Old Indian Days
Charles Eastman [#3 in our Eastman series]
Part 2 out of 4
trenches. In like manner every Ree who ex-
posed himself was sure to die.
"Up to this time no one had seen the two
men who made all the trouble. There was a
natural hollow in the bank, concealed by buffalo
berry bushes, very near where they stood when
Bald Eagle shot the Ree.
"'Friend,' said Big Whip, 'it is likely that
our own people will punish us for this deed.
They will pursue and kill us wherever they find
us. They have the right to do this. The best
thing is to drop into this washout and remain
there until they cease to look for us.'
"They did so, and remained hidden during
the night. But, after the fight began, Big Whip
said again: 'Friend, we are the cause of the
deaths of many brave men this day. We com-
mitted the act to show our bravery. We dared
each other to do it. It will now become us as
warriors to join our band.'
"They both stripped, and taking their weap-
ons in hand, ran toward the camp. They had
to pass directly through the enemy's lines, but
they were not recognized till they had fairly
passed them. Then they were between two
fires. When they had almost reached the en-
trenchment they faced about and fired at the
Rees, jumping about incessantly to avoid being
hit, as is the Indian fashion. Bullets and ar-
rows were flying all about them like hail, but
at last they dropped back unhurt into the Sioux
trenches. Thus the two men saved their repu-
tation for bravery, and their people never
openly reproached them for the events of that
day. Young men are often rash, but it is not
well to reprove one for a brave deed lest he
become a coward.
"Many were killed, but more of the Rees
than of our band. About the middle of the
afternoon there came a cold rain. It was in
the fall of the year. The bow-strings were wet,
and the guns were only flint-locks. You know
when the flint becomes wet it is useless, and it
looked as if the fight must be with knives.
"But the Rees were much disheartened.
They had lost many. The women were all the
time carrying off the wounded, and there were
the Blackfoot Sioux watching them from the
hills. They turned and fled toward the river.
The Sioux followed like crazy wolves, toma-
hawking the tired and slow ones. Many were
killed at the boats, and some of the boats were
punctured with shot and sank. Some carried
a load of Sioux arrows back across the river.
That was the greatest battle ever fought by our
band," the old man concluded, with a deep sigh
of mingled satisfaction and regret.
THE SINGING SPIRIT
"Ho my steed, we must climb one more
hill! My reputation depends upon
Anookasan addressed his pony as if he were
a human companion, urged on like himself by
human need and human ambition. And yet
in his heart he had very little hope of sighting
any buffalo in that region at just that time of
The Yankton Sioux were ordinarily the most
far-sighted of their people in selecting a winter
camp, but this year the late fall had caught
them rather far east of the Missouri bottoms,
their favorite camping-ground. The upper
Jim River, called by the Sioux the River of
Gray Woods, was usually bare of large game
at that season. Their store of jerked buffalo
meat did not hold out as they had hoped, and
by March it became an urgent necessity to send
out scouts for buffalo.
The old men at the tiyo teepee (council
lodge) held a long council. It was decided to
select ten of their bravest and hardiest young
men to explore the country within three days'
journey of their camp.
"Anookasan, uyeyo-o-o, woo, woo!" Thus
the ten men were summoned to the council lodge
early in the evening to receive their commis-
sion. Anookasan was the first called and first
to cross the circle of the teepees. A young man
of some thirty years, of the original native type,
his massive form was wrapped in a fine buffalo
robe with the hair inside. He wore a stately
eagle feather in his scalp-lock, but no paint
about his face.
As he entered the lodge all the inmates
greeted him with marked respect, and he was
given the place of honor. When all were
seated the great drum was struck and a song
sung by four deep-chested men. This was the
prelude to a peculiar ceremony.
A large red pipe, which had been filled and
laid carefully upon the central hearth, was now
taken up by an old man, whose face was painted
red. First he held it to the ground with the
words: "Great Mother, partake of this!"
Then he held it toward the sky, saying: "Great
Father, smoke this!" Finally he lighted it,
took four puffs, pointing it to the four corners
of the earth in turn, and lastly presented it
to Anookasan. This was the oath of office,
administered by the chief of the council lodge.
The other nine were similarly commissioned,
and all accepted the appointment.
It was no light task that was thus religiously
enjoined upon these ten men. It meant at the
least several days and nights of wandering in
search of signs of the wily buffalo. It was a
public duty, and a personal one as well; one
that must involve untold hardship; and if over-
taken by storm the messengers were in peril of
Anookasan returned to his teepee with some
misgiving. His old charger, which had so
often carried him to victory, was not so strong
as he had been in his prime. As his master
approached the lodge the old horse welcomed
him with a gentle whinny. He was always
tethered near by, ready for any emergency.
"Ah, Wakan! we are once more called upon
to do duty! We shall set out before day-
As he spoke, he pushed nearer a few strips
of the poplar bark, which was oats to the Indian
pony of the olden time.
Anookasan had his extra pair of buffaloskin
moccasins with the hair inside, and his scanty
provision of dried meat neatly done up in a
small packet and fastened to his saddle. With
his companions he started northward, up the
River of the Gray Woods, five on the east side
and a like number on the west.
The party had separated each morning, so
as to cover as much ground as possible, having
agreed to return at night to the river. It was
now the third day; their food was all but gone,
their steeds much worn, and the signs seemed
to indicate a storm. Yet the hunger of their
friends and their own pride impelled them to
persist, for out of many young men they had
been chosen, therefore they must prove them-
selves equal to the occasion.
The sun, now well toward the western hori-
zon, cast over snow-covered plains a purplish
light. No living creature was in sight and the
quest seemed hopeless, but Anookasan was not
one to accept defeat.
"There may be an outlook from yonder hill
which will turn failure into success," he thought,
as he dug his heels into the sides of his faith-
ful nag. At the same time he started a
"Strong Heart" song to keep his courage up!
At the summit of the ascent he paused and
gazed steadily before him. At the foot of the
next coteau he beheld a strip of black. He
strained his eyes to look, for the sun had al-
ready set behind the hilltops. It was a great
herd of buffaloes, he thought, which was graz-
ing on the foot-hills.
"Hi hi, uncheedah! Hi, hi, tunkasheedah!"
he was about to exclaim in gratitude, when,
looking more closely, he discovered his mistake.
The dark patch was only timber.
His horse could not carry him any further,
so he got off and ran behind him toward the
river. At dusk he hailed his companions.
"Ho, what success?" one cried.
"Not a sign of even a lone bull," replied an-
"Yet I saw a gray wolf going north this
evening. His direction is propitious," re-
marked Anookasan, as he led the others down
the slope and into the heavy timber. The river
just here made a sharp turn, forming a densely
wooded semicircle, in the shelter of a high
The braves were all downhearted because
of their ill-luck, and only the sanguine spirit
of Anookasan kept them from utter discourage-
ment. Their slight repast had been taken and
each man had provided himself with abundance
of dry grass and twigs for a bed. They had
built a temporary wigwam of the same mate-
rial, in the center of which there was a gen-
erous fire. Each man stretched himself out
upon his robe in the glow of it. Anookasan
filled the red pipe, and, having lighted it, he
took one or two hasty puffs and held it up to
the moon, which was scarcely visible behind the
"Great Mother, partake of this smoke!
May I eat meat to-morrow!" he exclaimed with
solemnity. Having uttered this prayer, he
handed the pipe to the man nearest him.
For a time they all smoked in silence; then
came a distant call.
"Ah, it is Shunkmanito, the wolf! There
is something cheering in his voice to-night,"
declared Anookasan. "Yes, I am sure he is
telling us not to be discouraged. You know
that the wolf is one of our best friends in trou-
ble. Many a one has been guided back to his
home by him in a blizzard, or led to game when
in desperate need. My friends, let us not turn
back in the morning; let us go north one more
No one answered immediately, and again
silence reigned, while one by one they pulled
the reluctant whiffs of smoke through the long
stem of the calumet.
