War Drums (Genuine War Stories from the Sioux, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara), written by Col. A. B. Welch, a

Until 1883 there was no restriction by the Government on Indians Killing each other…This might help you to better understand some of the cruelty and seemingly senseless killing in their battles.






Story No. 1:  Death of Montana Miners and Burning of the Boat


Story No. 2: The Stone by the Road


Story No. 3: The Battle of the Buttes


Story No. 4: “Last Hill Village” fight 


Story No. 5: The Sioux fight at Berthold            


Story No. 6: Tabloid History of Hollow Horn Bear             


Story No. 7: Pezhi (Chief John Grass) strikes the Arikara            


Story No. 8: Sioux make peace with Northern Cheyenne   


Story No. 9: Pierre Garreau escapes from the Assiniboine  


Story No. 9a:The Arikara come to Berthold    


Story No. 10: Coups, in one Day, of Chief John Grass    


Story No. 11: Enemy Heart’s views on old times versus new times   


Story No. 12: Caught in their own trap by the Gros Ventre and Mandans 


Story No. 13: Hobu (Bristling) receives his Name  


Story No. 14: An unrecorded battle … Cheyennes and Mandans


Story No. 15: The Gros Ventre ambush the Chippewa   


Story No. 16: The Assiniboine attack the Gros Ventre   


Story No. 17: Four Bears’ revenge


Story No. 18: Four Bears’ revenge (Catlin version)   


Story No. 19: Mato Topa fights Cheyenne Chief  


Story No. 20: The Death of Good Chaser


Story No. 21: Heraldric device of the Arikara 


Story No. 22: Killing of families of Grey Bear and Flying By  


Story No. 23: Bloody Robe Winter, 1859   


Story No. 24: Campeska Imanipi Win refers to Bloody Robe  


Story No. 25: Campeska Imanipi Win gives Sioux History…Mentions wars and forays


Story No. 26: Black Eyes on war path 


Story No. 27: Istapi prays for help  


Story No. 28: Chip Creighton’s outfit fights the Sioux   


Story No. 29: Death of Archambeau    


Story No. 30: Mandan and Sioux Heraldry     


Story No. 31: Young Man Afraid of His Horses prevented a massacre of whites, 1865   


Story No. 32: Story of Painted Lake    


Story No. 33: Bears Rib talks to Ross Anderson     


Story No. 34: The Indian Scout’s discharge      


Story No. 35: Spicer Family killed     


Story No. 36: Burning of a Mandan village    


Story No. 37: Yellow Horse talks about battle on James River, 1863    


Story No. 38: Sitting Bull among the Mandans     


Story No. 39: Grave of Sitting Bull, 1920 sketch   


Story No. 40: The Fool Soldier band        


Story No. 41: Presentation of Ceremonial Tipi to Welch, 1915     


Story No. 42: Charging Bear counts coup       


Story No. 43: Red Fox goes to battle        


Story No. 44: Song of the Warpath    


Story No. 45: Sioux song for honored enemy (Bloody Knife)     


Story No. 46: Coups of Red Fish…his personal pictographs     


Story No. 47: Hunka Topa talks about the Pabaska      


Story No. 48: Red Tomahawk’s story of the Sitting Bull fight, 1890…”I killed him”


Story No. 49: Welch publishes Red Tomahawk’s story of the SB Fight


Story No. 50: Sitting Bull’s Camp


Story No. 51: Letter causing McLaughlin to order arrest of Sitting Bull


Story No. 52: McLaughlin’s orders for the arrest of Sitting Bull



Story No. 1:  Death of Montana Miners and Burning of the Boat 


I have often heard several men of the Sioux make veiled remarks about this (1864) incident for some years before I finally succeeded in obtaining a story regarding it.  The Indians appeared to be reticent about discussing it, apparently being afraid that they might be punished for it even at this late date, after treaties had been signed in which all acts of hostility had been mutually forgotten and forgiven.  However, when I talked with them regarding the Sibley Expedition, I began to get more of the facts as the Sioux knew them.

There are many men alive today, who were young me at that time and who were fighting at the Big Mound north of Tappen, Dead Buffalo Lake north of Dawson, and along the trail from there to where the Indians were forced across to the west side of the Missouri river, at Sibley Island.  It is from these old men that I have the information as herein given, as well as stories told to me by several white men and Mandan and Arikara, who were in a position to know much regarding this affair.

The story of the white boy captive and his tragic death appears to be authentic, although I have never been able to get an Indian to tell us positively that it is a fact.  Nevertheless, they will not contradict the statement and many have said that they understood or had heard about the boy and that he had died soon after the fight.  They intimate that his death was caused by the hysterical demand of the woman, who cried for revenge to “cover the body” of Ista Sapa (Black Eyes  – the father of No Two Horns) who was killed in the battle.  I had tried to obtain trace of this boy for years, before I finally was convinced that, if he was actually taken prisoner, he lost his life in some strange manner, soon after.

As no one of the white party survived, it is not possible to obtain any but the Indian account of the actual affair, but the story of Mr. Larned, as given, indicates that the miners might still  may have been under the influence of their wild time at Fort Berthold and quite likely had much liquor aboard the craft.  Roughly speaking, it is about one hundred miles from Fort Berthold by river, to the place where they met disaster and the flow of the current is about seven or eight miles per hour.  If the party were not hung up on some sand bar or did not land to hunt for meat, it would have taken them some fourteen or sixteen hours to have reached the mouth of the creek where they were killed.  They probably landed for the night time upon some of the many islands, as there were Sioux upon the east, or left, band and Mandans, Hidatsa and Arikara upon the west, and it stands to reason that the miners would not have invited a night attach. Meat hunting would not have taken much of their time as game was very plentiful and they had stocked up with trader’s goods at Fort Berthold and would have been glad to eat “civilized food” again for a time.  I believe that they left Fort Berthold early in the morning; spent that night in the vicinity of the mouth of the Knife River and were late in the next day.

The party was composed of some fourteen or fifteen miners, presumably all Montana miners from Alder Gulch ‘diggins’ (Virginia City).  Dust worth several millions of dollars was taken out of this short gulch placer mining district, and the history of the rough times there is wonderfully told in “The Vigilantes.”  Wilder men never gathered together in any spot, than there.  The members of this party had cleaned up and were returning with their dust to the down-river points in 1864.  After their wild debauch at Fort Berthold, and universally holding the Indian in contempt, it is easily understood how they maliciously fired upon the Sioux and were overwhelmed by them when their mismanaged craft struck upon a sand bar on the eastern shore near the Sioux camp.  Who they were, or information regarding their family histories, will never be known, but there can be little doubt but that this party of wild frontier miners was completely wiped out by the Sioux, at the first draw north of the present Northern Pacific Railway Mandan-Bismarck bridge in the fall of 1864.



He Nopa Wanica (No Two Horns), a Sioux Indian in whom I place much reliance as to historical data concerning that people, had told me that he was in the fight with the Indians who confronted Gen. Sibley from Big Mound to Sibley Island.  He says that, after the Indians were safely upon the west banks of the Missouri, his band of Ihantonnaise followed the Heart river to its headwaters and passed on into the Bad Lands of the Little Missouri, and that a month or two later they started back with the intention of crossing again to the east side and spending the winter in their old territory between the Missouri and the James, known to them as “The Earth Dish of Waanata.”


He states that one of the mouths of the Heart was north of the present Northern Pacific railway bridge and that they crossed at that place to the east side and moved up into the first draw, where there was fresh water and wood and where they camped for a time.  This deep, steep-sided gully was a well-known Sioux camping place, and from it travois trails led by east stages up to the high lands and thence by good roads, to the valley of Apple Creek, which they followed up into the Dog Den butte country, up into the region of Sibley Butte and as far as “Wagon Wheel Hills,” north of Steele, at the east end of which the trail divided, the main route leading along the line of lakes and high choteau (sp?) and into the Ca-san-san, or James River valley, and another trail bearing north and east of north toward the Minniwakan or Devils Lake regions.  This camp site was about a mile south of a well-known Missouri river ford, where passage might be easily made without bull boats or rafts, and which was the generally-used ford in the vicinity for all Indian parties.  The west entrance of the ford was just below the United States Government harbor now known as Rock Haven, and required not more than one hundred yards of swimming in the main channel.  Why this ford was not used by the party of No Two Horns, at that time, is not known to me.

No Two Horns says: “We were camped in that place then.  There was much water flowing out of the hills and the feed was good.  Our horses would not leave the grass and shade of the trees along the little stream.  There was good wood in the timber there.  Many deer were in the bottom lands and antelope up on the prairie.  Down on Apple Creek there were many elk.  We had much meat.  We had been chased across the river by the horse soldiers from the east.  We crossed then just above the mouth of the Little Heart.  We got across easy.  We killed some of the enemy there, too.  We had been in the Minniwakan country.  We were not Little Crow’s people.  We were looking for someone to come and thank us. Inkpaduta (Scarlet Point) and several of his men were in that camp.  When we got to the river, they went north on the east side.  We went across.  We went up the Heart River.  We went into the Good Horse Grass country (the Sioux frequently speak of the Bad Lands by that name).  When the Indians who followed the horse soldiers came back, we started back to our own country.  We crossed the Missouri at the mouth of Heart River then.  That was where the railroad bridge is now.  We went up to this water-grass place.  My father was with me, too.  He was an old man.”

“Then we saw a boat coming down the river.  It had white men in it.  We wanted to trade for powder, lead, guns, coffee and cloth.  We had some fine otter pelts and other skins to trade.

We waved our arms and asked them to come and trade with us.  They shot us then.  They killed my father.  His name was Ista Sapa (Black Eyes).  We were mad then.  They fired guns at us.  They were working hard at shooting.  The boat run on some sand where the little stream run out.  We killed them all then.  We set fire to the boat and it burned to the water.  We got their clothes and guns and kettles.  Some yellow earth, we poured out of some little sacks.  We did not know it was worth anything then.  But it was gold.  We buried my father in a lodge there.  I can show you the place where it stood.  We went away.  They shot at us.  We were friendly people.  The leader of the horse soldiers did the same thing.  He made us fight.  The Government always treated the people who fought the best.  It was fall before the snow came.  I don’t remember any more about that time by the little stream which flowed into the Minnisose (Missouri).”

It will be remembered that, at the time of the Minnesota Massacres (1863) by Little Crow’s Santees, many members of the Yankton and Yanktonaise divisions moved away into the Devils Lake regions, with the expressed purpose of keeping out of the trouble.  They fully expected that the Government would send a messenger to them, to thank them for that action.  They nearly starved during the winter and early in the spring were in the vicinity of Steele and Dawson, Kidder County, North Dakota, hunting buffalo when they were surprised by the advance of Sibley’s column.

Their own story is that they sent forward several old, honorable men to smoke with Gen. Sibley, and that these old men were fired upon by Sibley’s men and the fight started.  Many of these friendly Indians were killed in the running engagement, but the troopers were, to say the least, perfectly satisfied to see the Indians cross the river, after which the soldiers returned to Minnesota.

The hostile renegade, Inkaputa (Scarlet Point), and about twelve of his men had joined this hunting party a few days before Sibley found them, but had already been notified by the camp soldiers, that he must go away at once.  When the Indians neared the Missouri, he, together with his men, left the main body and slipping through the soldiers guard, succeeded in passing north along the east bank of the stream and went off into the Devils Lake region, and north, to be close to the Canadian border.  The other Indians broke up into small parties after the crossing, and went into several directions, but the camp with which No Two Horns traveled, went into the Bad Lands, which they reached about August 15th, 1864.  No Two Horns argued that the Government made peace only with those who fought against them, and that his people should have done so, under the thought that they would have been treated better if they had.

Another version is told by Mr. H.H.Larned, now of Lansing, Michigan.  This gentleman came out into the Missouri river country with the first Fisk Expedition, which met disaster at the Battle of the Corralls in southwestern North Dakota, when attacked by a hostile party of Sioux under leadership of Chief Grass, which party had left the Indians after the battle of Killdeer with Sully (July 1864), to hunt buffalo in the grass regions south and east of the Little Missouri.  When the Fisk wagon train was attacked, sod breastworks were erected and a rider slipped through to ask for reinforcements from Fort Rice.  Fisk held the Indians off until the arrival of 900 soldiers who had just arrived from the Killdeer Expedition.

Larned remained at Fort Rice as clerk for the Government trader Galpin, and became a very valuable man for him.  At one time he was sent to Fort Berthold and, in 1864, he was the trader at that point for Durfee and  Peck of the Northwest Fur Company at the Indian village of the Mandans, Hidatsa (or Gros Ventre) and the Arikara.  Larned says: “I worked with Durfee and Peck in the old North West Fur Company’s stockade after I left Fort Rice. I went up there to get their accounts in some sort of shape.  I think their stockade was at least 200 feet square with a bastion at the southeast and northwest corners.  These bastions were two stories, the upper being set crosswise of the first story.  The stockade was about twelve feet high, of logs set on end in the ground.  Our place was pretty close to the bank and the space was clear between us and the bank of the river.  There was a large tree on the top of the bank at the northwest corner and in this tree we counted 500 little bundles, each of which contained the body of an infant, hung out there by the Indians.  Our steamboat landing was close to the southwest corner of the stockade fort.”  “Gerrard had a post there, too, but he was an independent trader  The post of Jeff Smith was a few hundred feet east of us and he was likewise stockaded.”


In July 1922, Larned visited me at Mandan, N.D. and told me the following story.  It had been told to him by Cante Peta (Fire Heart), father of the present Chief Fire Heart of the Sihasapa Dakotah (Blackfeet Sioux), who lives down Grass Creek way, under “the Peak,” about 15 miles south and east of Fort Yates, N.D. Fire Heart’s story to Larned is as follows:

“In company with Pierre Garreau, the scout and hunter, old Fire Heart told me this story, many years ago.  There had been many stories of the burning of this gold hunters’ boat.  Many whites connected with the trader, Girrard, with it; gave him a dark and shady participation in the death of the miners  – sort of made of him the instigator of the deaths of the men aboard the boat.  I do not believe this rumor, although he had much dust after the affair.  I think he got lots of the gold, allright, but I do not think he had the boat waylaid and the hunters murdered.  I can’t blame him for getting the gold after the boat was burned.”

Fire Heart said that Four Horns was with him, and Black Moon, also was there.  He named several others but I have forgotten their names now.  During that year I was trader for Durfee and Pack at Berthold, at the Indian Village.  Girrard also had a post there as did Jeff Smith.  These miners had struck it rich in Montana, I believe at Virginia City on Alder Gulch.  They got to the Yellowstone and built themselves a boat to float down the stream to civilization.  It was a double-ended boat and big enough for the fourteen men which it carried.  Their gold they hid under either a false bottom or nailed it up in the ends of the boat.”

“They landed one day at Fort Berthold.  They stayed there for at least two days and three nights.  They were not Sunday school superintendents, either.  They had a lot of dust and proceeded to spend a lot of it with the traders.  They gambled with the whites and hunted around for girls (Indians).  Most of them stayed around the trading post of Girrard, but they were all over the place.  They had a glorious time, drinking and playing.”

“However, no one was killed and, after they had a lot of fun, they started down the river one morning.  Fire Heart said that the Sioux had a camp at a bend of the Knife River, a short distance away from the trees on the Missouri bottoms.  The Missouri swept along close to the west bank there.  One evening, Fire Heart said, a young man came into camp with a rush, saying that there was a boat coming down the river, close to the shore, with fourteen white men in it; he thought that they intended to land close by.  About twenty five of our Indians got ready and rushed down there.  They saw the boat which the men were trying to get in towards the shore to land.  They finally did land and, just as they were tied up to a big log on the shore, the Indians fired down from the top of the cut bank, right on top of them.  He said they killed every one of them. He, himself, took the hair of one of them.  Then they took what goods they wanted; the boat sunk with its weight on account of the holes in the bottom, and the Indians broke camp and got away from the place as quick as they could.  He said they did not know what gold was and so did not take any of it.  This was in 1864.  He made no mention of any small boy being taken, and neither did I see any boy while they were at Fort Berthold.”

This is the only time that I heard that the killing took place as far north as the Knife river.  All the other Sioux stories say that it happened at the first draw north of the railway bridge.  I am inclined to think that, as it was many years ago when old Fire Heart told him about it, he has forgotten the name of the river or was confused regarding the name.

Mr. Larned also tells of a conversation with Jeff Smith, the trader, several years after the killing of the men.  Larned said:

“Jeff told me that these fourteen miners came to Berthold in a boat and stayed two days and three nights there, having a hell of a good time.  He played poker with some of them and got away with some of the dust.  They drank a lot of booze and said that they had struck it rich and had a lot of gold under the false bottom in the boat.  They were going down to Council Bluffs or lower down, St. Louis, maybe.  When he first heard of the killing, he said that Girrard already knew about it, and he wondered how he found out so quick.  A day or two after the story got around, Girrard and one Arikara Indian went down the river in a bull boat.  They were gone several days and Girrard told him that he had found the place and had seen the bodies of the men there.  Wile they were at the place, Girrard told the Indian to go out on a scout and see if there were any enemies around and, while he was gone, Girrard ripped up the falser bottom of the boat, got out the gold and hid it at the foot of a tree. He brought back a lot of it to Berthold.  He always had a lot of dust after that.  He would be gone alone for several days and come back with it.  Jeff thought that he put up a job on the miners, but Jeff was a rival trader, so you may take it for what you think it is worth.”

Larned continued:  “But I do know that Girrard had lots of dust.  One time his goods could not get up the river and he was short of trade stuff.  So he came to our place and got what he needed and paid me for it in gold dust at $20.00 per oz.  I forgot to say that in 1864 the Arikara villages on the Knife had been deserted and those Indians had moved to Berthold to be close to the Mandans and Manitari, to form a better protection against the Sioux.”

Several years ago Soldier, an aged Arikara, told me of the affair.  This fine old specimen of the Arikara (or Sanish, as they call themselves) was born in 1831 at the Double Village of the Arikara in the Grand River country.  The Arikara speak of the Grand River as “Broad River.”  Soldier said that, after the burning of the villages by the Sioux allies of Colonel Leavenworth in 1823, those of the Arikara who escaped from the 700 Sioux war party under Joshua Pilcher, went down to their relatives, the Pawnee, beyond the Black Hills. Some of the old Arikara say that they stayed with the Pawnee for seven years.  Soldier says that the outfit with which his father and mother journeyed, went into the Elk River (Yellowstone) country, and did not stay that long with the Pawnee, and even went back to the Grand river district.  One spring they fell in with a large hunting party of Hidatsa from the Knife river villages, and returned with them to the Knife, peace having been established between the villagers and the Arikara.  He called the Knife “the Branching river.”  Being on a peace footing, they stayed there and in 1837 his people were stricken with the “spotted sickness” and his parents took him then to “Antelope Village,” or the upper village of the Mandans, called Ruptare by the explorers of that time. His parents both died there of this plague.

He then went to live with the Mandans at Mih Tutta Hang Kush, or the lower village, with a woman named Skunk Woman (his grandmother, I think).  He said that many of the people left the villages in terror and died along the river trails and their bodies lay there for a long time, and he often saw their bones after that, scattered around by the wild animals.

In 1838 he moved to the Fort Berthold site, where a trading post was established the same year.  The people followed White Shield and built permanent lodges and Soldier lived there until the land was allotted.  He was acquainted with Garrard at both Mih Tutta Hang Kush and Berthold and often hunted and trapped for him and sometimes scouted for him.

