16CHARLES A. EASTMAN
26 1. RED CLOUD
27 2. SPOTTED TAIL
28 3. LITTLE CROW
29 4. TAMAHAY
30 5. GALL
31 6. CRAZY HORSE
32 7. SITTING BULL
33 8. RAIN-IN-THE-FACE
34 9. TWO STRIKE
3510. AMERICAN HORSE
3611. DULL KNIFE
3712. ROMAN NOSE
3813. CHIEF JOSEPH
3914. LITTLE WOLF
49INDIAN HEROES AND
58EVERY age, every race, has its leaders and heroes. There were over
59sixty distinct tribes of Indians on this continent, each of which
60boasted its notable men. The names and deeds of some of these men
61will live in American history, yet in the true sense they are
62unknown, because misunderstood. I should like to present some of
63the greatest chiefs of modern times in the light of the native
64character and ideals, believing that the American people will
65gladly do them tardy justice.
67It is matter of history that the Sioux nation, to which I
68belong, was originally friendly to the Caucasian peoples which it
69met in succession-first, to the south the Spaniards; then the
70French, on the Mississippi River and along the Great Lakes; later
71the English, and finally the Americans. This powerful tribe then
72roamed over the whole extent of the Mississippi valley, between
73that river and the Rockies. Their usages and government united the
74various bands more closely than was the case with many of the
77During the early part of the nineteenth century, chiefs such
78as Wabashaw, Redwing, and Little Six among the eastern Sioux,
79Conquering Bear, Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, and Hump of the western
80bands, were the last of the old type. After these, we have a
81coterie of new leaders, products of the new conditions brought
82about by close contact with the conquering race.
84This distinction must be borne in mind -- that while the early
85chiefs were spokesmen and leaders in the simplest sense, possessing
86no real authority, those who headed their tribes during the
87transition period were more or less rulers and more or less
88politicians. It is a singular fact that many of the "chiefs", well
89known as such to the American public, were not chiefs at all
90according to the accepted usages of their tribesmen. Their
91prominence was simply the result of an abnormal situation, in which
92representatives of the United States Government made use of them
93for a definite purpose. In a few cases, where a chief met with a
94violent death, some ambitious man has taken advantage of the
95confusion to thrust himself upon the tribe and, perhaps with
96outside help, has succeeded in usurping the leadership.
98Red Cloud was born about 1820 near the forks of the Platte
99River. He was one of a family of nine children whose father, an
100able and respected warrior, reared his son under the old Spartan
101regime. The young Red Cloud is said to have been a fine horseman,
102able to swim across the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, of high
103bearing and unquestionable courage, yet invariably gentle and
104courteous in everyday life. This last trait, together with a
105singularly musical and agreeable voice, has always been
106characteristic of the man.
108When he was about six years old, his father gave him a
109spirited colt, and said to him:
111"My son, when you are able to sit quietly upon the back of
112this colt without saddle or bridle, I shall be glad, for the boy
113who can win a wild creature and learn to use it will as a man be
114able to win and rule men."
116The little fellow, instead of going for advice and help to his
117grandfather, as most Indian boys would have done, began quietly to
118practice throwing the lariat. In a little while he was able to
119lasso the colt. He was dragged off his feet at once, but hung on,
120and finally managed to picket him near the teepee. When the big
121boys drove the herd of ponies to water, he drove his colt with the
122rest. Presently the pony became used to him and allowed himself to
123be handled. The boy began to ride him bareback; he was thrown many
124times, but persisted until he could ride without even a lariat,
125sitting with arms folded and guiding the animal by the movements of
126his body. From that time on he told me that he broke all his own
127ponies, and before long his father's as well.
129The old men, his contemporaries, have often related to me how
130Red Cloud was always successful in the hunt because his horses were
131so well broken. At the age of nine, he began to ride his father's
132pack pony upon the buffalo hunt. He was twelve years old, he told
133me, when he was first permitted to take part in the chase, and
134found to his great mortification that none of his arrows penetrated
135more than a few inches. Excited to recklessness, he whipped his
136horse nearer the fleeing buffalo, and before his father knew what
137he was about, he had seized one of the protruding arrows and tried
138to push it deeper. The furious animal tossed his massive head
139sidewise, and boy and horse were whirled into the air.
140Fortunately, the boy was thrown on the farther side of his pony,
141which received the full force of the second attack. The thundering
142hoofs of the stampeded herd soon passed them by, but the wounded
143and maddened buffalo refused to move, and some critical moments
144passed before Red Cloud's father succeeded in attracting its
145attention so that the boy might spring to his feet and run for his
148I once asked Red Cloud if he could recall having ever been
149afraid, and in reply he told me this story. He was about sixteen
150years old and had already been once or twice upon the warpath, when
151one fall his people were hunting in the Big Horn country, where
152they might expect trouble at any moment with the hostile Crows or
153Shoshones. Red Cloud had followed a single buffalo bull into the
154Bad Lands and was out of sight and hearing of his companions. When
155he had brought down his game, he noted carefully every feature of
156his surroundings so that he might at once detect anything unusual,
157and tied his horse with a long lariat to the horn of the dead
158bison, while skinning and cutting up the meat so as to pack it to
159camp. Every few minutes he paused in his work to scrutinize the
160landscape, for he had a feeling that danger was not far off.
162Suddenly, almost over his head, as it seemed, he heard a
163tremendous war whoop, and glancing sidewise, thought he beheld
164the charge of an overwhelming number of warriors. He tried
165desperately to give the usual undaunted war whoop in reply, but
166instead a yell of terror burst from his lips, his legs gave way
167under him, and he fell in a heap. When he realized, the next
168instant, that the war whoop was merely the sudden loud whinnying of
169his own horse, and the charging army a band of fleeing elk, he was
170so ashamed of himself that he never forgot the incident, although
171up to that time he had never mentioned it. His subsequent career
172would indicate that the lesson was well learned.
174The future leader was still a very young man when he joined a
175war party against the Utes. Having pushed eagerly forward on the
176trail, he found himself far in advance of his companions as night
177came on, and at the same time rain began to fall heavily. Among
178the scattered scrub pines, the lone warrior found a natural cave,
179and after a hasty examination, he decided to shelter there for the
182Scarcely had he rolled himself in his blanket when he heard a
183slight rustling at the entrance, as if some creature were preparing
184to share his retreat. It was pitch dark. He could see nothing, but
185judged that it must be either a man or a grizzly. There was not
186room to draw a bow. It must be between knife and knife, or between
187knife and claws, he said to himself.
189The intruder made no search but quietly lay down in the
190opposite corner of the cave. Red Cloud remained perfectly still,
191scarcely breathing, his hand upon his knife. Hour after hour he
192lay broad awake, while many thoughts passed through his brain.
193Suddenly, without warning, he sneezed, and instantly a strong man
194sprang to a sitting posture opposite. The first gray of morning
195was creeping into their rocky den, and behold! a Ute hunter sat
198Desperate as the situation appeared, it was not without a grim
199humor. Neither could afford to take his eyes from the other's; the
200tension was great, till at last a smile wavered over the
201expressionless face of the Ute. Red Cloud answered the smile, and
202in that instant a treaty of peace was born between them.
204"Put your knife in its sheath. I shall do so also, and we
205will smoke together," signed Red Cloud. The other assented gladly,
206and they ratified thus the truce which assured to each a safe
207return to his friends. Having finished their smoke, they shook
208hands and separated. Neither had given the other any information.
209Red Cloud returned to his party and told his story, adding that he
210had divulged nothing and had nothing to report. Some were inclined
211to censure him for not fighting, but he was sustained by a majority
212of the warriors, who commended his self-restraint. In a day or two
213they discovered the main camp of the enemy and fought a remarkable
214battle, in which Red Cloud especially distinguished himself
216The Sioux were now entering upon the most stormy period of
217their history. The old things were fast giving place to new. The
218young men, for the first time engaging in serious and destructive
219warfare with the neighboring tribes, armed with the deadly weapons
220furnished by the white man, began to realize that they must soon
221enter upon a desperate struggle for their ancestral hunting
222grounds. The old men had been innocently cultivating the
223friendship of the stranger, saying among themselves, "Surely there
224is land enough for all!"
226Red Cloud was a modest and little known man of about
227twenty-eight years, when General Harney called all the western
228bands of Sioux together at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, for the purpose
229of securing an agreement and right of way through their territory.
230The Ogallalas held aloof from this proposal, but Bear Bull, an
231Ogallala chief, after having been plied with whisky, undertook to
232dictate submission to the rest of the clan. Enraged by failure, he
233fired upon a group of his own tribesmen, and Red Cloud's father and
234brother fell dead. According to Indian custom, it fell to him to
235avenge the deed. Calmly, without uttering a word, he faced old
236Bear Bull and his son, who attempted to defend his father, and shot
237them both. He did what he believed to be his duty, and the whole
238band sustained him. Indeed, the tragedy gave the young man at once
239a certain standing, as one who not only defended his people against
240enemies from without, but against injustice and aggression within
241the tribe. From this time on he was a recognized leader.
243Man-Afraid-of-His-Horse, then head chief of the Ogallalas,
244took council with Red Cloud in all important matters, and the young
245warrior rapidly advanced in authority and influence. In 1854, when
246he was barely thirty-five years old, the various bands were again
247encamped near Fort Laramie. A Mormon emigrant train, moving
248westward, left a footsore cow behind, and the young men killed her
249for food. The next day, to their astonishment, an officer with
250thirty men appeared at the Indian camp and demanded of old
251Conquering Bear that they be given up. The chief in vain protested
252that it was all a mistake and offered to make reparation. It would
253seem that either the officer was under the influence of liquor, or
254else had a mind to bully the Indians, for he would accept neither
255explanation nor payment, but demanded point-blank that the young
256men who had killed the cow be delivered up to summary punishment.
257The old chief refused to be intimidated and was shot dead on the
258spot. Not one soldier ever reached the gate of Fort Laramie! Here
259Red Cloud led the young Ogallalas, and so intense was the feeling
260that they even killed the half-breed interpreter.
262Curiously enough, there was no attempt at retaliation on the
263part of the army, and no serious break until 1860, when the Sioux
264were involved in troubles with the Cheyennes and Arapahoes. In
2651862, a grave outbreak was precipitated by the eastern Sioux in
266Minnesota under Little Crow, in which the western bands took no
267part. Yet this event ushered in a new period for their race. The
268surveyors of the Union Pacific were laying out the proposed road
269through the heart of the southern buffalo country, the rendezvous
270of Ogallalas, Brules, Arapahoes, Comanches, and Pawnees, who
271followed the buffalo as a means of livelihood. To be sure, most of
272these tribes were at war with one another, yet during the summer
273months they met often to proclaim a truce and hold joint councils
274and festivities, which were now largely turned into discussions of
275the common enemy. It became evident, however, that some of the
276smaller and weaker tribes were inclined to welcome the new order of
277things, recognizing that it was the policy of the government to put
278an end to tribal warfare.
280Red Cloud's position was uncompromisingly against submission.
281He made some noted speeches in this line, one of which was repeated
282to me by an old man who had heard and remembered it with the
283remarkable verbal memory of an Indian.
285"Friends," said Red Cloud, "it has been our misfortune to
286welcome the white man. We have been deceived. He brought with him
287some shining things that pleased our eyes; he brought weapons more
288effective than our own: above all, he brought the spirit water that
289makes one forget for a time old age, weakness, and sorrow. But I
290wish to say to you that if you would possess these things for
291yourselves, you must begin anew and put away the wisdom of your
292fathers. You must lay up food, and forget the hungry. When your
293house is built, your storeroom filled, then look around for a
294neighbor whom you can take at a disadvantage, and seize all that he
295has! Give away only what you do not want; or rather, do not part
296with any of your possessions unless in exchange for another's.
298"My countrymen, shall the glittering trinkets of this rich
299man, his deceitful drink that overcomes the mind, shall these
300things tempt us to give up our homes, our hunting grounds, and the
301honorable teaching of our old men? Shall we permit ourselves to be
302driven to and fro -- to be herded like the cattle of the white man?"
304His next speech that has been remembered was made in 1866,
305just before the attack on Fort Phil Kearny. The tension of feeling
306against the invaders had now reached its height. There was no
307dissenting voice in the council upon the Powder River, when it was
308decided to oppose to the uttermost the evident purpose of the
309government. Red Cloud was not altogether ignorant of the numerical
310strength and the resourcefulness of the white man, but he was
311determined to face any odds rather than submit.
313"Hear ye, Dakotas!" he exclaimed. "When the Great Father at
314Washington sent us his chief soldier [General Harney] to ask for a
315path through our hunting grounds, a way for his iron road to the
316mountains and the western sea, we were told that they wished merely
317to pass through our country, not to tarry among us, but to seek for
318gold in the far west. Our old chiefs thought to show their
319friendship and good will, when they allowed this dangerous snake in
320our midst. They promised to protect the wayfarers.
322"Yet before the ashes of the council fire are cold, the Great
323Father is building his forts among us. You have heard the sound of
324the white soldier's ax upon the Little Piney. His presence here is
325an insult and a threat. It is an insult to the spirits of our
326ancestors. Are we then to give up their sacred graves to be plowed
327for corn? Dakotas, I am for war!"
329In less than a week after this speech, the Sioux advanced upon
330Fort Phil Kearny, the new sentinel that had just taken her place
331upon the farthest frontier, guarding the Oregon Trail. Every
332detail of the attack had been planned with care, though not without
333heated discussion, and nearly every well-known Sioux chief had
334agreed in striking the blow. The brilliant young war leader, Crazy
335Horse, was appointed to lead the charge. His lieutenants were
336Sword, Hump, and Dull Knife, with Little Chief of the Cheyennes,
337while the older men acted as councilors. Their success was
338instantaneous. In less than half an hour, they had cut down nearly
339a hundred men under Captain Fetterman, whom they drew out of the
340fort by a ruse and then annihilated.
342Instead of sending troops to punish, the government sent a
343commission to treat with the Sioux. The result was the famous
344treaty of 1868, which Red Cloud was the last to sign, having
345refused to do so until all of the forts within their territory
346should be vacated. All of his demands were acceded to, the new
347road abandoned, the garrisons withdrawn, and in the new treaty it
348was distinctly stated that the Black Hills and the Big Horn were
349Indian country, set apart for their perpetual occupancy, and that
350no white man should enter that region without the consent of the
353Scarcely was this treaty signed, however, when gold was
354discovered in the Black Hills, and the popular cry was: "Remove
355the Indians!" This was easier said than done. That very territory
356had just been solemnly guaranteed to them forever: yet how stem the
357irresistible rush for gold? The government, at first, entered some
358small protest, just enough to "save its face" as the saying is; but
359there was no serious attempt to prevent the wholesale violation of
360the treaty. It was this state of affairs that led to the last
361great speech made by Red Cloud, at a gathering upon the Little
362Rosebud River. It is brief, and touches upon the hopelessness of
363their future as a race. He seems at about this time to have
364reached the conclusion that resistance could not last much longer;
365in fact, the greater part of the Sioux nation was already under
368"We are told," said he, "that Spotted Tail has consented to be
369the Beggars' Chief. Those Indians who go over to the white man can
370be nothing but beggars, for he respects only riches, and how can an
371Indian be a rich man? He cannot without ceasing to be an Indian.
372As for me, I have listened patiently to the promises of the Great
373Father, but his memory is short. I am now done with him. This is
374all I have to say."
376The wilder bands separated soon after this council, to follow
377the drift of the buffalo, some in the vicinity of the Black Hills
378and others in the Big Horn region. Small war parties came down
379from time to time upon stray travelers, who received no mercy at
380their hands, or made dashes upon neighboring forts. Red Cloud
381claimed the right to guard and hold by force, if need be, all this
382territory which had been conceded to his people by the treaty of
3831868. The land became a very nest of outlawry. Aside from
384organized parties of prospectors, there were bands of white horse
385thieves and desperadoes who took advantage of the situation to
386plunder immigrants and Indians alike.
388An attempt was made by means of military camps to establish
389control and force all the Indians upon reservations, and another
390commission was sent to negotiate their removal to Indian Territory,
391but met with an absolute refusal. After much guerrilla warfare, an
392important military campaign against the Sioux was set on foot in
3931876, ending in Custer's signal defeat upon the Little Big Horn.
395In this notable battle, Red Cloud did not participate in
396person, nor in the earlier one with Crook upon the Little Rosebud,
397but he had a son in both fights. He was now a councilor rather
398than a warrior, but his young men were constantly in the field,
399while Spotted Tail had definitely surrendered and was in close
400touch with representatives of the government.
402But the inevitable end was near. One morning in the fall of
4031876 Red Cloud was surrounded by United States troops under the
404command of Colonel McKenzie, who disarmed his people and brought
405them into Fort Robinson, Nebraska. Thence they were removed to the
406Pine Ridge agency, where he lived for more than thirty years as a
407"reservation Indian." In order to humiliate him further,
408government authorities proclaimed the more tractable Spotted Tail
409head chief of the Sioux. Of course, Red Cloud's own people never
410recognized any other chief.
412In 1880 he appealed to Professor Marsh, of Yale, head of a
413scientific expedition to the Bad Lands, charging certain frauds at
414the agency and apparently proving his case; at any rate the matter
415was considered worthy of official investigation. In 1890-1891,
416during the "Ghost Dance craze" and the difficulties that followed,
417he was suspected of collusion with the hostiles, but he did not
418join them openly, and nothing could be proved against him. He was
419already an old man, and became almost entirely blind before his
420death in 1909 in his ninetieth year.
422His private life was exemplary. He was faithful to one wife
423all his days, and was a devoted father to his children. He was
424ambitious for his only son, known as Jack Red Cloud, and much
425desired him to be a great warrior. He started him on the warpath
426at the age of fifteen, not then realizing that the days of Indian
427warfare were well-nigh at an end.
429Among latter-day chiefs, Red Cloud was notable as a quiet man,
430simple and direct in speech, courageous in action, an ardent lover
431of his country, and possessed in a marked degree of the manly
432qualities characteristic of the American Indian in his best days.
439Among the Sioux chiefs of the "transition period" only one was
440shrewd enough to read coming events in their true light. It is
441said of Spotted Tail that he was rather a slow-moving boy,
442preferring in their various games and mimic battles to play the
443role of councilor, to plan and assign to the others their parts in
444the fray. This he did so cleverly that he soon became a leader
445among his youthful contemporaries; and withal he was apt at mimicry
446and impersonation, so that the other boys were accustomed to say of
447him, "He has his grandfather's wit and the wisdom of his
450Spotted Tail was an orphan, reared by his grandparents, and at
451an early age compelled to shift for himself. Thus he was somewhat
452at a disadvantage among the other boys; yet even this fact may have
453helped to develop in him courage and ingenuity. One little
454incident of his boy life, occurring at about his tenth year, is
455characteristic of the man. In the midst of a game, two boys became
456involved in a dispute which promised to be a serious one, as both
457drew knives. The young Spotted Tail instantly began to cry, "The
458Shoshones are upon us! To arms! to arms!" and the other boys
459joined in the war whoop. This distracted the attention of the
460combatants and ended the affair.
462Upon the whole, his boyhood is not so well remembered as is
463that of most of his leading contemporaries, probably because he had
464no parents to bring him frequently before the people, as was the
465custom with the wellborn, whose every step in their progress toward
466manhood was publicly announced at a feast given in their honor. It
467is known, however, that he began at an early age to carve out a
468position for himself. It is personal qualities alone that tell
469among our people, and the youthful Spotted Tail gained at every
470turn. At the age of seventeen, he had become a sure shot and a
471clever hunter; but, above all, he had already shown that he
472possessed a superior mind. He had come into contact with white
473people at the various trading posts, and according to his own story
474had made a careful study of the white man's habits and modes of
475thought, especially of his peculiar trait of economy and intense
476desire to accumulate property. He was accustomed to watch closely
477and listen attentively whenever any of this strange race had
478dealings with his people. When a council was held, and the other
479young men stood at a distance with their robes over their faces so
480as to avoid recognition, Spotted Tail always put himself in a
481position to hear all that was said on either side, and weighed all
482the arguments in his mind.
484When he first went upon the warpath, it appears that he was,
485if anything, overzealous to establish himself in the eye of his
486people; and as a matter of fact, it was especially hard for him to
487gain an assured position among the Brules, with whom he lived, both
488because he was an orphan, and because his father had been of
489another band. Yet it was not long before he had achieved his
490ambition, though in doing so he received several ugly wounds. It
491was in a battle with the Utes that he first notably served his
492people and their cause.
494The Utes were the attacking party and far outnumbered the
495Sioux on this occasion. Many of their bravest young men had
496fallen, and the Brules were face to face with utter annihilation,
497when Spotted Tail, with a handful of daring horsemen, dodged around
498the enemy's flank and fell upon them from the rear with so much
499spirit that they supposed that strong reinforcements had arrived,
500and retreated in confusion. The Sioux pursued on horseback; and it
501was in this pursuit that the noted chief Two Strike gained his
502historical name. But the chief honors of the fight belonged to
503Spotted Tail. The old chiefs, Conquering Bear and the rest,
504thanked him and at once made him a war chief.
506It had been the firm belief of Spotted Tail that it was unwise
507to allow the white man so much freedom in our country, long before
508the older chiefs saw any harm in it. After the opening of the
509Oregon Trail he, above all the others, was watchful of the conduct
510of the Americans as they journeyed toward the setting sun, and more
511than once he remarked in council that these white men were not like
512the French and the Spanish, with whom our old chiefs had been used
513to deal. He was not fully satisfied with the agreement with
514General Harney; but as a young warrior who had only just gained his
515position in the council, he could not force his views upon the
518No sooner had the Oregon Trail been secured from the Sioux
519than Fort Laramie and other frontier posts were strengthened, and
520the soldiers became more insolent and overbearing than ever. It
521was soon discovered that the whites were prepared to violate most
522of the articles of their treaty as the Indians understood it. At
523this time, the presence of many Mormon emigrants on their way to
524the settlements in Utah and Wyoming added to the perils of the
525situation, as they constantly maneuvered for purposes of their own
526to bring about a clash between the soldiers and the Indians. Every
527summer there were storm-clouds blowing between these two -- clouds
528usually taking their rise in some affair of the travelers along the
531In 1854 an event occurred which has already been described and
532which snapped the last link of friendship between the races.
534By this time Spotted Tail had proved his courage both abroad
535and at home. He had fought a duel with one of the lesser chiefs,
536by whom he was attacked. He killed his opponent with an arrow, but
537himself received upon his head a blow from a battle-axe which
538brought him senseless to the ground. He was left for dead, but
539fortunately revived just as the men were preparing his body for
542The Brules sustained him in this quarrel, as he had acted in
543self-defense; and for a few years he led them in bloody raids
544against the whites along the historic trail. He ambushed many
545stagecoaches and emigrant trains, and was responsible for waylaying
546the Kincaid coach with twenty thousand dollars. This relentless
547harrying of travelers soon brought General Harney to the Brule
548Sioux to demand explanations and reparation.
550The old chiefs of the Brules now appealed to Spotted Tail and
551his young warriors not to bring any general calamity upon the
552tribe. To the surprise of all, Spotted Tail declared that he would
553give himself up. He said that he had defended the rights of his
554people to the best of his ability, that he had avenged the blood of
555their chief, Conquering Bear, and that he was not afraid to accept
556the consequences. He therefore voluntarily surrendered to General
557Harney, and two of his lieutenants, Red Leaf and Old Woman,
558followed his example.
560Thus Spotted Tail played an important part at the very outset
561of those events which were soon to overthrow the free life of his
562people. I do not know how far he foresaw what was to follow; but
563whether so conceived or not, his surrender was a master stroke,
564winning for him not only the admiration of his own people but the
565confidence and respect of the military.
