Lone Wolf (unknown–1879)

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 24, 2020

Lone Wolf, a Kiowa chief whose Indian name is usually written Guipago, was a leader among the militant minority of his tribe during the violent transition from nomadic to forced reservation life in the 1870s. In the summer of 1856 Lone Wolf's band left their tepees in care of William Bent, at Bent's Fort, while they went on a buffalo hunt. On returning, they discovered that Bent had given the dwellings to the Cheyennes. In the fight that followed, in which Lone Wolf's horse was shot, the Kiowas were driven off, and the Cheyennes kept the tepees. By 1860, however, differences apparently had been resolved as the Kiowas made peace with the northern plains tribes. As a member of the Tsetanma, an elite society of warriors, Lone Wolf soon emerged as a leader among the tribe's militant factions. In 1863 he was among the Indian delegates accompanying United States Indian agent S. G. Colley to Washington in a futile effort to establish a favorable peace policy. Along with other prominent chiefs he signed the Little Arkansas Treaty with federal commissioners on October 18, 1865. In February and March 1866 Lone Wolf led his braves on a series of raids into Texas, where he took 150 horses. He attended the Medicine Lodge Council in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, but did not sign the treaty of October 21, 1867, probably because it did not allow the Kiowas to continue these raids. After the death of Dohäsan in 1868, Lone Wolf succeeded him and shared leadership with Kicking Bird, leader of the peace faction. Lone Wolf was unable to unify the Kiowa tribe.

After hostilities resumed in 1868, Lone Wolf and Satanta agreed to meet with Lt. Col. George A. Custer for the purposes of negotiating peace. On December 17, 1868, the two chiefs, after meeting with Custer under a flag of truce, were brought to Fort Cobb, military headquarters inside the Kiowa-Comanche reservation. Once there, Gen. Philip H. Sheridan ordered them held hostage, and Custer threatened to hang them if the Kiowas did not agree to return to their reservation. This course of action proved effective, for, by the time the two chiefs were released in February 1869, most of the Kiowas had agreed to return to the reservation. For their parts, Lone Wolf and Satanta agreed to keep the peace. However, even though Lone Wolf counseled peace during the early 1870s, he was not always able to control the actions of other Kiowa leaders. He was present at the arrest of Satank, Big Tree, and Satanta by Gen. William T. Sherman at Fort Sill, Indian Territory, for perpetrating the Warren Wagontrain Raid in 1871. On April 30, 1872, Lone Wolf and his son Tau-ankia (Sitting-in-the-Saddle) participated in the attack on a government wagontrain at Howard's Wells, on the San Antonio-El Paso Road, in which seventeen Mexican teamsters were killed. They then fought off a patrol of the Ninth United States Cavalry from Fort Concho. During the skirmish a warrior named Mamadayte rescued the wounded Tau-ankia.

In the fall of 1872 Lone Wolf was chosen by his tribe as a delegate to accompany special commissioner Henry Alford to Washington for a peace conference. There the chief used his influence to secure the parole of Satanta and Big Tree from prison the next year. Hopes of peace were dashed, however, when Tau-ankia and his cousin Guitan were killed by troops of the Fourth United States Cavalry near Kickapoo Springs in Edwards County on December 10, 1873, while returning from a raid into Mexico. In May 1874 Lone Wolf, embittered by his favorite son's death, led a war party to Kickapoo Springs to recover the bodies of Tau-ankia and Guitan and return them for reburial in Kiowa country. This party, which successfully eluded army patrols, was probably the unidentified Indian band that raided the Ninth Cavalry encampment at Johnston Station on the North Concho River and took about twenty-three cavalry horses. These fresh mounts enabled Lone Wolf to escape pursuing troops, and he reburied the remains of his son and nephew on a rocky hill in Mitchell County. The hill and the creek flowing from it became known as Lone Wolf Mountain and Lone Wolf Creek.

With his hatred for the White man fueled, Lone Wolf was among the participants in the attack on Adobe Walls on June 27, 1874, the second battle of Adobe Walls (for this and the "Lost Valley Fight" see RED RIVER WAR). About July 12 his band ambushed and besieged twenty-seven Texas Rangers under Maj. John B. Jones. During the so-called "Lost Valley Fight" two rangers were killed, two more were wounded, and the rangers lost most of their horses. The rest of the group escaped annihilation only through a timely rescue by the Tenth United States Cavalry under Capt. T. A. Baldwin. In the course of this battle, Mamadayte killed ranger David Bailey. The young warrior turned over Bailey's body to Lone Wolf who, after cutting off the ranger's head, declared his son avenged. As a reward for Mamadayte's actions, Lone Wolf adopted him and gave him the name Guopahko, Lone Wolf the Younger.

The majority of the Kiowas followed Kicking Bird's peace faction. Among them Lone Wolf and his followers were never popular. The war party returned briefly to the reservation, but in late August they raided the agency at Anadarko and fled to the Texas Panhandle, where they camped near the headwaters of the Washita River. On September 9 Lone Wolf's band began the unsuccessful attack and siege on Lyman's wagontrain. The Kiowas afterwards retreated into Palo Duro Canyon near the Comanche villages. As a result of this raid, Lone Wolf's village was among the lodges destroyed by Ranald S. Mackenzie's troops on September 28. Despondent and famished, Lone Wolf surrendered his band to the military authorities at Fort Sill about February 26, 1875. He was among the leaders singled out for incarceration at Fort Marion, Florida. Weakened by malaria, he died near Fort Sill in the summer of 1879, soon after his release from prison. He was buried on the north slope of Mount Scott, the highest point in the Wichita Mountains, in the northern part of what is now Comanche County, Oklahoma. His grave is near the site of his old campground.

Mamadayte succeeded the elder Lone Wolf and was recognized as the head chief of the Kiowas until 1896. He was probably the Lone Wolf who visited the GMS (later T Anchor) Ranch in the winter of 1880 while on a buffalo hunt. Armed with a permit from Fort Sill, Mamadayte and his followers traveled with a party of Pueblo Indians and stayed at the ranch headquarters, then occupied by Jud Campbell. Their welcome soon wore out, however, after some of the Kiowas, on finding no buffalo, began killing cattle. As chief, Mamadayte guided his people throughout their difficult adjustment to the White men's way and led a delegation to Washington in 1902. He died in 1923. N. Scott Momaday, a well-known Kiowa author, is among his descendents.

J. Lee Jones, Jr., Red Raiders Retaliate: The Story of Lone Wolf (Seagraves, Texas: Pioneer, 1980). Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1962; 2d ed. 1971). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).


  • Peoples
  • Native American
  • Chiefs and Other Leaders

Time Periods:

  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

H. Allen Anderson, “Lone Wolf,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/lone-wolf.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 24, 2020