Year 1876 at Standing Rock. Letters & Interviews before and after the Little Big Horn Battle

An interesting view of the Standing Rock Reservation in 1876 (mainly through the eyes of the white man).   Some very conflicting verbal battles between the Army, stationed at Fort Yates, and the Indian Agents of Standing Rock. Insight into life on the reservation before and immediately after the Little Big Horn Battle including interesting comments by Mad Bear, Big Head, Red Bull, Wolf Necklace of the Upper and Lower Yanktonais, John Grass and Running Antelope of the Blackfeet and Uncpapa, and lengthy interviews with Kill Eagle.



Copied from Micro Spool No. 234, Roll No. 847, 1876



From the collection of Major A. B. Welch – 1874-1945

Written by Everett R. Cox, his grandnephew

Welch Book #14b


Background on this old roll of film


I acquired my Great Uncle’s “Indian” collection in the late 1950’s.  It consisted of a steamer-trunk loaded with artifacts and over 4,000 pages of unindexed interviews with old warriors, newspaper clippings, letters and photographs; all relating to oral history of Indian life in the last half of the 19th century. 

My grandfather had been taking care of him up to his death, at which point Indian friends descended upon his home in Mandan with the aim of taking back their gifts (which was apparently an accepted custom).  At this point Grandpa stuffed all he could into two steamer trunks and sent them west to my Aunt’s home in Portland.  One of the trunks was sold by Auntie to a scrap dealer (it contained weapons picked up after the fight which resulted in the death of Sitting Bull…darn).

I have been able to create over 40 booklets on subjects developed from categorizing all his material.  Buried in this data was reference to two rolls of microfilm produced in 1934 by National Archives.  It was intimated that there may be valuable data to add to his collection.  He never pursued this potential.

I ordered these two rolls in the 1960’s but did not attempt to decipher them until 2010 whcn I bought a little microfilm reader.  Then, over a period of several years, I typed these letters a few at a time.  They contain two themes; the first presentation in an earlier booklet deals with the U. S. Army’s pursuit of the Sioux in 1876, this, the second presentation, deals with Sioux life on the Standing Rock Reservation during this same period (albeit from the white agent’s perspective).


Sioux Life in 1876, Standing Rock Reservation

This spool of film starts at the first of the year with deep suspicions of the Military Commander at Standing Rock about the Hostile Indians and their acquisition of arms and ammunition.

Continuing concern about the June 25th massacre at the Little Big Horn is expressed by Officers, Agent or Indians.  No recognition of Chief John Grass or Running Antelope being key factors in that Fight.  A very detailed interview with Kill Eagle discusses his participation at Rosebud and Little Big Horn.

There is quite a bit of in-fighting between the Commander and the first Agent, who may be profiting improperly from his position, and may also be supplying the Hostile Indians, either openly or inadvertently, under Sitting Bull.

The Sioux are dismounted and disarmed and expected to start farming … but they have no oxen, no horses, no equipment, no broken prairie, no seeds, no shelter … only an expressed desire to settle down and start a “white man’s” life.

The last Agent is pushing for significant reforms and assistance to the Sioux as this spool ends.


Brief Descriptions of the Key Players in this Film in order of appearance

Captain J. S. Poland, Commanding Officer of the Military Post at Standing Rock at the start of this ‘film.’  He was a bitter enemy of the first U. S. Indian Agent; felt he was ripping off the Government and selling arms and ammunition to the hostile Indians well before the Little Big Horn Battle.

John Burke, U. S. Indian Agent, Standing Rock Agency.  Detested Poland’s interference in the business of the Agency.  Overstated the census of the Agency both before and after the Battle of Little Big Horn, hence was ordering and receiving supplies in excess of need, however, the Indians were usually short of supplies.  Several of his relatives occupied key positions at the Agency.

E. H. Allison, Interpreter, at the start of this ‘film.’ Burke did not trust him, Poland used him. He was the only person at Agency councils who could ‘adequately’ translate, and that which he translated could be easily modified.

Chief John Grass of the Blackfeet, appears throughout this ‘film,’ as a spokesman for the Indian’s causes.  Burke felt that Grass had been at the Agency during the Little Big Horn Fight.  Poland suspected otherwise.

Running Antelope speaks in agreement with John Grass about the future of the Sioux.

Lieut. Colonel Pinckney Lugenbeel is called upon to investigate Burke’s charges against Poland and Allison and white-washes the entire problem.

Generals Terry, Sheridan, Sherman, and Ruggles funnel along pleas, accusations and information.  Ultimately lose faith in Captain Poland, due to his continued unprofessional bitterness.

Sitting Bull is hiding, after the Little Big Horn Massacre, with his hostiles (but, how many?) about 100 miles from the Agency.

Kill Eagle, a major player in the ‘film,’ is held, initially, in the hostile camp, after ‘witnessing’ the Little Big Horn Fight.  Agent Burke speaks wells of him and recites his biography. Agent Hughes conducts a great interview.

Rain in the Face returned to the Agency from the Battle July 31st and came and went several times.

Colonel W. P. Carlin assumed control of the Military Post August 15th.  Immediately believes Grass is treacherous.

Captain P. E. Johnson was appointed Temporary Agent by Colonel Carlin August 30th.

W. T. Hughes was appointed (Oct 23) as U. S. Indian Agent for Standing Rock and, upon arrival, replaces Temporary Agent Capt. P. E. Johnston.

Charles Ewing, Catholic Commissioner for Indian Missions, interested in expanding Catholic presence  and teaching at Standing Rock….supports former Agent Burke.

The ‘film’ extends into Feb 1877 in order to exhibit Agent Hughes detailed planning for the future of Standing Rock and its inhabitants.



Letters in this Roll of Film

December 1875:  Captain J. S. Poland (Commanding Officer of Standing Rock Military Station) Lengthy quest to suppress the sale of arms and ammunition to Indians well before the Battle of the Little Big Horn..  An extraordinary look at this situation with material dated during         December 1875.

January 13:  Agent Burke recommends the removal of E.  H. Allison, Interpreter, and he had him arrested.

January 13:  Captain Poland advises the Secretary of War that an Inspecting Officer is coming to the Agency to investigate the Agent’s complaint of interference.

January 29:  Lieut. Colonel Pinckney Lugenbeel investigated the charges against Poland and feels that Poland did nothing wrong.  Also advises that the fuss between Agent and Commander will soon blow over and life at the Agency will return to ‘normal.’

February 15:  General Alfred H. Terry, Commanding Dept. of Dakota, St. Paul, feels there is room for suspicion of favoritism in the Agent’s indignation at Poland.  Told Poland to re-hire Interpreter Allison and begins to understand the quest to authority between Indian Affairs Department and the War Department.

February 25:  General P. H. Sheridan, Chicago Headquarters, forwards his endorsement of Terry’s statements to General Sherman in Washington, D. C.

April 1:  John Burke lists one year’s Medical Supplies for the Agency.  Some very strange stuff.  (see addendum for the full letter).


May 6:  Major Ruggles, St. Paul, reports:

“I have the honor to transmit for your information copy of telegram from Commanding Officer at Fort Lincoln, Dakota Territory, reporting that Scout from Standing Rock states that all the young men are leaving the Reservation with best ponies, that they say they are going to fight the Crows, but he thinks they are going to join Sitting Bull.”


July 14:  John Burke reports Indians behaving well. (Ed Note: this is first letter recorded after the Little Big Horn Fight)


July 14:  Captain Poland develops estimates of Indians participating the Little Big Horn Battle, the number of Hostiles still under the control of Sitting Bull and carefully dissects Agent Burke’s managing and counting of the Reservation, offering proof that he is a liar and a thief:

Capt. J. S. Poland reports to the Assistant Adjutant General Department of Dakota:  For the information of the Secretary of War I respectfully refer to the following items of fact:

“Ex Indian Agent Edmond Palmer , in 1874, reported six thousand four hundred and forty (6440) Indians at the Agency.”

“I was stationed here during the winter and spring of 74 & 75 while Palmer was Agent. I was frequently informed by parties who knew the Indians that there were not 450 Indians at this Agency.”

“Agent John Burke relieved Palmer May 1st, 1875.  In his, Burke’s, Annual Official Report for 1875, among other absolute falsehoods, to which I have (February 1876) apparently uselessly called the attention of the proper authorities of the Government, as this notorious liar through the malign influences of the church or the Devil, or possibly, the Beef Contractor, still holds a responsible Government position despite the order of His Excellency, the President, for his removal last March.”

“Burke reports over 7000 Indians, that is to say in the Indian Agent’s generally delight to reckon seven  (7) souls to a lodge, there were over 1000 lodges at Standing Rock Agency.”

“It has been patent to residents here for months that young men were leaving and the number of arms in the possession of Indians was diminishing very respectably since the departure of the troops for the Yellowstone Country.”

“I determined to count the lodges here and I now report the actual number within a radius of several miles.  There are less than 300, two hundred and ninety six (296) to which may be added perhaps 50 more which are legitimately engaged in hunting game and whom may possibly return without joining the hostiles.”

“These lodges will not average over, if as many as, (5) five souls. There are not here now 1500 fifteen hundred Indians.”

“There never has been for and considerable length of time forty five hundred Indians at the Agency since its removal from Grand River to this point, and each and every report to the contrary was made knowingly and with the fraudulent intent, in my judgment, of procuring and profiting by the secret and unauthorized sale of surplus rations and annuities and Beef largess.”

“The Indians here admit that half their numbers are out hunting scalps as revealed by the massacre of June 25, 1876.”

“I respectfully assert without fear of error or contradictory proof that this Agency, by reason of a system of starvation, instituted about December 1875, and the untamed malevolence of the Indian disposition, has furnished 1500 warriors armed with the best improved Henry and Winchester rifles, each supplied with probably 100 rounds of ammunition per man, who are now enrolled among Sitting Bull’s forces.  Rations are issued here to the representatives of nine well-known Chiefs who are, beyond a doubt, on the war path with the greater portion of their bands.”

“Starvation and predisposition led Kill Eagle, Chief of the Blackfeet Sioux, with about 20 lodges, to go into the hostile camp. He alone, it is said, carried 3000 rounds of ammunition with him.”

“If each of the Sioux Agencies has furnished levies to the hostiles in proportion to this, Sitting Bull has 12000 warriors.  But the population of the Sioux Nation is rated at an average of 28000.  Estimating the entire fighting force at one fourth of the total, Sitting Bull has 7000 warriors.”

“Or again, if the Indian population of each Sioux Agency has been overestimated in the same proportion as at Standing Rock, D. T., which proportion is double the actual number living here, and it is not improbable as, for example, Gall is rated here as a Chief with 20 lodges and, at the same time, as a Chief with 100 lodges at Fort Peck Agency, you may safely infer that there are about 25000 west of the Missouri River.  Taking for the available fighting force one fourth, I am prepared to assert that, while Sitting Bull has not over 500 lodges at any time in the bands under him who have never consented and have come into an Agency, yet by accessions and recounts received from the Sioux Agencies his force now exceeds 6000.  Even the estimate of 1/5 for the fighting force will give him 5000.”

“I respectfully add that Sitting Bull has, as aides and special advisors, five (5) renegade white men and one Spaniard, another, a discharged soldier named Milburn, from the 22nd Infantry, who has been with him for several years.  Milburn was once employed at Spotted Tail Agency as mail carrier under the alias of Charles Emmet.”

“The Spaniard is well-known at Fort Berthold Agency.  The name of those others I have not been able to learn.  What I have stated herein can be, I believe, most fully substantiated in any Court of Justice.  The stand made by the Indians on the 25th of June would seem to confirm my estimate of the number under Sitting Bull, Black Moon, Gall, et al.  It has occurred to me that as soon as they find our force to be large enough to crush them, they will disintegrate into many smaller, but still effective, bodies; some to raid forts, ranches, lines of travel; others to return to their former homes, the Agencies.”

“Provision should be made for all such criminals but no effective plan can be maintained successfully until the entire control of Indian Affairs is turned over to an authority powerful enough to command respect and obedience.”

“Permit me to mention one fact on connection with the Indians at this Agency. They have been starved for six weeks or two months and are entitled for consideration for not having all left for the prairies where they might at least have procured meat.  Eighteen month’s supplies were sent here in 1875 and before the expiration of fourteen months, these people were starving.  For six months they have received less or not more than half rations.  This can also be established in a Court of Justice.”

“Having performed, as I deem it, an informative duty to the Military and the few good Indians at this Agency, I subscribe myself

Very truly your obedient servant,  J.S.Poland, Captain 6th Infy,  Bvt Lt Col U. S. A., Comdg Post & Mid Dist D.T.”


July 21:  Agent Burke  advises that Agency Indians are friendly and peaceful and what should he do about Indians arriving from hostile country:

“Telegram answer to telegram of 18th about Indians leaving Agency.  About one hundred Indians supposed left for Hostile Camp.  Some of them in March last.  A few occasionally since.  About hundred forty-five gone to Fort Peck on annual visit in June.  About eighty-five gone to Fort Totten on annual visit in June.  About forty gone to Fort Berthold on visit in July.  About sixty gone to Cheyenne on visit in July.  About four hundred hunting on both sides of river but on reservation.  Seven Indians returned from Hostile Camp recently.  Reports Indians, with few exception, anxious to return but prevented as horses killed, tents cut, &c.  Exciting rumors here about Military arrest of Indians this morning.  The Uncpapa camp under this impression almost stampeded.  Had great trouble to allay their fears.  Please advise the course to be pursued towards Indians arrived and to arrive from Hostile Country.  Agency Indians friendly and peaceful.  Courier awaiting reply.”


July 24:  Agent Burke asks Poland to have Military quit cutting wild hay in the vicinity:

“Hay is now being cured at this agency for military purposes.”

“The usual objections by the Indians…they say that all the hay in the vicinity of their camps will be used up.  Last year it almost led to serious results.  They request me to write you and ask to leave the Bottoms nearest their Camps reserved for themselves.”


July 25:  Agent Burke approves mail delivery expenses to/from Bismarck:

Thomas Twigg requests reimbursement for mail delivery expenses:

“For services rendered in going to Bismarck with dispatch to Commissioner about Indians living off Reservation.

3 days for horse hire @ $5.00 per day                                    15.00

3 days expense of man & horse @ $3.00                                 9.00

July 31:  For services rendered in going to Bismarck with dispatch to Commissioner about Military demanding possession of Agency.

3 days for horse hire @ $5.00 per day                                    15.00

3 days expense of man & horse @ $3.00                                 9.00



August 26:  I certify on honor, that the above account is correct and just, that the expense was incurred and absolutely necessary for the good of the service.  John Burke, U. S. Indian Agent.”


July 31:  Agent Burke advises Honorable Commissioner of Indian Affairs that Poland has demanded absolute control of Agency.  Burke has refused compliance:

“Refused compliance &c.  (first page telegram missing) …to telegraphic instructions from Commanding General Military Division of the Missouri dated July twenty, issued in accordance with the orders of the Honorable Secretaries of the Interior  and War, announcing in telegram dated July twenty fourth that the Indian Department had transferred absolute control of all the agencies in the Missouri to the Commanding Officers at the agencies.  The undersigned hereby assumes absolute control of this agency and all persons residing there at and all government property furnished to be used at this agency or to be issued to Indians.  Signed J.S.Poland, Capt Sixth Infantry, Commanding Post & Agency.”

“Official copy respectfully furnished Mr. John Burke, Indian Agency for his information and guidance.  Signed J.S.Poland, Capt Sixth Infantry Commdg Post and Agency.”0

“I refused and protested compliance unless ordered by you and furnished him with copy of your dispatch of twenty sixth ultimo & tendered him the aid & assistance indicated thereon.  Last evening he further notified me he would take possession today.  Messenger awaiting reply.”   


July 29:  Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. that the situation is calm, no fear of Indians leaving for hostile camp and that Kill Eagle is a loyal Indian:

“Answering request on treatment of hostile Indians who may live here. I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your Telegram of the 26th instant, viz:”

”Allow Military to so far control your Indians as to prevent any from joining hostiles, and the latter and their families from coming in except by unconditional surrender.  Aid in arresting disarming and dismounting such.  Issue no rations to such except as prisoners.  Assure all peaceable Indians full protection and kind treatment.”

“In reply I beg leave to inform you that, in future I do not believe any of these Indians will leave for hostile camp.  There are two companies of Infantry stationed here;  100 men, 1 Captain and 2 Lieuts.  So far, I have had no occasion to call for assistance.  I have no guards either on Agency buildings or warehouses of for any purpose whatsoever.  “Kill Eagle,” a Blackfoot Chief, went to the hostile camp last March with the intention, as I believe, to bring in from that country some of his relatives and to trade for robes.  He has sent me word when he would not join in the fight, his horses were killed, his tents cut, and a strict surveillance kept on himself and people to prevent their returning.  He will come in the first opportunity.  This man has a good record.  His people are good and reliable. Not many years ago he ransomed a white woman from a hostile tribe by paying them nine horses.  Brought her into Fort Sully.  The Government rewarded him with 300 silver dollars.  He has always acted with me in good faith.  When he and his people come in are they to be classed as hostiles in the sense of your telegram?”


July 31:  Col. Poland advises Gen. Ruggles that Agent Burke and his two sons must be removed:

Major Ruggles writes to General Sheridan, Chicago: The following just received from Commanding Officer, Standing Rock Agency:

“Cooperation of Agent is worse than useless, he is inimical to Military, has prejudiced Indians against me and is, by reckless talk, endangering the peace.”

“I shall assume absolute control over property, persons and Indians.  I recommend the removal of Burke and his two sons as useless expense and dangerous.”

“Signed J. S. Poland, Capt. 6th Infantry”


July 31:  Col. Poland further advises, Ruggles emphasizes, dislike of Burke and asks what to do with arms, ammunition, ponies and men surrendering at the Agency.  Rain in the Face returned today.

“My action today wherein I left Agent in charge of Agency under my orders, having been improperly represented to Indians, I discover it absolutely indispensable to forbid interviews by him with Indians, and ask for authority to discharge his Interpreter.  Also to take charge on invoices and receipts of all public property for which he is responsible, relieving him from its control.  I must superintend issues for obvious reason.  Burke publishes four hundred lodges on East side of river, there are not one hundred.  About twenty returned hostiles are in camp.  Rain in the Face returned today.  Pilot of the Steamer, Silver Lake, just arrived, responds party of sixty believed to be hostiles, this side of Grand River approaching this post.  A large party from the fight passed here on their way to Cheyenne, lately.”

“What disposition is to be made of ponies, arms and men surrendered or confined? Hostiles are coming in daily in parties of four and five.”

“Answer if I am to assume control of public property, and indispensable thing to execution of my orders.  Send rations.”


August 1:  Burke certifies an invoice for hauling flour from Bismarck (interesting cost).

“Louis Agar requests payment for moving flour from Bismarck to Agency:”

“For services rendered for two (2) teams from Standing Rock Agency to Bismarck, D. T. and return from July 28th to August 1st, inclusive, five (5) days each at $5.00 per day, $50.00.”

“I certify on honor that the above account is correct and just and that the expense incurred was absolutely necessary in transporting flour from Bismarck, D. T. to Standing Rock, D. T., being entirely destitute of provisions and no Steam Boat expected down the River.  John Burke, U.S.Indian Agent.”


August 1:  General Sheridan advises Col. Poland not to exceed his instructions except in case of emergency.

“Your dispatch of July 30 relative to Indian Agent has been forwarded to Division Headquarters and the following is their reply. “Chicago, August first 1876, Major George D. Ruggles, St. Paul, Minn.”

“The dispatch of Captain Poland received.  Notify him that all the authority he has is contained in the instructions sent to him and that he is not justified in going beyond his instructions except in the case of great emergency.”


August 3:  Col. Poland advises Assistant Adjutant General, St. Paul absolute control is necessary or a new Agent should be appointed.

“Dispatch of August 1st received.  Instructions will not secure cooperation of Agent in issue of rations. Must not be expected of this Agent. He has lied in his official reports about the number absent.  He will lie again and act accordingly.  I will not be able to carry out instructions in respect to the issue of rations if I have no advisory control.  Whatever may be sufficient elsewhere, absolute control is the best here, or a new Agent should be appointed.”


