ZIPKIYAH, ZIPKOHETA, ZEPKO-EETE (Big Bow)
In the latter half of the ninetenth century,
Big Bow was known as one of the most outspoken anti-Anglo war chiefs of the
Kiowas. Although little is known of his lineage and childhood, he earned a
reputation as an astute warrior on the Central Plains in forays against the
Navajos and the Utes. Along with Big Tree, Satank, Satanta, and Lone Wolf,
Big Bow made the early settlers of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas pay dearly
for their incursions into the Kiowa homeland. A missionary, Thomas Battey,
estimated that Big Bow scalped and killed more white people than any other
Kiowa in the last half of the nineteenth century.
During the winter of 1851-1852, Chief Big Bow
stole a very pretty woman who's husband was away on the warpath, and took
her to his own camp. On nearing his father's tipi, he hid the woman in the
trees and went into the tipi to eat some food before going on. His father
knew what he had done, held him and prevented him from returning to the woman
waiting outside. Exposed to the extreme cold, her feet froze.
In 1867, when the leaders of the Plains tribes
negotiated the Medicine Lodge Treaty, Big Bow refused to sign. He did not
want to give up the traditional Kiowa life of roaming the Plains. Accordingly,
he kept his people sequestered in the backcountry, emerging only for special
visits and raids.
During the summer of 1869, Big Bow went with
a large war party to Ute country to avenge the death of Set-daya'ite in 1868.
He returned with a war bonnett of the Ute he killed in the mountains at the
head of the Arkansas in Colorado.
In 1871, the U.S. Army mounted a spirited campaign
to subdue the Kiowas and keep them on their lands near Anadarko, Oklahoma.
Zepko-eette (Big Bow) was in the raid in Texas in 1871, where the 7 men were
killed and Satank, Satanta and Big Tree were arrested and imprisoned.
By 1874, Big Bow was the only major Kiowa chief
that had not been forced onto the reservation. Pressured by the government,
Kicking Bird located Big Bow and told him that his cause was hopeless and
that the best strategy for survival was surrender. Big Bow took Kicking Bird's
message back to his people, and after much discussion, they agreed to settle
on the reservation. They returned in February, 1875.
The U.S. government granted Big Bow and his
band amnesty. Subsequently, he served Commendably as a sergeant in the Indian
Scouts for a few years. He lived peacefully on the Reservation for twenty-five
years until his death in 1900.
Information from "The Ten Grandmothers" by Alice Marriott, published by
University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1945; and "Calender History of the
Kiowa Indians" by James Mooney, published by Smithsonian Institution Press,
Washington, D.C. from reports, 1895-1896.
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