Indian Histories, from Eagle Staff to Grey Whirlwind (33 Individuals) as told to Col. A. B. Welch
Indian Histories, from Eagle Staff to Grey Whirlwind, 33 Individuals
(Click a name to go right to their post)
He was a Sioux Fighter of the old days and noted as a hunter and tracker.
This photo (1926) mentions that he is a member of the White Horse Riders Society and an assistant to the Chief.
The photo below is captioned “Sioux Indians, Cannon Ball, N.D., November 13th, 1928”
Left to right—His Road, Eagle Staff, Lean Warrior
Welch biographical sketch, 1920:
A three-quarter blood Santee doctor and author, born near Redwood Falls, Minnesota in 1858. His father was a full blood Santee, probably Sisseton, named Many Lightnings and his mother was a half-blood Sisseton woman, daughter of Captain Seth Eastman of the United States Army. His mother’s father was the Dakotah Chief named Cloudman. His mother died soon after he was born and he was taken by his father’s mother to raise. After the Minnesota Massacres, his grandmother fled to Canada and took the boy with her. There he stayed until he was fifteen years old, when his father brought him back to the U.S. and placed him in school at Santee, Nebraska. Here he stayed two years and then went to Beloit College, Wisconsin. After two years of study there he went to Knox college at Galesburg, Ill., and after that to Dartmouth in New Hampshire, where he graduated in 1887. He obtain his M.D. degree at Boston University in 1890.
He was the government physician at Pine Ridge Agency where he served three years, being there when the Dakotah were disturbed by the Ghost Dance craze, during which Sitting Bull was killed on the Grand River on the Standing Rock Agency. In 1893 he went to Saint Paul where he was a practicing physician and also spent three years with the YMCA as Traveling Secretary among the Indians. Then he went to Washington where he was attorney for the Indians and later, government physician at Crow Creek, S.D. In 1905 he was appointed to the special work of revising the allotment rolls and selecting permanent family names for the Dakotah.
“Indian Boyhood,” a book dealing with observations of his own youth, appeared in 1902. “Red Hunters” and “The Animal People” came out in 1904. He occasionally contributes to magazines and lectures on Indian Life and History.
In 1891 he was married to Miss Elane Goodale of Mass. And have six chilcren. He is still alive in 1920.
The writer mentioned this man as a great man in the writer’s speech at his adoption ceremonies and was told in a replying address, that he was not thought to be a great Indian among the Dakotah….That he did not know them well enough as he had not lived among them much.
This man was a brother of Charles Eastman, the celebrated doctor. His Dakotah name is Mahkipiya Wankan Kidan (Holy Cloud). He was born at Skakopee, Minn. He attained an education by hard work and, in 1876, was ordained a Minister in the Presbyterian Church. In 1878 he taught school at the Santee Reservation and resigned in 1885 and accepted a positon as overseer of the band of Indians then living in Flandreau Township, S.D. In 1896 he left his work and followed farming. In 1874 he married Mary J. Faribault, a half-blood Isante, and they have a family of six children. I think this man is still alive in 1916.
Hehaka Duza (Elk, Swift) talks to Welch, September 12th, 1922:
Hobu (Bristling, aka Arrows Walking) got his name this way. He was shot by the enemy so many times. He had a lot of arrows sticking in him. He was a great warrior then. They called him Bristling for that. Some other people call him Wahinkpe Mani (Walking Arrow), too.
The man Crow, whose picture you show me, wears those things in his hair. They are stripped feathers. He was shot by two arrows once. He pulled them both through. He did not break them. Off. So he can wear the quill of the eagle feathers for each one.
When the soldier, Crook, was taking our horses away at Fort Yates (after Little Big Horn), myself and some more of us got away and went up the east side of the Missouri river. We took a lot of horses with us. He did not get them. We went north that time. We found many buffalo and got along all right. We went to the Pabaksa camp and were gone a long time.
Welch notes on back of photo:
Yanktonai Sioux, died 1937, buried at Cannon Ball, N.D.
A quiet old Indian warrior and holder of many coups against the tribal enemies. Photo taken in 1926.
Fargo, N.D., Little Country Theatre, February 9th, 1934
Back row – Left to Right – Good Bird, Hidatsa Interpreter (A Haskel man), Bears Arm, Hidatsa Chief, Drags Wolf, Hidatsa Chief.
Front row – Left to Right – Elk, Sioux Yanktonaise Dakota Warrior, A. B. Welch, Charging Bear of the Sioux
Hehaka Duza (Elk, Swift) continues his talk to Welch, Sept. 12th, 1922:
When I was a boy nine years old, I had a small pony to ride. I had some arrows and a bow. The arrows were not iron or stone, but were just pointed wood hardened in fire. I saw a small buffalo and ran it. I shot it like a man would do. I put a lot of arrows in it. I rant it a long ways. I got an arrow in behind its foreleg and it fell over. I skinned it and took the hide and meat back to camp.
I got my name this way. I rode a fast horse after an elk. My horse fell down and died. I then ran after the elk for a long time. It was worried then. I ran and walked after it. It was nervous, too. I walked and ran some more. It began to get tired. It was afraid of me. It would run and come back then. I walked and ran right along for a long time. The elk was exhausted. I came to it. It was dead. So they called me Swift Elk then.
When No Two Horns was 27 his name was Red Butterfly. He was a scout at Fort Lincoln then.
August 26th, 1928, today, a group of four old men were talking to me of old fights with the enemy. In the conversation they mentioned that:
Young Bear was a very brave man; that he made seven coups in one fight in one day. Then Elk, who wears bucksking clothes with heraldric devices upon them, told of having rescued four of a war party who had been put afoot, their horses having either been killed or run away – and pointed with pride to four “marks,” done in beads upon his leggings and coat, which he said, represented to all Sioux, the fact that he had done that. Each mark was a pair of crossed sticks, he said. They were made of red beads upon buckskin which had been yellowed by wild sage during the tanning process.