Soldiers story is as follows:  “Once a miner’s boat came and the men stayed at Girrard’s all night.  This was the year when the Sioux fought the white soldiers.  Girrard sent Howling Bear and myself to see what happened to the boat and told us that the gold was in little sacks at each end of the boat, behind a little door.  Red Bear, Bull Head and Bull Neck went also.  We traveled on the west side of the river to keep away from the Yanktonaise Sioux.  Across from the mouth of the Heart river we found many white bodies on a sand bar.  They had no clothes on.  This place was about a mile and a half above the railroad bridge now, I think. I found a coffee pot full of yellow gold like Girrard showed us.  Other gold was poured out of the sacks where the Dakotah  had ripped them open.  We gathered a lot of it up.  It weighed as much as a sack of flour and we gave it to Girrard.  He gave us some flour, tobacco and paint for it, for bringing it to him.  There were nine or ten dead bodies of white men and in a tipi in a glen we found a dead Sioux who had been killed there.”

war22-story-one-creighton“Chip” Creighton, an old Fort Lincoln soldier and who was with Major Reno at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, lived in Mandan and, when asked about the death of these miners, had the following to say relating to it:

“Yes, I know something about that event as far as common talk among the soldiers in 1876 was.  It was commonly reported that a boat had been burned and the miners all killed sometime during the 60’s.  The place where it happened was said to be directly east of the Welsh farm houses, south of the Northern Pacific bridge.  The main flow of the Missouri was around to the east of Sibley Island then.  We came up the river that way in 1874.  We had gardens and laundries and other things down on that bottom where the river flows today.  Now this is what the soldiers thought about that killing:  This man, Girrard, the trader at Fort Berthold, was a hard customer, and he was to blame.  He was a crack shot and he used to say that it was a poor day when he failed to get an Indian or two before breakfast.”

“They say that he left Berthold after the boat did; crossed the Missouri at the Fish Hook Ford and cut across the great bend.  After he got ahead of them, he ambushed them and potted them one after the other.  Just above the place where Fort Lincoln was afterwards established, the boat drifted ashore and he lifted the dust.  He was a hard nut.  He was interpreter with us out along the Yellowstone and the Little Big Horn.  He’d do it in a minute in those days.  There was no law at all before the soldiers got here.  Not, I don’t know anything about it, personally, but that’s what the soldiers said about it.”

Having heard from several sources of this white boy prisoner taken by the Yanktonaise in this sanguinary affair, I tried long to get some definite information regarding him, but without avail.  In talking with Dr. A.McGuffy Beede of Fort Yates, who had been with the Dakotah for many years as a missionary; knew their customs; spoke their tongue and had a very wide acquaintance with the Dakota and Montana Sioux, I received the following story which had been told to him by the principal, while upon his death bed.  I have accepted it as the true outcome of the affair and, as far as the boy is concerned, have cease the search.  Dr. Beede said:


“Did you know that they took a little boy captive at the time they killed the people from Montana?  They did.  They had lost some men killed and other wounded in the fight.  There was much hysteria among the women and a few of the younger men about it.  The man who owned the boy was a head man.  His wife was very hysterical and demanded the death of the boy in revenge.  The man did not want to kill him  – but the women were insistent and much trouble was caused on account of the refusal of the old man to kill the boy.  Finally, the Indian suddenly became violently insane and, during this this fit of insanity, he grabbed the boy by the feet and swung his head against a large stone, smashing his skull and killing him instantly.  After a week or more, the head man became rational, seemingly, but could remember nothing about having killed the prisoner.”

“This man became very sick, years after that, and was dying.  He was a Catholic, but called me to his lodge, where he confessed to me that he was not crazy when he killed the boy, but had done it to keep harmony in the camp and among the people.  He was afraid of the future on that account.  But I quieted his fears and he died peaceably and like a Christian.  He, however, did not confess this crime to a priest and this is the first time I have mentioned the incident.  Please retain my confidence for a few years yet.”


Red Tomahawk tells of Miner’s Boat, 1915 (photo also taken in 1915):


“Yes, I know about the burning of that boat and the death of those miners.  It ran ashore and the people in it were scared, I think, as there were some of us there on the shore, for they fired guns at us.  We did not want to fight, but they shot some of us.  So then we burned the boat and killed the people who came in it.  We did not kill one small boy.  I will tell you about that some time when we are talking.  It was just a short distance up the river on the east bank from where your great iron bridge goes over the river.  There was much gold on the boat.  We did not know it was worth anything.  We dropped it where it was.  I will show you the place if you will go with me.  Then after that we went away from that place.  It was near the place where the Chante flowed into the Minisose.  It is not at that place now.  The Chante has changed where it flowed, but it was right across from that place then.”


Story No. 2: The Stone by the Road


The main automobile highway from Mandan to Solen follows the valley of the Missouri river and leads out of Mandan somewhat east of south, passing the old Mandan site of the Village of the Young Man which is located upon the farm of Mr. Motsiff; a mile beyond that, at the farm houses of Mrs. Welsh, a road leads to the left, following the banks of the Missouri and passes through the principal pre-white Mandan village of The Lop-sided Lodges.  This site is upon the eastern side of the Old Fort Abraham Lincoln.  At the intersection of the Fort Lincoln  – Solen road at the Welsh farm, the Solen road turns somewhat west of south, and follows up the valley of a small creed, known to the early settlers as Cartridge Creek, for some distance down towards Little Heart River.  Upon the west side of the road, a mile or more below the intersection and the Solen road, are the farm houses of a Mr. Veder.  Below these houses, a short distance and upon the west side of the highway but within the road right of way and close to the fence, stands a stone monument.

This stone is of red sandstone and is about three feet high, about eight inches square at the top and a foot or more at the bottom.  Upon the east face of the stone is carved a shield.  This is the northwest corner of the Fort Abraham Lincoln Military reserve, and the monument was undoubtedly placed there to serve as a Government market, and is about the only thing to be found at present upon the entire reserve, except a few piles of brick and mortar where the buildings of the establishment stood; the buildings, themselves, having been demolished and pillaged by farmers and townspeople and used in the construction of their own barns and houses.

It is interesting to note that an important supply camp was located upon the Little Heart river, close to the mouth of that stream, in 1872, by Lieut. Green with “K” Company of the 17th Infantry, who came up from Fort Rice.  Lieut. Cairens, Infantry, and Dr. Slaughter accompanied the expedition.  This post was name Camp Greene and it was then thought that the main line of the Northern Pacific Railway would cross the Missouri river at that point and the new post was established as protection for the engineers of that road, in the Sioux country, west of the river.  Mr. Eckelson, who was in charge of the civil engineers, was notified however, that the location of the crossing had been changed to the Heart River, some miles to the north.  Following this announcement by the railway officials, the steamer “Miner,” with soldiers for the upper river posts, Forts Stevenson and Buford, landed two Companies of the 16th Infantry, under command of Lieut. Col. Dan Huston, at Camp Greene.  The following order emanated from the Department Headquarters:

Headquarters Department of Dakota.

St. Paul, Minn., April 16 th, 1872.

Special Orders No. 65.

A board of officers is hereby appointed to select and recommend for adoption a site for the location of a new post to be constructed on the west bank of the Missouri, at or in the immediate vicinity of the point where the Northeren Pacific railroad will cross the river.

Detail for the Board  – Col. D.S.Stanton, 22nd Inf.; Capt. J.W.Scully, A.I.M.; Capt. D.W. Heap, Corps of Engineers, U.S.N.;  Acting Assistant Surgeon, B.F.Slaughter, U.S.A.

The Board will assemble as soon as practicable at Fort Rice, D.T., and proceed thence to make the necessary examination precedent to its report and making a recommendation.

Capt. Heap will lay off a reservation for the post, a plan of which will be submitted with the report of the Board.

The Commanding officer at Fort Rice will cause to be furnished such transportation and escorts as may be required to enable the Board to execute its instructions.

By command of Major General Hancock.


Assistant Adjutant General.


G.I.Luttral Ward,

2nd Lieut. 22nd Inf., Aide-de-camp.

Colonel Stanley was subsequently relieved from the Board in order to lead the second expedition of surveying parties into the Yellowstone region.  Colonel T.C.Chittenden, 17th Infantry, was appointed in his stead, and the Board met at Fort Rice, July 22nd, 1872 and at that place boarded the steamer “Ira Stockdale” and proceeded to the point designated as the railroad crossing where they selected the site of the new post.  Work was started without delay and it received the name of Fort McKean and trees were planted upon the hill where the post was being built, by Lieut. Col. W.P.Carlin of the 17th Infantry, who became the first commanding officer of the post.  The name was afterward changed to Fort Abraham Lincoln. It was heavily stockaded and provided with two-story block houses after the manner of frontier posts of that day.  But the War Department soon decided that units of the Cavalry service must be located there in order to pursue the hard-riding Sioux warriors, and to make explorations into the neighboring vicinities, and the force commanded by Lieut. Col George Custer arrived in 1873, and cavalry quarters were established upon the flat bench land to the south and east of the “Fort on the Hill.”  The stone of this sketch was placed, probably in 1873, to mark the northwest corner of the reserve, of this important new link of the line of Missouri river military posts.


The Government made an appeal to the Indians of the villages in Berthold vicinity, to come to Fort Abraham Lincoln and enlist as scouts, and without much hesitation, many of those Indians did make the trip along the east banks of the river to Camp Hancock, located at Otter Crossing, now Bismarck, N.D., where they crossed over to Fort McKean-Abraham Lincoln and enlisted.  The complete story of these resourceful scouts is a record full of fierce fighting and sudden and violent death, as ever was printed in any yellow-backed wild west novel.  Ancient enemies of the Sioux; armed by the Government and each scout with at least a part of the uniform of the Great Father at Washington, these brave young Arikara, Mandans and Hidatsa Indians, scouted the country and, at times, attacked war bodies of the enemy far in excess of their own strength.

A partial list of these men is given herein for no other purpose than to preserve their names and identity for future students and friends of the Indian.  Some of these men are still alive, but at Fort Berthold is an Indian graveyards in the Arikara district, where 102 Government head stones (in 1923) mark the last resting place of that number of these scouts of the old military posts of the upper Missouri.  Each stone carries the inscription “United States Volunteer Indian Scouts” and the Indian’s name.  Too little honor has been paid to them for the important part each of them played in the history of the winning of the west.

Among the Arikara Scouts was a young warrior named Red Bear or, as the Sioux tell me Red Ears.  He is often called Red Man by the Arikara today. Proud of the distinction of having been selected by his chiefs to enlist as a scout and fired with ambition to obtain personal honor in battle with the Sioux, he took his place with the other scouts at Fort Abraham Lincoln and assumed the obligations and dangers of the precarious existence of a scout.

Soon after he had been equipped with rifle and ammunition, he was sent down into the country overlooking the Little Heart river in the vicinity of the commanding elevation known as Little Heart Butte, west of south of Fort Abraham Lincoln.  His friend, or as he called him, his brother, an Arikara Scout named Paint, was detailed to go with him. Their mission was to keep watch of the valley of the Little Heart and notify the garrison of the movements of any hostile party of Sioux.  They reached the butte without any difficulty and, after hobbling their mounts on the north side, they ascended the slopes and crawled over the summit, where they lay behind bunches of grass and surveyed the valleys below them.

Far to the west a heavy bank of dust was being raised by thousands of head of buffalo on the move; elk were also to be seen, rapidly moving up the river valley along the waterway and taking advantage of the separate groves of timber which dotted the course of the stream; many antelope, upon the south slopes of the hills, had their attention fixed towards the lower river and they stamped and retreated and advanced in apparent distrust of something, which the scouts could not see, coming around the limb of the hills to the southeast of their position.

Within a very few minutes after they had made these observations, a mounted party of twenty or twenty-five men rode into plain view.  From the accoutrements of the warriors and other well-known indication, the scouts were aware that it was a war party of Hunkpapa and Sihasapa (Blackfeet) Sioux, and they decided quickly to retire. They crawled backward until they were on the north slopes of the butte and then started on the run for the place where they left their horses.

The horses, however, were not in sight and, thinking that they had entered a plum thicket lower down, they turned in that direction.  As they neared the clump of trees, an arrow slithered through the air between them and shattered itself upon the shale rocks behind.  Without slackening their pace, the scouts divided and entered the low thicket at either end of the little grove.  This clump of hardy trees was quite dense in growth but not extensive and, as they dashed into it, a Sihasapa Sioux scout broke cover on the other side and before him stumbled  and struggled the hobbled horses of the Arikara scouts.  After making a determined but unsuccessful effort to so startle the horses as to cause them break their hobbles and leave the two scouts afoot, the Sioux turned to the west and dropped over his own horse’s side in such a manner that no target was presented to the scouts except his foot and arm.  Firing quickly at the rapidly moving target, the horse was brought to the ground.  The rider, however, lit upon his fee and ran for his life.

Well knowing that the sound of the firing would attract the Sioux war party and bring them rapidly to the place, the two Scouts first secured their mounts and then started after the running Sioux who, by this time, was some distance away.  So intent were they upon overtaking the fleeing warrior, that they found themselves nearly surrounded by the mounted war party before a lucky shot stopped him.  Striking the body of the slain scout with their rifles as they galloped over him, thereby “taking coup” honors, they turned and broke through the line of Sioux and commenced the long, hard ride for the “Fort on the Hill.”

Paint was mounted upon a strong Arikara pony of his own, while Red Bear had a swift, fine horse which has been trained for the buffalo hunt, and which he had borrowed that morning from One Feather, another Arikara Scout at Fort Abraham Lincoln.  Both horses were fresh and well-fed, while the Sioux horses were probably not in a good condition, having carried the warriors from the country of the Porcupine, some thirty miles, to the timber of the Little Heart the day before.  But it is certain that they were not jaded, for they pressed the Arikara closely for several miles.  The better arms of the Scouts held off any single, fast rider from closing in too close without immediate support, and the two scouts yelled with derision at their pursuers, as they neared the low hills where they expected to cross from the little valley up which they had been riding, into the level land of the Missouri, south of the fort.

The Sioux, however, noting their evident intention, threw out several riders across the angle and prevented the Scouts from gaining t he pass over the hills, consequently they were forced to hold their present course nearly north, following the west side of the watershed into Cartridge Creek, which would lead them a mile to west of the fort.  The slower horses of their pursuers had dropped far to the rear, but six or eight of the faster mounts still hung closely behind them, strung out in a line which reached some distance to the east, and the three Sioux, who had cut them off from the pass over the hills, were now riding on the east side of Cartridge Creek and presented a serious menace to the hard-pressed Arikara, when they should turn and ride up the long slopes to the “Fort on the Hill.”

Buffalo horses were selected and trained for short bursts of great speed, rather than for long, grueling rides, and the fine animal which Red Bear was riding was in distress when the two scouts suddenly wheeled to the right and started straight toward the fort. Paint was in front and, in a final burst of speed, beat across the pathway of the three Sioux and gained safety on the steep hillside, but Red Bear’s horse faltered as he crossed a deep, dusty buffalo wallow and, before he had regained his stride, stopped running, with a long, Sioux arrow through his right flank.  He leaped again as another arrow passed through his neck , but stopped short and hung his head and coughed as he wavered on his widely-planted feet, and blood poured from his distended nostrils.  His race was run.



As Red Bear jumped to the ground, he was caught in mid air by one of the Sioux, Kills the Enemy, who had dismounted and run up towards the dying horse, and received a smashing blow from the sharp, pointed stone club as he lay, half stunned, upon the ground.  Blow after blow was made by the infuriated Sioux, who shouted the indrawn cry of the “Coup,” and Red Bear, the United States Volunteer Indian Scout, lay dead by the side of his gallant horse, in the grass of the valley on the banks where flowed the crystal waters of Cartridge Creek.

The chase had been in full sight of the sentinel in the southwest blockhouse of the fort, and preparations had been taken to repel the supposed attack.  The infantry was swinging out of the gate when the two scouts had turned to break through the Sioux riders, and the skirmish line was firing as Paint leaped from his horse by the side of Lieut. Varnum, whom the Indians called Peaked Face.  When the exhausted scout saw that his friend, Red Bear, was not with him, he ran toward his drooping horse with the evident intention of going back to his assistance, and he struggled violently with the soldiers who were forcibly holding him from going to his death in that manner.

Meanwhile the first four coups, which really count among the Sioux, had been made by them; the body had been terribly slashed and struck, and the Sioux were leisurely riding toward the south bearing bloody trophies of the enemy’s death, for they had cut off the ears and the right hand of the brave scout, slashed his bridle straps and stripped him of his ammunition  The soldiers rolled the body upon a blanket and carried it to the top of the hill by the fort, where they buried it and built a large pyramid of stone over the place.  So died Red Bear, the Arikara.

The tragic death of the scout urged the Arikara to action.  The news was carried to the camps of his people and five days later several of the Arikara and Mandan warriors appeared before the fort. Paint guided them to the spot where Red Bear has been killed, and they saw the dried blood upon the ground and scattered over the grass.  They sat around the place, singing songs in his honor, and, at last, started to dance.  During the dancing a member of the party, a young man of nineteen years, to whom Chief Owl had given the name of Pretty Elk, solemnly took a public vow to gain revenge for the death of Red Bear  – for the dead scout was his own father.

He immediately went into the hills to be alone for prayer and meditation and to properly fit himself for the ordeal of the Sun Dance, and the others of the party went to the Fort the next morning and enlisted as Scouts.  Their names were Strikes Two, Enemy Heart, Bull Neck, Four Rings, Elk Face, White Eagle, Skunk, Afraid of no one, Pretty Crow, Elk Tongue, Looking Back Wolf, Buffalo, Bull Walking through the Camp, Bravest Man and Skunk Head.  During the day Pretty Elk returned, saying that the ceremony could wait until a more favorable time, and that he wanted to join the scouts.

The next day the impatient scouts set out to find the Sioux.  Some of them traveled afoot, to show their utter contempt of the Sioux.  The story may be easily told by quoting the short, terse narrative as given to me by Strikes Two (died 1922), who said:

“The day after we were made scouts, we went out to look for the Dakotah.  I was afoot, but some one gave me a horse then.  We met the Dakotah and one of them dashed up and struck my horse, killing it.  I got behind some rocks and shot at them then.  One enemy bullet shot me in the leg above the knee.  I could not run much then.  Standing Soldier, who has another name, Young War Eagle, took me to camp on his horse.  We got there all right.  Elk Tongue and Wolf Looking were on foot.  They were killed there that day.  Crows Tail, Spotted Eagle and Ree Standing Among the Hidatsa were killed too. The white soldiers came and drove the enemy away from us, so we were not able to kill them all.  The woman of Bears Arm, but the name of War Woman, helped me cut out the bullet which was in my leg.  It made me lame.  I walk with a stick.”

Pretty Elk, son of the slain scout Red Bear, took part as a principal in the Sun Dance, so he might represent his father and was given his father’s name, who sometimes was called Red Bear and often Red Man.  He afterward married Shell Woman and Pretty Goods, but put them aside and took one of the wives of Sitting Bear, the principal Chief, who died in recent years.  Sitting Bear had more than one wife and the Government made a ruling against that practice, so he ‘helped Sitting Bear out’ and took Sioux Woman off his hands.  This son became an influential man among his people and a trusted man by the Government, who issued a commission to him as Judge of Indian Offenses of the Arikara.  He and Enemy Heart went to see the President in 1910.

