Testimonials of Appreciation by President Coolidge for Service in World War I, Mandan, ND, July 4, 1924, directed by Col. A. B. Welch

Presentation of Testimonials of Appreciation for Service in WWI to the Mandan, Sioux, Gros Ventre and Arikara.  Mandan, N.D., July 4th, 1924 (reads like it was written by Welch)

 

Tribes present:

Mandan, represented by Sitting  Crow, Head Chief.

Sioux, represented by White Bear (Tom Frosted), Chief.

Gros Ventre, headed by Foolish Bear, noted Scout.

Arikara, represented by Charges Alone (Thomas Rogers), ex-serviceman.

Each representative was accompanied by official ‘Watchers for the People” (Witnesses).

 

Personal representative of President Coolidge  – Gen. W. Irving Glover, Washington.

Chairman of the ceremonies  – Major J.M.Hanley, Mandan, N.D.

Master of Ceremonies  – Major A.B.Welch, Mandan, N.D.

Other Guests  – James Shea, U.S.Marshall, Fargo, N.D., George H. Drake, Liason Official between the Indians and Washington.

Presentation of  gifts: 

The Sioux, through White Bear  – a beaded tobacco bag.

The Mandans, through Sitting Crow  – a Peace Pipe.

The Arikara, through Charges Alone  – beaded gauntlets, with the Thunder Bird, by descendant of Star (star shown upon gauntlets).

 

When arriving in vicinity of Gen. Glover, the Indians, all in costume, sung song in honor of the President.  All ‘Keepers’ made a response to the message of the Great Father.  Charges Alone wore a sacred bear-claw necklace, which is kept by the tribe with the Sacred Bundles of the Arikara (as it was personal property of the famous Chief, Four Bears). Dances and songs in honor of the White Father and General Glover were held at different times.  The Mandans named General Glover, Talking Father, as he talked for the President.

The testimonials will be kept sacredly for the people, and will eventually find a place among the contents of the Sacred Bundles of the Mandans, Gros Ventres and Arikara, which they have preserved from earliest antiquity, on their journeys from the mouth of the Mississippi; from their appearance above the waters of Minni Wakan (Devils Lake) and from the country below the City of Mexico, respectively.  They will be shown at the ‘Festivals of the Corn Mother’ of these three tribes named and at the ‘Ceremony of the Purification of the Holy Bundles,’ in the spring time.  The Sioux will keep theirs among other relics, carefully preserved and guarded, as the Sioux do not have ‘Holy Bundles,’ but have other things just as important.

This was, perhaps, the most important gathering of famous men from these four tribes ever held in recent years, and all the ceremony and form of camp life and ancient custom was duly observed.  Each tribe has a separate language and four interpreters were necessary.  The Master of Ceremonies was Major A.B.Welch, who served for a time upon the Staff of General Hunter Liggitt and later in the Third Division in France and Germany and is the Vice Commander of the Department of North Dakota American Legion.  He is an adopted Sioux, son of Chief John Grass, the greatest orator of the Sioux Nation, holding a commission as Chief Justice of Indian Offenses among the Sioux.  Grass died in 1918.  Welch’s name in the Sioux language is Mato Watakpe, meaning Charging Bear, which was Chief Grass’ warrior name.

Excerpts from Address of Gen. Glover:  “….Some months ago President Coolidge, the great White Father in Washington, was told that there had been over 12,000 Indian boys who had answered the call of their country when this nation was in peril, and this number included nine women (God Bless them) who had become nurses and did their part as well.  He, President Coolidge, felt that some recognition should be given to those boys who answered the call and to those of them, to the number of 137, who had paid the full price, the supreme sacrifice and had ‘Gone West.’  So it was his idea that a testimonial of recognition to those tribes whose sons had answered the call.  Therefore it is in accordance with his own idea that these testimonials have been caused to be struck off and on Saturday, when I was at the White House, and saw the Great Father signing these testimonials, it was then that I knew that, with a heart full of gratitude, he was causing these parchments to be sent out here today, with the thanks of a grateful Nation, to those true Americans, the Indians of the United States.  So, I say your Nation is proud of you and wants to help you and the Great White Father, when he designated me to come out here into the wonderful State of North Dakota and to tell you so.  You should feel doubly proud today because you are the very first to receive these testimonials of all the Indians in the land.  He wanted me to bring to you his greetings, his congratulation and his best wishes, and to say that he shakes you by the hand.”

Each of the ‘Keepers of the Testimonials’ was then introduced by Major A.B.Welch, Master of Ceremonies, and received their parchment from the hands of Gen. Glover.

**

At an Indian dance where there were gathered representatives from the four tribes, the Mandans, Gros Ventre, Arikara and Sioux, at Mandan, N.D., upon the occasion of the presentation of testimonials of appreciation from this Government to the Indians, for their service at home and abroad during the time when the Government was in peril, during the World War, July 4th, 1924.

This dance was in honor of Gen. Clover and other noted guests, at which time Gen. Glover was the personal representative of the President.  Upon presentation of the second Chief of the Mandans, Crows Heart, to the audience, there was great applause.  That part of his speech which is of special interest to the citizens of Mandan is as follows:

“I am Crows Heart of the Mandans.  We were the first people to come into this country.  We called ‘The Country of the Middle Hole,’ and thus the river which flows here is the Heart river.  We lived in a large village right where this city is now.  We took care of the first white people who came.  They were sick and nearly starved.  We fed them.  We gave them a good lodge.  We treated them well.  In appreciation of our acts, they gave us an old musket.  We have it with us today.  We keep it to remembers those white people by.  That was a long time ago.  It was in the time of my ancestors.  Since that ime we have always been called ‘The Friendly Mandans.’  Our boast is that we never killed a white man in war against him.  We were asked to become scouts by the President.  We came and enlisted.  Many of us were killed by the Sioux close by here.  But we did not care for our lives when the President wanted us.  We were men.  We live here first.  We know that this city is called Mandan for us.  We think we are citizens here among you.  We take you to be citizens of our people on account of that.  I stand here unashamed of anything I ever did toward the whites.  Many years ago I stood on this same ground with fear in my breast.  I look at you now without fear.  I am safe among my relatives of the city of Mandans, for you have spoken my name among you.  In the early days if an enemy spoke the names of one’s relatives, we did not kill him then.  I am glad to be here.  I will tell my people that we had plenty to eat here and that the people were glad to see us among them.  I shake hands with Mato Watakpe, the Sioux, for you all.”

Keepers of the President Coolidge Testimonials for Service during World War I:ce82bullhead-etal

 

Chip Creighton, 7th Cavalry, and Arikara Scouts attending the Roosevelt Monument Dedication and Reception of the President Coolidge Testimonials.

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