Hehaka Duza, 79 years of age, tells a war story to Welch, Feb. 10th, 1934:
We went into Montana to find the enemy. Crows we wanted to find. We found them. It was summer time. We were mounted. We found them on the prairie close to the White Buttes (note: Chalky Buttes, south of present Amidan, Slope County, N.D.). We rode out to meet them then. They got separated. I rode after two of them and they were running away from me. At last one of them turned his horse and came straight at me. I shot him dead when he got close. He fired his gun and then could not load it again (Note: probably a single shot muzzle loader). I did not stop. I rode after the other one. He had a bow and arrows and a spear. I killed him then. I scalped him and went back and took the hair of the first one. Then I caught up both the enemy horses. I took first coup on both of these Crows. Chase Flying struck them then and got second coup.
Josephine Elk, Photo No. 1
Josephine Elk, Photo No. 2
Conversation with Enemy Heart, full blooded Mandan, December 1920:
I am a young man. You are very old. You are a chief and so you always tell the truth. You know many things which I do not know. You were a young man before the white man’s laws came here. You were a warrior then. Now you walk around without fear of death from anybody. I ask you a question – Which was the best and happiest time…then or now?
They tell me that you, too, are a warrior and have been in many hard battles where death was. Yet you talk as though death was to be feared. I can not believe that. If you die in battle and are brave then, you die well and the people sing about you. They dance for you and offer a feast. That is good and what we want. We do not want to be forgotten. If we are not brave and run away from danger of the enemy, then we are forgotten..
In the old times we did not have any law. If we wanted to, we went out and hunted the enemy. Maybe we killed him and maybe we let him go. We thought it was all right to kill him if we wanted to. That was the way God did with us then. No one came after us to make up trouble about that. They did not put us in jail to keep us for a long time. If we were hungry we went after game and took it where we found it. We were healthy then. We did not live in houses. Then we began to live in houses we began to die from a sickness. We died from the spotted sickness before, but this was a new one (i.e. WWI Flu Epidemic?). Our children die from it now and many cough now and sweat at night time. When the sun was hot in the summer time we liked that. When the winter time came with the ice and cold, we liked that. We did not want many clothes. We did not need them. The houses of dirt had a big hole in the top. We were happy then. I think it was better than for us. I do not find fault with God for this thing. Only I do not quite understand.
I have seen your store with all its things. I think you have worked hard for that. Our young men worked just as hard for other things. Our young men can talk English and go among the white people. One thing bothers me: I never saw an Indian have a store like yours is. He works hard but he can not do like you do. I think you must have worked just as hard to get all those good things as I did to get war honor when I was a young man. I think God is pleased that I worked hard for that. I think he is pleased for you to work hard for what you are after. Honor and food was all we wanted. Now you want honor and food and many things for the comfort and needs of the people. Maybe we were both right.
Now I will answer your question …. I think the olden times were best for the Indian and the present time is the best for the white man. Hao!
Welch note, September 1928:
Fine Weather is a full blood brother to Mrs. John Grass and lives on the Cheyenne Reservation, S.D.
He is now quite old and is the father of the wife of Frances Bull Head, son of Lieut. Bull Head, killed by Sitting Bull’s ghost dancers in December 1890.
Fine Weather was the one who wore a red cloth about his feet where he had been shot with an arrow by some northern enemy and left to die by his band.
Welch notes, September 9th, 1915:
Fire Heart is now, 1915, about 60 years old. He introduced himself to me at the Fort Yates Fair in September, and later I called upon him at his own lodge among his own band of Hunkpapa and Sihasapa. This division was about sixty lodges, mostly Hunkpapa, and he was the recognized leader of the band. He gave me coffee and wheat bread to eat and a young man whose name I do not know, was the interpreter.
He said that he was the fifth man of the name; that his father (meaning relative) first got the seed of the corn from a spirit woman; that he planted it by the water side and that the people who took care of the corn were called Minniconjou and lived at that time between the Platte river and the Black Hills (This was before the white invasion).
Later, a band of several Dakotah bands and tribes gathered around Fire Heart and were called the Fire Heart Band. One certain Fire Heart signed the Treaty of 1825 at Hidden Creek, together with nine others of the Fire Heart Band, on July 12th, 1825. General Atkinson signed on behalf of the Government.
His mother was a sister of Chief Grass’ father (Oglala), so these two noted old Dakotah men are blood cousins. He said Grass’ father and grandfather were both great chiefs and that Grass was, too. He also said that his grandfather, a Fire Heart, was in the Arikara war of 1823.
After presenting me with a cane carved like two snakes on a pole, which he carved himself, I gave him a plug of natural tobacco. I bade him goodbye. His wife followed me to the outside of the tipi and pulled some grass and made a motion around me head with it, meaning well wishes and joy from Mother Earth.
This Fire Heart is an Indian of the old times, is very courteous and dignified, offering his poor food with a great kindness and with an air of grandeur which was really touching. He impressed me as a noble man and one who would have made his mark even among white people, had he had the chance when young and vigorous.
At this time he was living in a small log house on the river about ten miles south of Fort Yates on his allotted land. I once stopped there for a few minutes and they invited me into their house and treated me to hot coffee. He has a splendid oil painting of himself upon the wall, which he promised to me when he died. Mrs. Grass told me that there was something between Fire Heart and Chief Grass and had been for many years, but did not tell me what it was. He always spoke well of Grass, however, and told me once that he was a great warrior against the Rees.
Welch notes, September 1920:
Fire Heart was a Chief of a band of Hunkpapa in old times. The band went by the name of their leader. He is supposed to have started the cultivation of corn among the Dakotah about 1730 0r 1735.
Grass said that the present Fire Heart, living at this time on the Standing Rock Reservation, 1920, is the direct descendant of the old Fire Heart mention above and that the man now alive is the fifth one of the name in direct line.