August 3:  General Sherman reporting that Rain in  the Face reached Standing Rock Agency and that the indications are that numerous small bands are now in the vicinity of Missouri River Agencies waiting to come in, but none will be received except as prisoners.


August 4:  Col. Poland advises Adjutant General, Dakota, St. Paul either get rid of Agent Burke or get a new Colonel here.  Rain in the Face is gone again.

“I asked for authority to control issue of rations to Indians because of indispensable necessity.  The party who issues rations wields the superior power with these people. Without such control the Military will have trouble that could have been avoided. Indians will side with ration Chief.  Three (3) lodges from east side of river have disappeared. Rain in the Face gone again.” 

“Agent, I understand, informed Indians he has entire control as before. Agent interpreter said soldiers were coming in wrath.  This is the impression. Whatever the intended work, Agent intervenes.” 

“Should be immediately stopped. I telegraphed cooperation could not be expected.  August 1st I asked for names of chiefs drawing rations and quantity issued, no reply. Two chiefs reported that Agent sent word to Kill Eagle if he came in he should not be disturbed, wrote inquiry as to truth of report, no reply.” 

“Agent gone to Bismarck. If control is divided between Agent and myself Indians will refuse to do anything for either.  I have no personal figure to gratify in face of impending necessity, and ask that Burke be removed or another officer sent here to Command Col’s company here.” 


August 6:  Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. will aid Military and retain control of Indians.


August 11:  Agent Burke reports to Hon. Com Indians are coming in and does not agree with demands of Col. Poland that they must surrender to him, not Burke, or that Grass and Mad Bear must abandon their farms and come in to surrender:

“Information regarding the surrender of Indians who were in hostile country, with copies of correspondence by Military on subject.” 

“I had occasion today to address Col. Poland, Comdg Troops at this Station, the following communication: “

“Sir, I have the honor to inform you that Grass /Blackfoot Chief/ reports that seven (7) Indians have arrived from the hostile country to his camp. He claims they are peaceable, but willing to give up their arms.  Three (3) are now in my office.  Shall they report at the Garrison, or shall you meet them in my office.”

 To which I received the following reply:

“Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of this date and respectfully inform you in reply that I desire the three Indians to be brought to this Garrison with their ponies and the arms they returned with to this Agency.  I wish to say further that I will require the surrender of the other four, together with Rain in the Face, and the four Indians who arrived with him at this Agency.  The terms of the instructions sent to this Head Quarters require an unconditional surrender of all hostiles, all Indians who have been out to the hostile camp returning to this Agency, and these terms must be insisted on without condition.  P.S. I will await the arrival of the Indians at my office.”

“I explained the matter to the Indians, who were ready to deliver up their guns and ponies, but claimed they were not in the fight, and should not be detained in confinement within the Garrison (the place designated by the Comdg Officer).  I had Grass see Col. Poland and explain the status of these Indians.  When he was informed that he must abandon his farm (15 miles south) and close up on the Garrison.  I was also personally informed by Col Poland at an interview that Mad Bear and other Lower Yanktonais, farming on the East side of the River (15 miles south), have to do the same and move opposite the Agency.  I have given assurance to Indians of this class ‘full protection and kind treatment.’”

“To be compelled to abandon their crops and little farms at this time would be to them a source of great discouragement and so unsettle them that it would be next to impossible to keep them together until matters are more settled.  Already many good and peaceable Indians are visiting other Agencies, more in the last few weeks than thro the past year.  Two more Companies are expected daily from Fort Sully under the command of Col Lugenbiel – Ist Infantry.  While many rumors have been promulgated about these people, tending to turn aside sympathy, so far I have not seen so much peace anywhere among the same number of persons, as has existed on this reservation, within the past year.”


August 11:  General Sheridan reports that Burke is unfitted, and that he has replaced Col. Poland and the Dept of Interior will replace Burke:

“There may be a good deal of truth in this communication, but if so, the bitterness exhibited by Capt. Poland renders it too doubtful to act upon.”

“I believe that Burke is unfitted for the position of Agent, and have arranged so that Lieut Col Carlin shall take the place of Capt. Poland and the Secretary of the Interior has promised to remove Burke.”

“Captain Poland proves himself in error in his statistics by saying that 1,500 warriors have left the Agency, which would make, on his basis of one warrior to five souls, 7,500 men, women and children belonging to the Agency; whereas he states that there has never been at the Agency over 4,500; and as there are now there at least 1,500 friendly, I do not see where he can get 1,500 warriors.”


August 15:  Agent Burke acknowledges to Hon. Com. to cooperate with the Military.

Agent Burke writes to the Hon. Com. Acknowledging receipt of communication relative to the disposition of Indians returning from Hostile Country and cooperating with the Military (copy to Sec. Int. for information of War Dept., Aug 29, 76):

“…….Containing copy of Dispatch of 26th July last.  Also informing me that parties arrested whether charged with or suspected of having engaged in hostilities, or in the commission of depredations, should not be condemned without examination, and if any should be found innocent they must be enrolled with the other friendly Indians.  And if guilty, the Military will hold them as prisoners until the final disposition shall have been determined by the proper authority.”

“In the spirit indicated by you I have, in the most friendly manner, read your letter to the new Military courier and to Lt Col Carlin, 1st Infy, recently arrived, and assured him of my cheerful cooperation  – the only  uncertainty that seems to exist is “by whom or how this examination is to be taken.”  An explanation on this point would be of importance.”


August 17:  Col. W. P. Carlin reports at his new Post and promises an accurate account of Indians present on the Reservation.  Rain in the Face came within 10 miles but is gone again.

Col. W. P. Carlin writes to Major G. D. Ruggles, Asst Adjt Genl., Headqrs Dept of  Dakota, St. Paul, Minn.:

“I have the honor to report that I arrived here on the 15th and assumed command of the Post on the 16th inst.  After diligent inquiry from all sources Indians, Officers and the Agent, I am unable to learn that any Indians who were in the fight of June 25th are now on this Reservation.  Rain in the Face has been to the Oncpapa Camp, ten miles below the Agency, but went away again, if the report of the Chief of that band be true.  Seven other Indians also returned, but are said to have gone away again; three of them visited the Agent and proposed to surrender their arms and ponies, but not their persons, to the Military, but they were not detained.  This I learn from Capt Poland, late Post Commander, and the Agent.”

“I think from all the information I can gather that very few Indians compared with the number reported by the Agent (6,200) remain on the Reservation, at least within communicating distance of the Agency.”

“But, I shall, as soon as practicable, take steps to ascertain from actual count, the number of lodges and men, women and children present.”

“It is probable that those who are absent with the hostiles will soon be driven by hunger to Agencies. I shall not hesitate with my present force to proceed to disarm and dismount them as soon as I can hear of their return.  They have all been informed from various sources that this course is to be pursued towards them.  If they return, therefore, it will be with a full knowledge of what they are to expect.  At present all is quiet.”


August 26:  Col. Carlin advises General Ruggles that no hostiles or absentees from this Agency who were with the hostiles have returned.  Kill Eagle’s band is coming in …now within 20 miles of Agency.

“Sir: In explanation of the fact that I have not yet taken any steps towards arresting hostile Indians, disarming and dismounting them, I have the honor to report to the General Commanding and for Lieut General Sheridan’s information, that no hostiles or absentees from this Agency who were with the hostiles, have yet returned to stay.  Such as have returned have gone away immediately in consequent of being told that they were to be arrested and disarmed.  Others have gone to Cheyenne Agency to escape this penalty.  Many have gone – no one knows where.  It is said by the chiefs that thirty lodges of Yanktonais have gone to Fort Peck.  Others are reported to have gone to Fort Totten.  I have had an accurate count of all Indian Lodges now on this reservation on the east and west bank of the Missouri River, and the total number is three hundred and five – fifteen of which are Santee Indians.  This leaves two hundred and ninety lodges of every description – even temporary bush shelters for sick women.  Counting five persons to a lodge, fifteen hundred persons is a liberal estimate of the number now here.  No more than that number of rations should be issued to them.  I understand from Agent Burke that he issues to forty five hundred, just three time the number present – he, of course, claiming that they are present.  My count has been made by different persons who have no interest in misinterpreting the facts.”

“I have reliable information that Kill Eagle and his band are coming very slowly towards the Agency and are not now more than twenty miles distant.  He says he will come in whatever the consequences.”


August 28:  Col. Carlin advises General Ruggles of a meeting held at the lodge of Chief Grass (ed note: this important letter was a separate item in the Welch material, not on this ‘film’). Carlin is convinced that Grass is treacherous.

“I have the honor to report that at a gathering of Indians at the lodge of Chief Grass of the Blackfeet band of Sioux last night, a man, who has just returned from Sitting Bull’s camp, made the following statement to the meeting:”

“Sitting Bull called a council sometime since (sic, the fight) and addressed them substantially to this effect:- that he did not bring on this war with the whites but that the whites had attacked him.  But now, that as he had punished the whites to his satisfaction, he was willing to go to an agency if the Government should insist on his doing so.  He also advised the Indians, who had come from the agencies and had assisted him in the fight of June 25th, to return to their agencies.”

“After this returned Indian had finished his remarks, Chief Grass remarked that the cause of the Indians might not yet be lost; that if there were men enough here and if they were brave enough, they might seize the arms, ammunition and provisions at this agency and join the other hostiles.  He remarked afterwards, however, that the Indians were not brave enough and that it would be useless to undertake anything of this kind.  The suggestion that hostilities might be prolonged was with the idea that terms might be forced from the Government and not with any expectation of independence of its control.”

“This Chief Grass has remained permanently at the agency and lived at the expense of the Government.  He professes, when speaking to the officers of the government, great friendship for the whites and is fully trusted by the agent.  I had an interview with him about a week ago and was convinced that he is treacherous.  I ordered him to move his camp near the post, from a point ten miles below, which he did very reluctantly.  I learn also that he has sent several messages to Kill Eagle to go back to the hostiles.”


August 28:  Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. that he out of almost everything.

“Received invoice from Sioux City dated Eleventh instant of coffee, sugar, bacon and tobacco only not yet received nor do I know when they will arrive.  Nothing said about flour.  I am entirely out of all these articles.  Nothing to issue for the past two weeks except beef.  Another issue will exhaust quantity of beef allowed at this agency.”


August 30:  Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. that military has placed him under arrest and replaced me with Captain P. E. Johnson.

“Military moved a company into Agency stockade today.  Took possession of all property. Superseded myself and appointed Capt Johnson agent & placed me under arrest on parole.  No reasons assigned but states reports action to his superiors.  Please answer.  Burke, Agt”


August 30:  Agent Johnston advises that he has assumed control over Agency this date.

Agent Johnston telegram to Hon. Com…R. E. Johnston states that in compliance with instruction from Hd Qrs U.S. Mil Station, Standing Rock, DT.. Dated Aug 30, 1876, he has this day assumed control of this Agency, and as soon as he can acquaint himself with the condition, he will forward detailed report.


August 31:  General Sherman advises General Sheridan that a new Agent has been appointed and that the Hon. Com. wants the Military to have absolute control of the Agencies.

“The Secretary of War and I have also seen Mr. Chandler, Secretary of the Interior, who says another agent has been appointed for the Standing Rock Agency, who will soon be there, but meantime you may instruct General Carlin that he must control all issues from the Agency to Indians, and permit no issues of any kind that he does not approve, especially to Indians not actually present, and known to be friendly and faithful.”

“The Secretary of the Interior repeats that he wants the Military authorities to have absolute control of the Agencies, and if you prefer officers for such Agents on the Missouri River, he will consent.”


August 31:  Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. That Agent Johnston has given him a receipt for all Government property and that I will leave as soon as possible.

“I have the honor to inform you that Captain Johnston, 1st Infantry, this day, assumed control of the Agency (against my protest).  He examined and handed me receipt for all Dept property.  I will leave here (unless otherwise ordered) and forward returns as soon as possible.”


September 1:  General Sheridan advises General Sherman that Burke is believed to have been acting on behalf of the hostiles and that Col. Carlin has replaced him with Johnston until a new Agent arrives.

“Your dispatch of yesterday received and I highly appreciate the candid cooperation of the Hon. Secy of the Interior.  Col Carlin telegraphs this morning that he was obliged to suspend the Agent Burke as it is believed had a secret interview with Kill Eagle, one of the hostile Chiefs and who he subsequently issued two hundred fifty (250) head of cattle, most of which, it is believed, have gone to the hostile camp.  We do not want to do anything which would be unpleasant in any way to the Secy of the Interior or the Commissioner of Indian Affairs but I really think that it would be best for all concerned that Army Officers should perform the duties of the Agencies until this trouble is over.  Col. Carlin put Capt. P. E. Johnston in charge of the Agency at Standing Rock until the Agent arrives.”


September 2:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. that Burke’s two sons have resigned.

“Agent Johnston states to Hon. Com. That W.S.Burke, Asst. Farmer and John E. Burke, Storekeeper have resigned their positions at this Agency to take effect Aug 31, 1876.”


September 3:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. that the Supt & Clerk has been absent is and has been absent since June 10 and requests to be informed if he is absent by authority, and if so, by what authority.

September 4:  Agent Johnston  requests authority to enter into a contract with Mr. Eugene Waldruff to furnish this Agency with 50 tons hay @$8.90 per ton.  States that season is nearly gone and unless cut at once, will be too late.


September 4:  Former Agent Burke advises Hon. Com. of receipt of official letter firing him.

“Chicago, Sept 1st 1876, to Major George D. Ruggles, Saint Paul, Minn. from P. H. Sheridan, Lieut. General.  Notify that his action suspending Agent Burke is approved.”

“Head Quarters U.S. Military Station, Standing Rock, D.T., Sept 4th 1876.  Official extract copy of telegram received from H’Qrs Department of Dakota, respectfully furnished Mr. John Burke for his information.  By order of Lieut Col Carlin (signed) Wm P. Rogers, 1st Lieut. and Adjt. 17 Infy.”


September 5:  Col. Carlin reports hostility of Grass who blocked his interpreter (Allison) from reaching Kill Eagle’s camp for a counsel, as Carlin had not asked the permission of the Indian Chiefs to enter their country. (ed note: this important letter was a separate item in the Welch material, not on this ‘film’)

“I have the honor to report for the information of the Brigadier General, Commanding the Department, and the Lieutenant General, Commanding the Division, that last night my interpreter , E. N. Allison, attempted, under my instructions, to go to the camp of Kill Eagle, a hostile chief, belonging to this Agency, and who is now encamped on one of the tributaries of Grand River.”

“When about one and a half miles from the Post, Allison ran into, what appeared to be, a line of sentinels of Indians, mounted; two of whom approached him and demanded to know where he was going. He told them that he was going to see Kill Eagle.  They informed him that he could not go there until he had been to the camp of the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands and obtained permission from the Chiefs. These camps are about four miles, perhaps five, south of this post and near the direct line to Kill Eagle’s camp, which is believed to be less than 30 miles distant. Allison was interrogated by Grass and Antelope, Chiefs respectively of the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands, and they assumed the most lofty grounds that independent sovereigns could claim.”

“They expressed their surprise that the Military Commander should attempt to send a message to Kill Eagle without the approval and consent of the Chiefs here, who owned this Country and informed him (Allison) that he could not proceed.”

“Grass further demanded for Kill Eagle, that he should be allowed to came in to his (Grass’) Camp, but not to the Post, and if necessary surrender his arms, but not himself or his horses.”

“I believe it will be necessary to chastise these Indians before they will ever understand that the Government, the white people and the troops of the United States are not their inferiors.”

“Since writing the foregoing, Captain R.G. Johnston,  1st Infantry, has reported to me, that Grass called on him and asked him to see me and inquire if I had sent Allison to Kill Eagle’s Camp and stated further, that he did not like such things to be done without consulting him and the other Chiefs.”

“These Indians have evidently been deceived and spoiled by the late Agent Burke and the people he has had about him.  They are insolent, defiant and in reality as hostile at heart as Sitting Bull.  Their subsistence alone keeps them quiet and their agent has taught them, that they can have that regularly however hostile they may be to the Military.  Indeed nothing but a severe punishment will subdue them.  I refer exclusively to the Blackfeet and Uncpappa bands of Sioux, now here on the West side of the Missouri, not to the Indians who have been with Sitting Bull.  This feeling of hostility is common throughout all the bands at the Agency except, perhaps Two Bear’s and Big Head’s (Upper and Lower Yanktonais) where it is confined to the minority.  Their Agent reports them all peaceful and respectful towards him.  Of course, they will treat him with respect generally, because he has control of their rations.”

 “When the three companies of the 11th Infantry arrive, I will be able to leave a guard at the Post and Agency, and will then make a visit to these camps with my command, with the view of impressing the Indians with the supremacy of the Government over them.”


September 4:  James W. Callan writes to Hon. Com. regarding his potential appointment as Agent with the help of Catholic Missions:

I, James W. Callan, Washington City, to Hon. Com., herewith return your letter of April 19, 1876 for the purpose of learning whether if Gen Ewing should again nominate me for the appointment of Agent at Standing Rock Agency: (sic, if) there is anything known to the Department that will prevent my commission being issued to me, and my going on duty under such appointment.”


September 7:  Agent Johnston reports he held council with the Chiefs and that Grass and Running Antelope made important, but rather insolent, speeches:

“I have the honor to state that, upon my assuming control of this Agency, I immediately called a Council of the Chiefs, and from 30 to 40 of the principle ones responded thereto.”

“I told them that Mr. Burke, their Agent, had been relieved and I had been detailed as their Agent.  I gave them to fully understand that the Great Father was very sincerely disposed towards all peaceable Indians and that I was directed by him to do everything in my power for their protection and comfort.”

“I told them that he was angry with the young men who had gone off to the hostile camp to fight his soldiers and that I had been directed to say to them “that all these young men must come into the Agency, lay down their arms and surrender themselves to the Military Authority.”

“After I had completed what I had to say to them, John Grass, the leading Chief of the Blackfeet, and one who has a number of young men out with the hostiles, spoke about as follows:”

“That his young men would not come in and be arrested by the Military; that they would not be slaves; that he never had anyone talk to him before as I had done; that he was a great Chief and could stand up and look anyone in the face; that he had expected soft words; that he did not believe that the Great Father had sent any such word; that if he had, his young men would not come in; that they would go to Cheyenne Agency where they would receive better treatment; that he had heard from there that the young men that had been out with the hostiles, and had come in and laid down their arms, had been given rations and were all allowed to go where they pleased; and that they had not been made slaves.”

“Running Antelope, the Chief of the Uncpappa spoke about as follows:”

“That all this country belonged to him; that the white man had a country and right to stay there; that the Indians had a country and ought to be left alone; that they were a great people and no way inferior to the whites; that the Great Father ought to send them arms instead of taking away what they had; that he did not think the young men that had been with the hostiles ought to come in and be made slaves of; that he objected to having his Indians counted; that he had been to see the Great Father and told him that he had 7000 Indians and he said “How,” and that I had no business to make a count but to issue rations to that many.”

“A number of speeches were made by other Chiefs but not worthy of report.  The whole manner and bearing of these Chiefs was more or less insolent, and not particularly friendly, and if they talk to their people as they spoke in Council, to me certainly little can be effected of them in the way of persuading their young men to abandon the war-path.  I would suggest that when these Chiefs talk to me alone, not in the presence of other Chiefs, or their people, they talk very differently.”


September 8:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. that certain employees are not needed.

“Agent Johnston recommends to Hon. Com. that estimate of School Teacher be reduced from 720.00 to 480.00 also that Asst Blacksmith, Asst Farmer and Storekeeper be disallowed as in his opinion their services are not required.”


September 8:  Agent Johnston recommends discharge of the miller, John Lineham, at this Agency.


September 8:  Agent Johnston’s official notice to Burke of his dismissal en toto.

“John Burke, Indian Agent, Standing Rock, Dak, via Bismarck.  Your services as Agent will be dispensed with from and after the receipt of this telegram.  Col. Carlin will assume absolute control of your Agency, will direct the issue of all supplies, and will receipt to you for such public property as may be in your hands.”


September 12:  Col. Carlin advises Gen. Ruggles that there is an increase in Indians returning and that he has cut off all issues to Kill Eagle’s band.

