The Last of the Great Chiefs

When one thinks about the Crow Nation, the first word to spring to mind is Plenty Coups. A supreme leader and arguably the last great chief of the Mountain Crows, Plenty Coups is most famed for his wisdom and vision that proved crucial during the most trying times for his people. Unlike the Sioux and the Cheyenne tribes which fiercely resisted the white invasion during the war of the West, Plenty Coups collaborated with the whites; a move that spared much of the heritage of the Mountain Crows and ensured their posterity.

Born in 1948, Plenty Coups became a Crow warrior at a young age and joined his fellow warriors in fighting territorial battles against major neighboring tribes such as the Sioux and the Cheyenne. It is these wars that gave him the opportunity to prove his worth as a gallant warrior. He learning was quick and was accelerated by fighting alongside great warriors like Medicine Crow, a man that was soon to be a chief. He earned many coups, joined the elite warriors and among his people, he was considered one of their finest warriors.

He devised one particular strategy that proved effective all the time against their enemies. He would cover himself with grey wolf hide to conceal his identity, sneak into the enemy terittory at night and spy on them. The intelligence he gathered during his covert operations gave his tribe an edge that often caught their enemies flat-footed. His meteoric rise to chiefdom and greatness was predicted long before its time by his grandfather.

As a child, he was christened Alaxchiiaahush to illustrate his many achievements in the future. While growing up, he had similar dreams of his own which, understandably, seemed far-fetched to most of his tribesmen at first but gained credibility as he lived them out His skills were not limited to the battleground. He was eloquent in speech and a man of great wisdom. He was often sought to provide advice and guidance in matters of governance and in all spheres of life.

Young Crow tribesmen were often challenged to seek visions which might provide guidance to the future of the Crow Nation. They would fast and spend a few days on the mountains. It was during one of such ventures that Plenty Coups had a vision of surreal buffalo and wing blowing in a forest. This vision was ultimately interpreted to mean a soon to be a white invasion. The only way to survive during this unprecedented period was to cooperate with the white-man. It was Plenty Coups who provided leadership during that war and ushered the Crow nation into the twentieth century. Although he died in 1932, his legacy lives on To his people, he is the last of the great chiefs.