The Dream of Fire Heart, Mandan, October 24th, 1924:
Old Fire Heart came up from his shack on Grass Creek to see the “Miracle Doctor,” Mr. Nees, at Mandan. He cannot walk now without crutches and is pretty old. As we could not get a date with this doctor until the first of the year, I sent him over to Dr. Quain at Bismarck. He had this to say about his sickness:
“My woman died last summer. I have been alone since. I live at Fort Yates now. About a week after my woman died I was alone. I was asleep. It was night time. Some one pulled my blanket off. I looked around then. I went to sleep again. Some one kicked me then. I looked around then. I went to sleep again. I had my ears open. I was ready to wake quick. I was afraid of the WANAGI. Then some one lifted my leg. It went up high. Then she let it drop again. Since then I have not been able to move that leg any. It was WAKAN. I want to see that doctor who puts his hands on and cures you. The best place to bury them is on a platform. Then the earth spirits don’t get them. If he gets them, they are restless and cruel. I have covered her grave now. Maybe she will let me alone now.”
Beade Using Arrow, Yanktonaise, Mandan, N.D., Nov. 26th, 1924:
His grandfather was named Tatonka Tohu (Buffalo Neck, or Bull Neck). Fire Heart is alive now and lives at Fort Yates this winter (1924). He had another name which was High Bird (Sitkala Wakatya). This man is now the head chief of the Sihasapa or Blackfeet Dakotah. He is quite aged and feeble now, walking with a crutch or cane.
Welch Notes, 1926:
Fire Heart, an old sub-chief of the Sihasapa (Blackfoot) Teton, died in the Government Hospital at Fort Yates, October 27, 1926. He was about 75 years of age and was a descendant of the first Fire Heart, who was give the seed corn by the “Woman in White.”
Welch notes, February 9th, 1926:
Old Fire Heart, a real Chief of the Sihasapa Teton Dakotah, was in Mandan today for treatment by the “Spirit Doctor,” Nees. He told me of a stone up toward the Knife river, which had the print of a baby’s foot upon it. He also said that he had seen Ft. Clark Village when the Arikaras were living there (after its desertion by the Mandans). I asked him if he still had his oil painting. He said, “Yes. It is yours. I am going to live a little while yet. Then I will go. I want you to have the picture. I was 19 years old when that was made. I am now 76 winters. I have lived a long time. I saw the President that time (he called the President ‘George Washington.’). Many Chiefs were there with me. I have remembered you this winter time.”
Painting of Chief Fire Heart:
Several years ago, I visited at the lodge of Chief Fire Heart of the Blackfoot Sioux. While there he showed me a picture of himself and promised that it should be mine after his death. The old Chief died sometime in the winter of 1926-1927, I believe.
At a gathering of Sioux upon the Standing Rock at Fort Yates, N.D., Sept 3rd, 1927, a woman by the name of Striped Cloud Woman (Mahpiya Gelegelela) told me that she was the adopted daughter of the old Chief and that she was keeping the picture for me and wanted to know when I would come for it. The next morning I called at her little log house, which was very clean and tidy, with canvas tacked up against the walls to keep the wind out, and she gave me the picture.
It is in a large gilt frame, and the history she gave me of the picture is as follows: It was made when the man was 19 years of age, and he died when he was 86 – making the picture 67 years old (1860). It is now hanging in my collection.
Long Bull talks to Welch, May 7th, 1926:
Long Bull told me that Flying By was a leader of a band of Minniconjou at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, but that the real leader of the Minniconjou was White Swan (Magaska) and, after him, Hump came. The father of Flying By was Foolish Heart (Chante Witko). This is the White Swan who was the father of my foster mother, the wife of Chief John Grass.
November 1926 notes:
An old time Sioux Warrior against the Crows, Arikawas and Mandans. Has taken part in many important ceremonies.
Two Bulls said, ‘I was a scout in 1890 soon after the trouble with Sitting Bull.. Mato Witko (Fool Bear) was a policeman at that time and was a guard at the Grand River School when Sitting Bull was killed.
His name used to be Inyan Ota (Rock of Sound). This is from his old discharge papers as a scout for the USA, which he showed me, himself.
Foolish Bear, the Gros Ventre, talks. Mandan, N.D., March 3rd, 1925.
Foolish Bear and Bear in the Water, Interpreter Horn
These men came to my office (note: Welch was postmaster for Mandan for most of the 1920’s until the Democrats kicked him out in 1933) and wanted to go to visit Governor Sorlie. At the capital building they dressed in their finery and we called upon the Governor and made a visit to the Museum.
While at the museum, Foolish Bear called my attention to a very small owl, which was stuffed and in a case with other owl specimens. This bird, he said, scared everybody. It made a groaning sound, like a man in agony of wounded. He said that one could go right up to it and pick it up, that it was not afraid of anyone at all. For that reason the Indians call it “Looking for Death.”
When he saw an Indian-made earthen pot, he said: “that was made by the Mandan Indians. They used a rock to make the inside smooth, and rubbed a flat bone or stick on the outside, pressing against the inside rock. That’s they way they made it thin. They ground up some rock to mix with the mud. Some kinds of clay will not crack but will bend. They put it in the fire to burn it, then they would take it out and made it straight before it got too hard. I think that that one was made when they were all sick. Many of them died all along the Little Missouri river, when they ran away from the sickness.
oolish Bear took his moccasins off when their visit was finished and gave them to me. They are mostly yellow, with the Gros Ventre and Mandan twisted or braided porcupine work upon them. Bear in the Water gave me a pair of beaded gauntlets with the flower work they make mostly. He also brought my brass tomahawk in which he had put a handle and fixed it all up with fur, beads and porcupine work.
Welch notes, undated:
Foolish Bear (Nagapici Inuhisi) Gros Ventre. A famous old warrior of that turbulent warlike people. A ‘keeper’ of the Holy Bundles and a man of ceremony. 1926
October 26th, 1936.
