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Title: Old Indian Days
Author: Eastman, Charles Alexander
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Old Indian Days" ***

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By Charles A. Eastman


    My Daughters
    I Dedicate
    these Stories of the Old Indian Life,
    and especially of
    the Courageous and Womanly Indian Woman






      VI.  BLUE SKY





Upon a hanging precipice atop of the Eagle Scout Butte there appeared a
motionless and solitary figure--almost eagle-like he perched! The people
in the camp below saw him, but none looked at him long. They turned
their heads quickly away with a nervous tingling, for the height above
the plains was great. Almost spirit-like among the upper clouds the
young warrior sat immovable.

It was Antelope. He was fasting and seeking a sign from the “Great
Mystery,” for such was the first step of the young and ambitious Sioux
[who wished to be a noted warrior among his people].

He is a princely youth, among the wild Sioux, who hunts for his tribe
and not for himself! His voice is soft and low at the campfire of his
nation, but terror-giving in the field of battle. Such was Antelope’s
reputation. The more he sought the “Great Mystery” in solitude, the more
gentle and retiring he became, and in the same proportion his courage
and manliness grew. None could say that he was not a kind son and a good
hunter, for he had already passed the “two-arrow-to-kill,” his buffalo

On a hot midsummer morning a few weeks later, while most of the inmates
of the teepees were breakfasting in the open air, the powerful voice of
the herald resounded among the pine-clad heights and green valleys.

“Hear ye, hear ye, warriors!” he chanted loudly. “The council has
decreed that four brave young men must scout the country to the
sunsetward of the camp, for the peace and protection of our people!”

All listened eagerly for the names of the chosen warriors, and in
another moment there came the sonorous call: “Antelope, Antelope! the
council has selected you!”

The camp was large--fully four hundred paces across; but in that
country, in the clear morning air, such an announcement can be heard a
great way, and in the silence that followed the hills repeated over and
over the musical name of Antelope.

In due time the four chosen youths appeared before the council fire.
The oath of the pipe was administered, and each took a few whiffs as
reverently as a Churchman would partake of the sacrament. The chief of
the council, who was old and of a striking appearance, gave the charge
and command to the youthful braves.

There was a score or more of warriors ready mounted to escort them
beyond the precincts of the camp, and the “fearless heart” song was sung
according to the custom, as the four ran lightly from the door of the
council teepee and disappeared in the woods.

It was a peculiarly trying and hazardous moment in which to perform
the duties of a scout. The Sioux were encroaching upon the territory of
hostile tribes, here in the foot-hills of the Big Horn Mountains, and
now and then one of their hunters was cut off by the enemy. If continual
vigilance could not save them, it might soon become necessary to retreat
to their own hunting-grounds.

It was a savage fetish that a warrior must be proof against the alluring
ways of pretty maidens; that he must place his honor far above the
temptations of self-indulgence and indolence. Cold, hunger, and personal
hardship did not count with Antelope when there was required of him
any special exertion for the common good. It was cause to him of secret
satisfaction that the council-men had selected him for a dangerous
service in preference to some of his rivals and comrades.

He had been running for two or three hours at a good, even gait, and had
crossed more than one of the smaller creeks, yet many deep gulches and
bad lands lay between him and the furthest peak that melted into the
blue dome above.

“I shall stand upon the Bear’s Heart,” he said to himself. “If I can
do that, and still report before the others, I shall do well!” His keen
eyes were constantly sweeping the country in his front, and suddenly
he paused and shrank back motionless in a crouching attitude, still
steadily keeping an eye upon a moving object. It was soon evident
that some one was stealthily eying him from behind cover, and he was
outwitted by the enemy! Still stooping, he glided down a little ravine,
and as he reached the bed of the creek there emerged from it a large
gray wolf.

This was very opportune for Antelope. He gave the gray wolf’s
danger-call with all his might; waited an instant and gave it a second
time; then he turned and ran fleetly down the stream. At the same moment
the wolf appeared upon the top of the bank, in full view of the enemy.

“Here he comes!” they whispered, and had their arrows on the string as
the wolf trotted leisurely along, exposing only his head, for this was a
common disguise among the plains Indians. But when he came out into the
open, behold! it was only a gray wolf!

“Ugh!” the Utes grunted, as they looked at each other in much chagrin.

“Surely he was a man, and coming directly into our trap! We sang and
prayed to the gods of war when our war chief sent us ahead to scout the
Sioux people, to find their camp. This is a mystery, a magic! Either he
is a Sioux in disguise, or we don’t know their tricks!” exclaimed the

Now they gave the war-whoop, and their arrows flew through the air. The
wolf gave a yelp of distress, staggered and fell dead. Instantly they
ran to examine the body, and found it to be truly that of a wolf.

“Either this is a wonderful medicine-man, or we are shamefully fooled by
a Sioux warrior,” they muttered.

They lost several minutes before they caught sight of Antelope, who had
followed the bed of the creek as far as it lay in his direction and then
came out of it at full speed. It would be safer for him to remain in
concealment until dark; but in the meantime the Ute warriors would reach
the camp, and his people were unprepared! It was necessary to expose
himself to the enemy. He knew that it would be chiefly a contest of
speed and he had an excellent start; but on the other hand, the Utes
doubtless had their horses.

“The Sioux who played this trick on us must die to-day!” exclaimed their
leader. “Come, friends, we cannot afford to let him tell this joke on us
at the camp-fires of his people!”

Antelope was headed directly for Eagle Scout Butte, for the camp was in
plain view from the top of this hill. He had run pretty much all day,
but then, that was nothing!

“I shall reach the summit first, unless the Ute horses have wings!” he
said to himself.

Looking over his shoulder, he saw five horsemen approaching, so he
examined his bow and arrows as he ran.

“All is well,” he muttered. “One of their spirits at the least must
guide mine to the spirit land!” where, it was believed by them, there
was no fighting.

Now he was within hearing of their whoops, but he was already at the
foot of the butte. Their horses could not run up the steep ascent, and
they were obliged to dismount. Like a deer the Sioux leaped from rock
to rock, and almost within arrow-shot came his pursuers, wildly whooping
and yelling.

When he had achieved the summit, he took his stand between two great
rocks, and flashed his tiny looking-glass for a distress signal into the
distant camp of his people.

For a long time no reply came, and many arrows flew over his head, as
the Utes approached gradually from rock to rock. He, too, sent down a
swift arrow now and then, to show them that he was no child or woman in
fight, but brave as a bear when it is brought to bay.

“Ho, ho!” he shouted to the enemy, in token of a brave man’s welcome to
danger and death.

They replied with yells of triumph, as they pressed more and more
closely upon him. One of their number had been dispatched to notify the
main war-party when they first saw Antelope, but he did not know this,
and his courage was undiminished. From time to time he continued to
flash his signal, and at last like lightning the little white flash came
in reply.

The sun was low when the besieged warrior discovered a large body of
horsemen approaching from the northwest. It was the Ute warparty! He
looked earnestly once more toward the Sioux camp, shading his eyes with
his right palm. There, too, were many moving specks upon the plain,
drawing toward the foot of the hill!

At the middle of the afternoon they had caught his distress signal, and
the entire camp was thrown into confusion, for but few of the men had
returned from the daily hunt. As fast as they came in, the warriors
hurried away upon their best horses, singing and yelling. When they
reached the well-known butte, towering abruptly in the midst of the
plain, they could distinguish their enemies massed behind the hanging
rocks and scattered cedar-trees, crawling up closer and closer, for the
large warparty reached the hill just as the scouts who held Antelope at
bay discovered the approach of his kinsmen.

Antelope had long since exhausted his quiver of arrows and was gathering
up many of those that fell about him to send them back among his
pursuers. When their attention was withdrawn from him for an instant by
the sudden onset of the Sioux, he sprang to his feet.

He raised both his hands heavenward in token of gratitude for his
rescue, and his friends announced with loud shouts the daring of

Both sides fought bravely, but the Utes at last retreated and were
fiercely pursued. Antelope stood at his full height upon the huge rock
that had sheltered him, and gave his yell of defiance and exultation.
Below him the warriors took it up, and among the gathering shadows the
rocks echoed praises of his name.

In the Sioux camp upon Lost Water there were dances and praise songs,
but there was wailing and mourning, too, for many lay dead among the
crags. The name of Antelope was indelibly recorded upon Eagle Scout

“If he wished for a war-bonnet of eagle feathers, it is his to wear,”
 declared one of the young men. “But he is modest, and scarcely even
joins in the scalp dances. It is said of him that he has never yet
spoken to any young woman!”

“True, it is not announced publicly that he has addressed a maiden. Many
parents would like to have their daughters the first one he would speak
to, but I am told he desires to go upon one or two more war-paths before
seeking woman’s company,” replied another.

“Hun, hun, hay!” exclaimed a third youth ill-naturedly. He is already
old enough to be a father!”

“This is told of him,” rejoined the first speaker. “He wants to hold
the record of being the young man who made the greatest number of coups
before he spoke to a maiden. I know that there are not only mothers who
would be glad to have him for a son-in-law, but their young daughters
would not refuse to look upon the brave Antelope as a husband!”

It was true that in the dance his name was often mentioned, and at every
repetition it seemed that the young women danced with more spirit, while
even grandmothers joined in the whirl with a show of youthful abandon.

