Clear Water

Clear Water
A Fiction

Bent Hands Noohouseiht Ciicetno (Clear Water’s father)
Short Tree Too’ohuht Hohoot (Clear Water’s mother)
Clear Water Ciihkoowu Nec
Gray Horse Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox (horse to hunt buffalo with) (Clear Water’s first husband)

Clear WaterGrandfather d’Lon tells me I must record the story of Clear Water before it’s lost forever. Even now the language of the Arapaho is fading. I know only a few words. My children know none. Time passes, and what we thought was eternal dwindles. There are no buffalo any more. Denver is spreading like sumac. The mountains seem unchanged, but white men have dammed rivers, and filled valleys with water. The white man’s roads and tracks have shortened journeys that once took a full season. I have seen the trains, horseless wagons, and flying machines. Soon the mountains will be only for those who choose to be among them. And soon the stories of the Arapaho will be lost to all but those who choose to know them.

Many people believe that Clear Water Ranch is named for the mountain-fed creeks that flow through the land. This is not so. The ranch is named for my Grandmother, Clear Water, or Ciihkoowu Nec in the tongue of the Arapaho.


I am not related to Clear Water in the sense that whites understand it. She is not my blood. But as the Arapaho understand it, my father was her husband, and that makes her my mother, even though we are not blood. Grandmother is the closest thing I can think of to call her. Grandfather d’Lon is not my blood, but he is the loving Grandfather who made Clear Water Ranch, and so he is the Grandfather of all of us who inhabit it. He told my youngest son to write down the story of Clear Water as I tell it. Grandfather d’Lon will have the story printed in a book. Grandfather d’Lon thinks that will make the story last forever, but I know that someday the book and the story will be lost. This is the way of the world.

Ciihkoowu Nec always said she was a summertime baby, born in the time between winters. Whether this is true, I don’t know. From stories told about her, she is said to have been a gift to Noohouseiht Ciicetno, for his leadership of his tribe. Even as a child, Clear Water was different, always she helped her mother and father. Always she helped others. Too’ohuht Hohoot taught her womanly ways. Bent Hands and Short Tree believed that she would one day give birth to a leader, to take Bent Hands’ place. The young men of the tribe all sought her favor, but Short Tree kept them away, and held Clear Water to the right path.

In time, Bent Hands and Short Tree chose Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox to be Clear Water’s husband. Gray Horse was the best hunter and horseman among the young men. He would give Clear Water fine sons, and he would lead the tribe after Bent Hands passed.

The time came when Clear Water would marry. Even some of the younger girls had been given. But Clear Water didn’t pass women’s blood, and so they waited through winter, and until the snow melted. Bent Hands decided that Gray Horse should wait no longer, and Clear Water was given. Gray Horse had a fine tent, and he treated Clear Water well. Bent Hands and Short Tree were pleased with their decision.

But sons never came. Even after two winters, Clear Water bore no sons. One night Gray Horse hit Clear Water across the face. And then he hit her again. In the still camp, the sound was clear for everyone to hear. Bent Hands and Short Tree took their daughter from Gray Horse. Without Clear Water, Gray Horse could not rise to chief. And most of the mothers in the tribe would not give their daughters to a man who might beat them. Gray Horse pulled down his tent, and left. No one followed his trail, so no one knew where he went. All that was known was that he went south.

Clear Water was given to an older man, who had sons and daughters. But still she bore no children. The older man said he couldn’t feed an extra mouth, and Clear Water returned for a time to her parent’s tent. Still she helped everybody. Mothers knew Clear Water would help them care for sick children. Fathers knew she would help their wives bear children, and make clothes for them. And Bent Hands felt she was wise beyond any other man or woman in the tribe.

Sickness and Death

That winter much sickness and starvation came to the tribe. Men, women and children died. Bent Hands and Short Tree died. The few who survived moved closer to the whites. There were few hunters, few wives, and no children. Clear Water’s place in the tribe was no more. She decided the best way to help the tribe was to leave, perhaps to get food from the whites. She went to the white man’s road, and set off for the white man’s village. But as strong as Clear Water’s spirit was, her body was weak. She could see the lights of the white man’s village, but she could walk no more. She sat, and asked the Great Spirit to come for her. The Great Spirit did not come. When Clear Water awoke she was in a room with two women, one white, one yellow. The white woman left, and returned soon with a white man she called Flin. Clear Water could see that the women feared Flin. He said something to the women, and then he left. The women bathed Clear Water, and as she was drying herself, the man Flin returned. He walked behind her, and used a sharp knife to cut off her braid. She was too weak to fight. The man Flin threw her braid into a stove. Her clothes followed.

The next day she was given a thin dress, and a broom. The women showed her how to sweep, and she was set to sweeping the great room. She swept dirt out the door, and was tempted to run, but the thin dress was no protection from the cold, and for now things were not too bad. Each day in the morning she swept the great room. Each day in the evening she swept again, and hauled water to the fire near the bathing tub. She learned to tend fires in stoves, and to clean clothes. The white woman’s name was Inge. Flin called them the upstairs girls. In time another woman joined them. Flin called her Jew girl, and treated her badly.


One day Clear Water was sweeping the great room, and she saw a man talking to Flin. The man pointed to her, and Flin nodded. Clear Water knew what would come next. From that day on, Flin sold her favors to smelly white men, sometimes two or three in a day. Clear Water thought she would have been better off if the Great Spirit had taken her.

And then Jew girl was gone. The next day Flin and the sheriff were gone. Inge took over running the place. The women were treated better, but they still served drunken cowboys who smelled like horses. The new sheriff came and tried to take over Flin’s place. Inge told him no, that he must pay, or get out. Clear Water heard the talk, and knew the sheriff was trying to scare Inge. Clear Water picked up a shotgun from below the bar, and aimed it at the sheriff. Then she drew back the hammers. The sheriff left, and never tried to scare the women again.

Inge gave the upstairs girls money. Clear Water used some to buy clothes. The rest she used to buy food. She rode Flin’s horse to where her tribe had camped. There were only seven men and women left. There were no children.

The Jew girl came back with her man. They gave Clear Water money to buy more food. Then they bought cows, and took them to the Arapaho. The men learned how to tend a herd, and where the herd could go. It was not the Arapaho way, but living was better than starving, and so the people changed their way. Clear Water was pleased to see that one of the women was heavy, and would soon give birth. She told the men they must work hard now, to build shelters for the cattle and horses. She told them they would spend one more winter in tents. After that they would live in houses with stoves or fireplaces.

Clear Water told me many years later that she had no idea how she would make that happen.


Winter came, and it was hard, but all the Arapaho survived.

In the deep of the winter, one of the Arapaho men was riding into the white man’s village, which was called Dillon. He was to gather supplies. As he rode, he began to see the trail of a man on foot. He was certain it was a man. Places where the man stopped to make water proved it was so. The man must have passed the Arapaho camp, and Grandfather d’Lon’s trail during heavy snow. The rider came upon the man sitting under a tree. He was too tired to go on, and would soon freeze. He was cradling a strange long gun. The rider got the man on the horse of Flin, and wrapped him in a blanket. They went as fast as they could to Dillon, and Clear Water heard the rider yelling as he approached. They brought the man into the great room, and Clear Water sent the rider to get the white medicine man. The medicine man told them to put the freezing man into a tub of warm water. Told them the water must be warm, not hot, and the man’s hands and feet should remain outside the tub. The man had taken care to keep his hands and feet from freezing, but he was so cold, and so tired that he could not speak or move. Clear Water tended the man, while Inge tended the business. During this part of the year, the business was not much.

Clear Water told me the man opened his eyes a few times, but mostly kept them closed. They gave him a tea Clear Water knew. It was made from willow bark. They gave him broth from stew. As he warmed, his hands and feet began to hurt. I have felt such hurt, and it makes a strong man scream. This man groaned, but did not scream.

The sheriff came to look at the man, but his face was not on any of the papers the sheriff kept.

That night the man woke, and said something. Clear Water herself was asleep in a chair, and she woke with a start. He tried to get up, but his legs were not firm under him. Clear Water called Inge, and the helped him to his feet. They dried him and put him in a bed. He slept the night, and much of the morning.

The man’s name has no meaning in Arapaho. I am told it has no meaning in English. The white man is strange. Sometimes his name has meaning, sometimes it does not.

Clear Water learned to call the man Bela Antonev. My son will have to ask around to find the correct way to put the name. Clear Water seldom called him anything but Bela.