"What is that?" said one of the men, and
all listened intently to catch the delicate sound.
They were familiar with all the noises of the
night and voices of the forest, but this was not
like any of them.
"It sounds like the song of a mosquito, and
one might forget while he listens that this is
not midsummer," said one.
"I hear also the medicine-man's single drum-
beat," suggested another.
"There is a tradition," remarked Anookasan,
that many years ago a party of hunters went
up the river on a scout like this of ours. They
never returned. Afterward, in the summer,
their bones were found near the home of a
strange creature, said to be a little man, but
he had hair all over him. The Isantees call
him Chanotedah. Our old men give him the
name Oglugechana. This singular being is
said to be no larger than a new-born babe. He
speaks an unknown tongue.
"The home of Oglugechana is usually a hol-
low stump, around which all of the nearest trees
are felled by lightning. There is an open spot
in the deep woods wherever he dwells. His
weapons are the plumes of various birds. Great
numbers of these variegated feathers are to be
found in the deserted lodge of the little man.
"It is told by the old men that Oglugechana
has a weird music by which he sometimes be-
witches lone travelers. He leads them hither and
thither about his place until they have lost their
senses. Then he speaks to them. He may
make of them great war-prophets or medicine-
men, but his commands are hard to fulfill. If
any one sees him and comes away before he is
bewildered, the man dies as soon as he smells
the camp-fire, or when he enters his home his
nearest relative dies suddenly."
The warrior who related this legend assumed
the air of one who narrates authentic history,
and his listeners appeared to be seriously im-
pressed. What we call the supernatural was as
real to them as any part of their lives.
"This thing does not stop to breathe at all.
His music seems to go on endlessly," said one,
with considerable uneasiness.
"It comes from the heavy timber north of
us, under the high cliff," reported a warrior
who had stepped outside of the rude temporary
structure to inform himself more clearly of the
direction of the sound.
"Anookasan, you are our leader--tell us
what we should do! We will follow you. I
believe we ought to leave this spot immediately.
This is perhaps the spirit of some dead enemy,"
suggested another. Meanwhile, the red pipe
was refilled and sent around the circle to calm
their disturbed spirits.
When the calumet returned at last to the one
addressed, he took it in a preoccupied manner,
and spoke between labored pulls on the stem.
"I am just like yourselves--nothing more
than flesh--with a spirit that is as ready to
leave me as water to run from a punctured
water-bag! When we think thus, we are weak.
Let us rather think upon the brave deeds of
our ancestors! This singing spirit has a gentle
voice; I am ready to follow and learn if it
be an enemy or no. Let us all be found to-
gether next summer if need be!"
"Ho, ho, ho!" was the full-throated re-
"All put on your war-paint," suggested
Anookasan. "Have your knives and arrows
They did so, and all stole silently through the
black forest in the direction of the mysterious
sound. Clearer and clearer it came through the
frosty air; but it was a foreign sound to the
savage ear. Now it seemed to them almost
like a distant water-fall; then it recalled the
low hum of summer insects and the drowsy
drone of the bumblebee. Thump, thump,
thump! was the regular accompaniment.
Nearer and nearer to the cliff they came,
deeper into the wild heart of the woods. At
last out of the gray, formless night a dark shape
appeared! It looked to them like a huge buf-
falo bull standing motionless in the forest, and
from his throat there apparently proceeded the
thump of the medicine drum, and the song of
the beguiling spirit!
All of a sudden a spark went up into the air.
As they continued to approach, there became
visible a deep glow about the middle of the
dark object. Whatever it was, they had never
heard of anything like it in all their lives!
Anookasan was a little in advance of his com-
panions, and it was he who finally discovered a
wall of logs laid one upon another. Half way
up there seemed to be stretched a par-fleche
(raw-hide), from which a dim light emanated.
He still thought of Oglugechana, who dwells
within a hollow tree, and determined to sur-
prise and if possible to overpower this wonder-
working old man.
All now took their knives in their hands and
advanced with their leader to the attack upon
the log hut. "Wa-wa-wa-wa, woo, woo!"
they cried. Zip, zip! went the par-fleche door
and window, and they all rushed in!
There sat a man upon a roughly hewn stool.
He was attired in wolfskins and wore a fox-
skin cap upon his head. The larger portion of
his face was clothed with natural fur. A rudely
made cedar fiddle was tucked under his furred
chin. Supporting it with his left hand, he
sawed it vigorously with a bow that was not
unlike an Indian boy's miniature weapon, while
his moccasined left foot came down upon the
sod floor in time with the music. When the
shrill war-whoop came, and the door and win-
dow were cut in strips by the knives of the In-
dians, he did not even cease playing, but in-
stinctively he closed his eyes, so as not to behold
the horror of his own end.
It was long ago, upon the rolling prairie
south of the Devil's Lake, that a motley
body of hunters gathered near a mighty
herd of the bison, in the Moon of Falling
Leaves. These were the first generation of the
Canadian mixed-bloods, who sprang up in such
numbers as to form almost a new people.
These semi-wild Americans soon became a ne-
cessity to the Hudson Bay Company, as they
were the greatest hunters of the bison, and
made more use of this wonderful animal than
even their aboriginal ancestors.
A curious race of people this, in their make-up
and their customs! Their shaggy black hair
was allowed to grow long, reaching to their
broad shoulders, then cut off abruptly, making
their heads look like a thatched house. Their
dark faces were in most cases well covered with
hair, their teeth large and white, and their eyes
usually liquid black, although occasionally one
had a tiger-brown or cold-gray eye. Their cos-
tume was a buckskin shirt with abundance of
fringes, buckskin pantaloons with short leg-
gins, a gay sash, and a cap of fox-fur. Their
arms consisted of flint-lock guns, hatchets, and
butcher-knives. Their ponies were small, but
as hardy as themselves.
As these men gathered in the neighborhood
of an immense herd of buffaloes, they busied
themselves in adjusting the girths of their
beautifully beaded pillow-like saddles. Among
them there were exceptional riders and hunters.
It was said that few could equal Antoine Mich-
aud in feats of riding into and through the
herd. There he stood, all alone, the observed
of many others. It was his habit to give sev-
eral Indian yells when the onset began, so as
to insure a successful hunt.
In this instance, Antoine gave his usual
whoops, and when they had almost reached the
herd, he lifted his flint-lock over his head and
plunged into the black moving mass. With
a sound like the distant rumbling of thunder,
those tens of thousands of buffalo hoofs were
pounding the earth in retreat. Thus Antoine
His wild steed dashed into the midst of the
vast herd. Fortunately for him, the animals
kept clear of him; but alas! the gap through
which he had entered instantly closed again.
He yelled frantically to secure an outlet, but
without effect. He had tied a red bandanna
around his head to keep the hair off his face,
and he now took this off and swung it crazily
about him to scatter the buffalo, but it availed
With such a mighty herd in flight, the speed
could not be great; therefore the "Bois Brule"
settled himself to the situation, allowing his
pony to canter along slowly to save his strength.
It required much tact and presence of mind to
keep an open space, for the few paces of ob-
struction behind had gradually grown into a
The mighty host moved continually south-
ward, walking and running alternately. As the
sun neared the western horizon, it fired the sky
above them, and all the distant hills and prairies
were in the glow of it, but immediately about
them was a thick cloud of dust, and the ground
appeared like a fire-swept plain.
Suddenly Antoine was aware of a tremendous
push from behind. The animals smelled the
cool water of a spring which formed a large
bog in the midst of the plain. This solitary
pond or marsh was a watering-place for the
wild animals. All pushed and edged toward
it; it was impossible for any one to withstand
the combined strength of so many.
Antoine and his steed were in imminent dan-
ger of being pushed into the mire and trampled
upon, but a mere chance brought them upon
solid ground. As they were crowded across the
marsh, his pony drank heartily, and he, for the
first time, let go his bridle, put his two palms
together for a dipper, and drank greedily of
the bitter water. He had not eaten since early
morning, so he now pulled up some bulrushes
and ate of the tender bulbs, while the pony
grazed as best he could on the tops of the tall
It was now dark. The night was well-
nigh intolerable for Antoine. The buffalo were
about him in countless numbers, regarding him
with vicious glances. It was only by reason
of the natural offensiveness of man that they
gave him any space. The bellowing of the
bulls became general, and there was a marked
uneasiness on the part of the herd. This was
a sign of approaching storm, therefore the un-
fortunate hunter had this additional cause for
anxiety. Upon the western horizon were seen
some flashes of lightning.
The cloud which had been a mere speck upon
the horizon had now increased to large propor-
tions. Suddenly the wind came, and lightning
flashes became more frequent, showing the un-
gainly forms of the animals like strange mon-
sters in the white light. The colossal herd was
again in violent motion. It was a blind rush
for shelter, and no heed was paid to buffalo
wallows or even deep gulches. All was in the
deepest of darkness. There seemed to be
groaning in heaven and earth--millions of
hoofs and throats roaring in unison!
As a shipwrecked man clings to a mere frag-
ment of wood, so Antoine, although almost
exhausted with fatigue, still stuck to the back
of his equally plucky pony. Death was immi-
nent for them both. As the mad rush con-
tinued, every flash displayed heaps of bison in
death struggle under the hoofs of their com-
From time to time Antoine crossed himself
and whispered a prayer to the Virgin; and
again he spoke to his horse after the fashion
of an Indian:
"Be brave, be strong, my horse! If we sur-
vive this trial, you shall have great honor!"
The stampede continued until they reached
the bottom lands, and, like a rushing stream,
their course was turned aside by the steep bank
of a creek or small river. Then they moved
more slowly in wide sweeps or circles, until the
storm ceased, and the exhausted hunter, still
in his saddle, took some snatches of sleep.
When he awoke and looked about him again
it was morning. The herd had entered the
strip of timber which lay on both sides of the
river, and it was here that Antoine conceived
his first distinct hope of saving himself.
"Waw, waw, waw!" was the hoarse cry
that came to his ears, apparently from a human
being in distress. Antoine strained his eyes
and craned his neck to see who it could be.
Through an opening in the branches ahead he
perceived a large grizzly bear, lying along an
inclined limb and hugging it desperately to
maintain his position. The herd had now thor-
oughly pervaded the timber, and the bear was
likewise hemmed in. He had taken to his unac-
customed refuge after making a brave stand
against several bulls, one of which lay dead
near by, while he himself was bleeding from
Antoine had been assiduously looking for a
friendly tree, by means of which he hoped to
effect his escape from captivity by the army of
bison. His horse, by chance, made his way
directly under the very box-elder that was sus-
taining the bear and there was a convenient
branch just within his reach. The Bois Brule
was not then in an aggressive mood, and he saw
at a glance that the occupant of the tree would
not interfere with him. They were, in fact,
companions in distress. Antoine tried to give
a war-whoop as he sprang desperately from the
pony's back and seized the cross limb with both
The hunter dangled in the air for a minute
that to him seemed a year. Then he gathered
up all the strength that was in him, and with
one grand effort he pulled himself up on the
If he had failed in this, he would have fallen
to the ground under the hoofs of the buffaloes,
and at their mercy.
After he had adjusted his seat as comfort-
ably as he could, Antoine surveyed the situation.
He had at least escaped from sudden and cer-
tain death. It grieved him that he had been
forced to abandon his horse, and he had no
idea how far he had come nor any means of
returning to his friends, who had, no doubt,
given him up for lost. His immediate needs
were rest and food.
Accordingly he selected a fat cow and emp-
tied into her sides one barrel of his gun, which
had been slung across his chest. He went on
shooting until he had killed many fat cows,
greatly to the discomfiture of his neighbor, the
bear, while the bison vainly struggled among
themselves to keep the fatal spot clear.
By the middle of the afternoon the main
body of the herd had passed, and Antoine was
sure that his captivity had at last come to an
end. Then he swung himself from his limb to
the ground, and walked stiffly to the carcass of
the nearest cow, which he dressed and prepared
himself a meal. But first he took a piece of
liver on a long pole to the bear!
Antoine finally decided to settle in the re-
cesses of the heavy timber for the winter, as he
was on foot and alone, and not able to travel
any great distance. He jerked the meat of all
the animals he had killed, and prepared their
skins for bedding and clothing. The Bois
Brule and Ami, as he called the bear, soon be-
came necessary to one another. The former
considered the bear very good company, and
the latter had learned that man's business, after
all, is not to kill every animal he meets. He
had been fed and kindly treated, when helpless
from his wounds, and this he could not forget.
Antoine was soon busy erecting a small log
hut, while the other partner kept a sharp look-
out, and, after his hurts were healed, often
brought in some small game. The two had a
perfect understanding without many words; at
least, the speech was all upon one side! In his
leisure moments Antoine had occupied himself
with whittling out a rude fiddle of cedar-wood,
strung with the guts of a wild cat that he had
killed. Every evening that winter he would sit
down after supper and play all the old familiar
pieces, varied with improvisations of his own.
At first, the music and the incessant pounding
time with his foot annoyed the bear. At times,
too, the Canadian would call out the figures for
the dance. All this Ami became accustomed to
in time, and even showed no small interest in
the buzzing of the little cedar box. Not infre-
quently, he was out in the evening, and the
human partner was left alone. It chanced,
quite fortunately, that the bear was absent on
the night that the red folk rudely invaded the
The calmness of the strange being had stayed
their hands. They had never before seen a
man of other race than their own!
"Is this Chanotedah? Is he man, or beast?"
the warriors asked one another.
"Ho, wake up, koda!" exclaimed Anooka-
san. "Maybe he is of the porcupine tribe,
ashamed to look at us!"
At this moment they spied the haunch of
venison which swung from a cross-stick over
a fine bed of coals, in front of the rude mud
"Ho, koda has something to eat! Sit down,
sit down!" they shouted to one another.
Now Antoine opened his eyes for the first
time upon his unlooked-for guests. They were
a haggard and hungry-looking set. Anookasan
extended his hand, and Antoine gave it a hearty
shake. He set his fiddle against the wall and
began to cut up the smoking venison into gen-
erous pieces and place it before them. All ate
like famished men, while the firelight intensified
the red paint upon their wild and warlike faces.
When he had satisfied his first hunger,
Anookasan spoke in signs. "Friend, we have
never before heard a song like that of your
little cedar box! We had supposed it to be a
spirit, or some harmful thing, hence our attack
upon it. We never saw any people of your
sort. What is your tribe?"
Antoine explained his plight in the same
manner, and the two soon came to an under-
standing. The Canadian told the starving hun-
ters of a buffalo herd a little way to the north,
and one of their number was dispatched home-
ward with the news. In two days the entire
band reached Antoine's place. The Bois Brule
was treated with kindness and honor, and the
tribe gave him a wife. Suffice it to say that
Antoine lived and died among the Yanktons
at a good old age; but Ami could not brook
the invasion upon their hermit life. He was
never seen after that first evening.
On the Assiniboine River in western
Manitoba there stands an old, his-
toric trading-post, whose crumbling
walls crown a high promontory in the angle
formed by its junction with a tributary stream.
This is Fort Ellis, a mistress of the wilderness
and lodestone of savage tribes between the
years 1830 and 1870.
Hither at that early day the Indians brought
their buffalo robes and beaver skins to exchange
for merchandise, ammunition, and the "spirit
water." Among the others there presently ap-
peared a band of renegade Sioux--the exiles,
as they called themselves--under White Lodge,
whose father, Little Crow, had been a leader
in the outbreak of 1862. Now the great war-
chief was dead, and his people were prisoners
or fugitives. The shrewd Scotch trader, Mc-
Leod, soon discovered that the Sioux were
skilled hunters, and therefore he exerted him-
self to befriend them, as well as to encourage a
feeling of good will between them and the Ca-
nadian tribes who were accustomed to make the
old fort their summer rendezvous.
Now the autumn had come, after a long sum-
mer of feasts and dances, and the three tribes
broke up and dispersed as usual in various di-
rections. White Lodge had twin daughters,
very handsome, whose ears had been kept burn-
ing with the proposals of many suitors, but none
had received any definite encouragement. There
were one or two who would have been quite
willing to forsake their own tribes and follow
the exiles had they not feared too much the
ridicule of the braves. Even Angus McLeod,
the trader's eldest son, had need of all his
patience and caution, for he had never seen
any woman he admired so much as the piquant
Magaskawee, called The Swan, one of these
belles of the forest.
The Sioux journeyed northward, toward the
Mouse River. They had wintered on that
stream before, and it was then the feeding
ground of large herds of buffalo. When it was
discovered that the herds were moving west-
ward, across the Missouri, there was no little
apprehension. The shrewd medicine-man be-
came aware of the situation, and hastened to
announce his prophecy:
"The Great Mystery has appeared to me in
a dream! He showed me men with haggard
and thin faces. I interpret this to mean a
scarcity of food during the winter."
The chief called his counselors together and
set before them the dream of the priest, whose
prophecy, he said, was already being fulfilled in
part by the westward movement of the buffalo.
It was agreed that they should lay up all the
dried meat they could obtain; but even for
this they were too late. The storms were al-
ready at hand, and that winter was more severe
than any that the old men could recall in their
traditions. The braves killed all the small
game for a wide circuit around the camp, but
the buffalo had now crossed the river, and that
country was not favorable for deer. The more
enterprising young men organized hunting ex-
peditions to various parts of the open prairie,
but each time they returned with empty hands.
The "Moon of Sore Eyes," or March, had
come at last, and Wazeah, the God of Storm,
was still angry. Their scant provision of dried
meat had held out wonderfully, but it was now
all but consumed. The Sioux had but little am-
munition, and the snow was still so deep that
it was impossible for them to move away to
any other region in search of game. The worst
was feared; indeed, some of the children and
feeble old people had already succumbed.
White Lodge again called his men together
in council, and it was determined to send a mes-
senger to Fort Ellis to ask for relief. A young
man called Face-the-Wind was chosen for his
exceptional qualities of speed and endurance
upon long journeys. The old medicine-man,
whose shrewd prophecy had gained for him the
confidence of the people, now came forward.
He had closely observed the appearance of the
messenger selected, and had taken note of the
storm and distance. Accordingly he said:
"My children, the Great Mystery is of-
fended, and this is the cause of all our suffering!
I see a shadow hanging over our messenger, but
I will pray to the Great Spirit--perhaps he
may yet save him!--Great Mystery, be thou
merciful! Strengthen this young man for his
journey, that he may be able to finish it and to
send us aid! If we see the sun of summer
again, we will offer the choicest of our meats to
thee, and do thee great honor!"
During this invocation, as occasionally hap-
pens in March, a loud peal of thunder was
heard. This coincidence threw the prophet al-
most into a frenzy, and the poor people were
all of a tremble. Face-the-Wind believed that
the prayer was directly answered, and though
weakened by fasting and unfit for the task be-
fore him, he was encouraged to make the at-
He set out on the following day at dawn,
and on the third day staggered into the fort,
looking like a specter and almost frightening
the people. He was taken to McLeod's house
and given good care. The poor fellow, deli-
rious with hunger, fancied himself engaged in
mortal combat with Eyah, the god of famine,
who has a mouth extending from ear to ear.
Wherever he goes there is famine, for he swal-
lows all that he sees, even whole nations!
The legend has it that Eyah fears nothing
but the jingling of metal: so finally the dying
man looked up into McLeod's face and cried:
"Ring your bell in his face, Wahadah!"
The kind-hearted factor could not refuse, and
as the great bell used to mark the hours of work
and of meals pealed out untimely upon the
frosty air, the Indian started up and in that
moment breathed his last. He had given no
news, and McLeod and his sons could only
guess at the state of affairs upon the Mouse
While the men were in council with her
father, Magaskawee had turned over the con-
tents of her work-bag. She had found a small
roll of birch-bark in which she kept her porcu-
pine quills for embroidery, and pulled the deli-
cate layers apart. The White Swan was not
altogether the untutored Indian maiden, for
she had lived in the family of a missionary in
the States, and had learned both to speak and
write some English. There was no ink, no pen
or pencil, but with her bone awl she pressed
upon the white side of the bark the following
MR. ANGUS McLEOD:--
We are near the hollow rock on the Mouse River. The
buffalo went away across the Missouri, and our powder and
shot are gone. We are starving. Good-bye, if I don't see
The girl entrusted this little note to her
grandmother, and she in turn gave it to the
messenger. But he, as we know, was unable
to deliver it.
"Angus, tell the boys to bury the poor fel-
low to-morrow. I dare say he brought us some
news from White Lodge, but we have got to
go to the happy hunting-grounds to get it, or
wait till the exile band returns in the spring.
Evidently," continued McLeod, "he fell sick
on the way: or else he was starving!"
This last suggestion horrified Angus. "I
believe, father," he exclaimed, "that we ought
to examine his bundle."
A small oblong packet was brought forth
from the dead man's belt and carefully un-
There were several pairs of moccasins, and
within one of these Angus found something
wrapped up nicely. He proceeded to unwind
the long strings of deerskin with which it was
securely tied, and brought forth a thin sheet
of birch-bark. At first, there seemed to be noth-
ing more, but a closer scrutiny revealed the im-
pression of the awl, and the bit of nature's
parchment was brought nearer to his face, and
scanned with a zeal equal to that of any student
of ancient hieroglyphics.
"This tells the whole story, father!" ex-
claimed the young man at last. "Magaska-
wee's note--just listen!" and he read it aloud.
"I shall start to-morrow. We can take
enough provision and ammunition on two sleds,
with six dogs to each. I shall want three good
men to go with me." Angus spoke with deci-
"Well, we can't afford to lose our best hunt-
ers; and you might also bring home with you
what furs and robes they have on hand," was
his father's prudent reply.
"I don't care particularly for the skins,"
Angus declared; but he at once began hurried
preparations for departure.
In the meantime affairs grew daily more
desperate in the exile village on the far-away
Mouse River, and a sort of Indian hopelessness
and resignation settled down upon the little
community. There were few who really ex-
pected their messenger to reach the fort, or be-
lieved that even if he did so, relief would be
sent in time to save them. White Lodge, the
father of his people, was determined to share
with them the last mouthful of food, and every
morning Winona and Magaskawee went with
scanty portions in their hands to those whose
supply had entirely failed.
On the outskirts of the camp there dwelt an
old woman with an orphan grandchild, who
had been denying herself for some time in order
that the child might live longer. This poor
teepee the girls visited often, and one on each
side they raised the exhausted woman and
poured into her mouth the warm broth they
had brought with them.
It was on the very day Face-the-Wind
reached Fort Ellis that a young hunter who had
ventured further from the camp than any one
else had the luck to bring down a solitary deer
with his bow and arrow. In his weakness he
had reached camp very late, bearing the deer
with the utmost difficulty upon his shoulders.
It was instantly separated into as many pieces
as there were lodges of the famishing Sioux.
These delicious morsels were hastily cooked and
eagerly devoured, but among so many there
was scarcely more than a mouthful to the share
of each, and the brave youth himself did not
receive enough to appease in the least his crav-
On the eve of Angus' departure for the exile
village, Three Stars, a devoted suitor of Wi-
nona's, accompanied by another Assiniboine
brave, appeared unexpectedly at the fort. He
at once asked permission to join the relief party,
and they set out at daybreak.