In speaking to me (Nov. 1922) of the death of his father, he said:


“My father was Red Bear or Red Man.  He got into a fight at Fort Abraham Lincoln.  He was a scout.  He got killed by the Sioux that time.  Boy Chief got killed too.  He got killed where that red stone is by the road. I think the soldiers put that stone there for him  – in his honor.  Then I was his son.  I wanted to be a scout. I wanted his brave name.  I made the Sun Dance for that thing.  So that is my name now.  I got to be a scout too.  I hunted the Sioux hard.  They killed my father.  I do not know where they cut off his ears and hand.  He was bloody.  They cut him for coups.  I was a scout for Custer and was in the fight in Montana.  Custer got killed.  Bloody Knife, Short Bull and Little Warrior were killed there.  We are dying fast.  Enemy Heart died last month I want them to bury me with the other scouts in that place at Berthold.  I want a stone.  I was a brave scout and did a lot of things.  I ought to have one.  I don’t want it yet.  When I die, I want it.”

Blue Thunder, an aged Sioux of the Hunkpapa, now living at Fort Yates, Standing Rock Reservation, was a member of the war party who killed these seven scouts during the several days skirmishing.  He has a interesting history and is one of the ‘points of interest’ at Fort Yates.  He is possessed of an extraordinary voice and, for many years, has been a regular ‘Herald’ at all gatherings of the Sioux.  He became a scout for the Government, carrying mail between Forts Lincoln and Rice, and was such in 1876 when Custer left Fort Abraham Lincoln on his last campaign, but left the service when he discovered that the column was going after the Sioux.

Upon one occasion at the Grand River Agency, before Fort Yates was established, he was used as a messenger to carry news to the Agency, by Mrs. Galpin, a full blood Sioux of the Oohenopa tribe.  This woman, whose Indian name was Wambdi Autepewin or The Eagle Woman that all Look at, was the wife of a white trader there, and a small Indian lad had insisted upon killing several cattle, belonging to the trader, with arrows.  The father of the boy was much wrought up over the matter and decided that the proper punishment for him was death.

The Indians were much excited over this and, laying the death of the boy to the whites in some mysterious way, swarmed down to the trader’s store and demanded the life of a white to pay for the loss of the young cattle killer.  Several thousand Indians surrounded the place and finally set it afire.  When the smoke was creeping into the store from under the rough-hewn door, Wambdi Autepewin walked out calmly into their midst and, after berating them soundly as cowards to come in such overwhelming numbers to kill a few white people, promised them a big feast if they would spare them.  While they were talking over this proposition, she dispatched Blue Thunder to the Agency Offices, asking permission to issue the necessary rations.  Blue Thunder received a shot through his knee while performing this service and was ever afterward lame as a result.  However, he returned through the crowd with the besieged Agent’s permission to ‘issue anything you want.’  Consequently, the brave woman killed cattle and issued hard bread and coffee to the seething crowd and saved the small number of whites at that far-flung outpost of civilization.  Blue Thunder is the official Historian of the Hunkpapa and the keeper of the Winter Count, a pictographical history of the tribe, dated from 1772, a copy of which was presented to the writer at the ceremonies of his adoption in 1913.

While obtaining information from him relating to “Holy Stones” of the Sioux, in 1922, with White, an educated Hunkpapa, as interpreter, Blue Thunder mentioned this sand stone marker in passing.  I did not care to change the conversation at that time, so did not get much from him, but he said:

“There is a red stone by Fort Lincoln place. You have seen it.  We found two Palani (Arikara) scouts out in the hills.  They were looking around.  They were on very fast horses.  We chased them hard.  They run out of ammunition I think.  Red Bear (the Sioux) and Kills the Enemy caught them.  Red Bear drew near to one of them when his horse threw up his tail.  He shot the horse with an arrow and he stopped.  Kills the Enemy took hold of the scout and turned him around.  He threw him to the ground.  He struck him for first coup.  He wears it now.  Red Bear took second coup on him after that.  The rest of the party saw it all.  Everybody knows about it.  The soldiers came and took him to the top of the hill.  They put rocks over him there.  We stayed around for a few days and killed some more of them.”

White, my interpreter, became a son-in-law of Kills the Enemy, by marrying the old man’s daughter, who had received the name of Pulls the Enemy Down, in honor of her father having take first coup on Red Bear (the Arikara).

The Arikara believe that the red stone marker was placed there in honor of Red Bear, the Arikara Volunteer United States Scout, who died in action in October, 1872; “clutched the grass in his fingers,” as the Sioux say, by the side of the clear waters of Cartridge Creek, where now stands the marker, called by the Arikara, “The Red Stone by the Road.”


Story No. 3: The Battle of the Buttes   


The Mandans were first heard to speak of this battle, and the impression was received that it had taken place long ago and was a legendary tale of privation and great bravery and the overthrow of their enemies.  War stories are told over and over again by the old men who took part in the events; their children often are named for some feat of arms or part taken in the affair, and the story lives in the next generation and does not suffer any from having been retold many times.  By the time several generations have recounted the events, unimportant expeditions and running fights have taken on the nature of a very heroic battle and, if they survive for a great length of time, become as wonderful as the stories of the ancient Greeks and the adventures of their Gods and God-like men and beautiful women.  In fact, these old legends of tribal honor and individual prowess and bravery are similar in many aspects, to those of the Greek mythology and, in justice to the Indian storyteller, often as beautiful.

This particular battle was evidently a spectacular affair and the Mandans and their allies, themselves, give much honor to the Sioux for their great bravery and resourcefulness in the losing fight.  While it took place only about sixty-four years ago, and old people still live whose fathers were active warriors at that time, the story has assumed the nature of a somewhat mysterious occurrence and, therefore, “Wakan” and not to be spoken of lightly.

It is a curious custom among the Plains Indians, especially the Sioux, and one which cannot be explained, to make use of a “Holy Language” when speaking of anything of any person whom they desire to honor, more particularly when speaking of an honored man who is dead.

In observing this custom it is noticed that the Indian, in speaking of the person whom it is desired to honor, will often call him by a name totally different from that which he bore when alive.  It appears that it is not exactly proper or courteous to mention his real name, and the story-teller will sometimes call him “Thunder,” “War Eagle,” “Horse,” or some other name which carries an idea of bravery and honor when used in that manner.

It has, therefore, been particularly difficult to obtain the story of this fight and the names of the warriors who took part in it.  The various story-tellers from whom it was obtained used these strange substitute names when telling about the battle and when at last the real names of the participants were obtained, it was done in an apologetic manner, as a thing almost unworthy to do and as if betraying confidence.  It is only just to the Indian to say that the names of the Sioux who took part in this stirring adventure were secured only after a most attractive display of meat and other gifts had been made and promised. to a very hungry and much distressed Indian, for the information.  The names were given so unwillingly and under such pitiful circumstances that the writer is almost placed in the position of asking pardon for mentioning them, and we will not violate the confidence of the informant by printing his name.  After learning who the warriors were, however, it was an easy matter to check them up and, through the story-tellers of four tribes, we are confident that the story, as given, is the correct narrative.

The story of the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa agree in all the main matters and differ only in detail, as one man’s point of view would differ from another’s.  The Sioux have never tried to talk this defeat into a victory for themselves, but freely acknowledge that the six Sioux warriors took on more then they could successfully handle, but give them praise for the manner in which they held off the enemy for so long a time and give them much credit for the number of villagers they “took with them.”

The vicinity of the mouth of the Little Missouri river has been a favorite hunting and trapping ground for the Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa for one hundred and twenty-five years or more.  After these two tribes vacated their five villages at the mouth of the Heart river and moved up the Missouri some thirty miles or more, hunting parties frequently went into the Little Missouri country.  One of the mail lines of travel used by them followed the Missouri quite closely along the west banks, and another led across the Ford of the Fish Hook, where Fort Berthold was established and, cutting across the triangle of the bend, struck the river again opposite the mouth of the Little Missouri.

This last-mentioned trail on the left bank of the great waterway was often overrun with hunting parties of the Assiniboine and other northern tribes and, while the country was more open than the right bank, conflicts between armed bands and losses of horses by war parties were more frequent.  While this east trail cut off many miles of travel, the villagers used the west trails more when they went into the country of the Little Missouri.

This trail was a hard one, traversing as it did some very heavy bad lands districts, but it had the advantage of being so rough that hostile bands might pass each other within a short distance without contact and conflict was avoided.


There was much game in these deep glens and dark passes and timber enough for purposes required.  Within a few miles south of the entrance of the Little Missouri into the main stream, the trail passed along a bench at the foot of immense buttes on the west and with the Missouri on the east.  Across the latter stream the country opened into a wide flat area, which extended for miles to the hills which bounded it on the east.  This great grass district was well-watered with running streams and dotted with such groves of trees as cottonwood, ash and elm and was a famous elk range, while buffalo and antelope crowded into this angle of the great triangle made by the river which flowed south for twenty miles and then turned east for even a greater distance.

The Little Missouri was one of the best beaver trapping districts along the entire length of the Missouri and, as early as 1805, Lewis and Clark mention meeting two white hunters there.  Upon the return of this expedition in 1806 one of their men, by the name of Colter, asked for and received his discharge in the Mandan country, for the purpose of accompanying two trappers into that region.  In 1807 this man Colter was picked up at the mouth of the Platte river by Manuel Liza, the Spanish trader from St. Louis, and willingly accompanied him up the river to the Big on the Yellowstone.  Colter became one of the greatest solitary scouts and explorers of the frontier and was the first white man to see the wonders of the district now called Yellowstone Park, but which was called Colter’s Hell for many years.


In the summer of 1860, a war party of six Sioux warriors advanced into the Montana Crow country for the purpose of obtaining satisfaction for the death of a relative of the leader of the band.  Having been successful in their undertaking and provided with fresh Crow horses, they left the Elk River (Yellowstone) and cut across to the bad lands of the Little Missouri and the intention of striking the head of Branching River (Knife) and following its course to the villages of the Arikara, where they expected to trade for some corn from these Indians; then sell their otter skins which they had secured from the Crows, at Fort Berthold trading post at Fish Hook Ford, for powder and lead, and pass into the country of their relatives, the Yanktonaise Sioux, on the east banks of the Missouri.  But their plans miscarried and, with the souls of explorers, they had held to the Little Missouri and, in December, had struck the great Missouri at a point a few miles north of the confluence of these two streams.  They had purposely avoided the mouth of the stream for, at that day, it was a favorite camping place of the Mandans.

Three and a half miles north of the Little Missouri is a commanding elevation which, by its peculiar shape, has always been known as Saddle Buttes.  A half mile south of that butte is another one which is very steep and difficult to ascend and the summit is a perfectly flat area of perhaps two acres.  Across the Missouri river from these buttes, and nestling among the brushy trees along the banks of a small stream called Rising Water, was a temporary winter hunting camp of Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara, who had come up from their comfortable round dirt lodges at Fish Hook Village, to lay in a stock of meat and skins,  A few friendly Assiniboine were camping with them.


From the heights of the buttes on the western shore, the Sioux scouts located the horses of their old-time enemies, and the band decided that they needed a few new horses to take home for the gift-giving dances which would take place upon their triumphant arrival at the tipis of their people along the Grand River.  Their plan was to cross the thin ice after dark and work the herd easily away, if the herd guards were not present.  However, if an alarm were made, they would stampede the horses at once toward the east and keep them pounding straight in that direction until morning, when they would turn south and finally cross the Missouri in the vicinity of the mouth of the Cannon Ball.

From the heights of the buttes on the western shore, the Sioux scouts located the horses of their old-time enemies, and the band decided that they needed a few new horses to take home for the gift-giving dances which would take place upon their triumphant arrival at the tipis of their people along the Grand River.  Their plan was to cross the thin ice after dark and work the herd easily away, if the herd guards were not present.  However, if an alarm were made, they would stampede the horses at once toward the east and keep them pounding straight in that direction until morning, when they would turn south and finally cross the Missouri in the vicinity of the mouth of the Cannon Ball.

They reasoned that the villagers, not knowing the Sioux strength, would hesitate to follow them during the night and, before their signs of approach could be made out in the morning, the herd would have such a start that they could not be overtaken.  Not being able to cross their own mounts on the ice, it was decided that they would enter the camp and secure horses from among the lodges, where they would be tied or hobbled and held ready for the next day’s hunting.

The weather turned very cold in the evening and the members of the little party shivered around their small fire behind the butte during the afternoon and waited for the night to come.  The fact that they had but a few rounds of ammunition for their heavy Sharps rifles and Springfield carbines, did not cause them much concern, for they did not anticipate fighting unless they were discovered by some late stroller when they were among the lodges after riding horses, in which case they expected to take coup, grab horses and, riding into the herd, stampede them by the waving of blankets and firing.  The dark would veil their movements.  At any rate, they were brave men and had been against the Crows, who were greater warriors than these village corn-eaters, whom they held in much contempt.  They had struck terror to the hearts of the Crows and they would succeed in this small affair against these people who lived in dirt houses and looked to tall pickets for protection rather than fighting.


When the low circling sun had settled below the tumbled bad lands, darkness descended quickly and the six Sioux crossed the ice without difficulty and approach the camp.  But sharp eyes had noted their every movement as they boldly passed in among the scattered lodges.  A woman or two walked among the shelters and sounds of a drum and dance songs came from one of the largest of them where the Mandans were feasting.  Several horses were standing in a group before a large buffalo tipi and towards these, the scouts advanced.  But even as the audacious Tintonwan stopped to loosen the thongs by which the horses were attached to their picket pins, a wild yell and a shot was heard, and the lodges appeared to pour out armed men by the score.

Feared His Horses (Tasunka Kokipopi), who was the leader of the party, at once started firing into the mass of advancing villagers and yelled to his men to get the horses loose.  But the knots were secure and, before they had time to slash the tough raw hide open, the crowd was upon them and they were compelled to retire or be overwhelmed.  Shooting their way through the circle, they leaped into the tangled brush where pursuit was difficult and, retracing their trail of approach, they reached the river bank without the loss of a single man.

Their only safety now lay in getting across the river ice and gaining the western shore, before the pursuit became too close, from which place they could prevent their enemies from crossing after them.  A few rifle bullets slashed the ice as they safely made the crossing, but to their great surprise their pursuers made no attempt to follow.  This puzzled the Sioux and caused them some uneasiness as they huddled around the embers of their old camp fire, during the balance of the night, and pushed the ends of two sticks together.  The attempt to steal the enemy’s horses had failed, so they decided to follow the Missouri down to the entrance of the Little Missouri and then enter the heavy bad lands south of that stream, where game was plentiful and cover in the gorges was easily found and pursuit would be very difficult even if the enemy followed in force.

Meanwhile, a body of their enemies, consisting of about thirty Mandans under the leadership of Red Star, a warrior chief, moved rapidly toward the south along the shores of the Missouri for several miles and then crossed the ice to the western bank and, turning north, strung out along the banks of the Little Missouri where they maintained a close watch and waited for the day.  Another band, made up of Arikara under Sitting Wolf, also crossed the river and took up a position in the hills to the west of the Sioux, and a strong force of Hidatsa with Lean Bull at their head, and strengthened by a half-blood named Powder Horn (His French name was Packineau), with a mixed body of Assiniboine and others from the camp, filtered across the ice during the night and stayed close under the banks until daylight came   The six Sioux were completely surrounded.

Having recovered the horses which they had abandoned on the west shore, the Sioux were led out of their uncomfortable camp before sun up by Feared His Horses, keeping some distance back from the river in the hills.  Sensing danger at the Little Missouri, Holy Voice Crow was sent forward to scout out a safe place for the crossing and, as he cautiously approached, he was met by a flight of arrows from Red Star’s men, who crossed the river at once and started in pursuit of him.  Signal yells were answered from all sides and Holy Voice Crow lost no time in rejoining his comrades. It became apparent to the Sioux that they were in the middle of the circle of advancing warriors and that their chances of cutting through in safety to the rough country were small.  They decided to make an effort to gain the butte behind which they had spent the night and there make their supreme effort.  Owing to the cautious advance of the enemy, they did finally reach the foot of this steep-sided, flat-topped butte without any loss.

Keeping under cover of the piled-up masses of sandstone which had fallen from the outjutting strata which covered the summit, the Sioux managed to kill several of their pursuers and finally reached a point directly under the projecting sandstone cap.  To find a crack up which they night crawl to the summit, before the enemy could reach the top from the other side, became their problem and, in doing this, it became necessary to expose themselves to fire from below.

In so doing, Afraid of Horse, a son of the famous Sioux Chief Two Bears (and brother of Mrs. Frank Gates) was shot dead and his body slid down until it was caught and held by some sprawling mountain cedar. White Horse, the Arikara who had made the kill, sprang up the rocky steep to strike the body and complete the coup and was almost within reach of the dead man, when Wounded with Arrows, who was the brother of Iron Thunder (Wahkiyan Maza) and a member of the band of Two Bears (Mato Nopa), jumped from behind a rock and, with his rifle touching the surprised and dumbfounded Arikara, fired his last remaining shot.

The rush of the Sioux to gain control of the summit had succeeded with the lost of but one man, and they yelled with derision at their enemies and dared them to come and take them.  The northern Indians were seen to carry several bodies away during the day, and an effort was made in the afternoon to rush the Sioux from all directions at once.  But this was costly.  The attackers were only too glad to retired from before the heavy Sharps and Springfields of the men on the butte, and a number of me were carried across the ice to the village, but whether dead or wounded, the Sioux could not tell from their position. The affair settled down to a siege; the Sioux were out of rifle ammunition and had nothing left except their clubs and bows and a few arrows.  However, they began to feel the effects of hunger and thirst and cold.  They saw meat brought from the village to the several camp fires of the men on guard and the distressed Sioux were taunted by the Indians below with songs of victory and yells of vengeance.

As the sun went down, the stinging cold of the night time chilled the Sioux upon the butte and the air became filled with fine, shot-like snow, which was flung, by the strong winds which swept the high place, into the faces of the worried men and added much to their discomfort and dismay.  A council was held and the five men decided that the only hope of escape was to make an attempt to break through the ring of excited men below.  While it was true that their enemies could not reach them, the brave Dakotah decided to fight them below; they would carry the fight to them; if they should escape they could join their friends and relatives in the Dakotah camps; if they died, their people would sing of their bravery and the story of their heroic death would be told by the evening fires.

The men who gathered about the little fires among the trees and rough lands were dozing with their buffalo robes drawn closely about them and their heads upon their knees, but sprung to their feet, when aroused about the middle of the night, by the whispered caution of the sentinels.  Something strange was taking place upon the butte; an unseen Dakotah was singing his death song and, as the sild, weird chant of the song of death was carried to their ears by the shifting winds of the storm, it brought to them a sense of mysterious and intangible fear of the super-natural, and of the possible failure of their own “medicine.”  But the strange Sioux song was soon forgotten as old Black Bear, the Hidatsa Medicine Man, began some ceremonies and the men danced and sung in honor of the Arikara, Mandan and Hidatsa warriors who had met death that day.

The long, cold night was nearly ended; the east was turning grey and the neighing of the horses on the opposite shore could be plainly heard as they were being driven down by the young boys of the camp to the holes in the ice for water; many of the waiting Indians below the butte had gathered in a body in a place at the foot of the hill.  Nothing had been heard of the Sioux for some time and the allies were debating about sending men to scout out the condition of affairs upon the top of the butte, when they were suddenly startled by the yells of the Sioux warriors and by seeing them hurl themselves over the edge of the high hill.

