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Chief of Men

This is Pitaresaru (Chief of Men), who was the leader of the Chaui band of the Pawnee and head chief of the Pawnee. During the years Texas Jack spent at Fort McPherson, he and the Pawnee men, especially Pitaresaru, became close friends.

It's easy to dismiss western scouts like Texas Jack and his friends Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok as "Indian fighters." They all served as western scouts, and scouting the open prairies and plains of the American West came with its share of hostile encounters. But it is interesting that in the cases of Texas Jack and Buffalo Bill, they became fast friends with many Native people despite their public reputations. Buffalo Bill employed many Sioux performers in his Wild West Show, and Texas Jack was close friends with Warm Springs scout and chief Donald McKay and his daughter Minnie.

Texas Jack spent part of his time in Nebraska with Pawnee, learning their language and signs, and was chosen to accompany the Pawnee during their annual buffalo hunt in 1872. He wrote fondly of his time hunting with Pitaresaru, who Jack called "Old Peter," and his new Pawnee friends.

While the Pawnee showed Jack how to hunt buffalo with bow and arrow, he showed them the lasso tricks he had picked up as a cowboy on the Chisholm Trail. The Pawnee nicknamed Texas Jack ruukiraahak awikiickawarik, or "Whirling Rope," in appreciation for his skills.

Pitaresaru requested that Texas Jack join him and the tribe on their next hunt, but the government agent delayed authorizing the request for so long that Jack decided to travel to Chicago with Buffalo Bill to try their hands at show business. The agent assigned a greenhorn to accompany the Pawnee, leading to their fateful encounter with their Sioux enemies at Massacre Canyon, and their subsequent departure from Nebraska to their new reservation in present-day Oklahoma.

The tragic loss of life suffered by the Pawnee weighed heavily on Texas Jack Omohundro. He had grown close to Pitaresaru, who he called Old Peter, and some of the braves while on the hunt the previous summer, both parties finding amusement in the hunting style of the other. The thought that he might have been able to prevent their deaths troubled Jack profoundly. According to an interviewer who talked to Jack just after Massacre Canyon, “Texas Jack says his sympathies are with the Pawnees in their fight with the Sioux, and he hopes the government will interfere on behalf of the Pawnees, as they are inferior in number to the Sioux.”

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