565 - 1923 14c American Indian, deep blue
US #565 – This was the first 14¢ US postage stamp.

Hollow Horn Bear died on March 15, 1913.  A Brulé Lakota chief, he fought during the Sioux Wars, including the Battle of Little Big Horn, and became a spokesman for his tribe.

Hollow Horn Bear’s exact birthday is unknown, but is estimated to be in March 1850.  He was born in present-day Sheridan County, Nebraska.  As a child, he and his mother were captured during the Battle of Ash Hollow.  He participated in his first fight at the age of 12 and continued to battle as his people were pushed west, confronting miners, settlers, the US Army, and the railroad.  During his life, he joined in a total of 31 battles during the Sioux Wars to prevent white settlement on his homeland.

695 - 1931 14c American Indian, dark blue
US #695 – The stamp portrait is based on a 1905 photo of Hollow Horn Bear.

In 1874, Hollow Horn Bear began working as a scout for the US Army.  Then in 1876 while he was out searching for lost horses, he went to Sitting Bull’s camps and five days later, fought in the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Hollow Horn Bear claimed to have personally fought Marcus Reno and George A. Custer during the battle.

After the Lakota were forced to live in reservations, Hollow Horn Bear traveled to Washington, DC, to discuss living conditions in 1880.  The following year, he was appointed head of the Rosebud Agency Indian Police in South Dakota.  In that role, he arrested Crow Dog for the murder of Spotted Tail.  The case went to the US Supreme Court and was the first time an Indian was tried for the murder of another Indian.  The trial was a factor in the 1885 Major Crimes Act, which stated that certain crimes committed by Native Americans in Native American territory could fall under federal jurisdiction.

CZ77 - 1925 14c Canal Zone, dark blue, type A overprint in black
Canal Zone #CZ77 – US #565 overprinted for use in the Canal Zone

After Hollow Horn Bear retired from the police force, he became a leading spokesman for the Lakota tribe.  He favored individual ownership of land by his people because he felt it would be harder for the government to take it away.  Between 1890 and 1910, Hollow Horn Bear participated in several negotiations for the Lakota Sioux, pressing for housing, schools, and more.  He was also present at the inaugural parades of Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, and the dedication of the National American Indian Memorial.

CZ89 - 1928 14c Canal Zone - American Indian, overprint, type B, dark blue
Canal Zone #CZ89 – The difference between the two Canal Zone stamps lies in the “A” overprint.  #CZ77 has a flat-topped A and #CZ89 has a pointed-top A.

While in Washington, DC, for the dedication of the National American Indian Memorial and President Wilson’s inauguration, Hollow Horn Bear caught pneumonia and died on March 15, 1913.  A massive crowd turned out for his funeral, and his body received a military escort when it was returned to the Rosebud Reservation.

In addition to appearing on two US stamps, Hollow Horn Bear was pictured on a 1970 Military Payment Certificate.  It’s been suggested he may have been the inspiration for an 1899 $5 silver certificate and other currency as well.  There’s also a historical marker honoring him on Route 18 in Todd County, South Dakota.

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  1. First sentence, I think you meant that he died on March 15, 1913. Pretty hard to have been born and died on the same day and accomplished all that he did!!

  2. Very. Informative article. As always, your article provides historical detail that I was unaware of before reading it. I do suggest that the first sentence needs to be edited to change “born” to “died.”

  3. A wonderful example that Americans can be very inclusive & have been over the centuries. Thank you Mystic Stamp.

  4. I always learn so much from these articles – and I also am finding out how much I was not taught in my history classes!

    1. History – the true history, not the ones people believe should be censored – is just as important as any other subject. “You got to know where you’ve been in order to know where you’re going”.

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