They leaped from the flat top to the icy sides and slid and tumbled to the very center of the amazed group of villagers.  So suddenly had this even taken place that those desperate warriors had killed many of them before they had sufficiently recovered from their consternation to defend themselves.  Then they swarmed to the attack and, in a few minutes, Black Tomahawk and Travelling all Over Warrior were overwhelmed and killed, but a number of enemy also lay dead in the trampled snow to show with what fury these two Sioux had fought. Holy Voice Crow and Standing Buffalo were engaged in a terrific hand to hand combat with so many Arikara and Mandans that the enemy dared not use firearms against them for fear of killing their own men.  The stone clubs of the Sioux were used with terrible effect, but against such heavy odds they could not hope to win through and Standing Buffalo soon died from a blow with the butt of a rifle.

As many of the enemy crowded to make coup upon the body of the dead Sioux, Holy Voice Crow managed to break through them and sprung for the shelter of the timber.  But he soon met other Mandans coming in from the night fires a short distance away and, with his death song ringing clear and loud upon the crisp, cold morning air, died in a whirl of blows by clubs and knives.

The villagers subjected the bodies of these brave men to every indignity and, in their rage at losing so many men, cut and slashed the bodies in a frightful manner.  The storm, which had lulled during the early morning hours, however, now arose to such fury that they were compelled to straggle across the ice to their camps for protection as well as to attend to their own serious wounds, which were many.  The camp was given over to mourning and grief and for once, the scalp dance of the women was not accompanied by the boastful stories of the warriors, and the victory had been purchased at so great a sacrifice in dead and wounded that no one had the audacity to propose a new name for anyone.  The wailing of the grief-stricken women, who had cut off their hair and slashed their arms and breasts in token of the loss of their dead men and sons, was heard in their camp for many days and the white traders at Fort Berthold sold every white sheet and blanket they had, and the white-robed figures of those who mourned had not been so numerous since the great battle between the Arikara and Sioux, which had caused the Arikara to go to live with their friends, the Mandans and Hidatsa at Berthold.

During this short, fierce battle at the foot of the icy slopes of the butte, none of the villages had noticed that only five Sioux were accounted for.  It is possible that they thought that one had escaped.  But the sixth Sioux had met with a remarkable adventure and one which saved him from the fury of the enemy.  When the desperate Sioux had taken the leap from the rim of the butte, Wounded with Arrow, the Hunkpati, had charged with the others.  But some snow had drifted across a wide crack and, giving way as his weight struck it, he had fallen into a cave-like recess and must have struck his head heavily against a stone, for the day was ended and night had come when he regained sufficient consciousness and strength to enable him to struggle to the surface of the ice field.

From the camp across the river came the sounds of the tom-toms and the yells of the dancing men and the singing and wailing of the bereaved women.  Wounded with Arrow picked his way to the bottom and searched the bloody, trampled snow for the bodies of his comrades.  The signs of a terrible combat were very plain and he counted the bodies of twenty-one of the enemy, scattered in the vicinity, before he succeeded in locating his four friends who had died there.  Their bodies were all terrible slashed and unrecognizable except by the breech clothes they were around their loins, and their moccasins and the mutilation they had received.  The body of Holy Voice Crow was discovered in the edge of the timber, some hundred yards away from the others, and the bodies of seven Mandans, lying in a close ring around him, told the story of the price the enemy paid for his pursuit.

Hastily filling a quiver with arrows and selecting a bow, he picked up a buffalo robe; secured several pairs of moccasins from the dead warriors and, entering the timber, started for the south.  As he passed a still-smoldering fire where some of the enemy had passed the night and the day before and which they had vacated so soon after the Sioux made their attempt to escape, he tied up a bundle of meat and, with renewed strength and hope, passed the Little Missouri river and was soon lost to probable discovery and pursuit in the deep gorges and piled-up masses of the bad lands.

The Hunkpati was not able to follow a straight direction, but by keeping in the depths of the gorges which led in the general direction, he was able to come out on the watershed about morning.  To the north were the dark hills of the Little Missouri through which he had passed and to the south stretched the easier traveled plains country drained by the Branching River (The Knife). The snow was not deep on the uplands and Wounded with Arrow had no great apprehension of meeting any enemies there at that time of the year.  He was armed and supplied with extra moccasins and plenty of meat and he felt encouraged at the sight of the rolling country which, with the exception of a few gentle and narrow ranges of hills, reached to the country of the Sioux, which he would enter when he crossed the first large river which flowed east after leaving the Branching River, which was not far from him.

His plan was to strike the north branch of the Knife river at a point almost due south of where he was, then cross the short highlands to the south branch, leaving which he would travel up some small tributary, flowing in from the south and east, to its head then, after crossing another narrow watershed, he would follow down the first waterway he found, to The Heart River (Cante Wakpe of the Sioux).  This river was the boundary line between the Sioux and their enemies from whom he had just escaped. The high point, known as Young Man’s Butte, would be his guide and he would look for that landmark to appear far to his right; after he caught sight of that, he knew the country well and, provided that he did not meet with any enemies of the trail, he felt that his troubles were almost at an end.

After a long and close inspection of his back trail for party of pursuers, he rested for some time in a jungle of high buck brush and ate some of the cooked meat which he had taken from the fires of the Mandans.  Much refreshed, and after another survey of the slopes and valleys from which he had come, he started once more upon his long journey.  He now made his way to a long, gentle slope; threw off his buffalo robe and started to sing.  The song was in honor of his comrades and of their bravery and death and, after calling loudly each man by name, he raised his arms to the south and promised Wakantonka (The Great Mystery) that, as he had already taken a public vow to make the Sun Dance, if he should be fortunate enough to return from the war expedition with honor, in addition he would cut his arms and bleed in one hundred places when the vow was performed, and smoke seven pipes at seven different times. Together with fasting and purification ceremonies, if he were permitted to reach his people alive.

As Wounded with Arrow came up over a gentle hill a short time after his prayer had been made, he was started to see another man coming directly toward him.  He also was afoot, but did not appear to be armed; moreover, he was reeling like a sick man or one who was exhausted by starvation.  He rearranged his robe so it might be discarded easily and shifted his arrow pouch to a better position.  He was not afraid of any one man; he would not turn aside or hide from one lone enemy, and held to his course.  The other man had not appeared to fear him, either, and neither did he turn aside and, as they approached each other, both watched the other closely.  Wounded with Arrow identified the other man as an Arikara from the manner in which he wore his hair, and could see that he was bloody and had been wounded in a fight.  The two men passed within ten paces, and it was only when they had passed that Wounded with Arrow saw a large knife sticking in the naked back of the Arikara.  He had a right to kill him or let him live, so he permitted the stranger to keep on his way, and he was soon lost to sight among the folds of the prairie hills.

Late that evening the Sioux came to the scantily-timbered south branch of the Knife river and was fortunate enough to kill a small rabbit and a number of prairie chickens in a snow-covered brush pile on the edge of a steep-cut bank.  There was the framework of an abandoned summer camp close by and the willow top and sides were covered with snow and afforded some protection, so he entered and decided to spend the night there.  But presently he heard voices and, listening intently, he was surprised to hear his own companions talking. “Now. This is the place and here is our brother, Wounded with Arrow.  He has beaten us to this old camp.  We are all together now.  He will be glad to see us.  Perhaps he has something to eat.  We will send some messages to our relatives.  He will tell them how bravely we died.  Let us go in at once and feast and rest with him.”

He rushed out of the place and looked around.  There was no one in sight.  Frightened by these spirit voices, he once more started for the south and, a few days later, staggered into a camp of his own people in the Porcupine country, south of Iyan Wakan Gapi Wakpe (Holy Idol Stone River  – the Cannon Ball).  He was never able to tell the people anything of his journey after the voices of his dead comrades had come to him. For he could not recall a single incident after that time until he was discovered by a Sioux rider in the Porcupine Hills, far to the west of the Iyanboslaha (Standing Rock).

True to his word to Wakantonka, Wounded with Arrow took a principal part in the next Sun Dance, but his friends gave him many horses for the privilege of taking some of the cuts in his arms for him, so that now he bears but two rows of ten cuts each, upon either arm.

The site of the well-known Indian battle has been marked by the northern village people.  At every place where a dead Indian lay is a pile of stones.  These marking the spot where an Arikara was found, are built of white stones; the Mandan placed stones of a red color upon the graves of their dead warriors, and the Hidatsa use another color for theirs.  At the places where the five Sioux fell are mounds of stones of all colors, and thus do the northern Indians honor the bravery of the small band of  Sioux who attacked an entire village in the winter time, and the old men often sit together in the vicinity and talk in low, subdued voices of this party who died in battle, far from their own lodges, with songs in their hearts and bravery shining in their eyes.  And ever the turbid Missouri flows but the group of hills called the Saddle Buttes and the mounds of colored stones.


Story No. 4: “Last Hill Village” fight  


I had spoken at the Dead Grass Hall at Armstrong the night before, to a large number of Arikara.  After the ceremonies of dancing and decorating the graves of the old scout at the graveyard, I went back to Elbowoods, arriving at about 4:00 am.  I had not been sleeping more than a half hour when some Mandan Indians opened the door and entered.  They wanted me to go with them to the village of Crows Heart, across the river, as had been arranged; they had a bull boat to cross the river in, and I dressed and started.  It was wild country where we crossed just south of the Little Missouri; the hills are mostly flat-topped buttes.  I was met there by riding horses and went to the village where I made a Decoration Day address to an all-Indian audience.  There were a few Sioux visitors there but most of them were Mandans, with a few Arikara and Hidatsa who had listened to me the day before at Shell Village Dead Grass Hall.


As we crossed the river, this particular butte was just before us, high and massive, and I got the following story about it:

“A band of Hidatsa once had a village up on top there.  It was 200 years ago, I think.  Some of the lodges have slid into the valley now.  There were twelve dirt, round lodges in the village.  The people used to go into the Killdeer Mountains for meat sometimes.  They were up there one time.

They were discovered by some Sioux.  The Sioux attacked them.  They run them hard.  One man got away and he run hard to tell the Chief of the village about it.  He made the run all right and reached the camp there.  The other Hidatsa stayed with the Sioux and led them all around.  They chased them all the time.  They went all over with the Sioux after them.  They killed some Sioux too.  They kept them from the village as they chased them where they were.

“Every night the Hidatsa chief knew just where they were.  Hidatsa scouts told him.”

“The Chief wanted to be ready to fight.  He had the people dig deep holes.  They stretched green buffalo hides over them.  They poured water in them.  They got a lot of water up there.  He had much meat too up there.”

“The Chief told the people not to use the water for anything but to drink.  They should roast their meat with sticks over the fire.  They could not use the water for cooking.  When he was all ready he sent word to his warriors.  He told them to come back now.  So the Hidatsa fighting-men went for the village.  The Sioux went too.  The Sioux attacked the village.  There was only one path to reach the top.  The Chief had rocks and logs there.  He fought from behind them.  It was steep and narrow.  They killed a good many Sioux at the narrow place.  They had a ditch up there.  They fought there for eleven days.  The Sioux could not get anywhere.”

“When the Sioux thought they had no water the Chief rolled a lot of water down on them.  It was the last water they had too.  But the Sioux thought they had a lot more.  They were discouraged I guess.  The Sioux went away from there.  They could not reach the Hidatsa.  But the Gros Ventre (Hidatsa) Chief moved the village from the hill then.  He was afraid that he would be caught without water or meat sometime.  That was the last village ever built upon a hill.  So we call it ‘The Last Hill Village.’  It is up there now.  You can see the place where the lodges were.”


On June 1st I ascended the butte.  It is quite close to the shore of the Missouri; the summit being about 300 feet above the water; the sides are very steep and a stiff climb; the almost flat top is a triangle with a base about 300 feet and the two legs about 100 feet.  At the northern end the sharp angle is formed by a very steep hogs-back ridge.  Across this narrow place can be seen the ditch mentioned and some logs which formed a breastworks. It was Indian construction.  On the summit, the lodge rings could plainly be seen and there were some square lines of stones.  There were several eagle trap holes along the edges of the cliff.  I counted nine lodge sites and several others of which most of the debris had caved off into the valley below.  I picked up a white rock with the date 1824 carved in the smooth surface and several other marks,  which I can not make out clearly.

I do not doubt but that there was a fight here as told, as I have often heard it mentioned by the Hidatsa.  They appear to get considerable joy out of telling how the Hidatsa of the Last Hill Village fooled the Sioux in this fight.


Story No. 5: The Sioux fight at Berthold



”One time Hollow Horn Bear, a Sioux, came with many men to fight us at the Fish Hook Village.  We saw them cross the river. They came close to the village.  Our young men were anxious to fight them.  There was one Sioux killed close to one of our lodges.  We fought so hard that they could not carry him away.  We drove them away from him.  They did not want any of us to make coup upon him.”

“Then many men tried to count coup upon him.  But one young man named Moves Slowly was very brave. He said he would count coup upon him or die there.  He wrapped a blanket around his arm and rushed out among the enemy.  He went on.  He got close.  He went on then.  He was there.  He struck the enemy.  He came back then. The Sioux carried the dead man away with them.”

“That night they sent an invitation to Moves Slowly to visit their camp.  He thought they would kill him.  But he went.  A Chief had invited him.  He was brave.  He had made coup on them.  He walked among their lodges that night time.  He sat down among them there. He ate their meat.”

“Then Sitting White Buffalo, a Sioux, adopted Moves Slowly.  Because he was a brave man.  He made him his son.  He gave him his own name then.  We gave him a new name too.  We called him after that Ie-he-na-wi-i (Adopted).”


Story No. 6: Tabloid History of Hollow Horn Bear



Story No. 7: Pezhi (Chief John Grass) strikes the Arikara



Chief Grass talks:

“My father was Oglala. He was named Pezhi (Grass).  My grandfather was called by that name too.  Now my own name is Pezhi, for I gave you my name of Mato Watakpe (Charging Bear).  These men were great men among the Sihasapa (Blackfeet) Hunkpapa and Oglala Dakotah.  They were both wise men and great orators and warriors.  My grandfather battled with the Mowatani (Mandan), Minitari (Hidatsa) and Palani (Arikara) all the time.  These Palani lived north of the Cannon Ball then with the others.  The Dakotah claimed that region for hunting and my grandfather made war with them to drive them from that territory.  Their villages were scattered along the river from the Cannon Ball to the Heart and above.  So he struck then time after time, and drove them from their villages toward the north where the Branching River (Knife) is.”

“There were many battles and a lot of the enemy were killed by the Dakotah in a battle near where Mandan is now, and they cut their heads off.  They threw the heads in a draw, together, some distance away from where they were killed.  That was a long time ago.  So those people called the Dakotah ‘the Cut Heads,’ and the sign talk is to sweep the hand across the throat.”


“Then my father (note: died 1874) took up war against them and he kept them moving and I helped him when I got to fighting.  Finally they all got mostly up at the Knife river where their friends were and the Palani made great villages there.  My grandfather and my father did this thing for the Dakotah people.”

The Dakotah Tetons came into touch with the Arikara about 1750 and continual war existed between them for over 50 years.  Then there was a sort of a truce, but this was broken about 1800 and the war did not cease until historical times in North Dakota.  About 1775 a general movement was started among the Arikara to move up the river and make peace with the Mandans and Hidatsa for mutual protection against their common enemy

At the time of this movement the Arikara occupied the river from Niobrara north, and in this migration they occupied old site after site, until about 1800 when their south settlement was at the Grand River, from whence they were dislodged in 1828 by Colonel Leavenworth, aided by some 700 Tetons under Joshua Pilcher.

They joined the Mandans and Hidatsa soon thereafter in the vicinity of Fort Clark and the Knife River mouth, and have lived with them ever since, although their war and hunting parties frequently foraged and struck their enemies in the Sioux country, far to the south.



Story No. 8: Sioux make peace with Northern Cheyenne




“No, we never sent Agents to an enemy.  We went to war with them and fought until we got through.  Sometimes a man would ride out in front of the enemy and shout to them, but they would kill him if they caught him, and we would do the same with any of their men.  I never knew of any peace being made but once.  This was peace between the Cheyennes and the Dakotah, a very long time ago.  It was about a hundred and twenty years ago.  This is the truth about how we made peace with the Northern Cheyenne (Sheheyela):”

“A Dakotah and a friend were out hunting for their enemies.  They were the Sheheyela.  They finally found a camp of them and attacked at once.  The horse of the friend wad killed and he was put afoot among the enemy.  He rant to the horses of the enemy but could not secure any of them to ride.  Then he ran toward his friend, but he was a coward and refused to allow him to mount with him.  He drove him off and ran away.  The friend was made prisoner by the enemy in the camp.”

“The other Dakotah reached his own people’s camp and said that his friend had been killed in a fight.  The friend had a wife in the Dakotah camp, who was very unhappy about it and finally was missed could not be found.  It was the custom for Dakotah women to go off by themselves in the woods or wilderness and strangle themselves with a cloth when they were unhappy, so the people searched everywhere, but could not fine the woman.  She had gone away in search of the enemy camp and, after a long, hard journey, she found it and remained in the timber until darkness came.  The woman was still alive.  The enemy were dancing and singing in a place in the middle of the tipis.”

“She crawled up behind a tipi and saw two poles stuck into the ground about two feet apart. About eight feet up from the ground, with his legs and arms tied to the poles, was a man, and there was a fire underneath him.  But she was not sure it was her man, so she laid there until late and all the people but six old men had gone to sleep, and the old men snored, too, as they sat there.”

“Then she crawled up close and whispered: “Is this my husband?” and he answered, “Yes. Cut me down soon.”  She had a knife and cut the sinews which bound him, but he was very heavy and his feet dragged upon the ground when she carried him away to a place in the woods, where she made a bed for him in a hollow lot, which the soft inner bark of dead trees. Then she went back and stole some meat and blankets, which she took back with her to her husband.  She took care of him there for many days before he could be moved, for his legs were burned by the fire.”

“Then she went again to the camp and stole two horses.  She made a good travois and put him on it and started for her own camp.  After a few days he could ride a little and so they came at last to their own people.”

“When they got there, the wounded warrior told about the cowardice of his friend and the men of the camp asked him to name justice and say what should be done to the cowardly, lying warrior, who had left him afoot in a battle.  He said to send for him and, when he came and wanted to shake hands, he refused to shake hands or call him friend. His judgment was that the man should go into the enemy’s camp and get a wife from among the enemy.  When he did that he would call him friend once again.”

“So the drove the cowardly warrior out into the country places alone.  He thought he would steal a woman and redeem himself and started out toward the enemy country.  When he reached there he hid himself and watched from the shelter of the woods.  After a while he saw a woman which he thought was the most beautiful he had ever seen and he had great desire for her.  He was satisfied to die if he could only be alone with this woman.  So, that night he watched until all the fires were low and the shadows upon the walls of the tipis were still.  Then he walked toward the tipi of the beautiful woman and entered.  He lifted up the robe ofr the woman and crept under it with her.  After a while she got awake and cried out.  Her father, who was chief, threw some dried grass upon the embers of the fire, so they could see. And so they caught this man lying alone with the chief’s daughter.”

“He told his captors how he had been fighting with them before and about the death of his friend’s horse; his capture and escape, and about the sentence which had been pronounced against him for not taking his friend upon his horse.  He said that he had ‘finished the thing’ with the woman with whom they had caught him and was willing to die now, but that if they let him live, he would marry the woman and start a new lodge fire.  So they lived together with the Sheheyela for about a year.”

