Mato Ite Lakota

Mato Ite Lakota (1830 - 1915)

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Chief Mato Ite "Leo Bear Face" Lakota
Born in South Dakota, United Statesmap
Husband of — married [date unknown] [location unknown]
Father of
Died in Standing Rock Indian Reservation, South Dakota, United Statesmap
Profile last modified 31 Aug 2016 | Created 7 Nov 2014
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Mato Ite Lakota was a Native American member of the Lakota tribe.
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Mato Ite "Bear Face," who was later in life known as Leo Bear Face, was the son of Mato Ite "Bear Face" and Sota Winyan "Smoke Woman". Smoke Woman was a Sihasapa "Blackfeet" Sioux.

Bear Face's family group (Tiwahe) were leaders in the Che-okhba, or Droopy Penis band, of the Hunkpapa tribe, which was part of the larger group called Lakota, part of the Sioux confederation. Bear Face, the father was a chief, as well as three of his sons Bear Face, Iron Horn and Rain in the Face. Bear Face's other known brothers were Red Thunder, Shave Head and Little Bear.[1]

Mato Ite was born in 1830, when the winter was so cold that meat could not be cured. The tribe hunted near Bear Butte (South Dakota) that fall. They built scaffolds, piled the meat atop the scaffolds, covered it with hides and there it remained frozen until spring.[1]

Bear Face married about 1864[2] or about 1870,[3] Oyegiwin "Brown Tracks" later known as Annie Bear Face. The 1910 census reports that he was married twice.[2] They had seven children.[2][3]

1866. He and Rain in the Face were part of the raid against Fort Totten in North Dakota.[1] There is an error in this statement, Fort Totten was not established until 1867. So this raid was probably on another fort or at a different time. Fort Totten was built to protect the whites from Indian raids.

Note: Several sources for Rain in the Face quote this date of the raid as summer of 1866. [Possibly this occurred before the actual fort was built. Quote: "Raid against Fort Totten near Devils Lake in eastern North Dakota, in the summer of 1866."[4] "

Fetterman's Fight

Dec 21, 1866.[5] Mato Ite was with the group that attacked near Fort Phil Kearny in Wyoming.[1] The Fetterman Fight, also called the Fetterman Massacre or Battle of the Hundred Slain, was a battle between the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapaho Indians and soldiers of the United States Army. The entire command, 81 men, serving under Captain William J. Fetterman were killed by the Indians. The worst military disaster ever suffered by the U.S. Army on the Great Plains, it was a victory for the Indians and caused the withdrawal of U. S. forces.[5] Almost every band of the Sioux nation was represented during this battle.[1]

Mato Ite was part of the many battles during this time.[1]

June 1876. Red Cloud's War culminated in the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Mato Ite and other members of the Hunkpapa fought in this battle, called by the Indians the Battle of the Greasy Grass.[1][6]

October 1876. He and Long Feather were asked by the Army to convince the bands who had not yet signed the peace treaty to surrender. A meeting was arranged between Sitting Bull and General Miles on the Yellowstone River in the fall of 1876. Chief Bear Face, Chief Crow Feather and Chief Charging Thunder, all from different bands, carried the white flag of peace. These Chiefs wanted peace, and would have negotiated that peace, except for treacherous maneuvers by the soldiers. "While Sitting Bull and General Miles were having a conference, it was discovered by Crazy Horse (who was in the rear) that the soldiers, who were armed with pistols, had broken the straight line ranks and were gradually forming a skirmish line in a half circle around the Indians."[1] Sitting Bull ordered his men to also form a skirmish line. After words were exchanged on both sides, Sitting Bull and his Indians left. Within minutes cannons were shooting towards the Indian camps, killing women and children. Sitting Bull eventually went to Canada.[1]

Bear Face and his family settled at Kenel on Bear Face Creek, on the Standing Rock Reservation.[1]

He was recognized as a band leader.[1]

