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Leaders - Traditional Leaders of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Sahnish - Traditional Sahnish (Arikara) Chiefs - Part 1

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Traditional Sahnish (Arikara) Chiefs - Part 1

In the mid 1600s, ethnographers believed the Sahnish and their over 40 associated bands numbered well over 30,000 people. During the 1700s, there were 12 bands of Sahnish with four leaders or head bands. Each had a chief and three sub-chiefs. The four head bands were the hukawirat (eastern band), tuhkatakux (Village Against a Hill), tuhkasthanu (Buffalo Sod Village), and Awahu (Left Behind). The head chief of the Awahu was chief over the four bands.

When any Sahnish chief died, all of the men of the tribe assembled at an honoring feast. The first chief of each band had the right to make a speech to nominate a candidate for the vacant position. No votes were cast, the chief was chosen by consensus. A special shirt was given to the chief when they were selected and was worn to indicate that chief’s status. The duties of the chiefs were to extend hospitality to strangers, preserve peace within the tribe, and order hunts and tribal movements. Strangers and needy members within the village were always welcomed in the house of the chief. The chief’s house was well supplied with food and goods by the hunters. It was also the role of the chief to decide when to leave an area and where the new villages were to settle. (47)

NAME OF CHIEF
SAHNISH NAME
CIRCA
First Documented Chief
1
Little Cherries (50) nakaasnsirisásIt
1742–1743
Chiefs documented from Lewis and Clark Journal
2
Crazy Bear Kunnxsannax
1795
3
Straw PákUs
1804
4
Crow At Rest Kaakaatiišá
1804
5
Feather of Eagle pi’aahiítu’
1804
6
Chief Robe NeéšaánsAhuutš
1804
7
White Eagle neéAhkas taaká
1804
8
Chief Crow kaakaaneešaánu’
1804
9
Gourd Rattle naiíkútš
1804
10
Chief Dog xaaneešaánu’
1804
11
Many Wolves siriitiraaNIhuu’
1804
12
Male Crow KaakaawiítA
1804
13
Gray Eyes ir’Ataraáwiiš’
1806/1823
Chiefs who signed the Treaty of 1825
14
*Bloody Hand (Star) štaanápaa’At (sakaa’A)
1825
15
Male/Brave Crow KaakaawiítA
1825
16
Face Looks Afraid skaarín*
1825
17
Fool Chief Neešsanaax
1825
18
Chief Afraid neešaánu naríno
1825
Chiefs who signed the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty
19
Mad Bear kuunx te nosiíA’
1825
20
Bear Chief kuuNx tee šaanu
1851
21
Young Eagle Chosen pi’aátš tawiíA
1851
Chiefs at the time of the unratified 1866 Agreement
22
*White Shield (I) NahtAsuútaaka’ (I)
1866
23
*Rushing Bear (Son of Star) kuuNux tunawiinx
1878
24
Two Bears kuúNUx píkUx
1878
25
Wolf Necklace Siriiiskaá
1878
26
Crow Chief kaakaaneešaan
1878
27
Whistling Bear KuuNUxtika’išAt
1878
28
Yellow Knife Neéšitahkáta
1878
29
Bear of the Woods KuuNUxtika’išAt
1878
30
Dog Chief Xaanéešaanuú’
1878
Subchiefs to Sitting Bear
31
*Sitting Bear/Sugar (1839–1915) KuúNUx teewiita/ka’it
1881
32
Bears Teeth KuuNUxaánu’
1881
33
Strikes Two TitaráwiiA
1881
34
Standing Soldier XunáNiš teéRIt
1881
35
Soldier (1831–1921) XunáNIš
1881
36
Floyd Bear niišu
1915–1926
37
*Harry Gillette
White Shield (II)
Nah T Asuutaáka’ (II)
1926–1947
38
*Robert Bear Sr. NeetaanTakaTa
1947–1961
39
*Robert Bear Jr. KuunuxTuunawiinx
1961

* denotes Head Chief. (Head chiefs came from the leading village of the “wáhu” meaning “Left Behind.” Listing of chiefs printed with the permission of the Sahnish Culture Society, 1993)

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