Chief Black Dog – The Builder


Chief Black Dog with Wife

Chief Black Dog-II with Wife

Although there have been many Osage Chiefs over the history of the people, I will probably continue to return to Chief Black Dog and his band of Osage, as he was paramount to the local history in this area where Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma meet.

Black Dog was a huge man, even by today’s standards. He stood 7 feet tall and was well over 300 pounds by all accounts. I will not attempt to go into a personal history of the Chief at this time. Native American history can be confusing at best. Each person may have been known by several names, for instance, an ‘honor name’ which is something to be earned in battle or hunting. (War and hunting were practically the same for their purposes). Besides having multiple names, there are generations carrying the same name. At this time I am speaking of Black Dog I and his accomplishments in primitive civil engineering. There are 3 main feats to mention.

THE BLACK DOG TRAIL:
Although Black Dog’s Band lived in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma, the Black Dog Trail extended across southern Kansas.  It went from Baxter Springs to Cedar Vale, to Hooser, up to Dexter, to Silver Creek, near Winfield and across to the Arkansas River north of Oxford. An 1895 map supports this account and today’s US highway 166 runs on the same route in many places. This major trail also had many alternate routes, as do all of the ancient Osage trails. The main trail was completely cleared of rocks and plants. One account says that in most places the trail was “eight horses wide”. Black Dog I is correctly credited with creating the very first improved roads in both Kansas and Oklahoma.
THE CLAREMORE RACETRACK:
 Black Dog’s band were sometimes mistaken for Cheif Claremore’s band. One large Black Dog camp was at Claremore’s village, the present Claremore Oklahoma. The Black Dog camp was actually located at the site of today’s Woodlawn Cemetery at Claremore. Black Dog was notoriously shy of whites, and authority of any kind. As such, accounts of this racecourse are rare. Please mention any accounts you may find!
THE CLAREMORE CAVE:
 At Claremore (Oklahoma), Black Dog had constructed a completely concealed cave. It was not just a place for a Chief to hide, but was built large enough to hold the almost 500 members of his band, along with an entire year’s supply of food. This cave proved to be the Black Dog Band’s saviour.
 In 1817, a group of white men, along with bands of Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Comanche, Delaware, Kowasati and Tonkawa fell upon the Claremore village. The village was empty of all the able warriors, who were on a buffalo hunt at the time. They subsequently killed or captured all of the Osage they found. This became known as the ‘Battle of Claremore mound.” None of Black Dog’s people were harmed, as any that were present hid out in the cave, but their empty village was looted and burned.
 In all fairness, I must mention at this point, that this Osage band was not innocent themselves. It was Scouts from this band that led a raid by Custer’s soldiers on a helpless village at the Washita river. The same scene is now immortalized in the movie “Little Big Man”.
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Filed under AMERICANA, History, Kansas, Native American, Oklahoma, Southeast Kansas, The Four States

One response to “Chief Black Dog – The Builder

  1. Pingback: Hyper Trails Mix too « Sitting Pugs: Sports Movies

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