Last week, we met Cheyenne Chief Ho-To-Pi, actually Greek immigrant George Cutrulis. Here’s more.
He told kids they could recognize an Indian by how he walks; hands straight at his side and eyes and feet pointed the direction he’s traveling.
He said his mother’s name was Koon-Ka, or Moon Deer.
He claimed his father, Te-Ka-Ka-La — Thunderbird — had fought at the battle of Little Big Horn, where Gen. George Custer and his troops had a really bad day. And he said he’d later traveled with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show.
Had anyone done the math, Ho-To-Pi probably would have been busted. The part about his dad at Little Big Horn might have worked; it was in 1876. But Buffalo Bill, already retired, died in 1917, when Ho-Ti-Pi would have been a teen.
The chief also operated a 21-acre farm west of Lake Worth, between State Road 7 and Florida’s Turnpike.
A 1969 story said he had 23 dogs, 34 cats, eight cows, 150 chickens, a dozen turkeys and several goats. He’d gotten rid of his peacock and monkeys because they pecked visitors.
He kept a migrant workers’ camp there, and in 1959, a Puerto Rican laborer who objected to authorities removing his 13-year-old sister-in-law to a children’s home slashed the chief in the abdomen, cheek and hand.
Although it later was learned he’d immigrated after World War II, he told reporters he’d trained at conservatories starting at 13, traveled Europe, learned nine languages, knew 22 operas and 900 songs and toured across America and sang with the San Carlo Opera Company.
He said he fought for 22 months in World War I and appeared in silent films. “I recall Ho-To-Pi regaling my Cub Scout pack with Indian lore,” retired Palm Beach Post columnist Bill McGoun writes. “He was referred to then as the ‘Indian Caruso.’ A 1953 magazine article referred to him as ‘the famous Cheyenne opera singer.’’ If he ever sang in my presence, I don’t recall it.”
Chief Ho-To-Pi, actually Greek immigrant George Cutrulis, with a group of boys, discussing Indian folklore. (Palm Beach Post file photo)
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