Women have often achieved great fame as warriors. Sometimes, when a man went to war, his wife would insist on accompanying him, and sometimes she was lucky enough to succeed in obtaining a war honor before the return of the party, in which case she received the customary feather insignia but never wore them herself, designating one of her male relatives, preferably a son or grandson, to wear it for her. She was also called by the title okitcitakwe, or "Okitcita woman”.
An okitcitakwe was entitled to go to the soldiers' tent at any time when the warriors were dancing, and to join them, dancing by herself at one side. When the warriors reenacted their valorous deeds, and counted their coups, she was entitled to do the same, and her narration was received with the same respect. She might not remain in the tent overnight however.
An Ojibwe woman stated that her husband had seen a Cree woman, who was allowed to abide in a soldiers' tent with the men as a reward for some brave deed and later some Cree assured me that the head okitcita might keep his wife in the lodge. Of okitcitakwe, at least two still survived at Long Plains last summer (1913). One of these, Cinoskinige, obtained her title in this manner: --
She always went out with the warriors, and on one occasion when a Sioux was shot from his horse, she ran to count coup upon him. Being a woman she was outstripped in the race by three men, but succeeded in striking the fourth coup, killing the Dakota with her turnip digging-stick. The men then scalped him, and she painted her face with his blood.
Another renowned old woman at Long Plains was out with a party who were digging turnips on the prairie. They were attacked and surrounded by Sioux who rode round and round them, firing. The men fought them off while the women hastily dug a rifle pit to conceal the party. In the meantime the men were all wounded. The pit being finished, this woman crept out under fire and rescued each of the men, dragging them back to the pit. In this manner she became an okitcitakwe.
Wissler, Clark (1916) Societies of the Plains Indians. New York: AMS Press
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