Grandfather d’Lon put Bela to work on a ranch which had been built by a man named Brooks. Brooks was gone, and so were some of his men. Bela soon became the leader of the men on the Brooks ranch, and then the leader of the men on the Arapaho range as well. Clear Water told the Arapaho men that Bela was not their chief. He only led them at work. But the Arapaho saw no reason to name a chief. They were eating and having children. Some missed the hunter’s life, but none wanted to return to the starving times.

Clear Water asked the Arapaho if any had any objection to her marrying Bela. None did, but one asked if Bela knew. They laughed, but then she was asked if Bela knew she could bear no children. She said he knew, and did not care.

And so Clear Water left the white man’s village, Dillon. The two ranches were united. Bela suggested to Grandfather d’Lon that the ranch be called Clear Water Ranch. Grandfather d’Lon agreed. Clear Water was again the helper of all. And Bela showed the men how to be cattlemen. Some of the white men would not ride with the Arapaho. Those men left, but others were quick to take their place. Some of the men on the ranch now are Arapaho. Some are Cheyenne. Some are white.


That summer a band of flat hats came to Clear Water Ranch. Grandfather d’Lon came to the ranch to meet them, and there was much discussion. Two lodges were built, one close to the road for travelers, and another away from the road, where the Arapaho tents were pitched. Both lodges had two stoves, one for cooking, and one for heating. Arapaho women fed travelers. Some travelers stayed through the night.

The following summer, the flat hats came again, and built another lodge, bigger, with no floor, and only one stove. Horses and abandoned calves wintered there.

The lodges of the flat hats are sturdy, and they still stand.

Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox

This story is long, and my son will be busy putting it into the white man’s marks. I can read some, but I see already that this story is beyond my reading. But I cannot end yet, without telling the story of my father, Gray Horse.

Gray Horse rode alone for two years. He says he traveled south, on the edge of the mountains, and avoided other tribes. That is how he was able to avoid the sicknesses.

In the second winter, Gray Horse came across a white man’s camp. There was no fire, and the mule was close to death. When he looked into the tent, Gray Horse found the white man frozen stiff, with a whiskey bottle in his hand. I have told my son to write that it was whiskey, not fire water, which is a stupid white man’s expression.

Gray Horse buried the white man under rocks, with his precious whiskey bottles. Then he took the white man’s hat, knife, one whiskey bottle, and gun. He put a blanket on the mule, and coaxed it into moving. Then he led it to the white man’s village Flagstaff. He spent some time looking at the village, and decided the building with the star on it would be the chief’s lodge.

In the chief’s lodge, he met two men wearing stars on their shirts. One was white, the other was as dark as a buffalo. The white man motioned Gray Horse to sit. First Gray Horse put the hat, knife and whiskey bottle on the table in front of the chief. The chief said something to the other star man, who opened the door and a window.

Through motions of drinking, shivering, drinking again, and finally going to sleep, Gray Horse made the chief understand that the owner of the hat and knife drank himself to death. The second star man said the hat looked like it belonged to Irish Soapy. The mule too. The chief agreed. Since the man Irish Soapy hadn’t been seen in weeks, it was decided Irish Soapy got drunk and froze.

The chief offered Gray Horse a cup of coffee, which Gray Horse sniffed. He tasted it, and set the cup on the chief’s table. The chief and the star man talked for a bit, and then the star man left. He came back soon with a wagon.

Good Words

My son tells me he has heard this story before, and he thinks star man, and chief are not good words for the deputy and marshal. He is probably right. I will trust him to use the good words.

The marshal and deputy made it known they wanted Gray Horse to show them where the frozen body was. Gray Horse nodded. Then the marshal gestured that Irish Soapy had a repeating rifle. Gray Horse nodded again, and indicated that he claimed the rifle. Since Irish Soapy had no kin, and no friends, the marshal said no more about the rifle.

Gray Horse motioned that the wagon would not reach the camp. The marshal nodded, and said they would get as close as they could. They closed up the marshal’s lodge – my son calls it an office – and followed Gray Horse to the camp. The wagon made it all the way to the camp, and Gray Horse was impressed by the determination of the mule. There they uncovered the body, and put it on the wagon. Then they took down the tent, and put that on the wagon. There was a saddle, some food, many bottles, traps, and a few hides. There was also a large black pan, but no kettle, and a coffee pot.

When this was done, the marshal tapped his chest, and said d’Lon. Then he pointed to the deputy, and said Freign. Gray Horse nodded, and tapped himself on the chest. When he said his name, he could see Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox meant nothing to the white men, so he patted his horse.