Wezee, the father of Antelope, was receiving congratulations throughout
the afternoon. Many of the old men came to his lodge to smoke with him,
and the host was more than gratified, for he was of a common family and
had never before known what it is to bask in the sunshine of popularity
and distinction. He spoke complacently as he crowded a handful of
tobacco into the bowl of the long red pipe.

“Friends, our life here is short, and the life of a brave youth is apt
to be shorter than most! We crave all the happiness that we can get, and
it is right that we should do so. One who says that he does not care
for reputation or success, is not likely to be telling the truth. So you
will forgive me if I say too much about the honorable career of my son.”
 This was the old man’s philosophic apology.

“Ho, ho,” his guests graciously responded. “It is your moon! Every moon
has its fullness, when it lights up the night, while the little stars
dance before it. So to every man there comes his full moon!”

Somewhat later in the day all the young people of the great camp were
seen to be moving in one direction. All wore their best attire and
finest ornaments, and even the parti-colored steeds were decorated to
the satisfaction of their beauty-loving riders.

“Ugh, Taluta is making a maidens’ feast! She, the prettiest of all the
Unkpapa maidens!” exclaimed one of the young braves.

“She, the handsomest of all our young women!” repeated another.

Taluta was indeed a handsome maid in the height and bloom of womanhood,
with all that wonderful freshness and magnetism which was developed
and preserved by the life of the wilderness. She had already given five
maidens’ feasts, beginning with her fifteenth year, and her shy and
diffident purity was held sacred by her people.

The maidens’ circle was now complete. Behind it the outer circle of old
women was equally picturesque and even more dignified. The grandmother,
not the mother, was regarded as the natural protector of the young
maiden, and the dowagers derived much honor from their position,
especially upon public occasions, taking to themselves no small amount
of credit for the good reputations of their charges.

Weshawee, whose protege had many suitors and was a decided coquette,
fidgeted nervously and frequently adjusted her robe or fingered
her necklace to ease her mind, for she dreaded lest, in spite of
watchfulness, some mishap might have befallen her charge. Her anxiety
was apparently shared by several other chaperons who stole occasional
suspicious glances in the direction of certain of the young braves.
It had been known to happen that a girl unworthy to join in the sacred
feast was publicly disgraced.

A special police force was appointed to keep order on this occasion,
each member of which was gorgeously painted and bedecked with eagle
feathers, and carried in his hand a long switch with which to threaten
the encroaching throng. Their horses wore head-skins of fierce animals
to add to their awe-inspiring appearance.

The wild youths formed the outer circle of the gathering, attired like
the woods in autumn, their long locks glossy with oil and perfumed with
scented grass and leaves. Many pulled their blankets over their heads as
if to avoid recognition, and loitered shyly at a distance.

Among these last were Antelope and his cousin, Red Eagle. They stood
in the angle formed by the bodies of their steeds, whose noses were
together. The young hero was completely enveloped in his handsome robe
with a rainbow of bead-work acros the middle, and his small moccasined
feet projected from beneath the lower border. Red Eagle held up an
eagle-wing fan, partially concealing his face, and both gazed intently
toward the center of the maidens’ circle.

“Woo! woo!” was the sonorous exclamation of the police, announcing the
beginning of the ceremonies. In the midst of the ring of girls stood the
traditional heart-shaped red stone, with its bristling hedge of arrows.
In this case there were five arrows, indicating that Taluta had already
made as many maidens’ feasts. Each of the maidens must lay her hand upon
the stone in token of her purity and chastity, touching also as many
arrows as she herself has attended maidens’ feasts.

Taluta advanced first to the center. As she stood for a moment beside
the sacred stone, she appeared to the gazing bystanders the embodiment
of grace and modesty. Her gown, adorned with long fringes at the seams,
was beaded in blue and white across the shoulders and half way to her
waist. Her shining black hair was arranged in two thick plaits which
hung down upon her bosom. There was a native dignity in her gestures
and in her utterance of the maidens’ oath, and as she turned to face the
circle, all the other virgins followed her.

When the feast was ended and the gay concourse had dispersed, Antelope
and his cousin were among the last to withdraw. The young man’s eyes had
followed every movement of Taluta as long as she remained in sight,
and it was only when she vanished in the gathering shadows that he was
willing to retire.

In savage courtship, it was the custom to introduce one’s self boldly
to the young lady, although sometimes it was convenient to have a sister
introduce her brother. But Antelope had no sister to perform this office
for him, and if he had had one, he would not have made the request. He
did not choose to admit any one to his secret, for he had no confidence
in himself or in the outcome of the affair. If it had been anything like
trailing the doe, or scouting the Ojibway, he would have ridiculed the
very notion of missing the object sought. But this was a new warfare--an
unknown hunting! Although he was very anxious to meet Taluta, whenever
the idea occurred to him he trembled like a leaf in the wind, and
profuse perspiration rolled down his stoic visage. It was not customary
to hold any social intercourse with the members of the opposite sex,
and he had never spoken familiarly to any woman since he became a man,
except his old grandmother. It was well known that the counsel of the
aged brings luck to the youth in warfare and love.

Antelope arose early the next morning, and without speaking to any one
he made a ceremonious toilet. He put on his finest buckskin shirt and
a handsome robe, threw a beaded quiver over his shoulder, and walked
directly away from the teepees and into the forest--he did not know why
nor whither. The sounds of the camp grew fainter and fainter, until at
last he found himself alone.

“How is it,” mused the young man, “that I have hoped to become a leader
among my people? My father is not a chief, and none of my ancestors were
distinguished in war. I know well that, if I desire to be great, I
must deny myself the pleasure of woman’s company until I have made my
reputation. I must not boast nor exhibit myself on my first success. The
spirits do not visit the common haunts of men! All these rules I have
thus far kept, and I must not now yield to temptation.... Man has
much to weaken his ambition after he is married. A young man may seek
opportunities to prove his worth, but to a married man the opportunity
must come to try him. He acts only when compelled to act.... Ah, I
must flee from the woman!... Besides, if she should like someone else
better, I should be humiliated.... I must go upon a long war-path. I
shall forget her....”

At this point his revery was interrupted by the joyous laughter of
two young women. The melodious sing-song laughter of the Sioux maiden
stirred the very soul of the young warrior.

All his philosophy deserted him, and he stood hesitating, looking about
him as if for a chance of escape. A man who had never before felt the
magnetic influence of woman in her simplicity and childlike purity, he
became for the moment incapable of speech or action.

Meanwhile the two girls were wholly unconscious of any disturbing
presence in the forest. They were telling each other the signals that
each had received in the dance. Taluta’s companion had stopped at the
first raspberry bushes, while she herself passed on to the next thicket.
When she emerged from the pines into an opening, she suddenly beheld
Antelope, in his full-dress suit of courtship. Instantly she dropped her

Luckily the customs of courtship among the Sioux allow the covering
of one’s head with the blanket. In this attitude, the young man made a
signal to Taluta with trembling fingers.

The wild red man’s wooing was natural and straightforward; there was no
circumspection, no maneuvering for time or advantage. Hot words of love
burst forth from the young warrior’s lips, with heavy breathing behind
the folds of the robe with which he sought to shield his embarrassment.

“For once the spirits are guiding my fortunes! It may seem strange to
you, when we meet thus by accident, that I should speak immediately of
my love for you; but we live in a world where one must speak when the
opportunity offers. I have thought much of you since I saw you at the
maidens’ feast.... Is Taluta willing to become the wife of Tatoka? The
moccasins of her making will cause his feet to be swift in pursuit of
the game, and on the trail of the enemy.... I beg of you, maiden, let
our meeting be known only to the birds of the air, while you consider my

All this while the maiden stood demurely at his side, playing with
the lariat of her pony in her brown, fine hands. Her doeskin gown with
profuse fringes hung gracefully as the drooping long leaves of the
willow, and her two heavy braids of black hair, mingled with strings
of deers’ hoofs and wampum, fell upon her bosom. There was a faint glow
underneath her brown skin, and her black eyes were calm and soft, yet
full of native fire.

“You will not press for an answer now,” she gently replied, without
looking at him. “I expected to see no one here, and your words have
taken me by surprise.... I grant your last request. The birds alone can
indulge in gossip about our meeting,--unless my cousin, who is in the
next ravine, should see us together!” She sprang lightly upon the back
of her pony, and disappeared among the scattered pines.

Between the first lovers’ meeting and the second was a period of one
moon. This was wholly the fault of Antelope, who had been a prey
to indecision and painful thoughts. Half regretting his impulsive
declaration, and hoping to forget his pangs in the chances of travel and
war, he had finally enlisted in the number of those who were to go with
the war-leader Crowhead into the Ute country. As was the custom of the
Sioux warriors upon the eve of departure, the young men consulted their
spiritual advisers, and were frequently in the purifying vapor-bath, and
fasting in prayer.

The last evening had come, and Antelope was on the way to the top of the
hill behind the camp for a night of prayer. Suddenly in the half-light
he came full upon Taluta, leading her pony down the narrow trail. She
had never looked more beautiful to the youth than at that moment.

“Ho,” he greeted her. She simply smiled shyly.

“It is long since we met,” he ventured.

“I have concluded that you do not care to hear my reply,” retorted the

“I have nothing to say in my defense, but I hope that you will be
generous. I have suffered much.... You will understand why I stand far
from you,” he added gently. “I have been preparing myself to go upon
the warpath. We start at daylight for the Ute country. Every day for ten
days I have been in the vapor-bath, and ten nights fasting.”

As Taluta well knew, a young warrior under these circumstances dared not
approach a woman, not even his own wife.

“I still urge you to be my wife. Are you ready to give me your answer?”
 continued Antelope.

“My answer was sent to you by your grandmother this very day,” she
replied softly.

“Ah, tell me, tell me,...” pressed the youth eagerly.

“All is well. Fear nothing,” murmured the maiden.

“I have given my word--I have made my prayers and undergone
purification. I must not withdraw from this war-path,” he said after a
silence. “But I know that I shall be fortunate!... My grandmother will
give you my love token.... Ah, kechuwa (dear love)! watch the big star
every night! I will watch it, too--then we shall both be watching!
Although far apart, our spirits will be together.”

The moon had risen above the hill, and the cold light discovered the two
who stood sadly apart, their hearts hot with longing. Reluctantly, yet
without a backward look or farewell gesture, the warrior went on up the
hill, and the maiden hurried homeward. Only a few moments before she had
been happy in the anticipation of making her lover happy. The truth
was she had been building air-castles in the likeness of a white teepee
pitched upon a virgin prairie all alone, surrounded by mountains.
Tatoka’s war-horse and hunting pony were picketed near by, and there she
saw herself preparing the simple meal for him! But now he has clouded
her dreams by this untimely departure.

“He is too brave.... His life will be a short one,” she said to herself
with foreboding.

For a few hours all was quiet, and just before the appearance of day the
warriors’ departure was made known by their farewell songs. Antelope
was in the line early, but he was heavy of heart, for he knew that his
sweetheart was sorely puzzled and disappointed by his abrupt departure.
His only consolation was the knowledge that he had in his bundle a pair
of moccasins made by her hands. He had not yet seen them, because it was
the custom not to open any farewell gifts until the first camp was made,
and then they must be opened before the eyes of all the young men! It
brings luck to the war-party, they said. He would have preferred to keep
his betrothal secret, but there was no escaping the custom.

All the camp-fires were burning and supper had been eaten, when the
herald approached every group and announced the programme for the
evening. It fell to Antelope to open his bundle first. Loud laughter
pealed forth when the reluctant youth brought forth a superb pair of
moccasins--the recognized lovegift! At such times the warriors’ jokes
were unmerciful, for it was considered a last indulgence in jesting,
perhaps for many moons. The recipient was well known to be a novice
in love, and this token first disclosed the fact that he had at last
succumbed to the allurements of woman. When he sang his love-song he was
obliged to name the giver of the token, and many a disappointed suitor
was astonished to hear Taluta’s name.

It was a long journey to the Ute country, and when they reached it there
was a stubbornly contested fight. Both sides claimed the victory, and
both lost several men. Here again Antelope was signally favored by the
gods of war. He counted many coups or blows, and exhibited his bravery
again and again in the charges, but he received no wound.

On the return journey Taluta’s beautiful face was constantly before
him. He was so impatient to see her that he hurried on in advance of his
party, when they were still several days’ travel from the Sioux camp.

“This time I shall join in all the dances and participate in the
rejoicings, for she will surely like to have me do so,” he thought to
himself. “She will join also, and I know that none is a better dancer
than Taluta!”

In fancy, Antelope was practicing the songs of victory as he rode alone
over the vast wild country.

He had now passed Wild Horse Creek and the Black Hills lay to the
southeast, while the Big Horn range loomed up to the north in gigantic
proportions. He felt himself at home.

“I shall now be a man indeed. I shall have a wife!” he said aloud.

At last he reached the point from which he expected to view the distant
camp. Alas, there was no camp there! Only a solitary teepee gleamed
forth upon the green plain, which was almost surrounded by a quick turn
of the River of Deep Woods. The teepee appeared very white. A peculiar
tingling sensation passed through his frame, and the pony whinnied often
as he was urged forward at a gallop.

When Antelope beheld the solitary teepee he knew instantly what it was.
It was a grave! Sometimes a new white lodge was pitched thus for
the dead, who lay in state within upon a couch of finest skins, and
surrounded by his choicest possessions.

Antelope’s excitement increased as he neared the teepee, which was
protected by a barricade of thick brush. It stood alone and silent in
the midst of the deserted camp. He kicked the sides of his tired horse
to make him go faster. At last he jumped from the saddle and ran
toward the door. There he paused for a moment, and at the thought of
desecrating a grave, a cold terror came over him.

“I must see--I must see!” he said aloud, and desperately he broke
through the thorny fence and drew aside the oval swinging door.


In the stately white teepee, seen from afar, both grave and monument,
there lay the fair body of Taluta! The bier was undisturbed, and the
maiden looked beautiful as if sleeping, dressed in her robes of ceremony
and surrounded by all her belongings.

Her lover looked upon her still face and cried aloud. “Hey, hey, hey!
Alas! alas! If I had known of this while in the Ute country, you would
not be lonely on the spirit path.”

He withdrew, and laid the doorflap reverently back in its place. How
long he stood without the threshold he could not tell. He stood with
head bowed down upon his breast, tearless and motionless, utterly
oblivious to everything save the bier of his beloved. His charger grazed
about for a long time where he had left him, but at last he endeavored
by a low whinny to attract his master’s attention, and Antelope awoke
from his trance of sorrow.

The sun was now hovering over the western ridges. The mourner’s throat
was parched, and perspiration rolled down his cheeks, yet he was
conscious of nothing but a strong desire to look upon her calm, sweet
face once more.

He kindled a small fire a little way off, and burned some cedar berries
and sweet-smelling grass. Then he fumigated himself thoroughly to dispel
the human atmosphere, so that the spirit might not be offended by his
approach, for he greatly desired to obtain a sign from her spirit.
He had removed his garments and stood up perfectly nude save for the
breechclout. His long hair was unbraided and hung upon his shoulders,
veiling the upper half of his splendid body. Thus standing, the lover
sang a dirge of his own making. The words were something like this:

   Ah, spirit, thy flight is mysterious!

   While the clouds are stirred by our wailing,

   And our tears fall faster in sorrow--

   While the cold sweat of night benumbs us,

   Thou goest alone on thy journey,

   In the midst of the shining star people!

   Thou goest alone on thy journey--

   Thy memory shall be our portion;

   Until death we must watch for the spirit!

The eyes of Antelope were closed while he chanted the dirge. He sang it
over and over, pausing between the lines, and straining as it were every
sense lest he might not catch the rapt whisper of her spirit, but only
the distant howls of coyotes answered him. His body became cold and numb
from sheer exhaustion, and at last his knees bent under him and he sank
down upon the ground, still facing the teepee. Unconsciousness overtook
him, and in his sleep or trance the voice came:

“Do not mourn for me, my friend! Come into my teepee, and eat of my

It seemed to Antelope that he faltered for a moment; then he entered
the teepee. There was a cheerful fire burning in the center. A basin
of broiled buffalo meat was placed opposite the couch of Taluta, on the
other side of the fire. Its odor was delicious to him, yet he hesitated
to eat of it.

“Fear not, kechuwa (my darling)! It will give you strength,” said the

The maid was natural as in life. Beautifully attired, she sat up on her
bed, and her demeanor was cheerful and kind.

The young man ate of the food in silence and without looking at the
spirit. “Ho, kechuwa!” he said to her when returning the dish, according
to the custom of his people.

Silently the two sat for some minutes, while the youth gazed into the
burning embers.

“Be of good heart,” said Taluta, at last, “for you shall meet my twin
spirit! She will love you as I do, and you will love her as you love me.
This was our covenant before we came into this world.”

The conception of a “twin spirit” was familiar to the Sioux. “Ho,”
 responded the warrior, with dignity and all seriousness. He felt a great
awe for the spirit, and dared not lift his eyes to her face.

“Weep no more, kechuwa, weep no more,” she softly added; and the next
moment Antelope found himself outside the mysterious teepee. His limbs
were stiff and cold, but he did not feel faint nor hungry. Having filled
his pipe, he held it up to the spirits and then partook of the smoke;
and thus revived, he slowly and reluctantly left the sacred spot.

The main war-party also visited the old camp and saw the solitary teepee
grave, but did not linger there. They continued on the trail of
the caravan until they reached the new camping ground. They called
themselves successful, although they had left several of their number
on the field. Their triumph songs indicated this; therefore the people
hurried to receive the news and to learn who were the unfortunates.

The father of Antelope was foremost among those who ran to meet the
war-party. He learned that his son had distinguished himself in the
fight, and that his name was not mentioned among the brave dead.

“And where, then, is he?” he asked, with unconcealed anxiety.

“He left us three days ago to come in advance,” they replied.

“But he has not arrived!” exclaimed old Wezee, in much agitation.

He returned to his teepee, where he consoled himself as best he could by
smoking the pipe in solitude. He could neither sing praises nor indulge
in the death dirge, and none came in either to congratulate or mourn
with him.

The sun had disappeared behind the hills, and the old man still sat
gazing into the burning embers, when he heard a horse’s footfall at the
door of his lodge.

“Ho, atay (father)!” came the welcome call.

“Mechinkshe! mechinkshe!” (my son, my son), he replied in unrestrained
joy. Old Wezee now stood on the threshold and sang the praise song for
his son, ending with a warwhoop such as he had not indulged in since he
was quite a young man.

The camp was once more alive with the dances, and the dull thud of the
Indian drum was continually in the air. The council had agreed that
Antelope was entitled to wear a war-bonnet of eagles’ feathers. He was
accordingly summoned before the aboriginal parliament, and from the wise
men of the tribe he received his degree of war-bonnet.

It was a public ceremony. The great pipe was held up for him to take the
smoke of high honor.

The happiest person present was the father of Antelope; but he himself
remained calm and unmoved throughout the ceremony.

“He is a strange person,” was the whisper among a group of youths who
were watching the proceedings with envious eyes.

The young man was strangely listless and depressed in spirit. His old
grandmother knew why, but none of the others understood. He never joined
in the village festivities, while the rest of his family were untiring
in the dances, and old Wezee was at the height of his happiness.

It was a crisp October morning, and the family were eating their
breakfast of broiled bison meat, when the large drum at the council
lodge was struck three times. The old man set down his wooden basin.

“Ah, my son, the war-chiefs will make an announcement! It may be a call
for the enlistment of warriors! I am sorry,” he said, and paused. “I
am sorry, because I would rather no war-party went out at present. I
am getting old. I have enjoyed your success, my son. I love to hear the
people speak your name. If you go again upon the war-path, I shall no
longer be able to join in the celebrations. Something tells me that you
will not return!”

Young braves were already on their way to the council lodge. Tatoka
looked, and the temptation was great.

“Father, it is not becoming for me to remain at home when others go,” he
said, at last.

“Ho,” was the assent uttered by the father, with a deep sigh.

“Five hundred braves have enlisted to go with the great war prophet
against the three confederated tribes,” he afterward reported at home,
with an air of elation which he had not worn for some moons.

Since Antelope had received the degree of war-bonnet, his father had
spared neither time nor his meager means in his behalf. He had bartered
his most cherished possessions for several eagles that were brought
in by various hunters of the camp, and with his own hands had made a
handsome war-bonnet for his son.

“You will now wear a war-bonnet for the first time, and you are the
first of our family who has earned the right to wear one for many
generations. I am proud of you, my son,” he said as he presented it.

But when the youth replied: “Ho, ho, father! I ought to be a brave man
in recognition of this honor,” he again sighed heavily.

“It is that I feared, my son! Many a young man has lost his life for
vanity and love of display!”

The evening serenades began early, for the party was to leave at once.
In groups upon their favorite ponies the warriors rode around the inner
circle of the great camp, singing their war-songs. All the people came
out of the teepees, and sitting by twos and threes upon the ground,
bedecked with savage finery, they watched and listened. The pretty wild
maidens had this last opportunity given them to look upon the faces of
their sweethearts, whom they might never see again. Here and there
an old man was singing the gratitude song or thank-offering, while
announcing the first warpath of a novice, for such an announcement meant
the giving of many presents to the poor and aged. So the camp was filled
with songs of joy and pride in the departing husbands, brothers, and

As soon as darkness set in the sound of the rude native flute was added
to the celebration. This is the lover’s farewell. The young braves,
wrapped from head to foot in their finest robes, each sounded the
plaintive strains near the teepee of the beloved. The playful yodeling
of many voices in chorus was heard at the close of each song.

At midnight the army of five hundred, the flower of the Sioux, marched
against their ancient enemy. Antelope was in the best of spirits. He had
his war-bonnet to display before the enemy! He was now regarded as one
of the foremost warriors of his band, and might probably be asked to
perform some specially hazardous duty, so that he was fully prepared to
earn further distinction.

In five days the Sioux were encamped within a day’s travel of the
permanent village of the confederated tribes--the Rees, Mandans, and
Gros Ventres. The war-chief selected two men, Antelope and Eaglechild,
to scout at night in advance of the main force. It was thought that most
of the hunters had already returned to their winter quarters, and in
this case the Sioux would have no mean enemy to face. On the other hand,
a battle was promised that would enlarge their important traditions.

The two made their way as rapidly as possible toward the ancestral home
of their enemies. It was a night perfectly suited to what they had to
do, for the moon was full, the fleeting clouds hiding it from time to
time and casting deceptive shadows.

When they had come within a short distance of the lodges unperceived,
they lay flat for a long time, and studied the ways of the young men in
every particular, for it was Antelope’s plan to enter the great village
and mingle boldly with its inhabitants. Even their hoots and love-calls
were carefully noted, so that they might be able to imitate them.
There were several entertainments in progress in different parts of the
village, yet it was apparent that the greatest vigilance was observed.
The lodges of poles covered with earth were partly underground, and at
one end the war-horses were stabled, as a precaution against a possible

At the moment that a large cloud floated over the moon, casting a
shadow large enough to cover the entire village, the drum in one of the
principal lodges was struck in quick time, accompanied by boisterous
war-whoops and singing. The two scouts adjusted their robes about them
in the fashion of the strangers, and walked openly in that direction.

They glanced quickly from side to side as they approached, but no one
paid any attention, so they came up with other young men and peeped
through the chinks in the earth wigwam. It was a great gambling party.
Among the guests were several distinguished warriors, and each at an
opportune time would rise and recount his great deeds in warfare against
the Sioux. The strangers could read their gestures, and Antelope was
once or twice almost on the point of stringing his bow to send an arrow
through the audacious speaker.

As they moved about the village, taking note of its numbers and
situation, and waiting an opportunity to withdraw without exciting
suspicion, they observed some of the younger braves standing near
another large wigwam, and one or two even peeped within. Moved by sudden
curiosity, Antelope followed their example. He uttered a low exclamation
and at once withdrew.

“What is it?” asked his companion, but received no answer.

It was evidently the home of a chief. The family were seated within at
their usual occupations, and the bright light of the central fire shone
full upon the face of a most lovely maiden.

Antelope stood apparently motionless, but he was trembling under his
robe like a leaf.

“Come, friend, there is another large cloud almost over the moon! We
must move away under its concealing shadow,” urged Eaglechild.

The other stood still as if undecided, but at last he approached the
lodge and looked in a second time. There sat his sweetheart in human
form once more! The maiden was attired in a doeskin gown set with elk’s
teeth like ivory. Her eyes were cast down demurely over her embroidery,
but in every feature she was the living counterpart of Taluta!

At last the two got away unobserved, and hastened toward the place where
they had concealed their horses. But here Antelope sent his companion on
in advance, making the excuse that he wished to study further the best
position from which to make the attack.

When he was left alone he stood still for a moment to decide upon a
plan. He could think of nothing but that he must meet the Ree maiden
before daylight! He realized the extreme hazard of the attempt, but he
also recalled what he had been told by the spirit of Taluta, and the
supernatural command seemed to justify him even in going thus upon the
eve of battle to meet the enemy of his people.

He skirted the heavy timber and retraced his steps to a point from which
he could see the village. The drum of the gambling party had ceased with
the shouts and laughter of the players. Apparently the village was lost
in slumber. The moon had set, and without pausing he advanced to the
home of the girl. As he came near some dogs began to bark, but he
silenced them after the manner of the Rees, and they obeyed him.

When Antelope softly raised the robe that hung over the entrance to the
chief’s lodge, he saw the fire smoldering in the center, and the members
of the household lying in their respective places, all seemingly in a
deep sleep. The girl lay opposite the entrance, where he had seen her
seated in the early part of the evening.

The heart of the Sioux beat violently, and he glanced nervously to left
and right. There was neither sound nor movement. Then he pulled his robe
completely over his head, after the fashion of a Ree lover, and softly
entered the wigwam.

The Ree maiden, having industriously worked on her embroidery until far
into the night, had retired to rest. In her dreams, the twin sister came
to her of whom she had had visions ever since she could remember, and
especially when something of importance was about to happen.

This time she came with a handsome young man of another tribe, and said:
“Sister, I bring you a Sioux, who will be your husband!”

The dreamer opened her eyes to behold a youth bending over her and
gently pulling her robe, as a suitor is permitted to do to awaken his

When he saw that she was awake, the Sioux touched his breast, saying in
a whisper, “Tatoka,” and made the sign for Antelope. This pleased the
Ree girl, for her own brother, who had died the year before, had borne
that name. She immediately sat up and stirred the embers into a light
blaze. Then she took hold of his blanket and drew it from his face; and
there she seemed to see the very features of the man of her vision!

He took her hand in his, and she felt the force of love stream through
his long, nervous fingers, and instinctively knew his thoughts. In her
turn she touched her breast and made the sign for Shield, pronouncing in
her own tongue the word, Stasu. This seemed to him also a name of good
omen, and in the sign language which was common to all the people of the
plains, he asked her to be his wife.

Vividly her dream came back to her, and she could not refuse the
stranger. Her soul already responded to his; and for a few minutes they
sat silently side by side. When he arose and beckoned, “Come with me,”
 she had no question to make, and without a word she followed him from
her father’s lodge and out into the forest.

In the midst of his ascending fame, at a moment when opportunity seemed
to favor his ambition, the brave Antelope had mysteriously disappeared!
His companion scout returned with a favorable report. He said that the
men of the three confederated tribes were gambling and feasting, wholly
unconscious of danger, and that Antelope would follow him with a further
report upon the best point of attack. The red warriors impatiently
awaited his return, until it became apparent that they could wait no
longer without sacrificing their chance of success. When the attack was
made it was already rather late. The sun had fairly cleared the eastern
hills, and most of the men were outside their lodges.

It was a great battle! Again and again the Sioux were repulsed, but
as often they rallied and repeated the charge until sundown, when they
effected their retreat with considerable loss. Had Antelope returned
in due season, the charge would have been made before dawn, while the
people were yet asleep.

When the battle was over, the Rees, Mandans, and Gros Ventres gathered
their dead and wounded. The night was filled with mourning. Soon the sad
news was heralded throughout the camp that the beautiful daughter of the
Ree chief was among the missing. It was supposed that she must have been
captured while driving her ponies to water in the early morning. The
grief for her loss was mingled with horror, because of a fear that she
might suffer humiliation at the hands of the Sioux warriors, and among
the young men there were muttered threats that the Sioux would pay
dearly for this.

Though partially successful, the Sioux had lost many of their bravest
warriors, and none could tell what had happened to Antelope--he who had
been believed the favorite of the gods of war. It was suggested by some
envious ones that perhaps he had recognized the strongly entrenched
position of the three tribes, and believing the battle would be a
disastrous one, had set out for home without making his report. But this
supposition was not deemed credible. On the other hand, the idea was
entertained that he had reentered the village, was detected and slain;
and therefore the enemy was on the lookout when the attack was made.

“Hay, hay, hay, mechinkshe (Alas, alas, my son)!” was the sorrowful
cry with which his old father received the news. His head fell upon his
breast, and all the others groaned in sympathy.

The sunset sky was a blanket of beautiful painting. There were
camp-fires among the clouds in orange and scarlet, while some were black
as night. So the camp fairly glowed in celebration of its heroes; yet
there was deep grief in many families. When the evening meal had been
eaten and the people were sitting outside their lodges, a tall old
man, almost nude, appeared in the circle, riding a fine horse. He had
blackened his face, his hair was cut short, and the horse also had been
deprived of his flowing mane and tail. Both were in deep mourning, after
the fashion of the Sioux.

“Ho ho!” exclaimed many warriors as he passed them, singing in a hoarse,
guttural voice.

“Ugh, he sings a war-song!” remarked one.

“Yes, I am told that he will find his son’s bones, or leave his own in
the country of the enemy!”

The rain had fallen incessantly for two days. The fleeing lovers had
reached this lonely mountain valley of the Big Horn region on the night
that the cold fall rains set in, and Antelope had hurriedly constructed
an arbor house or rude shelter of pine and cedar boughs.

It was enough. There they sat, man and wife, in their first home of
living green! The cheerful fire was burning in the center, and the happy
smoke went straight up among the tall pines. There was no human eye
to gaze upon them to embarrass--not even a common language in which to
express their love for one another.

Their marriage, they believed, was made by a spirit, and it was holy in
their minds. Each had cast away his people and his all for the sake of
this emotion which had suddenly overtaken them both with overwhelming
force, and the warrior’s ambition had disappeared before it like a
morning mist before the sun.

To them a new life was just beginning, and they had all but forgotten
the existence of any world save this. The young bride was enshrined in a
bower of spicy fragrance, and her face shone whenever her eyes met those
of her husband.

“This is as I would have it, kechuwa (darling)!” exclaimed the Sioux in
his own language. She simply responded with a childlike smile. Although
she did not understand his words, she read in the tones of his voice
only happy and loving thoughts.

The Ree girl had prepared a broiled bison steak, and her husband was
keeping the fire well fed with dry fagots. The odor of the buming fat
was delicious, and the gentle patter of the rain made a weird music
outside their wigwam.

As soon as her husband had left her alone--for he must go to water the
ponies and conceal them at a distance--Stasu came out to collect more
wood. Instinctively she looked all about her. Huge mountains towered
skyward, clad in pines. The narrow valley in which she was wound its way
between them, and on every side there was heavy forest.

She stood silent and awed, scarcely able to realize that she had
begun her new life absolutely alone, with no other woman to advise or
congratulate her, and visited only by the birds of the air. Yet all the
world to her just now was Antelope! No other woman could smile on him.
He could not talk to any one but her. The evening drum at the council
lodge could not summon him away from her, and she was well content.

When the young wife had done everything she could think of in
preparation for her husband’s return, including the making of several
birch-bark basins and pails for water, the rain had quite ceased, so
she spread her robe just outside the lodge and took up her work-bag, in
which she had several pairs of moccasin-tops already beaded.

While she bent over her work, getting up from time to time to turn the
roast which she had impaled upon a sharp stick above the glowing coals,
the bride had a stream of shy callers, of the little people of the
woods. She sat very still, so as not to startle them, and there is much
curiosity among these people concerning a stranger.

Presently she was startled by a footfall not unlike that of a man. She
had not been married long enough to know the sound of her husband’s
step, and she felt a thrill of joy and fear alternately. It might be he,
and it might be a stranger! She was loath to look up, but at last gave
a furtive glance, and met squarely the eyes of a large grizzly bear, who
was seated upon his haunches not far away.

Stasu was surprised, but she showed no fear; and fearlessness is the
best shield against wild animals. In a moment she got up unconcernedly,
and threw a large piece of meat to the stranger.

“Take of my wedding feast, O great Bear!” she addressed him, “and be
good to me to bless my first teepee! O be kind and recognize my brave
act in taking for my husband one of the warriors of the Sioux, the
ancient enemy of my people! I have accepted a husband of a language
other than mine, and am come to live among you as your neighbor. I offer
you my friendship!”

The bear’s only answer to her prayer was a low growl, but having eaten
the meat, he turned and clumsily departed.

In the meantime Antelope had set himself to master the geography of that
region, to study the outlook for game, and ascertain the best approaches
to their secret home. It was already settled in his mind that he
could never return either to his wife’s people or to his own. His
fellow-warriors would not forgive his desertion, and the Rees could not
be expected to welcome as a kinsman one of the foremost of their ancient
foes. There was nothing to be done but to remain in seclusion, and let
them say what they would of him!

He had loved the Ree maiden from the first moment he beheld her by the
light of the blazing embers, and that love must satisfy him. It was
well that he had never cared much for company, but had spent many of his
young days in solitude and fasting. It did not seem at all strange to
him that he had been forced to retreat into an unknown and wild country
with a woman whom he saw in the evening for the first time, and fled
with as his own wife before sunrise!

By the afternoon he had thoroughly informed himself upon the nature of
the surrounding country. Everything on the face of the map was surveyed
and charted in his mind, in accordance with his habits and training.
This done, he turned toward his secret dwelling. As he walked rapidly
and noiselessly through the hidden valleys and along the singing
streams, he noticed fresh signs of the deer, elk, and other wild tribes
among whom he had chosen to abide. “They shall be my people,” he said to

Behind a group of cedars he paused to reconnoiter, and saw the
pine-bough wigwam like a giant plant, each row of boughs overlapping
the preceding circular row like the scales of a fish. Stasu was sitting
before it upon a buffalorobe, attired in her best doeskin gown. Her
delicate oval face was touched with red paint, and her slender brown
hands were occupied with a moccasin meant for him to wear. He could
scarcely believe that it was a mortal woman that he saw before him
in broad day--the pride of No Man’s Trail, for that is what the Crow
Indians call that valley!

“Ho, ho, kechuwa!” he exclaimed as he approached her, and her heart
leaped in recognition of the magnetic words of love.

“It is good that we are alone! I shall never want to go back to my
people so long as I have you. I can dwell here with you forever,
unless you should think otherwise!” she exclaimed in her own tongue,
accompanied by graphic signs.

“Ho, I think of nothing else! I can see in every creature only friendly
ways and good feeling. We can live alone here, happily, unless you
should feel differently,” he replied in his own language with the signs,
so that his bride understood him.

The environment was just what it should be when two people are united in
marriage. The wedding music was played by Nature, and trees, brooks,
and the birds of the air contributed their peculiar strains to a great
harmony. All of the people on No Man’s Trail were polite, and understood
the reserves of love. These two had yielded to a simple and natural
impulse; but its only justification to their minds was the mysterious
leading of the twin spirit! That was the sum total of their excuse, and
it was enough.

Before the rigor of winter had set in, Tatoka brought to his bride
many buffalo skins. She was thoroughly schooled in the arts of savage
womanhood; in fact, every Indian maid was trained with this thought
in view--that she should become a beautiful, strong, skillful wife and
mother--the mother of a noble race of warriors!

In a short time within that green and pine-scented enclosure there smiled
a little wild paradise. Hard by the pine-bough wigwam there stood a new
white buffalo-skin teepee, tanned, cut, sewed, and pitched by the hands
of Stasu. Away in the woods, down by the rushing brook, was her tannery,
and not far away, in a sunny, open spot, she prepared her sun-cured
meats for winter use. Her kitchen was a stone fireplace in a shady spot,
and her parlor was the lodge of evergreen, overhung on two sides by
inaccessible ledges, and bounded on the other two by the sparkling
stream. It was a secret place, and yet a citadel; a silent place, and
yet not lonely!