Today I called on Foolish Bear at his house on Shell Creek, south of Van Hook. There, I found Chief Drags Wolf, both Gros Ventre.
Foolish Bear told me that he used to carry the mail between Fort Buford, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, and Fort Stevenson. The danger was great at all times on account of roving bands of hostile Sioux, Assinoiboines, Blackfeet (Piegans) and bands of other tribes coming into that point and following the valley of the Missouri.
He said that it took five days to make the trip in the winter time, and he camped out every night, if he slept at all.
In the summer he made wide detours to pass hostile hunters and warriors out “for enemy hair.”
In spite of these hardships and dangers, he said that he always held to the mail, even though he had to speed up, and always arrived with his mail. He was very proud of having been of use to the soldiers at both forts.
At one time he was chased right up to the fort when coming to Stevenson, at one trip.
He was chasing Sioux horses during the Custer fight, and was a scout under Bloody Knife at that time, with the Custer column.
He is a grand old man – dignified, polite. Talks good Sioux.
Biography Sheet, 1924:
Memorial Day, 1922, Foolish Bear gives a speech:
Remarks delivered by Lt. Col. A. B. Welch at the unveiling of a monument to the honor of Four Bears, Chief of the Mandans, at Elbowoods, N.D., June 16th, 1934:
This day becomes an important date among the Indian Tribes of the Upper Missouri River, because today, in the presence of a great throng of the northern tribes, we are dedicating a monument and unveiling a bronze tablet to the memory of a great Chief of the Mandan People. This man was Four Bears.
We do not know exactly where or when he was born, but we do know that he was a man of mature years one hundred years ago and that his influence was strong among the people of his tribe. There can be little doubt that he was born at Mihtuttahangkush, the largest Mandan village on the right bank of the Missouri River, just north of the little town now known as Fort Clark, and that he lived there all of his lifetime and finally met his death, either in the village or not far from there. We know that to be the fact, because he was in that village and made a speech to his people there on the very day he died, but who buried him, or whether or not his body was placed upon a scaffold or lay uncared for on the open prairie, we do not know. We know that he lived the life of a warrior and we also know that he died like a brave man, because he mounted his best horse and was dressed in his best costume, when he harangued his people on the last day of his life.
One story, which has lived ever since his death, and which was told by George Catlin, who was his friend, is that after he had ridden about the village calling out to the people, bidding them to listen to his voice for the last time, he rode out across the prairie to the circling hills where, sitting alone upon some rock upon the crest, he awaited until death came to him. For Four Bears died of the small pox, from which there seemed to be no escape for any man.
This epidemic of that terrible disease took such a toll of Indian lives throughout the northwest Indian country that it will not be amiss to mention it here. It was introduced at the great Mandan Village by the coming of the American Fur company’s river steamer, the Saint Peter, on Monday, June 19th, 1837. The story, as told by traders and trappers of that day, is to the effect that two deck hands, already infected or dead by small pox, were lying on the open deck, covered with a blanket, and that the blanket was purloined by some Indian and the terrible disease was thus introduced among the Indians. It has also been claimed that the sickness was spread by the whites with a vindictive purpose, but we cannot believe this to have been the case. The first death from its ravages was on Friday, the 14th of July, 1837, when Chardon’s diary tells of a young Mandan dying, and others having caught it, but, because most of the Mandans were out on a hunt making dried meat, it was not general yet. However, as soon as the hunting party arrived from the Heart River, many were taken down with it almost at once. Four Bears arrived from the hunt on the 26th, and was stricken immediately. The people of the Little Village arrived that same evening, well loaded with meat, and several of them died that same night.
On the 28th, the Mandans and Arikaras gave a dance at the Post, saying that they had but a few days to live. On the 30th, the Gros Ventre were dying rapidly, and that day Four Bears died, having been sick for five days. It spread with frightful rapidity, and the account kept by Chardon, the Post Trader at Fort Clark, a very short distance south of the big village, says that the ravages among the Mandans from day to day, was terrible.
George Catlin, the painter, who was with the Mandans in 1832, five years before its appearance, from information he obtained, says that it was of such malignant form in action, that many people died within a few hours after having been stricken, and that many leaped from the cliff to the rocks below, while others shot themselves with guns or killed themselves with knives or stabbed themselves with arrows. Utter dismay seemed to possess all classes and all ages, and they gave themselves up as entirely lost. The bodies of the dead were not taken care of but left where they had died and the stench became almost unbearable, and those left were in appalling despair.
Catlin tells the story of the death of Chief Four Bears, which he heard from Chardon, who was present during the entire time. He relates that Four Bears died on the 30th of July, 1837, and says:
“The scenes were so dreadful that I dread to relate them. But there is one which I must describe briefly, relative to the death of that noble gentleman – – – and to whom I became so much attached, Ma-to-toh-pa, or The Four Bears. This fine fellow sat in his lodge and watched every one of his family die about him, his wives and his little children. When he walked out, around the village, and wept over the final destruction of his tribe, he braves and warriors, whose sinewy arms alone he could depend on for a continuance of their existence, all laid low.. When he came back to his lodge, where he covered his dead family in a pile with a number of robes, and wrapping another around himself, went out upon a hill at a little distance, where he stayed several days, despite all the solicitations of his friends, resolved to starve himself to death. He remained there until the sixth, when he had just strength enough to creep back to the village, when he entered the horrid gloom of his own lodge, and laying his body alongside of the group of his family, drew his robe over him, and died on the ninth day of his fatal abstinence.”