The lead-dog was the old reliable Mack, who
had been in service for several seasons on win-
ter trips. All of the white men were clad in
buckskin shirts and pantaloons, with long
fringes down the sides, fur caps and fur-lined
moccasins. Their guns were fastened to the
long, toboggan-like sleds.
The snow had thawed a little and formed an
icy crust, and over this fresh snow had fallen,
which a northwest wind swept over the surface
like ashes after a prairie fire. The sun appeared
for a little time in the morning, but it seemed
as if he were cutting short his course on account
of the bleak day, and had protected himself
with pale rings of fire.
The dogs laid back their ears, drew in their
tails, and struck into their customary trot, but
even old Mack looked back frequently, as if
reluctant to face such a pricking and scarifying
wind. The men felt the cold still more keenly,
although they had taken care to cover every bit
of the face except one eye, and that was com-
pletely blinded at times by the granulated snow.
The sun early retreated behind a wall of cloud,
and the wind moaned and wailed like a living
creature in anguish. At last they approached the
creek where they had planned to camp for the
night. There was nothing to be seen but a few
stunted willows half buried in the drifts, but
the banks of the little stream afforded some pro-
tection from the wind.
"Whoa!" shouted the leader, and the dogs
all stopped, sitting down on their haunches.
"Come, Mack!" (with a wave of the hand),
"lead your fellows down to the creek!"
The old dog started down at the word, and
all the rest followed. A space was quickly
cleared of snow, while one man scoured the
thickets in search of brush for fuel. In a few
minutes the tent was up and a fire kindled in
the center, while the floor was thickly strewn
with twigs of willow, over which buffalo robes
were spread. Three Stars attended to supper,
and soon in the midst of the snapping willow
fire a kettle was boiling. All partook of strong
tea, dried meat of buffalo, and pemmican, a mix-
ture of pounded dried meat with wild cherries
and melted fat. The dogs, to whom one-half
the tent was assigned, enjoyed a hearty meal
and fell into a deep sleep, lying one against an-
After supper Jerry drove two sticks into the
ground, one on each side of the fire, and con-
nected the two by a third one over the blaze.
Upon this all hung their socks to dry--most
of them merely square pieces of blanket cut to
serve that purpose. Soon each man rolled him-
self in his own buffalo robe and fell asleep.
All night the wind raged. The lonely tee-
pee now and then shuddered violently, as a
stronger blast than usual almost lifted it from
the ground. No one stirred except from time
to time one of the dogs, who got up snarling
and sniffing the cold air, turned himself round
several times as if on a pivot, and finally lay
down for another nap.
In the morning the travelers one by one
raised their heads and looked through the
smoke-hole, then fell back again with a grunt.
All the world appeared without form and void.
Presently, however, the light of the sun was
seen as if through a painted window, and by
afternoon they were able to go on, the wind
having partially subsided. This was only a
taste of the weather encountered by the party
on their unseasonable trip; but had it been ten
times harder, it would never have occurred to
Angus to turn back.
On the third day the rescuers approached
the camp of the exiles. There was an ominous
quiet; no creature was to be seen; but the smoke
which ascended into the air in perpendicular
columns assured them that some, at least, were
still alive. The party happened to reach first
the teepee of the poor old woman who had been
so faithfully ministered to by the twin sisters.
They had no longer any food to give, but they
had come to build her fire, if she should have
survived the night. At the very door of the
lodge they heard the jingle of dog-bells, but
they had not time to announce the joyful news
before the men were in sight.
In another minute Angus and Three Stars
were beside them, holding their wasted hands.
THE CHIEF SOLDIER
Just outside of a fine large wigwam of
smoke-tanned buffalo-skins stood Tawasu-
ota, very early upon an August morning
of the year 1862. Behind the wigwam there
might have been seen a thrifty patch of growing
maize, whose tall, graceful stalks resembled as
many warriors in dancing-dresses and tasseled
"Thanks be to the 'Great Mystery,' I have
been successful in the fortunes of war! None
can say that Tawasuota is a coward. I have
done well; so well that our chief, Little Crow,
has offered me the honored position of his chief
soldier, ta akich-itah!" he said to himself with
The sun was just over the eastem bank of the
Minnesota River, and he could distinctly see
upon the level prairie the dwellings of logs
which had sprung up there during the year,
since Little Crow's last treaty with the whites.
"Ugh! they are taking from us our beautiful
and game-teeming country!" was his thought
as he gazed upon them.
At that moment, out of the conical white
teepee, in shape like a new-born mushroom,
there burst two little frisky boys, leaping and
whooping. They were clad gracefully in gar-
ments of fine deerskin, and each wore a minia-
ture feather upon his head, marking them as
children of a distinguished warrior.
They danced nimbly around their father,
while he stood with all the dignity of a buck
elk, viewing the landscape reddened by sunrise
and the dwellers therein, the old and the new,
the red and the white. He noticed that they
were still unmingled; the river divided them.
At last he took the dancing little embryo
warriors one in either hand, and lifted them to
his majestic shoulders. There he placed them
in perfect poise. His haughty spirit found a
moment's happiness in fatherhood.
Suddenly Tawasuota set the two boys on the
ground again, and signed to them to enter the
teepee. Apparently all was quiet. The camps
and villages of the Minnesota reservation were
undisturbed, so far as he could see, save by the
awakening of nature; and the early risers
among his people moved about in seeming se-
curity, while the smoke of their morning fires
arose one by one into the blue. Still the war-
rior gazed steadily westward, up the river,
whence his quick ear had caught the faint but
ominous sound of a distant war-whoop.
The ridge beyond the Wahpeton village
bounded the view, and between this point and
his own village were the agency buildings and
the traders' stores. The Indian's keen eye
swept the horizon, and finally alighted once
more upon the home of his new neighbor across
the river, the flaxen-haired white man with
many children, who with his white squaw and
his little ones worked from sunrise to sunset,
much like the beaver family.
Ah! the distant war-whoop once more saluted
his ear, but this time nearer and more distinct.
"What! the Rice Creek band is coming in
full war-paint! Can it be another Ojibway at-
tack? Ugh, ugh! I will show their warriors
again this day what it is to fight!" he exclaimed
The white traders and Government employ-
ees, those of them who were up and about,
heard and saw the advancing column of war-
riors. Yet they showed no sign of anxiety or
fear. Most of them thought that there might
be some report of Ojibways coming to attack
the Sioux,--a not uncommon incident,--and
that those warriors were on their way to the
post to replenish their powder-horns. A few
of the younger men were delighted with the
prospect of witnessing an Indian fight.
On swept the armed band, in numbers in-
creasing at every village.
It was true that there had been a growing
feeling of distrust among the Indians, because
their annuities had been withheld for a long
time, and the money payments had been delayed
again and again. There were many in great
need. The traders had given them credit to
some extent (charging them four times the
value of the article purchased), and had like-
wise induced Little Crow to sign over to them
ninety-eight thousand dollars, the purchase-price
of that part of their reservation lying north
of the Minnesota, and already occupied by the
This act had made the chief very unpop-
ular, and he was ready for a desperate ven-
ture to regain his influence. Certain warriors
among the upper bands of Sioux had even
threatened his life, but no one spoke openly of
a break with the whites.
When, therefore, the news came to Little
Crow that some roving hunters of the Rice
Creek band had killed in a brawl two families
of white settlers, he saw his opportunity to show
once for all to the disaffected that he had no
love for the white man. Immediately he sprang
upon his white horse, and prepared to make
their cause a general one among his people.
Tawasuota had scarcely finished his hasty
preparations for war, by painting his face and
seeing to the loading of his gun, when he heard
the voice of Little Crow outside his lodge.
