Hosa (Young Crow)
Little Raven
Little Raven
(Arapaho leader)

(circa 1810 — 1889)


Little Raven, also known as Hosa (Young Crow), was from about 1855 until his death in 1889 a principal chief of the Southern Arapaho Indians. He negotiated peace between the Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne and the Comanche, Kiowa, and Plains Apache. He also secured rights to the Cheyenne-Arapaho Reservation in Indian Territory.

Little Raven was born on the central Great Plains around 1810, perhaps along the Platte River in present-day Nebraska. He became a progressive leader known for his stately appearance and oratorical skills. In 1840 he mediated peace between the Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne and the Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache. To aid his tribe's subsistence, in 1857 he sought agricultural tools and instruction from the United States government.[2]

After the Pike's Peak Gold Rush of 1858 brought thousands of white miners to dig gold out of the Indians' land, the miners built a large village called Denver. Little Raven (as well as his neighboring chief, Chief Niwot) visited the Denver gold camp and welcomed the white settlers, maintaining a stance of peaceful coexistence with the whites. But, he expressed the hope that they would not stay after they had found all the yellow metal that they needed. The white settlers not only stayed, but thousands more of them came. While in Denver, Little Raven learned some of the white man's ways, such as how to smoke cigars and eat meat with utensils.[3] The Arapaho chiefs were so welcoming that the newcomers named the first county in the territory after the tribe, as well as streets in both Denver and Boulder.

Hósa, 'Young Crow'

Along with six chiefs of the Southern Cheyenne and three others of the Arapaho, Little Raven signed the Fort Wise Treaty on 18 February 1861, but he became frustrated when whites failed to comply with the agreement. In 1863 he toured Washington, D.C.. During the summer of 1864 Little Raven took care to keep his band of Arapaho south of the Platte River and to avoid white soldiers and buffalo hunters by avoiding forts, trails and settlements.[4]

1864 saw Little Raven's disappointment with the United States turn to anger following the Sand Creek massacre. Little Raven and his band of Arapaho survived the massacre because they had camped far away from the other Cheyenne and Arapaho. Still, Little Raven sought peace in the form of the Little Arkansas Treaty on 17 October 1865, and when this treaty was broken less than eighteen months later, he accepted the Medicine Lodge Treaty on 28 October 1867. He would not sign it until the Cheyennes had signed it. The treaty allotted the Southern Arapaho a reservation between the Arkansas and Cimarron rivers in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma).[2]

Following the Battle of the Washita on 27 November 1868, Little Raven led the Southern Arapaho to Fort Sill for protection. Then the Southern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne were granted a reservation in western Indian Territory. Little Raven again toured Washington, D.C., and other Eastern cities, in 1871. He spoke before a large audience at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. President Ulysses S. Grant even offered him a peace medal, but Little Raven declined, saying that he had no peace talk to make because he had never been at war with whites. Little Raven influenced the Southern Arapaho to remain neutral during the Red River War of 1874-75.

 Little Raven (Hosa, Young Crow) was a principal Southern Arapaho chief. A peaceful man who provided wise and progressive leadership, he was known for his stately appearance and oratorical skills. He was born on the central Great Plains during the early nineteenth century, perhaps along the Platte River in present Nebraska. His influence was noted as early as 1840 when he mediated peace between the Southern Arapaho and Cheyenne and the Kiowa, Comanche, and Plains Apache. Concerned for his tribe's subsistence, he sought agricultural implements and instruction from the U.S. government in 1857.

Little Raven signed the Fort Wise Treaty of 1861 but became frustrated when whites failed to comply with the agreement. His disappointment turned to anger following the massacre of Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek, Colorado, in 1864. Still, Little Raven sought peace and accepted the terms of the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867. Under that agreement the Southern Arapaho accepted a reservation between the Arkansas and Cimarron rivers in Indian Territory (present Oklahoma).

Eventually Little Raven settled at Cantonment in present-day Blaine County, Oklahoma, where the old military hospital served as his home. Little Raven died at Cantonment in 1889.

Little Raven

Hósa, 'Young Crow'

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Margaret Coel, Chief Left Hand, Southern Arapaho (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1981). Frederick J. Dockstader, Great North American Indians: Profiles in Life and Leadership (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1977). Loretta Fowler, The Arapaho (New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1989). Frederick W. Hodge, ed., Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, Vol. 1 (1907; reprint; New York: Pageant Books, 1960); Dan L. Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography, Vol. 2 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988). Virginia Cole Trenholm, The Arapahoes, Our People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970).

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Compiled by: Glenn Welker




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