Chardon’s record is to the effect that, on the day of his death, Four Bears, dressed in his best costume and mounting his trained buffalo horse, rode among the lodges, loudly talking to his people, in these words:
“My friends, one and all, listen to what I have to say. Ever since I can remember, I have loved the whites. I have lived with them ever since I was a boy, and to the best of my knowledge, I have never wronged a white man. On the contrary, I have always protected them from the insults of others, which they cannot deny. The Four Bears never saw a white man hungry, but what he gave them to drink, eat, and a buffalo skin to sleep on, in time of need. I have been in many battles and often wounded, but the wounds of my enemies I exult in, but today I am wounded and by whom? By those same whites that I have always considered and treated as Brothers. I do not fear death, my friends. You know that. – – – Listen well to what I have to say, as it will be the last time you shall hear me.”
So great was the fatality that Kenneth Mackenzie, who was the Agent of the American Fur Company at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, wrote a letter to Maximilion, the Prince of Wied, who had spent the winter of 1833-34 with the Mandans as the big village, as the guest of Mr. Kipp, who had married Earth Woman, a daughter of Four Bears – telling him that his old friend The Four Bears and all the Mandans had perished and that not one remained. With this letter, Mackenzie forwarded the famous weapon of the Chief, the knife with which he avenged himself upon his enemies, and which is shown upon this monument, worn in his hair as was his custom. However, most fortunately, about 40 or 50 full-blooded Mandans did not die, and have been the agents of saving this splendid, friendly people to live among us ever to this day.
Four Bears had a son who did not perish. He was named Bad Gun or Charging Eagle. He became a famous Chief after the death of his noted father, and also his mother, who died during the epidemic. Four Bears has been mentioned many times by white explorers and traders of one hundred years ago, and always in the best of terms. He is described as having been much the gentleman – kind and courteous to his friends but dark and terrible to his enemies. He often wore a robe of buffalo hide upon which were drawn the pictures of his war exploits and honors. He was Chief at the time of his death, and a man of tremendous influence and was treated with respect and honor by both his own people and the whites. Catlin painted his portrait in several positions, with costume and headdress. Bodmer a portrait painter with Maximilion’s party in 1833-1834, also made at least two oil portraits of him, one in full regalia with a spear in his hand, and another in breechcloth and painted body, with a metal tomahawk in his hand.
Bad Gun, his great son, was photographed by Captain Badger at Fort Berthold in 1872. Colonel A.B.Welch, of Mandan, N.D., who has spent many years making studies of the northwest Indian tribes, is in possession of a photo of both the Catlin and Bodmer paintings of Four Bears, and also the photographic plate made by Badger, of Bad Gun. The bronze Indian head upon this monument is made after a close study of these pictures, and so it is indeed, a real likeness of our famous Chief of ancient days, and could hardly have been more like him even though he were living today.
Four Bears was well-known to the Gros Ventre (Hidatsa) and also to the Arikaras (Sanish), for the three villages of the Gros Ventre were very close to the two Mandan villages. The Arikaras, who had been driven out of their double village north of the mouth of the Grand River (Padani Wakpe) by Colonel Leavenworth and his hastily-organized Missouri Legion, in 1823, had fled to their relatives, the Pawnee, far to the south, where they stayed at least seven years and then started their travel north to join the Mandans and Gros Ventre, and they followed the Little Missouri River to the Killdeer Mountains, in which vicinity they spent the winter of 1836-1837, and at last arrived at the villages of the Mandan and Gros Ventre, with 250 lodges, on Friday, the 28th day of April, 1837, just three months before the death of Chief Four Bears. So the Arikara must have known him.
It is recorded of Four Bears that he was universally admired by the whites of that early day, and he certainly is remembered by all Indians with sentiments of honor and respect. Therefore, have we erected this splendid and enduring monument of stone and bronze to the memory of this, our great Chief of One Hundred years ago, in order that coming generations may know him to have been one of Nature’s Gentlemen and among the greatest of Indian Chiefs.
As the drape falls from before his bronze likeness, and it is displayed to the people of the world to gaze upon for ages to come, let us resolve to follow his noble example; to live honorably like he would have instructed us to do, and when Death stands beside us, may we be able to look the whole world in the face and say, with pride and honor, even as Chief Four Bears did – – “Here is a MAN.”
Black Tiger, his grandson, talks to Welch, Sept. 28, 1926:
A man and a woman called to see me today. The man’s name is Black Tiger or Black Cat (Buskampsi, in the Mandan tongue). His first name was Young Duck. This man is 50 years of age and is the son of the Mandan Chief named Bad Gun. He, Bad Gun, was the son of Mato Topa (Four Bears) about whom Maximilion, Prince of Wied, has spoken so much. Four Bears was a Mandan Chief when Lewis and Clark wintered at Mihtuttahangkush in 1804-05. So, this man, Black Tiger, is the grandson of the famous Chief, Four Bears. He is very proud of this distinction. I showed him Bodmer’s painting of his great grandsire and he studied it for an hour, noting every paint mark and feather and the famous knife in his hair. This knife was secured by Kinneth McKenzie and sent to Maximilian. Black Tiger is half Mandan and Gros Ventre. His father, Bad Gun, died of sickness in 1907, at the Berthold village site and is buried on the Little Missouri river, on the hill which is on the land where Black Tiger now lives, about six miles up the river from where it flows into the Missouri. He was about 8 years old when they had the small pox sickness (i.e. born about 1830). This scourge was in 1838-1839. Black Cat was born at old Ft. Berthold in 1876. He told me about the death of Four Bears, or as much as is known:
“No one knows where Four Bears is now. They did not see him die that time. He went away. When the sickness was there that time. He got on a horse and went away across the hills. That was at Mihtuttahangkush. All the Mandans peoples were running everywhere then. They got scared that time. Everybody was dying all over. Many peoples die then. They laid all about. Out on the prairie and along the Little Missouri water. Four Bears he went too. He had a good horse. They went away. No one saw him die anyplace. No one ever saw his body after that. No one ever saw him any more after that ride he took. He died all alone some place on the prairie. The sickness killed him then. We thing that he was there singing and sitting down, when the sickness came up to him.. He was brave to die alone. He was my grandfather.”