“I have the honor to inform the Department Commander and the Lieutenant General Commanding the Division that during the past two weeks the number of Indians on the Reservation has increased to about four thousand from about two thousand.  I had the lodges counted about the 25th of August and on that count 295 lodges estimated the total number present at fifteen hundred.  During the past two weeks ending Sunday the 11th instant, Captain Edwards, 11th Infantry, assisted by Lieut. Roads and two enlisted men and interpreters, have made a careful count of Indians in lodges as well as the number of lodges.  This count shows that the number present is about 4 thousand.  While it is extremely difficult to decide where the additional two thousand have been, it is safe to say that half the number were with the hostiles til recently.  Yet they slip in at night and put up their lodges alongside those that have remained here all summer, say they have been to the Cheyenne Agency gathering berries or some other innocent place.  Nobody reports them and of course they expect rations.”

“It is my intent to visit the Blackfeet and Uncpapa Camp in a short time and arrest all that cannot satisfactorily account for their absence.  I have directed the Acting Agent to issue to only three thousand Indians at present, and have cut off all issues to that part of Kill Eagle’s band who are encamped here, because they have harbored the hostiles on their visit here, and have sent supplies out to Kill Eagle’s camp.”


September 12:  Col. Carlin advises that he has arrested John Grass, holds him in custody.  (ed note: this important letter was a separate item in Welch material, not on this ‘film’).

“I have the honor to report, that on the 10th instant, John Grass, Head chief of the Blackfoot band of Sioux, was arrested by my order for exciting all his influence to prevent the hostile Indians from coming in to surrender, and for special offences set forth in a letter from the undersigned to Captain R. G. Johnston, 1st Infantry, acting Indian Agent.  I have directed a Board of Officers to investigate the charges against him and to report their opinion, and in the meantime, I will hold him in custody at this Post.  I am not fully prepared to send him to Fort Snelling as I am not sure that his absence is sufficient importance to justify the expense of moving him.  Besides his health is bad and confinement would probably kill him in a short time, if he were not very kindly treated.”

“His arrest has had a marked effect on the behavior of the Indians here and for the better.  Their conduct is now very respectful and friendly when they come about the Post or Agency.”

“I will decide what to do with John Grass after receiving the report of Board of Examination.”


September 13: Agent Johnston states will have no sugar, coffee or bacon to issue on 19th.  Flour will last till 27. Beef to Oct 1.

September 13: Agent Johnston asks Hon. Com. for authority to contract for 300 cords wood at 273/100 per cord, the same as paid to Post Quartermaster., as it is very late in the season and unless the contract is made at once, it will be too late to obtain the wood.

September 13:  Hon. Com. Authorizes Johnston to purchase 50 tons hay.


September 14:  Col. Carlin reports on statement by The Man that smells His Hand.    (ed note: this important letter was a separate item in Welch material, not on this ‘film’).

“I have the honor to transmit herewith a statement made to me last night by an Indian known as The Man that Smells his Hand, including a message sent by Amputated Finger of the Ogalalla Sioux and other ‘hostile Chiefs.’  This man left his post eighteen days ago through fear of his own people.  He being suspected by them as a spy upon them and an informer of the Military Commander on their movements.  He left the hostile camp on Broken Legged Woman’s Creek near Powder River on Aug 30th and was eight days on the road—but lost one day by rain.  I have perfect confidence in his statement about the location of the hostiles.  The remainder of his statement is forwarded for what it is worth.  It is interesting if not important.”


September 14:  Formal statement of The Man who smells His Hand.  Col. Carlin reports that Kill Eagle came in today.

“Carlin writes: Statement of The Man that Smells his Hand, an Uncpappa Sioux, to the Commanding Officer at Standing Rock Agency, Sept 6, 1876.  Including a message from the assembled Chiefs of the Ogalalla, Minneconjou, Brules, Sans Arc and other Sioux Indians encamped on Broken Legged Woman’s Creek near the head of the Powder River, Aug. 29, 1876:”

“Three men spoke, but they all saw the same thing.  They began by saying “we are representatives of many bands, and what we have to say is for all these bands.  We have heard of your difficulty with the Indians at Standing Rock—that is.  You have turned white man.  For that reason we should detain you one year; but as we have something to say to the whites we will use you as a Courier to them.  This land belongs to us.  It is a gift to us from the Great Spirit.  The Great Spirit gave us the game in this Country.  It is our privilege to hunt the game in our Country.  The white man came here to take the Country from us by force.  He has brought misery and wretchedness into our Country.  We were killing game and eating, and all of a sudden we were attacked by white man.  You will now depart and return to Standing Rock.  Tell the Commanding Officer that we are tired of fighting, and that we want the Soldiers to stop fighting us.  Tell him to repeat these words to the ‘Great Father:’ The Great Spirit above us gave us this Country.  It is ours, and he is looking down on us today.  He sees the bloody deeds going on his this Country.  Though he gave us this Country he did not give us the right to dispose of it.  It is our duty to defend our Country.  We did not say to the white man come out and fight us; we did not ask them to come out at all.  We did not want to fight them, but now if they wish to withdraw they may.  We do not wish to fight them.  What we have said is the sentiment of Sitting Bull.  He is not here, but if he were here he would say the same words to you.”

Sitting Bull says he was out there because there was game, but that he did not want to fight.  He had to fight because he was attacked.  Perhaps the whites think they can exterminate us, but God, the Great Spirit, will not permit it.  The above is the message.  Then the Messenger states that Sitting Bull, has all his own followers, and many Indians from this Agency with him.  His camp on the 30th of August was on Tongue River, nearly in sight of the Post now being built at the mouth of that River.

He is so near that he can see the soldiers any day by riding a short distance.  He is on or near the road made by the hoofs in going out.  He was expected however to join the other bands on the head of Powder River soon as he had been sent for.  A small body of hoofs had marched near their camp and they could have massacred them all, but they preferred to let them leave the Country, as they seemed to be doing. 

The Indians had ‘any quantity of ammunition and more guns than they needed.  Most of the Needle Guns.’  They had many mules with galled necks and shoulders and many of them had died since the Indians got them.  They had many American horses, but they had nearly all broken down.  The Indians said if the whites persisted in keeping up the war they could stand it for three years.  They had plenty of game and everything else.

The above statements were drawn out in reply to questions asked him by the undersigned and other Officers in my presence.


September 14:  Col. Carlin reports: Kill Eagle and Little Wounds came in today and surrendered one hundred and forty two (142) people, about 100 ponies and all their arms and ammunition.  Twenty nine (29) men surrendered – they were all in the fight on the Little Big Horn.


September 15:  Captain Edward Collins reports very detailed census to Col. Carlin.

“In compliance with Special Orders No. 81, dated Headquarters Mil, Station Standing Rock, D. T., Sept. 6th, 1876, I proceeded to make an enrollment of the Indians at this Agency, commencing on the 10th and completing on the 14th inst.  The accompanying list shows the name of each band, Sub Chief and head of family, also the number of each family, all twelve years and over being specially reported as men and women, all under as children; also an estimate of those reported absent.  With the exception of one Sub Chief’s party, the enrollment was made with the assistance of each Sub Chief, the lodge, shelter or shack or other place of living being visited, the number reported being there examined and verified with all the care possible, and it is believed to be tolerable correct, yet it is felt that there has been some chance for imposition in the reporting the number in a family and exhibiting the inmates of the different places of residence.  It is thought that the Agent can, in time, having at hand the names of the different heads of families with the numbers reported in each family, correct any such imposture should there be any through the jealousness of the different Chiefs and that correction can be better made in this way than by any subsequent enrollment.

One Sub Chief (Bull’s Ghost) declined to assist in the enrollment, the lodges were counted but no enrollment made, subsequently he requested an enrollment to be made but was obliged to bring the heads of families to the Agency where the different families were reported and so enrolled.  The consolidated list foots up as follows:

Total Present               4558

  “     Absent                     854

Aggregate                       5412

Composed of Yanktonais, Uncapapa and Blackfeet Sioux under numerous Chiefs as per list.

In making this report it may not be improper to remark that I have been stationed at this Agency for several years and have had the Indian camps more or less under observation since.  Without wishing to reflect on the administration of affairs by the different Agents during that time, who, so far as I know have done the best they could under the system prescribed, I must say the Indians appear poorer in almost every way, with the exception of horses, than when I first came to the Agency.

They are badly sheltered, and badly clothed, with an insufficient supply of blankets for protection and bedding.  They have scarcely any Buffalo robes, or furs of any kind.  They are not advanced so far as I can’t see a single step toward civilization, nor have they acquired any habits of self-support.  As an offset to some extent to the unfavorable outlook they appear to have been well fed, and their morals do not appear to have suffered to any great extent in the camps about the Agency, nor do they appear to have been reduced in any numbers by any disease introduced among them here.  In fact the families are certainly larger than formerly having many more children than before collection at the Agency.  The Indian population here is evidently on the increase.


September 17:  Agent Johnston submits full statement made by Kill Eagle and Afraid of Eagles, who left this Agency last Spring and spent the summer with the hostiles.

“Agent Johnston reports: I have the honor to submit the following statement made by Wan-mdi-kte, “Kill Eagle,” a Blackfoot Sioux Chief who left this Agency last Spring with 26 lodges and who has spent the past summer with the hostiles.:

“I would state that when he was making this statement he surrounded himself by a number of his men, and when he had any doubt as to the correctness of what took place on certain occasions, he would call upon them to assist him in remembering all the particulars.  I have taken his statement with a great deal of care, and am satisfied from his manner and bearing that he has endeavored to tell the truth.  I had two interpreters present and fully believe that they have given me a correct interpretation.  I requested Kill Eagle to make oath to the truthfulness of his statement and he did so cheerfully and without hesitation.  He is 56 years of age, has been 18 years with the whites, and is one of the most intellectual Indians I have met in Dakota.


Kill Eagle’s Statement:

Q: I have come to see you and have you make a statement for me to send to the Great Father, you will be careful and tell the exact truth.

A: How!

Q: I will commence with when you left this Agency last spring, let me know why you left, and where you have been!  Take your time and think, so as to make no mistakes?

A: All right. Your two interpreters were here, and there was an Agent here, but no one told us to go out.  I went in accordance with my own judgment.  I had heard that there was an expedition going into the Indian country, but, as I had heard the same every summer, I did not believe it; I was in want of lodges, robes and skins for making moccasins and I went out to get them.  I thought I could get them and get away before any of the soldiers got out there.


Q: Before you left here last spring you had a dance in the Garrison; after the dance you fired your pistol in the air and told Col. Poland, “I am tired of this place, I am going away.”  Why did you do this?

A: I never said so; the man who fired off the pistol did not belong to my band, he was hostile!  He fired off his pistol and said, “This is the way a brave man acts.”  I did not know he was going to fire; I asked him why he did it; he made no reply.  This man was killed in the fight; his name was The Man whose Breast is Daubed with Mud.


Q: Let us know how you got along every day; where you went and how you lived?

A: I left this Agency last April with 12 lodges belonging to my band and 4 belonging to other bands.  One belonging to Running Antelope named Dog;  one belonging to Iron Horn named Scarlet Thunder;  one belonging to Wounded Head named Eagle Man; one belonging to Bad Hand named Bull; one belonging to Medicine Man named Bear King; two belonging to Belly Fat named Brave Hawk and The Man who Walks close to his Dogs. Two belonging to Two Heart named the Strong and Silent Bear.  One belonging to Sitting Crow named Scarlet Eagle.  One belonging to Plenty Crow named Little Eagle.  Two belonging to Bear Ribs named Afraid of Eagle and Bear Ears.  One belonging to Gaul named Blue Cloud.  One belonging to Lone Dog who has not returned.


Q: Did any other lodges join you on your way out to the hostile camp?

A: That is all that went with me, others were out before me, I do not count for them.


Q: How many men did you have with you who have not come back?

A: One; Little Wounds’ son, he did not come back.


Q: These are all middle-aged men, where are your young men?

A: I do not go around all the lodges, my children are all girls.


Q: Is there any young man belonging I have not seen?

A: We have no others, only what you have seen.


Q: What other people left here, before and after you?

A: I can’t say; some were before and some were after me, they were in different parts of the village.


Q: What were the names of the Chiefs?

A: I can’t say.


Q: Is Gaul out there?

A: He is; with as big a belly as ever.


Q: Is Rain in the Face out there?

A: I don’t know.  He was out there and I think he came to Cheyenne Agency and went back to the hostiles again.


Q: Is Plenty Crow out there?

A: Plenty Crow has never been away, he is here.


Q: What about his people?

A: His son-in-law died out there, there is none of his band out there.


Q: Is Ball of the Foot out there?

A: I have not seen him, I think he is at Fort Peck.


Q: Is there any others from here out there?

A: I would tell you if I saw any.  I was not allowed to go around and see who was there or learn anything.  I was watched all the time.  I am in earnest when I say they guarded me closely day and night.


Q: I have got all the people; now tell me about your journey.

A: I went out from here and camped on the other side of Big Hill.


Q: Did you all have guns when you started?

A: We had only what we turned in.


Q: Did you have plenty of ammunition?

A: The sale of ammunition was stopped here before I went away.  I was displeased with that, and I thought I would go out and starve anyway.  I thought I could kill some game with arrows.


Q: Did you have plenty provisions when you started?

A: No Sir; the rations were very scarce; that was the reason I wanted to go out and kill some game.


Q: Where did you go the second day?

A: I camped at Porcupine Hill; 3rd night at Leafy Butte; 4th night “Creek unnamed”; 5th night at the creek which branches off Cedar Creek; 6th night at the place where they held the enemy; 7th night Cedar Creek; 8th night camped at the head of Cedar Creek; 9th night on Cedar Creek, moving up we struck the white man’s road leading to the Black Hills. 10th night, traveled up Cedar Creek can camped on it.  11th night camped at the extreme head of Cedar Creek where there was no timber.  Near this camp is a place where we get whetstones.  Some of my men who went after whetstones returned, riding in great haste and reported that there were white men coming.  I answered, “Very good, I will go see them.”  We went to see if they were white men and instead of being white men it was a herd of buffaloes; we kill forty-five (45) of them, including two (2) calves, this is what we lived on.  I then called my men to a feast of buffalo meat, and said, “This is what induced us to leave the Agency.  Now we have got it we will turn by a round-about way and return to the Agency.”  My brother-in-law (who is dead) said, “No here is the village over at the place where they dig blue earth (meaning Sitting Bull’s village), we will go over there and get skins for moccasins &c, which we need, and then return to the Agency and in doing this he plotted my death, but died himself.

From there I went and camped at the White Mountains; from there to Box Elder Creek; where I killed thirty (30) buffalo, only one (1) out of the herd getting away from us; we eat our meat and slept there that night; in the morning when we got up horsemen were reported coming towards our camp.  These were Indians coming from Sitting Bull’s village.  From them I heard from Sitting Bull’s camp.  They told me there was contributions being made in Sitting Bull’s camp for me, and that I should make haste and get there, that they would make my heart glad.

From there there was nothing worth speaking about for six (6) days and nights. On the 7th day as the sun was going down, I came in sight of Sitting Bull’s camp.  Many of my horses had given out and I had to leave them on the way.  The camp was on Tongue River just above the mouth of Four Horn River.  When I got to the camp I found the Indians starving, but they killed dogs and made a feast for me, and told me, notwithstanding I was tired, I must march again the next day and camp where there was buffalo.  In the morning the camp moved to Cottonwood Creek; I was the last to move, and when I got into camp they were bringing in buffalo meat.

Now that they had meat, the Crow Society of the Uncpappas made a feast for me; I went to the feast, and a young man made me a present of a large roan horse, and said to the Indians, “Here is the man that lives with the white man; you have invited him here to come out here and get robes and skins; now he is here why don’t you speak; this is why I have given him the horse; now come forward and give him your robes and skins.”  They gave me 34 robes packed on horses (horses and all) and said, “Here is what you came for take it and go.” These words made my heart very glad.  The young man who gave me the roan horse was named Spotted Eagle.

The next morning I got on my horse and went to the Indian soldier’s lodge, where there were mainly soldiers assembled and said to them, “My kindred, I came out here for robes and skins.  I have got them, now my heart is glad, and now my friends be merciful to me and let me go back to the white man.”

They all answered, “How,”  but one man jumped up and spoke differently. There was four chiefs of soldiers there, who sat in the back part of the lodge; and said, “You have not spoken well, we are killing buffalo; wait till we have sufficient to send in plenty with you, and when you get it you will have plenty meat to speak with, and then your heart will be glad.”

From that day I was to suffer; that evening criers went around the camp saying, “A man has come here; you have given him presents and told him to go, No! he shall never go.”  The next morning the camp moved and I remained behind; I pretended not to notice their movements, but the Indians soldiers surrounded my camp and made me move with them.  The Indian soldiers marching behind and on both sides of us, so that it was impossible for us to get away; this is when they took us to the Rosebud, and went into camp on the Rosebud.

At this camp I was called to a Grand Council and was told that they were going to have a Sun Dance, and such men – of mine  – that did not have horses could get them;  they told me this to deceive me & from there we moved up the Rosebud; there was nothing worth mentioning occurred while we remained on the Rosebud, only that I was watched all the time.

On leaving the Rosebud we went to Greasy Grass Creek; camping twice between these two places, and all the time the Indians soldiers were closely watching and guarding us; we camped very close to this creek; and all at once there was a great commotion, it being reported that white men were coming.  I got on my horse and said, “Pity me my friends; we came from the whites and I want you to listen to me; you are all grown men and must obey me; this nation here fight with the whites (meaning Sitting Bull and others) but the whites are our friends and we don’t bear arms against them; the Indians then went out to battle, but there came a herd of buffalo, and me and my men went after the buffalo and brought back buffalo meat.

When the Indians came back from the battle, they denounced me as a traitor because I did not go into the fight; and forced me into camp on Greasy Grass Creek.  There was a very large camp here, and I was ordered to go on one side of it, but I camped in the middle, and there I was continually surrounded by Indian soldiers; at night the soldiers built fires all around my camp.  The next day I could see from my camp, in the road, a great smoke and dust rising; the ponies belonging to all the bands were a long ways from our camp, we went after them but they stampeded.

All of my men that you see here went for our horses, but we could not catch them; finally we caught some of them and brought them to the camp.  I then said to my men, “Take your lodges and everything that is valuable and let us flee back to the whites.  At this time Sitting Bull’s men set fire to the prairie around my lodges, and burnt some of my lodges up.  They took some of my horses killed 8 of them and returned the others; they abused and whipped my men, and they can show the marks today. (A number of his warriors at this time exhibited wounds made by knives, spears and whips.  Kill Eagle exhibited quite a large wound on his left hip, made with a knife).

They done this because we did not go to the fight against the whites.  After this we moved with them, but was never left alone.  We were guarded all the time.  In this way they brought us further down, and while moving, Sitting Bull’s we were hunting game, and our children were starving because they would not allow to kill any game.  They said to us, “You have no right or title to these buffalo, the white man’s food is food for you, and when you get back you can eat it.”

We got back to Cottonwood Creek and there I met my grandson (by name Bad Hip) here is where I first heard any news and here again they whipped and abused us.  They killed another of our horses, belonging to my father-in-law.  I could stand it no longer, and I in return shot one of their horses.  After that they treated us still worse.

I got together nine new blankets and went around and made presents of them to the soldiers, but accomplished nothing by it.  We then went to Beaver Creek, here I made a feast of wild turnips (a feast for our children) and called the Cheyenne Indians to it.  The Cheyenne Indians all came (4 societies were represented) and I said to them, “You alone I have before this excluded from my councils; this day I take you into my council.”  Four of the Cheyenne Chiefs spoke to me through an interpreter.  One Chief said, “Your friend speaks to you and says these Sioux who are kindred to you have abused you, notwithstanding your good treatment of them, now, this day, you have honored us with your attention.”

Another Cheyenne Chief then spoke-as if with one voice-and said, “You have been mistreated, but hereafter we will protect you, we are 500 lodges strong; go your way, and we will stand between you and Sitting Bull’s men.”

When I got ready to move an old Cheyenne Chief came to me and advised me to move in the night, otherwise there might be trouble. The following night it was dark and windy, and, under cover of these, we struck our lodges and moved, travelling all night and most of the following day.  While stopping for rest, a young man came to me from Sitting Bull’s camp and told us that Indians had been ordered to stop us.”  That evening, just about dark, my brother-in-law, who stopped on a hill to watch, reported that a body of Indians were in sight, after us; upon receiving this information, our flight–pell mell, everyone for his own life-was continued all night, and all the next day-It was wonderful how the children stood all the hardships-and we arrived at Grand River that evening.  Now we were back on Grand River and near Black Horse Butte, and-the reason you see me alive is-there I found wild fruits and berries.

On this side of Grand River seven of my horses gave out, and I had to leave them. When I came into camp-where I have been so long-I found turtle, fish and beaver, and this was our food.  I stayed there, not that I was afraid to come in, but because there was plenty of this kind of food and I was feeding the children on it.  When I came to my last camp I wanted to come in very much; I heard some things from the whites while there, which frightened me, still I was not afraid.  There was an Ogallala Indian came into the Agency to look for his wife, he came into our camp and told us that we would all be hung, together with our children, but I did not fear it.

You have said that I am charged with remaining out in the camp, and that my friends from the Agency have supplied me with food, to enable me to do so.  The Ogallala Indian’s name is Ridiculous, he belongs to the hostiles and has gone back again.  I had heard all these bad reports, but I was still willing to accept whatever was in store for me, and was resigned to my fate.

You have asked me to speak truthfully, and I am going to.  After hearing this bad news I saddled my horse and came in, I got into the Blackfeet’s camp just before dark.  I told my friends I would go to the white man’s house and be the first one handed over to him.  I came down here and went to the interpreter’s house (my grandson).  He was asleep when I got there.  I told him that I wanted to see the Agent , and then the other authorities here in turn, he came with me then to see the Agent, I stood on the other side of the warehouse and he went to the Agent’s house.  The Agent’s people were asleep, he knocked at the door, the Agent opened the door and said to the interpreter, “What is Kill Eagle afraid of, why don’t he come in, let him come to me and I will give him advice, and then take him to the Commanding Officer.”

I went back to the Blackfeet’s camp and at day light I went to my own camp, and when I arrived there I told my people to move and we would go in to the Agency.  We moved close in and here is where I was taken sick with a sore throat and could eat nothing but broth.

While lying in this condition, the man sent out by the Agent arrived at my camp.  The horses that these men rode out were tired, and as Little Wound had also slipped away from the hostile camp, and was only a little ways off, and wishing to have him come in too, I laid over.  This is all.

Q: Did Sitting Bull give you any arms or ammunition before the Rosebud Fight?

A: No Sir


Q: What did you do for ammunition to shoot game on the way?

A: We were brought up to shoot buffalo with arrows and this is what we shot them with.


Q: What time of day did the fight commence on the Rosebud?

A: We did not get near the fight.


Q: Did you hear the firing?

A: It was too far away, but I heard them tell about it when they returned.


Q: Was Sitting Bull in command of the fight?

A: Sitting Bull started out with them in command.


Q: How far was it from your camp to where the fight was?

A: At least 40 or 50 miles.


Q: What did Sitting Bull do with the women and children?

A: After Sitting Bull’s party went out to battle, my party went out to kill buffalo-having an opportunity when the warriors left-we brought in meat and had it cooking, when all at once there was a great commotion in camp and all the lodges were taken down; there I thought I would have an opportunity to get away as Sitting Bull’s men were greatly confused and at a loss as to which way to go.  I said to my men, “We will flee to where we came from.”  The excitement subsided and the lodges were put up again, near where they were before and that evening warriors began returning from the fight, some returning the next morning.

This is where they cried about the camp that they were going to kill us, as they had lost some of their young men, and we did not go and help them in the fight.  A man who had cut himself all up on account of losing his son in the fight, came to my lodge and shook hands with me, and told me to go to the centre lodge where the warriors were assembled; I now expected to be killed; I went to this lodge; people were crying around it, and warriors were assembled in it.

When I got there this man shook hands with me again, and said, “This nation of hostile Indians are all fools, this man came out here to trade, he belongs to the whites and is not pleased to stay, but you draw weapons on him and abuse him; you nation of hostiles here that makes war with the whites; my only son has, this day, gone to the Spirit Land;  if any of you undertake to molest this man (Kill Eagle) I will stab you and cut you up.”


Q: How many warriors had Sitting Bull in this battle?

A: A great many.  I could not tell how many.


Q: How many roads did they take?

A: I could not tell.


Q: Did they cover much country?

A: They went by file, filing up the creek, a small ravine from the camp.


Q: Were the warriors all on foot?

A: It was a good ways and they would not be able to go on foot.


Q: Did they have plenty of arms and ammunition?

A: They seemed to have; I could not tell as I had no opportunity to get to see them; All the Indian soldiers who were guarding me had excellent arms.


Q: Did they have needle guns?

A: They had all kinds of arms; Henry Rifles, Winchester, Sharps, Spencer, Muzzle Loaders and many of them two or three revolvers apiece, all had knives and lances.


Q: Did you hear them say where they got these arms?

A: I heard some of them say where they got them. I heard the Cheyenne Indians say they had always been hostiles, and they captured these in battle; this is the only way I heard them say they got their arms.


Q: Did you hear anyone say where Sitting Bull got his ammunition?

A: I was not permitted to run about the camps and I did not hear about it.


Q: Did any of your men hear about it?

A: As I was not allowed to go around, my men were used worse, and not allowed to go anywhere; some of my men proposed to steal a lot of Sitting Bull’s horses and flee, but I advised them not to, as we would all be killed.


Q: Did the soldiers who were guarding you have plenty ammunition?

A: Yes, their belts were full and the best kind of arms, fixed ammunition, metallic cartridges; all of us here had very bad guns; you see what we turned in.


Q: In this fight how many Indians were killed and wounded?

A: Four killed and left on the field, who were mutilated by Crow Indians, and 12 died in the camp. It was impossible to say how many were wounded, there was so many; nearly 400.  The 4 killed fell near the Crow lines, and they cut them up and scalped them.  180 Indian horses were killed, they numbered them at the Statesman’s lodge after the battle.


Q: What did the Indians report about killing white men?

A: When we were in the Council lodge, smoking, a warrior named Black Moccasin, a Cheyenne, brought in a white man’s arm; he began beating me and my men over the head and shoulders with it, and said, “Here is your husband’s hand.”


Q: Did they say how many was killed?

A: I did not hear how many.


Q: Did they have any white man’s scalps?

A: They brought in Crow Indian’s scalps and beat us over the head with them.  If ever one of these men come into this Agency, I vow to kill him.  I will tell you the way they abused me; my daughter, Holy Woman, traded a horse for a large fat dog; she had it out, dressing it, and the Indians came and snatched it from her, and we were starving and needed it badly; I never can forgive this abuse; the soldiers came to our camp and lariated and stole all our dogs.


Q: What did the Indians say about who were in the fight?

A: They said that they had been whipped and the white men charge them.


Q: Did they get any horses and mules there?

A: No sir; the whites captured a good many of their horses that had given out, besides 180 killed.


Q: How long did you remain in the camp after the fight?

A: We moved the next day to where the Indian soldiers took the dog from my daughter.


Q: When did you go from there?

A: After the Rosebud Fight the camp moved to Greasy Grass Creek at once.


Q: How long did they stay there?

A: One day.


Q: Where did you go the next day?

A: We went this way.


Q: Tell us about the Custer Fight.

A: We were coming down the tributary of Greasy Grass Creek when the Battle was fought on the Rosebud.  He here makes a sketch of the Battle Field on the ground; the following being an exact copy of the same-


Page 30 of this letter is a pencil sketch of the Custer battleground, and is in the Division of Maps and Charts, the map being number 1008 and in Tube No. 530.  A tracing cloth of the same map (also mentioned on the wrapper in the abstract) is also in the Division of Maps and Charts and bears the same map and tube number.  Signed: GL  Litton, May 20, 1940

We crossed the Greasy Grass Creek, went down, and camped on it.  The troops struck our trail on the tributary, followed it down, swam their horses over Greasy Grass Creek and struck the camp at the upper end, then there was a clump of timber.  On the southwest end of camp they dismounted and tied their horses in the timber and opened the fight.

When the fighting commenced the Indians rushed to the scene of action.  I and my men were lower down, about the middle of the camp.  The Indians drove the soldiers back out of the timber, and they re-crossed the Greasy Grass Creek below the mouth of the tributary, taking their position on the high hills;-bare without any grass.  There they were reinforced by the soldiers who had not crossed the creek (Col Benteen and Capt McDougal).  Before retreating across the creek, the soldiers (Col Reno) got into camp and set fire to some of the lodges.  On retreating across the creek to take position on the hill, they left their dead behind them.

Another party appeared on top of a long hill, moving toward the south.  After quitting the party on the knolls, word came that soldiers were on the left across the Creek (Custer).  And there was great excitement in camp.  The Indian warriors rushed to the left to meet the troops to meet the troops.  (Custer) crossed the creek and then the firing commenced.

It was very fast at times, then slower until it died away.  (He describes the firing as follows: He claps the palms of his hands together very fast for several minutes, stopping suddenly.  Which denotes the sound of the firing when they (Custer) first began.  After a few seconds lapses he repeats the same as above, and continues, but all the time lessens the quickness of the patting and sound, until it gradually dies out).  The troops were all killed on the east side, none crossed the stream.

I got the following information from Sitting Bull, himself.  After crossing the creek with his warriors, he met the troops (Custer) about 600 yards west of the River.  We drove the soldiers back up the hill.  We then made a circuit to the right, around the hill and drove off and captured most of their horses.  The troops made a stand at the lower end of the hill and there they were all killed.

In going around the hill, the Cheyenne Indians killed a warrior, thinking he was a Scout who left this Agency, but he was not, he was a hostile.


Q: How long did the fight last on the right?

A: It was about noon when they struck the camp, and it only lasted a few minutes.  The fight at the lower end (under Custer) was not finished till near sunset.


Q: Did all of the warriors leave the right and go to the left?

A: They did, the whole thing left.


Q: What did they do after killing all the troops?

A: At first a Cheyenne Indian came in with a war bonnet and proclaimed, “I have killed three soldiers, but they have killed me at last.”  He was wounded in two places.  They then kept continually coming in with wounded, thrown over horses, with their heads hanging down and the blood running out; about sundown they all returned and said, “We have killed them all, put up your lodges where they are.”

They had just begun to fix their lodges that evening when a report came that troops were coming from towards the mouth of the creek (Terry).  When this report came, after dark, the lodges were all taken down and they started up the creek.

I told my men to keep together and we would try and get away.  Someone told on me, and they said let us kill him and his band; we have lost many young men today and our hearts are bad.  We travelled all night and next day after crossing the Greasy Grass.  We camped near the foot of the White Mountains.

That night when I was asleep I heard a man calling.  I woke up my people and this man proved to be a Cheyenne Indian belonging to a party that had been off on the war path in the White Mountains.  He reported that he had seen a great many soldiers, no end of them, crossing along the base of the White Mountains.  The next morning the warriors left the camp with lead horses, and started off to meet the troops, who were reported to be coming, so the women & children would not be near the fight.  This was three days after the Custer Fight.

Some of the horses got worn out then some of them returned & said they had struck a white man’s trail & were following it into the mountains.  Others came back and said 8 Cheyenne Indians had engaged the whites, their horses were better than the others.

One Cheyenne, noted for bravery, and who wore a war bonnet, was shot through the head and killed & brought back into camp.  The Indians were approaching the soldiers when this one was shot.  They dragged him back by the feet.  After this a number of Indians crept up and found horses tied there but no one with them  (Lt. Sibley’s party).  They took the horses and returned to camp.  From this camp all went up to the Rosebud.  That is the place I escaped from.


Q: How many Indians were killed on the right of the camp in the fight with Reno?

A: 14 killed dead on the field with Reno and 39 killed on the field with Custer.  I know of 7 who died of wounds in the camp afterwards.


Q: How many were wounded?

A: A great many; I would judge about 600 wounded in every way,  head, hands, arms, body &c, nearly all I saw were wounded more or less.  A lot of the Ogallala Sioux ranged in line and called me to look at them and said, “Here is the wound of one band.”  There were 27 on travois and 38 on horseback.  There was a Cheyenne woman who had a revolver strapped on her & went into the fight & got killed.


Q: Did Sitting Bull take any prisoners alive in either of these fights?

A: We did not.  He took no one alive, it was like a hurricane and swept everything before it.


Q: Did they scalp any white men?

A: I did not see any.


Q: Did they burn or torture any of them after the battle was over?

A: There was one became separated from Reno’s Command and two Cheyenne Indians gave him chase and finally overtook and killed him.


Q: Did they scalp him?

A: I do not know.


Q: After the fight did you have a big dance?

A: No Sir, the soldiers were reported coming from the mouth of the creek & everyone fled.


Q: What did they do with the arms, ammunition and horses captured?

A: They have them.  A great many horses died from wounds and fatigue.  Whoever captured them kept them.


Q: How many warriors do you think was in Sitting Bull’s camp?

A: I can’t say, they were like maggots on a carcass.


Q: Who were the principal Chiefs besides Sitting Bull?

A: Crazy Horse of the Ogallala Sioux.  Big Man of the Ogallala Sioux.  High Elk of the Sans Arc, killed by Reno.  And the head chief of the Cheyenne, killed by Lt. Sibley’s party.


Q: Was there any Indians killed in the fight belonging to this Agency?

A: None that I know of.


Q: Were there any wounded?

A: Yes, one.  The Rattler’s son, he is out there yet.


Q: Did you have plenty to eat after the fight?

A: No.  The Cheyenne Indians eat the horses killed in the battle.  I had a little buffalo meat left.


Q: How do the Indians go into Battle?  Does each Chief lead his own Band?

A: They go without discipline, like bees swarming out of a hive.


Q: Did you have plenty of grass for the ponies?

A: Yes.


Q: Could you kill any game during this time?

A: Now and then an antelope, that the Indians would kill.


Q: Were there any white men amongst the Indians?

A: There was one white man in the camp that I saw.


Q: Was there not a man that blew a bugle like a soldier?

A: There was, but it was blown by an Indian.


Q: Has Sitting Bull any white women in his camp?

A: No.


Q: What do you think Sitting Bull is going to do now?

A: I did not hear. I slipped away in the night, but there is a man here, a prisoner, who will probably know.  Bears Rib’s brother.


Q: Do you think he will fight this summer?

A: I can’t say.


Q: Did Rain in the Face cut out the heart of a dead officer and show it around the camp on a stick?

A: Rain in the Face was with me, he did not do it.


Q: Did not some of the young men from here take you out some beef and coffee when you were in the camp in the country before you came in?

A: No one brought me anything, neither sugar, coffee, flour, tobacco or anything.


Q: What time of the evening was it reported in the hostile camp that troops were coming on the left of the camp?

A: The sun was just going down.


Q: When Reno was driven across the creek where was Sitting Bull?

A: I don’t know.


Q: What were the families doing when the fighting was going on on the hill?

A: The women fled to the lower end of camp and left everything.


Q: What did they do when they heard the firing on the left by Custer?

A: The upper end of the camp was at this time deserted and at the lower end of the camp they took down and packed the lodges, ready for flight.


Q: In what direction did you hear the troops were coming again?

A: The men who were out after the horses, after the Custer fight, came in and said, “More troops are coming up the creek from the Yellowstone River.”


Q: Did you see Sitting Bull that day?

A: I did not.


Q: I heard Sitting Bull stayed in his council tent, away from the battlefield, and urged his men forward.

A: That is probably so, but I don’t know.


Q: What time of night did everybody leave the camp?

A: Just at dusk.


Q: Did the women, children and lodges go first or did the warriors go first?

A: The women, children and old people went first and the warriors in the rear


Q: How long was the camp?  How many miles?

A: About six miles long.


Q: How wide?

A: About one mile wide.


Q: Were the tepees close together?

A: Just as thick as they could be put up.


Q: What part of the camp was Sitting Bull in?

A: He was camped near where the soldiers who tied their horses in the woods attacked.


Q: What kind of lodge has Sitting Bull?

A: He has a very large skin lodge.


Q: How many wives and children has Sitting Bull?

A: Two wives and four children.


Q: Does anyone else live with him?

A: His sister did, but she died this summer.


Q: Are Sitting Bull’s soldiers camped near him?

A: They were camped about the middle of the camp.


Q: In what part of the camp was the Council Tent?

A: Near the centre, it was painted yellow and holds a great many when they crowd in.


Q: How old do you think Sitting Bull is?

A: About 40 years.


Q: What is the color of his hair?  I heard it was light.

A: He has light hair.


Q: Is he light himself?

A: He is not a white man; you can’t expect an Indian to be white.


Q: How large a man is he?

A: About 5 feet 10 inches; he is very heavy and muscular and big around the waist.  Has a very large head, his hair is not long, it only comes down to his shoulders.


Q: How does he dress?

A: He changes his dress to often I can’t say.  The last time I saw him he had on a very dirty cotton shirt.


Q: What does he wear on his head in Battle?

A: I don’t know, I did not see him in Battle.


Q: Do Indian soldiers strip off when they go into a fight?

A: Yes.  Anybody who has a war bonnet wears it, if it is made of long eagle feathers and trails behind him.


Q: I have heard that, after the Custer Fight, that the Indians went back to the other end and attacked him again.  How is it?

A: That is correct.  The Indian soldiers went back and attacked the troops (Reno) on the hill again.


Q: Did you hear the firing?

A: Yes.  I heard the firing while moving away.


Q: How far away were you in the morning?

A: We never stopped.  We had just crossed Greasy Grass Creek in the morning; the soldiers were in the rear.


Q: Did you hear any firing in the morning when you were crossing the creek?

A: We got out of hearing of the firing long before morning.


Q: What time next day did the Indian soldiers join the party?

A: They were overtaking us all day; coming in in squads.


Q: What did they report?

A: I did not hear what they said.


Q: Did they say they could not drive the troops off the hill?

A: A few days after, when the excitement died away, they said they could not drive the troops off the hill.


Q: Did you see any of the Indians wearing soldier clothes after the fight?

A: I did not. I saw lots of soldier’s horses and arms.


Q: I have heard that there was a Spaniard fighting with the Indians. Did you see him?

A: There was once a white man in camp but he went to Spotted Tail’s before the fight.


Witnesses: E. D. ——- (sic), John L. McCartney

Sworn and subscribed to before me this 18th day of September, 1876 at Standing Rock Agency, D.T.

E. Johnston, Captain 1st Infantry, Bvt. Lieut. Col U. S. Army, Acting Indian Agent


We hereby certify, on honor, that we were present at this interview and have given a correct interpretation thereof.

William Holsey

H. Allison


Statement of Afraid of Eagles:


Q: What is your name?

A: Afraid of Eagles, brother of Bears Rib, a sub-chief of the Uncpappa.


Q: Do you know Sitting Bull?

A: Yes.


Q: Have you been with him this summer and heard him talk?

A: Yes.


Q: Where is he going to camp this winter?

A: I do not know.  I left him on Bear Creek.


Q: How many warriors has Sitting Bull got?

A: I can’t tell.  A great, great many.


Q: Were you in the Custer fight?

A: I was with Kill Eagle and just what he tells you is just I could tell you.


Q: Where does Sitting Bull get his arms and ammunition?

A: I could not learn.  I am not a chief.  I expect they have a good deal of it.


Q: Does Sitting Bull intend to keep up the fight?

A: I heard a little of what Sitting Bull said.  The white men sent some word out to Sitting Bull from Spotted Tail Agency, and I heard that Sitting Bull said, “If we hear any time this Fall that the white man would make peace he would come in long enough to trade for ammunition.

Same swearing as for Kill Eagle’s statement.


September 19:  Agent Johnston telegram to Hon. Com.:  Have four thousand seven hundred Indians here. 

“Will require to Nov first sixty-two thousand lbs flour ten thousand eight hundred fifty lbs bacon, sixty-two hundred pounds sugar, three thousand one hundred lbs coffee.”


September 26:  Agent Johnston advises: I have the honor to submit the following statement, made by Kill Eagle, a chief of the Blackfeet Sioux, who wishes it sent to the Great Father:

Q: How long have you been living with the whites?

