Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Yellow Nose Counting Coup

  • History
  • Yellow Nose Counting Coup

Yellow Nose was a Ute, born sometime in 1849. Yellow Nose was nine years old, when he was captured in the San Luis Valley, with his mother and sister by a Cheyenne named Lean Bear. Cheyenne Chief Spotted Wolf raised Yellow Nose. His mother and sister later escaped and returned back to their people, Yellow Nose remained with the Cheyenne the rest of his life.

In the early spring of 1876, Yellow Nose traveled north from the Oklahoma Indian Country to visit his Cheyenne wife’s relatives. In June he was camped with the Cheyenne, five Sioux bands, and Arapahos on Little Bighorn River.

Yellow Nose drawing 1889 | Smithsonian Institution
Yellow Nose drawing 1889 | Smithsonian Institution

Yellow Nose was engaged in the fight of the Little Big Horn River (Greasy Grass River) against General George A. Custer, of the 7th Cavalry. According to stories, Yellow Nose had captured a 7th Cavalry guidon from a soldier he had shot. The story goes like this, Yellow Nose heard the shots, got on his horse and joined in the fight.  As he went into the battle he shot a soldier, saw another soldier coming towards him, he shot the soldier and took the guidon from him. He went into the battle and started to strike or count coup. He circled around and came upon a white man, the man started to scream. Yellow Nose came up behind the man and struck him with his war club in the back of the head, killing the man. Yellow Nose is believed to have killed General G. A. Custer. This was told by many old Cheyenne warriors when they were interviewed long after the Battle of The Little Big Horn River.

Yellow Nose lived out the remainder of his life on the Cheyenne & Arapaho reservation in Oklahoma near the town of Geary. Yellow Nose became blind due to an injury he received during the Battle of the Little Big Horn.