The marshal said Horse, and Grey Horse pointed to the marshal’s red horse and shook his head. Then he ran his hand over the neck of his own gray horse. It was the deputy who understood.


The marshal asked if Gray Horse was Cheyenne, and Gray Horse said Arapaho.

The marshal nodded, and they set off, but not by the same way they’d come.

The traveled for about two hours, slowed by the pace of the wagon, and came to a camp. Gray Horse counted ten tents. He could see they were Cheyenne, and he was uncomfortable. But he did not show it, and the marshal and deputy seemed not afraid to enter the camp. Most of the women stayed in their tents. Gray Horse counted eight men behind the chief. The marshal nodded to the chief, and called him Bear Coat. The chief nodded to the marshal, and called him d’Lon. Then the chief pointed to the wagon, and the marshal said ‘Irish Soapy’.

The chief spoke in the white man’s way and said he would not miss Irish Soapy. Irish Soapy took more game than he needed, and left little for Bear Coat’s people. Bear Coat said Irish Soapy probably got stupid with whiskey, and froze. The marshal said it was so, and nobody would miss Irish Soapy.

Bear Coat nodded his agreement, and said, “Freign I know. Who is your smelly Arapaho friend?”

Gray Horse knew they were talking about him, even though they were speaking in the white man’s way, and he said “Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox”. The speaking of the Cheyenne is not the same as the speaking of the Arapaho, but it is like. Gray Horse and Bear Coat were able to talk in a mix of the two ways.

After they spoke for a bit, Bear Coat turned back to the marshal.

“Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox travels alone because he struck his wife, the daughter of his chief. He has been gone two winters from his tribe. They are well north of here. When Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox left them, the tribe was a bit bigger than ours. Did d’Lon bring Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox here to know these things?”

“Partly so Bear Coat. But partly to see if he can have a place with you. He and his horse are both well fed, even this deep into winter. Can you use another hunter? I think he would be happier among Cheyenne, than among whites.”

Bear Coat spoke to Gray Horse for a bit, then he turned to the marshal, and told him Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox had no wish to live among whites. He would ride alone. But if the Cheyenne wanted, he would ride with them.

The marshal and the deputy removed most of Irish Soapy’s things from the wagon. Only Irish Soapy and his empty whiskey bottles remained to burden the mule. Bear Coat invited them to stay for a bit in his tent, but the marshal said he must go while there was still light. They grasped hands.

Gray Horse asked Bear Coat if there was a man who needed a knife, since he had two. Bear Coat called to a young man who came and took the knife. The gift made the young man happy, and raised Gray Horse in the eyes of Bear Coat.

Three winters came and went. Gray Horse was a better hunter than any of the Cheyenne, but he showed them his ways. None were as good as Gray Horse, but all got more game. They also got more skins to trade. Each time Bear Coat went to Flagstaff, he took Gray Horse with him. Gray Horse told Bear Coat he should also ask one other man to ride with them. Three would be no threat to the whites, and if Bear Coat chose a different third man each time, soon all the men would know the white man’s ways. Bear Coat nodded.


When they went to Flagstaff, Bear Coat always talked to the marshal. Gray Horse picked up some of the white man’s words. After Gray Horse was with the Cheyenne four winters, He rode with Bear Coat and another man to Flagstaff. Bear Coat led them to the marshal’s office. The marshal gave each man coffee. Bear Coat sipped the coffee, and said it was good, so Freign must have made it. Gray Horse could not tell if the coffee was good or bad, but he drank some to show respect for the marshal. They talked for a while, and Bear Coat said Gray Horse was his best hunter. Bear Coat told the marshal that if Gray Horse were Cheyenne, he would be the next chief. Bear Coat asked the marshal if making Gray Horse chief would be a good thing, or a bad thing. The marshal drank coffee for a time. Then he looked at Gray Horse.


Gray Horse shook his head, and pointed to Bear Coat. “Chief.”

“After Bear Coat, chief?”

“After Bear Coat, Long Step chief. Gray Horse help Bear Coat. Gray Horse help Long Step. Learn from Ciihkoowu Nec, always help.”