Black Tiger’s wife is Yellow Head. She is the daughter of Otter, who in the Indian’s way, was the Aunt of Sakakawea. Yellow Head’s father was Sit Anywhere and he was a Hidatsa like his wife. Yellow Head lived at old Ft. Berthold and remembers that a part of the old log palisade was still standing during her childhood there.
Black Tiger is a leading man in the Antelope Soldier Society of the Mandans, of which I am also a member. He said he thought they would give me the Holy Object of the Mandans to keep forever for them.
Legend of why he wore the Knife in his Hair … Joe Packineau talks to Welch at Elbowoods, December 3rd, 1923:
Mato Topa (Four Bears) was a great chief of the Mandans. He lived at Mih-tutta-hanko village. He wore a knife in his hair and many marks upon his robe.
One time an Arikara killed his brother. Mato Topa felt very bad. They told him. He said, “I will get him. I will go after him and get him. I will do this thing when I want to.”
So the Arikara who killed his brother heard this. Mato Topa sent the word to him. “Look out,” he said, “I will kill you some day.” So this man was afraid. He was sorry that he had killed the brother of Mato Topa. He would not go out after dark or after the horses, alone. He would run into the lodges when he saw a stranger coming. He kept hid all the time.
When Mato Topa got all ready, he had a rope and a knife. He started out. “I am going after that man,” he said. He got to the Arikara village. He went in. The people told the Arikara that Mato Topa was there for him. So he sung a song and went out to meet this Mandan.
They had a big fight. Mato Topa took the knife away from him and stuck it in his heart. He left it there. Then he got away across the river and yelled across to the Arikara, “See, there is your young warrior. I am Mato Topa who killed him. You all know me now. If anyone wants to come after me, he can come to my village. I will tell everyone to permit you to pass to my lodge. There I will kill you, too.”
So he wore a knife in his hair after that time. He was a great man, but was not the principal chief. He was the greatest warrior, though.
Bear on the Flat, a Mandan Indian of about 70 years, talks to Welch, March 25th, 1927, Mandan, N.D., interpreter Dean:
When asked the question regarding the death of this famous Mandan warrior Chief of the early part of 1800, he said:
“No one knows much about this. One time he gathered all the people together at Mihtuttahangkush. He stood there and told them some things. He knew things which were to happen next day. He told them that something was coming to them. It was a terrible sickness. It was that small pox sickness about 90 years ago when we had it. He got on his horse and went all around the camp place then. He cried out to the people. He said to get ready then to meet what was coming. Then he rode away from there. He died some place. No one saw him after that time. When the sickness came we were a strong people and our enemies could not drive us. We always held our villages. But after that it was different. We were weak in numbers. We were still strong-hearted and have lived. We still live, a few of us.”
He also said:
“There are two thing which I do not like. One is that that steamboat should have buried those sick men before they came to our village. The other is that the President sold and gave guns to our enemies. The Sioux got them. The Chippewas got them. The Assiniboine got them. The Blackfeet of Montana got them. The Crows got them. We got none. We were always good to the trappers and traders among us. Why should the President want us to be killed? That was a long time ago. I do not feel pleased about that way of doing.”
Four Horns was Sitting Bull’s father, killed in 1850, and this was also one of the first names of Sitting Bull given to him by his father.
Arikara Visitors, Mandan, N.D., January 1st, 1926:
Today Four Rings and his wife called on me. They live on the Ft. Berthold Reservation. Four Rings is an old Scout for the Government, and has the regulation Indian Wars Medal. He served at Ft. Abraham Lincoln among the first Arikara scouts and was 17 years of age when he first enlisted. He served three six month’s terms, and then went to Fort Buford at the mouth of the Yellowstone, where he scouted against the Sioux and ‘shot meat’ for the soldiers there.
He told me of one affair, where there were two Indian scouts and a bunch of soldiers held up somewhere west of Buford and along the Yellowstone river. The Sioux rode all around them and it looked bad for a time for the little detachment, but they finally ‘rode through’ and got back safely. A “very young man was the leader of the soldiers.”
Four Rings’ father was called Buffalo Paunch or Buffalo Belly. This man lies buried in the Indian cemetery at Ft. Berthold trading post. Four Rings says that he wants to die now, that he is over 70 years old and “has done a lot of good things; he is brave and ready to die not.”
Note: Four Rings died in February 1926.
Tom Frosted makes present of butchered cow, Sept. 10th, 1915:
I heard a woman start a song and followed her as she went along the line of tents to the lodge of Frosted, where a large circle was assembled. In the middle was the carcass of a newly-butchered cow being cut up by some old men. The counted the people and cut it into chunks to correspond.
I gave some tobacco for the honor of Mato Ska (White Bear), which is another name be hears and three old men and some women sung a song about me being good to the old people; the Herald shouted Mato Watakpe he-e-, several times and several old men and women came over the shook hands with me. Mato Ska made a speech which was loudly Hao-ed. As the meat was given to the women by some young men, they wrapped it into shawls and departed at once to there own fireside to cook and eat it.
Presents from Mato Ska (White Bear, often Tom Frosted), Jan. 5th, 1930:
Today, John Brought Plenty and another Indian, Tom Swimmer, who came from the Sheyenne Reservation, called, and after the usual social talk, Brought Plenty presented me a “hand shake” from White Bear, and unwrapped a very fine photograph of White Bear, which he had sent to me. Shows him sitting, in head dress and buckskins, with a buffalo robe across his lap, decorated with porcupine lines and feathers. In his left arm, a rifle is leaning and there is a pipe bag in his right. The picture is already framed, and is the one I had admired while in his log house upon the Porcupine river last fall, in company with Earnest Wilkinson and Geo. Drake of Minneapolis. Then he also sent me a pair of medicine rattles of par-fleche, which once belonged to the father of White Bear’s wife, quite a famous Sioux, named Left Hand Bear. They are of buffalo skin and, of course, quite old instruments. These old medicine things are very hard to obtain. The larger one, with a thong about it, is the ‘male’ and the other is the one used when performing any ceremony with women – the ‘female’ rattle.
