Who is the Indian who appeared on a TV talk show, claiming to have been at the Little Big Horn as a child?
I think you’re referring to Chief Red Fox, an Oglala Lakota, born on June 11, 1870, who would have been six years old at the time of the fight. He claimed to be a nephew of the legendary Crazy Horse and that he traveled the world performing with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show.
He also claimed that he “scalped” King Edward VII while re-enacting a stagecoach robbery during a performance in London in 1905.
During the early days of motion pictures, he appeared in 14 silent movies.
In 1971 Red Fox made five appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. That same year he published his story, Memoirs of Chief Red Fox, which drew high praise in Time Magazine.
He died on March 1, 1976, at the ripe old age of 105.
All that being said, Red Fox was accused of plagiarizing many of his recollections from a book published 30 years earlier by James H. McGregor, The Wounded Knee Massacre. Red Fox’s publisher, McGraw-Hill, acknowledged the error and settled with McGregor’s heirs. The “chief’s” own peers also began to question his veracity.
The story of Red Fox reminds me of John Myers Myers’ immortal words: “Lies, lies, lies, authenticated by gray hair and long whiskers.”
Marshall Trimble is Arizona’s official historian. His latest book is Wyatt Earp: Showdown at Tombstone. If you have a question, write: Ask the Marshall, P.O. Box 8008, Cave Creek, AZ 85327 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org