The winter was cold and long, but the pair were happy in one another’s
company, and accepted their strange lot as one that was chosen for them
by the spirits. Stasu had insisted upon her husband speaking to her in
his own language, that she might learn it quickly. In a little while she
was able to converse with him, and when she had acquired his language
she taught him hers.

While Antelope was occupied with hunting and exploring the country,
always keeping in mind the danger of discovery by some wandering scout
or hunter, his wife grew well acquainted with the wild inhabitants of
No Man’s Trail. These people are as full of curiosity as man, and as the
Sioux never hunted near his home, they were entirely fearless. Many came
to the door of Stasu’s lodge, and she was not afraid, but offered them
food and spoke to them kindly. All animals judge by signs and are
quick in reading tones and gestures; so that the Ree girl soon had
grandfathers and grandmothers, after the Indian fashion, among the
wolves and bears that came oftenest for food.

Her husband in the field had also his fellow-hunters and friends. When
he killed the buffalo he always left enough meat for the wolves, the
eagles, and the ravens to feast upon, and these watched for the coming
of the lonely wild man. More than once they told him by their actions of
the presence of a distant campfire, but in each instance it proved to be
a small war-party which had passed below them on the trail.

Again it was summer. Never had the mountains looked grander or more
mysterious to the eyes of the two. The valley was full of the music
and happiness of the winged summer people; the trees wore their summer
attire, and the meadow its green blanket. There were many homes made
happy by the coming of little people everywhere, but no pair was happier
than Stasu and her husband when one morning they saw their little
brave lying wrapped in soft deerskins, and heard for the first time his
plaintive voice!

That morning, when Antelope set out on the hunt, he stopped at the
stream and looked at himself seriously to see whether he had changed
since the day before. He must now appear much graver, he said to
himself, because he is the father of a new man!

In spite of himself, his thoughts were with his own people, and he
wondered what his old grandmother would have said to his child! He
looked away off toward the Black Hills, to the Sioux country, and in his
heart he said, “I am a coward!”

The boy grew naturally, and never felt the lack of playmates and
companions, for his mother was ingenious in devising plays for him, and
in winning for him the confidence and kindness of the animal friends. He
was the young chief and the hero of No Man’s Trail! The bears and wolves
were his warriors; the buffalo and elk the hostile tribes upon whom he
went to war. Small as he was, he soon preferred to roam alone in the
woods. His parents were often anxious, but, on the other hand, they
entertained the hope that he would some day be “wakan,” a mysterious or
supernatural man, for he was getting power from his wild companions and
from the silent forces of nature.

One day, when he was about five years old, he gave a dance for his wild
pets upon the little plateau which was still their home. He had clothed
Mato, the bear, in one of his father’s suits as a great medicine-man.
Waho, the wolf, was painted up as a brave; and the young buffalo calf
was attired in one of his mother’s gowns. The boy acted as chief and
master of ceremonies.

The savage mother watched him with undisguised pride, mingled with
sorrow. Tears coursed down her dusky cheeks, although at the same time
she could not help laughing heartily at the strange performance. When
the play was ended, and she had served the feast at its close, Stasu
seemed lost in thought.

“He should not live in this way,” she was saying to herself. “He should
know the traditions and great deeds of my people! Surely his grandfather
would be proud of the boy!”

That evening, while the boy slept, and Mato lay outside the lodge
eagerly listening and sniffing the night air, the parents sat silent and
ill at ease. After a long time Stasu spoke her mind.

“My husband, you ask me why I am sad. It is because I think that the
Great Mystery will be displeased if we keep this little boy forever in
the wilderness. It is wrong to allow him to grow up among wild animals;
and if sickness or accident should deprive him of his father and mother,
our spirits would never rest, because we had left him alone! I have
decided to ask you to take us back, either to your people or to my
people. We must sacrifice our pride, or, if needs be, our lives, for his
life and happiness!”

This speech of Stasu’s was a surprise to her husband. His eyes rested
upon the ground as he listened, and his face assumed the proverbial
stoical aspect, yet in it there was not lacking a certain nobleness. At
last he lifted his eyes to hers, and said:

“You have spoken wise words, and it shall be as you have said. We shall
return to your people. If I am to die at the hands of the ancient enemy
of the Sioux, I shall die because of my love for you, and for our child.
But I cannot go back to my own people to be ridiculed by unworthy young
men for yielding to love of a Ree maiden!”

There was much feeling behind these words of Antelope. The rigid customs
of his people are almost a religion, and there is one thing above
all else which a Sioux cannot bear--that is the ridicule of his
fellow-warriors. Yes, he can endure severe punishment or even death at
the hands of the enemy rather than a single laugh of derision from a

In a few days the household articles were packed, and the three sadly
turned their backs upon their home. Stasu and her husband were very
silent as they traveled slowly along. When they reached the hill called
“Born-of-Day,” and she saw from its summit the country of her people
lying below her, she cried aloud, weeping happy tears. Antelope sat near
by with bowed head, silently smoking.

Finally on the fifth day they arrived within sight of the great
permanent village of the three tribes. They saw the earth lodges as
of old, thickly clustered along the flats of the Missouri, among their
rustling maize-fields. Antelope stopped. “I think you had better give
me something to eat, woman,” he said, smiling. It was the Sioux way of
saying, “Let me have my last meal!”

After they had eaten, Stasu opened her buckskin bags and gave her
husband his finest suit. He dressed himself carefully in the fashion
of his tribe, putting on all the feathers to which he was entitled as
a warrior. The boy also was decked out in gala attire, and Stasu, the
matron, had never looked more beautiful in her gown of ceremony with the
decoration of elks’ teeth, the same that she had worn on the evening of
her disappearance.

As she dressed herself, the unwelcome thought forced itself upon
her,--“What if my love is killed by my own countrymen in their frenzy?
This beautiful gown must then give place to a poor one, and this hair
will be cut short!” for such is the mourning of the widow among her

The three rode openly down the long slope, and were instantly discovered
by the people of the village. Soon the plain was black with the
approaching riders. Stasu had begged her husband to remain behind, while
she went on alone with the boy to obtain forgiveness, but he sternly
refused, and continued in advance. When the foremost Ree warriors came
within arrow-shot they began to shoot, to which he paid no attention.

But the child screamed with terror, and Stasu cried out in her own

“Do not shoot! I am the daughter of your chief!”

One of them returned the reply: “She is killed by the Sioux!” But when
the leaders saw her plainly they were astounded.

For a time there was great confusion. Some held that they should all
die, for the woman had been guilty of treason to her people, and even
now she might be playing a trick upon them. Who could say that behind
that hill there was not a Sioux war-party?

“No, no,” replied others. “They are in our power. Let them tell their

Stasu told it simply, and said in conclusion:

“This man, one of the bravest and most honorable men of his tribe,
deserted on the night of the attack, and all because he loved a
Ree maiden! He now comes to be your brother-in-law, who will fight
henceforth for you and with you, even if it be against his own people.

“He does not beg for mercy--he can dare anything! But I am a woman--my
heart is soft--I ask for the lives of my husband and my son, who is the
grandson of your chief!”

“He is a coward who touches this man!” exclaimed the leader, and a
thunder of warwhoops went up in approval of his words.

The warriors formed themselves in two great columns, riding twenty
abreast, behind and in front of the strangers. The old chief came out to
meet them, and took his son-inlaw’s hand. Thus they entered the village
in battle array, but with hearts touched with wonder and great gladness,
discharging their arrows upward in clouds and singing peace-songs.


“It was many years ago, when I was only a child,” began White Ghost,
the patriarchal old chief of the Yanktonnais Sioux, “that our band was
engaged in a desperate battle with the Rees and Mandans. The cause of
the fight was a peculiar one. I will tell you about it.” And he laid
aside his longstemmed pipe and settled himself to the recital.

“At that time the Yanktonnais numbered a little over forty families.
We were nicknamed by the other bands Shunkikcheka, or Domestic Dogs,
because of our owning large numbers of these animals. My father was the
head chief.

“Our favorite wintering place was a timbered tract near the mouth of the
Grand River, and it was here that we met the Blackfoot Sioux in the fall
hunt. On the opposite side of the river from our camp was the permanent
village of the Rees and Mandans, whose houses were of dirt and partly
underground. For a hundred years before this time they had planted
large gardens, and we were accustomed to buy of them corn, beans, and
pumpkins. From time to time our people had made treaties of peace with
them. Each family of the Rees had one or two buffalo boats--not round,
as the Sioux made them, but two or three skins long. In these boats they
brought quantities of dried beans and other vegetables to trade with us
for jerked buffalo meat.

“It was a great gathering and a time of general festivity and
hospitality. The Sioux young men were courting the Ree girls, and the
Ree braves were courting our girls, while the old people bartered their
produce. All day the river was alive with canoes and its banks rang with
the laughter of the youths and maidens.

“My father’s younger brother, whose name was Big Whip, had a close
friend, a young man who ever after the event of which I am about to tell
you was known as Bald Eagle. They were both daring young men and very
ambitious for distinction. They had been following the Ree girls to
their canoes as they returned to their homes in the evening.

