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Osh-Tisch, the Warrior
“Did the men ever tell you anything about a woman who fought… on the Rosebud?”
-Pretty Shield
This week we will be looking at the incredible warrior Osh-Tisch, but before we start, we must clarify some important things. In this article we will be referring to Osh-Tisch as baté, which is a Crow word that means a person assigned male at birth who is actually a woman. We will be using this word because it is the word she used to refer to herself with and while we embrace giving new words to old experiences, we are not here to strip away the words people used to describe themselves.
Osh-Tisch was a leading baté of the Crow nation and held an esteemed position in her society. In the Crow nation it was not only acceptable for one to be baté, but people who were, were often regarded highly as being the bridge between the two genders. And being baté, Osh-Tisch was allowed to take on both traditionally female and traditionally male roles, and was known for excelling at both. She was not only esteemed for her amazing sewing skills that earned her the right to make the Crow’s Chief Iron Bulls a buffalo skin lodge but she was also known for her ferocity in battle. In fact, her strength as a warrior is what earned her the name Osh-Tisch which translates out to “finds them and kills them”. Which is not only incredibly threatening and impressive but references the time she helped another one of the soldiers by shooting down an enemy warrior who was injured in the Battle of Rosebud.
And from what we know Osch-Tisch had a very good life for a long time, she was accepted by her community and she flourished. But it did not last, in the late 1890s a federal agent came onto Crow territory and decided to enforce European values onto their society. 
If you have gotten the chance to read any of our previous articles, you probably are aware that Europe was in general not the safest place for queer people and the overwhelming majority of people were at best ignorant to queer issues and at worst genocidal towards the queer community. And much of this attitude came from the religious teachings at the time, and those religious teachings were brought over to America. 
And since these were white people invading, they decided to impose their bigoted beliefs on everyone in sight. And among those bigoted believes was a very large amount of transphobia that was ingrained into their society that did not exist before in most Native American communities. So when they came across the baté they didn’t react well and tried to “fix” the “problem”. Missionaries were often sent to try to rehabilitate these people and force them into a gender that they weren’t and into gender roles that were wholly European. But in this case it was not a missionary who had no real authority other than being white being sent, it was a federal agent.
Federal agent Briskow came into Crow land and gathered as many baté people as he could find and force them to do as he wanted. He made them get European masculine haircuts, and dress as European men would, also forcing them into manual labour. And we want to stop and specify here that it was European gender roles he was forcing them into, Osch-Tisch did manual labour before and just because she was not a man does not mean she did not experience what most Europeans considered to be masculine. Among those things being fighting in a battle, which was not something that was considered feminine by most of European society. So not only were they stripping her gender away in this disgusting attempt to make her cisgender, they were stripping away her culture.
And in a happy turn of events that is rare for situations like these, her community stood behind her. Though the Crow people didn’t have much influence because white people refused to listen to anyone who didn’t have a complexion like vanilla pudding, they were actually able to have their demands met. Chief Pretty Eagle managed to force the agent into resignation and made him leave their land, and the Crow nation stood behind the baté people and defended them passionately. They were horrified by the notion that this agent would force the baté to become something they were not. They in fact called it an “unnatural”, which is a word we know many of us recognize being used in a much less noble context. But the Crow people stood by the baté without reservation and it was a brave and incredible act, and we don’t see many of its kind from the heterosexual cisgender community while we research these articles, but this was an inspiring exception.
Unfortunately we cannot leave you in this rare happy moment in history, because it is not the end of the story, while during her life Osh-Tisch did her best to support the baté people after her death the European societal norms all but took over, and Osh-Tisch is known as one of the last baté for a long time.
But that isn’t the end of the story either, because the story has not ended yet. Despite how hard people have tried to wipe out this part of America’s past, it is there, and it is preserved by the Native American community. Though the Europeans did manage to take over America and destroyed much of Native American culture and many of their values are internalized into the Native American community, many people still remember that time. And many people do their best to remind others of this history, of a time when it was not only accepted to be queer but embraced. And like every part of history, knowing that it has happened before tells us it can happen again; but in this case that statement isn’t a warning, it is a message of hope.