567Thus suddenly he found himself in prison, a hostage for the
568good behavior of his followers. There were many rumors as to the
569punishment reserved for him; but luckily for Spotted Tail, the
570promises of General Harney to the Brule chiefs in respect to him
571were faithfully kept. One of his fellow-prisoners committed
572suicide, but the other held out bravely for the two-year term of
573his imprisonment. During the second year, it was well understood
574that neither of the men sought to escape, and they were given
575much freedom. It was fine schooling for Spotted Tail, that
576tireless observer of the ways of the white man! It is a fact that
577his engaging personal qualities won for him kindness and sympathy
578at the fort before the time came for his release.
580One day some Indian horse thieves of another tribe stampeded
581the horses and mules belonging to the garrison. Spotted Tail asked
582permission of the commanding officer to accompany the pursuers.
583That officer, trusting in the honor of a Sioux brave, gave him a
584fast horse and a good carbine, and said to him: "I depend upon you
585to guide my soldiers so that they may overtake the thieves and
586recapture the horses!"
588The soldiers recaptured the horses without any loss, but
589Spotted Tail still followed the Indians. When they returned to the
590fort without him, everybody agreed that he would never turn up.
591However, next day he did "turn up", with the scalp of one of the
594Soon after this he was returned to his own people, who honored
595him by making him the successor of the old chief, Conquering Bear,
596whose blood he had avenged, for which act he had taken upon himself
597the full responsibility. He had made good use of his two years at
598the fort, and completed his studies of civilization to his own
599satisfaction. From this time on he was desirous of reconciling the
600Indian and the white man, thoroughly understanding the uselessness
601of opposition. He was accordingly in constant communication with
602the military; but the other chiefs did not understand his views and
603seem to have been suspicious of his motives.
605In 1860-1864 the Southern Cheyennes and Comanches were at war
606with the whites, and some of the Brules and Ogallalas, who were
607their neighbors and intimates, were suspected of complicity with
608the hostiles. Doubtless a few of their young men may have been
609involved; at any rate, Thunder Bear and Two Face, together with a
610few others who were roving with the warring tribes, purchased two
611captive white women and brought them to Fort Laramie. It was,
612however, reported at the post that these two men had maltreated the
613women while under their care.
615Of course, the commander demanded of Spotted Tail, then head
616chief, that he give up the guilty ones, and accordingly he had the
617two men arrested and delivered at the fort. At this there was an
618outcry among his own people; but he argued that if the charges were
619true, the men deserved punishment, and if false, they should be
620tried and cleared by process of law. The Indians never quite knew
621what evidence was produced at the court-martial, but at all events
622the two men were hanged, and as they had many influential
623connections, their relatives lost no time in fomenting trouble.
624The Sioux were then camping close by the fort and it was midwinter,
625which facts held them in check for a month or two; but as soon as
626spring came, they removed their camp across the river and rose in
627rebellion. A pitched battle was fought, in which the soldiers got
628the worst of it. Even the associate chief, Big Mouth, was against
629Spotted Tail, who was practically forced against his will and
630judgment to take up arms once more.
632At this juncture came the sudden and bloody uprising in the
633east among the Minnesota Sioux, and Sitting Bull's campaign in the
634north had begun in earnest; while to the south the Southern
635Cheyennes, Comanches, and Kiowas were all upon the warpath.
636Spotted Tail at about this time seems to have conceived the idea of
637uniting all the Rocky Mountain Indians in a great confederacy. He
638once said: "Our cause is as a child's cause, in comparison with the
639power of the white man, unless we can stop quarreling among
640ourselves and unite our energies for the common good." But old-
641time antagonisms were too strong; and he was probably held back
642also by his consciousness of the fact that the Indians called him
643"the white man's friend", while the military still had some faith
644in him which he did not care to lose. He was undoubtedly one of
645the brainiest and most brilliant Sioux who ever lived; and while he
646could not help being to a large extent in sympathy with the feeling
647of his race against the invader, yet he alone foresaw the
648inevitable outcome, and the problem as it presented itself to him
649was simply this: "What is the best policy to pursue in the existing
652Here is his speech as it has been given to me, delivered at
653the great council on the Powder River, just before the attack on
654Fort Phil Kearny. We can imagine that he threw all his wonderful
655tact and personal magnetism into this last effort at conciliation.
657"'Hay, hay, hay! Alas, alas!' Thus speaks the old man, when
658he knows that his former vigor and freedom is gone from him
659forever. So we may exclaim to-day, Alas! There is a time
660appointed to all things. Think for a moment how many multitudes of
661the animal tribes we ourselves have destroyed! Look upon the snow
662that appears to-day -- to-morrow it is water! Listen to the dirge
663of the dry leaves, that were green and vigorous but a few moons
664before! We are a part of this life and it seems that our time is
667"Yet note how the decay of one nation invigorates another.
668This strange white man -- consider him, his gifts are manifold!
669His tireless brain, his busy hand do wonders for his race. Those
670things which we despise he holds as treasures; yet he is so great
671and so flourishing that there must be some virtue and truth in his
672philosophy. I wish to say to you, my friends: Be not moved alone
673by heated arguments and thoughts of revenge! These are for the
674young. We are young no longer; let us think well, and give counsel
675as old men!"
677These words were greeted with an ominous silence. Not even
678the customary "How!" of assent followed the speech, and Sitting
679Bull immediately got up and replied in the celebrated harangue
680which will be introduced under his own name in another chapter.
681The situation was critical for Spotted Tail -- the only man present
682to advocate submission to the stronger race whose ultimate
683supremacy he recognized as certain. The decision to attack Fort
684Phil Kearny was unanimous without him, and in order to hold his
685position among his tribesmen he joined in the charge. Several
686bullets passed through his war bonnet, and he was slightly wounded.
688When the commission of 1867-1868 was sent out to negotiate
689with the Sioux, Spotted Tail was ready to meet them, and eager to
690obtain for his people the very best terms that he could. He often
691puzzled and embarrassed them by his remarkable speeches, the
692pointed questions that he put, and his telling allusions to former
693negotiations. Meanwhile Red Cloud would not come into the council
694until after several deputations of Indians had been sent to him,
695and Sitting Bull did not come at all.
697The famous treaty was signed, and from this time on Spotted
698Tail never again took up arms against the whites. On the contrary,
699it was mainly attributed to his influence that the hostiles were
700subdued much sooner than might have been expected. He came into
701the reservation with his band, urged his young men to enlist as
702government scouts, and assisted materially in all negotiations.
703The hostile chiefs no longer influenced his action, and as soon as
704they had all been brought under military control, General Crook
705named Spotted Tail head chief of the Sioux, thus humiliating Red
706Cloud and arousing jealousy and ill-feeling among the Ogallalas.
707In order to avoid trouble, he prudently separated himself from the
708other bands, and moved to the new agency on Beaver Creek (Fort
709Sheridan, Nebraska), which was called "Spotted Tail Agency."
711Just before the daring war leader, Crazy Horse, surrendered to
712the military, he went down to the agency and roundly rebuked
713Spotted Tail for signing away the freedom of his people. From the
714point of view of the irreconcilables, the diplomatic chief was a
715"trimmer" and a traitor; and many of the Sioux have tried to
716implicate him in the conspiracy against Crazy Horse which led to
717his assassination, but I hold that the facts do not bear out this
720The name of Spotted Tail was prominently before the people
721during the rest of his life. An obscure orphan, he had achieved
722distinction by his bravery and sagacity; but he copied the white
723politician too closely after he entered the reservation. He became
724a good manipulator, and was made conceited and overbearing by the
725attentions of the military and of the general public. Furthermore,
726there was an old feud in his immediate band which affected him
727closely. Against him for many years were the followers of Big
728Mouth, whom he had killed in a duel; and also a party led by a son
729and a nephew of the old chief, Conquering Bear, whom Spotted Tail
730had succeeded at his death. These two men had hoped that one or
731the other of them might obtain the succession.
733Crow Dog, the nephew of Conquering Bear, more than once
734taunted Spotted Tail with the fact that he was chief not by the
735will of the tribe, but by the help of the white soldiers, and told
736him that he would "keep a bullet for him" in case he ever disgraced
737his high position. Thus retribution lay in wait for him while at
738the height of his fame. Several high-handed actions of his at this
739time, including his elopement with another man's wife, increased
740his unpopularity with a large element of his own tribe. On the eve
741of the chief's departure for Washington, to negotiate (or so they
742suspected) for the sale of more of their land, Crow Dog took up his
743gun and fulfilled his threat, regarding himself, and regarded by
744his supporters, not as a murderer, but as an executioner.
746Such was the end of the man who may justly be called the
747Pontiac of the west. He possessed a remarkable mind and
748extraordinary foresight for an untutored savage; and yet he is the
749only one of our great men to be remembered with more honor by the
750white man, perhaps, than by his own people.
758Chief Little Crow was the eldest son of Cetanwakuwa (Charging
759Hawk). It was on account of his father's name, mistranslated Crow,
760that he was called by the whites "Little Crow." His real name was
761Taoyateduta, His Red People.
763As far back as Minnesota history goes, a band of the Sioux
764called Kaposia (Light Weight, because they were said to travel
765light) inhabited the Mille Lacs region. Later they dwelt about St.
766Croix Falls, and still later near St. Paul. In 1840, Cetanwakuwa
767was still living in what is now West St. Paul, but he was soon
768after killed by the accidental discharge of his gun.
770It was during a period of demoralization for the Kaposias that
771Little Crow became the leader of his people. His father, a
772well-known chief, had three wives, all from different bands of the
773Sioux. He was the only son of the first wife, a Leaf Dweller.
774There were two sons of the second and two of the third wife, and
775the second set of brothers conspired to kill their half-brother in
776order to keep the chieftainship in the family.
778Two kegs of whisky were bought, and all the men of the tribe
779invited to a feast. It was planned to pick some sort of quarrel
780when all were drunk, and in the confusion Little Crow was to be
781murdered. The plot went smoothly until the last instant, when a
782young brave saved the intended victim by knocking the gun aside
783with his hatchet, so that the shot went wild. However, it broke
784his right arm, which remained crooked all his life. The friends of
785the young chieftain hastily withdrew, avoiding a general fight; and
786later the council of the Kaposias condemned the two brothers, both
787of whom were executed, leaving him in undisputed possession.
789Such was the opening of a stormy career. Little Crow's mother
790had been a chief's daughter, celebrated for her beauty and spirit,
791and it is said that she used to plunge him into the lake through a
792hole in the ice, rubbing him afterward with snow, to strengthen his
793nerves, and that she would remain with him alone in the deep woods
794for days at a time, so that he might know that solitude is good,
795and not fear to be alone with nature.
797"My son," she would say, "if you are to be a leader of men,
798you must listen in silence to the mystery, the spirit."
800At a very early age she made a feast for her boy and announced
801that he would fast two days. This is what might be called a formal
802presentation to the spirit or God. She greatly desired him to
803become a worthy leader according to the ideas of her people. It
804appears that she left her husband when he took a second wife, and
805lived with her own band till her death. She did not marry again.
807Little Crow was an intensely ambitious man and without
808physical fear. He was always in perfect training and early
809acquired the art of warfare of the Indian type. It is told of him
810that when he was about ten years old, he engaged with other boys in
811a sham battle on the shore of a lake near St. Paul. Both sides
812were encamped at a little distance from one another, and the rule
813was that the enemy must be surprised, otherwise the attack would be
814considered a failure. One must come within so many paces
815undiscovered in order to be counted successful. Our hero had a
816favorite dog which, at his earnest request, was allowed to take
817part in the game, and as a scout he entered the enemy camp unseen,
818by the help of his dog.
820When he was twelve, he saved the life of a companion who had
821broken through the ice by tying the end of a pack line to a log,
822then at great risk to himself carrying it to the edge of the hole
823where his comrade went down. It is said that he also broke in, but
824both boys saved themselves by means of the line.
826As a young man, Little Crow was always ready to serve his
827people as a messenger to other tribes, a duty involving much danger
828and hardship. He was also known as one of the best hunters in his
829band. Although still young, he had already a war record when he
830became chief of the Kaposias, at a time when the Sioux were facing
831the greatest and most far-reaching changes that had ever come to
834At this juncture in the history of the northwest and its
835native inhabitants, the various fur companies had paramount
836influence. They did not hesitate to impress the Indians with the
837idea that they were the authorized representatives of the white
838races or peoples, and they were quick to realize the desirability
839of controlling the natives through their most influential chiefs.
840Little Crow became quite popular with post traders and factors. He
841was an orator as well as a diplomat, and one of the first of his
842nation to indulge in politics and promote unstable schemes to the
843detriment of his people.
845When the United States Government went into the business of
846acquiring territory from the Indians so that the flood of western
847settlement might not be checked, commissions were sent out to
848negotiate treaties, and in case of failure it often happened that
849a delegation of leading men of the tribe were invited to
850Washington. At that period, these visiting chiefs, attired in all
851the splendor of their costumes of ceremony, were treated like
852ambassadors from foreign countries.
854One winter in the late eighteen-fifties, a major general of
855the army gave a dinner to the Indian chiefs then in the city, and
856on this occasion Little Crow was appointed toastmaster. There were
857present a number of Senators and members of Congress, as well as
858judges of the Supreme Court, cabinet officers, and other
859distinguished citizens. When all the guests were seated, the Sioux
860arose and addressed them with much dignity as follows:
862"Warriors and friends: I am informed that the great white war
863chief who of his generosity and comradeship has given us this
864feast, has expressed the wish that we may follow to-night the
865usages and customs of my people. In other words, this is a
866warriors' feast, a braves' meal. I call upon the Ojibway chief,
867the Hole-in-the-Day, to give the lone wolf's hunger call, after
868which we will join him in our usual manner."
870The tall and handsome Ojibway now rose and straightened his
871superb form to utter one of the clearest and longest wolf howls
872that was ever heard in Washington, and at its close came a
873tremendous burst of war whoops that fairly rent the air, and no
874doubt electrified the officials there present.
876On one occasion Little Crow was invited by the commander of
877Fort Ridgeley, Minnesota, to call at the fort. On his way back,
878in company with a half-breed named Ross and the interpreter
879Mitchell, he was ambushed by a party of Ojibways, and again
880wounded in the same arm that had been broken in his attempted
881assassination. His companion Ross was killed, but he managed
882to hold the war party at bay until help came and thus saved his
885More and more as time passed, this naturally brave and
886ambitious man became a prey to the selfish interests of the traders
887and politicians. The immediate causes of the Sioux outbreak of
8881862 came in quick succession to inflame to desperate action an
889outraged people. The two bands on the so-called "lower
890reservations" in Minnesota were Indians for whom nature had
891provided most abundantly in their free existence. After one
892hundred and fifty years of friendly intercourse first with the
893French, then the English, and finally the Americans, they found
894themselves cut off from every natural resource, on a tract of land
895twenty miles by thirty, which to them was virtual imprisonment. By
896treaty stipulation with the government, they were to be fed and
897clothed, houses were to be built for them, the men taught
898agriculture, and schools provided for the children. In addition to
899this, a trust fund of a million and a half was to be set aside for
900them, at five per cent interest, the interest to be paid annually
901per capita. They had signed the treaty under pressure, believing
902in these promises on the faith of a great nation.
904However, on entering the new life, the resources so rosily
905described to them failed to materialize. Many families faced
906starvation every winter, their only support the store of the Indian
907trader, who was baiting his trap for their destruction. Very
908gradually they awoke to the facts. At last it was planned to
909secure from them the north half of their reservation for
910ninety-eight thousand dollars, but it was not explained to the
911Indians that the traders were to receive all the money. Little
912Crow made the greatest mistake of his life when he signed this
915Meanwhile, to make matters worse, the cash annuities were not
916paid for nearly two years. Civil War had begun. When it was
917learned that the traders had taken all of the ninety-eight thousand
918dollars "on account", there was very bitter feeling. In fact, the
919heads of the leading stores were afraid to go about as usual, and
920most of them stayed in St. Paul. Little Crow was justly held in
921part responsible for the deceit, and his life was not safe.
923The murder of a white family near Acton, Minnesota, by a party
924of Indian duck hunters in August, 1862, precipitated the break.
925Messengers were sent to every village with the news, and at the
926villages of Little Crow and Little Six the war council was red-hot.
927It was proposed to take advantage of the fact that north and south
928were at war to wipe out the white settlers and to regain their
929freedom. A few men stood out against such a desperate step, but
930the conflagration had gone beyond their control.
932There were many mixed bloods among these Sioux, and some of
933the Indians held that these were accomplices of the white people in
934robbing them of their possessions, therefore their lives should not
935be spared. My father, Many Lightnings, who was practically the
936leader of the Mankato band (for Mankato, the chief, was a weak
937man), fought desperately for the lives of the half-breeds and the
938missionaries. The chiefs had great confidence in my father, yet
939they would not commit themselves, since their braves were clamoring
940for blood. Little Crow had been accused of all the misfortunes of
941his tribe, and he now hoped by leading them against the whites to
942regain his prestige with his people, and a part at least of their
945There were moments when the pacifists were in grave peril. It
946was almost daybreak when my father saw that the approaching
947calamity could not be prevented. He and two others said to Little
948Crow: "If you want war, you must personally lead your men
949to-morrow. We will not murder women and children, but we will
950fight the soldiers when they come." They then left the council and
951hastened to warn my brother-in-law, Faribault, and others who were
954Little Crow declared he would be seen in the front of every
955battle, and it is true that he was foremost in all the succeeding
956bloodshed, urging his warriors to spare none. He ordered his war
957leader, Many Hail, to fire the first shot, killing the trader James
958Lynd, in the door of his store.
960After a year of fighting in which he had met with defeat, the
961discredited chief retreated to Fort Garry, now Winnipeg, Manitoba,
962where, together with Standing Buffalo, he undertook secret
963negotiations with his old friends the Indian traders. There was
964now a price upon his head, but he planned to reach St. Paul
965undetected and there surrender himself to his friends, who he hoped
966would protect him in return for past favors. It is true that he
967had helped them to secure perhaps the finest country held by any
968Indian nation for a mere song.
970He left Canada with a few trusted friends, including his
971youngest and favorite son. When within two or three days' journey
972of St. Paul, he told the others to return, keeping with him only
973his son, Wowinape, who was but fifteen years of age. He meant to
974steal into the city by night and go straight to Governor Ramsey,
975who was his personal friend. He was very hungry and was obliged to
976keep to the shelter of the deep woods. The next morning, as he was
977picking and eating wild raspberries, he was seen by a wood-chopper
978named Lamson. The man did not know who he was. He only knew that
979he was an Indian, and that was enough for him, so he lifted his
980rifle to his shoulder and fired, then ran at his best pace. The
981brilliant but misguided chief, who had made that part of the
982country unsafe for any white man to live in, sank to the ground and
983died without a struggle. The boy took his father's gun and made
984some effort to find the assassin, but as he did not even know in
985which direction to look for him, he soon gave up the attempt and
986went back to his friends.
988Meanwhile Lamson reached home breathless and made his report.
989The body of the chief was found and identified, in part by the
990twice broken arm, and this arm and his scalp may be seen to-day in
991the collection of the Minnesota Historical Society.
999There was once a Sioux brave who declared that he would die young,
1000yet not by his own hand. Tamahay was of heroic proportions,
1001herculean in strength, a superb runner; in fact, he had all the
1002physical qualities of an athlete or a typical Indian. In his
1003scanty dress, he was beautiful as an antique statue in living
1004bronze. When a mere youth, seventeen years of age, he met with an
1005accident which determined his career. It was the loss of an eye,
1006a fatal injury to the sensitive and high-spirited Indian. He
1007announced his purpose in these words:
1009"The 'Great Mystery' has decreed that I must be disgraced.
1010There will be no pleasure for me now, and I shall be ridiculed
1011even by my enemies. It will be well for me to enter soon into
1012Paradise, for I shall be happy in spending my youth there. But
1013I will sell my life dearly. Hereafter my name shall be spoken in
1014the traditions of our race." With this speech Tamahay began his
1017He now sought glory and defied danger with even more than the
1018ordinary Indian recklessness. He accepted a personal friend, which
1019was a custom among the Sioux, where each man chose a companion for
1020life and death. The tie was stronger than one of blood
1021relationship, a friendship sealed by solemn vow and covenant.
1022Tamahay's intimate was fortunately almost his equal in physical
1023powers, and the pair became the terror of neighboring tribes, with
1024whom the Dakotas were continually at war. They made frequent raids
1025upon their enemies and were usually successful, although not
1026without thrilling experiences and almost miraculous escapes.
1028Upon one of these occasions the two friends went north into
1029the country of the Ojibways. After many days' journey, they
1030discovered a small village of the foe. The wicked Tamahay proposed
1031to his associate that they should arrange their toilets after the
1032fashion of the Ojibways, and go among them; "and perhaps," he
1033added, "we will indulge in a little flirtation with their pretty
1034maids, and when we have had enough of the fun we can take the scalp
1035of a brave or two and retreat!" His friend construed his daring
1036proposition to be a test of courage, which it would not become him,
1037as a brave, to decline; therefore he assented with a show of
1040The handsome strangers were well received by the Ojibway
1041girls, but their perilous amusement was brought to an untimely
1042close. A young maiden prematurely discovered their true
1043characters, and her cry of alarm brought instantly to her side a
1044jealous youth, who had been watching them from his place of
1045concealment. With him Tamahay had a single-handed contest, and
1046before a general alarm was given he had dispatched the foe and fled
1047with his scalp.
1049The unfortunate brave had been a favorite and a leader among
1050the tribe; therefore the maddened Ojibways were soon in hot
1051pursuit. The Sioux braves were fine runners, yet they were finally
1052driven out upon the peninsula of a lake. As they became separated
1053in their retreat, Tamahay shouted, "I'll meet you at the mouth of
1054the St. Croix River, or in the spirit land!" Both managed to swim
1055the lake, and so made good their escape.
1057The exploits of this man were not all of a warlike nature. He
1058was a great traveler and an expert scout, and he had some wonderful
1059experiences with wild animals. He was once sent, with his intimate
1060friend, on a scout for game. They were on ponies.
1062They located a herd of buffaloes, and on their return to the
1063camp espied a lonely buffalo. Tamahay suggested that they should
1064chase it in order to take some fresh meat, as the law of the tribe
1065allowed in the case of a single animal. His pony stumbled and
1066threw him, after they had wounded the bison, and the latter
1067attacked the dismounted man viciously. But he, as usual, was on
1068the alert. He "took the bull by the horns", as the saying is, and
1069cleverly straddled him on the neck. The buffalo had no means of
1070harming his enemy, but pawed the earth and struggled until his
1071strength was exhausted, when the Indian used his knife on the
1072animal's throat. On account of this feat he received the name
1075The origin of his name "Tamahay" is related as follows. When
1076he was a young man he accompanied the chief Wabashaw to Mackinaw,
1077Michigan, together with some other warriors. He was out with his
1078friend one day, viewing the wonderful sights in the "white man's
1079country", when they came upon a sow with her numerous pink little
1080progeny. He was greatly amused and picked up one of the young
1081pigs, but as soon as it squealed the mother ran furiously after
1082them. He kept the pig and fled with it, still laughing; but his
1083friend was soon compelled to run up the conveniently inclined trunk
1084of a fallen tree, while our hero reached the shore of a lake near
1085by, and plunged into the water. He swam and dived as long as he
1086could, but the beast continued to threaten him with her sharp
1087teeth, till, almost exhausted, he swam again to shore, where his
1088friend came up and dispatched the vicious animal with a club. On
1089account of this watery adventure he was at once called Tamahay,
1090meaning Pike. He earned many other names, but preferred this one,
1091because it was the name borne by a great friend of his, Lieutenant
1092Pike, the first officer of the United States Army who came to
1093Minnesota for the purpose of exploring the sources of the
1094Mississippi River and of making peace with the natives. Tamahay
1095assisted this officer in obtaining land from the Sioux upon which
1096to build Fort Snelling. He appears in history under the name of
1097"Tahamie" or the "One-Eyed Sioux."
