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Catch-the-Bear's War Bonnet

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Catch-the-Bear's War Bonnet (also called Catch-the-Bear's Folly) was an unusual war bonnet made by Cheyenne warrior Catch-the-Bear. After a discussion with Cousin Belial about projecting pain onto the enemy, Catch-the-Bear fashioned a cap out of human skin taken from the Sun Dance ceremony; his wife, then 32 years old, decorated it with quillwork and became crippled with arthritis in the process. In July 1856, Catch-the-Bear attached his two hard-earned eagle feathers to it and wore to to a war council.

This began his rise to war chief, driven by a reputation of fierceness and an ability to inflict wounds with his gaze alone. However, the bonnet quickly drove him completely mad: he began wandering the camp naked (except for the bonnet), sleeping less and less (still wearing it even when he did), and pulling out all his hair (because it was interrupting the signal). He babbled in tongues of other tribes about ancestors he never had and battles he never fought. At one point, he claimed to be receiving messages from a dakina named Sam Kneuppe.

When Catch-the-Bear froze to death that December, the bonnet was buried with him, though the women refused to touch it. (PROSE: The Book of the War)

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