Pi’tamaka, Running Eagle

By Gabby Storey

Running Eagle was a nineteenth-century Native American female war chief of the Blackfeet tribe. As a young girl, she showed interest in activities that were viewed as typically male, and was subsequently trained by her father as a warrior.

She accompanied men on buffalo hunts and despite disdain from her male companions, she demonstrated her skills and prowess on many occasions. After the death of her father and illness of her mother, Running Eagle arranged for a widow to take care of her family to ensure she could continue hunting.

When her father (though some stories list her husband) died in a fight against the Crows, a rival tribe, Running Eagle went on a vision quest wherein she was told she would be a successful warrior as long as she remained true to her father’s memory and not have sex with a man.

She went on to be a successful woman warrior, and led several hunting and warring expeditions. She was captured during a reconnaissance mission into the enemy Flathead camp and shot in 1860. The Pitamakan Lake in Glacier National Park, Montana is named after her.

Recommended Reading

Carl Waldman, Biographical Dictionary of American Indian History to 1900 (New York: Facts on File, 2001)

John Canfield Ewers, Plains Indian History and Culture Essays on Continuity and Change (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press 1997)

“Pi’tamaka (Running Eagle),” https://www.nps.gov/people/pi-tamaka-running-eagle.htm, accessed 18 October 2021.

%d bloggers like this: