Osh-Tisch, or ‘Finds Them and Kills Them’, was a boté spiritual leader and warrior of the Crow Nation who lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Boté was a Crow term referring to an individual possessing a gender identity different to one’s assigned sex, or to someone who possessed an identity of both male and female characteristics. Boté genders were considered separate to male or female genders and were distinct identities in their own right, a concept common to Native American societies and now sometimes captured under the modern umbrella term ‘Two Spirit’ (see this link for more info).
Osh-Tisch was a male-assigned-at-birth boté who lived as a woman and expressed a preference for women’s work. In her life she took on a number of roles including artist, medicine woman, shaman and warrior. She was also a skilled craftswoman who made intricate leather goods and large tipis, and is known to have constructed the huge buffalo-skin lodge of the Crow Chief Iron Bull.
According to the testimony of Pretty Shield, Osh-Tisch fought at the Battle of the Rosebud in 1876, where the Crow fought as part of a US-led coalition against the Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne. When a wounded Crow warrior fell from his horse, Osh-Tisch leapt from her own horse and defended the fallen man with a salvo of rifle shots. At the same time a woman warrior named The Other Magpie was attacking the Lakota with a coup stick. Moments after The Other Magpie struck a Lakota with the coup stick he was killed by Osh-Tisch’s bullet, leading to her gaining the epithet of ‘Finds Them and Kills Them’.
By the 1890s the Crows had been forced into living in reservations by the US government. During this time Osh-Tisch and two other boté were targeted by an agent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs named Briskow, who had them imprisoned, their hair cut, and forced them to wear men’s clothing. The Crow rallied to the protection of the boté and Chief Pretty Eagle used what little power he had to have Briskow removed from the reservation. Osh-Tisch’s friend and Crow historian Joe Medicine Crow later described this attack on the boté as a ‘tragedy’.
Osh-Tisch continued to be targeted by preachers and other managers of the reservation for the rest of her life. Along with the gradual internalisation of United States cultural norms, this persecution led to a shift away from boté acceptance among the Crow and Osh-Tisch ultimately died in 1929 as one of the last of her kind.
(This post inspired by the Rejected Princesses article on Osh-Tisch: http://www.rejectedprincesses.com/post/92639871808/osh-tisch-princess-of-two-spirits-1854-1929)