“This man was a good hunter and fighter and the people soon came to show him considerable respect, but in a year his heart called for his own people, and he told his wife about it and they decided to visit among the Dakotah.  The old chief and nearly every family gave him a horse until he had over a hundred.  They started and the sent sent to young men along to help them drive the animals.  When they reached the Dakotah camp, the people made many presents of horses to the young men who had driven the horses and so these two young men returned to their own country with praise for the Dakotah.”

“Then there was peace from that time on to the present, between the Northern Cheyenne and the Dakotah.”


Story No. 9: Pierre Garreau escapes from the Assiniboine


“Pierre Garreau and Pierre Botteneau were both might good scouts and hunters, but I think Pierre Garreau was the best all-round western character who ever lived here.  Not much is said about him in history but he was a wonder among the early frontiersmen around here in those days.”

“He, and one other man, started from Fort Rice one day in the late sixties to gather in some meat.  They took horses to pack with and struck a good herd of buffalo over by Long Lake, south of where Steele is now, and soon killed enough to keep them skinning for several days.  That night they were both pretty tired, I guess.  They were jumped by a band of seventeen Assiniboine just after dark.  They killed the man with Garreau, but Pierre held up his hands and said “Come and get me.”

“They started north with him and his horses and camped up in those hills somewhere for the night.  They started to tie up his arms, but he jerked out a small sawed-off shot-gun with a barrel about six inches long, from under his arms, and pressed it into the belly of the leader. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘I’ve got you. I am ready to die, but wanted a good, brave man to go with me and you’ll die,  We will both go now.  I am leader here.’  The Indian said, ‘All right.  Shoot me. I’ll go too.’ ‘I’ll do that soon,’ said Pierre, ‘but just now I’ll make you a propostion.  You killed my man.  I want to go free now.  But I will take my own horses with me and I want yours, too, to pay for my man. Your men will all walk away, but I’ll keep this Chief man with me for a while.’  So they walked away toward the north and Pierre and the Chief started south.  When they had got far enough, Pierre told the Chief that he was a brave man and gave him back his own horse.  The Chief rode away to join his men and Pierre went back and loaded up his horses and came back to Rice.”


Story No. 9a:The Arikara come to Berthold


“The Mandans went to live with the Hidatsa before the Arikara came to that place (Fort Berthold Villages).  The Hidatsa moved over there first.  There was a new post built there and the people who went there were pretty safe from the Sioux.  The Gros Ventre (Hidatsa) wanted the Sanish (Arikara) to come over there and live with them too, so the Hidatsa Chief decided to carry the pipe to them.  He wanted his daughter to have the honor so he dressed her up very fine with beads and porcupine quills on her buckskin dress and a bonnet on her head.  She carried the pipe before her with the stem pointed just right.  So she walked that way before the chief and his party, to the lodge of the Arikara chief in Hidatsanti (the village north of the Knife river and across the Missouri from Berthold).  The chief told what the Gros Ventre wanted; to have the Arikara come over and live with them; they would be strong and friendly; the Bros Ventre would give them all a nice place to erect their lodges; they would set aside some very good corn land for them; they would help them fight the Sioux and their other enemies; he made a good talk and so he had brought his holy pipe and hoped that they would not ‘step over it’ but pick it up and smoke it.”

“So the Arikara chiefs talked it over and, when they got ready, they said: ‘Our medicine is buried so deep that it comes up over our arms.  We cannot reach it.  Our stone and the green tree stand outside our medicine lodge.  They have been moved many times.  We will not dig them up any more.’  This meant that they stepped over the pipe the Gros Ventre carried to them and the peace was not made.  The Gros Ventre were disappointed and went away.”

“When they came to a little hill, close to a deep gully, they stopped and brought out the pipe again.  They were pretty made about the Arikara stepping over their pipe.  They got ready for a ceremony.  The chief held the pipe to God, the four winds and to the earth then.  He prayed and said: ‘God, come around and listen to what I say to you.  Be quick now.  These stubborn Arikara have stepped over my pipe.  I don’t like that.  I wanted to give them some land to live on.  I’ll tell you what I want.  I want you to send the Sioux after them.  Right away.  Don’t wait.  Hurry up now and do this for me.  Don’t be a long time about this thing. Do it for me right now.’”

“Then they smoothed out the place where they dumped the tobacco ashes from the pipe and went back to their village.  In four days after that, a very large camp of Sioux came and camped right where the Arikara lived.  They traded a lot with them.  The Gros Ventre went over and traded too.  Then they went back to their village.  But the Sioux stayed for several days, eating corn and meat.  They ate it all up and, at last, started to fight each other and killed a lot of Arikara.  The young men of the Gros Ventre wanted to go over and help them, but the chief would not permit them to, but told them to wait until he told them a word.  So the fight lasted all day.  The Gros Ventre could see it going on.  It must be pretty hard fight too.”

“At last the chief said, ‘Get your horses.  We will go over there now.’  So they rode hard there after they crossed the Missouri river and soon came to the place where the Arikara village was fighting the Sioux.  The Gros Ventre chief rode right through both people.  He said for the Sioux to give back all the women and children they had taken and for the Arikara to do the same thing.  After they did this he said that he would take the side of the one who was fired upon first, if they started fighting again.”

“So they stopped fighting.  The Sioux were mad and said; ‘We will come again for some women and children, in four days we will come.  Look out.  We will come hard then.”

The Gros Ventre went back to Fish Hook Village at Berthold. They next day the Arikara began to come over to them.  They brought all their things.  They brought them in bull boats.  The Gros Ventre chief told them that they were cowards not to wait for the Sioux in four days.  But the Arikara were afraid and, when the Sioux did come in four days, all of the Arikara were over on the north side of the river, safe with the Gros Ventre and Mandan people.  They will tell you that they are very brave people, these Arikara, but that is how they came to live with the Mandans and Hidatsa at Fort Berthold, where they have lived ever since.”

The Gros Ventre moved to Berthold in 1845, Mandans in groups from 1845 to 1850.  The Arikara went there in 1862.



Story No. 10: Coups, in one Day, of Chief John Grass



Story No. 11: Enemy Heart’s views on old times versus new times


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?

Enemy Heart: 

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!


Story No. 12: Caught in their own trap by the Gros Ventre and Mandans


“When we lived together with the Gros Ventre at the village by Fort Berthold, a scout came in with word of the approach of a large war party of Sioux. They were coming fast.  Their purpose was evidently to attack us there.  There were about a thousand of them riding hard.  It was in the hot month (July) forty-nine years ago (1874). Soon we saw some of them.  They came to the banks where the timber was.  They swam their horses over to the east side of the river (Missouri).  They appeared close to the village and shouted and sung songs.  They asked us to come from among the women and fight.  There were fifty of these warriors.  Many of us were very anxious to obtain war honors.  We wanted to go and fight them then.  So we rode against them.  They did not stay long.  They run away.  We followed them hard then.  Our horses ate corn and were faster and stronger than their grass-fed horses.  Those fifty Sioux were a trap for us.  We soon saw that.  They kept ahead of us and drew us on to an ambush place.  We refused to be caught in the hills.  We rode against both sides of the enemy then.  We changed the trap.  They were in it now.  We killed six of them.  Then they run away from the place. We did not follow very far.  We feared another trap.”

“But one young man of the Mandans was very brave.  He parted his hair in the middle like a Sioux.  He rode among the enemy.  He pushed to the head of the Sioux riders.”


“When he got there he turned around and struck a Sioux.  Then he told them that he was a Mandan and they could take him now.  But he got away all right.  He was very brave.  He wears a feather in his hair for what he did then.  That song they are now singing is for him:”


Story No. 13: Hobu (Bristling) receives his name



Story No. 14: An unrecorded battle … Cheyennes and Mandans


I inquired about this of old Fire Heart (Cante Peta), Chief of the Sihasapa Teton (a branch of the Sioux called the Blackfeet), who lives in a log house, some distance to the east of the butte.  This is his story:

“Bears Ears of the Mandans told me about this  – about that battle there on ‘The Peak.’  He told me that the Cheyennes (Sheheyela) came into this country here a long time ago.  They came from east of the Missouri River.  They disputed the possession of the country with anyone who came in. Some Mandans came down here to hunt or fight.  They met these Cheyennes there on the slopes of the butte.  They fought then.  It was a hard fight.  The Mandans sing about it today.  Thirty-seven Cheyennes were killed there.  Eleven Mandans were dead too.  Some other people came after that.  They honored men who had died in a battle.  They carried them to this gorge and placed them in a row upon that stone shelf there.  Bears Ears said that it was before the Sioux came into this country. It was a long time ago.  That is the story Bears Ears, the Mandan, told me.”

Continuing, Fire Heart said: “We do not like to go there.  The bones of many dead men lie there.  Their spirit (Wanagi) stays there, I think. There was a Dakotah dance near there once.  A spirit of a dead man came to dance.  He had but one eye.  The people were afraid and stopping dancing.  Another time, some Shihasapa were going up that gorge.  It was at night time.  They heard terrible noises.  They saw white clouds close to the ground.  This cloud moved around fast.  They were afraid and left that place.  I do not talk about it much.  I live near there.  I want to be friendly.”

At the first opportunity I visited the place and it is true that there are many human bones lying around among the rocks.  I found a frying pan with a long handle and the initials ‘H B C’ stamped upon the handle.  This probably means Hudson’s Bay Company.  I also picked up many large, old-time trade beads.

This gorge is at least two miles from the site of the old village at Grass Creek.  This village was called, by Lewis and Clark, a Cheyenne village.  I hardly believe that the inhabitants carried their dead so far from camp for burial ceremonies, but it is possible.  They generally were tied in trees or placed on platforms nearer camp. If it is the burial place of the people of the ‘Lost Village,’ the remains are very old, as that village was a ruin in 1804, and had been deserted long before that, even.

It is possible that strange Indians, coming in to trade with Manuel Liza at his fort on Grass Creek in 1807 might have buried their dead in this place.  The Hudson Bay skilled might have been brought with them.  At any rate, no matter who buried these dead men, it was a long time ago, when the strange procession wound up the rocky gorge and placed them there, with wails of grief and sorrow and chanting of savage song and pounding of tom toms.


Story No. 15: The Gros Ventre ambush the Chippewa


“These Chippewa came in a great crowd to fight the Gros Ventre.  The Gros Ventre had a great chief.  He was a good medicine man, too.  He could do many somethings which showed that he was a holy man.  So he said: ‘We will go out to fight these Chippewa people.  They come in war.  We will fight them now.’ So they went to meet them.  They came to a place which suited the old chief.  He said to stop there.  So he placed two hundred men on one side of a draw and three hundred on the other side and one hundred in the trees in the middle.”

“Then when nighttime came he got out a drum.  It was like a shield.  It was his medicine. He rolled it out across the gully.  He had some buffalo chips behind it as it rolled, and this fire fell out and was seen.  He got his song all sung and then he said that no one must cross the line of the fire he had made.  So he rolled the shield and the fire fell again.  But a brave Gros Ventre said: ‘Ho. I will go across. I am brave.’  But the chief told him not to do it.  But he started and did cross it, and he has never been seen any more. He got lost.  He did not treat the fire right.”

“Then came the enemy.  These Chippewas from the north and east.  There were many of them. They came singing to fight us then.  They could see those hundred men in the middle where the trees were.  They went in after them.  Then the war chief rolled his shield again and the fire fell.  ‘No one will be killed that that rash, young man,’ he said to the people.”

“And it was so. The Chippewas were defeated in a great battle and many were killed; women, children and many horses were taken by the Gros Ventre and no one was killed among us except that brave, foolish, young warrior, who dared the medicine of the war chief.”


Story No. 16: The Assiniboine attack the Gros Ventre


“I want to tell you this good story.  I know all our stories and this is a good one.  It is about the Hohe (he used the Dakotah name for the Assiniboine) coming after the Hidatsa.  My mother can remember the time.  She was a small girl then (she was born in 1843).  There were a lot of these Hohe up near that river (the Assiniboine river).  They traded with a white man’s fort up there.  We went up there sometimes, too.  We took good fur up there  – beaver and otter.  These Hohe did not like us then.  They had a big chief and he got that trader to write some words to our chief.  He sent it.  This is what he said in it for us to read: ‘I am coming.  I want women and children.  I want some horses.  I am coming to fight for them.. I will be coming along pretty soon.’”

“We had a white trader among us.  He read it to us.  It got us excited.  Our chief called every man who could carry a gun to come in.  He counted them, men, boys and every warrior.  He counted only fifty.  This was only a year or two after the big small pox.  The Gros Ventre were nearly all killed in this sickness.  There were only fifty who could fight then when he got through counting.”

“We told them that the Hohe were coming to fight for their women and children.  That the Hohe wanted women and children to make their tribe strong.  They had had small pox, too.  But there were a lot of them left and they needed women and children.  The chief told them not to run away but to stay and fight for their women and children and for their homes.  He told them to fight for all the blood of the Gros Ventre who were dead, and for their holy ground were they lived. So, everybody was waiting to fight then.  The white trader came to the lodge of the chief and said that he would stay and fight for the blood, too.  So there was much singing and dancing and running around and fixing up for the fight.”

“Then, one day, came another letter from the chief of the Assiniboine.  It read like this way: ‘I am on the road now.  I am coming fast. Nothing can stop me.  I have many warriors.  I will get you and kill all the men.  I will carry the women and children away with me when I go back.  Look out.  Watch for me.  I am getting pretty close now.  I will soon be there.’”

“So everybody got ready to fight and die.  We ate up all the corn in the holes so the enemy could not find any.  One day a young Gros Ventre came toward the village very fast.  He came into the place with some trees in it.  He rode out of the hills.  He was riding fast…….”

At this point in the story Joe’s daughter came in to tell us that she had prepared something to eat.  Packineau said they would tell the rest after we ate something.  We went into another log house to eat.  But the story was lost, for I could not get them to say another word about it, except that it was a good story and they would tell it to me sometime.  What sign, or bad medicine, took place, I do not know, but the above is all I ever got of this interesting war story of the olden times, which bears some resemblance to the story of the “Women or the Tiger.”


Story No. 17: Four Bears’ revenge


Background:  Mato Topa, or Four Bears, was living at the Mandan village of Mih Tutta Hang Kush at the time Maximilion, Prince of Wied visited them in 1834. This was also the abode of Shahaka (Big White) in 1804, who was the principal chief and was sent to Washington in the fall of 1806 when Lewis and Clark returned from the trip to the mouth of the Columbia.  Catlin, in 1833, and Bodmer, in 1834, both painted the picture of this second chief, Four Bears of the Mandans, and Catlin, especially, devoted much space to describing his exploits  There are many traditions regarding the man among the Indians, themselves, and he has become an heroic figure of  their myths and true stories as the years have passed since his death.


The oil painting, at the left on this page, by Bodmer shows a knife in his hair and also another upon his lance.  The following story was obtained after I had spoken about this to a group of old Mandans and Gros Ventre who still look upon this great warrior in much the same light as the Sioux do for Red Cloud, who was a “great orator and entitled to eighty coups.”

The Story:

“Mato Topa was a great chief of the Mandan Indians.  He lived at Mihtuttahangke.  He wore a knife in his hair and many marks upon his robe. He did many things and was entitled to many war honors.  One time an Arikara killed his brother (this might mean his friend).  Mato Topa felt very bad about that.  They told him about the kill.  He said: “I will get him.  I will go after him and get him sometime.  I will do this think when I want to attend to it.”  Mato Topa told this to the people.  So the Arikara heard about that promise made by Mato Topa and was afraid.  He was sorry that he had killed the brother of Mato Topa.  He would not go out after dark for the horses, alone.  He did not know when he would meet Mato Topa.  He would run into the lodges and hide whenever he saw a stranger coming along.  He kept hid all the time.  He looked for him to come after him all the time.”

“When Mato Topa got ready to go he took a knife and a rope with him.  He started out.  He told all the Mandans: “I am going after that Arikara now”  He went right up to the Arikara village.  He walked around among the lodges.  The people told the Arikara that Mato Topa was there for him.  So the Arikara sung a song first and then went out to meet the Mandan.  The Arikara made a good fight, too.  He was big and strong.  Mato Topa threw his rope aside and said: “Take your knife now and fight.”  So they fought with knives.  But the Mandan had killed before with knives and knew the best way to use them.  Mato Topa took the knife away from the other man.  He wound his rope around him.  He tied him up good.  Then he sung a song about his brother.  He took the Arikara’s own knife and struck him in the heart with it.  He left it sticking there for the people to look at.”

“Then he went across the river.  He yelled over to the Arikara: “Look. 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 be there.  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 fight.  He was a great warrior, but was not the principal chief.  He wore many marks upon his robe.  He killed many Sioux and a lot of Assiniboines and Blackfeet.”


Story No. 18: Four Bears’ revenge (Catlin version)


“In a skirmish near the Mandan village, when they were set upon by their enemies, the Arikaras, the brother of Mato Topa was missing for several days, when Mato Topa found the body, shockingly mangled, and a handsome spear left piercing the body through the heart.  The spear was brought by him into the Mandan village, where it was recognized by many as a famous weapon belonging to a noted brave of the Riccarees, by the name of Won ga tap.  This spear was brandished through the Mandan village by Mato Topa (with the blood of his brother dried on its blade), crying most piteously, and swearing that he would some day revenge the death of his brother with the same weapon.”

“It is almost an incredible fact, that he kept this spear with great care in his wigwam for the space of four years, in the fruitless expectation of an opportunity to use it upon the breast of its owner.  When his indignant soul, impatient of further delay, burst forth in the most uncontrollable frenzy and fury; he again brandished it through the village, and said that the blood of his brother’s heart, which was seen on its blade, was yet fresh, and called loudly for revenge.  “Let every Mandan (said he) be silent and let no one sound the name of Mato Topa  – let no one ask for him, nor where he has gone, until you hear him sound the war cry in front of the village, when he will enter it and show you the blood of Wongatap.  The blade of this lance will drink the blood of Wongatap, or Mato Topa mingles his shadow with that of his brother.””

“With this he sallied forth from the village, and over the plains, with the lance in his hands; his direction was toward the Ricaree’s village, and all eyes were upon him, though none dared to speak till he disappeared over the distant grassy bluffs.  He traveled the distance of two hundred miles alone, with a little parched corn in his pouch, making his marches by night, and lying, secreted, by the day, until he reached the Riccaree village; where (being acquainted with its shapes and habits, and knowing the position of the wigwam of his doomed enemy) he loitered about in disguise, mingling himself in the obscure throng; and, at last, silently and alone, observed through the rents of the wigwam, the last motions and movements of his victim, as he retired to bed with his wife; saw him light his last pipe and smoke it ‘to its end’  – he saw the last whiff, and saw the last curl of blue smoke that faintly steeped from its bowl  – he saw the village awhile in darkness and silence, and the embers that were covered in the center of the wigwam nearly out, and the last, flickering light which had been playing over them; when he walked softly, but not shyly, into the wigwam and seated himself by the fire, over which was hanging a large pot, with a quantity of cooked meat remaining in it; and by the side of the fire, the pipe and tobacco pouch which had just been used; and knowing that the twilight of the wigwam was not sufficient to disclose the features of his face to the enemy, he very deliberately turned to the pot and completely satiated the desperate appetite, which he had got in a journey of six or seven days, with little or nothing to eat; and then, as deliberately, charged and lighted the pipe, and sent (no doubt, in every whiff that he drew through the stem) a prayer to the Great Spirit for a moment longer for the consummation of his design.  Whilst eating and smoking, the wife of his victim, while laying in bed, several times inquired of her husband, what man it was who was eating in their lodge?  To which, he as many times replied, ‘its no matter; let him eat for he is probably hungry.’”

