Warrior Stories from Dakota Territory in the late 1800’s

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Excerpts from documents prepared by Major A. B. Welch, most of which are as a result of his one-on-one meetings with Indian Warriors who were born slightly before 1800’s mid-century.  

Welch was raised on a homestead near Armour, SD, in the 1870’s. Became a friend of the Indian early in life. Adopted by the Sioux (and 2500+ other tribesmen) in 1913. Served in Philippines Insurrection, Mexican Border War and Trenches of France in 1918. Trusted by his old warrior Indian friends who told him stories that they might not tell a white man. Although he understood some of their languages he usually had an interpreter with him during these meetings. Col. Welch is the great uncle of Everett (Bob) Cox who has worked on these papers since the late 1950’s, preparing them for presentation.


Sitting Bull and the Bottle of Horse Radish

(Ed note: As retold by Mrs. Welch to her husband. She had been a guest several times at the Fort.) 

It is told of him that, while a guest at some officer’s dinner party (probably Fort Abraham Lincoln in the mid 1880’s), he saw a bottle of fresh horse radish on the table.  He helped himself liberally, with the assistance of the blade of his knife, and put the entire ‘load’ into his mouth.  He then passed the bottle around to the other Indians who each took a knife blade full and ate it.  Great tears rolled down their cheeks, but not a word was said by any of them until the last Indian had taken a mouthful of the stinking root.  Then they all broke out laughing and talking and joking at one another.

Sitting Bull’s signature taken from a photostat of his drawings while a prisoner at Fort Randall 1882-3


Posted September 16, 2018


The Evils of Whiskey and Adultery

Chief John Grass Comments to Welch in 1915

Two Indian men and one woman were in the penitentiary at Bismarck: one of the men for horse stealing, and the other and the woman for adultery.  After we had gone through the pen and were again at the office, John Grass sent for the Indian inmates and the Warden had them brought to the office.  Grass gave them a good lot of advice.  In his talking to them he told them that:

“There are two things which the Dakotah people should be careful about.  They are the two worst evils of all: running off with another man’s wife and whiskey.”

“If a man did not drink whiskey, he probably would not run off with another man’s wife, so drinking is perhaps the worst evil of the two.”

“When you feel like you want another man’s woman,” he said, “go down into the timber where the little trees grow.  Cut a nice little one, and then switch it a while and it will not be so anxious to go.”


John Grass, 1918


Posted Sept. 20, 2018


Little Brave and his pinto pony

Fort Berthold visit, October 1921, by Welch

After walking through the ruined village we went to the grave of the Scouts to the northeast of the old site.  These graves of 102 Scouts, who served the United States Army in the early days, all lie together in a well-kept plot.  The flag flies on important days from a tall staff and each grave is marked by a U.S. headstone.  The Scouts Little Brave, Bob Tail Bull and Bloody Knife were all killed with Custer and their bodies were buried where found.  The stones, however, are erected at Berthold. 

Later in the ceremonies, the people sung a song about Little Brave, which ran something like this:

The pinto horse came home alone.

Little Brave never came again.

They told me that Little Brave had ridden a pinto pony, which long after the fight on the Little Big Horn, came into the camp from across the river and walked around, neighing, and seemed to be hunting for the Indian Scout.  They treated the horse very well and never allowed any one to ride it but a brave man after that.


Posted October 1, 2018


How Arrow Walking got his names

Bristling (Hobu) is a name referred to by Elk in a talk with Welch, September 12th, 1922:

“Hobu (Bristling) got his name this way.  He was shot by the enemy so many times.  He had a lot of arrows sticking in him.  He was a great warrior then.  They called him Bristling for that.  Some other people call him Wahinkpe Mani (Walking Arrow).” 



Released Oct. 8, 2018


Uses His Arrow and his walking cane

Uses His Arrow and interpreter, April 8, 1940 at Welch’s home in Mandan:

…..Then we talked about our ages; they are both old men but they said that I was getting younger all the time.  Being polite, I suppose. 

When they rose to go, Uses His Arrow started off without his cane, and I handed it toward him.  He passed his hands down it without touching it, and said, “I am old.  I can still walk until I can cut another one.  This I leave with you.  It has medicine on it.  It will help you when you get old.”

Editor’s note:  This old cane (which I am now using at age 92) was included with Welch’s Collection which was shipped to Portland by his brother who had been caring for him. It could possibly be the cane referred to above.

Released Oct. 14, 2018