"You are now my head soldier," said the
chief, "and this is your first duty. Little Six
and his band have inaugurated the war against
the whites. They have already wiped out two
families, and are now on their way to the agency.
Let my chief soldier fire the first shot.
"Those Indians who have cut their hair and
donned the white man's clothing may give the
warning; so make haste! If you fall to-day,
there is no better day on which to die, and the
women of our tribe will weep proud tears for
Tawasuota. I leave it with you to lead my
warriors." With these words the wily chief
galloped away to meet the war-party.
"Here comes Little Crow, the friend of the
white man!" exclaimed a warrior, as he ap-
"Friends and warriors, you will learn to-day
who are the friends of the white man, and none
will dare again to insinuate that I have been
against the interests of my own people," he
After a brief consultation with the chiefs he
advised the traders:
"Do not hesitate to fill the powder-horns of
my warriors; they may be compelled to fight all
Soon loud yells were heard along the road
to the Indian village.
"Ho, ho! Tawasuota u ye do!" (He is
coming; he is coming!") shouted the warriors
The famous war-chief dismounted in silence,
gun in hand, and walked directly toward the
"Friend," he exclaimed, "we may both meet
the 'Great Mystery' to-day, but you must go
There was a loud report, and the unsuspect-
ing white man lay dead. It was James Lynd,
one of the early traders, and a good friend to
No sooner had Tawasuota fired the fatal shot
than every other Indian discharged his piece.
Hither and thither ran the frantic people, seek-
ing safety, but seeking it in vain. They were
wholly unprepared and at the mercy of the foe.
The friendly Indians, too, were taken entirely
by surprise. They had often heard wild talk
of revolt, but it had never had the indorsement
of intelligent chiefs, or of such a number as to
carry any weight to their minds. Christian In-
dians rushed in every direction to save, if pos-
sible, at least the wives and children of the Gov-
ernment employees. Meanwhile, the new white
settlements along the Minnesota River were
utterly unconscious of any danger. Not a soul
dreamed of the terrible calamity that each pass-
ing moment was bringing nearer and nearer.
Tawasuota stepped aside, and took up his
pipe. He seemed almost oblivious of what he
had done. While the massacre still raged about
him in all its awful cruelty, he sat smoking and
trying to think collectedly, but his mind was
confused, and in his secret thoughts he rebelled
against Little Crow. It was a cowardly deed
that he had been ordered to commit, he
thought; for he had won his reputation solely
by brave deeds in battle, and this was more like
murdering one of his own tribesmen--this kill-
ing of an unarmed white man. Up to this time
the killing of a white man was not counted the
deed of a warrior; it was murder.
The lesser braves might now satisfy their
spite against the traders to their hearts' con-
tent, but Tawasuota had been upon the best of
terms with all of them.
Suddenly a ringing shout was heard. The
chief soldier looked up, and beheld a white man,
nearly nude, leap from the roof of the larger
store and alight upon the ground hard by
He had emptied one barrel of his gun, and,
if he chose to do so, could have killed Myrick
then and there; but he made no move, exclaim-
"Ho, ho! Nina iyaye!" ("Run, run!")
Away sped the white man in the direction of
the woods and the river.
"Ah, he is swift; he will save himself,"
All the Indians had now spied the fugitive;
they yelled and fired at him again and again,
as if they were shooting at a running deer; but
he only ran faster. Just as he had reached the
very edge of the sheltering timber a single shot
rang out, and he fell headlong.
A loud war-whoop went up, for many be-
lieved that this was one of the men who had
stolen their trust funds.
Tawasuota continued to sit and smoke in the
shade while the carnage and plunder that he
had set on foot proceeded on all sides of him.
Presently men began to form small parties to
cross the river on their mission of death, but
he refused to join any of them. At last, several
of the older warriors came up to smoke with
"Ho, nephew," said one of them with much
gravity, "you have precipitated a dreadful ca-
lamity. This means the loss of our country,
the destruction of our nation. What were you
It was the Wahpeton chief who spoke, a
blood-relation to Tawasuota. He did not at
once reply, but filled his pipe in silence, and
handed it to the man who thus reproached him.
It was a just rebuke; for he was a brave man,
and he could have refused the request of his
chief to open the massacre.
At this moment it was announced that a body
of white soldiers were on the march from Fort
Ridgeley. A large body of warriors set out to
"Nephew, you have spilled the first blood
of the white man; go, join in battle with the sol-
diers. They are armed; they can defend them-
selves," remarked the old chief, and Tawasuota
"Uncle, you speak truth; I have committed
the act of a coward. It was not of my own
will I did it; nevertheless, I have raised my
weapon, and I will fight the whites as long as
I live. If I am ever taken, they will first have
to kill me." He arose, took up his gun, and
joined the war-party.
The dreadful day of massacre was almost
ended. The terrified Sioux women and children
had fled up the river before the approaching
troops. Long shafts of light from the setting
sun painted every hill; one side red as with
blood, the other dark as the shadow of death.
A cloud of smoke from burning homes hung
over the beautiful river. Even the permanent
dwellings of the Indians were empty, and all
the teepees which had dotted with their white
cones the west bank of the Minnesota had dis-
appeared. Here and there were small groups
of warriors returning from their bloody work,
and among them was Tawasuota.
He looked long at the spot where his home
had stood; but it was gone, and with it his
family. Ah, the beautiful country of his an-
cestors! he must depart from it forever, for he
knew now that the white man would occupy
that land. Sadly he sang the spirit-song, and
made his appeal to the "Great Mystery," ex-
cusing himself by the plea that what he had done
had been in the path of duty. There was no
glory in it for him; he could wear no eagle
feather, nor could he ever recount the deed. It
was dreadful to him--the thought that he had
fired upon an unarmed and helpless man.
The chief soldier followed the broad trail
of the fleeing host, and after some hours he
came upon a camp. There were no war-songs
nor dances there, as was their wont after a bat-
tle, but a strange stillness reigned. Even the
dogs scarcely barked at his approach; every-
thing seemed conscious of the awful carnage
of the day.
He stopped at a tent and inquired after his
beautiful wife and two little sons, whom he had
already trained to uphold their father's repu-
tation, but was directed to his mother's teepee.
"Ah, my son, my son, what have you done?"
cried his old mother when she saw him.
"Come in, come in; let us eat together once
more ; for I have a foreboding that it is for
the last time. Alas, what have you done?"
Tawasuota silently entered the tent of his
widowed mother, and his three sisters gave him
the place of honor.
"Mother, it is not right to blame our
brother," said the eldest. "He was the chief's
head soldier; and if he had disobeyed his orders,
he would have been called a coward. That he
could not bear."
Food was handed him, and he swallowed a
few mouthfuls, and gave back the dish.
"You have not yet told me where she is,
and the children," he said with a deep sigh.
"My son, my son, I have not, because it will
give you pain. I wanted you to eat first! She
has been taken away by her own mother to Fari-
bault, among the white people. I could not
persuade them to wait until you came. Her peo-
ple are lovers of the whites. They have even
accepted their religion," grieved the good old
Tawasuota's head dropped upon his chest,
and he sat silent for a long time. The mother
and three sisters were also silent, for they knew
how heavy his grief must be. At last he spoke.
"Mother, I am too proud to desert the tribe
now and join my wife among the white people.
My brother-in-law may lie in my behalf, and
say that my hands are not stained with blood;
but the spirits of those who died to-day would
rebuke me, and the rebuke would be just. No,
I must fight the whites until I die; and neither
have I fought without cause; but I must see
my sons once more before I go."
When Tawasuota left his mother's teepee
he walked fast across the circle toward the coun-
cil lodge to see Little Crow. He drew his
blanket closely about him, with his gun under-
neath. The keen eye of the wily chief detected
the severe expression upon the face of his guest,
and he hastened to speak first.
"There are times in the life of every great
man when he must face hardship and put self
aside for the good of his people. You have
done well to-day!"