“Mato Topa knew full well that his appearance would cause no other reply than this, from the dignitary of the nation; for, from an invariable custom amongst these northern folks, any one who is hungry is allowed to walk into any man’s lodge and eat.  Whilst smoking his last and tremulous whiffs on the pipe, Mato Topa (leaning back and turning gradually on his back, to get a better view of the position of his enemy, and to see a little more distinctly the shapes of things) stirred the embers with his toes (readers, I had every word of this from his own lips, and every attitude and gesture acted out with his own limbs) until he saw his way was clear; at which moment, with his lance in his hands, he arose and drove it through the body of his enemy, and snatching the scalp from his head, he darted from the lodge  – and, quick as lightning, with the lance in one hand, and the scalp in the other, made his way to the prairie.  The village was in an uproar, but he was off, and no one knew the enemy who had struck the blow.”

“Mato Topa ran all night, and lay close during the days; thanking the Great Spirit for strengthening his arm to this noble revenge; and praying fervently for a continuance of his aid and protection til he should get back to his own village.  His prayers were heard; and on the sixth morning at sunrise, Mato Topa descended the bluffs, and entered the village amidst deafening shouts of applause, while he brandished and showed the people his lance, with the blood of his victim dried upon it, over that of his brother, and the scalp of Wongotap suspended from its handle.”


Story No. 19: Mato Topa fights Cheyenne Chief



This story was obtained at a regular council of the Hidatsa, which had gathered to tell me the story of Bulls Eye, who is the grand son of Sakakawea, who guided Lewis and Clark to the Pacific in 1805.  He was the son of Otter Woman, daughter of Sakakawea and Charboneau.  Birds Bill is the Chief of the United States Volunteer Scouts Society.  Dean is an educated Indian and also is Mandan.  The last-named is the grand son of Chief Red Buffalo of the Mandans and his mother is Calf Woman and is still alive at the age of 71.  She is Hidatsa.  Red Buffalo was killed by the Chippewa in Canada, while he was First Chief of the Mandans.  Bad Gun is the son of Charging Eagle, or Bad Gun as he was sometimes called, and he was the son of Mato Topa, the great Mandan character of this sketch.


The Story:  The village of Ruptare had been attacked by a war party of Cheyennes, early in the morning, and, in the rush through the village, one or two Mandans had been killed and slashed and the night herd of horses had been much scattered and some of them were in the hands of the enemy. The enemy, however, had not stayed around to finish the fight, but had driven the horses off toward the south and west.  A party of Mandans started in pursuit and were kept in touch with the movements of the Cheyennes by scouts who had followed them over the hills to the west of the village.  This party was led by a brave young man of the tribe, by the name of Mato Topa. By traveling that night, the pursuit party arrived close to the night camp of the enemy but before they could attack with advantage, the camp broke up and the Cheyennes started off once more.

After a stern chase, the Mandans caught up with the fleeing people from the south, who turned upon them. Mato Topa told his men to stop, and he rode out alone to meet the Cheyennes.  They, too, stopped at this strange maneuver, fearing some treachery.  Mato Topa rode along the line of Cheyennes, singing that he was a chief warrior’ that if there was any chief among those Dog Indians, let him step forth and do battle alone with him;  the horses and honor would belong to those whose chief returned after the fight.


He stuck his lance in the ground and rode around it.  Placing a lance in the ground was a brave act, for it was the custom of the Plains Indians what when that was ever done, the party who had planted the lance would never leave it, but would stay and fight until the victory or until he had been killed.  Another warrior might pull it up and carry it to the rear, and the owner could then follow, but this was not often done.

A chief of the Cheyennes accepted the wager and, riding out, planted his own lance by the side of that of Mato Topa.  The warriors of the contending parties then drew as closely as safety allowed in order to watch this strange contest in which death was to be the sure prize of at least one.

Both of the warriors were armed with trade guns, and riding towards each other, discharged them with their horses on the gallop.  Neither were wounded, and the Cheyenne started reloading his gun.  Mato Topa pulled the wooden plug of his powder hors with his teeth and tilted it up at the muzzle of the gun.  But there was no powder.  Riding at full speed at the Cheyenne, he threw his gun and horn away, indicating that he had no ammunition.  The Cheyenne also threw his gun away and they commended shooting with arrows. Many arrows were sped and parried with their bullhide shields, until a lucky shot, fired by the Cheyenne, wounded the horse of Mato Topa and he was in distress.  Mato Topa sprung off his horse and the chivalrous Cheyenne did likewise.  They were now on foot to fight with knives; he discovered that he had either forgotten to pick it up when he left the village or it had been lost.  He was unarmed and the Cheyenne circled around him, looking for an opening.  Quick as a flash, Mato Topa hurled his useless shield at him and followed ti so swiftly that he arrived at the same time, and the two shields were in close embrace, with one knife and tht in the hands of the Cheyenne.  Many times did the knife cut the hands of Mato Topa, but, at last, by a dexterous twist, he secured it and pluinged it into the heart of his foe.  The fight was ended and the Cheyennes allowed the Mandans to roundup the horses, while Mato Topa secured the scalp and lance of his enemy, and placed the knife of the Cheyenne in his hair, where he always wore it after that.  The Cheyennes packed their slain leader upon a travois and filed over the hills toward the south and into the valley of the Heart.

This brave duel on the grassy plains of Dakota, gained much notoriety for Mato Topa and the story, as told by Catlin, is so nearly like this, that it is not printed for comparison.


Story No. 20: The Death of Good Chaser


“I am the son of Powder Horn and Plenty Sweet Grass, a Hidatsa woman.  My father was the son of a Frenchman.  My mother does not remember the name of my grandfather, but his Indian name was Good Chaser.  He came from Canada and married a Gros Ventre woman by the name of Bug Woman.  His other wife was Goes along the Pink and she was a sister of Bug Woman.  My father was the child of Bug Woman.”

“I will tell you how my grandfather died.  He was getting ready to go down the river to St. Louis in the fall.  He was going to take down a lot of furs and hides and come back in the summer.  He liked buffalo meat awful well and wanted to take a lot with him.  He did not want to have to stop to hunt in the Sioux country.  He said he would go after some meat.  The Hidatsa said: “No. You had better not go.  Some hunters saw some Sioux.”  But he said he was in a big hurry and did not care anything about a few Sioux people when he wanted meat.  So he took four horses to pack with and rode a fine, fast horse from St. Louis, which he owned.  He went up into the Shell Creek places and soon killed his horses full of meat and started back.”

“When he got down close to the river where he was going to cross, he saw four horsemen looking across the river at Hidatsaanti village.  He thought they were Gros Ventre and went right up to them.  They were Sioux.  He kept his meat horses together and made a fight then.  He got up to those hills near where Dead Grass Hall is now.  Then they got around him.  He was killed there.  He could have got away with his fast buffalo horse, but he would not leave his meat for those Sioux.”

“They cut off a small piece of his scalp.  They went to the place where they jumped his the first time.  They planted a stick in the ground there, with four black rings around it, to show that there were four men of a war party there, and tied the scalp to the end of it.  They went away then.  But the Hidatsa saw them.  They were afraid that Good Chaser was dead then. After four days waiting for him to come, the people crossed the river and went up to this stick.  They knew then.”

“This stick leaned in a certain direction.  They spread out and followed that way it pointed.  They found some rocks in a line on top of a hill.  Then they followed that direction of the rocks.  They spread out and then they found him.  The ground showed a big fight.  He was cut up pretty bad.  They took him down into the timber of a little gully and tied him in a tree.  They could read the whole story as it was on the ground.  He died because he would not leave his four horses of meat to the Sioux.  The people were very sorry for the Sioux had taken his horses, too.  It is very bad to lose horses.  That’s the way my grandfather, Good Chaser, died that time.”


In the olden days, most of the Plains Indians placed their dead upon scaffolds, wrapped in blankets.  When the elements wrecked the scaffolds, the bones were scattered around over the ground.  Sometimes they were picked up and tied in a bundle and secured in a tree.  More often they were not removed after death.  The Sioux, Mandans and Hidatsa laid their dead away in this fashion, but the Arikara (or Sanish) buried their dead in the ground at the foot of, or on top of, high, steep hills.  Slanting trees were often used for sepulchers, and after they body had been tied securely, the tree was splashed with red paint and strips of calico were tied to the branches.  The Government has stopped these customs and they now bury in the churchyards as other Christians.


Story No. 21: Heraldric device of the Arikara



Story No. 22: Killing of families of Grey Bear and Flying By


The above statement of All Yellow has been checked up for several years and find considerable truth in the statements made.  Both of these men were Hunkpapa Dakotah of the old buffalo days.  Flying By is a great friend of the writer and has frequently ridden by his side in various parades at Mandan and danced with him on the reservation at ceremonies.


The story is as follows:

“Grey Bear had a hunting camp in the fall near Birds Bill Hill, on Little Heart River.  He had a friend with him, whose name was Flying By or Chase Flying.  They had several skin tipis and both of them had more than one woman with their families and some old people who did not have anyone to hunt for them.  They were up on the Little Heart to get elk for winter skins and to make a lot of wasna (frequently called pemmican by the whites).  The soldiers of Long Lake place (Mde Hanska  – Long Lake), which is called Fort Rice by white people, had hunted it all out and chased the game away.  There was not much to kill.”

“So Grey Bull and Chase Flying took some horses for meat packing, and they started up the river towards the bad lands.  They followed the Little Heart away up on the prairie and crossed over to the Heart.  They went beyond Young Mans Butte.  They found much elk up there in the woods along the Heart.  They killed much game.  When they got all they wanted, they had their horses will-loaded with meat and hides to tan for clothes.  They had a lot of bone fat (marrow), too.  They started back to camp, following the Heart river.  When they got to Birds Bill Hill they could not see any tipis and were worried.”

“Grey Bull went on ahead to see what the matter was, and when he got to the place, he sat down and waited for Flying By.  This is what they found:  Every tipi was slashed and burned; some old people were lying around, dead; they pulled the bodies of some of their children from the ashes; their winter skins were all gone and the bodies of their wives were lying all around  – they had been shot.  Grey Bull dug a bullet out of one of his women and it was a Fort Rice bullet.  It was smooth and not chewed like the Indian bullets.  (Indians received bars of lead and would cut off a section and chew it round for a bullet.).”

“Both of these men were pretty mad about that.  Some soldiers had come along, perhaps hunting, and killed them all, just because they were Indians.  Both of the men made a vow to get revenge for the murder of their families.  They were willing members of almost any war party raiding near the forts, or along the fringes of the settlements, or in the vicinity of Northern Pacific Railway engineer or grading camps.  They got enough and quit.”

It appears that when they had taken toll of the scattered whites throughout the country from the Niobrara to the Yellowstone, enough to satisfy them for the loss of their families and relatives, they stopped their raiding and killing.  Acts such as this by tough, hardened, frontier soldiers of the old Army did much to stir the Indians up, and, as they were communists in the strictest sense, “One for all and all for one,“ whites were killed in the early days, not because they were personally responsible for acts of violence, but just because they were whites and must suffer for the acts of other whites.  The life of any white was the price demanded by the Indians, for such an act of murder and cowardice.


Story No. 23: Bloody Robe Winter, 1859

This is a Sioux story and has been heard quite often in the circles of old men sitting outside of the tents, smoking and talking of old times on the trail.  It concerns a war party of men who went into Montana after the Crows.  Just what concern this party caused the Crows is not known, but they came to a camp of the enemy and rode around in front of it, calling out that, if they were not women, to come out and fight; that these brave Sioux had come a long distance to fight; that the Crows should pick out their best men and send them out on the prairie; if they did not do that, the Sioux would have to go in and get them among the lodges, anyway.

The Sioux force was small, as the party consisted of but seven or eight men.  The Crows finally did go out and a battle ensued.  The boastful Sioux were routed after what is described as a very terrible affray, and all but one of them were killed by the Crows.  This one managed to escape and, that night, he killed a buffalo; skinned it, and, in the morning, calmly walked through his enemies, selected a good horse from among the lodges and rode away from the place.

He accomplished this by wearing the bloody skin of the buffalo, wrong side out, and was, of course, a gory sight.  The Crows were seized with fear at the sight of this strange apparition, and, believing him to be Wakan, they permitted him to have his own way.

This man finally reached his own camps in the Sioux country and was given the name of Red Robe.

The winter (or year) in which this took place was 1859-1860, and is shown on No Two Horns Winter Country as the principal event for that year, and the year is called “The Bloody Robe Winter.”


Story No. 24: Campeska Imanipi Win refers to Bloody Robe



Story No. 25: Campeska Imanipi Win gives Sioux History…Mentions wars and forays


“My name is Campeska Imanipi Win (Walking on the Shell Woman).  My father was Maga Ska (White Swan).  He was a great chief among the Minniconjou.  He had only two wives.  The name of my mother was Mahpiya To (Blue Cloud).  Her father was of the Itazeptchos (Sans Arcs).  Her mother was of the Minnicojou.  We were Tintonwanna (Tetons).  My father died when I was fourteen years old.  I am sixty-nine today.  He died when he was one-hundred and two years old  – my father’s father did.  He was very old.  He crawled around like a baby on the ground.  My father was fifty-two when he died (Note: date of her father’s birth would be 1814).”


“The Minniconjou took many war honors from the Kange Wicasa (Crows).  They lived west and northwest of where we did.  We lived south of the Pa Sapa (Black Hills).  We lived on the waters of the Mini Tonka (Niobrara river).  When the white men began to come and we commenced to have trouble with them, we lived there.  Five tribes came to us from the south and east of that place.  They stayed with us.  We were friendly with them.  We fought together.  We camped together.”

“The Mahpiya To were the first to come.  Those people had the same name as my mother.  They wore very long hair.  They had no leggings.  They were ‘horse Indians’ and had saddles.  They tied two poles on two horses and hung skin baskets from the poles.  They tied the baskets on the poles.  They carried the babies in them.”

“Scutani came after the first.  I do not know what that name means.  It was their name for themselves.  These people were like the Mahpiya To but they were a different tribe of people.  We did not understand either of them when they talked.”

“Ring in their Noses were the next to come among us.  They did not comb their hair.  They did not have leggings or moccasins.  These people were very short people.  They were dark-skinned people.  They were very hot-tempered people.  We did not know their language.”

“Kange Wicasa (Crows) came after that.  Not many of them came.  We were enemies of their people.  Those who came were of them, but were friendly.  These people combed their hair straight back and it stood up.  The women had light hair, some of them.  When they made camp they put up the poles first.  Then they arranged all the robes.  They put everything in order inside the poles.  Then they put on the tipi covering.  My father took some Crow prisoners one time.  I have watched them put up their tipis just like that.”

“Wicasa Sapa (Black People) came next.  They were very dark on their skin.  They were not very good-looking people. When one of them died they buried him in the sand by the river.  No one liked those black people very well.”

“Shiheyala (Cheyennes) came from the east to us.  They were like us more than the others who came.  They were brothers.  We were all mixed up.  These were the people who came to join us then.  They must have been neighbors of ours.”

“When the camp was all together, it was very large.  With all the tribes with us from the south, it was as big as from here where the fort was (Mandan to Fort Abraham Lincoln site).  When they broke camp the Indians separated.  One half went west.  One half went north.  The people who went west captured a long string of wagons.  All the wagons were drawn by cows or steers.  They killed all the people and the soldier guard with them.  The people ate up the cows and steers.  One old man Indian had no horse.  He took a cow.  He rode the cow for a season.  Then there was a famine among the people.  The cow was fat.  They traded something to the old man for the cow.  They ate her up then.  I do not know what the people who went north did after that.  I have heard that they killed many people.  I do not know.”

“There were four chiefs of the Minniconjou. White Swan was the first. One Horn was second chief.  Black Shield was third chief and Eagle Parent was fourth chief.  When I was a girl there were many lodges of the Minniconjou.  I think there were one-thousand people at that time.”

“White Swan, my father, had two wives.  They were cousins of each other.  One Horn had four wives.  His father had ten wives.  I knew seven of them.. I never saw the others.  Maybe they were dead.  I do not know.  Black Shield had three wives.  Eagle Parent had only one wife.  She ran away. She went with another man.  When she came back he took her back.  He did not do the right thing in this.  He was not chief any more after he took her back.  One Horn had a woman and she ran away, too.  He took her back.  He was not chief after that time.  He died then. Black Shield died, too.  That way my father became head chief of the Minniconjou.”

“One Horn’s father was called One Horn, too.  He had ten wives.  He had a large tipi.  It was twenty skins.  It had two doors in it.  The wives did not have any special thing for each to do.  They all did as they wanted to do.  There was a principal wife.  She was Chief of the Wives.  This man and his ten wives had two sons.  One was a cripple.  The other was named Si Tanka (Big Foot).  He was killed by the whites with the Ghost Dancers (note: this man became the head of the hostiles after Sitting Bull was killed, and he was killed at Wounded Knee).”

“The cripple boy died, too.  They tied him in a tree.  The father, One Horn, was very sorry about that.  He told the people he did not want to live.  He would die.  They were afraid he would kill himself.  They took away all his knives and clubs.  He went and sat under a tree by a cliff for four night and four days.  He did not eat.  He mourned for the cripple boy. One of his wives went to him and asked him to come and eat some meat.  He said to send the Chief of the Wives to him.  She went.  She stood quite a ways off from him.  She was afraid.  She asked him to eat.  He said, ‘Come closer.’  She ran away then.  After that he said that if she had come close, he would have jumped over the cliff with her and both die.”

“After four days One Horn came back.  He said he would not kill himself anymore.  They gave him his knives then.  He walked away across the prairie.  He looked for buffalo.  He was alone.  He found a big, black bull.  He stabbed him in the shoulder twice.  The buffalo was mad and came to fight him.  They both died there.  After the night the people thought he had killed himself.  They went about to look for him.  They found him and the bull.  They were both dead.  They took him and buried him in the tree with the cripple.”

“When my father died, it was on Tongue river.  The other three chiefs had died or lost their place among the people.  He was a famous man then.  Seven tribes mourned for him.  These tribes were:

Minniconjou, Hunkpapa, Itazepchos, Oglala, Sheheyala, Sicangu and Quluwie  (note:  This is a new name and the first time I had heard it mentioned.  She explained that there were two division of the Sicangu or Burnt Thighs.  These were Sicangu proper and Quluwie, meaning High and Low Burnt Thigs, respectively.  This division is not mentioned in the Handbook of North American Indians.).

“All these people who mourned for my father were Teton.  The Sihasapa were not there.  They did not come so far south then.  There were many ceremonies and much mourning.  After it got warm we buried him in the ground.”

“Twenty days after the mourning for Chief White Swan, the fighting men attacked a place.  There were soldiers there.  It was on one of the branches of the Missouri river.  There was a fort there.  The Indians killed all of the soldiers there.  They killed many.  Many Indians were wounded.  My brother was wounded.  His name was His War.  He was hit in the leg with a piece of iron.  This was at White Butte.  It was north a long ways.”


She also talked about the World War. Her grandson, Hehaka Mani (Walking Elk or Albert Grass), a soldier of the writer’s, had been killed at Soissons, France, in action in July 1918.  It is the custom of the Indians to sing songs for soldiers away on the war trail, and in the dance they extend handdfulls of wild sage or sweet grass in the supposed direction of the soldiers, thinking that the though of the singer will penetrate to him.  While talking of how anxious they were as to the fate of myself and others, she said:



Story No. 26: Black Eyes on war path


“A long time ago, when the Minniconjou lived down by the Black Hills, a war party went north from there.  They went to find the Hohe (Assiniboine).  I had a brother and he was one of the party.  His name was Ista Sapa (Black Eyes).  It was in the winter time.  They went a long ways north for many days.  They crossed the Missouri river somewhere on the ice.  It was very cold.  The men were anxious to find the enemy.  They carried meat to eat on their backs.”

“After a while they saw some enemy people.  They watched them.  They followed them.  They found their camping place.  When the time came they started to get the enemy’s horses.  The enemy saw them.  They were compelled to fight.  The enemy were many.  They had fast horses.  My brother was shot through the right ankle with an arrow.  After a time they were safe from the enemy people.”

“My brother’s ankle swelled up.  It got lumpy and very painful.  They went a long ways then.  They made a camp.  They had a council.  They had a lot of the enemy horses.  My brother prevented them from going as fast as they desired to go.  They made a small camp for him then.  It was of boughs.  They left wood there and food and much ice for water by him.  They left him to die there.  They went on.”

“A man stayed with him.  He was Hunkpapa.  He was afraid to stay.  At night-time he built a big fire by my brother.  He then went out away from the fire.  He went on a big hill close by.  He prayed for my brother to get well and live a long time then. While he was on the hill a coyote came around to my brother.  He came every night-time.  My brother gave him some snow water and meat every time.  He was friendly.  He stayed every night-time and then was gone away in the morning.”

“They talked together like people talk.  The coyote said he would stay there and watch for the enemy if he should come along.  He would tell him if they were in danger.  One night when the Hunkpapa was gone away from the fire which the enemy might see, the coyote said that there people coming near.  My brother prepared to die then.  But the coyote said they were friendly people.  They were Minniconjou looking for him.  They came in.  They made a bed with two poles and a hide.  They carried him away that way.  The coyote went away.  They did not see him anymore.  You know him, Black Eyes.  He is my brother.  He always wears red on his ankle when he dances.  He was wounded there.  The last time he danced was when they raised the flag at Fort Yates (for the Wanamaker Expedition).  All the people know this thing.”


Story No. 27: Istapi prays for help



Istapi means Uses for Eyes, and is the name by which she called her brother.  In another story she called him Black Eyes.  This is another conversation concerning the same trip after the Assiniboines, in which he received an arrow through his ankle and was left to die by his comrades.  Mrs. Grass said:

“When my brother was in the camp of boughs, where the Minniconjou had left him to die after being shot with an arrow through the ankle, he had much time to think about things.  He prayed to Wakantonka to let him live and get back to his own lodge again.  He said:

“Wakantonka, let me live.  I want to see my people again.  Don’t let me die now. If you let me live I will do things for your honor.  I will smoke for you three nights and three days.  I will bleed for you in three-hundred places.  I will dance for you without food or water.  I will do these things in your honor.  Wakantonka, let me live and walk again.”

“So Wakantonka let him live and walk.  He sent a wolf to talk with him about people coming along.  He got home.  I have told you about that.  When the ‘Looking at the Sun Dance’ time came, he smoked three days and nights to Him.  He sang songs to Him. He prepared to bleed three-hundred times on the arms.  It was a great honor to bleed as many times as three-hundred.  It was a great promise he had made to Him.  He had many friends and relatives.  They wanted to take some of this bleeding for him.  So they made him many presents and took many bleedings.  They each one took ten of his cuts for him.  So he did not take so many.  He danced the dance then.  He made a great dance that time.  He made his vow good.”


Story No. 28: Chip Creighton’s outfit fights the Sioux



“General Danby was in command at the Infantry Post on the Hill at Fort Abraham Lincoln, when an order came one day for a detail of Cavalry to accompany a couple of engineers to a point on the Heart River.  Accordingly, the detail was made up of two troopers from each troop of the Seventh Cavalry, making twenty mounted men under the command Lieut. De Rudio.  This Lieutenant had come to this country first with Maximillion, who met such a tragic death after trying to set up on empire in Mexico. After that fiasco, De Rudio became an office in the United States Army and was sent out to the far western frontier posts for duty.”

“We picked up the two engineers at the blockhouse on the west side of the stockade on the hill at Fort Abraham Lincoln, and led out, starting through the hills to the north of the fort.  There are two butte-like hills just south of the Welsh farm, where the little bridge crosses the Cartridge Creek.  We were coming down toward this creed and our small dek,tail was immediately between these buttes, when we were suddenly fired upon by a band of at least one-hundred Hunkpapas, in ambush.”

“We stood our ground for a short time, but, as the Indians had pretty good rifles at that time, and, as were so completely outnumbered, we had to retire. The Indians continued to follow us and fired from the hills, hiding behind the rocks and bunch brush.  When we arrived at the first blockhouse General Danby ordered us out to drive them off.”

“This was on the tenth of June, 1873, and it was a terribly hot day, but we rode out against them and, after a pretty hot fight, succeeded in driving them off.  They showed remarkable bravery and we thought that every brave must have taken a vow to do some big act that day.  We do not know how many Indians were killed, but our Arikara Scouts brought in two dead Hunkpapa warrior’s scalps.  The fight was rather a brisk one, but the soldiers did not lose any men.”


Story No. 29: Death of Archambeau


He took a woman of the Sioux and his descendants are still on the reservation of the Standing Rock.   That portion of Liza’s men, with which Archambeau was connected, built a trading post at the mouth of Grass Creek, south of Fort Yates, and wintered there in 1808, and Luttig, a clerk in employ of the Missouri Fur Company, mentions this man as being killed by the Sioux on February 22nd, 1813.  The story of a white man’s death across the river from this post is told by the Sioux, who relate that:

“There was a white man with the trader’s down by the ‘Peak’ Hill.  He had a Dakotah woman and come children.  He went across the river one time. He went for hay for their horses.  When he got there, he got a lot of dry grass on some poles.  Some Yanktonaise Indians came that way.  They saw him.  They killed him.  They shot twenty-nine arrows into his body.  That’s how they killed him.”


Story No. 30: Mandan and Sioux Heraldry



At a dance at the mouth of the Little Missouri river, Crows Heart, the First Chief of that People, wore a tail of a horse, fastened to his belt, in the rear. This tail was worn straight up, and the hair rolled over in a graceful sweep.

He said that some enemy once shot his horse while he was fighting and, therefore, he had the right to wear the horse tail in that manner to represent that even in his warrior days, and that all the people would know that he had his horse killed in battle.


A white feather of the eagle is worn for every war engaged in, and a red feather of the eagle is worn for every wound received.

Sometimes a single feather, white, is notched to indicate number of wars, and a white feather, shaved to the quill and split, forming a sort of a feather flower, shows both wars and wounds.



Story No. 31: Young Man Afraid of His Horses prevented a massacre of whites, 1865


“The Tetons traveled down there.  Chief John Grass was the speaker for all the people.  Things did not go right.  The terms did not suit the Dakotah.  The Commissioners had a tipi of their own and allowed by one Indian in there at a time.  Things looked pretty bad.  One day we saw many of our young Indians riding rapidly around off some distance.  Pretty soon the tipi of the Commissioners was surrounded and there were many Indians there with guns pointed to the places where every white man sat.  At least three guns for every Commissioner.  An Indian came walking to the tipi and went in without saying anything. He was in breech cloth and carried a gun.  When he entered he said: ‘I have come here to kill a white man.’  The interpreter gave his words.  An Indian on duty as a police covered him with a gun in there and said: ‘If you make another move, I will kill you.’”

“Then a big noise was heard and they yelled outside and a lot of Indians came riding very fast toward the Commissioner’s tipi.  They rode hard and fast.  They rode inside the circle of those Indians who had guns pointed on the outside. The young warrior who was the leader of them was the Indian whose name is often called wrong, Young Man Afraid of His Horses.  He was not afraid of his horses, but the other people, the enemy, were afraid even of his horses  – he was that young man.  He told the people that he had come there to protect the whites who had been sent to them for treaty, and he would do so with all these men who rode with him.  This put a stop to a bad situation.  The plan was that the man who went inside was to shoot a white man, and this would be the signal, and then all the Indians on the outside were to fire into the lodge, killing all the Commissioners.”



Story No. 32: Story of Painted Lake


A long time ago many Indian tribes, at war with each other, were encamped on the shores of the lake now known as “Painted Woods Lake,” but at that time known to the Sioux as “Broken Axe Lake.”

A Sioux warrior flirted with an Arikara woman and they prepared to fly away.  But that night the Arikara men killed the Dakotah in the arms of newly-found love.

When the Dakotah discovered this murder, they all went to the tipi where the body lay, with the poor woman weeping over it.  They fitted arrows and shot her many times.  Then there was war for many years, and a dead tree trunk, white with age, was painted red by the Rees and their friends.  Whenever a war party of any Indians would pass that way, they would paint their war deeds upon the boles of certain dead trees as a taunt to their enemies.

Therefore, the place has become the Painted Woods place of the Indians, and the name Broken Axe Lake has passed into disuse.


Story No. 33: Bears Rib talks to Ross Anderson


Bismarck, ND, Dec. 5th, 1920:

“When I was a very young man, the band with which I was camped was about where Rapid City, S.D., now is.  We had a large camp but the people were disturbed because there were some Crows not far away and we were uneasy about that.”

“One time the Crows rushed into our camp and stampeded all of our horses but one.  This horse was a two-year old colt which had never been ridden or trained, but was tied close to my own tipi.  I don’t know why I did this thing, but when the Crows were driving off our horses, I ran to this colt, untied him and leaped upon his back.  The Crows were some distance away by that time and there was much excitement in the camp.  But I took after the fleeing her and run my horse among them.  I yelled and scattered the horses, and the Crows, being afraid of me there among the running horses, ran away and I brought all the horses back to our camp.”

“This was the first time that I had shown my people that I was a brave man and they all talked about me for that thing for a long time, and I became a man among the people for that.”


Story No. 34: The Indian Scout’s discharge


He brought me several papers and, among them were three honorable discharges from the U.S.Army, where he had been enlisted as a “Scout.”  These enlistments were for three and six months duration, and the Indian could then spend the winter months with his own people.  Many of the Sioux Scouts at Fort Abraham Lincoln were used to carry messages between that point and Fort Rice and Sully, which were both in the Sioux Country.  The last of this old man’s discharges had, written across the face of it, the words “Not recommended for re-enlistment,” in red ink.  Red was the honor color of the Sioux, but when he had applied for a pension, this notation always kept him from obtaining help.  The old man said:

“I was a Scout for Pahanska (Custer  – whom they called ‘Long Hair’) at Fort Lincoln.  I was there a long time ago.  I was young and strong then.  I carried mail to Fort Rice, too.  I have some papers which I want you to see.  There is red there.  That shows that I was a good man, but they sent them back from Washington and will not give me pension for scout’s work.  I want to know why they will not give me a pension.”

Question:  Did you ever do anything bad when you were a soldier?

Answer:    “No.”

Question:  Did you ever have a woman with you?

Answer:    “Yes, I bought a Ree woman when Sitting Bull had some.  I had her with me in a tipi.  But she was all right and made me some money.  The soldiers paid me money to stay with her.”

Question:  Can’t you think of any time when you were bad?  Did you ever strike a soldier?  Don’t lie to me.

Answer:    “Once they told me to clean the stables.  I was a scout and that was not my work to do that.  They had mules there and they kicked me. I was afraid of them. They made a Ree Scout get on a wagon and go to the river for water.  He was the one to clean the stables.  The Rees always had many mules.  He was a Ree.  I was a Dakotah.  I got him off the wagon and made him clean the stables.  I got the water, myself. That night I sleep in a lodge with other Dakotah Scouts.  Someone shot at us through the tipi to kill us through the walls.  I shot at a man I saw running away and he died then.  They took me in to the officer and he made these red marks upon my paper.  He was a Ree.  The red marks showed that I made coup on him.  I was glad to get my coup on it.  I want a pension.  I think I ought to have it.”


Story No. 35: Spicer Family killed


In the old days of Fort Yates, where there were always soldiers there, some hard-boiled Post Commander drove out the gamblers and loose women off the reserve.  As intoxicating liquors could not be sold on an Indian Reservation, all the booze joints located across the river in free territory.  This place was called Winona.  It was a tough hole in these early times and many fights occurred there; bad whisky; gambling; loose, white women; soldiers on pay days and wild Indians every day; hard traders; teamsters and mail carriers; stock men and buffalo hunters made it a rendezvous.

It worried the older men to see their young Indians go there and such men as Gall and Chief Grass, White Swan, Goose and many others got together and decided to burn the place and run the women and whisky-men out of the country.


The plan was settled upon, and was to take place upon a night when the moon was so many nights old.  But, somehow, the thing became noised about among the younger men, and, one night, when several of them were over at Winona, and drunk, they decided that they would do the work ahead of time and not wait. Consequently, they made a lot of trouble around and, at last, getting their courage to the “sticking point,” they went over to a settler’s house looking for trouble.  Just what occurred at this Emmons County early settler’s place will never be known, but the net result was that every member of the household was murdered by these young, excited Indians.

The Indians were caught that same night and taken to old Williamsport (which was near the present Hazelton) where there was a three-legged derrick for the skinning and dressing beef, and, upon this , three Indians were hanged by the crowd of whites.  The names of these Indians were Holy Track, Ireland and a half-breed negro named Alex Cadotte.  They were badly beaten before they were hanged, according to John Grass, who said that Defender and Black Hawk, members of the Indian party, somehow escaped the noose. The dead men were placed in rough boxes and carried to Fort Yates, where Father Bernard buried Cadotte in the Catholic Cemetery there, but the others were not permitted Christian burial, being “self-confessed” murderers, but were thrown into a hole outside of the yard.  Before burial Cadotte was unboxed and his face was seen to have been beaten into a jelly.  The mother of Holy Track cut herself frightfully, with knives, to show her grief, cutting her breasts and slashing her arms and cheeks.  Father Bernard and Charles McLaughlin talked to the Indian camp all night, to prevent a war party from going over and burning Winona. If there had been ice on the Missouri, it could not have been prevented.


Story No. 36: Burning of a Mandan village


“There used to be a village of Mandans on the east side of the Missouri, north of Bismarck.  It was on a sharp hill with steep sides on three sides of it, where a creek flowed into the Missouri.  On the fourth side there was a high fence of cedar logs set into the ground on end and very close together.  A small creek of good water flowed by the village and there was good grass all around.”

“These people would come into our camps and steal many horses.  We tied them to our arms at night time, but they would even cut them loose and they would be gone.  They were great horse stealers.  They came to visit us many times and then came back and steal.”

“At last it was too much and we crossed the river and went up to that creek and battled with those people. We caused many women to weep for their men then.  We burned the village and destroyed the lodges of logs and dirt, and carried much plunder and things we wanted away with us.  They did not steal any more of our horses after that, but those who lived went up the river and lived with the other Mandans and Hidatsa (note: at Fort Berthold).”

This is the old, ruined Mandan village, the site of which is on the hill just above Mr. Sperry’s barn on Burnt Creek.  Some of the old palisade is still there, but all show fire.  There is much debris and Mr. Sperry has many valuable specimens gathered from the site.  I neglected to get the year of this fight.


Story No. 37: Yellow Horse talks about battle on James River, 1863


“I was born where Jamestown is now.  We called that place Itazipa Okaksi (Bows cut with axe).  We got good bow wood there.  Not on any branch which flows in but on the river, itself, we found the wood.”

“I want to tell you something about the soldiers:  Some distance above where Jamestown now is, there is a big bend in the river and a sort of ‘Square Butte.’  A large camp of us were there one time.  There was a lake east of that place, too.  I was about seventeen years old then (1863). One time a runner came in saying that the soldiers were on the way coming.  We pulled down our tipis quickly and got away.  We went east from that place.  All of a sudden we were surrounded with soldiers.  Soldiers on white horses were on the north of us; soldiers on bay horses were on the south and others in front of us.  They started to march us back again.  It was almost night time and that night the soldiers stayed all around us. We could not get away.  We thought they were going to shoot us.  A young man started to sing about his bravery and, to do it right, he shot off his gun.”

“That seemed to be a signal for all the soldiers to shoot at us and they fired among us then and killed eleven of us there.  I got away and got away up north somewhere, and I thought that I was the only one left alive.  But, after a time, I found another man who had got away and we found some more after that, too.  We went down to the place where the fight had taken place.  Our skin tipis and all our buckskin clothes and everything else was burned.  All we found there was some iron we had to make fire with a stone.  We gathered all these irons up and went away.”

“My father and I came to the waterway about where the Bismarck penitentiary is now and then we went south from there.  We heard that Two Bears was having some trouble with some soldiers down there, so we went to see about that.  My father was killed down there and since then I have been an orphan.”


Story No. 38: Sitting Bull among the Mandans


“I was born at the Fort Berthold Village and lived in a round house there.  My father was born at Fort Clark Village (note: this was Mih Tutta Hang Ko).  He lived there until he was twenty years. Then those Mandans went up to live with the Hidatsa at Fort Berthold Village place.  They (referring to the Arikara) built two other villages across the river there, but the Sioux bothered them so much that they went across, too.”


“When my father lived at Fort Clark Village, there was a white trader there.  The Sioux came up and camped in the hills near there and they were trading furs for other things at the trader’s.  They were all around in that village, walking around. Looking around.  They were haughty and the people were afraid of them.  The Sioux walked all around.  They had their buffalo robes up to their eyes.  Their weapons were under that robe.  They looked all over, like they were hunting someone. Then the trader came out of the storehouse.  The two Sioux shot him right away and then run off.  Then the fight started between the Sioux and the Fort Clark people.  Many men on both sides were killed.  The Sioux stole a lot of our women.  They could not get away.  Our fighting men were pushed to one side of the village. It looked bad for us. Then a man rode around among the Sioux.  He talked loud to them. He was Sitting Bull.  He said, ‘My brother is in this village.  Where is he?’  He made the Sioux stop shooting then.  He sat down in the middle place of the village.  The villagers made him a lot of presents then.  He gave them back all of their women, too.  Everybody was happy then.  The Sioux went to their tipis and broke camp right then and went away.  The Sioux would come often and camp close to us when we had corn and we would have to feed them or fight them.  Everybody knows that Tom Enemy at Elbowoods is a nephew of Sitting Bull.  I don’t know how that happened, but it is true.”



“My name is Enemy.  I am Sanish (Arikara).  I am 59 years old.  My father, his name was Sitting Wolf. He was half Ree.  His mother was Ree.  His father was Sioux.  My father had a half brother.  This half brother had the same father as my father had. The mother was a different woman.  The name of still half brother of my father, it was Sitting Bull.  The Sanish people, they call him Jumping Badger.  Some call him Sitting Badger, too. Sitting Bull lived for a long time with the Rees.  One time the Sioux attacked the village.  One man sat down in the center of the village.  He called out to the people that they must give back the women and children they had captured.  The Rees made him a lot of presents, then.  He said he had a brother in this Ree village, and that he belong to the same Soldier’s Society.  So he stopped that fight.”

The story of Sitting Bull’s relationship has been often corroborated since this conversation, and Enemy is related to him, beyond a doubt, according to the upper villagers, as well as the Sioux, and Jumping Badger was his name then.



