Gray Wolf joined with Black Kettle in 1864. We rode to meet with the U.S. Cavalry to negotiate a treaty between white settlers and the Kiowa, Apache, Comanche,and Arapaho nations.
We were camped on the banks of Sand Creek in the Colorado Territory. My mother waited with the other women and children while my father and I rode with Black Kettle and the other warriors to meet the Army Captain. I remember I was puffed up with pride that my father treated me like a man that day.
When no white man's army waited at the appointed place, my father motioned for me to follow and we hastened back to Sand Creek.
The sound of guns, and smoke in the sky, greeted us before we arrived at the temporary camp.
I don't know how he found her. There were bodies of women and children scattered thickly over the blood covered ground. Later it was said that over 300 innocents were slaughtered. White soldiers rode among the living, and cut them down where they stood.
Gray Wolf pulled his horse to a stop amidst the carnage, and stiffened as though listening. Then he rode into the melee, killing every soldier in his path.
I had never taken a life before that day, but killed my first white man with a thrown tomahawk as he hunched over my girl-cousin and shamed her.
Then I kicked my horse back into the raging battle in time to see my father reach down and scoop my mother up in front of him. A thrown bayonet speared Gray Wolf through the shoulder as we rode away.
He carried my mother to safety spilling his life's blood as we travelled. We climbed high into the mountains before he allowed us to stop. My mother held him to her when he slid to the ground.
I hurried to build a fire, regardless of the possibility of followers.
My mother tried to stop the blood, tried to keep him with us, as she frantically tended the wound. He held her in his arms and comforted her even as his spirit fought to be free. Before he died at dawn, my father ordered me.
"Return your mother to her people."