The marshal looked at Bear Coat and asked who was Ciihkoowu Nec? Gray Horse was about to say something, but Bear Coat stopped him. He told the marshal that Ciihkoowu Nec was Clear Water, the daughter of Bent Hands. She had been the wife of Gray Horse, and was the best of the Arapaho. But she bore Gray Horse no children, and he hit her. He left the tribe in shame, but if Bent Hands were here, Gray Horse would follow him to the death.

The marshal asked where the tribe of Bent Hands made fires, and Gray Horse told him Colorado. The marshal said Arapaho in Colorado lost many to great sickness and starvation. Gray Horse drank from his cup, and set it down. Then he asked Bear Coat to let him go to Colorado, to learn of his people. Bear Coat nodded, and said Gray Horse should travel fast, and learn of his people. Then he should return before the winter. Bear Coat said Gray Horse should take an extra horse

Gray Horse left the Cheyenne the next morning.


It took him two weeks to reach the place he left in shame. He found nothing but the ashes of long dead fires. He rested the horses one day, and managed to shoot a rabbit. Then he set off toward the white man’s road. He saw cattle where there had been none. And from a great distance he saw lodges where he had ridden and hunted. But he saw no Arapaho. He knew there was a white man’s village along the road, but the Arapaho always avoided it. Those who went in did not return.

Gray Horse stopped some distance from the new lodges. He trusted the marshal in Flagstaff, but he knew no other white men. Bent Hands made a point of keeping his tribe away from white men. Gray Horse decided to leave the road, and cut behind the buildings. Soon he was among cattle – more than he had ever seen. He saw riders too. Gray Horse stuck to his line, and ignored the riders. He rode down into a gully, and when he came up the other side, he was face to face with another rider. It took Gray Horse a moment to see that the rider was an Arapaho dressed in white man’s clothes. The man looked at Gray Horse, and then at his horse. Then he said ‘Neniice’ Yeihowoonoox’.

Gray Horse should have recognized the rider, but he did not. The rider told Gray Horse that Bent Hands and Short Tree were gone. The rider told Gray Horse he was seen while he was still on the road. The rider said Gray Horse himself had taught the rider to watch his prey, and move ahead of it. Gray Horse nodded. This was Too’ohuht, the short boy.

Short told Gray Horse of the sickness and starving, of how Clear Water left the tribe to look for help, but did not come back. Soon only Short, his mother, and his father were left. Gray Horse was sad for the people, and his heart was heavy. Finally he asked, “Clear Water?”

Short said she lived with her husband Bela on a ranch. Bela was a white man. He and Clear Water were much in love. Together they had gathered Arapaho from miles around. Many children without parents they raised as their own. Short told Gray Horse Clear Water would tell him all that had happened. She did.

They spent days talking. When they weren’t talking, they rode with Bela and the men. Gray Horse learned of another d’Lon who was the brother of the marshal in Flagstaff. He met the man and the man’s wife who dressed in man clothes.

When Gray Horse said he would have to return to the Cheyenne at Flagstaff, the man and his wife said they would travel with him to see the marshal. Clear Water did not want Gray Horse to leave, but she knew he had made a place for himself among the Cheyenne. She told him he was always welcome at Clear Water Ranch. And any Cheyenne who joined him, would be welcome too. Then Clear Water explained that the man and his wife would arrange for them to travel by train to Flagstaff. The trip would be three or four days. Even the horses would be on the train. Gray Horse thought these whites must be crazy. They took a yellow dog on the train. They got on the train at a cattle stop where the tracks bordered the east edge of Clear Water Ranch. For three days Gray Horse watched the white men and women. None of them would live a week in the mountain winter. But they outnumbered the Arapaho and Cheyenne. Their villages and homes were everywhere in the valleys and plains. Gray Horse knew his way would be gone when he was gone. He knew the Arapaho, and Cheyenne must accept the white man, and live as the white man lived. Clear Water was trying to keep the Arapaho together. It was the only way they would save their spirit. Gray Horse knew he must speak to Bear Coat and Long Step about this.


My son Bela thinks this story is too long. He says he has heard it all before, many times, from his father who tells stories often. I think Bela would stop writing if Grandfather d’Lon were not paying him to put the words down. Bela is a good son, but he has discovered the daughters of the tribe, and d’Lon’s money lets him give them things. Bela just asked me if this story was supposed to be about Clear Water, and if it was, why was there so much of Gray Horse in it. My only answer is that the stories are stories of the people. And the people are all one.