"I care little for myself," replied Tawasu-
ota, "but my heart is heavy to-night. My wife
and two boys have been taken away among the
whites by my mother-in-law. I fear for their
safety, when it is known what we have done."
"Ugh, that old woman is too hasty in ac-
cepting the ways of the stranger people!" ex-
claimed the chief.
"I am now on my way to see them," declared
"Ugh, ugh, I shall need you to-morrow!
My plan is to attack the soldiers at Fort Ridge-
ley with a strong force. There are not many.
Then we shall attack New Ulm and other
towns. We will drive them all back into Saint
Paul and Fort Snelling." Little Crow spoke
"You must stay," he added, "and lead the
attack either at the fort or at New Ulm."
For some minutes the chief soldier sat in
At last he said simply, "I will do it."
On the following day the attack was made,
but it was unsuccessful. The whole State was
now alarmed, and all the frontier settlers left
alive had flocked to the larger and more pro-
tected towns. It had also developed during the
day that there was a large party of Sioux who
were ready to surrender, thereby showing that
they had not been party to the massacre nor in-
dorsed the hasty action of the tribe.
At evening Tawasuota saw that there would
be a long war with the whites, and that the In-
dians must remove their families out of danger.
The feeling against all Indians was great.
Night had brought him no relief of mind, but
it promised to shield him in a hazardous under-
taking. He consulted no one, but set out for
the distant village of Faribault.
He kept to the flats back of the Minnesota,
away from the well-traveled roads, and moved
on at a good gait, for he realized that he had
to cover a hundred miles in as few hours as
possible. Every day that passed would make
it more difficult for him to rejoin his family.
Although he kept as far as he could from the
settlements, he would come now and then upon
a solitary frame house, razed to the ground by
the war-parties of the day before. The mem-
bers of the ill-fated family were to be seen scat-
tered in and about the place; and their white,
upturned faces told him that his race must pay
for the deed.
The dog that howled pitifully over the dead
was often the only survivor of the farmer's
Occasionally Tawasuota heard at a distance
the wagons of the fugitives, loaded with women
and children, while armed men walked before
and behind. These caravans were usually
drawn by oxen and moved slowly toward some
When the dawn appeared in the east, the
chief soldier was compelled to conceal himself
in a secluded place. He rolled up in his
blanket, lay down in a dry creek-bed among the
red willows and immediately fell asleep.
With the next evening he resumed his jour-
ney, and reached Faribault toward midnight.
Even here every approach was guarded against
the possibility of an Indian attack. But there
was much forest, and he knew the country well.
He reconnoitred, and soon found the Indian
community, but dared not approach and enter,
for these Indians had allied themselves with
the whites; they would be charged with treach-
ery if it were known that they had received a
hostile Sioux, and none were so hated by the
white people as Little Crow and his war-chief.
He chose a concealed position from which
he might watch the movements of his wife, if
she were indeed there, and had not been way-
laid and slain on the journey hither.
That night was the hardest one that the war-
rior had ever known. If he slept, it was only
to dream of the war-whoop and attack; but at
last he found himself broad awake, the sun well
up, and yes! there were his two little sons, play-
ing outside their teepee as of old. The next
moment he heard the voice of his wife from the
deep woods wailing for her husband!
"Oh, take us, husband, take us with you! let
us all die together!" she pleaded as she clung
to him whom she had regarded as already
dead; for she knew of the price that had been
put upon his head, and that some of the half-
breeds loved money better than the blood of
their Indian mothers.
Tawasuota stood for a minute without speak-
ing, while his huge frame trembled like a mighty
pine beneath the thunderbolt.
"No," he said at last. "I shall go, but you
must remain. You are a woman, and the white
people need not know that your little boys are
mine. Bring them here to me this evening that
I may kiss them farewell."
The sun was hovering among the treetops
when they met again.
"Atay! atay!" ("Papa, papa!") the little
fellows cried out in spite of her cautions; but
the mother put her finger to her lips, and they
became silent. Tawasuota took each boy in his
arms, and held him close for a few moments;
he smiled to them, but large tears rolled down
his cheeks. Then he disappeared in the shad-
ows, and they never saw him again.
The chief soldier lived and died a warrior
and an enemy to the white man; but one of his
two sons became in after-years a minister of the
Christian gospel, under the "Long-Haired
Praying Man," Bishop Whipple, of Minnesota.
THE WHITE MAN'S ERRAND
Upon the wide tableland that lies at the
back of a certain Indian agency, a camp
of a thousand teepees was pitched in a
circle, according to the ancient usage. In the
center of the circle stood the council lodge, where
there were gathered together of an afternoon all
the men of years and distinction, some in blank-
ets, some in uniform, and still others clad in
beggarly white man's clothing. But the minds
of all were alike upon the days of their youth
Around the council fire they passed and re-
passed the pipe of peace, and when the big drum
was struck they sang the accompaniment with
sad yet pleasant thoughts of the life that is past.
Between the songs stories of brave deeds and
dangerous exploits were related by the actors in
turn, with as much spirit and zest as if they were
still living in those days.
"Tum, tum, tum," the drum was sounded.
"Oow, oow!" they hooted in a joyous chorus
at the close of each refrain.
"Ho!" exclaimed finally the master of cere-
monies for the evening. "It is Zuyamani's story
of his great ride that we should now hear! It
was not far from this place, upon the Missouri
River, and within the recollection of many of
us that this occurred. Ye young men must
"Ho, ho!" was the ready response of all pres-
ent, and the drum was struck once according to
custom. The pipe was filled and handed to Zuy-
amani, who gravely smoked for a few moments
in silence. Then he related his contribution to
the unwritten history of our frontier in these
"It was during the winter following that sum-
mer in which General Sibley pursued many of our
people across the Muddy River (1863), that we
Hunkpatees, friendly Sioux, were camping at a
place called 'Hunt-the-Deer,' about two miles
from Fort Rice, Dakota Territory.
"The Chief Soldier of the garrison called one
day upon the leading chiefs of our band. To
each one he said: 'Lend me your bravest war-
rior!' Each chief called his principal warriors
together and laid the matter before them.
"'The Chief Soldier at this place,' they ex-
plained, 'wants to send a message to Fort Ber-
thold, where the Rees and Mandans live, to an-
other Chief Soldier there. The soldiers of the
Great Father do not know the way, neither could
any of them get through the lines. He asks for
a brave man to carry his message.'
"The Mandans and the Rees were our hered-
itary enemies, but this was not the principal rea-
son for our hesitation. We had declared alle-
giance to the Great Father at Washington; we
had taken our stand against the fighting men
of our own nation, and the hostile Sioux were
worse than enemies to us at this time!
"Each chief had only called on his leading
warriors, and each in turn reported his failure to
secure a volunteer.
"Then the Chief Soldier sent again and said:
'Is there not a young man among you who dares
to face death? If he reaches the fort with my
message, he will need to be quick-witted as well
as brave, and the Great Father will not forget
"Now all the chiefs together called all the
young men in a great council, and submitted to
them the demand of the Great Father's servant.
We knew well that the country between us and
Fort Berthold, about one hundred and fifty miles
distant, was alive with hostile Sioux, and that if
any of us should be caught and recognized by
them, he would surely be put to death. It would
not be easy to deceive them by professing hostil-
ity to the Government, for the record of each
individual Indian is well known. The warriors
were still unwilling to go, for they argued thus:
'This is a white man's errand, and will not be
recorded as a brave deed upon the honor roll
of our people.' I think many would have vol-
unteered but for that belief. At that time we
had not a high opinion of the white man.
"Since all the rest were silent, it came into
my mind to offer my services. The warriors
looked at me in astonishment, for I was a very
young man and had no experience.