1876, his band had 2 families[1]
1877, he led eight families[1]
1878, 17 families were part of his band.[1]
1885, Standing Rock Ration List, Chief Bear Face had 22 lodges and 95 people under his care, including his brothers Mato Ciqana (Little Bear), Wakiyan Luta (Red Thunder), Ite Omagaju (Rain In the Face).[1]

Bear Face became a Roman Catholic, and took the name Leo Bear Face. When he died in 1915 he was buried in th Catholic graveyard in Kenel, South Dakota.[1]


  1. Sunkyanajica- Samuel Bear Face Born 1862[7]
  2. Louisa Bear Face born 1863[7]
  3. Rosa Bear Face (Topala)- born 1865 died 1891;[7] started the first school in Sitting Bull's camp[1]
  4. Canyanysin - John Bear Face born 1873[7]
  5. Vital Bear Face born 1874;[7] was on the first Tribal Council for Standing Rock and was its chairman in 1914.[1]
  6. Jerome Bear Face born 1889[7]
  7. Another - Annie was listed as having seven children[2]

Other supporting Data

1900 US Census. Standing Rock Indian Reservation. North Dakota. June 5, 1900.[3]
Leo Bear Face, head b. July 1830, age 69, M 30 years, b. in S. Dakota, parents b. in Minnesota, a Ration Indian, owns a farm, without mortgage #30 on Agric. sched. Other name Matoiita, Sioux and parents were Sioux.
Annie Bear Face, wife, b. 1850, age 50, m. 30 years, had 7 ch. ? still living. She and her parents birth place unknown. Neither of them reads, writes, or speaks English. Other name Oyagiwin, she and parents Sioux.
1900-1904 Indian Census Rolls.[8]
Matoite Leo Bear Face 72 husband
Oyegiwin Brown tracks wife, 56
1910 US Census: Farm School Road, Township 22, Corson, South Dakota[2]
Leon Bareface, 79, head, m. 46 years, (he was married 2x) b. S. Dakota, unknown parents birth, farmer, owns farm without mortgage, #72 on Agric. schedule, cannot read or write
Annie Bareface, 60, wife, m. 46 years, 7 children 1 living, b. South Dakota,
Next door Farm School Road
Victal Bareface, 38, M1, 17 yrs b. and parents b. South Dakota. Owns a farm with mortgage, reads and writes, speaks Indian
ODelia Bareface wife 31, M1 17 yrs 6 children 3 living b. in North Dakota.
Children b. South Dakota, Christene, 6, John 3, Annie 7/12
Leon, Victal and Christine recv. an allotment of land in 1906, Annie and ODelia and John recd one in 1908. Annie the baby in 1909. All are taxed and living in a civilized (non-movable ) dwelling.
June 1918 Indian Census Rolls Standing Rock Reservation[9]
Mrs Leo Bear Face, widow, b. 1846

Read about the Great Race which created the red track around the Black Hills, pictured in the NASA photo used as a background.

This profile is a collaborative work-in-progress. Can you contribute information or sources?


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 StandingRockTourism People of Standing Rock: Chief Bear Face.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C. 1910; Census Place: Township 22, Corson, South Dakota; Roll: T624_1479; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0010; FHL microfilm: 1375492
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. Enumeration District : 0260; Description: Standing Rock Indian Reservation
  5. 5.0 5.1 Wikipedia Article: "Fetterman's Fight"
  6. Wagner, Frederic C., III. Participants in the Battle of the Little Big Horn: A Biographical Dictionary of Sioux, Cheyenne and United States Military Personnel. McFarland & Company , 2011. p. 676 Google Books Preview
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 [ > Hunkpapa > Bear Face. Information on Children contributed by Ladonna.
  8. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Year 1900-1904
  9. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M595, 692 rolls); Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Record Group 75; National Archives, Washington, D.C. Standing Rock Reservation

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Images: 2
Chief Mato Ite
Chief Mato Ite

Fetterman's Fight
Fetterman's Fight