“Big Whip and his friend stood upon the river bank at sunset, one with a
quiver full of arrows upon his back while the other carried a gun under
his blanket. Nearly all the people of the other village had crossed the
river, and the chief of the Rees, whose name was Bald Eagle, went home
with his wife last of all. It was about dusk as they entered their
bullhide boat, and the two Sioux stood there looking at them.

“Suddenly Big Whip exclaimed: ‘Friend, let us kill the chief. I dare you
to kill and scalp him!’ His friend replied:

“‘It shall be as you say. I will stand by you in all things. I am
willing to die with you.’

“Accordingly Bald Eagle pulled out his gun and shot the Ree dead. From
that day he took his name. The old man fell backward into his boat, and
the old woman screamed and wept as she rowed him across the river. The
other young man shot an arrow or two at the wife, but she continued to
row until she reached the other bank.

“There was great excitement on both sides of the river as soon as
the people saw what had happened. There were two camps of Sioux, the
Blackfoot Sioux and the Yanktonnais, or our people. Of course the
Mandans and Rees greatly outnumbered us; their camp must have numbered
two or three thousand, which was more than we had in our combined camps.

“There was a Sioux whose name was Black Shield, who had intermarried
among the Rees. He came down to the opposite bank of the Missouri and
shouted to us:

“‘Of which one of your bands is the man who killed Bald Eagle?’

“One of the Blackfoot Sioux replied:

“‘It is a man of the Yanktonnais Sioux who killed Bald Eagle.’

“Then he said: ‘The Rees wish to do battle with them; you had better
withdraw from their camp.’

“Accordingly the Blackfeet retired about a mile from us upon the bluffs
and pitched their tents, while the Yanktonnais remained on the flats.
The two bands had been great rivals in courage and the art of war, so
we did not ask for help from our kinsfolk, but during the night we dug
trenches about the camp, the inner one for the women and children, and
the outer one for the men to stay in and do battle.

“The next morning at daybreak the enemy landed and approached our camp
in great numbers. Some of their women and old men came also, and sat
upon the bluffs to watch the fight and to carry off their dead and
wounded. The Blackfeet likewise were watching the battle from the
bluffs, and just before the fight began one Blackfoot came in with his
wife and joined us. His name was Red Dog’s Track, but from that day he
was called He-Came-Back. His wife was a Yanktonnais, and he had said to
her: ‘If I don’t join your tribe to-day, my brothers-in-law will call me
a coward.’

“The Sioux were well entrenched and well armed with guns and arrows,
and their aim was deadly, so that the Rees crawled up gradually and took
every opportunity to pick off any Sioux who ventured to show his head
above the trenches. In like manner every Ree who exposed 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 committed the act to show our bravery. We
dared each other to do it. It will now become us as warriors to join our

“They both stripped, and taking their weapons 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 entrenchment they faced
about and fired at the Rees, jumping about incessantly to avoid being
hit, as is the Indian fashion. Bullets and arrows were flying all about
them like hail, but at last they dropped back unhurt into the Sioux
trenches. Thus the two men saved their reputation 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, tomahawking 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



“Ho my steed, we must climb one more hill! My reputation depends upon my

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 year.

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 commission.
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

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
overtaken by storm the messengers were in peril of death!

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 daybreak.”

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 themselves equal to the

The sun, now well toward the western horizon, 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 faithful
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 already set behind the hilltops. It was
a great herd of buffaloes, he thought, which was grazing on the

“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 another.

“Yet I saw a gray wolf going north this evening. His direction is
propitious,” remarked 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 bluff.

The braves were all downhearted because of their ill-luck, and only the
sanguine spirit of Anookasan kept them from utter discouragement. 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 material, in the center of which there was a generous
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 cold clouds.

“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 trouble. 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 day!”

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

“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 drumbeat,” 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 hollow 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 bewitches 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 medicinemen, 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 impressed.
What we call the supernatural was as real to them as any part of their

“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 together
next summer if need be!”

“Ho, ho, ho!” was the full-throated response.

“All put on your war-paint,” suggested Anookasan. “Have your knives and
arrows ready!”

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 buffalo 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 companions, 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 surprise and if possible to overpower
this wonderworking 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 foxskin 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
window were cut in strips by the knives of the Indians, he did not even
cease playing, but instinctively 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 necessity 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

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
costume was a buckskin shirt with abundance of fringes, buckskin
pantaloons with short leggins, 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
Michaud 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 several
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 disappeared!

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 him nothing.

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
obstruction behind had gradually grown into a mile.

The mighty host moved continually southward, 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 danger 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 grass.

It was now dark. The night was wellnigh 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 unfortunate 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 proportions. Suddenly the wind came, and lightning flashes
became more frequent, showing the ungainly forms of the animals like
strange monsters 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 fragment of wood, so Antoine,
although almost exhausted with fatigue, still stuck to the back of his
equally plucky pony. Death was imminent for them both. As the mad rush
continued, every flash displayed heaps of bison in death struggle under
the hoofs of their companions.

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 survive 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

“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 thoroughly
pervaded the timber, and the bear was likewise hemmed in. He had taken
to his unaccustomed refuge after making a brave stand against several
bulls, one of which lay dead near by, while he himself was bleeding from
many wounds.

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 sustaining 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 his hands.

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 limb.

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 comfortably as he could, Antoine
surveyed the situation. He had at least escaped from sudden and certain
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 emptied 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 recesses 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 became 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 lookout, 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 infrequently, 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 lonely hut.

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

“Ho, wake up, koda!” exclaimed Anookasan. “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 chimney.

“Ho, koda has something to eat! Sit down, sit down!” they shouted to one

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 generous 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 understanding. The Canadian told the starving hunters of a buffalo
herd a little way to the north, and one of their number was dispatched
homeward 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,
historic 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 appeared 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 warchief was dead, and his people were prisoners or fugitives.
The shrewd Scotch trader, McLeod, soon discovered that the Sioux were
skilled hunters, and therefore he exerted himself to befriend them,
as well as to encourage a feeling of good will between them and the
Canadian tribes who were accustomed to make the old fort their summer

Now the autumn had come, after a long summer of feasts and dances, and
the three tribes broke up and dispersed as usual in various directions.
White Lodge had twin daughters, very handsome, whose ears had been kept
burning 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 westward,
across the Missouri, there was no little apprehension. The shrewd
medicine-man became aware of the situation, and hastened to announce his

“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 already 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
expeditions 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 ammunition, 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 messenger 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

“My children, the Great Mystery is offended, 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 happens in March, a loud peal
of thunder was heard. This coincidence threw the prophet almost 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 before him, he was encouraged to make the

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,
delirious 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 swallows 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 River.

While the men were in council with her father, Magaskawee had turned
over the contents of her work-bag. She had found a small roll of
birch-bark in which she kept her porcupine quills for embroidery, and
pulled the delicate 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 words:


   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
   you again.


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 fellow 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 unrolled.

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 nothing more,
but a closer scrutiny revealed the impression 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!” exclaimed the young man at last.
“Magaskawee’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 decision.

“Well, we can’t afford to lose our best hunters; 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 expected their messenger to reach the fort, or believed 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

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

On the eve of Angus’ departure for the exile village, Three Stars, a
devoted suitor of Winona’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 winter 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

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 completely 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 protection 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 mixture 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 another.

After supper Jerry drove two sticks into the ground, one on each side of
the fire, and connected 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 himself in his
own buffalo robe and fell asleep.

All night the wind raged. The lonely teepee 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

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.


Just outside of a fine large wigwam of smoke-tanned buffalo-skins stood
Tawasuota, 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 head-gear.

“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 garments of fine deerskin, and
each wore a miniature 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

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 security, while the smoke of their
morning fires arose one by one into the blue. Still the warrior 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

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 attack? Ugh, ugh! I will show their warriors again this
day what it is to fight!” he exclaimed aloud.

The white traders and Government employees, those of them who were up
and about, heard and saw the advancing column of warriors. 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 increasing 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 likewise
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 whites.

This act had made the chief very unpopular, and he was ready for a
desperate venture 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

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 approached.

“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 replied.

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 day.”

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 in chorus.

The famous war-chief dismounted in silence, gun in hand, and walked
directly toward the larger store.

“Friend,” he exclaimed, “we may both meet the ‘Great Mystery’ to-day,
but you must go first.”

There was a loud report, and the unsuspecting white man lay dead. It was
James Lynd, one of the early traders, and a good friend to the Indians.

No sooner had Tawasuota fired the fatal shot than every other Indian
discharged his piece. Hither and thither ran the frantic people, seeking
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 Indians rushed in every direction to save, if possible,
at least the wives and children of the Government 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 passing 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 killing 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

The lesser braves might now satisfy their spite against the traders to
their hearts’ content, 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 him.

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, exclaiming:

“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,” thought Tawasuota.

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 believed 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 him.

“Ho, nephew,” said one of them with much gravity, “you have precipitated
a dreadful calamity. This means the loss of our country, the destruction
of our nation. What were you thinking of?”

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 meet

“Nephew, you have spilled the first blood of the white man; go, join in
battle with the soldiers. They are armed; they can defend themselves,”
 remarked the old chief, and Tawasuota replied:

“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

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
disappeared. 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 ancestors! 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,” excusing 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 battle, but a strange stillness
reigned. Even the dogs scarcely barked at his approach; everything
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
reputation, 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

“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 Faribault,
among the white people. I could not persuade them to wait until you
came. Her people are lovers of the whites. They have even accepted their
religion,” grieved the good old mother.