Story No. 39: Grave of Sitting Bull, 1920 sketch


I stood beside this old hostile’s grave in the evening.  It was a warm night and the new moon was directly west of the grave, hanging in a still, quivering, hot sky.  Along the road to Cannon Ball, an auto raced in front of a white, swirling cloud of dust; a graphaphone was grinding out ragtime music in a small log house over towards the hotel; a pool hall’s white, blinding glare from its gasoline lights, was the scene of a lot of laughter and talking.  Behind me on the little hill, the open graves of the soldiers of old Fort Yates still yawned, filled with Russian thistles and weeds.  Within six feet of the old murderer’s grave was the edge of a fine field of Marquis wheat.  Along the road nearby, passed a young Indian woman with white shoes, silk stocking and modish hat, and she was softly singing  “Blowing Bubbles.”  A few cooking fires, by some tents, glowed in the deepening darkness off on the flats beyond the grandstand of the Fair Grounds.  Another auto roared by on the graded road toward the west.  But the night sounds of the old times were not heard, not even the plaintive cry of a whip-poor-will; no hidden night bird called his mate; the coyote, if nearby, did not dare raise their trembling, quavering voices; there was no “yip” of any night rider on his pony; no throbbing beats from the drums nor the high, ringing voices of the dancing women came to me as I stood there and listened.  But several men, talking English, passed along the road on foot, arguing “self determination,” and I heard some remarks about “State-owned utility plants” and the rights of “small peoples.”  And before me was the grave of a man who was killed in arrest; a hostile who proclaimed himself to be God, and who had a large following but thirty years ago.



Story No. 40: The Fool Soldier Band     


They received their name from the fact that the members take a vow to not turn aside for any enemies or any obstruction of any sort, while upon their mission.  If a high butte stands in their path they still will not turn around its sides, but mount and cross over its top; if a river crosses their trail on an angle, they will not go straight to the other bank, but will swim in a way that now one swerves from the straight path; if dense herds of buffalo obstructed their course, they either waited for the herd to pass or fought their way through; if enemies appeared, they would not take any other course than the one the had already started out to follow.

Lewis and Clark, in 1804, mention that they heard of a band of Sioux warriors, whose solemn oath was that they would never turn back from any danger or give way to their enemies.  They say that “this band was originally twenty-two, but adherence to their oath had reduced the number to four.  They were so true to their oath that, once while crossing the Missouri river upon the ice, and a hole in the ice being ahead of them, they walked into it and swam to the other side, when they could have turned aside and avoided the ice crack.”  This society was supposed to have been in either the Yankton or Yanktonaise tribes of the Sioux.

When Mrs. Galpin, the Sioux Indian wife of Major Galpin, trader of the upper Missouri, discovered the Lake Shetac women captives among the tipis of White Lodge and Scarlet Point, as the mouth of Beaver Creek, now Emmons County, North Dakota, she notified a band of Oohenopa (Two Kettle Sioux), which were a division of the Tetons.  Such a band was in existence then and they went up to the hostile’s camp and, demanding the women, took them away from the camp, and, after many hardships and battles, delivered them into the hands of the whites.

In 1864, the band of Fool Soldiers among the Tetons had but thirteen, or less, members and a new member could not be elected until there was a vacancy, and was much sought after.  Some of the members of the famous soldiers society have been as follows:

Waaneta (Charger)  – a grandson of Capt. Lewis (not the Waaneta of the Sissetons). This man died in 1900.  His wife died at Devils Lake, January 1916.

Kills and Comes, Swift Bird, Four Bears, Mad Bear, Pretty Bear, Sitting Bear, One Rib, Strikes Fire, Red Dog and Charging Dog.

These men all achieved fame early in life. The descendants of these famous men of brave and spectacular deeds, are living today on the Standing Rock.


Story No. 41: Presentation of Ceremonial Tipi to Welch, 1915  



Description of pictographs or war scenes:

Sinta Maza (Iron Tail) is mounted, with bow, arrows and black shield.  He shoots enemy   with arrow.

Mato Wanagi (Bear Ghost) leaps from his horse and strikes and scalps enemy

Mato Wanagi, mounted, steals horses from enemy. He wears eagle-feather headdress.

Mato Wanagi, mounted, strikes and kill enemy with rifle.

Mato Wahkinyan (Thunder Bear), mounted, steals horses from enemy. One horse has a bell on neck.  He is armed with bow, arrows, quiver and gun and powder horn.

Mato Nopa (Two Bear) is on foot, his horse being killed.  Has buffalo horn headdress of    chief and armed with rifle and coup stick.

Mato Nopa, mounted and wounded. His horse has six wounds.

Tacankpe Luta (Red Tomahawk) is mounted, rides up to enemy’s lodge and kills two of    the enemy.

Hogan Luta (Red Fish) saves a friend who has been dismounted by taking him upon his   own horse and riding through the fire of the enemy.

Hogan Luta mounted on  spotted horse, kills an armed enemy by striking with rifle.

Hunka Nopa (Two Parent), mounted on black horse; armed with gun and quirt, has been wounded in the arm.

Tatanka Ohitaka (Brave Bull), with eagle-feather headdress, whistle in mouth and armed with bow, quiver, arrows and quirt, has been wounded.

Mato Acin Sica (Young Bad Bear), mounted on black horse which has eight wounds.  The horse is either dead or dying. He wears deer tail headdress.  He is shown fighting a Crow Indian who is armed with gun.  They Crow’s horse has gone away.

Mato Acin Sica mounted on spotted horse, and wounded, makes coup on enemy with gun.

Hante Maza (Iron Cedar Tree), mounted, rides away from a fight shown by bullets in the air, with his dismounted friend behind him. His horse lies dead.  Friend is wounded in two places. Enemy are seen shooting.

Wasu Luta (Red Hail, father of No Two Horns) is afoot with bow, arrows, quiver and quirt.  Cuts the picket ropes and steals many enemy horses.

Wasu Luta mounted, fights enemy and shoots two wounds in him. Armed with bow, arrows and quiver.  He also is wounded in foot.

Wasu Luta mounted on red horse, counts coup on a Crow Indian with club.

Kinyanku Wapi (Chasing Fly), mounted with shield and bow, and feathers down his back, counts coup on his enemy.

Tatanka Aye Tokico (Different Track Bull) dismounts and scalps enemy. Both have guns.  Dress shows it to have taken place in the winter time.

Tatanka Aye Tokico, dismounted and wounded, armed with gun, counts coup on enemy, armed with gun and bearing four wounds.

Mato Kliwanka (Reclining Bear), mounted and armed with bow and arrows, has one wound.

Cecaya Mani/Ceca Yamina (Three Legs), mounted on a yellow horse, shoots a Mandan  through the body.  Bullet is seen in the air on the other side of the enemy.

Mato Gato/Mato Gata (Grey Bear) mounted on white horse, counts coup on two Crows with guns.

Tatanka Maza (Iron Bull) mounted with two wounds. His mount also has two wounds. Fights a Crow who has a pistol.  Counts coup on him with club.

Waga (Cottonwood Tree), mounted and wounded. Had buffalo headdress and shield.

Waga, mounted on red horse, with arrows in hand, captures horse with enemy, who carries  shield with black eagle on it.

He Nopa Wanica (No Two Horns), mounted and armed with gun, kills an enemy.

He Nopa Wanica is dismounted and his horse is killed.  He has been wounded two times.  The dead horse has eight wounds.

He Nopa Wanica again dismounted and his horse killed with two wounds. He also is wounded in two places. This was the second horse he lost in one fight.  Both he and the enemy are shooting. Bullets are seen in the air.

Sunka Luta (Red Dog), with gun in hand, is wounded but still mounted.

Cante Wanica (No Heart) mounted on black horse, with eagle headdress. Armed with bow  and arrows, coup stick in hand.

Cante Wanica mounted on red horse, with eagle headdress.  Carries a bear shield.  One arrow was shot by enemy, then he killed him.

Waha Cante Maza  (Iron Roads), mounted, both horse and rider with wounds.

Waha Cante Maza with eagle-feather headdress.

Sinta Maza (Iron Tail) mounted and with black shield, fights an enemy armed with gun. Shoots him with three arrows.

Mato Anatonpi (Attacking Bear) mounted, bears three body wounds and one in head.

Cante Suta (Strong Heart), mounted, steals a black horse.

Waha Conka Sapa (Black Roads) with eagle headdress and mounted, armed with gun and  wounded three times..

Pte San Mani (White Cow Walking) counts coup upon an enemy.

Pte San Mani, mounted and bearing two wounds, steals horses.

Sunka Wanjina (Lone Dog), mounted and armed with bow and arrows, carrying black shields, receives one wound.

Itazipa Luta (Red Bow) is being led away by a soldier with stripes down legs and saddle and hat. The soldier is his friend who saved him.

Cetanzi (Yellow Hawk) mounted on brown and yellow horse, steals horses and counts coup on enemy.  Both men armed with rifles.

Sinta Maza (Iron Tail), dismounted, fights beside his dead horse with four wounds and kills enemy armed with gun.

Mato Nopa (Two Bear), mounted, counts first coup and shoots the enemy at the same time.  Enemy also wounded.

Mato Witko (Fool Bear), dismounted and beside his horse; armed with gun, kills enemy armed with sword club.

Mato Witko, armed and on blue horse. Two enemy shoot at him with arrows and he kills both of them, with club.

Mato Watakpe (Charging Bear…Chief John Grass), mounted and armed with gun, kills enemy with a club shaped like a sword.

Mato Watakpe, mounted and armed with gun; shot through foot, kills an armed Mandan with  a sword club. Same episode shown on his tobacco pouch.

Mato Watakpe, mounted and armed with gun, counts coup on Mandan

 Editor’s note:  This tipi may be in the basement of the Minneapolis Museum of Fine Arts, possibly having been donated or sold to them by the Mandan Indian Shriners.  At this time a contact at the Museum has gone silent on if they have it.


Story No. 42: Charging Bear counts coup  



“One time I was out alone on a hunt.  I was out in the country of the Mowatani (Mandans) north of the Heart River.  I was up by the Branching river (Knife).  A Mandan Indian shot at me and hit me in the foot.  It made me pretty mad.  I shot four bullets with blood (hits).  I killed the Mandan in the head.  I killed his two horses.  Then I went back into the Cannon Ball country with his things.  Now I have the right to wear this picture on my tobacco pouch.”

The picture of the Indian is that of a Mandan.  The pompadour, alone, would indicate a Crow, but, with the colored sticks, or clay, in the hair, it stands for a Mandan, as they wore their hair that way.  His is “Killed in the head,” as shown by the red mark.  The half circles indicate hoof marks of two horses and the red streaks mean “running blood.” In other words, the Chief made four hits and killed two horses and one enemy.


Story No. 43: Red Fox goes to Battle   


Tokala Luta (Red Fox) is a Teton on the Standing Rock, and is said to be somewhat of a famous warrior against the other tribes, among the people.  He went to war the first time when but fourteen years of age, when he followed a war party for some distance before they were aware of his being present.  The leader tried to chase him back, but he refused to return and was permitted to accompany the expedition and take part in its dangers and hardships.

In the first expedition, he went as far as the snow mountains on the north branch of the Missouri, in the Blackfeet country of Montana.  At one time there were but three of the men camped together at a place they call Bears Hill, when they were surprised by several Blackfeet warriors.  Red Fox planted his staff in the ground and declared he would not leave it.  “Wakantonka has but one path, and in that path we must all die.  Stay with me and fight.”

He said, “I sang my death song, for I was sure that I was to die there.”  But one of the attacking force was a boy and, after Red Fox had killed one of the party, the others begged for their lives and he let them go free.

drums-story-43-red-handThis action was considered very virtuous and entitled him to wear the red hand decoration upon his horse’s hips, when he wanted to do so.  In token of his appreciation of not having been killed that day, Red Fox took a principal part in a Sun Dance and also was cut seven places in the arms below the elbow and in two places above, making eighteen cuts in all, and he said, “I gave my blood for Wakantonka.”


At another time while on the war trail, his party found the bodies of six Sioux who had been killed in a fight with the Crows.  He remembered the names of four of them, and they were:

Mato Inapi (Bear Appears)

Kangi Sunka (Dog Crow)

Maza Ska (White Iron or White Metal)

EInyanke (Runs Amidst)


Story No. 44: Song of the Warpath



Story No. 45: Sioux song for honored enemy (Bloody Knife)   


The Sioux sing for their warriors and honored men during their dances, and in these songs they call the name of the party they honor.  Besides singing at the dances, old men frequently are heard calling loudly some man whom they desire to honor, and they are often answered by other men, who sit around talking, who will answer by a loud “Hao.”  Women sometimes take up the song and stand in front of their own lodge or tent and sing in his honor, too, ending with the twice repeated, high, tremulous cry called “The Victory Song.”  They use the same cry when their favorite comes in first in a race or other contest.


The Sioux call a certain Arikara Scout, who was killed at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Mahkpia Tatonka (Buffalo Cloud).  He was known to the soldiers and to his own people as Bloody Knife, and is so known today.

Bloody Knife was Indian Chief of the United States Volunteer Scouts at Fort Abraham Lincoln, and was one of three scouts who were killed off on Major Reno’s left wing on the Little Big Horn, before Reno retreated across the stream.  The three scouts Bloody Knife, Bob Tail Bull and Little Soldier were surrounded by the Sioux and lost their lives in a swirl of horsemen at the first rush on Reno’s Command.  Just what transpired there we will never know, but the Sioux tell this story of his death:

“Buffalo Cloud was mounted on a very swift horse.  His horse was shot and we got around him then.  He held up his hands and called out the name of the firstborn of every one of those Hunkpapa around him.  This is a sacred thing to do and we always let an enemy go when we could do that.  But this time everyone was excited and so they killed him there.  We are all sorry for that thing now and sing this song for him:”

“Where is Buffalo Cloud.

Here he lies. Ho-ho-he.”



Story No. 46: Coups of Red Fish…his personal pictographs



Hogan Luta (Red Fish) is the son of Red Fish, a chief of the Oglala Dakotah in 1849, but who lost his influence and position on account of the failure of a war party he headed against the Crows.

The present Red Fish lives on the Cannon Ball river on the Standing Rock Reserve, and is accepted as a chief among the older people, but has little power over the younger element. On dance occasions he frequently wears a buffalo horn headdress and often is seen dancing on the extreme edge of the circle, watching the distance and shading his eyes as he watches; at other times he glares scowlingly as the sun.

Upon inquiry as to this action in the dances, he said:

“I am the bravest man among this people and so I have the right to dance on the outside of the circle so I will be first to meet any enemies who may come around from men or spirits.”

And so the old man keeps watch over the dancers to guard them from the approach of any earthly or unfriendly manifestation of ghostly visitors.

Red Fish was one of the last old time men to have plural wives, as the Government permitted him to keep his two wives, “because I have had them a long time, and they would not know how to get along without me.”

The young of these women died in 1919.

He drew pictographs of his war exploits and presented them to the writer and explained them all. The deeds are all well-authenticated by the people of the tribes and are not borrowed coups or gift coups, but were made by himself.

Pictograph No. 1


Pictograph No. 2


Pictograph No. 3


Pictograph No. 4



Story No. 47: Hunka Topa talks about the Pabaska


“I am called Hunka Nopa (Two Parents).  I belong to the Pabaska of the Ihanktowanna (Cut Heads of the Yanktons  – a division of the Santee Sioux).  My father’s name was also Two Parents, which means two father and two mothers.  I am blind now for many winters.  I was six years old when I went out to play something and the frost went into my eyes and they broke open.  So I don’t see any more now.  I am on my way to the hospital at Bismarck there for pray with Brave Bull (Tatonka Ohitika). He’s sick.”

“You ask how we got that name, Cut Heads.  A long time ago in the olden times (hekton) some people go for fight the enemy.  Them enemy, Crow People (Kange Wicasa). Montana there.  Fight the enemy.  One man he catch an enemy man.  He cut him on the neck (baksa  – cut with knife) and carry away that head then.  So they called us Cut Heads, that family, and was belong to Ihanktonwanna Sioux people.  They call us Wica Pabaska.  Cut the Enemy Head  – call us.”

The sign language for Sioux, known to all Indians, is a sweeping motion, with the edge of the fingers of the right hand, across the throat  (meaning Cut Head) and is the universal sign language for Sioux.

The Mandans are known, in the same sign language, as the ‘People of the Sickness,’ and the sign is made by plucking at the face with the fingers, a sort of picking, representing the marks left by small pox.

The Hidatsa (Manitari or Gros Ventre) make a sign with both hands, in a circular motion from the breast down, representing ‘Big Bellies,’ or Gros Ventre, which is the name they were called by the old time traders and trappers and was first started by the French.


Story No. 48: Red Tomahawk’s story of the Sitting Bull fight, 1890…”I killed him”


Told by Tacankpe Luta, a Hunkpapa, at Fort Yates, N.D., that he is the man who killed Sitting Bull.  The white man’s translation of his name is Red Tomahawk.  It really means Red War Club.  1915.


“I was a Sergeant of the Indian Police.  Sitting Bull was my friend.  I killed him like this. (with the aid of a rough Indian map, which I own, he told the following story):”

“We went together with the soldiers.  They stayed away about a mile from the camp in the hills.  It was on the Grand River.  We police went toward the camp of the hostiles.  We came up behind a corral with horses.  No one saw us yet.  We went to a log house and I tied my horse to the corner of it. We opened the door and went in.  Sitting Bull was there and he got awake then.  He had been singing and dancing and was tired and sleepy, I guess.  We told him to go with us.  I had hold of his left arm and I had my gun in my hand, too.  I told him not to make cry for his people.  We would kill him first.  We got outside and he made a loud cry as his son came around the corner of the house, and then the hostiles came. His son, Crow Foot, came and was killed right away.  He went down these tracks and died (pointed to the trail depicted on the map).  I shot Sitting Bull in the left side.  He fell with his face down.  I shot him again in the back of the neck then.  He was dead then.  There were lots of shots then.  We had a battle with the Hostiles.  Bull Head, Shave Head, Warriors Fear Him, Broken Arm, Hawk Man were all killed.  They were Police like I am.  Many hostiles were killed.  The soldiers came up fast and shot twice with a cannon.  They shot off the hind part of my horse tied to the log house.  They wanted to kill the Police, too, it looked like.  The soldiers took what Sitting Bull had on to keep for medicine.  One soldier hit him in the face after he was dead, with a neck yoke.  We piled him and the Police dead into the wagons and went to Fort Yates with them.  He is buried there.  That is where he lies where I point.  I was under orders so I killed him.  He should not have hollered.”

Question: Does his spirit ever come back here?

Answer: Yes, sometimes.  He rides in on an elk spirit.

Question: I want to go to his grave.  Come with me.

Answer: No. I do not go.  I am afraid.  There are mysterious flowers upon his grave every year.  We do not know where they come from.  They are wakan.  They should bury him in a church yard.

(Editor’s note:  The ‘rough’ map, referred to by Welch, has not been located as of 2006)



Story No. 49: Welch publishes Red Tomahawk’s story of the SB Fight


page 1


page 2


page 3


page 4


page 5


page 6


page 7


page 8





Story No. 50: Sitting Bull’s Camp



Story No. 51: Letter causing McLaughlin to order arrest of Sitting Bull


page 2


page 3



Story No. 52: McLaughlin’s orders for the arrest of Sitting Bull


page 2



page 3