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Bull Chief was born in 1825 into the Absaroke, or Mountain Crow, tribe that lived in the region that would become Montana and Wyoming.* The Indian leader flourished and developed at a time when the buffalo culture that he was born into, was at its peak.When he was a young warrior, Bull Chief was determined that he did not have to follow the usual course of fasting and gaining a vision to achieve success. His determination and personal strength were required not only for hunting and combat, but in spiritual pursuits as well.Through self-sacrifice and strenuous physical trials, the men of his culture sought visions to achieve direction and dominance. After several attempts, he finally experienced his vision and gained his first “honor.” After that, he often counted coup, which was to strike or touch an enemy warrior with a slender wand, and come away unscathed.By distinguishing himself in battle against their enemies, his tribe often recognized Bull Chief as the bravest warrior, and he eventually became chief of the Absaroke tribe.
*From the mouth of the Yellowstone to the Black Hills, from the crest of the Wind River mountains, northwestward through Yellowstone park to present-day Helena, Montana, thence to the confluence of the Mussellback and the Missouri rivers.