Thomas Frosted talks family history with Welch, Mandan, N.D., November 10th, 1927:
White Bear had just returned from Fort Totten where he had been visiting for some weeks. He called on me and the following history was given today:
“That Waaneta, who is buried at Fort Totten, was the son of the old man Waaneta who fought with that “Red Head” of the English (This is Robt. Dixon of the War of 1812). The old man Waaneta had two sons. The first (Chaska) was called Hogan Sapa (Black Fish). This man died of something wrong with his heart, four miles south of where Jamestown is now, on the James River.
“Then Waaneta, the old man, son of Red Thunder, had a second son. His name was Waaneta. He was 76 years old when he was killed by a war party of Crows, north of the Grand River. This is the father of the Waaneta who died and is buried at Fort Totten.
“This old man Waaneta’s son, named Black Fish, had a daughter (Winona). She married a Hunkpapa man named Tatonka Naji (Standing Buffalo). I am their son. So, Black Fish, the son of Waaneta, was my grandfather and the old man Waaneta was my great-grandfather. The old man Waaneta married a French woman. Black Fish was one part Sioux and one part white. His daughter, my own mother, was three parts Sioux and one part white. I have seven parts of Sioux and one part of white.
“Standing Buffalo, my father, was attacked one time. The enemy were from the north country; Padani, Hewahkokta and Mowahtani (Arikara, Gros Ventre and Mandan). It was a big fight. I was 12 years old then. I am 73 now (born 1854, fight was in 1866). This place was east of the Missouri river, across from the Grand River. He was killed then by these enemy.
“Black Fish was in Minnesota country that time (meaning the Minnesota massacres in the 1860’s). He was in his place then. Some Yanktonaise came there. He was a friend of the whites. He was part white. He said, “Get out now.” Then those Yanktonaise killed him there. For that thing they killed him. He was there when some horse soldiers came. They found him dead there. Poor man. I’m sorry about that thing. He’s a good man, my grandfather Black Fish. That’s what they say.
Pencil Note: White Bear died December 20, 1932 and is buried at Ft. Yates.
Pizi, Gall, a very noted Hunkpapa Chief, was born in 1840 on Moreau creek, S.D., and died at Oak Creek, S.D., on Dec. 5th 1894. All Yellow told me, Dec. 30th, 1925, that Gall is buried in the Episcopal Church Yard at Wakpala, S.D. Gall was of humble parentage and his father died when he was a small lad. As a young man, he was a warrior of considerable note among his people and later his real military genius was displayed when, while in command of the Indian warriors of the Dakotah Nation on the Little Big Horn, he fought the column of General Custer to a finish. This was June 25th, 1876.
After the battle he fled to asylum over the line into Canada, but in 1880 he, together with Crow Chief and other prominent Dakotah, withdrew from the followers of Sitting Bull, and, with their bands, surrendered to Major Ilges at Poplar Creek, Montana, Jan. 1st, 1881.
He was taken to the Standing Rock Reservation, and at once denounced Sitting Bull as an Imposter. He was a very strong-faced man with a noble cast of countenance and his photo resembles our idea of a noble Roman Senator. He had an imposing presence. That he was of strong physical constitution is shown when we know that a soldier ran a bayonet clean through his body at Fort Rice. Grass tells me that the bayonet stuck out four inches beyond his back, and the soldier had to place his feet upon his body to remove the weapon.
Gall was appointed jointly with Chief Grass, to be Justice of Indian Offenses and served as such until he died.
Grass says that, “after Red Cloud, who was a great orator as well as a warrior being entitled to 80 coups, came Pizi, who was a great strategist and leader of men.”
Unidentified Indian Warrior (maybe Crow Ghost) talks, undated: “Grass and Gall were always jealous of each other. But they were friends all the time, too. I knew both Grass and his father – they were both powerful families in the ruling class. That was a big people, that Sihasapa. There were many bands of about thirty lodges each – sometimes more than that. But Grass and Gall and Mad Bear each took many for that treaty there as Cadotte’s barn that time. Each one got $500.00 in a bundle. I am Hunkpapa, so I didn’t like that. Sitting Bull had a great mind – he could see things plainly.”
Chief Grass talks to Welch, Sept. 9, 1915, regarding speeches of Gall in 1888:
In 1888 to Capt. Pratt, he said, “We should listen to the whites and hear what they have to say. Former commissioners have come to us and made many promises. They did not tell us what the Great Father said, but talked to please the Indian heart. I believe the Great Father is honest and, in the past, have acted with honest hearts. I have not complained of this, but unless this treaty is fair and we are told the truth, my heart will not be good.”
This talk was made when Capt. Pratt tried to discredit the Chiefs Gall and Grass with their own people. They had been chosen to represent the Dakotah and, because they stood firm and demanded more than six cents per acre for their lands, the commissioners made the mistake of stirring up trouble.
Gall continued, “I have been among you for many years. You know me as your Chief and you know me to be always true to you. Whom will you follow, this commission which you have never seen before, or your Chiefs who have led you in battle and fought for you?”
He recalled to the people the time when he was pinned to the ground with a bayonet at Fort Rice and asked them if he was not worthy of their confidence. “They come here with two papers and tell you we must sign one or the other and our names will be counted. One means that we sell our land and one that we shall keep them. This is the first time that I ever knew that any man can be made to sign a paper against his will.”
Welch note – John Grass also made a speech at this council. The commission failed utterly in their efforts with the Dakotah and went back to Washington empty-handed because of their duplicity and greed.
The Bayoneting of Chief Gall
Told by Crow Ghost, Mandan, N.D., January 20th, 1926.