Bela, the story will end soon, and you will have to find another way to impress the daughters of the tribe. It will not be by your skill as a hunter. My son makes faces, and rolls his eyes, but he is a good son, and I know he will write all the words.

Clear Water Ranch thrives. Winter is still hard for the riders, but the women and children are warm, and eat well. Gray Horse, and the Cheyennes did not thrive. White men pushed the Cheyenne away. Where Cheyenne fires once burned, now cattle chewed the grass. Most Cheyenne were pushed into reservations, but Bear Coat and his small tribe were allowed to stay near Flagstaff. Bear Coat said this was because the marshal and the deputy would not drive them away.


In the middle of the second summer after Gray Horse returned, the marshal and a new deputy visited the camp. Bear Coat asked about Freign, and the marshal told him Freign was far east, and was married. The new deputy was young and not skilled in the ways of the mountains. They were tracking a white man who murdered his own wife and two other men. The white man was a trapper, and he would be hard to find. The marshal thought the man would not be found, but he asked Bear Coat for the help of a couple of men. Bear Coat looked at Gray Horse, and Gray Horse nodded. Then Bear Coat asked Gray Horse who would ride with him, and Gray Horse nodded to Long Step. The marshal said two weeks of searching were all he asked. After that the Arapaho would return whether they found the murderer or not.

Gray Horse suggested sending out four or five Arapaho men at first light. Each would go in a different direction, at mid-day, they would return to the camp, and say what they found. Gray Horse said the riders should search north because Gray Horse saw the murderer pass that way. The marshal told the Arapaho they must not approach the man. They should only look for the start of his trail, and then come back to camp. At the end of the day, all the riders came back, and one said he found day old horse scat. One horse.

The next morning the rider led them to the start of the trail. The rider was sent back to the camp to tell Bear Coat to keep watch. The murderer might turn back. The murderer’s trail got fresher each day. He was slowing, and getting careless. On the fourth day he lit a fire. The smoke was like a signal, even though it lasted only a short time. On the fifth day they could hear the sound of the murderer’s horse. Gray Horse signaled the men to stop. He went ahead alone on foot. The murderer was walking his horse in a stream. It was slow going. All streams were rocky. A man or horse must pick his way carefully.   Gray Horse watched until the murderer was out of sight. He was sure the man would leave the stream soon, and build a fire to dry his boots. When Gray Horse returned, they decided to leave the horses. Gray Horse said the murderer was stupid. He wore boots, not moccasins, and he had only one pair. The boots would be wet for days. An Arapaho hunter wore moccasins, and carried an extra pair. The murderer would probably build another, bigger fire this time, to dry his boots.

Gray Horse led the way forward. They heard the sound of the horse’s hooves on the stones – dry stones, since the sound was not muffled by running water. When the sound stopped, Gray Horse stopped. They waited, and soon heard the sounds of a man making camp. Gray Horse signaled to withdraw. When he felt they were out of earshot of the murderer, he stopped and relieved himself. Long Step did the same. It took the marshal, and the deputy a moment to realize what was happening. Then they did the same. Then Gray Horse looked at the marshal, and motioned that they should go forward, while Long Step and the deputy went in from the side. The marshal nodded. Gray Horse looked at Long Step, who nodded his understanding. Then Gray Horse whispered to Long Step to show the deputy how to be quiet.

As they approached the murderer’s camp they could smell a fire. The murderer was confident that no one would follow him. They would expect him to flee south toward Mexico.   The murderer was cutting branches, and throwing dead wood into the fire. The branches were for a shelter. He planned to stay here for a day, at least. Gray Horse and the marshal crept to where they could see the murderer. Gray Horse looked at the marshal, and nodded toward the murderer. The marshal nodded, but Gray Horse repeated the look, touched his forehead, and pointed to the murderer. The marshal nodded again.

Gray Horse pursed his lips, and motioned to indicate it was the marshal’s move. The marshal yelled that he was here to arrest the murderer. The murderer turned with a hand gun in his hand. Gray Horse shot him once just below the neck. It took him a couple of minutes to die.