A: I have been a friend of the white 28 years.


Q: How long have you been at an Agency?

A: I have been at this Agency since it has been established.


Q: Have you ever done any action in favor of the whites besides saving the white woman (ed note: Fanny Kelly)?

A: I want to tell you something about the whites and how I bought a white woman from the hostile Indians and for which the Great Father gave me this paper, a medal and a large amount of silver money (which I divided amongst my people).


Q: What were you doing and where were you living at the time you bought the white woman?

A: I was at the mouth of the Moreau River with my band when some Indians came from the hostile camp and told me that they had a white woman out there as prisoner.  I gave a large feast to the Blackfeet Chiefs and told them I was going to try and buy this white woman and I told these Chiefs and my brother-in-law that I wanted them to help me.  I furnished two horses and the other chiefs furnished 12 horses, making 14 in all.  I started from camp with these horses and after travelling one day, some of my people came after me and said that one of my children was “very sick and nearly dying.”  I told my brother, Nootay-a-hah, to take my band and horses and go to the hostiles and offer them the 14 horses for the white woman and then I returned to my family.

My brother Nootay-a-hah told the hostile chief that he had come to buy the white woman and offered him the 14 horses for her.  The hostile chief said, “Yes, we will take the horses for the white woman.”  But the man who owned her said, “No, you can’t take her.”  My  brother had 13 warriors and he took them and went into this man’s lodge and took the white woman by force.  They then left the hostile camp and travelled all day and night and they arrived at my camp the next day.  Before they brought the white woman into my brother-in-law spread the two best buffalo robes I had and had her to sit down on them.  I was so glad when I got this white woman in my camp that I gave away another horse to an old Indian woman.  I and my band used her very kindly and gave her the best we had of everything.

We moved camp the next day and I gave her the best horse we had to ride on.  We went down to the camp of John Grass’ father, The Shield, a Blackfeet Chief, about 20 miles below Grand River (ed note: The Shield aka Uses Him as a Shield, died about 1872).  I went all around the camp and said, “I have brought a white woman from the hostile camp and I want to take her down to Fort Sully and give her to the Great Father there.

The next day I took about 100 young men and the white woman and started for Fort Sully.  It was in the middle of winter and we took the white woman and wrapped her up in two good buffalo robes.  There was a young boy who went along with us and got froze to death on the way and all of my men more or less froze in the face, hands, feet &c.  It was a terrible storm and the snow was very deep.  I had the horse that the white woman rode and my warriors were behind me.

When we got to Fort Sully the officers and soldiers all came out to see me.  I gave the Commanding Officer the white woman and eleven ponies with her and myself.  My brother and six of my men were called by the Commanding Officer into his house together with The Shield (ed note: Uses Him as a Shield), John Grass’ father., and the Commanding Officer said to me, Kill Eagle, “You have done a great thing in bringing this white woman to me and the Great Father’s heart will be very glad when he hears of it and he will make you and your young men’s hearts very glad for buying and bringing this white woman here from the hostiles.  That the hostiles had taken the woman a prisoner some time ago and had abused her and I will write to the Great Father at once and tell him what you have done.”

The Commanding Officer then gave me nine (9) horses.  I would not take the two of mine back and he said, “Kill Eagle, although you are not a big man you are, I believe, a good man.”

This is all I have to tell about the white woman.  My brother is now dead and it makes me feel badly. I had heard that there were two women in the hostile camp but my brother only found this one.


Q: How long we she with the hostiles?

A: They captured her in June and I bought her from them the following winter.


Q: How often had she been sold?

A: I don’t know.  The Cheyenne Indians had her first, then the Uncpappa Indians bought her.


Q: Where was she captured?

A: I can’t say but I think it was on the Platte.


Q: Was she old or young?

A: I think she was about 25 years old. She was a very pretty woman.


Q: How was she dressed?

A: Like any white woman and was not painted.


Q: Is there any other service you did for the whites?

A: Yes, there is another matter I wish to send word to the Great Father about.

About 20 years ago, nine years before I bought the white woman, I was out hunting with my band on the Little Missouri River and was in camp near the hostile Indians when they discovered and arrested a party of whites consisting of 18 men and 2 women.  They took their arms and horses from them and were going to kill them.  I then said to the Hostiles, “If you kill these white men I will die with them,” and I told my men that as soon as they would fire a shot, “we would fight for the white men.”  This stopped the hostiles from killing them.  I gave these men 8 of my horses and myself and my band took them and travelled all day to get out of danger. I then killed a buffalo for them and told them to go home.


Q: Did the hostiles do anything to the women?

A: No Sir.  This is all I ever heard anything from this and never received any pay, not even a plug of tobacco.


Q: Did you render any further services to the whites?

A: Yes.  When the Agency was at Grand River a bad white man came there and the Agent ordered him away.  He run into the Indian camp and the Agent told all the chiefs to try and catch him and bring him in.  Most of them were afraid of him but I and my men caught him and brought him to the Commanding Officer (Capt. Bennett).

I have done a great many things for the whites besides what I have told you and I hope that the Great Father will try and let me go as soon as possible.  I have been a prisoner for eleven days now.  If the Great Father will let me go now, let me loose I will never go away with my band from the Agency again.  I will always be a friend to the whites and I will hereafter do whatever the Great Father wants me to.  I hope you will send this paper as soon as you can and let the Great Father know what I have done for the whites and so he will let me go.


He here submits a paper received from the President in 1865.  Enclosed find exact copy, marked “A.”

Executive Mansion

Washington, November 14, 1865

 I have learned from the Commissioner sent by me to treat with the Indians, whose country borders, on the Missouri river and its tributaries, that two of my red children, Nootay-a-hah, or Short Gun, and the brother of Nootay-a-hah, of the Blackfeet tribe of the Sioux , or Dakotah, Nation, have rescued two white women from our enemies and gave their two horses in exchange for them.

 I am greatly pleased with the honorable and friendly conduct of Nootay-a-hah and his brother and direct that one hundred silver dollars be given to him and that one hundred silver dollars given to his brother to enable each one to buy for himself another horse.

 I also direct that fifty silver dollars be given to each to pay him for his trouble in rescuing these white women and sending them to the white people.  And as a memento of my perpetual friendship for Nootay-a-hah and his brother, so long as they remain friendly with my white children I direct that a silver medal be given to each of them with a suitable inscription that all my red children and all my white children, when they look upon it, may know that their Great Father at Washington is greatly pleased with Nootay-a-hah and Nootay-a-hah’s brother.

 I also write my name on this paper and direct that it be given to Nootay-a-hah, and a duplicate of it to his brother, that they may know that the silver money and the medals have been sent by me to them from Washington.

(signed) Andrew Johnson

 President U.S.

 (signed) Jas. Harlan

Secretary of the Interior

For Wa-swa-di-Kta, Blackfeet Chief


October 6: New York Herald, Friday edition, Triple Sheet, carried what appears to be the complete interview of Kill Eagle concerning his adventure at the time of the Little Big Fight.  (ed note: article starts on page 9 of this retyping of Roll 847, but film is too blurred to accurately re-write). Heading reads KILL EAGLE’S STORY.


October 6:  Agent Johnston submits detailed census to Hon. Com.

“I would state that I have taken great pains and am satisfied of its correctness and that no fraud has been perpetrated upon me.  I took with my foreman, three interpreters and three intelligent soldiers as participants.”

“I visited each Chief’s camp, after giving him two days notice of the intended count, and required them to form their people into circles, the men in one and the women and children in the other, and, after they were counted I required them to remain in these circles until other Chiefs, in close proximity, were counted so they could not go other bands and be counted the second time. Where any doubt arose as to the correctness of the count I gave each Chief the benefit of the doubt in each case.”

“The anxiety of the squaws to make the count as large as possible was very great, they insisting on having their unborn children counted (which, of course I did not do), which satisfied me that the count is fully as large as it should be.”

“Col. Poland accompanied me in making this count and our counts generally agree, but in many cases we were compelled to count the bands three or four times to satisfy the Chief of its correctness.”

“A number of Chiefs reported Indians absent at other Agencies, but on writing to the Agents, where these Indians were reported to be at, I fail to find their reports correct.”

“I am of the opinion that from 500 to 1000 Indians of this Agency are still with the hostiles or at other Agencies but I must confess that I have no means of giving any correct information on this subject.  I do not believe, from the best information I can obtain, after carefully interviewing all the friendly Chiefs, as to the number of their people, that there has been here at any one time within the past two years more than 3500 Indians at this Agency and any number reported by Agents in excess of that number has been, in my opinion, a fraud against the Government.”

“The late Agent, Mr. John Burke, in his Annual Report dated September 1, 1875, gave the number of Indians at this Agency as 7222, which, in my opinion, was at least 3500 more than was present at the Agency at that time.  I would also state that, soon after assuming control of this Agency, Captain Collins made a very hasty count of the Indians and reported 4782, but I understand that he was compelled to take the word of the Chiefs as to the number of their people which from experience I have found to be totally unreliable on the subject.”

“When you ask a Chief how many he has in his lodge, he will insist upon having you count all his dead children, his married sons and daughters and their children as part of his family, which makes, generally, three times the number he actually has in his lodge, and for which he wishes to draw rations.”

October 7:  Galpin, Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs, gives authority to purchase items requested Sept 19.

“Authority has been granted by the Honorable, the Secretary of the Interior, for the purchase, in the manner prescribed by law of the articles named in your communication of the 21st ultimo, and a platform scale, weighing capacity not less than eight tons, in accordance with your request of same date, the aggregate cash not to exceed $1500.  Of this you were informed by telegram of yesterday.  Noted: a true copy, W. T. Hughes, U. S. Indian Agent.”


October 10:  Agent Johnston  advises Hon.  Com. can only find 2,344 Indians at this Agency.

October 16:  Agent Johnston informs Hon. Com. That eight lodges, numbering 38 people, have returned to the Agency and have been enrolled since the count was made. Three lodges from Cheyenne Agency number 18 persons.  Four lodges from Fort Lincoln numbering 16 persons.  One lodge from Fort Peck numbering 4 persons.

October 22:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. of 22 more returned Indians.  Two lodges from Cheyenne Agency, 16 persons. One lodge from Fort Wadsworth, 8 persons. One man from Devils Lake Agency.

October 23:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. that it will be impossible for me, with the limited amount of transportation at my command, to properly supply these Indians with rations. I would most respectfully recommend that the head of each family be authorized to retain one horse/pony, the same to be branded USIDxxx until such time as the Government shall furnish suitable transportation for the delivery of rations.

October 23: Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. That Dept of Interior transmits order from the President for the suspension of Mr. John Burke, Agent for the Indians of the Grand River Agency in Dakota, together with a designation for Mr. William T. Hughes of Illinois to perform the duties of said suspended officer.


October 26:  General Terry advises General Sherman of actions to dismount and disarm the Indians throughout the Reservation.

“Telegram to General Sherman, Washington, D. C. The following telegram has just been received from General Terry, Standing Rock, October 26, 1876.” 


“Colonel Sturgis left Lincoln on the twentieth (20) and Major Reno on the twenty-first (21).  Each arrived here on the afternoon of the twenty-second (22).  Sturgis immediately commenced dismounting and disarming the Indians at Two Bears’ Camp on the left bank, and Lieut. Col. Carlin, with his own and Reno’s force, dismounted them at both the camps on this side.  Owing, partially to the fact that before I arrived at Lincoln, news sent to the Indians here, it is said by Mrs. Galpin, that we were coming and that our purpose was stated, but principally I believe that some time since owing to the failure of grass here, the animals were sent to distant grazing places many miles away; only a few horses, comparatively, were found; I therefore, the next morning, called the Chiefs together and demanded the surrender of their horses and arms, telling them that unless they complied their rations would be stopped, and, also, telling them that whatever might be realized from the sale of property taken would be invested in stock for them.  They have quietly submitted and have sent out to bring in their animals; some have already arrived and we now have in our possession about seven hundred; more are arriving rapidly and I expect to double this number.  I have kept the whole force here till now for the effect its presence produces.  I shall start Sturgis tomorrow morning for Cheyenne, and Reno, till Carlin completes his work here; only a few arms have yet been found or surrendered, but I think our results are satisfactory.  Not a shot was fired on either side of the river.  Of course no surprise can now be expected at Cheyenne, but I hope to produce the desired effect by the same means as those employed here.  Alfred H. Terry, Brigadier General and P. H. Sheridan, Lieut General.”


October 26:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. by Telegram:  Have no supplies and no prospect of any.  Indians are suffering and I cannot purchase in open market.  Horses and arms taken by military and Navigation closes soon.

October 26:  Agent Johnston asks Col. Carlin for information as to number of horses, mules, ponies and colts taken from, or surrendered by, Indians at this Agency.  That a matter of record of same may be made.


October 27:  General Sherman congratulates General Sheridan on the disarming and dismounting of the Sioux Nation.

“Your dispatch of last night announcing that Genl. Terry had succeeded in taking the arms and ponies from the Indians at Standing Rock is received and his action approved.  I infer that all the Indians of the Sioux Nation will in time be disarmed and dismounted and then, if inclined to learn the arts of peace, we must help them all we can.  This simplifies very much the war against the hostiles and I hope the troops on the Yellowstone may be some happy stroke dispose of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and similar outlaws.”


October 30:  Charles Ewing, Office of Catholic Commissioner for Indian Missions, requests pay for James Burke up to date of his dismissal.

“I have the honor to enclose herewith the voucher (in duplicate) of Col. John Burke, late U. S. Indian Agent at Standing Rock Dakota Territory for the pay due him from September 1, 1876 to October 20, 1876 and to ask that the same be paid to me here.  I will call your attention to the fact that the President, by Executive Order, dated 20 instant, notified Col. Burke that he is thereby suspended as Agent for Standing Rock.  Pay as U. S. Indian Agent is due Burke to that date.  I am very respectfully, Your obedt Servt, Charles Ewing.”


November 2:  W. T. Hughes gives his bond as Agent.


November 2:  Charles Ewing writes to Hon. Com. Severely criticizing Agent Johnston’s actions in regard to Burke’s support for Catholic Priest sent to the Agency.

“The Official copy of a report dated Oct. 3, 1876, made to your office by Capt. R. E. Johnston, U. S. A. acting Indian Agent at Standing Rock Agency, having been furnished this office, I have the honor to call your attention to inaccuracies existing therein.”

“Captain Johnston asserts, 1st, That he found Father Martin, a Catholic Priest, had been persuaded by Mr. Burke, the last Agent, to come here for the purpose of establishing a Catholic Mission; 2nd, that on the arrival of Father Martin, Mr. Burke agreed to support him and his two confreres, from the funds of the Bureau, until such time as they could be employed as teachers by the Government, and paid salaries; and, 3d, That he understands that they are studying the Sioux language, and may at some future time be competent to act as teachers, but in their present condition they are utterly helpless and can be of no service to the Agency whatever.”

“Capt. Johnston has evidently not carefully informed himself as to the inducements held out to Abbot Martin to undertake the charge of the Mission, or as to his ability to discharge the duties he has assumed.”

“Abbot Martin went to Standing Rock for the purpose of founding a Mission and supervising the establishment of an Agency School, not at the request of Mr. Burke, late Agent, but upon the urgent solicitation of this office which had frequently been asked by your Bureau to have some competent person take charge of these important duties.  He did not visit that Agency at the expense of the Government; on the contrary, this office supplied his traveling expenses, and on his arrival at the Agency, agreeable to an understanding the Agent Burke, the Rev. Father was provided with the means of subsistence at the Agent’s private table, and not from the Government supplies.  It is possible that during Agent Burke’s administration he was furnished with quarters in a Government building, but if so, it was in one that had been officially assigned to the Agent for his private use, and the favor was extended as to a personal quest.”

“Mr. Burke, acting under the law and the Indian Policy of the President, unquestionably held it to be his duty to give his official support to such parties as might be sent from this office for the establishment of manual labor  and other schools; and I feel assured such schools would now be in existence had he not been removed.”

“Article 7 of the Treaty of Feb. 16, 1869, makes special provision as to the duties of the Agent in cases of this kind; makes it incumbent on the Indians to compel their children, between the ages of six and sixteen, to attend schools established in compliance with its provisions, and makes it obligatory upon the Agent to see that this stipulation is enforced.  It also provides that for every thirty children a school house shall be built, and the services of a teacher retained competent to teach them the English, not the Sioux language.”

“Captain Johnston, in making his report to your Bureau, could not have had this Treaty before him, or he would not have permitted himself to have made statements in direct conflict with both its letter and spirit.  Nor could he have informed himself of the fact, patent to all familiar with the formation of Indian Schools, that not one in ten of those educating such youth is able to speak the language of the Tribe.  The object of the Government, chiefly, is not that the teachers shall learn the language of the Indian, but that the latter shall, as one of the means of his civilization, be taught the English language.”

“I am, very respectfully, Your obedient servant, Charles Ewing, Comr.”


November 3:  Agent Johnston advises Hon. Com. That Geo. M. O’Brien, Supt and Clerk, has been absent since June 10, 1876 and have no information as to his whereabouts, and he should receive no pay from June 10, 1876.


November 4:  Agent Hughes, still in Washington, D. C., comments to Hon. Com. his ideas on the slaughtering of cattle and handling of rations at Standing Rock:

“After leaving your office this P.M. I met Mr. Palmer, who at one time held the position of Indian Agent at Standing Rock, and in my conversation with him he stated that notwithstanding the present model of slaughtering the cattle at Indian Agency was a barbarous one, no other could be adopted without incurring a heavy additional expense.  The cattle furnished by the Contractor are wild Texas breed, and very dangerous to handle.  He also informed me that it would be impossible with the force of employees attached to Standing Rock Agency to issue the rations as you propose, particularly the fresh meat, as it would be frozen so hard during the winter months that it would be very difficult to divide it up with any degree of fairness for each family, where so many rations are issued, as will be required at Standing Rock.  Again it would be irresponsible to distribute the hides without creating great dissatisfaction.”

“Mr. P. thinks (and I cannot entirely disrespect the judgment of  one who has been on the spot and occupied the position of Indian Agent) that the safest, easiest mode for the Agent, and the most satisfactory to the Indians is to adhere to the course heretofore pursued of ascertaining the actual number of Indians belonging to each band that are entitled to rations and issue such rations in bulk to the Chief of such band, as he can divide up the supplies for his people in a more satisfactory manner than Agent could, particularly if the rations are not full.”

“Mr. Palmer further remarked that in my opinion great difficulty for the Agent would be created by issuing rations to families instead of to the Chiefs, as such a course could result in weakening the influence of the Chiefs over their bands, and in time all would feel as though they on the same footing.  The Chiefs are the source through which Agents are to reach the bands & tribes, and I would think myself that it would not be well to tramp on their toes if it could be avoided.”

“I think upon reflection that the issuing of rations at Standing Rock during the coming winter had perhaps better be left to my own judgment, I will do my best to protect the interests of the Govt., and prevent any rations from falling into the hands of unfriendly Indians and I will confer freely and fully with Col. Carlin in relation to the matter.  I submit these hastily written ideas for your consideration and would be pleased to hear from you before I leave Chicago.  I hope to leave Chicago for Standing Rock as early as the 15th inst and sooner if possible.”


November 7:  Agent Johnston notes several whites settled nearby selling liquor to the Indians.

“The Indians thus proving a source of constant trouble and annoyance.  I have also, every reason to believe that these men sell to the hostiles all the ammunition they, or their emissaries, can purchase.  I herewith submit outline draft of the Executive Additions to this Reservation, made in the Spring of 1875, together with a proposed addition embracing a tract subscribed as follows: Commencing at the extreme eastern corner of the Military Reservation of Fort Rice, D. T.; thence southwesterly to the Missouri River; thence southerly, along said river to the mouth of Beaver River; thence, northeasterly along said river, to the northeast corner of the present reservation; thence westwardly to the starting point. I would respectfully request that the above described tract be made an Executive Additon to this Reservation as soon as possible so that the illegal traffic carried on therein may be stopped.”

“1st endorsement: I fully concur with the Acting Indian Agent in his recommendation.  The men at Beaver Creek should be driven so far from the Indians that they can find no profit in selling ammunition and whiskey to them.  A.P. Carlin, Lieut Col., 7th Infty, C.”


November 8:  Agent Johnston reports on seizure of ponies & plans for slaughter of cattle.

“Agent Johnston reports that on Oct. 22nd, the date of seizure of the arms and ponies, 116 Indians, 40 of whom were men left the Agency for the hostile camp.”

“About 20 have come in and reported themselves as having spent the summer at other Agencies.  This makes present at the Agency 2272 Indians and there are no certain prospects of a large increase.  The beef contractor has arrived with 2100 head of cattle which he claims will weigh about 2,000,000 pounds gross.  This amount of beef would supply the Indians now at this Agency for more than nine months, allowing three pounds gross per diem to each Indian for 28 days each month.  He has claimed that, under the contract by which this beef is purchased the entire herd of 2100 head is to be delivered by the contractor and received by me during the month of December.  If this is the case the killing of all the cattle will be necessitated in order that the beef may be frozen and stored for issue.  I have neither appliances at hand for so doing nor do I see how the plan is feasible if I had as there would be an amount of beef on hand sufficient for issue until the middle of July allowing, besides, for a reasonable increase in the Indians at this Agency.  I would respectfully ask whether the above construction of the contract is the legitimate one and, if so, would request instruction how to proceed.”


November 15:  Agent Johnston reporting that 141 ponies have been branded and issued to heads of families at this Agency.  The Military Authorities authorizing and sanctioning same.


November 15:  Agent Johnston suggests changes in the issuance of rations and annuity goods.

“I have the honor to report that deeming it indispensible to the proper and just carrying out of the provisions of the Treaty with the Sioux at this Agency that rations (beef excepted) and annuity goods be issued to heads of families and by weight or measurement.  I have taken the following steps to make such issue possible:”

“In one of the largest rooms in the Agency building I have had the floor repaired and an open partition set up with a counter behind it and bins for the reception of flour, corn meal, sugar, coffee &c built beneath the counter upon which are scales sufficient for the weighing of every pound of rations issued.  The partition counter cuts off about one-third of the room, leaving a large apartment for the occupation of the Indians in cold weather.  Stores have been set and all possible provisions for comfort and security made.”

“Enclosed herewith please find diagrams of cards, one of which I propose shall be issued to the head of each family, his name and the number of persons belonging to his family being written thereon.  At each issue one of the numbers on the edge of the card to be punched out and a record of the same kept on a listed book by the issuing clerk.  By this method a complete check is had upon all the families so that none can absent themselves from the Agency for more than a week without the fact of their absence being known by the Agent.”

“I would respectfully request that the method of issuing described, viz: to heads of families by card and by weight and measurement be approved and that the same be adopted in the future at this Agency.  I am aware that the system is liable to abuse on the part of the Indians as are all others which have come under my observation, but, in my judgment, fraud will be difficult and after the issuing clerk shall have become familiar with the faces and persons of those holding cards imposture will be next to impossible.”


November 19:  Col. Carlin expresses detailed ideas to Hon. Com. on future management of the Indians.

“Having been in control of the Agency of Standing Rock since the suspension of Agent Burke, I have the honor to inclose herewith copy of a letter addressed through Military Channels to the President in reference to the future management of Indian affairs on this reservation, with some suggestions as to the best methods of locating, controlling and civilizing the Sioux Indians generally.  If the course recommended should be carried out by faithful agents, I would respectfully point to the example of the Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux of Eastern Dakota to justify me in the prediction that in a very few years the entire Sioux nation will become not only a self-supporting, but a very useful population, forming settlements along the Missouri River:”

“Now that the first effective step towards controlling and civilizing the Sioux Indians has been taken, by disarming and dismounting them, I beg leave to make, through the Department Commander and military channels, to the President, a few suggestions in regard to the future management of Indian Affairs on this reservation.”

“In the first place the government should forbid and prevent the future acquisition of guns and horses by these Indians until their migratory habits shall have been entirely abandoned.  We have taken from them fourteen-hundred ponies and mules and all the arms they have had at the Agency.  Those in possession of the absentees will nearly all surrendered before next Spring.  Their power to roam and maraud has consequently been destroyed and should not be restored to them.”

“Secondly, and as a logical step in the same direction, I respectfully recommend that no more tent cloth be sent to them, but, instead, that the Agent be required to build log cabins for them at points where there is good land for cultivation, wood and water.  Two-hundred cabins can easily be built next Summer for about fifty dollars each, by requiring the Indians to assist in the labor.  Cottonwood timber is abundant at many points along the Missouri river.”

“Third.  At least two cows, two sheep and two pigs should be furnished to each family of Indians whose horses and guns have been taken from them.  The proceeds of the sale of ponies and guns and the stock promised in the propositions of the government to buy the Black Hills country will meet the cost of this stock.  The government really owes this much, at least, to the Indians.”

“4th:  Subsistence and clothing should be given only to those that labor, and in proportion to the amount of their labor.”

“5th:  The Indians should be required to put up hay to feed their cattle in stormy weather, and should be furnished with machinery for that purpose according to promises made.”

“6th:  The several bands should be located in villages with about ten acres of good land to each family for gardens.  But small bodies of land can be fenced in this country.”

“7th:  As the Courts in this Territory refuse to take cognizance of crimes committed by one Indian against another, and as they have no system of law, the government should provide for this great deficiency.  Progress will be difficult if the property of the industrious cannot be protected from the idle and vicious, by law.”

“8th:  I would urgently recommend that all the above Sioux Indians be located along the Missouri River between Fort Randall (sic: near Fort Pierre on this map) and Fort Rice, and consequently that the Agency and Trader’s Store at Fort Peck be broken up, or removed to the mouth of the Cannon Ball River.  This location of the Indians will give them a great extent of fine grazing country and all the tillable land they will ever require, and yet one that ought not to be coveted by white men.  Here they can be sufficiently supplied with comparative economy and controlled by the Military Posts already established.”

“After the completion of the policy of disarming and dismounting the entire Sioux Nation, including Sitting Bull and his followers, and their settlement within the limits specified above, there will be no need of the Posts on the Yellowstone and along the line of the North Pacific Rail Road, except, perhaps, Fort A. Lincoln and Fort Buford.”

“By selecting competent Agents to carry out the suggestions made, I have no doubt that the Indians here will, in three years, become as deeply interested in raising cattle as they have heretofore been in increasing the number of their ponies.  The country is well-adapted to grazing, and the grasshopper is the only serious obstacle to cultivation of the soil.  A few sensible Indians are already engaged in civilized pursuits.  They live in houses, have gardens, and take care of the wagons and work oxen given several years ago by the government.”

“I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, W. P. Carlin, Lieutenant Colonel, 17th Infantry, Commanding Post and Controlling Indian Agency.”


November 27:  Secretary of War writes to Secretary of the Interior: 

“I have the honor to transmit, for your information, copy of report of Captain Poland that sufficient Indian supplies have been received at Standing Rock Agency to carry them through until the opening of navigation next Spring.”


December 2:  Agent Hughes reports his arrival and immediate dismissal of Agent Johnston.

“I have the honor to report that I reached this Agency on the 27th ulto and immediately relieved Capt. R. E. Johnston of the 1st Infantry whom I found in charge.”

“Since I assumed charge I have been diligently at work examining the condition and taking an inventory of the property belonging to the Government preparatory to receipting for the same to Capt. Johnston.”

“At as early a date as possible I will submit for your consideration a report of the condition of the Agency with such suggestions as I may deem of importance to the Government.”


December 18:  Agent Johnston advises that:

“In compliance with your letter of November 3rd I have the honor to state that I have transferred to Mr. W. J. Hughes, U. S. Indian Agent, all public property funds &c that came into my possession during the time I was Acting Indian Agent.  Giving Invoices and taking receipts for the same.”

“I have assisted Mr. Hughes in taking a careful census of all the Indians at this Agency and he will undoubtedly submit to you at an early date a report of this count.”

“I also assisted Mr. Hughes in making an issue to the heads of families as contemplated in my letter of November 15th and I have no hesitancy is saying that this mode of issuing is entirely satisfactory to the Indians.”

“In making my issue of annuity goods, I required each head of family to present his people in person by which means I was enabled to make a careful and, I firmly believe, a correct count and submit the following as a result:   509 families, consisting of 567 men, 831 women, 338 boys, 366 girls, 295 infants for a total of 2397 Indians.”

“I issued annuity goods to the above number of people as follows: 3200 blankets, 2077 yards calico, 1005½ yards red cloth, 1500¾ yards red flannel, 500 shirts (flannel) and 14667 yards 8 oz duck, leaving a balance of 500 blankets which I have turned over to Mr. Hughes.”

“I would state that, after thoroughly investigating this Agency for the past three months, I am fully of the opinion that there has not been any one time within the past two (2) years at this Agency 3500 Indians; that about 90 lodges, numbering about 500 persons (men, women & children) are still absent with the hostile Indians and they will undoubtedly remain there until Sitting Bull has been defeated.”

“In closing my official correspondence with the Department I beg leave to submit the following recommendations:”

“1st: That this Agency be removed to some point better adapted to agriculture and where supplies could be furnished at a less expense to the Government.”

“2nd: That if the Agency is not moved at an early date that suitable buildings be erected for the Agency employees and for the protection of public property.”

“3rd: That tepees be dispensed with and that log houses be built and the Indians be compelled to live in them in order to stop them from roaming over the country.”

“4th: That the use of blankets as wearing apparel be dispensed with and that citizen’s clothes be issued in lieu thereof and that Indians be compelled to wear them in a civilized way.  That no more red or blue cloth, red flannel, red ticking or flimsy calico be purchased for the Indians at this Agency, but that strong, heavy, coarse material be furnished in lieu thereof.”

“5th: That one mule be given to the head of each family of not less than three (3) persons to be issued for transportation and farming purposes in lieu of ponies and that the ponies now loaned to the Indians for transportation be taken away from them and sold.”

“6th: That no Indian be permitted to carry arms of any name or nature and that the Agent be required to stop issue of rations to any Indian found at the Agency with arms in his possession.”

“7th: That the Agent should be required to make a monthly report to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs of all Indians absent from the Agency and the length of time they are authorized to be absent and also to submit to the Commissioner a monthly report of the arrival and enrollment of all Indians during the month at his Agency and from what source.”

“8th: That no Agent be authorized to furnish Indians from the other Agencies with rations unless they have a pass and for not a greater time than the pass calls for.”

“9th: That the Agent be required to make a monthly report of all supplies on hand.”

“10th: That rations by all means shall be issued to heads of families and that all tribal relations be broken up.”

“11th: That an annual count of Indians at this Agency be made by a Commission consisting of the Agent, an Inspector of the Indian Department and an Officer of the Army and making this census that the head of each family be required to bring his people before the Commissioner and be counted.”

“12th: That corned beef be issued for three (3) months in year, March, April and May, in lieu of fresh beef.”

“13th: That Agents and employees be paid a sufficient salary to warrant them in discharging their duties faithfully.”

“In conclusion I desire to thank the Department for the courtesy extended to me during the time I have acted as Agent.”

“I have the honor to be

Very Respectfully

Your Obedient Servant

  1. E. Johnston

Captain 1st Infantry

Brevet Lieut. Col. U. S. Army”


December 8:  Agent Hughes reports relating to the pernicious practice of Indians roaming at will over the country and suggesting that a circular letter to Agents, on the subject, be issued:

“I have the honor to report that the practice of allowing Indians to roam over the country and locate temporarily at such Agencies as may suit their fancy is a pernicious one and should be abolished.”

“As a reform in this direction I would recommend that you issue, without delay, a “circular letter,” to all Indian Agents, requiring them to make an accurate enumeration and enrollment of the Indians at their several Agencies and belonging thereto and permit none to leave without a pass in which the respective Agent should stipulate the length of time such Indian, or Indians, is allowed to remain absent; a record of all such passes to be kept in a book which the Agent shall prepare for the purpose; refer the presentation of said pass to the Agent to whom it was addressed the Indian or Indians named therein to the same time advising the Agent, who issued the pass, of its separation and the subsequent action taken.”

“Such a course, or something similar thereto, might be adopted and, if faithfully carried out, would have the effect of driving all roaming Indians to where they belong and keeping them there; it would enable the Agents to ascertain much more accurately than they now can, how many Indians each Agent would have to subsist and it would assist all Agents very materially in designating the friendly Indians from the hostiles.”

“Endorsement by Col. W. P. Carlin:  I fully agree with Agent Hughes in the foregoing recommendation of a much-needed reform within management of Indians and Agencies.”


December 20:  Agent Hughes correspondence to Hon. Com. relative to delivery of beef to Agency:

“I have the honor to transmit for your information a copy of a letter received this day by me from Jas. E. Booge, Beef Contractor, together with a copy of my reply to the same:”

“Booge’s Letter: I think a fair construction of my contract with the Hon. Commr. Ind. Affairs dated Sept 6, 1876 for the supplying of your Agency with two million pounds of beef cattle & the subsequent action of the Department increasing the amount twenty-five per cent for Spring use forces me to the delivery of at least two million pounds of beef for freezing purposes, including the amount delivered up to the time of freezing—commencing Nov 12th & ending Dec. 7& I hereby tender for the remaining portion of the two million pounds amounting to some six hundred thousand pounds and ask that you receive and receipt for the same.  I do this relying upon the justice of the Department to make good any loss I may sustain by reason of that action.”

“I shall not attempt to discuss the situation in its various bearing as we have, to some extent, talked the subject over and you are familiar with the situation.  It is hardly right that I should be induced to bring two million pounds of cattle up into this northern climate encouraged to believe that I should have an opportunity of turning them over to the use of the Indians and then be compelled to keep them over until in April, losing the interest on the investment, the loss by shrinkage, and death of cattle & the expense of herding & I trust the Department will not permit me to sustain so heavy a loss.”

“Hughes’ reply to Booge:  I am in receipt of your letter of the 18th inst.  I would say in reply that the construction placed by you upon your contract with the United States Government for the delivery of beef cattle of use of the Indians at this Agency differs materially from the construction placed upon said contract by Hon. J. T. Smith , Commissioner of Indian Affairs.”

“I am in receipt of a letter of instructions dated Nov. 27th, 1876 from the Dep’t. of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, signed by Commissioner Smith and under that letter feel constrained to refuse to receive more than twelve hundred (1200) head of cattle for freezing.  That number being, in my judgment, ample for supplying the Indians now at this Agency, together with any accessions reasonably to be expected, until the first of April 1877.”


December 20:  Agent Hughes discusses with Hon. Com. relative to certain “squaw” men & their families – suggests that no rations to be issued to them, as they are in good employment:

:I have the honor to state that there are now near this Agency and on the Reservation four or five white men (known in the vernacular as Squaw Men) who live with Indian women whom they claim as their wives.  The men are all employed (by the Post Trader and others, but some of them by me) and are earning regular and ample wages – enough for the support of themselves and families and fully as much as the wages of white men with white families.”

“The Indian women and children in the families of the white men preferred to draw rations from and are supported by the Agency and I would respectfully request that I may, as soon as possible, be authorized by you to refuse said Indian women and children rations while they continue to live with white men abundantly able to support them.  The latter are, in my opinion, adventurers who will, in all likelihood, soon dessert these women.  In such an event I should, of course, feel called upon to again issue rations to them.”


December 21:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com. delayed census is 2,394 Indians.

“I have the honor to transmit, herewith, the result of the census, taken by me, of the Indians now under my care at, and drawing rations from, this Agency. Attached is the Certificate of 1st Lieut. J. Whitney, 11th Inf. U.S.A., Abbot Martin, Missionary, and Benjamin Smith, M.D., Agency Physician.  The delay in transmittal of this census was occasioned by the absence of several families of whose speedy arrival I had been advised.  Upon their arrival each was carefully counted.”

Families                        512

Men                                576

Women                        829

Children                      989

Total                           2,394


December 26:  Secretary of War writes to Secretary of Interior of the justice and good policy of dismounting and disarming the Indians.

“I have the honor to transmit for your information, a copy of letter from Lieutenant Colonel W. P Carlin, dated November  12th, 1876, reporting a fact that just came to his knowledge, which proves the justice and good policy of disarming and dismounting the Indians at Standing Rock.”

“Nov. 12, 1876 Carlin writes to Major General Ruggles, St. Paul:  I have the honor to report a fact that has just come to my knowledge which proves the justice and good policy of disarming and dismounting the Indians.  It appears that soon after the fight of the 7th Cavalry with the Indians on the 25th of June, last, a general buy was made on the Agency Indians for arms, ammunition , @c, and that sixty guns were gathered up and sent out from this Agency to the hostile camps.  This also accounts in a great measure for the scarcity and poor quality of arms remaining in the camps of this Agency.  I believe that we now have all the arms and all the ponies belonging to the Indians of this Agency, except those with the hostiles I shall expect all of them to be brought in to this post and surrendered before Christmas.”

“1st endorsement (signed) Alfred H. Terry, Brigadier General, Commanding.”

“Official copy respectfully forwarded to Headquarters Military Division of Missouri, for information of the Adjutant General.  The facts stated herein afford conclusive proof, not only of govt policy, but of the justice of dismounting and disarming the Agency Indians.  They show such complicity with the Hostile Sioux as would justify measures much more severe than those which have been taken.  I respectfully suggest that this letter of Lieutenant Colonel Carlin be made public.”


December 27:  Secretary of War transmits, to Secretary of the Interior, Col. Carlin’s full report and future management of the Sioux Indian Nation.

:I have the honor to transmit, herewith, copy of a communication of the 18th ultimo from the Commanding Officer of Standing Rock, Dakota, making certain suggestions in regard to the future management of Indian affairs on the reservation at that point, and to invite your attention to the remarks of General Sherman, thereon, who endorses, in part, General Carlin’s opinions and adds:”

“The whole Sioux nation should be forced to reside on or near the Missouri River, below Fort Sully, as near Fort Randall as possible, where their wants can be supplied cheaply.”

“November 18th, 1876.  Carlin writes to General Ruggles, St. Paul:  Now, that the first effective steps towards controlling the Sioux Indians has been taken, by disarming and dismounting them, I beg leave to make, through the Department Commander and Military channels to the President, a few suggestions in regard to the future management of Indian affairs on this reservation.”

“In the first place the government should forbid and prevent the future acquisition of guns and horses by these Indians until their migratory habits shall have been entirely abandoned.  We have taken from them fourteen hundred ponies and mules and all the arms they have had at the Agency.  Those in possession of the absentees will be nearly all surrendered before next Spring.   Their power to roam and maraud has consequently been destroyed and should not be returned to them.”

“Secondly, and as a logical step in the same direction, I respectfully recommend that no more tent stock be sent to them, but, instead, that the Agent be required to build log cabins for them at points where there is good land for cultivations, wood and water.  Two hundred cabins can easily be built next summer for about fifty dollars each, by requiring the Indians to assist in the labor.  Cottonwood timber is abundant at many points along the Missouri River.”

“Third, at least two cows, two sheep and two pigs should be furnished to each family of Indians whose new horses and guns have been taken from them.  The proceeds of the sale of ponies and guns and the stock promised in the propositions of the government to buy the Black Hills Country will meet the cost of this stock.  The Government really owes this much, at least, to the Indians.”

“4th.  Subsistence and clothing should be given only to those that labor, and in proportion to the amount of their labor.”

“5th.  The Indians should be required to put up hay to feed their cattle in stormy weather, and should be furnished such machinery for that purpose according to the promises made.”

“6th.  The several bands should be located in villages, with about ten acres of good land to each family for gardens.  But small bodies of land can be fenced in this country.”

“7th.  As the Courts in the Territory refuse to take cognizance of crimes committed by one Indian against another, and as they have no system of law, the Government should provide for this great deficiency.  Progress will be difficult if the property of the industrious cannot be protected from the idle and vicious by law.”

“8th.  I would urgently recommend that all the Sioux Indians be located along the Missouri River between Fort Randall and Fort Rice, and consequently, that the Agency and Trader’s Store at Fort Peck be broken up or removed to the mouth of the Cannon Ball River.  This location of the Indians will give them a great extent of fine grazing country and all the tillable land they will ever require, and yet one that ought not to be coveted by white men.  There they can be supplied with comparative economy and controlled by the Military Posts already established.  After the completion of the policy of disarming and dismounting the entire Sioux Nation, including Sitting Bull and his followers, and their settlement within the limits specified above, there will be no need of the Posts on the Yellowstone and along the line of the North Pacific Railroad, except, perhaps, Fort A. Lincoln and Fort Buford.”

“By selecting competent Agents to carry out the suggestions made, I have no doubt that the Indians here will, in three years, become as deeply interested in raising cattle as they have heretofore been in increasing the number of their ponies.”

“The country is well adapted to grazing and the grasshopper is the only serious obstacle to cultivation of the soil. A few sensible Indians are already in civilized pursuits.  They live in houses, have gardens and take care of the wagons and work oxen given several years ago by the government.”

“1st Endorsement by General Terry, dated December 13, 1876:  Attention is invited to the opinions expressed by Lieutenant Colonel Carlin, opinions in which I heartily concur.

2nd Endorsement by General Sheridan, dated Dec. 16, 1876:  Respectfully forward to the Adjutant General of the Army, for the information of the Interior Department.”


December 29:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com. of cattle purchase and slaughter.

“I have the honor to transmit herewith duplicate receipt for thirteen hundred and thirty seven (1337) beef cattle, weighing one million, two hundred and two thousand, one hundred and two pounds (1,202,102#) gross, delivered upon dates specified, by James E. Booge, under regular contract dated Washington, D. C., September 6th 1876.”

“The cattle delivered on Dec. 9th – one hundred and twenty-seven (127) in number, were slaughtered and delivered to the Indians.  The remaining cattle, twelve hundred and ten (1210), have been slaughtered, quartered, frozen and stored for future use.”

“I would respectfully report, for your information, that the Beef Contractor, Mr. James E. Booge, has slaughtered and frozen two hundred and thirty-four (234) cattle weighing two hundred and eight thousand, four hundred and sixty-six (208,466) pounds gross, which I have stored in one of the Agency Warehouses but for which I have not given any receipt nor assumed the slightest responsibility.”

“Though I have slaughtered and stored all the cattle, I felt at liberty to receive, under instructions from you, yet, the limited supply of flour and bacon on hand here being considered, if you should deem it proper to receive the additional amount of beef named above, I could readily issue it in lieu of the articles (flour and bacon) specified, and, in my judgment, the Indians would be as well, or better, satisfied and the interests of the Government fully as greatly subserved.”


January 6, 1877:  Agent Hughes  issues Supply Report for week ending Jan 6:



January 15:  Agent Hughes writes about vague objections to his plans but suspects they are due to his temperance position for the Reservation:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of office letter “C” under date of the 5th inst, and in reply would respectfully state that, as you do not specify the complaints made against me by Lieut. Col. Carlin and the Post Trader of unwarranted interference on my part with the business of the latter, and that of the Express Carrier, I am somewhat at a loss to know what to say on the subject.”

“At different times last summer I seized liquors that were brought to the Agency (addressed fictitiously) by Express, which express goods are carried on the mail wagon.  At the time I made the last seizure I expelled the Mail and Express Driver from the Reservation, and the Commanding Officer expressed his approval of my action.  This Mail and Express Line is the means by which the Army Officers get such articles as they may need brought to the Post, and doubtless, get more or less liquor by the same mode of transportation.”

“Until a few weeks ago the Express Office was kept at the Indian Trader’s Store where the Post Office is, but was changed without consulting me to the Military Trader’s Store where it would be out of my control, and I did demur to the change as I thought it was not right.  This objection to having the express goods taken from my control is the only interference with the Post Trader or the Express Carrier that I have made, that I am aware of, and I think it does not sound very well for Col. Carlin who should cheerfully and promptly sustain me in the faithful discharge of my duties entering a complaint against me concerning a matter that I think should be under my exclusive control.”

“In regard to your inquiry about any sales being made of wood or timber taken from the Reservation by the Post Trader, I can only say, that I do not know anything about the Post Trader’s operations, and, protected as he is by the Military, I am unable to prevent him doing about what he pleases.”

“Concerning the immorality that exists in consequence of the close proximity of the Garrison to our Agency, I would respectfully state that the Soldiers frequently procure liquor without my knowledge of how it is brought to the Reservation, and with it they become drunk, and when in that state, they can hardly be considered as responsible for their acts, but many of them who would not when sober, do when they are drunk, go to the Indian Camps and do many demoralizing acts.  The location of the Camps as close as ours are to the Garrison is a very great temptation for white men, both civilians and soldiers, to visit them, and as many of the white men have very depraved natures, they indulge in practices that should be discountenanced by every decent man whether in the Army or out of it.”

“I am powerless to prevent the visiting of the camps by the soldiers, and as it is almost impossible to produce proof of their wrong-doing, it is useless for me to make any complaint to the Commanding Officer, as he would not take any notice of it without strong, positive proof of their having been at the camp, and having acted wrong while there.”


January 22:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com. of layoff of teacher since too cold to keep school warm.

“I have the honor to report that on the 31st ultimo, I dropped from the rolls of employees at the Agency, the name of Miss Alma Galpin who had been employed as a teacher at a salary of forty dollars ($40.00) per month.  My reason for so doing was that, owing to the extreme cold, children could not, or would not, attend school, and, further, I found it next to impossible to keep two school-houses sufficiently heated.”


January 22:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com., relative to issuance of Hard Bread:

“I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 11th inst. in which you ask whether the article of hard-bread is as well-liked by the Indians as flour or corn and is favorably received by them in lieu thereof…whether it is easily handled and less liable to loss or injury in transporting and storing, and whether, as a means of subsistence, it is more or less expensive than the said articles.”

“In reply to your inquiries I would respectfully state that our Indians seem to like hard-bread very well, none of them, so far, made any complaint about it.  It is put up in fifty pound (50) boxes and, notwithstanding it is very bulky, it is easy to handle while in the package and can be transported without material loss or injury, but it is very difficult to handle in issuing; the slices of the bread are very hard and rough and, as it must be taken out of the boxes by hand, it is very severe on the fingers.  The person issuing will wear out a pair of ordinary leather gloves in one day.”

“As to the relative expense of hard-bread as compared with flour or corn, I would state that, including freight to this place, I estimate the cost of Corn @ $2.40 per 100 lbs., Flour @ $4.29 per 100 lbs., Hd. Bread @ $6.50 per 100 lbs.”

“The Corn and Flour are only subject to freight charges from Sioux City, while the Hard-Bread is delivered to the Government at St. Louis and freight is charged from there.  It must also be borne in mind that we pay freight on 30 lbs. to the 100 lbs. for boxes in which the Hard Bread is shipped, while the sacks in which the flour or corn is shipped only weight from one to one and a half pounds to the 100 lbs. of their contents.”

“I would recommend that the use of Hard Bread be continued and that it be issued, in equal quantities, with corn and flour.”


January 29:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com.  There are not enough funds to operate thru March 1 and that he has been cheated on starting date for his pay:

“I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 18th inst. in which you state that you had placed at my credit, with the First National Bank of Sioux City, Ia., the following funds:”

Pay of employees for 1st Qr. 1877                  $1,635.00

For subsistence @c                                                    815.00

For Carpenter                                                             100.00

General Incidental Expenses                               125.00

Pay of Agent Dec. 1/76 to March 31/77            501.36

“In reply I beg to state that the amount of money as designated is insufficient to cover the expenses of this Agency for the First Quarter, 1877, and it is very mortifying to me, coming here a New Agent, to be embarrassed by having means necessary to conduct the business of the Agency limited to the amount you have mentioned.”

“On the 16th of Dec’r. I furnished you with a statement of the funds I had on hand….nine hundred and three and 21/100 ($903.21) dollars.  And also what amount, in addition, would be required for the Quarter ending March 31st/77 and I trust that the amount above-stated will be allowed to apply with the balance I had in hand.  That will, doubtless, carry me through the Quarter, unless some unexpected emergency should, in the meantime, arise.  It is very difficult to get faithful and competent employees out here without paying them well for their services and without good help we would have up-hill work.”

“I regret that you could not allow me, as Agent, to draw my salary from the date of my Commission.  It is a new idea to me that my compensation for service should not commence from the date of my appointment, when my service to the Government is, virtually, acknowledged by allowing me for my travelling expenses incurred prior to the date you fix for my pay to commence.  If my salary was adequate for the service I perform or consistent with the amount of bond required of me, I would not think it so hard to confine my salary to the date of my taking charge here, but under existing circumstances I feel that I ought to be allowed to draw salary from October 20th/76—the date of my commission.”

“I requested you to place the funds for this Agency to my credit at the First National Bank of St. Paul, Minnesota, but I find by your letter that they have been placed at the First National Bank of Sioux City, Iowa.  This was, doubtless, an oversight and, unless you telegraph me, on receipt of this letter, to keep my account at Sioux City, I will transfer the funds to the First National Bank of St. Paul as I left my signature there and it is much more convenient to do our business with St. Paul, in the winter season, that at Sioux City.”


January 31:  Agent Hughes advises of need for farming equipment if Indians are expected to actually farm:

“I have the honor to state that if, as soon as the season will permit, the Indians of this Agency are expected to commence farming, it is indispensible that proper seeds should be provided me.:

Following are the seed needed with the estimated cost:

150 bushels Indian Corn seed, estimated cost $3.00 per bu. 450.00

150 bushels Potatoes, seed, estimated cost $2.00 per bu.       800.00

Squash, Pumpkin, Melon and other seeds                                      250.00

Total estimated cost of seeds                                                          $1,000.00

 “The “Estimates” include cost of transportation and, as the corn would have to be hauled from Ft. Berthold, I would respectfully request that authority for the purchases, should you decide upon giving it, be granted me as soon as possible.”

“I would, also, respectfully represent that to perform the labor incident upon the farming specified a number of agricultural implements will be necessary as the plows, etc, now on hand at the Agency are, for the most part, utterly worn out and worthless.  New ones are absolutely necessary unless the work be done under contract.  Please advise me, as soon as convenient, of your decision in the matter that I may either prepare an estimate of the number and kind of implements requisite or may make arrangements for having the work done under contract.”


January 31:  Agent Hughes advises Hon. Com. of inadequate pay of Interpreter:

“I have the honor to state that the sum specified for pay of the Interpreter at this Agency for the 1st Qr. 1877, $100.00 ,is so small that Wm. Holsey, the Interpreter now employed, has expressed his inability to serve therefore and in my own judgment the sum is inadequate recompense for the services performed.”

“I would respectfully recommend that said sum be increased by $50.00, making a total for the Qr. of $150.00, or that I be empowered to pay Mr. Holsey at the rate of $50.00 per month.”


February 5:  Agent Hughes writes to Hon. Com. About devastation of cottonwood by whites:

“I have the honor to submit, for your consideration, the following facts in relation to the cutting of wood, on this reservation, by white men; .civilians and soldiers.”

“During the summer and fall of 1876, the Military stationed at Standing Rock cut and used, as I am informed, about eighteen thousand  (18000) logs, the same being required for the building of barracks and quarters.  They also cut three thousand (3000) cords of wood as fuel corded at the Military Post.”

“A short time before my arrival, Lt. Col. W. P. Carlin, Commanding Officer, Post, Standing Rock, granted E. H. Allison, Military Interpreter, the privilege of cutting six hundred (600) cords of wood to be sold, during the spring and summer of the present year, to boats engaged in Government transportation.  Said wood has been cut and corded within few miles of the Agency Buildings.”

“I enclose an official copy of the authorization, by General Alfred Terry, Commanding Mil. Dept. of Dakota, of Dr. W. a. Burleigh of Yankton, D. T. to cut and bark wood, for use of steamboats carrying Government freight, between Ft. Randall and Standing Rock Agency.”

“The great devastation of the forests in this vicinity arising from felling the amount of timber given above has given rise to grave apprehension, on my part, that a few years hence, if it be continued, will find the Indians here destitute of fuel and thus a large expense be thrust upon the Government.”

“My own judgment, formed on the spot and after careful consideration, is that no privileges in the matter of cutting wood within an area of twenty-five miles north and south of this Agency, should be granted to the white men without my approval and I would respectfully request that authority, in so far as relates to cutting wood, over that extent of country be given me by the Department.”

“I have every reason to believe that during the winter months the Indians, under my charge, can and will cut and bank sufficient wood to supply the steamboats within the area above specified.  Already a number of cords have been cut by the Indians and I propose disposing of the same to the boats and applying the proceeds to the aggrandizement of the respective individuals unless otherwise directed by the Department.”


February 5:  Agent Hughes writes about need for part-time butcher:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of office letter dated January 24th, 1877, relating to “Miscellaneous Receipts” and the disposition to be made thereof.”

“In reply I would state, respectfully, that, at present, I have no funds on hand which would come under the head specified.  The slaughter of all the beeves furnished for use of the Indians at this Agency, up to the 1st of April, 1877, has been already effected, as previously reported to you, and the hides were disposed of by the Indians themselves, each family receiving an average of two hides.”

“Issuing beef from the block involves a great deal of labor and the employment of a butcher will be indispensable.  Said butcher must, necessarily, however, be assisted in large measure, by another Agency employee and thus, during the issue of beef other important work will be neglected.”

“I would respectfully request that I be authorized to set apart a sufficient number of hides to amount in value to a certain sum, not less than $600.00 per annum.  With such a sum I could employ a man who, upon beef issue days, could serve in the capacity of butcher and the rest of the time could be kept fully employed in other necessary Agency work.”


February 5:  Agent Hughes has plans for new Agency Buildings:

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 19th ulto and in compliance with your request I transmit herewith a plat of our Agency grounds, a rough drawing of the ground plan of such buildings as I deem indispensable for properly conducting the business of the Agency, and the protection of the Govt property that is constantly held in store here for the use of the Indians, also, an estimate (as accurate as I could make it) of the cost of said buildings the same to be built of brick and, if the Department should adopt the materials suggested and approve of the whole or even a portion of the buildings named  I would respectfully recommend that work on them should be commenced in the Spring as early as possible so as to insure their completion by next fall.”

“The construction of new buildings for us here of brick, may seem to the Department to be too expensive to be entertained, but I am confident that in the end it will economical, and I give my reasons for such an opinion:”

“First, buildings constructed of brick will be more durable than if built of any other material, and they would not require but very little expense to keep them in good repair.”

“Second, the fire risk would be greatly reduced and I might say entirely removed.” 

“Third, the construction of suitable Agency buildings with pine lumber would be nearly, if not quite, as expensive as to build them of brick and all wooden buildings require considerable outlay annually to keep them in repair.”

“Fourth, Cottonwood is the only timber that grows in this locality and it is unfit for building purposes, except that it might be used for joint scantling and roof sheeting.”

“Fifth, it would be far better to use brick as a building material and saw the timber about the Agency for fuel, as it will all be required for that purpose, and on that subject I will make a special communication.”

“Sixth, I am credibly informed that good clay for making brick can be obtained not very far distant from the Agency, and competent brick makers can be secured to make and burn them as fast as they would be needed.”

“In the list of materials for these buildings I have included cottonwood where I thought it could be used with safety.  That, of course, we would have to furnish from our own mill and to do it, it would be advisable to commence getting out logs immediately to saw such lumber and have it as dry as possible before it was used”.

“You may possibly decide that the Indian Department cannot incur the expense of erecting a church, school house, or Pastor & Teacher’s residence, but I beg leave to assure you that they are all of the very greatest importance just at this time, as such buildings will enable us to establish a religious and educational system that will greatly improve and advance the condition of the Indians and alienate them from the depraved and immoral habits that now prevail among them.”

“The School Building that I have estimated on would be two stories high, with two dormitories, one for boys and another for girls, these dormitories would be on the second floor and would be sufficiently large to accommodate about one hundred children and have ample wash-rooms and clothes rooms attached.  The ground floor would be used for study rooms, dining rooms, kitchen & with the children in such a building with proper teaching I would have no fear that they would make rapid progress toward civilization.”

“The cottages embraced in the plan submitted will be for the use of the following employees; Farmer, Engineer, Sawyer, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Storekeeper and Clerk, all of whom are now living in miserable quarters, and I feel ashamed to be required to keep hard-working and faithful men, as they all are, living in such houses as they are now in.”

“The Physician’s house will be not only his residence, but it will be spacious enough for his office and laboratory.”

“The Agent House I propose to have sufficient capacity to accommodate him and his family community, and have room to entertain the Government Officers or any persons who may visit the Agency on business connected with it.”

“The school house will be two stories high 50 x 100 feet, the first story 16 in walls, the second 12 in.  The side walls of the Church would be 18 ft high, the end wall about 26, all of which would be 16 in  thick (ed note: plan shows 50 x 100 feet). The Warehouses would be one story high 12 ft in the clear with 16 in walls.  All the other buildings would be one story high, 11ft in the clear, and 12 in walls.  The whole, when completed, would make this in every respect a first class Agency, and would enable the Agent to take care of double as many Indians as there is here at this time with but a very small increase over our present expense, except for supplies and annuity goods.”

“I have located the Trader’s Store on the plat so as to have it as convenient as possible, but that the Government would not have to erect unless it should deemed advisable to do so, and require the Trader to pay for it.”

“The Carpenter Shop, Ice House and Barn, I would build of logs, selecting the best for that purpose from our present old buildings, and the balance could be cut into fire wood, and that would be all they were fit for.”

“The figures that I have given for the buildings are, I think, just about what they would actually cost, but whether a good reliable and responsible contractor would undertake the construction of the whole or any portion of them at the price named I could not say, but it you conclude to favor the plan I submit, and should decide to have brick buildings erected, we could, if you desire, have proposals furnished, the same to be submitted to you for approval.”


February 21:  Agent Hughes transmits report of extensive interviews with the Indians in regard to their being able to farm, which they want to do, but have no equipment or seeds whatsoever.  Comments by Mad Bear, Big Head, Red Bull and Wolf Necklace of the Upper and Lower Yanktonais and John Grass and Running Antelope of the Blackfeet and Uncpapa:

“I have the honor to state that, immediately after my arrival here, the various Indian Chiefs expressed a desire to have a talk with me but the constant demands upon my time prevented my granting the request until the 16th and 17th inst on which dates the requested council was held.  Friday, the 16th, was devoted to the Upper and Lower Yanktonais and the Uncapapas and Blackfeet were heard on the day succeeding.”

“Before the council commenced I read to the chiefs the questions given in enclosure marked “A”, and, in the case of the Yanktonais, I read them again separately, after the Indians had closed their speeches, requiring a definite answer to each.  The Blackfeet and the Uncapapas, as will be seen by reference to the condensed report of the interview, given in enclosure marked “B”, answered their questions in the principal speeches of their principal men.”

Questions asked Indians by Agent W. T. Hughes at interviews held at Standing Rock, D. T., February 16th and 17th, 1877:

No. 1—Are your people willing to farm next summer?

No. 2—What do they want to plant?

No. 3—How many will work together?

No. 4—Where do you prefer to be located?

No. 5—Are your young men all disposed to remain at the Agency and not to go off roaming over the country?

No. 6—Will you do everything you can to keep your people at home and by your example and advice induce them to work?

No. 7—Are you satisfied with the way your supplies and annuity goods have been issued this winter?

No. 8—Are you, and all of your people who may cut wood, willing to do it on the condition that the Agent will dispose of it during the coming summer to the steamboats or to the garrison, and give such Indians as shall cut such wood the proceeds of its sale, after paying all expenses for hauling and handling it?

No. 9—The Indians on the East side of the river cut up and used firewood for our corral, and they must cut the necessary logs to build a new one, under my directive, or I will not be pleased and will be obliged to reduce their rations to one half they now get for two weeks.  The Great Father had the corral they destroyed built at considerable expense and it should not have been disturbed.

No. 10—Will you all send your children to school when Father Martin opens up his school, in a short time, and will you compel your sons and daughters to attend it regularly?

No. 11—We have established a church here.  Why do you not attend it on Sunday and thereby do honor to the Great Spirit?

No. 12—The Great Father has sent a good physician here and you must all call on him when you are sick, and have confidence in the treatment of the white doctor.

No. 13—How many of you will build, and live in, log houses like the white people if the Great Father will direct the Agent to show you how to build such houses?

