Pine Leaf (?-1854) & Running Eagle (?-1850)


Pine Leaf and Running Eagle are two examples of Native American female-bodied two-spirits.  (In Native American culture, a two-spirit is someone who possesses both a masculine and feminine spirit.)  Pine Leaf was born a member of the Gros Ventres tribe, but at age 10 she was abducted by Crow warriors and grew up in the Crow tribe.  When she was still very young, she vowed to kill 100 enemies in battle.  Though her dress and appearance were reportedly very feminine, she took on a male role in the tribe, leading raids against enemy Blackfoot.  Eventually, she was made a part of the Council of Chiefs and became known as “Woman Chief.”  When the Treaty of Laramie was signed in 1851, she gave up her warrior ways and became an advocate for intertribal peace.  She was ambushed and killed by the Gros Ventres in 1854.

Running Eagle was born Brown Weasel Woman of the Blackfoot tribe.  Like Pine Leaf, she rejected traditional female activities and trained in the arts of war.  After saving her father’s life when his horse was shot out from under him during a raid by the Flathead tribe, she officially began the path of the war chief.  She achieved all of the requirements of war chiefhood (successfully leading a war party on a raid, capturing an enemy’s weapon, touching an enemy without killing him, and stealing an enemy’s horse) in one raid against the Flatheads.  Shortly after, she went in a spirit quest and took the name Running Eagle.  She was killed by the Flatheads in 1850.


Further reading:

The Ways of My Grandmothers by Beverly Hungry Wolf

Five Indian Tribes at the Upper Missouri by Edwin T. Denig