1099Always ready to brave danger and unpopularity, Tamahay was the
1100only Sioux who sided with the United States in her struggle with
1101Great Britain in 1819. For having espoused the cause of the
1102Americans, he was ill-treated by the British officers and free
1103traders, who for a long time controlled the northwest, even after
1104peace had been effected between the two nations. At one time he
1105was confined in a fort called McKay, where now stands the town of
1106Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. He had just returned from St. Louis,
1107and was suspected of exciting his people to rebel against British
1108subjects. His life was even threatened, but to this Tamahay merely
1109replied that he was ready to die. A few months later, this fort
1110was restored to the United States, and upon leaving it the British
1111set the buildings on fire, though the United States flag floated
1112above them. Some Indians who were present shouted to Tamahay,
1113"Your friends', the Americans', fort is on fire!" He responded
1114with a war whoop, rushed into the blazing fort, and brought out the
1115flag. For this brave act he was rewarded with a present of a flag
1116and medal. He was never tired of displaying this medal and his
1117recommendation papers, and even preserved to the end of his life an
1118old colonial stovepipe hat, which he wore upon state occasions.
1120The Sioux long referred to the president of the United States
1121as "Tamahay's father."
1123The following story is told of him in his later days. He
1124attempted one day to cross the first bridge over the Mississippi
1125River, but was not recognized by the sentinel, who would not allow
1126him to pass until he paid the toll. Tamahay, who was a privileged
1127character, explained as best he could, with gestures and broken
1128English, that he was always permitted to pass free; but as the
1129sentinel still refused, and even threatened him with his bayonet,
1130the old Indian silently seized the musket, threw it down into the
1131waters of the Mississippi and went home. Later in the day a
1132company of soldiers appeared in the Indian village, and escorted
1133our hero to a sort of court-martial at the fort. When he was
1134questioned by the Colonel, he simply replied: "If you were
1135threatened by any one with a weapon, you would, in self-defense,
1136either disable the man or get rid of the weapon. I did the latter,
1137thinking that you would need the man more than the gun."
1139Finally the officer said to them, "I see you are both partly
1140wrong. Some one must be responsible for the loss of the gun;
1141therefore, you two will wrestle, and the man who is downed must
1142dive for the weapon to the bottom of the river."
1144Scarcely was this speech ended when Tamahay was upon the
1145soldier, who was surprised both by the order and by the unexpected
1146readiness of the wily old Indian, so that he was not prepared, and
1147the Sioux had the vantage hold. In a moment the bluecoat was down,
1148amid shouts and peals of laughter from his comrades. Having thrown
1149his man, the other turned and went home without a word.
1151Sad to say, he acquired a great appetite for "minne-wakan", or
1152"mysterious water", as the Sioux call it, which proved a source of
1153trouble to him in his old age. It is told of him that he was
1154treated one winter's day to a drink of whisky in a trader's store.
1155He afterwards went home; but even the severe blizzard which soon
1156arose did not prevent him from returning in the night to the
1157friendly trader. He awoke that worthy from sleep about twelve
1158o'clock by singing his death dirge upon the roof of the log cabin.
1159In another moment he had jumped down the mud chimney, and into the
1160blazing embers of a fire. The trader had to pour out to him some
1161whisky in a tin pail, after which he begged the old man to "be good
1162and go home." On the eve of the so-called "Minnesota Massacre" by
1163the Sioux in 1862, Tamahay, although he was then very old and had
1164almost lost the use of his remaining eye, made a famous speech at
1165the meeting of the conspirators. These are some of his words, as
1166reported to me by persons who were present.
1168"What! What! is this Little Crow? Is that Little Six? You,
1169too, White Dog, are you here? I cannot see well now, but I can see
1170with my mind's eye the stream of blood you are about to pour upon
1171the bosom of this mother of ours" (meaning the earth). "I stand
1172before you on three legs, but the third leg has brought me wisdom"
1173[referring to the staff with which he sup- ported himself]. "I
1174have traveled much, I have visited among the people whom you think
1175to defy. This means the total surrender of our beautiful land, the
1176land of a thousand lakes and streams. Methinks you are about to
1177commit an act like that of the porcupine, who climbs a tree,
1178balances himself upon a springy bough, and then gnaws off the very
1179bough upon which he is sitting; hence, when it gives way, he falls
1180upon the sharp rocks below. Behold the great Pontiac, whose grave
1181I saw near St. Louis; he was murdered while an exile from his
1182country! Think of the brave Black Hawk! Methinks his spirit is
1183still wailing through Wisconsin and Illinois for his lost people!
1184I do not say you have no cause to complain, but to resist is
1185self-destruction. I am done."
1187It is supposed that this speech was his last, and it was made,
1188though vainly, in defense of the Americans whom he had loved. He
1189died at Fort Pierre, South Dakota, in 1864. His people say that he
1190died a natural death, of old age. And yet his exploits are not
1191forgotten. Thus lived and departed a most active and fearless
1192Sioux, Tamahay, who desired to die young!
1200Chief Gall was one of the most aggressive leaders of the Sioux
1201nation in their last stand for freedom.
1203The westward pressure of civilization during the past three
1204centuries has been tremendous. When our hemisphere was
1205"discovered", it had been inhabited by the natives for untold ages,
1206but it was held undiscovered because the original owners did not
1207chart or advertise it. Yet some of them at least had developed
1208ideals of life which included real liberty and equality to all men,
1209and they did not recognize individual ownership in land or other
1210property beyond actual necessity. It was a soul development
1211leading to essential manhood. Under this system they brought forth
1212some striking characters.
1214Gall was considered by both Indians and whites to be a most
1215impressive type of physical manhood. From his picture you can
1216judge of this for yourself.
1218Let us follow his trail. He was no tenderfoot. He never
1219asked a soft place for himself. He always played the game
1220according to the rules and to a finish. To be sure, like every
1221other man, he made some mistakes, but he was an Indian and never
1222acted the coward.
1224The earliest stories told of his life and doings indicate the
1225spirit of the man in that of the boy.
1227When he was only about three years old, the Blackfoot band of
1228Sioux were on their usual roving hunt, following the buffalo while
1229living their natural happy life upon the wonderful wide prairies of
1232It was the way of every Sioux mother to adjust her household
1233effects on such dogs and pack ponies as she could muster from day
1234to day, often lending one or two to accommodate some other woman
1235whose horse or dog had died, or perhaps had been among those
1236stampeded and carried away by a raiding band of Crow warriors. On
1237this particular occasion, the mother of our young Sioux brave,
1238Matohinshda, or Bear-Shedding-His-Hair (Gall's childhood name),
1239intrusted her boy to an old Eskimo pack dog, experienced and
1240reliable, except perhaps when unduly excited or very thirsty.
1242On the day of removing camp the caravan made its morning march
1243up the Powder River. Upon the wide table-land the women were
1244busily digging teepsinna (an edible sweetish root, much used by
1245them) as the moving village slowly progressed. As usual at such
1246times, the trail was wide. An old jack rabbit had waited too long
1247in hiding. Now, finding himself almost surrounded by the mighty
1248plains people, he sprang up suddenly, his feathery ears
1249conspicuously erect, a dangerous challenge to the dogs and the
1252A whoop went up. Every dog accepted the challenge. Forgotten
1253were the bundles, the kits, even the babies they were drawing or
1254carrying. The chase was on, and the screams of the women reechoed
1255from the opposite cliffs of the Powder, mingled with the yelps of
1256dogs and the neighing of horses. The hand of every man was against
1257the daring warrior, the lone Jack, and the confusion was great.
1259When the fleeing one cleared the mass of his enemies, he
1260emerged with a swiftness that commanded respect and gave promise
1261of a determined chase. Behind him, his pursuers stretched out in
1262a thin line, first the speedy, unburdened dogs and then the travois
1263dogs headed by the old Eskimo with his precious freight. The
1264youthful Gall was in a travois, a basket mounted on trailing poles
1265and harnessed to the sides of the animal.
1267"Hey! hey! they are gaining on him!" a warrior shouted. At
1268this juncture two of the canines had almost nabbed their furry prey
1269by the back. But he was too cunning for them. He dropped
1270instantly and sent both dogs over his head, rolling and spinning,
1271then made another flight at right angles to the first. This gave
1272the Eskimo a chance to cut the triangle. He gained fifty yards,
1273but being heavily handicapped, two unladen dogs passed him. The
1274same trick was repeated by the Jack, and this time he saved himself
1275from instant death by a double loop and was now running directly
1276toward the crowd, followed by a dozen or more dogs. He was losing
1277speed, but likewise his pursuers were dropping off steadily. Only
1278the sturdy Eskimo dog held to his even gait, and behind him in the
1279frail travois leaned forward the little Matohinshda, nude save a
1280breech clout, his left hand holding fast the convenient tail of his
1281dog, the right grasping firmly one of the poles of the travois.
1282His black eyes were bulging almost out of their sockets; his long
1283hair flowed out behind like a stream of dark water.
1285The Jack now ran directly toward the howling spectators, but
1286his marvelous speed and alertness were on the wane; while on the
1287other hand his foremost pursuer, who had taken part in hundreds of
1288similar events, had every confidence in his own endurance. Each
1289leap brought him nearer, fiercer and more determined. The last
1290effort of the Jack was to lose himself in the crowd, like a fish in
1291muddy water; but the big dog made the one needed leap with unerring
1292aim and his teeth flashed as he caught the rabbit in viselike jaws
1293and held him limp in air, a victor!
1295The people rushed up to him as he laid the victim down, and
1296foremost among them was the frantic mother of Matohinshda, or Gall.
1297"Michinkshe! michinkshe!" (My son! my son!) she screamed as she
1298drew near. The boy seemed to be none the worse for his experience.
1299"Mother!" he cried, "my dog is brave: he got the rabbit!" She
1300snatched him off the travois, but he struggled out of her arms to
1301look upon his dog lovingly and admiringly. Old men and boys
1302crowded about the hero of the day, the dog, and the thoughtful
1303grandmother of Matohinshda unharnessed him and poured some water
1304from a parfleche water bag into a basin. "Here, my grandson, give
1305your friend something to drink."
1307"How, hechetu," pronounced an old warrior no longer in active
1308service. "This may be only an accident, an ordinary affair; but
1309such things sometimes indicate a career. The boy has had a
1310wonderful ride. I prophesy that he will one day hold the attention
1311of all the people with his doings."
1313This is the first remembered story of the famous chief, but
1314other boyish exploits foretold the man he was destined to be. He
1315fought many sham battles, some successful and others not; but he
1316was always a fierce fighter and a good loser.
1318Once he was engaged in a battle with snowballs. There were
1319probably nearly a hundred boys on each side, and the rule was that
1320every fair hit made the receiver officially dead. He must not
1321participate further, but must remain just where he was struck.
1323Gall's side was fast losing, and the battle was growing hotter
1324every minute when the youthful warrior worked toward an old water
1325hole and took up his position there. His side was soon annihilated
1326and there were eleven men left to fight him. He was pressed close
1327in the wash-out, and as he dodged under cover before a volley of
1328snowballs, there suddenly emerged in his stead a huge gray wolf.
1329His opponents fled in every direction in superstitious terror, for
1330they thought he had been transformed into the animal. To their
1331astonishment he came out on the farther side and ran to the line of
1332safety, a winner!
1334It happened that the wolf's den had been partly covered with
1335snow so that no one had noticed it until the yells of the boys
1336aroused the inmate, and he beat a hasty retreat. The boys always
1337looked upon this incident as an omen.
1339Gall had an amiable disposition but was quick to resent insult
1340or injustice. This sometimes involved him in difficulties, but he
1341seldom fought without good cause and was popular with his
1342associates. One of his characteristics was his ability to
1343organize, and this was a large factor in his leadership when he
1344became a man. He was tried in many ways, and never was known to
1345hesitate when it was a question of physical courage and endurance.
1346He entered the public service early in life, but not until he had
1347proved himself competent and passed all tests.
1349When a mere boy, he was once scouting for game in midwinter,
1350far from camp, and was overtaken by a three days' blizzard. He was
1351forced to abandon his horse and lie under the snow for that length
1352of time. He afterward said he was not particularly hungry; it was
1353thirst and stiffness from which he suffered most. One reason the
1354Indian so loved his horse or dog was that at such times the animal
1355would stay by him like a brother. On this occasion Gall's pony was
1356not more than a stone's throw away when the storm subsided and the
1357sun shone. There was a herd of buffalo in plain sight, and the
1358young hunter was not long in procuring a meal.
1360This chief's contemporaries still recall his wrestling match
1361with the equally powerful Cheyenne boy, Roman Nose, who afterward
1362became a chief well known to American history. It was a custom of
1363the northwestern Indians, when two friendly tribes camped together,
1364to establish the physical and athletic supremacy of the youth of
1365the respective camps.
1367The "Che-hoo-hoo" is a wrestling game in which there may be
1368any number on a side, but the numbers are equal. All the boys of
1369each camp are called together by a leader chosen for the purpose
1370and draw themselves up in line of battle; then each at a given
1371signal attacks his opponent.
1373In this memorable contest, Matohinshda, or Gall, was placed
1374opposite Roman Nose. The whole people turned out as spectators of
1375the struggle, and the battlefield was a plateau between the two
1376camps, in the midst of picturesque Bad Lands. There were many
1377athletic youths present, but these two were really the Apollos of
1378the two tribes.
1380In this kind of sport it is not allowed to strike with the
1381hand, nor catch around the neck, nor kick, nor pull by the hair.
1382One may break away and run a few yards to get a fresh start, or
1383clinch, or catch as catch can. When a boy is thrown and held to
1384the ground, he is counted out. If a boy has met his superior, he
1385may drop to the ground to escape rough handling, but it is very
1386seldom one gives up without a full trial of strength.
1388It seemed almost like a real battle, so great was the
1389enthusiasm, as the shouts of sympathizers on both sides went up in
1390a mighty chorus. At last all were either conquerors or subdued
1391except Gall and Roman Nose. The pair seemed equally matched. Both
1392were stripped to the breech clout, now tugging like two young
1393buffalo or elk in mating time, again writhing and twisting like
1394serpents. At times they fought like two wild stallions, straining
1395every muscle of arms, legs, and back in the struggle. Every now
1396and then one was lifted off his feet for a moment, but came down
1397planted like a tree, and after swaying to and fro soon became rigid
1400All eyes were upon the champions. Finally, either by trick or
1401main force, Gall laid the other sprawling upon the ground and held
1402him fast for a minute, then released him and stood erect, panting,
1403a master youth. Shout after shout went up on the Sioux side of the
1404camp. The mother of Roman Nose came forward and threw a superbly
1405worked buffalo robe over Gall, whose mother returned the compliment
1406by covering the young Cheyenne with a handsome blanket.
1408Undoubtedly these early contests had their influence upon our
1409hero's career. It was his habit to appear most opportunely in a
1410crisis, and in a striking and dramatic manner to take command of
1411the situation. The best known example of this is his entrance on
1412the scene of confusion when Reno surprised the Sioux on the Little
1413Big Horn. Many of the excitable youths, almost unarmed, rushed
1414madly and blindly to meet the intruder, and the scene might have
1415unnerved even an experienced warrior. It was Gall, with not a
1416garment upon his superb body, who on his black charger dashed ahead
1417of the boys and faced them. He stopped them on the dry creek,
1418while the bullets of Reno's men whistled about their ears.
1420"Hold hard, men! Steady, we are not ready yet! Wait for more
1421guns, more horses, and the day is yours!"
1423They obeyed, and in a few minutes the signal to charge was
1424given, and Reno retreated pell mell before the onset of the Sioux.
1426Sitting Bull had confidence in his men so long as Gall planned
1427and directed the attack, whether against United States soldiers or
1428the warriors of another tribe. He was a strategist, and able in a
1429twinkling to note and seize upon an advantage. He was really the
1430mainstay of Sitting Bull's effective last stand. He consistently
1431upheld his people's right to their buffalo plains and believed that
1432they should hold the government strictly to its agreements with
1433them. When the treaty of 1868 was disregarded, he agreed with
1434Sitting Bull in defending the last of their once vast domain, and
1435after the Custer battle entered Canada with his chief. They hoped
1436to bring their lost cause before the English government and were
1437much disappointed when they were asked to return to the United
1440Gall finally reported at Fort Peck, Montana, in 1881, and
1441brought half of the Hunkpapa band with him, whereupon he was soon
1442followed by Sitting Bull himself. Although they had been promised
1443by the United States commission who went to Canada to treat with
1444them that they would not be punished if they returned, no sooner
1445had Gall come down than a part of his people were attacked, and in
1446the spring they were all brought to Fort Randall and held as
1447military prisoners. From this point they were returned to Standing
1450When "Buffalo Bill" successfully launched his first show, he
1451made every effort to secure both Sitting Bull and Gall for his
1452leading attractions. The military was in complete accord with him
1453in this, for they still had grave suspicions of these two leaders.
1454While Sitting Bull reluctantly agreed, Gall haughtily said: "I am
1455not an animal to be exhibited before the crowd," and retired to his
1456teepee. His spirit was much worn, and he lost strength from that
1457time on. That superb manhood dwindled, and in a few years he died.
1458He was a real hero of a free and natural people, a type that is
1459never to be seen again.
1467Crazy Horse was born on the Republican River about 1845. He was
1468killed at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in 1877, so that he lived barely
1471He was an uncommonly handsome man. While not the equal of
1472Gall in magnificence and imposing stature, he was physically
1473perfect, an Apollo in symmetry. Furthermore he was a true type of
1474Indian refinement and grace. He was modest and courteous as Chief
1475Joseph; the difference is that he was a born warrior, while Joseph
1476was not. However, he was a gentle warrior, a true brave, who stood
1477for the highest ideal of the Sioux. Notwithstanding all that
1478biased historians have said of him, it is only fair to judge a man
1479by the estimate of his own people rather than that of his enemies.
1481The boyhood of Crazy Horse was passed in the days when the
1482western Sioux saw a white man but seldom, and then it was usually
1483a trader or a soldier. He was carefully brought up according to
1484the tribal customs. At that period the Sioux prided themselves on
1485the training and development of their sons and daughters, and not
1486a step in that development was overlooked as an excuse to bring the
1487child before the public by giving a feast in its honor. At such
1488times the parents often gave so generously to the needy that they
1489almost impoverished themselves, thus setting an example to the
1490child of self-denial for the general good. His first step alone,
1491the first word spoken, first game killed, the attainment of manhood
1492or womanhood, each was the occasion of a feast and dance in his
1493honor, at which the poor always benefited to the full extent of the
1496Big-heartedness, generosity, courage, and self-denial are the
1497qualifications of a public servant, and the average Indian was keen
1498to follow this ideal. As every one knows, these characteristic
1499traits become a weakness when he enters a life founded upon
1500commerce and gain. Under such conditions the life of Crazy Horse
1501began. His mother, like other mothers, tender and watchful of her
1502boy, would never once place an obstacle in the way of his father's
1503severe physical training. They laid the spiritual and patriotic
1504foundations of his education in such a way that he early became
1505conscious of the demands of public service.
1507He was perhaps four or five years old when the band was snowed
1508in one severe winter. They were very short of food, but his father
1509was a tireless hunter. The buffalo, their main dependence, were
1510not to be found, but he was out in the storm and cold every day and
1511finally brought in two antelopes. The little boy got on his pet
1512pony and rode through the camp, telling the old folks to come to
1513his mother's teepee for meat. It turned out that neither his
1514father nor mother had authorized him to do this. Before they knew
1515it, old men and women were lined up before the teepee home, ready
1516to receive the meat, in answer to his invitation. As a result, the
1517mother had to distribute nearly all of it, keeping only enough for
1520On the following day the child asked for food. His mother
1521told him that the old folks had taken it all, and added: "Remember,
1522my son, they went home singing praises in your name, not my name or
1523your father's. You must be brave. You must live up to your
1526Crazy Horse loved horses, and his father gave him a pony of
1527his own when he was very young. He became a fine horseman and
1528accompanied his father on buffalo hunts, holding the pack horses
1529while the men chased the buffalo and thus gradually learning the
1530art. In those days the Sioux had but few guns, and the hunting was
1531mostly done with bow and arrows.
1533Another story told of his boyhood is that when he was about
1534twelve he went to look for the ponies with his little brother, whom
1535he loved much, and took a great deal of pains to teach what he had
1536already learned. They came to some wild cherry trees full of ripe
1537fruit, and while they were enjoying it, the brothers were startled
1538by the growl and sudden rush of a bear. Young Crazy Horse pushed
1539his brother up into the nearest tree and himself sprang upon the
1540back of one of the horses, which was frightened and ran some
1541distance before he could control him. As soon as he could,
1542however, he turned him about and came back, yelling and swinging
1543his lariat over his head. The bear at first showed fight but
1544finally turned and ran. The old man who told me this story added
1545that young as he was, he had some power, so that even a grizzly did
1546not care to tackle him. I believe it is a fact that a silver-tip
1547will dare anything except a bell or a lasso line, so that
1548accidentally the boy had hit upon the very thing which would drive
1551It was usual for Sioux boys of his day to wait in the field
1552after a buffalo hunt until sundown, when the young calves would
1553come out in the open, hungrily seeking their mothers. Then these
1554wild children would enjoy a mimic hunt, and lasso the calves or
1555drive them into camp. Crazy Horse was found to be a determined
1556little fellow, and it was settled one day among the larger boys
1557that they would "stump" him to ride a good-sized bull calf. He
1558rode the calf, and stayed on its back while it ran bawling over the
1559hills, followed by the other boys on their ponies, until his
1560strange mount stood trembling and exhausted.
1562At the age of sixteen he joined a war party against the Gros
1563Ventres. He was well in the front of the charge, and at once
1564established his bravery by following closely one of the foremost
1565Sioux warriors, by the name of Hump, drawing the enemy's fire and
1566circling around their advance guard. Suddenly Hump's horse was
1567shot from under him, and there was a rush of warriors to kill or
1568capture him while down. But amidst a shower of arrows the youth
1569leaped from his pony, helped his friend into his own saddle, sprang
1570up behind him, and carried him off in safety, although they were
1571hotly pursued by the enemy. Thus he associated himself in his
1572maiden battle with the wizard of Indian warfare, and Hump, who was
1573then at the height of his own career, pronounced Crazy Horse the
1574coming warrior of the Teton Sioux.
1576At this period of his life, as was customary with the best
1577young men, he spent much time in prayer and solitude. Just what
1578happened in these days of his fasting in the wilderness and upon
1579the crown of bald buttes, no one will ever know; for these things
1580may only be known when one has lived through the battles of life to
1581an honored old age. He was much sought after by his youthful
1582associates, but was noticeably reserved and modest; yet in the
1583moment of danger he at once rose above them all -- a natural
1584leader! Crazy Horse was a typical Sioux brave, and from the point
1585of view of our race an ideal hero, living at the height of the
1586epical progress of the American Indian and maintaining in his own
1587character all that was most subtle and ennobling of their spiritual
1588life, and that has since been lost in the contact with a material
1591He loved Hump, that peerless warrior, and the two became close
1592friends, in spite of the difference in age. Men called them "the
1593grizzly and his cub." Again and again the pair saved the day for
1594the Sioux in a skirmish with some neighboring tribe. But one day
1595they undertook a losing battle against the Snakes. The Sioux were
1596in full retreat and were fast being overwhelmed by superior
1597numbers. The old warrior fell in a last desperate charge; but
1598Crazy Horse and his younger brother, though dismounted, killed two
1599of the enemy and thus made good their retreat.
1601It was observed of him that when he pursued the enemy into
1602their stronghold, as he was wont to do, he often refrained from
1603killing, and simply struck them with a switch, showing that he did
1604not fear their weapons nor care to waste his upon them. In
1605attempting this very feat, he lost this only brother of his, who
1606emulated him closely. A party of young warriors, led by Crazy
1607Horse, had dashed upon a frontier post, killed one of the
1608sentinels, stampeded the horses, and pursued the herder to the very
1609gate of the stockade, thus drawing upon themselves the fire of the
1610garrison. The leader escaped without a scratch, but his young
1611brother was brought down from his horse and killed.
1613While he was still under twenty, there was a great winter
1614buffalo hunt, and he came back with ten buffaloes' tongues which he
1615sent to the council lodge for the councilors' feast. He had in one
1616winter day killed ten buffalo cows with his bow and arrows, and the
1617unsuccessful hunters or those who had no swift ponies were made
1618happy by his generosity. When the hunters returned, these came
1619chanting songs of thanks. He knew that his father was an expert
1620hunter and had a good horse, so he took no meat home, putting in
1621practice the spirit of his early teaching.
1623He attained his majority at the crisis of the difficulties
1624between the United States and the Sioux. Even before that time,
1625Crazy Horse had already proved his worth to his people in Indian
1626warfare. He had risked his life again and again, and in some
1627instances it was considered almost a miracle that he had saved
1628others as well as himself. He was no orator nor was he the son of
1629a chief. His success and influence was purely a matter of
1630personality. He had never fought the whites up to this time, and
1631indeed no "coup" was counted for killing or scalping a white man.
1633Young Crazy Horse was twenty-one years old when all the Teton
1634Sioux chiefs (the western or plains dwellers) met in council to
1635determine upon their future policy toward the invader. Their
1636former agreements had been by individual bands, each for itself,
1637and every one was friendly. They reasoned that the country was
1638wide, and that the white traders should be made welcome. Up to
1639this time they had anticipated no conflict. They had permitted the
1640Oregon Trail, but now to their astonishment forts were built and
1641garrisoned in their territory.
1643Most of the chiefs advocated a strong resistance. There were
1644a few influential men who desired still to live in peace, and who
1645were willing to make another treaty. Among these were White Bull,
1646Two Kettle, Four Bears, and Swift Bear. Even Spotted Tail,
1647afterward the great peace chief, was at this time with the
1648majority, who decided in the year 1866 to defend their rights and
1649territory by force. Attacks were to be made upon the forts within
1650their country and on every trespasser on the same.
1652Crazy Horse took no part in the discussion, but he and all the
1653young warriors were in accord with the decision of the council.
1654Although so young, he was already a leader among them. Other
1655prominent young braves were Sword (brother of the man of that name
1656who was long captain of police at Pine Ridge), the younger Hump,
1657Charging Bear, Spotted Elk, Crow King, No Water, Big Road, He Dog,
1658the nephew of Red Cloud, and Touch-the-Cloud, intimate friend of
1661The attack on Fort Phil Kearny was the first fruits of the new
1662policy, and here Crazy Horse was chosen to lead the attack on the
1663woodchoppers, designed to draw the soldiers out of the fort, while
1664an army of six hundred lay in wait for them. The success of this
1665stratagem was further enhanced by his masterful handling of his
1666men. From this time on a general war was inaugurated; Sitting Bull
1667looked to him as a principal war leader, and even the Cheyenne
1668chiefs, allies of the Sioux, practically acknowledged his
1669leadership. Yet during the following ten years of defensive war he
1670was never known to make a speech, though his teepee was the
1671rendezvous of the young men. He was depended upon to put into
1672action the decisions of the council, and was frequently consulted
1673by the older chiefs.
1675Like Osceola, he rose suddenly; like Tecumseh he was always
1676impatient for battle; like Pontiac, he fought on while his allies
1677were suing for peace, and like Grant, the silent soldier, he was a
1678man of deeds and not of words. He won from Custer and Fetterman
1679and Crook. He won every battle that he undertook, with the
1680exception of one or two occasions when he was surprised in the
1681midst of his women and children, and even then he managed to
1682extricate himself in safety from a difficult position.
1684Early in the year 1876, his runners brought word from Sitting
1685Bull that all the roving bands would converge upon the upper Tongue
1686River in Montana for summer feasts and conferences. There was
1687conflicting news from the reservation. It was rumored that the
1688army would fight the Sioux to a finish; again, it was said that
1689another commission would be sent out to treat with them.
1691The Indians came together early in June, and formed a series
1692of encampments stretching out from three to four miles, each band
1693keeping separate camp. On June 17, scouts came in and reported the
1694advance of a large body of troops under General Crook. The council
1695sent Crazy Horse with seven hundred men to meet and attack him.
1696These were nearly all young men, many of them under twenty, the
1697flower of the hostile Sioux. They set out at night so as to steal
1698a march upon the enemy, but within three or four miles of his camp
1699they came unexpectedly upon some of his Crow scouts. There was a
1700hurried exchange of shots; the Crows fled back to Crook's camp,
1701pursued by the Sioux. The soldiers had their warning, and it was
1702impossible to enter the well-protected camp. Again and again Crazy
1703Horse charged with his bravest men, in the attempt to bring the
1704troops into the open, but he succeeded only in drawing their fire.
1705Toward afternoon he withdrew, and returned to camp disappointed.
1706His scouts remained to watch Crook's movements, and later brought
1707word that he had retreated to Goose Creek and seemed to have no
1708further disposition to disturb the Sioux. It is well known to us
1709that it is Crook rather than Reno who is to be blamed for cowardice
1710in connection with Custer's fate. The latter had no chance to do
1711anything, he was lucky to save himself; but if Crook had kept on
1712his way, as ordered, to meet Terry, with his one thousand regulars
1713and two hundred Crow and Shoshone scouts, he would inevitably have
1714intercepted Custer in his advance and saved the day for him, and
1715war with the Sioux would have ended right there. Instead of this,
1716he fell back upon Fort Meade, eating his horses on the way, in a
1717country swarming with game, for fear of Crazy Horse and his braves!
1719The Indians now crossed the divide between the Tongue and the
1720Little Big Horn, where they felt safe from immediate pursuit.
1721Here, with all their precautions, they were caught unawares by
1722General Custer, in the midst of their midday games and festivities,
1723while many were out upon the daily hunt.
1725On this twenty-fifth of June, 1876, the great camp was
1726scattered for three miles or more along the level river bottom,
1727back of the thin line of cottonwoods -- five circular rows of
1728teepees, ranging from half a mile to a mile and a half in
1729circumference. Here and there stood out a large, white, solitary
1730teepee; these were the lodges or "clubs" of the young men. Crazy
1731Horse was a member of the "Strong Hearts" and the "Tokala" or Fox
1732lodge. He was watching a game of ring-toss when the warning came
1733from the southern end of the camp of the approach of troops.
1735The Sioux and the Cheyennes were "minute men", and although
1736taken by surprise, they instantly responded. Meanwhile, the women
1737and children were thrown into confusion. Dogs were howling, ponies
1738running hither and thither, pursued by their owners, while many of
1739the old men were singing their lodge songs to encourage the
1740warriors, or praising the "strong heart" of Crazy Horse.
1742That leader had quickly saddled his favorite war pony and was
1743starting with his young men for the south end of the camp, when a
1744fresh alarm came from the opposite direction, and looking up, he
1745saw Custer's force upon the top of the bluff directly across the
1746river. As quick as a flash, he took in the situation -- the enemy
1747had planned to attack the camp at both ends at once; and knowing
1748that Custer could not ford the river at that point, he instantly
1749led his men northward to the ford to cut him off. The Cheyennes
1750followed closely. Custer must have seen that wonderful dash up the
1751sage-bush plain, and one wonders whether he realized its meaning.
1752In a very few minutes, this wild general of the plains had
1753outwitted one of the most brilliant leaders of the Civil War and
1754ended at once his military career and his life.
1756In this dashing charge, Crazy Horse snatched his most famous
1757victory out of what seemed frightful peril, for the Sioux could not
1758know how many were behind Custer. He was caught in his own trap.
1759To the soldiers it must have seemed as if the Indians rose up from
1760the earth to overwhelm them. They closed in from three sides and
1761fought until not a white man was left alive. Then they went down
1762to Reno's stand and found him so well intrenched in a deep gully
1763that it was impossible to dislodge him. Gall and his men held him
1764there until the approach of General Terry compelled the Sioux to
1765break camp and scatter in different directions.
1767While Sitting Bull was pursued into Canada, Crazy Horse and
1768the Cheyennes wandered about, comparatively undisturbed, during the
1769rest of that year, until in the winter the army surprised the
1770Cheyennes, but did not do them much harm, possibly because they
1771knew that Crazy Horse was not far off. His name was held in
1772wholesome respect. From time to time, delegations of friendly
1773Indians were sent to him, to urge him to come in to the
1774reservation, promising a full hearing and fair treatment.
1776For some time he held out, but the rapid disappearance of the
1777buffalo, their only means of support, probably weighed with him
1778more than any other influence. In July, 1877, he was finally
1779prevailed upon to come in to Fort Robinson, Nebraska, with several
1780thousand Indians, most of them Ogallala and Minneconwoju Sioux, on
1781the distinct understanding that the government would hear and
1782adjust their grievances.
1784At this juncture General Crook proclaimed Spotted Tail, who
1785had rendered much valuable service to the army, head chief of the
1786Sioux, which was resented by many. The attention paid Crazy Horse
1787was offensive to Spotted Tail and the Indian scouts, who planned a
1788conspiracy against him. They reported to General Crook that the
1789young chief would murder him at the next council, and stampede the
1790Sioux into another war. He was urged not to attend the council and
1791did not, but sent another officer to represent him. Meanwhile the
1792friends of Crazy Horse discovered the plot and told him of it. His
1793reply was, "Only cowards are murderers."
1795His wife was critically ill at the time, and he decided to
1796take her to her parents at Spotted Tail agency, whereupon his
1797enemies circulated the story that he had fled, and a party of
1798scouts was sent after him. They overtook him riding with his wife
1799and one other but did not undertake to arrest him, and after he had
1800left the sick woman with her people he went to call on Captain Lea,
1801the agent for the Brules, accompanied by all the warriors of the
1802Minneconwoju band. This volunteer escort made an imposing
1803appearance on horseback, shouting and singing, and in the words of
1804Captain Lea himself and the missionary, the Reverend Mr. Cleveland,
1805the situation was extremely critical. Indeed, the scouts who had
1806followed Crazy Horse from Red Cloud agency were advised not to show
1807themselves, as some of the warriors had urged that they be taken
1808out and horsewhipped publicly.
1810Under these circumstances Crazy Horse again showed his
1811masterful spirit by holding these young men in check. He said to
1812them in his quiet way: "It is well to be brave in the field of
1813battle; it is cowardly to display bravery against one's own
1814tribesmen. These scouts have been compelled to do what they did;
1815they are no better than servants of the white officers. I came
1816here on a peaceful errand."
1818The captain urged him to report at army headquarters to
1819explain himself and correct false rumors, and on his giving
1820consent, furnished him with a wagon and escort. It has been said
1821that he went back under arrest, but this is untrue. Indians have
1822boasted that they had a hand in bringing him in, but their stories
1823are without foundation. He went of his own accord, either
1824suspecting no treachery or determined to defy it.
1826When he reached the military camp, Little Big Man walked
1827arm-in-arm with him, and his cousin and friend, Touch-the-Cloud,
1828was just in advance. After they passed the sentinel, an officer
1829approached them and walked on his other side. He was unarmed but
1830for the knife which is carried for ordinary uses by women as well
1831as men. Unsuspectingly he walked toward the guardhouse, when
1832Touch-the-Cloud suddenly turned back exclaiming: "Cousin, they will
1833put you in prison!"
1835"Another white man's trick! Let me go! Let me die fighting!"
1836cried Crazy Horse. He stopped and tried to free himself and draw
1837his knife, but both arms were held fast by Little Big Man and the
1838officer. While he struggled thus, a soldier thrust him through
1839with his bayonet from behind. The wound was mortal, and he died in
1840the course of that night, his old father singing the death song
1841over him and afterward carrying away the body, which they said
1842must not be further polluted by the touch of a white man. They hid
1843it somewhere in the Bad Lands, his resting place to this day.
1845Thus died one of the ablest and truest American Indians. His
1846life was ideal; his record clean. He was never involved in any of
1847the numerous massacres on the trail, but was a leader in
1848practically every open fight. Such characters as those of Crazy
1849Horse and Chief Joseph are not easily found among so-called
1850civilized people. The reputation of great men is apt to be
1851shadowed by questionable motives and policies, but here are two
1852pure patriots, as worthy of honor as any who ever breathed God's
1853air in the wide spaces of a new world.
1861IT is not easy to characterize Sitting Bull, of all Sioux chiefs
1862most generally known to the American people. There are few to whom
1863his name is not familiar, and still fewer who have learned to
1864connect it with anything more than the conventional notion of a
1865bloodthirsty savage. The man was an enigma at best. He was not
1866impulsive, nor was he phlegmatic. He was most serious when he
1867seemed to be jocose. He was gifted with the power of sarcasm, and
1868few have used it more artfully than he.
1870His father was one of the best-known members of the Unkpapa
1871band of Sioux. The manner of this man's death was characteristic.
1872One day, when the Unkpapas were attacked by a large war party of
1873Crows, he fell upon the enemy's war leader with his knife. In a
1874hand-to-hand combat of this sort, we count the victor as entitled
1875to a war bonnet of trailing plumes. It means certain death to one
1876or both. In this case, both men dealt a mortal stroke, and Jumping
1877Buffalo, the father of Sitting Bull, fell from his saddle and died
1878in a few minutes. The other died later from the effects of the
1881Sitting Bull's boyhood must have been a happy one. It was
1882long after the day of the dog-travaux, and his father owned many
1883ponies of variegated colors. It was said of him in a joking way
1884that his legs were bowed like the ribs of the ponies that he rode
1885constantly from childhood. He had also a common nickname that was
1886much to the point. It was "Hunkeshnee", which means "Slow",
1887referring to his inability to run fast, or more probably to the
1888fact that he seldom appeared on foot. In their boyish games he was
1889wont to take the part of the "old man", but this does not mean that
1890he was not active and brave. It is told that after a buffalo hunt
1891the boys were enjoying a mimic hunt with the calves that had been
1892left behind. A large calf turned viciously on Sitting Bull, whose
1893pony had thrown him, but the alert youth got hold of both ears and
1894struggled until the calf was pushed back into a buffalo wallow in
1895a sitting posture. The boys shouted: "He has subdued the buffalo
1896calf! He made it sit down!" And from this incident was derived
1897his familiar name of Sitting Bull.
1899It is a mistake to suppose that Sitting Bull, or any other
1900Indian warrior, was of a murderous disposition. It is true that
1901savage warfare had grown more and more harsh and cruel since the
1902coming of white traders among them, bringing guns, knives, and
1903whisky. Yet it was still regarded largely as a sort of game,
1904undertaken in order to develop the manly qualities of their youth.
1905It was the degree of risk which brought honor, rather than the
1906number slain, and a brave must mourn thirty days, with blackened
1907face and loosened hair, for the enemy whose life he had taken.
1908While the spoils of war were allowed, this did not extend to
1909territorial aggrandizement, nor was there any wish to overthrow
1910another nation and enslave its people. It was a point of honor
1911in the old days to treat a captive with kindness. The common
1912impression that the Indian is naturally cruel and revengeful is
1913entirely opposed to his philosophy and training. The revengeful
1914tendency of the Indian was aroused by the white man. It is not the
1915natural Indian who is mean and tricky; not Massasoit but King
1916Philip; not Attackullakulla but Weatherford; not Wabashaw but
1917Little Crow; not Jumping Buffalo but Sitting Bull! These men
1918lifted their hands against the white man, while their fathers held
1919theirs out to him with gifts.
1921Remember that there were councils which gave their decisions
1922in accordance with the highest ideal of human justice before there
1923were any cities on this continent; before there were bridges to
1924span the Mississippi; before this network of railroads was dreamed
1925of! There were primitive communities upon the very spot where
1926Chicago or New York City now stands, where men were as children,
1927innocent of all the crimes now committed there daily and nightly.
1928True morality is more easily maintained in connection with the
1929simple life. You must accept the truth that you demoralize any
1930race whom you have subjugated.
1932From this point of view we shall consider Sitting Bull's
1933career. We say he is an untutored man: that is true so far as
1934learning of a literary type is concerned; but he was not an
1935untutored man when you view him from the standpoint of his nation.
1936To be sure, he did not learn his lessons from books. This is
1937second-hand information at best. All that he learned he verified
1938for himself and put into daily practice. In personal appearance he
1939was rather commonplace and made no immediate impression, but as he
1940talked he seemed to take hold of his hearers more and more. He was
1941bull-headed; quick to grasp a situation, and not readily induced to
1942change his mind. He was not suspicious until he was forced to be
1943so. All his meaner traits were inevitably developed by the events
1944of his later career.
1946Sitting Bull's history has been written many times by
1947newspaper men and army officers, but I find no account of him which
1948is entirely correct. I met him personally in 1884, and since his
1949death I have gone thoroughly into the details of his life with his
1950relatives and contemporaries. It has often been said that he was
1951a physical coward and not a warrior. Judge of this for yourselves
1952from the deed which first gave him fame in his own tribe, when he
1953was about twenty-eight years old.
1955In an attack upon a band of Crow Indians, one of the enemy
1956took his stand, after the rest had fled, in a deep ditch from
1957which it seemed impossible to dislodge him. The situation had
1958already cost the lives of several warriors, but they could not let
1959him go to repeat such a boast over the Sioux!
1961"Follow me!" said Sitting Bull, and charged. He raced his
1962horse to the brim of the ditch and struck at the enemy with his
1963coup-staff, thus compelling him to expose himself to the fire of
1964the others while shooting his assailant. But the Crow merely poked
1965his empty gun into his face and dodged back under cover. Then
1966Sitting Bull stopped; he saw that no one had followed him, and he
1967also perceived that the enemy had no more ammunition left. He rode
1968deliberately up to the barrier and threw his loaded gun over it;
1969then he went back to his party and told them what he thought of
1972"Now," said he, "I have armed him, for I will not see a brave
1973man killed unarmed. I will strike him again with my coup-staff to
1974count the first feather; who will count the second?"
1976Again he led the charge, and this time they all followed him.
1977Sitting Bull was severely wounded by his own gun in the hands of
1978the enemy, who was killed by those that came after him. This is a
1979record that so far as I know was never made by any other warrior.
1981The second incident that made him well known was his taking of
1982a boy captive in battle with the Assiniboines. He saved this boy's
1983life and adopted him as his brother. Hohay, as he was called, was
1984devoted to Sitting Bull and helped much in later years to spread
1985his fame. Sitting Bull was a born diplomat, a ready speaker, and
1986in middle life he ceased to go upon the warpath, to become the
1987councilor of his people. From this time on, this man represented
1988him in all important battles, and upon every brave deed done was
1989wont to exclaim aloud:
1991"I, Sitting Bull's boy, do this in his name!"
1993He had a nephew, now living, who resembles him strongly, and
1994who also represented him personally upon the field; and so far as
1995there is any remnant left of his immediate band, they look upon
1996this man One Bull as their chief.
1998When Sitting Bull was a boy, there was no thought of trouble
1999with the whites. He was acquainted with many of the early traders,
2000Picotte, Choteau, Primeau, Larpenteur, and others, and liked them,
2001as did most of his people in those days. All the early records
2002show this friendly attitude of the Sioux, and the great fur
2003companies for a century and a half depended upon them for the bulk
2004of their trade. It was not until the middle of the last century
2005that they woke up all of a sudden to the danger threatening their
2006very existence. Yet at that time many of the old chiefs had been
2007already depraved by the whisky and other vices of the whites, and
2008in the vicinity of the forts and trading posts at Sioux City, Saint
2009Paul, and Cheyenne, there was general demoralization. The
2010drunkards and hangers-on were ready to sell almost anything they
2011had for the favor of the trader. The better and stronger element
2012held aloof. They would not have anything of the white man except
2013his hatchet, gun, and knife. They utterly refused to cede their
2014lands; and as for the rest, they were willing to let him alone as
2015long as he did not interfere with their life and customs, which was
2018It was not, however, the Unkpapa band of Sioux, Sitting Bull's
2019band, which first took up arms against the whites; and this was not
2020because they had come less in contact with them, for they dwelt on
2021the Missouri River, the natural highway of trade. As early as
20221854, the Ogallalas and Brules had trouble with the soldiers near
2023Fort Laramie; and again in 1857 Inkpaduta massacred several
2024families of settlers at Spirit Lake, Iowa. Finally, in 1869, the
2025Minnesota Sioux, goaded by many wrongs, arose and murdered many of
2026the settlers, afterward fleeing into the country of the Unkpapas
2027and appealing to them for help, urging that all Indians should make
2028common cause against the invader. This brought Sitting Bull face
2029to face with a question which was not yet fully matured in his own
2030mind; but having satisfied himself of the justice of their cause,
2031he joined forces with the renegades during the summer of 1863, and
2032from this time on he was an acknowledged leader.
2034In 1865 and 1866 he met the Canadian half-breed, Louis Riel,
2035instigator of two rebellions, who had come across the line for
2036safety; and in fact at this time he harbored a number of outlaws
2037and fugitives from justice. His conversations with these,
2038especially with the French mixed-bloods, who inflamed his
2039prejudices against the Americans, all had their influence in making
2040of the wily Sioux a determined enemy to the white man. While among
2041his own people he was always affable and genial, he became boastful
2042and domineering in his dealings with the hated race. He once
2043remarked that "if we wish to make any impression upon the pale-face,
2044it is necessary to put on his mask."
2046Sitting Bull joined in the attack on Fort Phil Kearny and in
2047the subsequent hostilities; but he accepted in good faith the
2048treaty of 1868, and soon after it was signed he visited Washington
2049with Red Cloud and Spotted Tail, on which occasion the three
2050distinguished chiefs attracted much attention and were entertained
2051at dinner by President Grant and other notables. He considered
2052that the life of the white man as he saw it was no life for his
2053people, but hoped by close adherence to the terms of this treaty to
2054preserve the Big Horn and Black Hills country for a permanent
2055hunting ground. When gold was discovered and the irrepressible
2056gold seekers made their historic dash across the plains into this
2057forbidden paradise, then his faith in the white man's honor was
2058gone forever, and he took his final and most persistent stand in
2059defense of his nation and home. His bitter and at the same time
2060well-grounded and philosophical dislike of the conquering race is
2061well expressed in a speech made before the purely Indian council
2062before referred to, upon the Powder River. I will give it in brief
2063as it has been several times repeated to me by men who were
2066"Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly
2067received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results
2068of their love! Every seed is awakened, and all animal life. It is
2069through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we
2070therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the
2071same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.
2073"Yet hear me, friends! we have now to deal with another
2074people, small and feeble when our forefathers first met with them,
2075but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough, they have a mind
2076to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them.
2077These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the
2078poor may not! They have a religion in which the poor worship, but
2079the rich will not! They even take tithes of the poor and weak to
2080support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of
2081ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away
2082from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.
2083They compel her to produce out of season, and when sterile she is
2084made to take medicine in order to produce again. All this is
2087"This nation is like a spring freshet; it overruns its banks
2088and destroys all who are in its path. We cannot dwell side by
2089side. Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were
2090assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now
2091they threaten to take that from us also. My brothers, shall we
2092submit? or shall we say to them: 'First kill me, before you can
2093take possession of my fatherland!'"
2095As Sitting Bull spoke, so he felt, and he had the courage to
2096stand by his words. Crazy Horse led his forces in the field; as
2097for him, he applied his energies to state affairs, and by his
2098strong and aggressive personality contributed much to holding the
2101It may be said without fear of contradiction that Sitting Bull
2102never killed any women or children. He was a fair fighter, and
2103while not prominent in battle after his young manhood, he was the
2104brains of the Sioux resistance. He has been called a "medicine
2105man" and a "dreamer." Strictly speaking, he was neither of these,
2106and the white historians are prone to confuse the two. A medicine
2107man is a doctor or healer; a dreamer is an active war prophet who
2108leads his war party according to his dream or prophecy. What is
2109called by whites "making medicine" in war time is again a wrong
2110conception. Every warrior carries a bag of sacred or lucky charms,
2111supposed to protect the wearer alone, but it has nothing to do with
2112the success or safety of the party as a whole. No one can make any
2113"medicine" to affect the result of a battle, although it has been
2114said that Sitting Bull did this at the battle of the Little Big
2117When Custer and Reno attacked the camp at both ends, the chief
2118was caught napping. The village was in danger of surprise, and the
2119women and children must be placed in safety. Like other men of his
2120age, Sitting Bull got his family together for flight, and then
2121joined the warriors on the Reno side of the attack. Thus he was
2122not in the famous charge against Custer; nevertheless, his voice
2123was heard exhorting the warriors throughout that day.
2125During the autumn of 1876, after the fall of Custer, Sitting
2126Bull was hunted all through the Yellowstone region by the military.
2127The following characteristic letter, doubtless written at his
2128dictation by a half-breed interpreter, was sent to Colonel Otis
2129immediately after a daring attack upon his wagon train.
2131"I want to know what you are doing, traveling on this road.
2132You scare all the buffalo away. I want to hunt in this place. I
2133want you to turn back from here. If you don't, I will fight you
2134again. I want you to leave what you have got here and turn back
2139 I am your friend
2145 Sitting Bull.
2146I mean all the rations you have got and some powder. Wish you
2147would write me as soon as you can."
2149Otis, however, kept on and joined Colonel Miles, who followed
2150Sitting Bull with about four hundred soldiers. He overtook him at
2151last on Cedar Creek, near the Yellowstone, and the two met midway
2152between the lines for a parley. The army report says: "Sitting
2153Bull wanted peace in his own way." The truth was that he wanted
2154nothing more than had been guaranteed to them by the treaty of 1868
2155-- the exclusive possession of their last hunting ground. This the
2156government was not now prepared to grant, as it had been decided to
2157place all the Indians under military control upon the various
2160Since it was impossible to reconcile two such conflicting
2161demands, the hostiles were driven about from pillar to post for
2162several more years, and finally took refuge across the line in
2163Canada, where Sitting Bull had placed his last hope of justice and
2164freedom for his race. Here he was joined from time to time by
2165parties of malcontents from the reservation, driven largely by
2166starvation and ill-treatment to seek another home. Here, too, they
2167were followed by United States commissioners, headed by General
2168Terry, who endeavored to persuade him to return, promising
2169abundance of food and fair treatment, despite the fact that the
2170exiles were well aware of the miserable condition of the "good
2171Indians" upon the reservations. He first refused to meet them at
2172all, and only did so when advised to that effect by Major Walsh of
2173the Canadian mounted police. This was his characteristic remark:
2174"If you have one honest man in Washington, send him here and I will
2175talk to him."
2177Sitting Bull was not moved by fair words; but when he found
2178that if they had liberty on that side, they had little else, that
2179the Canadian government would give them protection but no food;
2180that the buffalo had been all but exterminated and his starving
2181people were already beginning to desert him, he was compelled at
2182last, in 1881, to report at Fort Buford, North Dakota, with his
2183band of hungry, homeless, and discouraged refugees. It was, after
2184all, to hunger and not to the strong arm of the military that he
2185surrendered in the end.
2187In spite of the invitation that had been extended to him in
2188the name of the "Great Father" at Washington, he was immediately
2189thrown into a military prison, and afterward handed over to Colonel
2190Cody ("Buffalo Bill") as an advertisement for his "Wild West Show."
2191After traveling about for several years with the famous showman,
2192thus increasing his knowledge of the weaknesses as well as the
2193strength of the white man, the deposed and humiliated chief settled
2194down quietly with his people upon the Standing Rock agency in North
2195Dakota, where his immediate band occupied the Grand River district
2196and set to raising cattle and horses. They made good progress;
2197much better, in fact, than that of the "coffee-coolers" or "loafer"
2198Indians, received the missionaries kindly and were soon a
2201When the Commissions of 1888 and 1889 came to treat with the
2202Sioux for a further cession of land and a reduction of their
2203reservations, nearly all were opposed to consent on any terms.
2204Nevertheless, by hook or by crook, enough signatures were finally
2205obtained to carry the measure through, although it is said that
2206many were those of women and the so-called "squaw-men", who had no
2207rights in the land. At the same time, rations were cut down, and
2208there was general hardship and dissatisfaction. Crazy Horse was
2209long since dead; Spotted Tail had fallen at the hands of one of his
2210own tribe; Red Cloud had become a feeble old man, and the
2211disaffected among the Sioux began once more to look to Sitting Bull
2214At this crisis a strange thing happened. A half-breed Indian
2215in Nevada promulgated the news that the Messiah had appeared to him
2216upon a peak in the Rockies, dressed in rabbit skins, and bringing
2217a message to the red race. The message was to the effect that
2218since his first coming had been in vain, since the white people had
2219doubted and reviled him, had nailed him to the cross, and trampled
2220upon his doctrines, he had come again in pity to save the Indian.
2221He declared that he would cause the earth to shake and to overthrow
2222the cities of the whites and destroy them, that the buffalo would
2223return, and the land belong to the red race forever! These events
2224were to come to pass within two years; and meanwhile they were to
2225prepare for his coming by the ceremonies and dances which he
2228This curious story spread like wildfire and met with eager
2229acceptance among the suffering and discontented people. The
2230teachings of Christian missionaries had prepared them to believe in
2231a Messiah, and the prescribed ceremonial was much more in accord
2232with their traditions than the conventional worship of the
2233churches. Chiefs of many tribes sent delegations to the Indian
2234prophet; Short Bull, Kicking Bear, and others went from among the
2235Sioux, and on their return all inaugurated the dances at once.
2236There was an attempt at first to keep the matter secret, but it
2237soon became generally known and seriously disconcerted the Indian
2238agents and others, who were quick to suspect a hostile conspiracy
2239under all this religious enthusiasm. As a matter of fact, there
2240was no thought of an uprising; the dancing was innocent enough, and
2241pathetic enough their despairing hope in a pitiful Saviour who
2242should overwhelm their oppressors and bring back their golden age.
2244When the Indians refused to give up the "Ghost Dance" at the
2245bidding of the authorities, the growing suspicion and alarm focused
2246upon Sitting Bull, who in spirit had never been any too submissive,
2247and it was determined to order his arrest. At the special request
2248of Major McLaughlin, agent at Standing Rock, forty of his Indian
2249police were sent out to Sitting Bull's home on Grand River to
2250secure his person (followed at some little distance by a body of
2251United States troops for reinforcement, in case of trouble). These
2252police are enlisted from among the tribesmen at each agency, and
2253have proved uniformly brave and faithful. They entered the cabin
2254at daybreak, aroused the chief from a sound slumber, helped him to
2255dress, and led him unresisting from the house; but when he came out
2256in the gray dawn of that December morning in 1890, to find his
2257cabin surrounded by armed men and himself led away to he knew not
2258what fate, he cried out loudly:
2260"They have taken me: what say you to it?"
2262Men poured out of the neighboring houses, and in a few minutes
2263the police were themselves surrounded with an excited and rapidly
2264increasing throng. They harangued the crowd in vain; Sitting
2265Bull's blood was up, and he again appealed to his men. His adopted
2266brother, the Assiniboine captive whose life he had saved so many
2267years before, was the first to fire. His shot killed Lieutenant
2268Bull Head, who held Sitting Bull by the arm. Then there was a
2269short but sharp conflict, in which Sitting Bull and six of his
2270defenders and six of the Indian police were slain, with many more
2271wounded. The chief's young son, Crow Foot, and his devoted
2272"brother" died with him. When all was over, and the terrified
2273people had fled precipitately across the river, the soldiers
2274appeared upon the brow of the long hill and fired their Hotchkiss
2275guns into the deserted camp.
2277Thus ended the life of a natural strategist of no mean courage
2278and ability. The great chief was buried without honors outside the
2279cemetery at the post, and for some years the grave was marked by a
2280mere board at its head. Recently some women have built a cairn of
2281rocks there in token of respect and remembrance.
2289The noted Sioux warrior, Rain-in-the-Face, whose name once carried
2290terror to every part of the frontier, died at his home on the
2291Standing Rock reserve in North Dakota on September 14, 1905. About
2292two months before his death I went to see him for the last time,
2293where he lay upon the bed of sickness from which he never rose
2294again, and drew from him his life-history.
2296It had been my experience that you cannot induce an Indian to
2297tell a story, or even his own name, by asking him directly.
2299"Friend," I said, "even if a man is on a hot trail, he stops
2300for a smoke! In the good old days, before the charge there was a
2301smoke. At home, by the fireside, when the old men were asked to
2302tell their brave deeds, again the pipe was passed. So come, let us
2303smoke now to the memory of the old days!"
2305He took of my tobacco and filled his long pipe, and we smoked.
2306Then I told an old mirthful story to get him in the humor of
2307relating his own history.
2309The old man lay upon an iron bedstead, covered by a red
2310blanket, in a corner of the little log cabin. He was all alone
2311that day; only an old dog lay silent and watchful at his master's
2314Finally he looked up and said with a pleasant smile:
2316"True, friend; it is the old custom to retrace one's trail
2317before leaving it forever! I know that I am at the door of the
2320"I was born near the forks of the Cheyenne River, about
2321seventy years ago. My father was not a chief; my grandfather was
2322not a chief, but a good hunter and a feast-maker. On my mother's
2323side I had some noted ancestors, but they left me no chieftainship.
2324I had to work for my reputation.
2326"When I was a boy, I loved to fight," he continued. "In all
2327our boyish games I had the name of being hard to handle, and I took
2328much pride in the fact.
2330"I was about ten years old when we encountered a band of
2331Cheyennes. They were on friendly terms with us, but we boys
2332always indulged in sham fights on such occasions, and this time I
2333got in an honest fight with a Cheyenne boy older than I. I got the
2334best of the boy, but he hit me hard in the face several times, and
2335my face was all spattered with blood and streaked where the paint
2336had been washed away. The Sioux boys whooped and yelled:
2338"'His enemy is down, and his face is spattered as if with
2339rain! Rain-in-the-Face! His name shall be Rain-in-the-Face!'
2341"Afterwards, when I was a young man, we went on a warpath
2342against the Gros Ventres. We stole some of their horses, but were
2343overtaken and had to abandon the horses and fight for our lives.
2344I had wished my face to represent the sun when partly covered with
2345darkness, so I painted it half black, half red. We fought all day
2346in the rain, and my face was partly washed and streaked with red
2347and black: so again I was christened Rain-in-the-Face. We
2348considered it an honorable name.
2350"I had been on many warpaths, but was not especially
2351successful until about the time the Sioux began to fight with the
2352white man. One of the most daring attacks that we ever made was at
2353Fort Totten, North Dakota, in the summer of 1866.
2355"Hohay, the Assiniboine captive of Sitting Bull, was the
2356leader in this raid. Wapaypay, the Fearless Bear, who was
2357afterward hanged at Yankton, was the bravest man among us. He
2358dared Hohay to make the charge. Hohay accepted the challenge, and
2359in turn dared the other to ride with him through the agency and
2360right under the walls of the fort, which was well garrisoned and
2363"Wapaypay and I in those days called each other
2364'brother-friend.' It was a life-and-death vow. What one does the
2365other must do; and that meant that I must be in the forefront of
2366the charge, and if he is killed, I must fight until I die also!
2368"I prepared for death. I painted as usual like an eclipse of
2369the sun, half black and half red."
2371His eyes gleamed and his face lighted up remarkably as he
2372talked, pushing his black hair back from his forehead with a
2375"Now the signal for the charge was given! I started even with
2376Wapaypay, but his horse was faster than mine, so he left me a
2377little behind as we neared the fort. This was bad for me, for by
2378that time the soldiers had somewhat recovered from the surprise
2379and were aiming better.
2381"Their big gun talked very loud, but my Wapaypay was leading
2382on, leaning forward on his fleet pony like a flying squirrel on a
2383smooth log! He held his rawhide shield on the right side, a little
2384to the front, and so did I. Our warwhoop was like the coyotes
2385singing in the evening, when they smell blood!
2387"The soldiers' guns talked fast, but few were hurt. Their big
2388gun was like a toothless old dog, who only makes himself hotter the
2389more noise he makes," he remarked with some humor.
2391"How much harm we did I do not know, but we made things lively
2392for a time; and the white men acted as people do when a swarm of
2393angry bees get into camp. We made a successful retreat, but some
2394of the reservation Indians followed us yelling, until Hohay told
2395them that he did not wish to fight with the captives of the white
2396man, for there would be no honor in that. There was blood running
2397down my leg, and I found that both my horse and I were slightly
2400"Some two years later we attacked a fort west of the Black
2401Hills [Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming]. It was there we killed one
2402hundred soldiers." [The military reports say eighty men, under the
2403command of Captain Fetterman -- not one left alive to tell the
2404tale!] "Nearly every band of the Sioux nation was represented in
2405that fight -- Red Cloud, Spotted Tail, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull,
2406Big Foot, and all our great chiefs were there. Of course such men
2407as I were then comparatively unknown. However, there were many
2408noted young warriors, among them Sword, the younger
2409Young-Man-Afraid, American Horse [afterward chief], Crow King, and
2412"This was the plan decided upon after many councils. The main
2413war party lay in ambush, and a few of the bravest young men were
2414appointed to attack the woodchoppers who were cutting logs to
2415complete the building of the fort. We were told not to kill these
2416men, but to chase them into the fort and retreat slowly, defying
2417the white men; and if the soldiers should follow, we were to lead
2418them into the ambush. They took our bait exactly as we had hoped!
2419It was a matter of a very few minutes, for every soldier lay dead
2420in a shorter time than it takes to annihilate a small herd of
2423"This attack was hastened because most of the Sioux on the
2424Missouri River and eastward had begun to talk of suing for peace.
2425But even this did not stop the peace movement. The very next year
2426a treaty was signed at Fort Rice, Dakota Territory, by nearly all
2427the Sioux chiefs, in which it was agreed on the part of the Great
2428Father in Washington that all the country north of the Republican
2429River in Nebraska, including the Black Hills and the Big Horn
2430Mountains, was to be always Sioux country, and no white man should
2431intrude upon it without our permission. Even with this agreement
2432Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse were not satisfied, and they would not
2435"Up to this time I had fought in some important battles, but
2436had achieved no great deed. I was ambitious to make a name for
2437myself. I joined war parties against the Crows, Mandans, Gros
2438Ventres, and Pawnees, and gained some little distinction.
2440"It was when the white men found the yellow metal in our
2441country, and came in great numbers, driving away our game, that
2442we took up arms against them for the last time. I must say here
2443that the chiefs who were loudest for war were among the first to
2444submit and accept reservation life. Spotted Tail was a great
2445warrior, yet he was one of the first to yield, because he was
2446promised by the Chief Soldiers that they would make him chief of
2447all the Sioux. Ugh! he would have stayed with Sitting Bull to the
2448last had it not been for his ambition.
2450"About this time we young warriors began to watch the trails
2451of the white men into the Black Hills, and when we saw a wagon
2452coming we would hide at the crossing and kill them all without much
2453trouble. We did this to discourage the whites from coming into our
2454country without our permission. It was the duty of our Great
2455Father at Washington, by the agreement of 1868, to keep his white
2458"During the troublesome time after this treaty, which no one
2459seemed to respect, either white or Indian [but the whites broke it
2460first], I was like many other young men -- much on the warpath, but
2461with little honor. I had not yet become noted for any great deed.
2462Finally, Wapaypay and I waylaid and killed a white soldier on his
2463way from the fort to his home in the east.
2465"There were a few Indians who were liars, and never on the
2466warpath, playing 'good Indian' with the Indian agents and the war
2467chiefs at the forts. Some of this faithless set betrayed me, and
2468told more than I ever did. I was seized and taken to the fort near
2469Bismarck, North Dakota [Fort Abraham Lincoln], by a brother [Tom
2470Custer] of the Long-Haired War Chief, and imprisoned there. These
2471same lying Indians, who were selling their services as scouts to
2472the white man, told me that I was to be shot to death, or else
2473hanged upon a tree. I answered that I was not afraid to die.
2475"However, there was an old soldier who used to bring my food
2476and stand guard over me -- he was a white man, it is true, but he
2477had an Indian heart! He came to me one day and unfastened the iron
2478chain and ball with which they had locked my leg, saying by signs
2479and what little Sioux he could muster:
2481"'Go, friend! take the chain and ball with you. I shall
2482shoot, but the voice of the gun will lie.'
2484"When he had made me understand, you may guess that I ran my
2485best! I was almost over the bank when he fired his piece at me
2486several times, but I had already gained cover and was safe. I have
2487never told this before, and would not, lest it should do him an
2488injury, but he was an old man then, and I am sure he must be dead
2489long since. That old soldier taught me that some of the white
2490people have hearts," he added, quite seriously.
2492"I went back to Standing Rock in the night, and I had to hide
2493for several days in the woods, where food was brought to me by my
2494relatives. The Indian police were ordered to retake me, and they
2495pretended to hunt for me, but really they did not, for if they had
2496found me I would have died with one or two of them, and they knew
2497it! In a few days I departed with several others, and we rejoined
2498the hostile camp on the Powder River and made some trouble for the
2499men who were building the great iron track north of us [Northern
2502"In the spring the hostile Sioux got together again upon the
2503Tongue River. It was one of the greatest camps of the Sioux that
2504I ever saw. There were some Northern Cheyennes with us, under Two
2505Moon, and a few Santee Sioux, renegades from Canada, under
2506Inkpaduta, who had killed white people in Iowa long before. We had
2507decided to fight the white soldiers until no warrior should be
2510At this point Rain-in-the-Face took up his tobacco pouch and
2511began again to fill his pipe.
2513"Of course the younger warriors were delighted with the
2514prospect of a great fight! Our scouts had discovered piles of oats
2515for horses and other supplies near the Missouri River. They had
2516been brought by the white man's fire-boats. Presently they
2517reported a great army about a day's travel to the south, with
2518Shoshone and Crow scouts.
2520"There was excitement among the people, and a great council
2521was held. Many spoke. I was asked the condition of those Indians
2522who had gone upon the reservation, and I told them truly that they
2523were nothing more than prisoners. It was decided to go out and
2524meet Three Stars [General Crook] at a safe distance from our camp.
2526"We met him on the Little Rosebud. I believe that if we had
2527waited and allowed him to make the attack, he would have fared no
2528better than Custer. He was too strongly fortified where he was,
2529and I think, too, that he was saved partly by his Indian allies,
2530for the scouts discovered us first and fought us first, thus giving
2531him time to make his preparations. I think he was more wise than
2532brave! After we had left that neighborhood he might have pushed on
2533and connected with the Long-Haired Chief. That would have saved
2534Custer and perhaps won the day.
2536"When we crossed from Tongue River to the Little Big Horn, on
2537account of the scarcity of game, we did not anticipate any more
2538trouble. Our runners had discovered that Crook had retraced his
2539trail to Goose Creek, and we did not suppose that the white men
2540would care to follow us farther into the rough country.
2542"Suddenly the Long-Haired Chief appeared with his men! It was
2545"What part of the camp were you in when the soldiers attacked
2546the lower end?" I asked.
2548"I had been invited to a feast at one of the young men's
2549lodges [a sort of club]. There was a certain warrior who was
2550making preparations to go against the Crows, and I had decided to
2551go also," he said.
2553"While I was eating my meat we heard the war cry! We all
2554rushed out, and saw a warrior riding at top speed from the lower
2555camp, giving the warning as he came. Then we heard the reports of
2556the soldiers' guns, which sounded differently from the guns fired
2557by our people in battle.
2559"I ran to my teepee and seized my gun, a bow, and a quiver
2560full of arrows. I already had my stone war club, for you know we
2561usually carry those by way of ornament. Just as I was about to set
2562out to meet Reno, a body of soldiers appeared nearly opposite us,
2563at the edge of a long line of cliffs across the river.
2565"All of us who were mounted and ready immediately started down
2566the stream toward the ford. There were Ogallalas, Minneconjous,
2567Cheyennes, and some Unkpapas, and those around me seemed to be
2568nearly all very young men.
2570"'Behold, there is among us a young woman!' I shouted. 'Let
2571no young man hide behind her garment!' I knew that would make
2572those young men brave.
2574"The woman was Tashenamani, or Moving Robe, whose brother had
2575just been killed in the fight with Three Stars. Holding her
2576brother's war staff over her head, and leaning forward upon her
2577charger, she looked as pretty as a bird. Always when there is a
2578woman in the charge, it causes the warriors to vie with one another
2579in displaying their valor," he added.
2581"The foremost warriors had almost surrounded the white men,
2582and more were continually crossing the stream. The soldiers had
2583dismounted, and were firing into the camp from the top of the
2586"My friend, was Sitting Bull in this fight?" I inquired.
2588"I did not see him there, but I learned afterward that he was
2589among those who met Reno, and that was three or four of the white
2590man's miles from Custer's position. Later he joined the attack
2591upon Custer, but was not among the foremost.
2593"When the troops were surrounded on two sides, with the river
2594on the third, the order came to charge! There were many very young
2595men, some of whom had only a war staff or a stone war club in hand,
2596who plunged into the column, knocking the men over and stampeding
2599"The soldiers had mounted and started back, but when the onset
2600came they dismounted again and separated into several divisions,
2601facing different ways. They fired as fast as they could load their
2602guns, while we used chiefly arrows and war clubs. There seemed to
2603be two distinct movements among the Indians. One body moved
2604continually in a circle, while the other rode directly into and
2605through the troops.
2607"Presently some of the soldiers remounted and fled along the
2608ridge toward Reno's position; but they were followed by our
2609warriors, like hundreds of blackbirds after a hawk. A larger body
2610remained together at the upper end of a little ravine, and fought
2611bravely until they were cut to pieces. I had always thought that
2612white men were cowards, but I had a great respect for them after
2615"It is generally said that a young man with nothing but a war
2616staff in his hand broke through the column and knocked down the
2617leader very early in the fight. We supposed him to be the leader,
2618because he stood up in full view, swinging his big knife [sword]
2619over his head, and talking loud. Some one unknown afterwards shot
2620the chief, and he was probably killed also; for if not, he would
2621have told of the deed, and called others to witness it. So it is
2622that no one knows who killed the Long-Haired Chief [General
2625"After the first rush was over, coups were counted as usual on
2626the bodies of the slain. You know four coups [or blows] can be
2627counted on the body of an enemy, and whoever counts the first one
2628[touches it for the first time] is entitled to the 'first feather.'
2630"There was an Indian here called Appearing Elk, who died a
2631short time ago. He was slightly wounded in the charge. He had
2632some of the weapons of the Long-Haired Chief, and the Indians used
2633to say jokingly after we came upon the reservation that Appearing
2634Elk must have killed the Chief, because he had his sword! However,
2635the scramble for plunder did not begin until all were dead. I do
2636not think he killed Custer, and if he had, the time to claim the
2637honor was immediately after the fight.
2639"Many lies have been told of me. Some say that I killed the
2640Chief, and others that I cut out the heart of his brother [Tom
2641Custer], because he had caused me to be imprisoned. Why, in that
2642fight the excitement was so great that we scarcely recognized our
2643nearest friends! Everything was done like lightning. After the
2644battle we young men were chasing horses all over the prairie, while
2645the old men and women plundered the bodies; and if any mutilating
2646was done, it was by the old men.
2648"I have lived peaceably ever since we came upon the
2649reservation. No one can say that Rain-in-the-Face has broken the
2650rules of the Great Father. I fought for my people and my country.
2651When we were conquered I remained silent, as a warrior should.
2652Rain-in-the-Face was killed when he put down his weapons before the
2653Great Father. His spirit was gone then; only his poor body lived
2654on, but now it is almost ready to lie down for the last time. Ho,
2655hechetu! [It is well.]"
2663It is a pity that so many interesting names of well-known Indians
2664have been mistranslated, so that their meaning becomes very vague
2665if it is not wholly lost. In some cases an opposite meaning is
2666conveyed. For instance there is the name, "Young-Man-Afraid-of-
2667His-Horses." It does not mean that the owner of the name is afraid
2668of his own horse -- far from it! Tashunkekokipapi signifies "The
2669young men [of the enemy] fear his horses." Whenever that man
2670attacks, the enemy knows there will be a determined charge.
2672The name Tashunkewitko, or Crazy Horse, is a poetic simile.
2673This leader was likened to an untrained or untouched horse, wild,
2674ignorant of domestic uses, splendid in action, and unconscious of
2677The name of Two Strike is a deed name. In a battle with the
2678Utes this man knocked two enemies from the back of a war horse.
2679The true rendering of the name Nomkahpa would be, "He knocked off
2682I was well acquainted with Two Strike and spent many pleasant
2683hours with him, both at Washington, D. C., and in his home on the
2684Rosebud reservation. What I have written is not all taken from his
2685own mouth, because he was modest in talking about himself, but I
2686had him vouch for the truth of the stories. He said that he was
2687born near the Republican River about 1832. His earliest
2688recollection was of an attack by the Shoshones upon their camp on
2689the Little Piney. The first white men he ever met were traders who
2690visited his people when he was very young. The incident was still
2691vividly with him, because, he said, "They made my father crazy,"
2692[drunk]. This made a deep impression upon him, he told me, so that
2693from that day he was always afraid of the white man's "mysterious
2696Two Strike was not a large man, but he was very supple and
2697alert in motion, as agile as an antelope. His face was mobile and
2698intelligent. Although he had the usual somber visage of an Indian,
2699his expression brightened up wonderfully when he talked. In some
2700ways wily and shrewd in intellect, he was not deceitful nor mean.
2701He had a high sense of duty and honor. Patriotism was his ideal
2702and goal of life.
2704As a young man he was modest and even shy, although both his
2705father and grandfather were well-known chiefs. I could find few
2706noteworthy incidents in his early life, save that he was an expert
2707rider of wild horses. At one time I was pressing him to give me
2708some interesting incident of his boyhood. He replied to the effect
2709that there was plenty of excitement but "not much in it." There
2710was a delegation of Sioux chiefs visiting Washington, and we were
2711spending an evening together in their hotel. Hollow Horn Bear
2712spoke up and said:
2714"Why don't you tell him how you and a buffalo cow together
2715held your poor father up and froze him almost to death?"
2717Everybody laughed, and another man remarked: "I think he had
2718better tell the medicine man (meaning myself) how he lost the power
2719of speech when he first tried to court a girl." Two Strike,
2720although he was then close to eighty years of age, was visibly
2721embarrassed by their chaff.
2723"Anyway, I stuck to the trail. I kept on till I got what I
2724wanted," he muttered. And then came the story.
2726The old chief, his father, was very fond of the buffalo hunt;
2727and being accomplished in horsemanship and a fine shot, although
2728not very powerfully built, young Two Strike was already following
2729hard in his footsteps. Like every proud father, his was giving him
2730every incentive to perfect his skill, and one day challenged his
2731sixteen-year-old son to the feat of "one arrow to kill" at the very
2734It was midwinter. A large herd of buffalo was reported by the
2735game scout. The hunters gathered at daybreak prepared for the
2736charge. The old chief had his tried charger equipped with a soft,
2737pillow-like Indian saddle and a lariat. His old sinew-backed
2738hickory bow was examined and strung, and a fine straight arrow with
2739a steel head carefully selected for the test. He adjusted a keen
2740butcher knife over his leather belt, which held a warm buffalo robe
2741securely about his body. He wore neither shirt nor coat, although
2742a piercing wind was blowing from the northwest. The youthful Two
2743Strike had his favorite bow and his swift pony, which was perhaps
2744dearer to him than his closest boy comrade.
2746Now the hunters crouched upon their horses' necks like an army
2747in line of battle, while behind them waited the boys and old men
2748with pack ponies to carry the meat. "Hukahey!" shouted the leader
2749as a warning. "Yekiya wo!" (Go) and in an instant all the ponies
2750leaped forward against the cutting wind, as if it were the start in
2751a horse race. Every rider leaned forward, tightly wrapped in his
2752robe, watching the flying herd for an opening in the mass of
2753buffalo, a chance to cut out some of the fattest cows. This was
2754the object of the race.
2756The chief had a fair start; his horse was well trained and
2757needed no urging nor guidance. Without the slightest pull on the
2758lariat he dashed into the thickest of the herd. The youth's pony
2759had been prancing and rearing impatiently; he started a little
2760behind, yet being swift passed many. His rider had one clear
2761glimpse of his father ahead of him, then the snow arose in blinding
2762clouds on the trail of the bison. The whoops of the hunters, the
2763lowing of the cows, and the menacing glances of the bulls as they
2764plunged along, or now and then stood at bay, were enough to unnerve
2765a boy less well tried. He was unable to select his victim. He had
2766been carried deeply into the midst of the herd and found himself
2767helpless to make the one sure shot, therefore he held his one arrow
2768in his mouth and merely strove to separate them so as to get his
2771At last the herd parted, and he cut out two fat cows, and was
2772maneuvering for position when a rider appeared out of the snow
2773cloud on their other side. This aroused him to make haste lest his
2774rival secure both cows; he saw his chance, and in a twinkling his
2775arrow sped clear through one of the animals so that she fell
2778In this instant he observed that the man who had joined him
2779was his own father, who had met with the same difficulties as
2780himself. When the young man had shot his only arrow, the old chief
2781with a whoop went after the cow that was left, but as he gained her
2782broadside, his horse stepped in a badger hole and fell, throwing
2783him headlong. The maddened buffalo, as sometimes happens in such
2784cases, turned upon the pony and gored him to death. His rider lay
2785motionless, while Two Strike rushed forward to draw her attention,
2786but she merely tossed her head at him, while persistently standing
2787guard over the dead horse and the all but frozen Indian.
2789Alas for the game of "one arrow to kill!" The boy must think
2790fast, for his father's robe had slipped off, and he was playing
2791dead, lying almost naked in the bitter air upon the trampled snow.
2792His bluff would not serve, so he flew back to pull out his solitary
2793arrow from the body of the dead cow. Quickly wheeling again, he
2794sent it into her side and she fell. The one arrow to kill had
2795become one arrow to kill two buffalo! At the council lodge that
2796evening Two Strike was the hero.
2798The following story is equally characteristic of him, and in
2799explanation it should be said that in the good old days among the
2800Sioux, a young man is not supposed to associate with girls until he
2801is ready to take a wife. It was a rule with our young men,
2802especially the honorable and well-born, to gain some reputation in
2803the hunt and in war, -- the more difficult the feats achieved the
2804better, -- before even speaking to a young woman. Many a life was
2805risked in the effort to establish a reputation along these lines.
2806Courtship was no secret, but rather a social event, often
2807celebrated by the proud parents with feasts and presents to the
2808poor, and this etiquette was sometimes felt by a shy or sensitive
2809youth as an insurmountable obstacle to the fulfilment of his
2812Two Strike was the son and grandson of a chief, but he could
2813not claim any credit for the deeds of his forbears. He had not
2814only to guard their good name but achieve one for himself. This he
2815had set out to do, and he did well. He was now of marriageable age
2816with a war record, and admitted to the council, yet he did not seem
2817to trouble himself at all about a wife. His was strictly a
2818bachelor career. Meanwhile, as is apt to be the case, his parents
2819had thought much about a possible daughter-in-law, and had even
2820collected ponies, fine robes, and other acceptable goods to be
2821given away in honor of the event, whenever it should take place.
2822Now and then they would drop a sly hint, but with no perceptible
2825They did not and could not know of the inward struggle that
2826racked his mind at this period of his life. The shy and modest
2827young man was dying for a wife, yet could not bear even to think of
2828speaking to a young woman! The fearless hunter of buffaloes,
2829mountain lions, and grizzlies, the youth who had won his eagle
2830feathers in a battle with the Utes, could not bring himself to take
2831this tremendous step.
2833At last his father appealed to him directly. "My son," he
2834declared, "it is your duty to take unto yourself a wife, in order
2835that the honors won by your ancestors and by yourself may be handed
2836down in the direct line. There are several eligible young women in
2837our band whose parents have intimated a wish to have you for their
2840Two Strike made no reply, but he was greatly disturbed. He
2841had no wish to have the old folks select his bride, for if the
2842truth were told, his choice was already made. He had simply lacked
2843the courage to go a-courting!
2845The next morning, after making an unusually careful toilet, he
2846took his best horse and rode to a point overlooking the path by
2847which the girls went for water. Here the young men were wont to
2848take their stand, and, if fortunate, intercept the girl of their
2849heart for a brief but fateful interview. Two Strike had determined
2850to speak straight to the point, and as soon as he saw the pretty
2851maid he came forward boldly and placed himself in her way. A long
2852moment passed. She glanced up at him shyly but not without
2853encouragement. His teeth fairly chattered with fright, and he
2854could not say a word. She looked again, noted his strange looks,
2855and believed him suddenly taken ill. He appeared to be suffering.
2856At last he feebly made signs for her to go on and leave him alone.
2857The maiden was sympathetic, but as she did not know what else to do
2858she obeyed his request.
2860The poor youth was so ashamed of his cowardice that he
2861afterward admitted his first thought was to take his own life. He
2862believed he had disgraced himself forever in the eyes of the only
2863girl he had ever loved. However, he determined to conquer his
2864weakness and win her, which he did. The story came out many years
2865after and was told with much enjoyment by the old men.
2867Two Strike was better known by his own people than by the
2868whites, for he was individually a terror in battle rather than a
2869leader. He achieved his honorable name in a skirmish with the Utes
2870in Colorado. The Sioux regarded these people as their bravest
2871enemies, and the outcome of the fight was for some time uncertain.
2872First the Sioux were forced to retreat and then their opponents,
2873and at the latter point the horse of a certain Ute was shot under
2874him. A friend came to his rescue and took him up behind him. Our
2875hero overtook them in flight, raised his war club, and knocked both
2876men off with one blow.
2878He was a very old man when he died, only two or three years
2879ago, on the Rosebud reservation.
2887One of the wittiest and shrewdest of the Sioux chiefs was American
2888Horse, who succeeded to the name and position of an uncle, killed
2889in the battle of Slim Buttes in 1876. The younger American Horse
2890was born a little before the encroachments of the whites upon the
2891Sioux country became serious and their methods aggressive, and his
2892early manhood brought him into that most trying and critical period
2893of our history. He had been tutored by his uncle, since his own
2894father was killed in battle while he was still very young. The
2895American Horse band was closely attached to a trading post, and its
2896members in consequence were inclined to be friendly with the
2897whites, a policy closely adhered to by their leader.
2899When he was born, his old grandfather said: "Put him out in
2900the sun! Let him ask his great-grandfather, the Sun, for the warm
2901blood of a warrior!" And he had warm blood. He was a genial man,
2902liking notoriety and excitement. He always seized an opportunity
2903to leap into the center of the arena.
2905In early life he was a clownish sort of boy among the boys --
2906an expert mimic and impersonator. This talent made him popular and
2907in his way a leader. He was a natural actor, and early showed
2908marked ability as a speaker.
2910American Horse was about ten years old when he was attacked by
2911three Crow warriors, while driving a herd of ponies to water. Here
2912he displayed native cunning and initiative. It seemed he had
2913scarcely a chance to escape, for the enemy was near. He yelled
2914frantically at the ponies to start them toward home, while he
2915dropped off into a thicket of willows and hid there. A part of the
2916herd was caught in sight of the camp and there was a counter chase,
2917but the Crows got away with the ponies. Of course his mother was
2918frantic, believing her boy had been killed or captured; but after
2919the excitement was over, he appeared in camp unhurt. When
2920questioned about his escape, he remarked: "I knew they would not
2921take the time to hunt for small game when there was so much bigger
2924When he was quite a big boy, he joined in a buffalo hunt, and
2925on the way back with the rest of the hunters his mule became
2926unmanageable. American Horse had insisted on riding him in
2927addition to a heavy load of meat and skins, and the animal
2928evidently resented this, for he suddenly began to run and kick,
2929scattering fresh meat along the road, to the merriment of the
2930crowd. But the boy turned actor, and made it appear that it was at
2931his wish the mule had given this diverting performance. He clung
2932to the back of his plunging and braying mount like a circus rider,
2933singing a Brave Heart song, and finally brought up amid the
2934laughter and cheers of his companions. Far from admitting defeat,
2935he boasted of his horsemanship and declared that his "brother" the
2936donkey would put any enemy to flight, and that they should be
2937called upon to lead a charge.
2939It was several years later that he went to sleep early one
2940night and slept soundly, having been scouting for two nights
2941previous. It happened that there was a raid by the Crows, and when
2942he awoke in the midst of the yelling and confusion, he sprang up
2943and attempted to join in the fighting. Everybody knew his voice in
2944all the din, so when he fired his gun and announced a coup, as was
2945the custom, others rushed to the spot, to find that he had shot a
2946hobbled pony belonging to their own camp. The laugh was on him,
2947and he never recovered from his chagrin at this mistake. In fact,
2948although he was undoubtedly fearless and tried hard to distinguish
2949himself in warfare, he did not succeed.
2951It is told of him that he once went with a war party of young
2952men to the Wind River country against the Shoshones. At last they
2953discovered a large camp, but there were only a dozen or so of the
2954Sioux, therefore they hid themselves and watched for their
2955opportunity to attack an isolated party of hunters. While waiting
2956thus, they ran short of food. One day a small party of Shoshones
2957was seen near at hand, and in the midst of the excitement and
2958preparations for the attack, young American Horse caught sight of
2959a fat black-tail deer close by. Unable to resist the temptation,
2960he pulled an arrow from his quiver and sent it through the deer's
2961heart, then with several of his half-starved companions sprang upon
2962the yet quivering body of the animal to cut out the liver, which
2963was sometimes eaten raw. One of the men was knocked down, it is
2964said, by the last kick of the dying buck, but having swallowed a
2965few mouthfuls the warriors rushed upon and routed their enemies.
2966It is still told of American Horse how he killed game and feasted
2967between the ambush and the attack.
2969At another time he was drying his sacred war bonnet and other
2970gear over a small fire. These articles were held in great
2971veneration by the Indians and handled accordingly. Suddenly the
2972fire blazed up, and our hero so far forgot himself as to begin
2973energetically beating out the flames with the war bonnet, breaking
2974off one of the sacred buffalo horns in the act. One could almost
2975fill a book with his mishaps and exploits. I will give one of them
2976in his own words as well as I can remember them.
2978"We were as promising a party of young warriors as our tribe
2979ever sent against any of its ancestral enemies. It was midsummer,
2980and after going two days' journey from home we began to send two
2981scouts ahead daily while the main body kept a half day behind. The
2982scouts set out every evening and traveled all night. One night the
2983great war pipe was held out to me and to Young-Man-Afraid-of-
2984His-Horses. At daybreak, having met no one, we hid our horses and
2985climbed to the top of the nearest butte to take an observation. It
2986was a very hot day. We lay flat on our blankets, facing the west
2987where the cliff fell off in a sheer descent, and with our backs
2988toward the more gradual slope dotted with scrub pines and cedars.
2989We stuck some tall grass on our heads and proceeded to study the
2990landscape spread before us for any sign of man.
2992"The sweeping valleys were dotted with herds, both large and
2993small, of buffalo and elk, and now and then we caught a glimpse of
2994a coyote slinking into the gulches, returning from night hunting to
2995sleep. While intently watching some moving body at a distance, we
2996could not yet tell whether of men or animals, I heard a faint noise
2997behind me and slowly turned my head. Behold! a grizzly bear
2998sneaking up on all fours and almost ready to spring!
3000"'Run!' I yelled into the ear of my companion, and we both
3001leaped to our feet in a second. 'Separate! separate!' he shouted,
3002and as we did so, the bear chose me for his meat. I ran downhill
3003as fast as I could, but he was gaining. 'Dodge around a tree!'
3004screamed Young-Man-Afraid. I took a deep breath and made a last
3005spurt, desperately circling the first tree I came to. As the
3006ground was steep just there, I turned a somersault one way and the
3007bear the other. I picked myself up in time to climb the tree, and
3008was fairly out of reach when he gathered himself together and came
3009at me more furiously than ever, holding in one paw the shreds of my
3010breechcloth, for in the fall he had just scratched my back and cut
3011my belt in two, and carried off my only garment for a trophy!
3013"My friend was well up another tree and laughing heartily at
3014my predicament, and when the bear saw that he could not get at
3015either of us he reluctantly departed, after I had politely
3016addressed him and promised to make an offering to his spirit on my
3017safe return. I don't think I ever had a narrower escape," he
3020During the troublous times from 1865 to 1877, American Horse
3021advocated yielding to the government at any cost, being no doubt
3022convinced of the uselessness of resistance. He was not a
3023recognized leader until 1876, when he took the name and place of
3024his uncle. Up to this time he bore the nickname of Manishnee (Can
3025not walk, or Played out.)
3027When the greater part of the Ogallalas, to which band he
3028belonged, came into the reservation, he at once allied himself with
3029the peace element at the Red Cloud agency, near Fort Robinson,
3030Nebraska, and took no small part in keeping the young braves quiet.
3031Since the older and better-known chiefs, with the exception of
3032Spotted Tail, were believed to be hostile at heart, the military
3033made much use of him. Many of his young men enlisted as scouts by
3034his advice, and even he himself entered the service.
3036In the early part of the year 1876, there was a rumor that
3037certain bands were in danger of breaking away. Their leader was
3038one Sioux Jim, so nicknamed by the soldiers. American Horse went
3039to him as peacemaker, but was told he was a woman and no brave. He
3040returned to his own camp and told his men that Sioux Jim meant
3041mischief, and in order to prevent another calamity to the tribe, he
3042must be chastised. He again approached the warlike Jim with
3043several warriors at his back. The recalcitrant came out, gun in
3044hand, but the wily chief was too quick for him. He shot and
3045wounded the rebel, whereupon one of his men came forward and killed
3048This quelled the people for the time being and up to the
3049killing of Crazy Horse. In the crisis precipitated by this event,
3050American Horse was again influential and energetic in the cause of
3051the government. From this time on he became an active participant
3052in the affairs of the Teton Sioux. He was noted for his eloquence,
3053which was nearly always conciliatory, yet he could say very sharp
3054things of the duplicity of the whites. He had much ease of manner
3055and was a master of repartee. I recall his saying that if you have
3056got to wear golden slippers to enter the white man's heaven no
3057Indian will ever get there, as the whites have got the Black Hills
3058and with them all the gold.
3060It was during the last struggle of his people, at the time of
3061the Messiah craze in 1890-1891 that he demonstrated as never before
3062the real greatness of the man. While many of his friends were
3063carried away by the new thought, he held aloof from it and
3064cautioned his band to do the same. When it developed into an
3065extensive upheaval among the nations he took his positive stand
3068Presently all Indians who did not dance the Ghost Dance were
3069ordered to come into camp at Pine Ridge agency. American Horse was
3070the first to bring in his people. I was there at the time and
3071talked with him daily. When Little was arrested, it had been
3072agreed among the disaffected to have him resist, which meant that
3073he would be roughly handled. This was to be their excuse to attack
3074the Indian police, which would probably lead to a general massacre
3075or outbreak. I know that this desperate move was opposed from the
3076beginning by American Horse, and it was believed that his life was
3079On the day of the "Big Issue", when thousands of Indians were
3080gathered at the agency, this man Little, who had been in hiding,
3081walked boldly among them. Of course the police would arrest him at
3082sight, and he was led toward the guardhouse. He struggled with
3083them, but was overpowered. A crowd of warriors rushed to his
3084rescue, and there was confusion and a general shout of "Hurry up
3085with them! Kill them all!" I saw American Horse walk out of the
3086agent's office and calmly face the excited mob.
3088"What are you going to do?" he asked. "Stop, men, stop and
3089think before you act! Will you murder your children, your women,
3090yes, destroy your nation to-day?" He stood before them like a
3091statue and the men who held the two policemen helpless paused for
3092an instant. He went on: "You are brave to-day because you
3093outnumber the white men, but what will you do to-morrow? There are
3094railroads on all sides of you. The soldiers will pour in from
3095every direction by thousands and surround you. You have little
3096food or ammunition. It will be the end of your people. Stop, I
3097say, stop now!"
3099Jack Red Cloud, son of the old chief rushed up to him and
3100thrust a revolver almost in his face. "It is you and men like
3101you," he shouted, "who have reduced our race to slavery and
3102starvation!" American Horse did not flinch but deliberately
3103reentered the office, followed by Jack still flourishing the
3104pistol. But his timely appearance and eloquence had saved the day.
3105Others of the police force had time to reach the spot, and with a
3106large crowd of friendly Indians had taken command of the situation.
3108When I went into the office I found him alone but apparently
3109quite calm. "Where are the agent and the clerks?" I asked. "They
3110fled by the back door," he replied, smiling. "I think they are in
3111the cellar. These fools outside had almost caught us asleep, but
3112I think it is over now."
3114American Horse was one of the earliest advocates of education
3115for the Indian, and his son Samuel and nephew Robert were among the
3116first students at Carlisle. I think one or two of his daughters
3117were the handsomest Indian girls of full blood that I ever saw.
3118His record as a councilor of his people and his policy in the new
3119situation that confronted them was manly and consistent.
3127The life of Dull Knife, the Cheyenne, is a true hero tale. Simple,
3128child-like yet manful, and devoid of selfish aims, or love of gain,
3129he is a pattern for heroes of any race.
3131Dull Knife was a chief of the old school. Among all the
3132Indians of the plains, nothing counts save proven worth. A man's
3133caliber is measured by his courage, unselfishness and intelligence.
3134Many writers confuse history with fiction, but in Indian history
3135their women and old men and even children witness the main events,
3136and not being absorbed in daily papers and magazines, these events
3137are rehearsed over and over with few variations. Though orally
3138preserved, their accounts are therefore accurate. But they have
3139seldom been willing to give reliable information to strangers,
3140especially when asked and paid for.
3142Racial prejudice naturally enters into the account of a man's
3143life by enemy writers, while one is likely to favor his own race.
3144I am conscious that many readers may think that I have idealized
3145the Indian. Therefore I will confess now that we have too many
3146weak and unprincipled men among us. When I speak of the Indian
3147hero, I do not forget the mongrel in spirit, false to the ideals of
3148his people. Our trustfulness has been our weakness, and when the
3149vices of civilization were added to our own, we fell heavily.
3151It is said that Dull Knife as a boy was resourceful and
3152self-reliant. He was only nine years old when his family was
3153separated from the rest of the tribe while on a buffalo hunt. His
3154father was away and his mother busy, and he was playing with his
3155little sister on the banks of a stream, when a large herd of
3156buffalo swept down upon them on a stampede for water. His mother
3157climbed a tree, but the little boy led his sister into an old
3158beaver house whose entrance was above water, and here they remained
3159in shelter until the buffalo passed and they were found by their
3162Dull Knife was quite a youth when his tribe was caught one
3163winter in a region devoid of game, and threatened with starvation.
3164The situation was made worse by heavy storms, but he secured help
3165and led a relief party a hundred and fifty miles, carrying bales of
3166dried buffalo meat on pack horses.
3168Another exploit that made him dear to his people occurred in
3169battle, when his brother-in-law was severely wounded and left lying
3170where no one on either side dared to approach him. As soon as Dull
3171Knife heard of it he got on a fresh horse, and made so daring a
3172charge that others joined him; thus under cover of their fire he
3173rescued his brother-in-law, and in so doing was wounded twice.
