Outbreak

Carter and Jessa Gion with elders Jennie Seminole Parker and Clinton BirdHat. Clinton and Jennie are both from Ashland, Jennie’s father survived the breakout when he was a little boy.

On Jan. 9, Baker 8th grader Carter Gion and his sister Jessa Gion, who is in the 6th grade, joined more than 90 other youth to participate in the 24th annual Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run. This run commemorates and honors the sacrifices made by their ancestors on the night of Jan. 9, 1879.

After the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876, the Northern Cheyenne were forcibly removed from their homeland and forced onto a reservation in Oklahoma. The living conditions were brutal; in September of 1878 Chief Dull Knife and Chief Little Wolf gathered their bands and left the reservation. Dull Knife’s band, which numbered 130, was captured and taken to Fort Robinson in Nebraska, where they were to be held awaiting transfer back to Oklahoma. From all reports, the conditions were horrific; they were held for several days with no water, no food, and no heat until they decided to break out. Most of the members of Dull Knife’s band were killed as they were fleeing captivity and trying to return to their homeland in Montana. Some were recaptured and only a few, including Chief Dull Knife, made their way to the Pine Ridge Reservation, where they were allowed to stay.

The first day of the event, the students learned more about the history behind the breakout. They left Fort Robinson at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 9, the same time their ancestors had begun their breakout. During the run, the students were divided into groups and traveled in vans along the route; individual students rotated running and each ran two miles a day. When they reached Pine Ridge, they were greeted by members of the Lakota Oglala who presented a ceremony. From Pine Ridge the groups ran to Rapid City, then to Belle Fourche, then to Broadus, Ashland, and finished their journey in Busby.

Carter and Jessa are direct descendants of Chief Dull Knife; Carter commented that this was a very important event for him as he has wanted to do this for several years and he enjoyed learning more about the history of the Northern Cheyenne.

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