Big Bow (Zepko-ette or Za-ko-yea), Kiowa chief, was born in 1833 on Elk Creek, Indian Territory. He was descended from a line of prominent war chiefs and inherited his name from his father and grandfather. From his father he learned at an early age to be a warrior, and by the time he was eighteen he had been on two raids into Mexico. In 1851 Big Bow was made a war chief but lost popularity that winter after eloping with the wife of another warrior. What was more, he offended many Kiowas with his scornful attitude toward the tribal religion. He was especially skeptical of medicine men, particularly the prognostications uttered by Maman-ti through his inflatable "medicine owl." Often Big Bow asserted that his own strength and courage, not the aid of a bird, would ensure him success in war. Consequently, he frequently went on raids either solo or accompanied only by one or two others. On a foray into New Mexico in 1855, he almost single-handedly captured several ponies and took a Navajo scalp. The following spring, after other tribal leaders expressed doubt about his boasts, he took another chief, Stumbling Bear, back with him to the scenes of his escapades in New Mexico. He frequently rode with the Quahadi band of Comanches on the Llano Estacado and became familiar with the areas between the Pecos River and the Rio Grande.
Big Bow's high rank was indicated by the fact that his leggings were fringed with human hair. He took part in raids into Texas and New Mexico during the 1860s and led one against the Utes in southern Colorado in the summer of 1869. Although he reportedly was an accomplice at the Salt Valley attack on May 17, 1871, he evaded arrest at Fort Sill. With his friend and fellow chief White Horse he staged the attack on the government wagon train at Howard's Wells on April 20, 1872, and the attack on Abel Lee and his family near Fort Griffin on June 9. Thomas Battey, a Quaker missionary, later recalled Big Bow's "treacherous and ferocious countenance." At the outbreak of the Red River War in June 1874, Big Bow attempted to talk the Kiowa war faction, led by Lone Wolf and Maman-ti, into staying holed up in the canyons along Elk Creek. But when Maman-ti's "medicine" predicted complete safety for the group in Palo Duro Canyon, they voted to go there. Big Bow thus participated in the siege of Lyman's wagon train on September 9-14 and fought a brief battle with Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie's Fourth Cavalry at Palo Duro on September 27.
Sometime before Mackenzie's attack, Big Bow had disappeared briefly into the Llano Estacado, accompanied by Maman-ti's adopted son, the white captive Tehan. He then reappeared with Black Horse's band of Quahadis after killing and scalping a cavalry soldier. When defeat was inevitable, Big Bow was among the first of the Kiowa leaders to surrender in February 1875. It was reported that just before coming to the agency he killed Tehan because he was part white, but Big Bow and his family declared that Tehan had died of thirst on the plains. Big Bow readily submitted to the federal authorities and through the influence of Kicking Bird was enlisted as a scout to help bring in other bands. His cooperation kept him from going to prison in Florida with other Kiowa chiefs.
He subsequently emerged as a leader in his tribe's difficult adjustment to reservation life. On occasion he made friendly visits to the Utes and Pueblos in New Mexico. He and his braves often bargained with white traders and ranchers, including James A. Whittenburg, whose son George he once tried to adopt for a price of seventy-five horses. In 1886, with agent Jessie Lee Hall's permission, Big Bow led three Kiowas west to recover horses stolen by rustlers. He and a companion named Pay-kee overtook the thieves, killed one of them, and successfully recovered the stock, even though they had only a few rounds of ammunition with them. With his family Big Bow settled in the Rainy Mountain community and during his later years was converted to Christianity. One of his sons, Dom-ai-te, was noted in the tribe as a horse racer. The date and place of Big Bow's death are unknown. Several of his descendants still resided in the Anadarko area in the late twentieth century.
Oglala Sioux war leader (1856-1870). Pawnee Killer was not a chief but a war leader of Little Wounds band of the Oglala Sioux which frequently ranged south of the Platte and lived and fought with the Southern Cheyennes; he was a close friend of Turkey Leg, a noted Cheyenne chief, and often operated with him and his people. After Sand Creek the Pawnee Killer followers were camped in the present Cheyenne County, Kansas, along with some Arapahoes and Cheyennes. Pawnee Killer was in the attack on Julesburg, Colorado, January 7, 1865. He was in the Fetterman fight of December 1866 north of Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming, until that time the greatest white debacle in the western Indian wars. He collaborated with Red Cloud and Blue Horse, Sioux; with Strong Wolf, Little Wolf and Dull Knife, Cheyennes, and with Black Coal and Eagle Head, Arapahoes.
In mid-April 1867 Pawnee Killer`s people were camped with the Southern Cheyenne in central Kansas when Hancock arrived and after the Indian slipped away, burned their Villages. In May Pawnee Killer and Turkey Leg conferred briefly with Custer, but with no important result, and a bit later Pawnee Killer`s warriors and some Cheyenne Dog Soldiers attacked a Custer wagon trail; no one was killed. June 24, 1867, Captain Louis Hamilton of the 7th Cavalry was engaged by Pawnee Killer and 45 of his men in a fight near the forks of the Republican River in Kansas; entrapped they would have been annihilated save that the Sioux were poorly armed while the soldiers were not; the Indians had to open the trap and let the enemy go. Pawnee Killer led the Indians who wiped out the Kidder party July 12, 1867. Whether he was in the fight at Beecher Island in September 1868 is uncertain; his village was in the vicinity. In 1869 the Soux camps between the Arkansas and Platte twice were struck by 5th Cavalry units. Little is known of Pawnee Killer after that year. His people ultimately settled on the Red Cloud Agency of Dakota where Little Wound was a close collaborator with Red Cloud.
(Julius Meyer, Spotted Tail, Iron Bull and Pawnee Killer, about 1875)