3175The Sioux knew him as a man of high type, perhaps not so
3176brilliant as Roman Nose and Two Moon, but surpassing both in
3177honesty and simplicity, as well as in his war record. (Two Moon,
3178in fact, was never a leader of his people, and became distinguished
3179only in wars with the whites during the period of revolt.) A story
3180is told of an ancestor of the same name that illustrates well the
3181spirit of the age.
3183It was the custom in those days for the older men to walk
3184ahead of the moving caravan and decide upon all halts and camping
3185places. One day the councilors came to a grove of wild cherries
3186covered with ripe fruit, and they stopped at once. Suddenly a
3187grizzly charged from the thicket. The men yelped and hooted, but
3188the bear was not to be bluffed. He knocked down the first warrior
3189who dared to face him and dragged his victim into the bushes.
3191The whole caravan was in the wildest excitement. Several of
3192the swiftest-footed warriors charged the bear, to bring him out
3193into the open, while the women and dogs made all the noise they
3194could. The bear accepted the challenge, and as he did so, the man
3195whom they had supposed dead came running from the opposite end of
3196the thicket. The Indians were delighted, and especially so when in
3197the midst of their cheers, the man stopped running for his life and
3198began to sing a Brave Heart song as he approached the grove with
3199his butcher knife in his hand. He would dare his enemy again!
3201The grizzly met him with a tremendous rush, and they went down
3202together. Instantly the bear began to utter cries of distress, and
3203at the same time the knife flashed, and he rolled over dead. The
3204warrior was too quick for the animal; he first bit his sensitive
3205nose to distract his attention, and then used the knife to stab him
3206to the heart. He fought many battles with knives thereafter and
3207claimed that the spirit of the bear gave him success. On one
3208occasion, however, the enemy had a strong buffalo-hide shield which
3209the Cheyenne bear fighter could not pierce through, and he was
3210wounded; nevertheless he managed to dispatch his foe. It was from
3211this incident that he received the name of Dull Knife, which was
3212handed down to his descendant.
3214As is well known, the Northern Cheyennes uncompromisingly
3215supported the Sioux in their desperate defense of the Black Hills
3216and Big Horn country. Why not? It was their last buffalo region
3217-- their subsistence. It was what our wheat fields are to a
3220About the year 1875, a propaganda was started for confining
3221all the Indians upon reservations, where they would be practically
3222interned or imprisoned, regardless of their possessions and rights.
3223The men who were the strongest advocates of the scheme generally
3224wanted the Indians' property -- the one main cause back of all
3225Indian wars. From the warlike Apaches to the peaceful Nez Perces,
3226all the tribes of the plains were hunted from place to place; then
3227the government resorted to peace negotiations, but always with an
3228army at hand to coerce. Once disarmed and helpless, they were to
3229be taken under military guard to the Indian Territory.
3231A few resisted, and declared they would fight to the death
3232rather than go. Among these were the Sioux, but nearly all the
3233smaller tribes were deported against their wishes. Of course those
3234Indians who came from a mountainous and cold country suffered
3235severely. The moist heat and malaria decimated the exiles. Chief
3236Joseph of the Nez Perces and Chief Standing Bear of the Poncas
3237appealed to the people of the United States, and finally succeeded
3238in having their bands or the remnant of them returned to their own
3239part of the country. Dull Knife was not successful in his plea,
3240and the story of his flight is one of poignant interest.
3242He was regarded by the authorities as a dangerous man, and
3243with his depleted band was taken to the Indian Territory without
3244his consent in 1876. When he realized that his people were dying
3245like sheep, he was deeply moved. He called them together. Every
3246man and woman declared that they would rather die in their own
3247country than stay there longer, and they resolved to flee to their
3250Here again was displayed the genius of these people. From the
3251Indian Territory to Dakota is no short dash for freedom. They knew
3252what they were facing. Their line of flight lay through a settled
3253country and they would be closely pursued by the army. No sooner
3254had they started than the telegraph wires sang one song: "The
3255panther of the Cheyennes is at large. Not a child or a woman in
3256Kansas or Nebraska is safe." Yet they evaded all the pursuing and
3257intercepting troops and reached their native soil. The strain was
3258terrible, the hardship great, and Dull Knife, like Joseph, was
3259remarkable for his self-restraint in sparing those who came within
3260his power on the way.
3262But fate was against him, for there were those looking for
3263blood money who betrayed him when he thought he was among friends.
3264His people were tired out and famished when they were surrounded
3265and taken to Fort Robinson. There the men were put in prison, and
3266their wives guarded in camp. They were allowed to visit their men
3267on certain days. Many of them had lost everything; there were but
3268a few who had even one child left. They were heartbroken.
3270These despairing women appealed to their husbands to die
3271fighting: their liberty was gone, their homes broken up, and only
3272slavery and gradual extinction in sight. At last Dull Knife
3273listened. He said: "I have lived my life. I am ready." The
3274others agreed. "If our women are willing to die with us, who is
3275there to say no? If we are to do the deeds of men, it rests with
3276you women to bring us our weapons.
3278As they had been allowed to carry moccasins and other things
3279to the men, so they contrived to take in some guns and knives under
3280this disguise. The plan was to kill the sentinels and run to the
3281nearest natural trench, there to make their last stand. The women
3282and children were to join them. This arrangement was carried out.
3283Not every brave had a gun, but all had agreed to die together.
3284They fought till their small store of ammunition was exhausted,
3285then exposed their broad chests for a target, and the mothers even
3286held up their little ones to be shot. Thus died the fighting
3287Cheyennes and their dauntless leader.
3295This Cheyenne war chief was a contemporary of Dull Knife. He was
3296not so strong a character as the other, and was inclined to be
3297pompous and boastful; but with all this he was a true type of
3298native American in spirit and bravery.
3300While Dull Knife was noted in warfare among Indians, Roman
3301Nose made his record against the whites, in defense of territory
3302embracing the Republican and Arickaree rivers. He was killed on
3303the latter river in 1868, in the celebrated battle with General
3306Save Chief Gall and Washakie in the prime of their manhood,
3307this chief had no peer in bodily perfection and masterful
3308personality. No Greek or Roman gymnast was ever a finer model of
3309physical beauty and power. He thrilled his men to frenzied action
3310when he came upon the field. It was said of him that he sacrificed
3311more youths by his personal influence in battle than any other
3312leader, being very reckless himself in grand-stand charges. He was
3313killed needlessly in this manner.
3315Roman Nose always rode an uncommonly fine, spirited horse, and
3316with his war bonnet and other paraphernalia gave a wonderful
3317exhibition. The Indians used to say that the soldiers must gaze at
3318him rather than aim at him, as they so seldom hit him even when
3319running the gantlet before a firing line.
3321He did a remarkable thing once when on a one-arrow-to-kill
3322buffalo hunt with his brother-in-law. His companion had selected
3323his animal and drew so powerfully on his sinew bowstring that it
3324broke. Roman Nose had killed his own cow and was whipping up close
3325to the other when the misfortune occurred. Both horses were going
3326at full speed and the arrow jerked up in the air. Roman Nose
3327caught it and shot the cow for him.
3329Another curious story told of him is to the effect that he had
3330an intimate Sioux friend who was courting a Cheyenne girl, but
3331without success. As the wooing of both Sioux and Cheyennes was
3332pretty much all effected in the night time, Roman Nose told his
3333friend to let him do the courting for him. He arranged with the
3334young woman to elope the next night and to spend the honeymoon
3335among his Sioux friends. He then told his friend what to do. The
3336Sioux followed instructions and carried off the Cheyenne maid, and
3337not until morning did she discover her mistake. It is said she
3338never admitted it, and that the two lived happily together to a
3339good old age, so perhaps there was no mistake after all.
3341Perhaps no other chief attacked more emigrants going west on
3342the Oregon Trail between 1860 and 1868. He once made an attack on
3343a large party of Mormons, and in this instance the Mormons had time
3344to form a corral with their wagons and shelter their women,
3345children, and horses. The men stood outside and met the Indians
3346with well-aimed volleys, but they circled the wagons with whirlwind
3347speed, and whenever a white man fell, it was the signal for Roman
3348Nose to charge and count the "coup." The hat of one of the dead
3349men was off, and although he had heavy hair and beard, the top of
3350his head was bald from the forehead up. As custom required such a
3351deed to be announced on the spot, the chief yelled at the top of
3354"Your Roman Nose has counted the first coup on the
3355longest-faced white man who was ever killed!"
3357When the Northern Cheyennes under this daring leader attacked
3358a body of scouting troops under the brilliant officer General
3359Forsythe, Roman Nose thought that he had a comparatively easy task.
3360The first onset failed, and the command entrenched itself on a
3361little island. The wily chief thought he could stampede them and
3362urged on his braves with the declaration that the first to reach
3363the island should be entitled to wear a trailing war bonnet.
3364Nevertheless he was disappointed, and his men received such a warm
3365reception that none succeeded in reaching it. In order to inspire
3366them to desperate deeds he had led them in person, and with him
3367that meant victory or death. According to the army accounts, it
3368was a thrilling moment, and might well have proved disastrous to
3369the Forsythe command, whose leader was wounded and helpless. The
3370danger was acute until Roman Nose fell, and even then his
3371lieutenants were bent upon crossing at any cost, but some of the
3372older chiefs prevailed upon them to withdraw.
3374Thus the brilliant war chief of the Cheyennes came to his
3375death. If he had lived until 1876, Sitting Bull would have had
3376another bold ally.
3384The Nez Perce tribe of Indians, like other tribes too large to be
3385united under one chief, was composed of several bands, each
3386distinct in sovereignty. It was a loose confederacy. Joseph and
3387his people occupied the Imnaha or Grande Ronde valley in Oregon,
3388which was considered perhaps the finest land in that part of the
3391When the last treaty was entered into by some of the bands of
3392the Nez Perce, Joseph's band was at Lapwai, Idaho, and had nothing
3393to do with the agreement. The elder chief in dying had counseled
3394his son, then not more than twenty-two or twenty-three years of
3395age, never to part with their home, assuring him that he had signed
3396no papers. These peaceful non-treaty Indians did not even know
3397what land had been ceded until the agent read them the government
3398order to leave. Of course they refused. You and I would have done
3401When the agent failed to move them, he and the would-be
3402settlers called upon the army to force them to be good, namely,
3403without a murmur to leave their pleasant inheritance in the hands
3404of a crowd of greedy grafters. General O. O. Howard, the Christian
3405soldier, was sent to do the work.
3407He had a long council with Joseph and his leading men, telling
3408them they must obey the order or be driven out by force. We may be
3409sure that he presented this hard alternative reluctantly. Joseph
3410was a mere youth without experience in war or public affairs. He
3411had been well brought up in obedience to parental wisdom and with
3412his brother Ollicut had attended Missionary Spaulding's school
3413where they had listened to the story of Christ and his religion of
3414brotherhood. He now replied in his simple way that neither he nor
3415his father had ever made any treaty disposing of their country,
3416that no other band of the Nez Perces was authorized to speak for
3417them, and it would seem a mighty injustice and unkindness to
3418dispossess a friendly band.
3420General Howard told them in effect that they had no rights, no
3421voice in the matter: they had only to obey. Although some of the
3422lesser chiefs counseled revolt then and there, Joseph maintained
3423his self-control, seeking to calm his people, and still groping for
3424a peaceful settlement of their difficulties. He finally asked for
3425thirty days' time in which to find and dispose of their stock, and
3426this was granted.
3428Joseph steadfastly held his immediate followers to their
3429promise, but the land-grabbers were impatient, and did everything
3430in their power to bring about an immediate crisis so as to hasten
3431the eviction of the Indians. Depredations were committed, and
3432finally the Indians, or some of them, retaliated, which was just
3433what their enemies had been looking for. There might be a score of
3434white men murdered among themselves on the frontier and no outsider
3435would ever hear about it, but if one were injured by an Indian --
3436"Down with the bloodthirsty savages!" was the cry.
3438Joseph told me himself that during all of those thirty days a
3439tremendous pressure was brought upon him by his own people to
3440resist the government order. "The worst of it was," said he, "that
3441everything they said was true; besides" -- he paused for a moment
3442-- "it seemed very soon for me to forget my father's dying words,
3443'Do not give up our home!'" Knowing as I do just what this would
3444mean to an Indian, I felt for him deeply.
3446Among the opposition leaders were Too-hul-hul-sote, White
3447Bird, and Looking Glass, all of them strong men and respected by
3448the Indians; while on the other side were men built up by
3449emissaries of the government for their own purposes and advertised
3450as "great friendly chiefs." As a rule such men are unworthy, and
3451this is so well known to the Indians that it makes them distrustful
3452of the government's sincerity at the start. Moreover, while
3453Indians unqualifiedly say what they mean, the whites have a hundred
3454ways of saying what they do not mean.
3456The center of the storm was this simple young man, who so far
3457as I can learn had never been upon the warpath, and he stood firm
3458for peace and obedience. As for his father's sacred dying charge,
3459he told himself that he would not sign any papers, he would not go
3460of his free will but from compulsion, and this was his excuse.
3462However, the whites were unduly impatient to clear the coveted
3463valley, and by their insolence they aggravated to the danger point
3464an already strained situation. The murder of an Indian was the
3465climax and this happened in the absence of the young chief. He
3466returned to find the leaders determined to die fighting. The
3467nature of the country was in their favor and at least they could
3468give the army a chase, but how long they could hold out they did
3469not know. Even Joseph's younger brother Ollicut was won over.
3470There was nothing for him to do but fight; and then and there began
3471the peaceful Joseph's career as a general of unsurpassed strategy
3472in conducting one of the most masterly retreats in history.
3474This is not my judgment, but the unbiased opinion of men whose
3475knowledge and experience fit them to render it. Bear in mind that
3476these people were not scalp hunters like the Sioux, Cheyennes, and
3477Utes, but peaceful hunters and fishermen. The first council of war
3478was a strange business to Joseph. He had only this to say to his
3481"I have tried to save you from suffering and sorrow.
3482Resistance means all of that. We are few. They are many. You can
3483see all we have at a glance. They have food and ammunition in
3484abundance. We must suffer great hardship and loss." After this
3485speech, he quietly began his plans for the defense.
3487The main plan of campaign was to engineer a successful retreat
3488into Montana and there form a junction with the hostile Sioux and
3489Cheyennes under Sitting Bull. There was a relay scouting system,
3490one set of scouts leaving the main body at evening and the second
3491a little before daybreak, passing the first set on some commanding
3492hill top. There were also decoy scouts set to trap Indian scouts
3493of the army. I notice that General Howard charges his Crow scouts
3494with being unfaithful.
3496Their greatest difficulty was in meeting an unencumbered army,
3497while carrying their women, children, and old men, with supplies
3498and such household effects as were absolutely necessary. Joseph
3499formed an auxiliary corps that was to effect a retreat at each
3500engagement, upon a definite plan and in definite order, while the
3501unencumbered women were made into an ambulance corps to take care
3502of the wounded.
3504It was decided that the main rear guard should meet General
3505Howard's command in White Bird Canyon, and every detail was planned
3506in advance, yet left flexible according to Indian custom, giving
3507each leader freedom to act according to circumstances. Perhaps no
3508better ambush was ever planned than the one Chief Joseph set for
3509the shrewd and experienced General Howard. He expected to be hotly
3510pursued, but he calculated that the pursuing force would consist of
3511not more than two hundred and fifty soldiers. He prepared false
3512trails to mislead them into thinking that he was about to cross or
3513had crossed the Salmon River, which he had no thought of doing at
3514that time. Some of the tents were pitched in plain sight, while
3515the women and children were hidden on the inaccessible ridges, and
3516the men concealed in the canyon ready to fire upon the soldiers
3517with deadly effect with scarcely any danger to themselves. They
3518could even roll rocks upon them.
3520In a very few minutes the troops had learned a lesson. The
3521soldiers showed some fight, but a large body of frontiersmen who
3522accompanied them were soon in disorder. The warriors chased them
3523nearly ten miles, securing rifles and much ammunition, and killing
3524and wounding many.
3526The Nez Perces next crossed the river, made a detour and
3527recrossed it at another point, then took their way eastward. All
3528this was by way of delaying pursuit. Joseph told me that he
3529estimated it would take six or seven days to get a sufficient force
3530in the field to take up their trail, and the correctness of his
3531reasoning is apparent from the facts as detailed in General
3532Howard's book. He tells us that he waited six days for the arrival
3533of men from various forts in his department, then followed Joseph
3534with six hundred soldiers, beside a large number of citizen
3535volunteers and his Indian scouts. As it was evident they had a
3536long chase over trackless wilderness in prospect, he discarded his
3537supply wagons and took pack mules instead. But by this time the
3538Indians had a good start.
3540Meanwhile General Howard had sent a dispatch to Colonel
3541Gibbons, with orders to head Joseph off, which he undertook to do
3542at the Montana end of the Lolo Trail. The wily commander had no
3543knowledge of this move, but he was not to be surprised. He was too
3544brainy for his pursuers, whom he constantly outwitted, and only
3545gave battle when he was ready. There at the Big Hole Pass he met
3546Colonel Gibbons' fresh troops and pressed them close. He sent a
3547party under his brother Ollicut to harass Gibbons' rear and rout
3548the pack mules, thus throwing him on the defensive and causing him
3549to send for help, while Joseph continued his masterly retreat
3550toward the Yellowstone Park, then a wilderness. However, this was
3551but little advantage to him, since he must necessarily leave a
3552broad trail, and the army was augmenting its columns day by day
3553with celebrated scouts, both white and Indian. The two commands
3554came together, and although General Howard says their horses were
3555by this time worn out, and by inference the men as well, they
3556persisted on the trail of a party encumbered by women and children,
3557the old, sick, and wounded.
3559It was decided to send a detachment of cavalry under Bacon, to
3560Tash Pass, the gateway of the National Park, which Joseph would
3561have to pass, with orders to detain him there until the rest could
3562come up with them. Here is what General Howard says of the affair.
3563"Bacon got into position soon enough but he did not have the heart
3564to fight the Indians on account of their number." Meanwhile
3565another incident had occurred. Right under the eyes of the chosen
3566scouts and vigilant sentinels, Joseph's warriors fired upon the
3567army camp at night and ran off their mules. He went straight on
3568toward the park, where Lieutenant Bacon let him get by and pass
3569through the narrow gateway without firing a shot.
3571Here again it was demonstrated that General Howard could not
3572depend upon the volunteers, many of whom had joined him in the
3573chase, and were going to show the soldiers how to fight Indians.
3574In this night attack at Camas Meadow, they were demoralized, and
3575while crossing the river next day many lost their guns in the
3576water, whereupon all packed up and went home, leaving the army to
3577be guided by the Indian scouts.
3579However, this succession of defeats did not discourage General
3580Howard, who kept on with as many of his men as were able to carry
3581a gun, meanwhile sending dispatches to all the frontier posts with
3582orders to intercept Joseph if possible. Sturgis tried to stop him
3583as the Indians entered the Park, but they did not meet until he was
3584about to come out, when there was another fight, with Joseph again
3585victorious. General Howard came upon the battle field soon
3586afterward and saw that the Indians were off again, and from here he
3587sent fresh messages to General Miles, asking for reinforcements.
3589Joseph had now turned northeastward toward the Upper Missouri.
3590He told me that when he got into that part of the country he knew
3591he was very near the Canadian line and could not be far from
3592Sitting Bull, with whom he desired to form an alliance. He also
3593believed that he had cleared all the forts. Therefore he went more
3594slowly and tried to give his people some rest. Some of their best
3595men had been killed or wounded in battle, and the wounded were a
3596great burden to him; nevertheless they were carried and tended
3597patiently all during this wonderful flight. Not one was ever left
3600It is the general belief that Indians are cruel and
3601revengeful, and surely these people had reason to hate the race who
3602had driven them from their homes if any people ever had. Yet it is
3603a fact that when Joseph met visitors and travelers in the Park,
3604some of whom were women, he allowed them to pass unharmed, and in
3605at least one instance let them have horses. He told me that he
3606gave strict orders to his men not to kill any women or children.
3607He wished to meet his adversaries according to their own standards
3608of warfare, but he afterward learned that in spite of professions
3609of humanity, white soldiers have not seldom been known to kill
3610women and children indiscriminately.
3612Another remarkable thing about this noted retreat is that
3613Joseph's people stood behind him to a man, and even the women and
3614little boys did each his part. The latter were used as scouts in
3615the immediate vicinity of the camp.
3617The Bittersweet valley, which they had now entered, was full
3618of game, and the Indians hunted for food, while resting their
3619worn-out ponies. One morning they had a council to which Joseph
3620rode over bareback, as they had camped in two divisions a little
3621apart. His fifteen-year-old daughter went with him. They
3622discussed sending runners to Sitting Bull to ascertain his exact
3623whereabouts and whether it would be agreeable to him to join forces
3624with the Nez Perces. In the midst of the council, a force of
3625United States cavalry charged down the hill between the two camps.
3626This once Joseph was surprised. He had seen no trace of the
3627soldiers and had somewhat relaxed his vigilance.
3629He told his little daughter to stay where she was, and himself
3630cut right through the cavalry and rode up to his own teepee, where
3631his wife met him at the door with his rifle, crying: "Here is your
3632gun, husband!" The warriors quickly gathered and pressed the
3633soldiers so hard that they had to withdraw. Meanwhile one set of
3634the people fled while Joseph's own band entrenched themselves in a
3635very favorable position from which they could not easily be
3638General Miles had received and acted on General Howard's
3639message, and he now sent one of his officers with some Indian
3640scouts into Joseph's camp to negotiate with the chief. Meantime
3641Howard and Sturgis came up with the encampment, and Howard had with
3642him two friendly Nez Perce scouts who were directed to talk to
3643Joseph in his own language. He decided that there was nothing to
3644do but surrender.
3646He had believed that his escape was all but secure: then at
3647the last moment he was surprised and caught at a disadvantage. His
3648army was shattered; he had lost most of the leaders in these
3649various fights; his people, including children, women, and the
3650wounded, had traveled thirteen hundred miles in about fifty days,
3651and he himself a young man who had never before taken any important
3652responsibility! Even now he was not actually conquered. He was
3653well entrenched; his people were willing to die fighting; but the
3654army of the United States offered peace and he agreed, as he said,
3655out of pity for his suffering people. Some of his warriors still
3656refused to surrender and slipped out of the camp at night and
3657through the lines. Joseph had, as he told me, between three and
3658four hundred fighting men in the beginning, which means over one
3659thousand persons, and of these several hundred surrendered with
3662His own story of the conditions he made was prepared by
3663himself with my help in 1897, when he came to Washington to present
3664his grievances. I sat up with him nearly all of one night; and I
3665may add here that we took the document to General Miles who was
3666then stationed in Washington, before presenting it to the
3667Department. The General said that every word of it was true.
3669In the first place, his people were to be kept at Fort Keogh,
3670Montana, over the winter and then returned to their reservation.
3671Instead they were taken to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and placed
3672between a lagoon and the Missouri River, where the sanitary
3673conditions made havoc with them. Those who did not die were then
3674taken to the Indian Territory, where the health situation was even
3675worse. Joseph appealed to the government again and again, and at
3676last by the help of Bishops Whipple and Hare he was moved to the
3677Colville reservation in Washington. Here the land was very poor,
3678unlike their own fertile valley. General Miles said to the chief
3679that he had recommended and urged that their agreement be kept, but
3680the politicians and the people who occupied the Indians' land
3681declared they were afraid if he returned he would break out again
3682and murder innocent white settlers! What irony!
