Anna Komnene – Pine Leaf woman was a Native American Indian woman who became a famous warrior and then a chief. Also, she was awesome.
Gaspar Correia – I could take her in a shooting competition.
Hua Mulan – I would not put money on that.
Anna – Yes, today we have another Fearless Woman of History here and with me today are Gaspar, Mulan and Olga of Kiev.
Olga – Saint Olga of Kiev, thanks you.
Anna – Of course. Yes, today we’re talking about a brave Indian woman of the Northern Plains. She was born in 1806 to the Gros Venture nation. Pronounced like “Gro Vaunt.” I had to look that up though I despise the barbaric language of Gaul. It’s Frankish for “Big Belly.” They were one of many nations pushed into the western Great Plains by the Iroquois Confederacy. (In a similar way to the Arapaho and Lakota.) That means they used to live along the Great Lakes in a settled agrarian lifestyle but when they lost their homes due to “Aggressive Land Acquisition” by the Iroquois, they became nomads and adapted the the harsh lifestyle.
Mulan – Let’s not linger on the Gros Venture because she was kidnapped at the age of ten by the Crow and after that she was counted as a Crow woman. As was the custom of many Native Americans, she was adopted by a man that had lost both his sons. You may think that Pine Leaf Woman would resent her captors, but in this case the enemy of my enemy… You see, the Crow were enemies of the Blackfoot. Pine Leaf Woman’s twin brother was killed by the Blackfoot and she had sworn at that young age to not take a husband until she had collected a hundred Blackfoot scalps. So, when she was captured the Crow found themselves with a young girl that didn’t want to play with dolls or do woman’s work, she wanted to fight.
Gaspar – Yes, our little girl had sworn revenge and wanted to use what her enemy feared the most against them and her adopted father became her Obi Wan Kenobi.
Mulan – Yes, Since she was a young girl she dedicated her life to practicing the art of warfare for the sake of revenge. This may seem… a tad extreme to some. But one must understand that this was her twin brother. I talked to Zach about this and he agreed that he’d go on a lifelong revenge fueled rampage if something happened to his twin brother.
Olga – Dah, I also went on rampage for dead husband. I burned whole city down.
Anna – So, what were the Crow to do? Now, this is where I must explain a few differences with Indian culture and how they thought of Women’s and men’s roles in society. Theirs was a society with set places for male and female roles. Men went out and did the hunting and fighting and women took care of the children and food preparation. It was an orderly society where everyone had a place and a purpose according to which role they played. The difference is, the male and female role had nothing to do with a person’s physical sex. A man could move into a woman’s role and everyone in the tribe would consider him as a woman. Also, a woman could grow up into a man’s role and she would hunt, go on war parties and have wives. For all intent and purpose, she would be a man to the tribe. Many women who were in the role of women also fought with men and went on raids as well, but most of them settled down when they married or had children. The majority of people fell into the role their biological sex dictated, but Pine Leaf Woman was a little different. She maintained her female identity. She dressed like a woman and acted like a woman, but she did the jobs that the men did. When there was a war party, she’d be the first to volunteer. She became well know for being a good hunter and became skilled with the traditional weapons of hatchet, knife, spear and bow. She also learned how to shoot muskets and was apparently a pretty good shot.
Gaspar – I could still take her.
Mulan – Yes, like me, this woman trained her whole life to fight. However, as a warrior she didn’t have time to deal with her lodge or prepare her food. She took four wives which shocked the white men that met her. One writer who met her tried desperately to woo her but to no avail. In his book he said he was successful but everyone agrees that it was totally made up because the guy was a douche and all his stories had such romantic inconsistencies… and he was chased out of camp soon after he was rejected.
Gaspar – Face it dude, she was into chicks. Time to move on.
Anna – So, our Sapphic heroine slowly gathered warriors around her and her popularity and fame grew. She led her followers on raids where she captured many ponies from rival tribes and nations, counted coup and started a rather impressive scalp collection. Now, counting coup was viewed as more impressive and brave than killing an enemy warrior outright. You had to run up to the enemy in a battle and hit him with a stick. It was a way to show that you weren’t afraid of them. Also, she took an enemy’s weapon during a battle and that was viewed as not only awesome, but also pretty humiliating for the enemy warrior. In fact, she became so good at what she did, the Crow began composing songs about her.
Gapsar – I imagine them like Heavy Metal songs and the video would have her jumping in front of an explosion while shooting two guns at once.
Anna – You imagine most things like that.
Olga – Instead of pretty ornaments she collected scalps? Oh, I do like this woman, dah!
Mulan – According to one story, the Blackfoot attacked a fort where many Crow and white women and children were. She led the defense of the fort and fought back the Blackfoot. She killed three enemy warriors without a scratch. Having fought in armor myself, I can attest that that’s a difficult feat.
Gaspar – Soon the tribe couldn’t ignore how epic this woman was and offered her a seat on the Tribal Council. There they gave her a new name, “Woman Chief.” She didn’t have time for women’s work, she was too busy killing and taking charge. She was leading war parties like a BOSS. Let me specify: in one raid alone she stole 70 horses and there were 160 warrior lodges in the Crow nation. She was ranked #3 only after two very powerful and older chiefs. Yeah, that’s pretty hard core.
Anna – Woman Chief was by no means the only Indian woman warrior. There were many others.
Mulan – Another warrior woman was Brown Weasel Woman, also known as “Running Eagle.”
Olga – Why do Indians get all the cool names?
Mulan – Brown Weasel Woman was a Blackfoot woman who as a girl, asked for toy bows instead of dolls. She trained as a hunter and warrior and during one battle she saw her father get knocked off his horse. She charged into enemy fire, picked up her father and rode back to safety. To the Blackfoot, knowingly turning your back to an enemy was the ultimate act of bravery. They gave her the name of “Running Eagle” as a reward.
Anna – But then Running Eagle’s mother became sick and she had to take over the woman’s work of the lodge. She disliked this and wanted to get back to shooting things dead. But after her mother died and her father died in a battle, she took the role as head of the family in order to take care of her brothers and sisters. So now she wore the pants in the family! During her next raid they went deep into Crow territory and and she personally stole eleven horses. With their loot they began to make their way back to friendly lines. During the night she had guard duty and some Crow came to get their horses back. She ran up and grabbed the horses reigns. When the Crow saw that she was a woman they didn’t think she was a threat and continued on. So, Running Eagle shot one of them, grabbed the dead man’s rifle and shot at the other guy who was now running for his life. In another battle she blocked two arrows with her shield and she got to get up during the war camps and tell war stories with the other crusty veterans.
Gaspar – So, if anyone out there is looking for inspiration for some tough, hard hitting women that have their own wives to take names for them because they’re too busy kicking butt, these are the women for you!
Mulan – Also, Don’t forget Zach’s new book, “Sins of Prometheus,” a zombie-free post apocalyptic story. Also, check us out on Facebook. (Leans in and whispers. ) And maybe add Anna as a friend. She doesn’t have very many.
Anna – I heard that!