"Our chief, Two Bears, who was my own
uncle, finally presented my name to the command-
ing officer. He praised my courage and begged
me to be vigilant. The interpreter told him
that I had never been upon the war-path and
would be knocked over like a rabbit, but as no
one else would go, he was obliged to accept me
as his messenger. He gave me a fine horse and
saddle; also a rifle and soldier's uniform. I
would not take the gun nor wear the blue coat.
I accepted only a revolver, and I took my bow
and quiver full of arrows, and wore my usual
dress. I hid the letter in my moccasin.
"I set out before daybreak the next morning.
The snow was deep. I rode up the river, on
the west bank, keeping a very close watch all the
way, but seeing nothing. I had been provided
with a pair of field glasses, and I surveyed the
country on all sides from the top of every hill.
Having traveled all day and part of the night,
I rested my horse and I took a little sleep.
"After eating a small quantity of pemmican,
I made a very early start in the morning. It was
scarcely light when I headed for a near-by ridge
from which to survey the country beyond. Just
as I ascended the rise I found myself almost sur-
rounded by loose ponies, evidently belonging to
a winter camp of the hostile Sioux.
"I readjusted my saddle, tightened the girths,
and prepared to ride swiftly around the camp.
I saw some men already out after ponies. No
one appeared to have seen me as yet, but I felt
that as soon as it became lighter they could not
help observing me. I turned to make the circuit
of the camp, which was a very large one, and
as soon as I reached the timbered bottom lands
I began to congratulate myself that I had not
"As I entered the woods at the crossing of a
dry creek, I noticed that my horse was nervous.
I knew that horses are quick to discover animals
or men by scent, and I became nervous, too.
"The animal put his four feet together and
almost slid down the steep bank. As he came
out on the opposite side he swerved suddenly and
started to run. Then I saw a man watching me
from behind a tree. Fortunately for me, he
carried no weapon. He was out after ponies,
and had only a lariat wound upon one shoulder.
"He beckoned and made signs for me to stop,
but I spurred my horse and took flight at once.
I could hear him yelling far behind me, no doubt
to arouse the camp and set them on my trail.
"As I fled westward, I came upon another
man, mounted, and driving his ponies before him.
He yelled and hooted in vain; then turned and
rode after me. Two others had started in pur-
suit, but my horse was a good one, and I easily
outdistanced them at the start.
"After I had fairly circled the camp, I turned
again toward the river, hoping to regain the bot-
tom lands. The traveling was bad. Sometimes
we came to deep gulches filled with snow, where
my horse would sink in up to his body and seem
unable to move. When I jumped off his back
and struck him once or twice, he would make
several desperate leaps and recover his footing.
My pursuers were equally hindered, but by this
time the pursuit was general, and in order to
terrify me they yelled continually and fired their
guns into the air. Now and then I came to a
gulch which I had to follow up in search of a
place to cross, and at such times they gained on
me. I began to despair, for I knew that the
white man's horses have not the endurance of
our Indian ponies, and I expected to be chased
most of the day.
"Finally I came to a ravine that seemed im-
possible to cross. As I followed it up, it became
evident that some of them had known of this
trap, and had cut in ahead of me. I felt that I
must soon abandon my horse and slide down the
steep sides of the gulch to save myself.
"However, I made one last effort to pass my
enemies. They came within gunshot and several
fired at me, although all our horses were going
at full speed. They missed me, and being at
last clear of them, I came to a place where I
could cross, and the pursuit stopped."
When Zuyamani reached this point in his
recital, the great drum was struck several times,
and all the men cheered him.
"The days are short in winter," he went on
after a short pause, "and just now the sun sank
behind the hills. I did not linger. I continued
my journey by night, and reached Fort Berthold
before midnight. I had been so thoroughly
frightened and was so much exhausted that I
did not want to talk, and as soon as I had de-
livered my letters to the post commander, I went
to the interpreter's quarters to sleep.
"The interpreter, however, announced my
arrival, and that same night many Ree, Gros
Ventre, and Mandan warriors came to call upon
me. Among them was a great chief of the Rees,
called Poor Dog.
"'You must be,' said he to me, 'either a very
young man, or a fool! You have not told us
about your close escape, but a runner came in at
dusk and told us of the pursuit. He reported
that you had been killed by the hostiles, for he
heard many guns fired about the middle of the
afternoon. These white men will never give
you any credit for your wonderful ride, nor will
they compensate you for the risks you have
taken in their service. They will not give you
so much as one eagle feather for what you have
"The next day I was sent for to go to head-
quarters, and there I related my all-day pursuit
by the hostile Sioux. The commanding officer
advised me to remain at the fort fifteen days
before making the return trip, thinking that by
that time my enemies might cease to look for me.
"At the end of the fortnight he wrote his
letters, and I told him that I was ready to start.
'I will give you,' he said, 'twenty Rees and
Gros Ventres to escort you past the hostile
camp.' We set out very early and rode all day,
so that night overtook us just before we reached
"At nightfall we sent two scouts ahead, but
before they left us they took the oath of the
pipe in token of their loyalty. You all know the
ancient war custom. A lighted pipe was held
toward them and each one solemnly touched it,
after which it was passed as usual.
"We followed more slowly, and at about
midnight we came to the place where our scouts
had agreed to meet us. They were to return
from a reconnaissance of the camp and report
on what they had seen. It was a lonely spot,
and the night was very cold and still. We sat
there in the snowy woods near a little creek and
smoked in silence while we waited. I had plenty
of time to reflect upon my position. These
Gros Ventres and Rees have been our enemies
for generations. I was one man to twenty!
They had their orders from the commander of
the fort, and that was my only safeguard.
"Soon we heard the howl of a wolf a little
to the westward. Immediately one of the party
answered in the same manner. I could not have
told it from the howl of a real wolf. Then we
heard a hooting owl down the creek. Another
of our party hooted like an owl.
"Presently the wolf's voice sounded nearer,
while the owl's hoot came nearer in the opposite
direction. Then we heard the footsteps of
ponies on the crisp, frosty air. The scout who
had been imitating the wolf came in first, and
the owl soon followed. The warriors made a
ring and again filled the pipe, and the scouts
took the oath for the second time.
"After smoking, they reported a trail going
up a stream tributary to the Missouri, but
whether going out or coming in it was impos-
sible to tell in the dark. It was several days
old. This was discussed for some time. The
question was whether some had gone out in
search of meat, or whether some additional men
had come into camp.
"The Bunch of Stars was already a little west
of the middle sky when we set out again. They
agreed to take me a short distance beyond this
creek and there leave me, as they were afraid
to go any further. On the bank of the creek
we took a farewell smoke. There was a faint
glow in the east, showing that it was almost
morning. The warriors sang a 'Strong Heart'
song for me in an undertone as I went on alone.
"I tried to make a wide circuit of the camp,
but I passed their ponies grazing all over the
side hills at a considerable distance, and I went
as quietly as possible, so as not to frighten them.
When I had fairly passed the camp I came down
to the road again, and I let my horse fly!
"I had been cautioned at the post that the
crossings of the creeks on either side of the
camp were the most dangerous places, since they
would be likely to watch for me there. I had
left the second crossing far behind, and I felt
quite safe; but I was tired and chilled by the
long ride. My horse, too, began to show signs
of fatigue. In a deep ravine where there was
plenty of dry wood and shelter, I cleared the
ground of snow and kindled a small fire. Then
I gave the horse his last ration of oats, and I
ate the last of the pemmican that the Ree scouts
had given me.
"Suddenly he pricked up his ears in the di-
rection of home. He ate a mouthful and listened
again. I began to grow nervous, and I listened,
too. Soon I heard the footsteps of horses in
the snow at a considerable distance.
"Hastily I mounted and took flight along
the ravine until I had to come out upon the
open plain, in full view of a party of about
thirty Sioux in war-paint, coming back from the
direction of Fort Rice. They immediately gave
chase, yelling and flourishing their guns and
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