3684The great Chief Joseph died broken-spirited and
3685broken-hearted. He did not hate the whites, for there was nothing
3686small about him, and when he laid down his weapons he would not
3687fight on with his mind. But he was profoundly disappointed in the
3688claims of a Christian civilization. I call him great because he
3689was simple and honest. Without education or special training he
3690demonstrated his ability to lead and to fight when justice
3691demanded. He outgeneraled the best and most experienced commanders
3692in the army of the United States, although their troops were well
3693provisioned, well armed, and above all unencumbered. He was great
3694finally, because he never boasted of his remarkable feat. I am
3695proud of him, because he was a true American.
3703If any people ever fought for liberty and justice, it was the
3704Cheyennes. If any ever demonstrated their physical and moral
3705courage beyond cavil, it was this race of purely American heroes,
3706among whom Little Wolf was a leader.
3708I knew the chief personally very well. As a young doctor, I
3709was sent to the Pine Ridge agency in 1890, as government physician
3710to the Sioux and the Northern Cheyennes. While I heard from his
3711own lips of that gallant dash of his people from their southern
3712exile to their northern home, I prefer that Americans should read
3713of it in Doctor George Bird Grinnell's book, "The Fighting
3714Cheyennes." No account could be clearer or simpler; and then too,
3715the author cannot be charged with a bias in favor of his own race.
3717At the time that I knew him, Little Wolf was a handsome man,
3718with the native dignity and gentleness, musical voice, and pleasant
3719address of so many brave leaders of his people. One day when he
3720was dining with us at our home on the reservation, I asked him, as
3721I had a habit of doing, for some reminiscences of his early life.
3722He was rather reluctant to speak, but a friend who was present
3723contributed the following:
3725"Perhaps I can tell you why it is that he has been a lucky man
3726all his life. When quite a small boy, the tribe was one winter in
3727want of food, and his good mother had saved a small piece of
3728buffalo meat, which she solemnly brought forth and placed before
3729him with the remark: 'My son must be patient, for when he grows up
3730he will know even harder times than this.'
3732"He had eaten nothing all day and was pretty hungry, but
3733before he could lay hands on the meat a starving dog snatched it
3734and bolted from the teepee. The mother ran after the dog and
3735brought him back for punishment. She tied him to a post and was
3736about to whip him when the boy interfered. 'Don't hurt him,
3737mother!' he cried; 'he took the meat because he was hungrier than
3740I was told of another kind act of his under trying
3741circumstances. While still a youth, he was caught out with a party
3742of buffalo hunters in a blinding blizzard. They were compelled to
3743lie down side by side in the snowdrifts, and it was a day and a
3744night before they could get out. The weather turned very cold, and
3745when the men arose they were in danger of freezing. Little Wolf
3746pressed his fine buffalo robe upon an old man who was shaking with
3747a chill and himself took the other's thin blanket.
3749As a full-grown young man, he was attracted by a maiden of his
3750tribe, and according to the custom then in vogue the pair
3751disappeared. When they returned to the camp as man and wife,
3752behold! there was great excitement over the affair. It seemed that
3753a certain chief had given many presents and paid unmistakable court
3754to the maid with the intention of marrying her, and her parents had
3755accepted the presents, which meant consent so far as they were
3756concerned. But the girl herself had not given consent.
3758The resentment of the disappointed suitor was great. It was
3759reported in the village that he had openly declared that the young
3760man who defied and insulted him must expect to be punished. As
3761soon as Little Wolf heard of the threats, he told his father and
3762friends that he had done only what it is every man's privilege to
3765"Tell the chief," said he, "to come out with any weapon he
3766pleases, and I will meet him within the circle of lodges. He shall
3767either do this or eat his words. The woman is not his. Her people
3768accepted his gifts against her wishes. Her heart is mine."
3770The chief apologized, and thus avoided the inevitable duel,
3771which would have been a fight to the death.
3773The early life of Little Wolf offered many examples of the
3774dashing bravery characteristic of the Cheyennes, and inspired the
3775younger men to win laurels for themselves. He was still a young
3776man, perhaps thirty-five, when the most trying crisis in the
3777history of his people came upon them. As I know and as Doctor
3778Grinnell's book amply corroborates, he was the general who largely
3779guided and defended them in that tragic flight from the Indian
3780Territory to their northern home. I will not discuss the justice
3781of their cause: I prefer to quote Doctor Grinnell, lest it appear
3782that I am in any way exaggerating the facts.
3784"They had come," he writes, "from the high, dry country of
3785Montana and North Dakota to the hot and humid Indian Territory.
3786They had come from a country where buffalo and other game were
3787still plentiful to a land where the game had been exterminated.
3788Immediately on their arrival they were attacked by fever and ague,
3789a disease wholly new to them. Food was scanty, and they began to
3790starve. The agent testified before a committee of the Senate that
3791he never received supplies to subsist the Indians for more than
3792nine months in each year. These people were meat-eaters, but the
3793beef furnished them by the government inspectors was no more than
3794skin and bone. The agent in describing their sufferings said:
3795'They have lived and that is about all.'
3797"The Indians endured this for about a year, and then their
3798patience gave out. They left the agency to which they had been
3799sent and started north. Though troops were camped close to them,
3800they attempted no concealment of their purpose. Instead, they
3801openly announced that they intended to return to their own country.
3803We have heard much in past years of the march of the Nez
3804Perces under Chief Joseph, but little is remembered of the Dull
3805Knife outbreak and the march to the north led by Little Wolf. The
3806story of the journey has not been told, but in the traditions of
3807the old army this campaign was notable, and old men who were
3808stationed on the plains forty years ago are apt to tell you, if you
3809ask them, that there never was such another journey since the
3810Greeks marched to the sea. . . .
3812"The fugitives pressed constantly northward undaunted, while
3813orders were flying over the wires, and special trains were carrying
3814men and horses to cut them off at all probable points on the
3815different railway lines they must cross. Of the three hundred
3816Indians, sixty or seventy were fighting men -- the rest old men,
3817women, and children. An army officer once told me that thirteen
3818thousand troops were hurrying over the country to capture or kill
3819these few poor people who had left the fever-stricken South, and in
3820the face of every obstacle were steadily marching northward.
3822"The War Department set all its resources in operation against
3823them, yet they kept on. If troops attacked them, they stopped and
3824fought until they had driven off the soldiers, and then started
3825north again. Sometimes they did not even stop, but marched along,
3826fighting as they marched. For the most part they tried -- and with
3827success -- to avoid conflicts, and had but four real hard fights,
3828in which they lost half a dozen men killed and about as many
3831It must not be overlooked that the appeal to justice had first
3832been tried before taking this desperate step. Little Wolf had gone
3833to the agent about the middle of the summer and said to him: "This
3834is not a good country for us, and we wish to return to our home in
3835the mountains where we were always well. If you have not the power
3836to give permission, let some of us go to Washington and tell them
3837there how it is, or do you write to Washington and get permission
3838for us to go back."
3840"Stay one more year," replied the agent, "and then we will see
3841what we can do for you. "No," said Little Wolf. "Before another
3842year there will be none left to travel north. We must go now."
3844Soon after this it was found that three of the Indians had
3845disappeared and the chief was ordered to surrender ten men as
3846hostages for their return. He refused. "Three men," said he, "who
3847are traveling over wild country can hide so that they cannot be
3848found. You would never get back these three, and you would keep my
3849men prisoners always."
3851The agent then threatened if the ten men were not given up to
3852withhold their rations and starve the entire tribe into submission.
3853He forgot that he was addressing a Cheyenne. These people had not
3854understood that they were prisoners when they agreed to friendly
3855relations with the government and came upon the reservation.
3856Little Wolf stood up and shook hands with all present before making
3857his final deliberate address.
3859"Listen, my friends, I am a friend of the white people and
3860have been so for a long time. I do not want to see blood spilt
3861about this agency. I am going north to my own country. If you are
3862going to send your soldiers after me, I wish you would let us get
3863a little distance away. Then if you want to fight, I will fight
3864you, and we can make the ground bloody at that place."
3866The Cheyenne was not bluffing. He said just what he meant,
3867and I presume the agent took the hint, for although the military
3868were there they did not undertake to prevent the Indians'
3869departure. Next morning the teepees were pulled down early and
3870quickly. Toward evening of the second day, the scouts signaled the
3871approach of troops. Little Wolf called his men together and
3872advised them under no circumstances to fire until fired upon. An
3873Arapahoe scout was sent to them with a message. "If you surrender
3874now, you will get your rations and be well treated." After what
3875they had endured, it was impossible not to hear such a promise with
3876contempt. Said Little Wolf: "We are going back to our own country.
3877We do not want to fight." He was riding still nearer when the
3878soldiers fired, and at a signal the Cheyennes made a charge. They
3879succeeded in holding off the troops for two days, with only five
3880men wounded and none killed, and when the military retreated the
3881Indians continued northward carrying their wounded.
3883This sort of thing was repeated again and again. Meanwhile
3884Little Wolf held his men under perfect control. There were
3885practically no depredations. They secured some boxes of ammunition
3886left behind by retreating troops, and at one point the young men
3887were eager to follow and destroy an entire command who were
3888apparently at their mercy, but their leader withheld them. They
3889had now reached the buffalo country, and he always kept his main
3890object in sight. He was extraordinarily calm. Doctor Grinnell was
3891told by one of his men years afterward: "Little Wolf did not seem
3892like a human being. He seemed like a bear." It is true that a man
3893of his type in a crisis becomes spiritually transformed and moves
3894as one in a dream.
3896At the Running Water the band divided, Dull Knife going toward
3897Red Cloud agency. He was near Fort Robinson when he surrendered
3898and met his sad fate. Little Wolf remained all winter in the Sand
3899Hills, where there was plenty of game and no white men. Later he
3900went to Montana and then to Pine Ridge, where he and his people
3901remained in peace until they were removed to Lame Deer, Montana,
3902and there he spent the remainder of his days. There is a clear sky
3903beyond the clouds of racial prejudice, and in that final Court of
3904Honor a noble soul like that of Little Wolf has a place.
3910[I wish to thank Reverend C. H. Beaulieu of Le Soeur,
3911Minnesota, for much of the material used in this chapter.]
3913In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Indian nations of
3914the Northwest first experienced the pressure of civilization. At
3915this period there were among them some brilliant leaders unknown to
3916history, for the curious reason that they cordially received and
3917welcomed the newcomers rather than opposed them. The only
3918difficulties were those arising among the European nations
3919themselves, and often involving the native tribes. Thus new
3920environments brought new motives, and our temptations were
3921increased manyfold with the new weapons, new goods, and above all
3922the subtly destructive "spirit water."
3924Gradually it became known that the new race had a definite
3925purpose, and that purpose was to chart and possess the whole
3926country, regardless of the rights of its earlier inhabitants. Still
3927the old chiefs cautioned their people to be patient, for, said
3928they, the land is vast, both races can live on it, each in their
3929own way. Let us therefore befriend them and trust to their
3930friendship. While they reasoned thus, the temptations of graft and
3931self-aggrandizement overtook some of the leaders.
3933Hole-in-the-Day (or Bug-o-nay-ki-shig) was born in the opening
3934days of this era. The word "ki-shig" means either "day" or "sky",
3935and the name is perhaps more correctly translated Hole-in-the-Sky.
3936This gifted man inherited his name and much of his ability from his
3937father, who was a war chief among the Ojibways, a Napoleon of the
3938common people, and who carried on a relentless warfare against the
3939Sioux. And yet, as was our custom at the time, peaceful meetings
3940were held every summer, at which representatives of the two tribes
3941would recount to one another all the events that had come to pass
3942during the preceding year.
3944Hole-in-the-Day the younger was a handsome man, tall and
3945symmetrically formed, with much grace of manner and natural
3946refinement. He was an astute student of diplomacy. The Ojibways
3947allowed polygamy, and whether or not he approved the principle, he
3948made political use of it by marrying the daughter of a chief in
3949nearly every band. Through these alliances he held a controlling
3950influence over the whole Ojibway nation. Reverend Claude H.
3951Beaulieu says of him:
3953"Hole-in-the-Day was a man of distinguished appearance and
3954native courtliness of manner. His voice was musical and magnetic,
3955and with these qualities he had a subtle brain, a logical mind, and
3956quite a remarkable gift of oratory. In speech he was not
3957impassioned, but clear and convincing, and held fast the attention
3958of his hearers."
3960It is of interest to note that his everyday name among his
3961tribesmen was "The Boy." What a boy he must have been! I wonder
3962if the name had the same significance as with the Sioux, who
3963applied it to any man who performs a difficult duty with alertness,
3964dash, and natural courage. "The Man" applies to one who adds to
3965these qualities wisdom and maturity of judgment.
3967The Sioux tell many stories of both the elder and the younger
3968Hole-in-the-Day. Once when The Boy was still under ten years of
3969age, he was fishing on Gull Lake in a leaky birch-bark canoe.
3970Presently there came such a burst of frantic warwhoops that his
3971father was startled. He could not think of anything but an attack
3972by the dreaded Sioux. Seizing his weapons, he ran to the rescue of
3973his son, only to find that the little fellow had caught a fish so
3974large that it was pulling his canoe all over the lake. "Ugh,"
3975exclaimed the father, "if a mere fish scares you so badly, I fear
3976you will never make a warrior!
3978It is told of him that when he was very small, the father once
3979brought home two bear cubs and gave them to him for pets. The Boy
3980was feeding and getting acquainted with them outside his mother's
3981birch-bark teepee, when suddenly he was heard to yell for help.
3982The two little bears had treed The Boy and were waltzing around the
3983tree. His mother scared them off, but again the father laughed at
3984him for thinking that he could climb trees better than a bear.
3986The elder Hole-in-the-Day was a daring warrior and once
3987attacked and scalped a Sioux who was carrying his pelts to the
3988trading post, in full sight of his friends. Of course he was
3989instantly pursued, and he leaped into a canoe which was lying near
3990by and crossed to an island in the Mississippi River near Fort
3991Snelling. When almost surrounded by Sioux warriors, he left the
3992canoe and swam along the shore with only his nose above water, but
3993as they were about to head him off he landed and hid behind the
3994falling sheet of water known as Minnehaha Falls, thus saving his
3997It often happens that one who offers his life freely will
3998after all die a natural death. The elder Hole-in-the-Day so died
3999when The Boy was still a youth. Like Philip of Massachusetts,
4000Chief Joseph the younger, and the brilliant Osceola, the mantle
4001fell gracefully upon his shoulders, and he wore it during a short
4002but eventful term of chieftainship. It was his to see the end of
4003the original democracy on this continent. The clouds were fast
4004thickening on the eastern horizon. The day of individualism and
4005equity between man and man must yield to the terrific forces of
4006civilization, the mass play of materialism, the cupidity of
4007commerce with its twin brother politics. Under such conditions the
4008younger Hole-in-the-Day undertook to guide his tribesmen. At first
4009they were inclined to doubt the wisdom of so young a leader, but he
4010soon proved a ready student of his people's traditions, and yet,
4011like Spotted Tail and Little Crow, he adopted too willingly the
4012white man's politics. He maintained the territory won from the
4013Sioux by his predecessors. He negotiated treaties with the ability
4014of a born diplomat, with one exception, and that exception cost him
4017Like other able Indians who foresaw the inevitable downfall of
4018their race, he favored a gradual change of customs leading to
4019complete adoption of the white man's ways. In order to accustom
4020the people to a new standard, he held that the chiefs must have
4021authority and must be given compensation for their services. This
4022was a serious departure from the old rule but was tacitly accepted,
4023and in every treaty he made there was provision for himself in the
4024way of a land grant or a cash payment. He early departed from the
4025old idea of joint ownership with the Lake Superior Ojibways,
4026because he foresaw that it would cause no end of trouble for the
4027Mississippi River branch of which he was then the recognized head.
4028But there were difficulties to come with the Leech Lake and Red
4029Lake bands, who held aloof from his policy, and the question of
4030boundaries began to arise.
4032In the first treaty negotiated with the government by young
4033Hole-in-the-Day in 1855, a "surplus" was provided for the chiefs
4034aside from the regular per capita payment, and this surplus was to
4035be distributed in proportion to the number of Indians under each.
4036Hole-in-the-Day had by far the largest enrollment, therefore he got
4037the lion's share of this fund. Furthermore he received another sum
4038set apart for the use of the "head chief", and these things did not
4039look right to the tribe. In the very next treaty he provided
4040himself with an annuity of one thousand dollars for twenty years,
4041beside a section of land near the village of Crow Wing, and the
4042government was induced to build him a good house upon this land.
4043In his home he had many white servants and henchmen and really
4044lived like a lord. He dressed well in native style with a touch
4045of civilized elegance, wearing coat and leggings of fine
4046broadcloth, linen shirt with collar, and, topping all, a handsome
4047black or blue blanket. His moccasins were of the finest deerskin
4048and beautifully worked. His long beautiful hair added much to his
4049personal appearance. He was fond of entertaining and being
4050entertained and was a favorite both among army officers and
4051civilians. He was especially popular with the ladies, and this
4052fact will appear later in the story.
4054At about this time, the United States government took it upon
4055itself to put an end to warfare between the Sioux and Ojibways. A
4056peace meeting was arranged at Fort Snelling, with the United States
4057as mediator. When the representatives of the two nations met at
4058this grand council, Hole-in-the-Day came as the head chief of his
4059people, and with the other chiefs appeared in considerable pomp and
4060dignity. The wives of the government officials were eager for
4061admission to this unusual gathering, but when they arrived there
4062was hardly any space left except next to the Sioux chiefs, and the
4063white ladies soon crowded this space to overflowing. One of the
4064Sioux remarked: "I thought this was to be a council of chiefs and
4065braves, but I see many women among us." Thereupon the Ojibway
4066arose and spoke in his courtliest manner. "The Ojibway chiefs will
4067feel highly honored," said he, "if the ladies will consent to sit
4068on our side."
4070Another sign of his alertness to gain favor among the whites
4071was seen in the fact that he took part in the territorial
4072campaigns, a most unusual thing for an Indian of that day. Being
4073a man of means and influence, he was listened to with respect by
4074the scattered white settlers in his vicinity. He would make a
4075political speech through an interpreter, but would occasionally
4076break loose in his broken English, and wind up with an invitation
4077to drink in the following words: "Chentimen, you Pemicans
4078(Republicans), come out and drink!"
4080From 1855 to 1864 Hole-in-the-Day was a well-known figure in
4081Minnesota, and scarcely less so in Washington, for he visited the
4082capital quite often on tribal affairs. As I have said before, he
4083was an unusually handsome man, and was not unresponsive to flattery
4084and the attentions of women. At the time of this incident he was
4085perhaps thirty-five years old, but looked younger. He had called
4086upon the President and was on his way back to his hotel, when he
4087happened to pass the Treasury building just as the clerks were
4088leaving for the day. He was immediately surrounded by an
4089inquisitive throng. Among them was a handsome young woman who
4090asked through the interpreter if the chief would consent to an
4091interview about his people, to aid her in a paper she had promised
4094Hole-in-the-Day replied: "If the beautiful lady is willing to
4095risk calling on the chief at his hotel, her request will be
4096granted." The lady went, and the result was so sudden and strong
4097an attachment that both forgot all racial biases and differences of
4098language and custom. She followed him as far as Minneapolis, and
4099there the chief advised her to remain, for he feared the jealousy
4100of some of his many wives. She died there, soon after giving birth
4101to a son, who was brought up by a family named Woodbury; and some
4102fifteen years ago I met the young man in Washington and was taken
4103by him to call upon certain of his mother's relatives.
4105The ascendancy of Hole-in-the-Day was not gained entirely
4106through the consent of his people, but largely by government favor,
4107therefore there was strong suppressed resentment among his
4108associate chiefs, and the Red Lake and Leech Lake bands in fact
4109never acknowledged him as their head, while they suspected him of
4110making treaties which involved some of their land. He was in
4111personal danger from this source, and his life was twice attempted,
4112but, though wounded, in each case he recovered. His popularity
4113with Indian agents and officers lasted till the Republicans came
4114into power in the sixties and there was a new deal. The chief no
4115longer received the favors and tips to which he was accustomed; in
4116fact he was in want of luxuries, and worse still, his pride was
4117hurt by neglect. The new party had promised Christian treatment to
4118the Indians, but it appeared that they were greater grafters than
4119their predecessors, and unlike them kept everything for themselves,
4120allowing no perquisites to any Indian chief.
4122In his indignation at this treatment, Hole-in-the-Day began
4123exposing the frauds on his people, and so at a late day was
4124converted to their defense. Perhaps he had not fully understood
4125the nature of graft until he was in a position to view it from the
4126outside. After all, he was excusable in seeking to maintain the
4127dignity of his office, but he had departed from one of the
4128fundamental rules of the race, namely: "Let no material gain be the
4129motive or reward of public duty." He had wounded the ideals of his
4130people beyond forgiveness, and he suffered the penalty; yet his
4131courage was not diminished by the mistakes of his past. Like the
4132Sioux chief Little Crow, he was called "the betrayer of his
4133people", and like him he made a desperate effort to regain lost
4134prestige, and turned savagely against the original betrayers of his
4135confidence, the agents and Indian traders.
4137When the Sioux finally broke out in 1862, the first thought of
4138the local politicians was to humiliate Hole-in-the-Day by arresting
4139him and proclaiming some other "head chief" in his stead. In so
4140doing they almost forced the Ojibways to fight under his
4141leadership. The chief had no thought of alliance with the Sioux,
4142and was wholly unaware of the proposed action of the military on
4143pretense of such a conspiracy on his part. He was on his way to
4144the agency in his own carriage when a runner warned him of his
4145danger. He thereupon jumped down and instructed the driver to
4146proceed. His coachman was arrested by a file of soldiers, who when
4147they discovered their mistake went to his residence in search of
4148him, but meanwhile he had sent runners in every direction to notify
4149his warriors, and had moved his family across the Mississippi.
4150When the military reached the river bank he was still in sight, and
4151the lieutenant called upon him to surrender. When he refused, the
4152soldiers were ordered to fire upon him, but he replied with his own
4153rifle, and with a whoop disappeared among the pine groves.
4155It was remarkable how the whole tribe now rallied to the call
4156of Hole-in-the-Day. He allowed no depredations to the young men
4157under his leadership, but camped openly near the agency and awaited
4158an explanation. Presently Judge Cooper of St. Paul, a personal
4159friend of the chief, appeared, and later on the Assistant Secretary
4160of the Interior, accompanied by Mr. Nicolay, private secretary of
4161President Lincoln. Apparently that great humanitarian President
4162saw the whole injustice of the proceeding against a loyal nation,
4163and the difficulty was at an end.
4165Through the treaties of 1864, 1867, and 1868 was accomplished
4166the final destiny of the Mississippi River Ojibways.
4167Hole-in-the-Day was against their removal to what is now White
4168Earth reservation, but he was defeated in this and realized that
4169the new turn of events meant the downfall of his race. He declared
4170that he would never go on the new reservation, and he kept his
4171word. He remained on one of his land grants near Crow Wing. As
4172the other chiefs assumed more power, the old feeling of suspicion
4173and hatred became stronger, especially among the Pillager and Red
4174Lake bands. One day he was waylaid and shot by a party of these
4175disaffected Indians. He uttered a whoop and fell dead from his
4178Thus died one of the most brilliant chiefs of the Northwest,
4179who never defended his birthright by force of arms, although almost
4180compelled to do so. He succeeded in diplomacy so long as he was
4181the recognized head of his people. Since we have not passed over
4182his weaknesses, he should be given credit for much insight in
4183causing the article prohibiting the introduction of liquor into the
4184Indian country to be inserted into the treaty of 1858. I think it
4185was in 1910 that this forgotten provision was discovered and again
4186enforced over a large expanse of territory occupied by whites, it
4187being found that the provision had never been repealed.
4189Although he left many children, none seem to have made their
4190mark, yet it may be that in one of his descendants that undaunted
4191spirit will rise again.
4194End of Project Gutenberg Etext of Indian Heroes & Great Chieftains