indian Affairs had issued an edict that Indian men could not have more than one wife.

This was part of a general governmental offensive against polygamy, which also affected the Mormon settlers of Utah.

As tribal judge, Wooden Leg was charged with enforcing the new rule.

He sent a tribal police officer to gather all Northern Cheyenne men who had more than one wife and gave them the news.

Initially, most of them resisted, but then they came up with strategies to circumvent the law: telling Indian agents that the extra wifes were really in-laws, for example, or maintaining two households with one wife in each of them.

Wooden Leg related a story of how he pondered telling his own two wifes of the order.

He was stricken with remorse as his younger wife, who had no children, was moved out of his house. "A few years later I heard that she was married to a good husband. Oh, how glad it made my heart to hear that!"

Wooden Leg related his memories to Thomas B. Marquis, who published them in 'A warrior who fought Custer' in 1931.