Project Description

1877

Otaki was born into the Peigan Tribe of the Blackfoot Nation sometime in the 1850s.
The oldest of five children, as she grew she chafed against the expectations for her as a girl. “Brown Weasel Woman,” as she was called, preferred to play with the boys, took to wearing boys’ clothing and against her mother’s wishes, her father taught her how to hunt and fight.
During one hunt they were attacked by an enemy tribe and she rescued her father, riding head on into a hail of hostile fire after his horse was shot out from under him.
Brown Weasel Woman’s tribe celebrated her daring exploits but some members of the community rejected her because she wasn’t behaving like a woman.
When her parents died it fell to Brown Weasel Woman, as the eldest child, to manage the household and care for her young siblings, but instead she hired a widow for the task so that she could take up arms.
Participating in a hunt was one thing, but going into battle was another and the first time she followed a raiding party the leader tried to turn her away.
She refused to leave and he threatened to cancel the raid altogether. Brown Weasel Woman countered: if you cancel the raid against the Crows I will go on by myself, she told him.
She won the argument and the battle, distinguishing herself by capturing 11 horses and defeating two enemy warriors who counter attacked the raiding party as it returned to the Peigan camp.
Again her tribe honoured her bravery, but there were still those who disapproved of her.
It was only after she completed a vision quest that she was accepted. She was invited to participate in a Medicine Lodge Ceremony and given the name Running Eagle – which was reserved for only the greatest warriors – the first time it was bestowed on a woman.
Running Eagle never married, led many successful hunts and war parties, and fell in combat against Flathead warriors sometime after 1878.