Decoration Day, “Old Scout Society, No. 1,” Fort Berthold, May 30, 1933. Sitting Crow talks with Col. A. B. Welch

Welch describes Festivities and Delivers his Speech, with Only Three Old Scouts from the Battle of the Little Big Horn Still Alive, Fort Berthold, ND, May 30, 1933

I had received a written invitation to be the speaker there, from the Secretary of “Old Scout Society, No. 1.”  This society has but three regular members, all old scouts with Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 1876.  In 1932 there were four, but old Bears Belly died after May 1932, and now there are but three members:

Red Bear, Running Wolf and Little Sioux, sole surviving Custer Scouts at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.


Running Wolf (pencil note on ms:  dead)

Red Bear (pencil note on ms: dead)

Little Sioux (pencil note on ms: died Sept 26, 1933.  His earlier name was One Wolf, born 1857, now buried with Scouts at Fort Berthold)

We arrived at the camp about eleven o’clock in the forenoon.  Many spots of dust were dotted over the level bench land as wagons and autos made their way to the camp on the site.  There were about 20 lodges erected.  As we came into the camp, we were met by a group of World War veterans, all Indians, headed by Charges Alone (Tom Rogers).  Parked the car away from running horses and walked across to a group of old men and the Scouts, who arose as I approached, and sung a song about me.  Shook hands and talked Sioux with a couple of men, and then went out and joined the young soldiers, awaiting the arrival of a band which had promised to be there, from Garrison.

They did not appear, so soon the Indians came with a horse to ride in the parade.  Mounted  – had some difficulty with the horse which resented the approach of waving flags.  We then went to a double tombstone out come distance on the prairie, where are buried the two chiefs, White Shield and Son of the Star, and about twenty other graves of their relatives.  The old men sung of them, and a prayer was offered by an Indian, and then I spoke to them, after which another procession was formed and we went to and entered the main cemetery.

At the flag staff, I noticed that Bears Belly had been buried by the side of my World War soldier, Young Hawk.  Wild songs of war, yells of praise; women sung, and the old scouts got quite excited as they recited the coups of the men who lay buried there.  I thank spoke, and mentioned the stone upon my lawn in Mandan (Fort Lincoln cornerstone).  I told the story of the death of Red Bear and his son, Boy Chief, at the hands of the Sioux near the stone.

After the crowd began to disperse, the old scout, Red Bear, told me that Red Bear was his father and Boy Chief was his elder brother, and gave me $3.00 for speaking of them.  Knowing the Indian custom, I accepted the money.  Then the son of Bears Belly handed me some red flowers made of tissue paper and asked me to decorate his father’s grave, which I did.  He then handed me $5.00, which I accepted.  People then scattered through the cemetery, decorating the graves, mostly with stiff homemade paper flowers, and oranges.

We shook hands and departed for the Mandans, where I was also to speak.  We crossed on the ferry at Elbowoods, just above where the new bridge is building, and were met by some Mandans and escorted to their dance hall just below the Little Missouri river mouth.

We spoke here;  the head chief, Sitting Crow, presented me with a headdress, and then we climbed to the top of the butte where there are five graves.  We also asked permission to look at the “Holy Medicine Corral” (the Big Canoe of Maximillion).  The shrine is well-kept and the paint splashed post is still in the middle of it.  The post is GOD.  The Mandans also gave me $3.48 for expenses  – which I was forced to accept.  Scatter Corn Woman is still living..  Her son, Bear, was my interpreter.  Returned via Halliday, Stanton, Center.

Sitting Crow, Mandan Chief