We were looking over a picture of Chief Gall (1866 in the Winter Count) and this is the story he told:
“Pizi was a great soldier of the Sioux. My father was Hairy Chin, an Arikara and at the time lived in an earth lodge at the Indian village at Fort Berthold. I lived there, too. There was a soldier’s place east of us (Fort Stevenson). Gall and some other Sioux went there to talk. I do not know what happened, but two soldiers run their guns into him. The long knives went in at both sides of him. They were hard to get out. Gall was dead for a long time then (unconscious). The Indians brought him to my father’s lodge. My father knew about some good medicine. He took care of Gall then. For three months he remained in my father’s lodge. Then he went back to the Sioux country. This was not at Fort Rice. It was at Stevenson. Some say it was Fort Rice. That is not true. I know for my father took care of him.”
Gall’s speech at Treaty at Fort Rice – 1868:
While making this speech, the blood from his unhealed bayonet wounds was running from the wound down his leg. Some have intimated that he opened them for effect, but I do not believe this. He was too honorable a man to stoop to any such low subterfuge.
This treaty is called in official papers “The Treaty of Fort Laramie,” but the Sioux would not go there and the treaty took place at Fort Rice and is called “Minihanska” by the Sioux people. The U.S.Commissioners came on the boat “Ben Johnson.” Gall, Grass and Running Antelope spoke for the Hunkpapas and Sihasapas.
Note – It seems almost impossible to get two Sioux to agree as to where this occurred. Grass told me it was at Minahanska (Long Knife…i.e. Fort Rice). Another told me it was at Fort Union at the Yellowstone river. There is no question but that it did take place though, and made a bitter incentive for Gall to oppose the whites thereafter. Gall was, without doubt, the commanding man and greatest influence over hostiles of 1875-76, and the Indian actually in power and command at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
Chief Gall as another name:
I asked an old friend, Frank Gates, who can talk broken English, if Chief Gall had any other name than that of Pizi – “Gall.”
He said, “Yes. He got it this way. One time there was a circle camp of Crows. The Chief led his Dakotah men through the tipis and to the middle of the camp. They had a fight there then. When all the Sioux had made coup, they run through the other side of the circle and get away all right. So he got a name Chok abin. I can’t tell what that means, but it is about him going in the middle. I always called him by that name and many Indians did.”
I also asked an old woman, 84 years of age, the mother of Mrs. Standing Soldier, about it. She said that she knew him as Chokabia, but some people called him Pizi. This woman’s name is Bad Horse, a Hunkpapa.
Tom Mentz, a good English student, said; “Yes. I have heard him called that by old people. It means Runs in the Middle, as near as I can translate to you. We say a man is a Bismarker if he lives in Bismarck, A Mandan man is a Mandanite. A person who lives in Chicago or Washington is a Chicagoite or Washingtonian. This name is like that somewhat. It means that he was one who was in the middle of something and did something there. It is difficult of correct translation.
Fargo, N.D., Little Country Theatre, February 9th, 1934
Back row – Left to Right – Good Bird, Hidatsa Interpreter (A Haskel man), Bears Arm, Hidatsa Chief, Drags Wolf, Hidatsa Chief.
Front row – Left to Right – Elk, Sioux Yanktonaise Dakota Warrior, A. B. Welch, Charging Bear of the Sioux
Hunkpapa, picture taken at Little Eagle, S.D., no date:
He took part in Custer’s Black Hills Expedition of 1874.
Was wounded in right hand as a Scout for Reno…left on travois pulled by Young Hawk … reached the Steamboat “Far West” at mouth of Yellowstone, which carried survivors to Bismarck.
James All Yellow says, Sept., 1915:
“Once a man was away hunting. When he came back he found his father, mother and some more relatives killed by some soldiers from Fort Rice.
He was very mad and made a promise to kill many whites. His name was Gray Bear. He is dead now. He had a friend who promised that thing, too.
When they saw a white man, they go and kill him. They kill one here. They kill one over there, too. Flying By was his friend. He is alive now.
Gray Bear Killed thirty one white people and Flying By killed about fifty white people for that thing they did. They were both very brave.
This may be a bill paid by ‘another’ Gray Bear
Notes on Back of Photograph: Sitting Bull’s Family and Home on Grand River, S. Dak. Attested by Gray Eagle (Wambdi Hota) with his “Mark.” Grey Eagle was one of the volunteers who assisted the Indian Police in the fight of December 15, 1890 – when Sitting Bull was killed. Grey Eagle identified the two wives of Sitting Bull seen in this picture, were sisters and Grey Eagle their brother . Sitting Bull was killed in the doorway during his capture.
A son of Spirit Walker. He and his brother, Sounding Heavens, rescued Mrs. Marble, the Spirit Lake captive, in 1857.
ALL YELLOW talks to Welch, December 30, 1925:
He also said that the man who killed General Custer was named Ajemakasan (White Track). He was half Sisseton and Half Hunkpati and All Yellow insisted in calling him a wicheyelo. He said that he never came back to the United States but died in Canada, and that he dressed up in Custer’s clothes, and had a revolver which belonged to Custer, but that he threw that away.
I do not take any stock in this story – W.
Battle Shield of Grey Whirlwind, September 7th, 1927, Mandan, N.D.:
This day and place an old Sioux by the name of Wahmniyamni (Grey Whirlwind) gave me his shield and explained its pictographic significance. The star in the middle is the ‘Day Sun,’ which is our mother; the red moon is our father; the blue circle all around is what comes to us from those parents of ours. It is surrounded by a full circle of lesser feathers of the eagle.
Holy Horse told me, today, that Grey Whirlwind was a great warrior against the Crows and Padani in his youth, and was a very brave man. Frequently he went against the enemy, and crawled into his village and cut loose horses and one time came back with nine fine ones. He said that he once went a great distance to fight the Pierced Noses (Nez Perces) and came back with honor from that war trail.