Gray Horse asked the marshal if he wanted to stay here for the night, but the marshal said hell no, he wanted to leave that place. They tied the murderer’s body to his horse, and spread the murderer’s belongings on the other horses. Then they set out east. Since they were not worried about losing followers, they were able to reach the road shortly after sunset. There they took everything off the horses, and camped for the night. They took turns keeping watch, and feeding the fire. No one said anything during the night. They broke camp at dawn, and rode at an easy pace. The marshal said he thought they should ride until they reached the Cheyenne camp. Gray Horse agreed. He wanted to be rid of the murderer. Eventually there was some talk. Gray Horse said he never shot a man before, but this one killed his wife, and for that he deserved to die. The marshal agreed, and said he hadn’t expected the man to be taken alive. The marshal said people from Flagstaff rode out looking for the murderer, but they were sure he would run for Mexico. The marshal knew the man was a trapper, who knew the mountains. He would go to the place he knew. Gray Horse rode with Long Step for a while, and they talked. But they talked in Arapaho and Cheyenne. The marshal and the deputy talked their own talk.

They reached the Cheyenne fires well into the night. The marshal said he would not bring the dead man into the night camp. He and the deputy would ride on. They were given fresh horses. Gray Horse didn’t know or care what the marshal would do next. He was surprised when the marshal brought back the loaned horses and the murderer’s horse. The marshal wanted to give the murderer’s horse to Gray Horse, but Gray Horse said no. The horse would go to Bear Coat, and Bear Coat would give it to the man who needed it most. Gray Horse said this was the way Bent Hands and Clear Water taught him, and it was a good way.

There was much talk around the fires. Long Step told stories of the hunt. But when he was asked about it, Gray Horse said only that the murderer was stupid, and not one with the way of things.


As summer cooled, Bear Coat asked Gray Horse if he would be the husband of Running Girl. Her parents approved it, and Bear Coat approved it. Gray Horse asked if Running Girl wished it, but he knew that if she did not wish it, Bear Coat would not have suggested the match. Bear Coat said that Gray Horse must ask Running Girl what she wanted, but it was not good for Gray Horse to be alone. Gray Horse asked Running Girl if she wanted him to be her man, and she said yes. He asked if she wanted only Gray Horse, and she said yes, if Gray Horse wanted only Running Girl. From that day they shared a tent. Running Girl is my mother. I have two brothers and two sisters.

Gray Horse, Bear Coat, and Long Step had many quiet discussions. Finally they called council. The tribe was told Gray Horse and Long Step felt the tribe should move north, and join with the Arapaho. The tribe Gray Horse came from did not hunt. They raised cattle, and lived in solid lodges. They lived like the whites, but still held to their Arapaho beliefs and customs. Bear Coat said if they stayed where they were, soon the white men to push them out, until finally they would be forced to the reservation. Even their friend the marshal could not prevent this. Bear Coat said that just now, hearing himself, he decided he would go north, and join the Arapaho. Others could do as they wanted.

Three young bucks said they would rather be on a reservation with Cheyenne, living like Cheyenne, than be on a ranch, living like white men. All the others agreed to follow Bear Coat. He told them he must send a message, to make sure they were still welcome, and if that was true, they would leave yet this summer.

Bear Coat told the marshal what had been decided, that nineteen Cheyenne sought to join with the Arapaho at Clear Water Ranch. The marshal sent a message on the wire.

The marshal must have sent powerful words, because the response came before the marshal and Bear Coat finished their coffee. The response said the Cheyenne should come at once.

Three men, three women, and four children moved to the Cheyenne reservation. We know nothing of them.


Nine men, six women, and four children set off on the road north from Flagstaff. They were met halfway by a group from Clear Water Ranch. Clear Water herself was in the first wagon. She greeted every Cheyenne. There were two wagons to carry things. Women and children rode in the third wagon. The Cheyenne men rode their horses, but didn’t stray from the wagons. Running Girl tells me Clear Water talked to her about Gray Horse, and they laughed much. Gray Horse tells me such talk is woman talk, not fit to pass down among the Arapaho, OR the Cheyenne.

The flat hats came again, and built another lodge, this one to one edge of the ranch. Work was split among the lodges. Riders moved from lodge to lodge, following the work.

I am the first of the Cheyenne children born on Clear Water Ranch. But I am also Arapaho. Clear Water was as much of a mother to me as was Running Girl. Clear Water never bore a child, and yet she is the mother of all the children on the ranch. The name of the ranch comes from her. I think this is the will of the Great Spirit.

This story is finished for now. My son Bela can put down his pencil. Maybe when he needs money to impress the daughters of Clear Water Ranch, we will have other stories.