Petalesharo was the son of a Skidi Pawnee Chief whose tribe had captured a young and beautiful Comanche girl in the year 1817.
For an entire year she was treated like a royal princess, unaware that she was soon to die as part of a human sacrifice ritual.
At the appointed time, she was given a last, delicious meal, her beautiful clothes were stripped away, and the startled young girl was tied to a scaffold high in the center of the village. Warriors fitted their bows with poison arrows, awaiting the signal from tribal elders that would lead to her death.
Suddenly, Petalesharo stepped between the girl and the archers and cut her free. He placed her before him on his pony and slowly rode toward her Comanche village, some 400 miles away.
The Pawnees were amazed when their gods punished no one for this deed. The power of the superstition was broken.
When Petalesharo returned, he was greeted as a hero, and the story appeared in all the U. S. newspapers. When the young chief was in Washington, D. C., in 1821, he was presented with a medal inscribed “To the Bravest of the Brave.”
Petalesharo and over half of his tribe died shortly afterward as a result of the smallpox epidemic.