Chief Swift Bear

   Chief Swift Bear was head of the Corn Band of the Brule or Burnt Thigh Sioux.  He was born in 1827 and died in 1909.  He was careful to guard his people to avoid war with the military and settlers.  His band camped along the White and Niobrara Rivers in South Dakota.  He was instrumental in the signing of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty and was at the agency when the Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought in 1876.

   Shown in this picture is the war club of Chief Swift Bear, made in a unique manner with the loop over the stone head beaded while the rawhide was wet, before drying hard. The sinew sewing on the handle used a back and forth "baseball" stitch, made so carefully that it appears there was no sewing involved.

   The woman's moccasins belonged to the wife of Swift Bear.  This pair was made about 1875, all with sew-down porcupine quillwork.  As a woman's moccasin, there was an added cuff sewn to the top so the ankles would not be seen.


Larry Belitz, Plains Indian Material Culture Consultant