No. 14—Do you know of any of your people who are now at other Agencies or amongst the hostiles, who intend returning here or who want to return?

No. 15—The Great Father is not well-pleased with your habit of selling your daughters to white men or even to young Indian men and I recommend you to stop it and, if your daughter wants to get married, she should to the priest and be married by him as white people do.

No 16—The Great Father dislikes the practice that prevails among the Indians of giving away clothing and other articles belonging to an Indian family when one of its members dies and I think you should not do it any more.

Report of interview between W. T. Hughes, Agent @ Standing Rock, D. T. with the Chiefs of the Upper and Lower Yancktonais under his charge on February 16th and 17th 1877:

Mad Bear—a Principal Chief of the Yancktonais:

“The Great Father sends Agents who do not help us, they tell us they will try and teach us how to work but they do not do so.  I do not see any tools to work with.  I do the best I can of myself.  White men should show us how to plow and plant but they do not.  They do not plow, they only scratch the ground.”

“We have two bands here and we want to select a place where we can plant what we get, well.  I want you to help us make fences around our farms.”

“You have told my people to chop cord wood.  That is right, but I want you to get all you possibly can for the wood.”

“One thing we ought to have are grindstones to sharpen our axes.”

“Next summer we ought to have a mowing machine and a white man could soon teach us to use it so, if we had a team, we could cut lots of hay and bring it here and have you sell it for us.”

“The Agents here before said they would help the Indians to put of their houses, but they did not do so.  I want you to show us how and help us to build our houses.”

“Some of our people have lived on this (the west) side of the river for many years, but they never try to go to the hostiles.  I try to do right and I think I am a good friend of the Great Father.  All my people want to farm on the other (the east) side of the River and they want to have a priest @ church and a school house there with them.”

“We would like to have some grub on the other side of the river as, when the waters are high, it is too much trouble to cross.  All my people want food in a warehouse across the river.”

“All my people will try to do what you tell them but they want you to help us!  We want you to ask the Great Father for more supplies and annuities this year than last.”

“Some of our people have gone to Ft. Peck.  I want you to get them back and also to get the few who have gone to Crow Creek and Devils Lake.  These people left last Spring because there was nothing here for them to eat.”

“You ought to tell the white men to stop cutting all our wood—on both sides of the river.  I’m afraid to tell them.  I don’t mean the soldiers but the citizens—who used to cut wood—not this year but the year before.”

“I don’t know how we are to farm next Spring as we have no teams, wagons, or anything, but we will try to do what we can because we like to farm.  We would like our people to have a good horse team and oxen and strong wagons, so that we could haul anything.”

(Agent explained stipulations of treaty in regard to furnishing Indians who had settled in separate farms, with oxen, cows, etc.)

“I help the Americans but they do not treat us well.  We always have had trouble with the Americans—for forty years.  The Americans gave us guns and when our people got them they made them crazy.  They wanted to kill whites. General Harney gave us guns and told us to stop white men from going through our country.  I don’t kill the whites but the hostiles do.  The Great Father should take the guns and ponies from the hostiles.  He does right to take away our guns, but not our ponies.  It is the same as to cut my leg or my arm off—to take my pony.  You have only left me teeth.  All these Indians here are good.  They expect to stay here always.”

Big Head, Head Chief of the Upper Yancktonais:

“It is no use to talk about the old times.  The Government has made treaties two or three times and the Commissioners ever tell lies.  They told us at Ft. Rice (1868) that they would give every family a yoke of oxen, a cow, a wagon and other things and said nothing about land being selected.”

(Agent read latter portion of Article 10 and part of Article 8, treaty of 1868)

“The interpreter who explained the treaty to us never told us that way.  The Commissioners who were here last Fall were asked for the same things and for light wagons, too, and they said they would ask the Great Father for them.  We would like to hear about this last treaty.”

“The Government sends more annuities and provision to other Indians than it does to us because the others are mean and bad.  (Agent asked how did he know this?)  At Cheyenne they have more goods and supplies.  An Indian who came from there told me this.  He may have fooled me, but he told me so.”

“The Indians here did not get enough clothes.  One blanket to each man and woman is not enough for the winter time.  We don’t know yet which we would prefer—blankets or citizens clothes.”

“I suppose we are going to get some working cattle but they are too slow.  We ought to have mules and wagons.  There is no use to ask for horses or ponies as the Government would think we intended to run away with them.  One mule and a good cart would be good but we couldn’t haul logs or wood or hay.  We ought to have a strong wagon and a pair of mules.”

“We have been farming down below (from some seven to fifteen miles south of the Agency on the east side of the river) for many years and we intend to farm there again, but we don’t to go to Cheyenne or Ft. Thompson (Crow Creek), though the Agents and Indians there are trying to get us to go.  We have heard this for a long time.”

“I like to hear you talk.  I think you are going to help us.  You don’t allow anyone to buy wood.  That’s the way we want it.  The whites below us cut our wood and when the Indians say anything they tell us the land there belongs to the Government.”

“Parkins (in charge of Indian Trader’s Store) sells his wood to the Government too cheaply.  He ought to charge a big price and then we could get a good price, too.”

We would like to have a Catholic Priest across the river and a school over there.”

Red Bull, a Chief of the Yancktonais:

“The Government promised us cattle, oxen and cows—and wagons, but not in the way you tell us.  The Commissioners last Fall promised us the same things.  We don’t want any more trouble, we want to live happily.”

“We all want to farm across the river and would like to have a Priest over there to teach us and our children.”

“We would like to have some supplies sent over the river in the Spring when the waters are low.  You could put a ….. over there to take care of them.”

“I have a good farm up the river on this side (the west) about fifteen miles but it is too far off.  I want to go down the river about ten miles.”

Wolf Necklace—a Chief of the Upper Yancktonais

“There have been three different Agents here since I came but I never made a speech to any of them.  We have sold all that land (referring to the Black Hills).  Men came here last Fall and asked us about selling them.  We like to live and wear good clothes as well as other people.  So we sold the Black Hills.  I think the white men must be rich now and they ought to send us things soon.  I want you to help us.  The clothes we get now we wear out quickly.  The Great Father should send more clothes.  The men who bought the Black Hills promised us wagons, cows, oxen and other things.  We look to the Great Father for these things.”

“Other Agents said they would build us houses.  You say we must build our own.  We have no horses or wagons to haul logs.”

(Agent explained that he and his employes would assist the Indians in building houses but that they, the Indians, must do their share.)

“We have not had enough clothes or food this winter, nor as much as we had last winter.   We Indians are not like the whites who have many different things to eat.  The calico dresses you gave the women are all worn out from walking in the brush.”

(Following are Wolf Necklace’s answers given to questions as proposed by Agent.  Questions, numbered, given elsewhere)

Question 1—Answered—”We are willing.”

Question 2—Answered—”Ree corn, potatoes, pumpkins, melons, beans, onions, turnips, artichokes and cabbage.”

Question 3—Answered—”Each family separate.”

Question 4—Answered—”Each chief will select his spot.”

Question 5—Answered—”We have quit war. We have no ponies.  We can go no place.”

Question 6—Answered—”Some of our young men may go to visit relatives.  They will return.”

Question 7—Answered—”We are satisfied with the manner of issues.”

Question 8—Answered—”That’s the right way.”

Question 9—Answered—”We will do as you say.”

Question 10—Answered—”We will send them after a while.  When we go home we’ll tell our children.”

Question 11—Answered—”We will go when get there.”

Question 12—Answered—”When we are sick we will come to the white doctor.”

Question 13—Answered—”We will all build houses.”

Question 14—Answered—(Wolf Necklace told of White Horse and his band going to Ft. Peck).

Question 15—Answered—”That is good.”

Question 16—Answered—”Hao! That’s right.”


“Each man, woman and child used to get two blankets, now, the men get two, the rest get one each.  That is not enough.  We sold our land that we might have plenty of grub and clothes and live like white men.  I am trying every way to get along and make my own living.  If I wanted to I could join the hostiles and fight the whites but I do not want to do that.  The Commissioners told me I would be rich if I gave up the Black Hills.  I am growing poorer every day.  They have taken my ponies now.”

“If I had a team I could build a house and could farm for myself and not want any help.”

Finish of the Upper and Lower Yancktonais

Interview with Blackfeet and Uncapapa Chiefs, Feby, 17th, 1877:

John Grass – Head Chief of the Blackfeet:

 “What you speak about we have long been promised but never have received though.  We want those things (farms, schools, houses, etc.).  We would like to farm.  I hope you will help us we are willing to farm.  I mean all the Blackfeet.  We want to farm together at our old place (about fourteen miles south of the Agency on the west side of the river).  We want to plant everything that will grow there.”

“We are willing to send our children to school…all are willing (nearly all the Chiefs having children, stood up, at the request of the Agent, to show that they acquiesced).”

“Some of my people have gone to the hostiles and some to other Agencies.  I want them to come back here.  Will you help me?  (Answered, “I’ll do everything in my power to help you.”).  I don’t expect those with the hostiles will come back but some at Cheyenne Agency want to come back.  Indians have come from Cheyenne and told me my people want to come back but are afraid of the Agent, there, who won’t let them come.”

“If you gave no rations for seven days I would like the manner of issuing to heads of families, but you do not give rations for seven days.  (Answered, “All that the Government allows is given for seven days.”).  We like the issue, by tickets, to heads of families, but we do not get enough.”

“I like the way you tell…about selling cord wood for the Indians to Steamboats or to Contractors”.

“Any white man who wants one of our daughters must be married to her by the priest, we won’t sell them.  We don’t know whether our young men are willing to be married by the priest.  We would like to have them do so.”

“We are satisfied with the manner in which the annuities were issued.”

“We will try, all we can, to keep our young men from going to the hostile camp in the Spring.  If we know of any of our young men determining to go away to the hostiles we will let you know beforehand.  If they want to go on a visit they will come to you for a pass.”

“I can’t assure you now about giving away things when an Indian dies.”

“We stood up when you asked about sending our children to school.  Now I want you to tell me true about something and I want you to stand up.  I mean about all the questions you have asked….about farming, building houses, etc … (Agent stood up).  Now you make my heart good.”

“When you write to the new Great Father I want you to tell him all about your Indians.”

(In answer to a question from Agent) “If you get us citizens clothes we will wear them.”

“When we get our houses and fenced farms we want a span of mules and a yoke of cattle to do the work, and a cow.  We want you to ask the Great Father to give us these things.  We are willing to work like the white man but we have nothing to work with.”

“If we build our houses this Spring will you do your best to get the mules and the oxen this fall?”  (answered, “Yes.”).

Running Antelope …. Principal Chief of the Uncapapas:

“Yes, I blame them.  If the Agents that came here before you had helped us we would have had houses and farms before this and the mules, oxen, cows, wagons and other things would have been given us.  When the last treaty was made, and we gave up the Black Hills, we expected to get all the things promised, right away and not to have to wait six or eight or ten years.  We want these things while we live.  We die everyday.  We don’t want them after we are dead.  I expect to die every day; I want to see these things before I die.  When the Great Father asked us for the Black Hills we said, “How,” right away.  When he asked for the ponies we gave them up at once, we didn’t wait, and the ponies were the only property we had.  We raised them just like our children.  The belonged to the Great Father and our young men act foolish when they have them, but the ponies:….the Great Father did wrong to take them.  But I think ponies are really bad for Indians.  As long as we have ponies the Great Father thinks our young men roam about and won’t work; so we gave them up when he asked us.  The Commissioners promised us mules and wagons and we want them so that we can go to work.”

“Some of our people….some Uncapapas and some Blackfeet….are down at Cheyenne Agency.  They want to come back and we want them to come back but the Agent won’t let them come back.”

“We made a treaty with the Arickarees and sometimes we like to visit our friends among them.  If the Great Father stops us it would be wrong.”

“When the Great Father took our ponies he promised to give us cows and oxen for them.   He owes us these just as if he owed a white man.”

“That is all I have to say.”


February 26:  Agent Hughes submits estimates for breaking and plowing 1000 acres.

“I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of office letter “F” dated Washington, Feby 12th 1877, requesting a distinct statement of the number of Indians who are prepared, in good faith, to commence farming, as well as the probable cost of the whole work, including the cost of implements and labor, and the amount for which it could be done by contract.”

“I would respectfully state in reply, that, since the receipt of your letter I have been busily engaged in processing the desired information and, to that end have thoroughly availed myself of the limited facilities at my command for traveling about…having no team for my own use.  Some of the farms….broken in former years…are from ten to twenty-five miles distant from the Agency and some are on the east side of the Missouri … exceedingly difficult, at present, to reach owing to the unsafe condition of the ice.”

“Judging from the condition of the farms which I did see…and carefully measured…and also from the information furnished by employees and others who have been here for many years, I am convinced that there are not more than four hundred acres of land, already broken, at or near this Agency and available for use this year.”

“I have interviewed nearly all the principal Indians on the subject of farming and, every one … on behalf of himself and his people…has expressed, in seeming good faith, a desire to farm this year.”

“I am convinced, however, that not more than four hundred Indians …adult men and women…can be counted upon and I would not recommend any expenditure for more than that number.  To each, in my judgment, an allotment of 2½ acres of ground is sufficient as, owing to the fear of grasshopper devastations, I do not believe a larger potion would be cultivated to any advantage.”

“Allowing then 2½ acres each to four hundred Indians, one thousand acres of land would be required.  Of this, as already stated, four hundred acres is already broken and would require cross-plowing and harrowing only.  The remaining six hundred acres would have to be broken and I would recommend that that amount be broken in large field on this (the western) side on the other side of the Missouri River near enough to the Agency to be under my immediate supervision.”

“Following are estimates … explanatory in character…of the expenditures for the work:

Cost of breaking and cross-plowing land at Standing Rock Indian Agency, the work to be completed within 45 days after it is commenced; also cost of seeds for planning 1000 acres.


Breaking 600 acres, by contract,

     at $7.00                                                              $4,200.00

Cross-plowing 400 acres, by contract,

previously broken  at $3.00                               1,200.00

Harrowing 400 acres at $1.00                           400.00

Seed corn….225 bushels…at $3.00                  675.00

Potatoes…200 bushels…at $2.00                    400.00

Miscellaneous seeds                                                 150.00

Total                                                                          $7,025.00


Cost of implements, teams and labor men for breaking and plowing land at Standing Rock Indian Agency, the work to be completed within 45 days after it has been commenced; also cost of seeds for planting 1000 acres.


Twenty (20) pairs of Mules at $250.00           $5,000.00

Twenty (20) sets double harness at $35.00          700.00

Ten (10) breaking plows (steel) at $40.00            400.00

Ten (10) cross-plows at $20.00                                 200.00

Ten (10) cultivators at $20.00                                   200.00

Six harrows at $20.00                                                    120.00

Labor of twenty (20) men,

    forty (40) days, breaking at $2.00                    1,600.00

Labor of seven (7) men, forty (40) days,

      cross-plowing at $2.00                                           560.00

Cost of seeds (corn, Potatoes, etc.)                      1,225.00

                                    Total                                         $10,005.00      


Cost of implements and seeds necessary to break, plow and plant land at Standing Rock Indian Agency, if teams are hired by the day.  The following estimate is based upon all the work being done in 45 days, which I am not at all sure can be done without, perhaps, having to pay higher prices for the work than those given.  There are but few teams about the Agency for hire and I would doubted less have to send elsewhere and engage them…It will be remembered that a breaking plow requires two men and four mules…harrowing would have to be done by Agency teams at such times as the regular duties of the same would permit of their absence.


Ten (10) Breaking plows (steel)at $40.00       $   400.00

Ten (10) Cross plows at $20.00                                 200.00

Ten (10) cultivators @ $20.00                                   200.00

Six (6) harrows at $20.00                                              120.00

Twenty (20) teams and men,

   breaking, 40 days at $4.00                                    3,200.00

Seven (7) teams and men,

    cross-plowing, 40 days at $4.00                        1,120.00

Seeds (Corn, Potatoes, etc)                                      1,225.00

            Total                                                                    $6,465.00


“Of the three methods given, I would recommend the first; viz, by contract as if it were adopted, I could compel the completion of the work in the specified time; further, were the second method adopted, after the breaking and plowing was done there would be on hand a number of costs for which subsistence would have to be furnished …a very considerable and costly item in this country.”

“If I can succeed in getting 1000 acres of land profitably cultivated this summer I shall be exceedingly gratified and I have no doubt that were you on the spot where you could appreciate all the difficulties in the way, you would share, to the full, my gratification.”

“I would respectfully request that the matters embodied in this letter receive your early attention and that I may receive a reply as soon as possible since the season is so rapidly advancing that the greatest possible celerity must be secured if the work is to be accomplished in time to be productive of beneficial results.”



Micro-copy No. 234 ….Roll No. 847 …1876

Highlighted Letter

April 1, 1876:    John Burke, U. S. Indian Agent for Standing Rock Reservation, Estimate of Medical Supplies for the year from July 1st, 1876 to July 1st, 1877:

No. of Indian entitled to treatment:                             7084

No. of Employees, @c entitled to treatment                  30

Total                                                                                              7114


Annual Requirement

Alum, Crystalized   28 oz

Apafactida   32 oz

Acid, Carbolic, Crude    64 oz

Acid, Aromatic Sulphuric   16 oz

Acid, Citric   8 oz

Acid, Hydrocyanic   2 oz

Acid, Sulphuric   16 oz

Alcohol   99 bottles

Aruica Flowers   60 oz

Ammonia, Stronger Solution of   8 bottles

Ammonia, solution of the Acetate of   32 oz

Ammonia, Aromatic Spirit of   32 oz

Benzoin, Compound Tincture of   32 oz

Bismuth, Substuitrate of.18 oz   18 oz

Bucher, Fluid Extract of   96 oz

Boxes, turned Wood   48 dozen

Brandy   123 bottles

Cajeput, Oil of               4 oz

Chloroform   80 oz

Calomel   7 oz

Cod Liver Oil   115 bottles

Coal Oil   20 gallons

Corks, Assorted   12 gross

Cisnicifuga, Fluid Extract of   16 oz

Capsicum, powdered   8 oz

Citrate of Iron and Quinine   4 oz

Copaiba, Balsam of    48 oz

Chloral Hydrate   20 oz

Castile Soap   25 lbs

Chenopodium, Oil of    4 oz

Cinchona, Fluid Extract of    16 oz

Cocoa Butter   32 oz

Chalk, Prepared   32 oz

Ether, Anaesthetic   120 oz

Flax Seed Meal   32 lbs

Gentian, Fluid Extract of   96 oz

Ginger, Fluid Extract of   48 oz

Glycerine   96 oz

Hops   8lbs

Iodine, Resublimated   12 oz

Iron, Tincture of the Chloride of   32 oz

Lavender, Compound Spirit of   64 oz

Liquoris, Stick    24 lbs

Linseed Oil   10 bottles

Lard   20 lbs

Mercury, Bichloride of    2½ oz

Mercury, Red Iodide of, Ointment of   6 lbs

Mercury, Solution of Acid Nitrate of   4 oz

Magnesia, Sulphate of    10 lbs

Mustard, Ground   15 lbs

Olive Oil   44 bottles

Opium, Camphorated tincture of   64 lbs

Potassium, Bromide of   40 oz

Potassa, Nitrate of   32 oz

Potassa, Chlorate of    44 oz

Pill Boxes   6 gross

Paper, Seidlitz   6 gross

Pills, compound Cathartic   80 doz

Sassaparilla, Compound Syrup of   32 lbs

Spigelia, Fluid Extract of    28 oz

Santoimi   2 oz

Squill, Syrup of   108 lbs

Sage   6 lbs

Slippery Elm Bark   5 lbs

Slippery Elm, Powdered   8 oz

Sugar, Crushed   32 lbs

Turpentine, Oil of   8 bottles

Tolu, Syrup of    38 lbs

Valerian, Fluid Extract of   24 oz

Valerian, Ammoniated Tincture of    32 oz

Vials, assorted   102 doz

Wild Cherry, Fluid Extract of   32 oz

Wine, Sherry   32 bottles

Whiskey   30 bottles

Zinc, Benjoated Oxide, Ointment of   7 lbs


End of Roll … dated 1934, Washington, D. C.