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 council lodge to see Little Crow. He drew his blanket closely
about him, with his gun underneath. 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 Tawasuota, “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

“Ugh, that old woman is too hasty in accepting the ways of the stranger
people!” exclaimed the chief.

“I am now on my way to see them,” declared Tawasuota.

“Ugh, ugh, I shall need you to-morrow! My plan is to attack the soldiers
at Fort Ridgeley 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 with energy.

“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 silence.

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 protected 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 indorsed the hasty action of the tribe.

At evening Tawasuota saw that there would be a long war with the whites,
and that the Indians 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 undertaking. 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 members of the ill-fated family were
to be seen scattered 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 household.

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 large town.

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

With the next evening he resumed his journey, 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 treachery 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 waylaid and slain
on the journey hither.

That night was the hardest one that the warrior 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, playing 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 halfbreeds loved money better than the blood of their Indian

Tawasuota stood for a minute without speaking, 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 shadows, 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.


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 blankets, 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 and freedom.

Around the council fire they passed and repassed 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 ceremonies 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 hear!”

“Ho, ho!” was the ready response of all present, and the drum was struck
once according to custom. The pipe was filled and handed to Zuyamani,
who gravely smoked for a few moments in silence. Then he related his
contribution to the unwritten history of our frontier in these words:

“It was during the winter following that summer 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 warrior!’
Each chief called his principal warriors together and laid the matter
before them.

“‘The Chief Soldier at this place,’ they explained, ‘wants to send a
message to Fort Berthold, where the Rees and Mandans live, to another
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 hereditary enemies, but this was not
the principal reason for our hesitation. We had declared allegiance
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 him!’

“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
hostility 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
volunteered 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 commanding 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 surrounded 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 been

“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 pursuit, 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 bottom 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 impossible 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 delivered 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 done!’

“The next day I was sent for to go to headquarters, 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 the camp.

“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 impossible 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

“Suddenly he pricked up his ears in the direction 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

“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 tomahawks
over their heads. I urged my horse to his best speed, for I felt that
if they should overtake me, nothing could save me! My friend, White Elk,
here, was one of that warparty.

“I saw that I had a fair lead and the best horse, and was gaining upon
them, when about two miles out I met some more of the party who had
lingered behind the rest. I was surrounded!

“I turned toward the north, to a deep gulch that I knew I should find
there, and I led my horse along a narrow and slippery ridge to a deep
hole. Here I took up my position. I guarded the pass with my bow and
arrows, and they could not reach me unless they should follow the ridge
in single file. I knew that they would not storm my position, for that
is not the Indian way of fighting, but I supposed that they would try
to tire me out. They yelled and hooted, and shot many bullets and arrows
over my head to terrify me into surrender, but I remained motionless and

“Night came, with a full round moon. All was light as day except the
place where I stood, half frozen and not daring to move. The bottom of
the gulch was as black as a well and almost as cold. The wolves howled
all around me in the stillness. At last I heard the footsteps of horses
retreating, and then no other sound. Still I dared not come out. I must
have slept, for it was dawn when I seemed to hear faintly the yelling of
warriors, and then I heard my own name.

“‘Zuyamani, tokiya nunka huwo?’ (Where are you, Zuyamani?) they shouted.
A party of my friends had come out to meet me and had followed our
trail. I was scarcely able to walk when I came out, but they filled the
pipe and held it up to me, as is done in recognition of distinguished
service. They escorted me into the post, singing war songs and songs of
brave deeds, and there I delivered up his letters to the Chief Soldier.”

Again the drum was struck and the old men cheered Zuyamani, who added:

“I think that Poor Dog was right, for the Great Father never gave me any
credit, nor did he ever reward me for what I had done. Yet I have not
been without honor, for my own people have not forgotten me, even though
I went upon the white man’s errand.”


The full moon was just clear of the high mountain ranges. Surrounded by
a ring of bluish haze, it looked almost as if it were frozen against the
impalpable blueblack of the reckless midwinter sky.

The game scout moved slowly homeward, well wrapped in his long buffalo
robe, which was securely belted to his strong loins; his quiver tightly
tied to his shoulders so as not to impede his progress. It was enough to
carry upon his feet two strong snow-shoes; for the snow was deep and its
crust too thin to bear his weight.

As he emerged from the lowlands into the upper regions, he loomed up
a gigantic figure against the clear, moonlit horizon. His picturesque
foxskin cap with all its trimmings was incrusted with frost from the
breath of his nostrils, and his lagging footfall sounded crisply. The
distance he had that day covered was enough for any human endurance; yet
he was neither faint nor hungry; but his feet were frozen into the psay,
the snow-shoes, so that he could not run faster than an easy slip and

At last he reached the much-coveted point--the crown of the last ascent;
and when he smelled fire and the savory odor of the jerked buffalo meat,
it well-nigh caused him to waver! But he must not fail to follow the
custom of untold ages, and give the game scout’s wolf call before
entering camp.

Accordingly he paused upon the highest point of the ridge and uttered
a cry to which the hungry cry of a real wolf would have seemed but a
coyote’s yelp in comparison! Then it was that the rest of the buffalo
hunters knew that their game scout was returning with welcome news; for
the unsuccessful scout enters the camp silently.

A second time he gave the call to assure his hearers that their ears
did not deceive them. The gray wolves received the news with perfect
understanding. It meant food! “Woo-o-o-o! woo-o-o-o!” came from all
directions, especially from the opposite ridge. Thus the ghostly, cold,
weird night was enlivened with the music from many wild throats.

Down the gradual slope the scout hastened; his footfall was the only
sound that broke the stillness after the answers to his call had ceased.
As he crossed a little ridge an immense wolf suddenly confronted him,
and instead of retreating, calmly sat up and gazed steadfastly into his

“Welcome, welcome, friend!” the hunter spoke as he passed.

In the meantime, the hunters at the temporary camp were aroused to a
high pitch of excitement. Some turned their buffalo robes and put them
on in such a way as to convert themselves into make-believe bison, and
began to tread the snow, while others were singing the buffalo song,
that their spirits might be charmed and allured within the circle of
the camp-fires. The scout, too, was singing his buffalo bull song in a
guttural, lowing chant as he neared the hunting camp. Within arrow-shot
he paused again, while the usual ceremonies were enacted for his
reception. This done, he was seated with the leaders in a chosen place.

“It was a long run,” he said, “but there were no difficulties. I found
the first herd directly north of here. The second herd, a great one,
is northeast, near Shell Lake. The snow is deep. The buffalo can only
follow their leader in their retreat.”

“Hi, hi, hi!” the hunters exclaimed solemnly in token of gratitude,
raising their hands heavenward and then pointing them toward the ground.

“Ho, kola! one more round of the buffalo-pipe, then we shall retire, to
rise before daybreak for the hunt,” advised one of the leaders. Silently
they partook in turn of the long-stemmed pipe, and one by one, with a
dignified “Ho!” departed to their teepees.

The scout betook himself to his little old buffalo teepee, which he used
for winter hunting expeditions. His faithful Shunka, who had been all
this time its only occupant, met him at the entrance as dogs alone know
how to welcome a lifelong friend. As his master entered he stretched
himself in his old-time way, from the tip of his tail to that of his
tongue, and finished by curling both ends upward.

“Ho, mita shunka, eat this; for you must be hungry!” So saying, the
scout laid before his canine friend the last piece of his dried buffalo
meat. It was the sweetest meal ever eaten by a dog, judging by his long
smacking of his lips after he had swallowed it!

The hunting party was soon lost in heavy slumber. Not a sound could be
heard save the gnawing of the ponies upon the cottonwood bark, which was
provided for them instead of hay in the winter time.

All about Shell Lake the bison were gathered in great herds. The
unmistakable signs of the sky had warned them of approaching bad
weather. The moon’s robe was girdled with the rainbow wampum of heaven.
The very music of the snow under their feet had given them warning. On
the north side of Shell Lake there were several deep gulches, which were
the homes of every wanderer of the plains at such a time at this. When
there was a change toward severe weather, all the four-footed people
headed for this lake. Here was a heavy growth of reeds, rushes, and
coarse grass, making good shelters, and also springs, which afforded
water after the lake was frozen solid. Hence great numbers of the bison
had gathered here.

When Wapashaw, the game scout, had rolled himself in his warm buffalo
robe and was sound asleep, his faithful companion hunter, the great
Esquimaux wolf dog, silently rose and again stretched himself, then
stood quiet for a moment as if meditating. It was clear that he knew
well what he had planned to do, but was considering how he should do it
without arousing any suspicion of his movements. This is a dog’s art,
and the night tricks and marauding must always be the joy and secret of
his life!

Softly he emerged from the lodge and gave a sweeping glance around to
assure him that there were none to spy upon him. Suspiciously he sniffed
the air, as if to ascertain whether there could be any danger to his
sleeping master while he should be away.

His purpose was still a secret. It may be that it was not entirely a
selfish one, or merely the satisfying of his inherited traits. Having
fully convinced himself of the safety of the unguarded camp, he went
forth into the biting cold. The moon was now well up on the prairies of
the sky. There were no cloud hills in the blue field above to conceal
her from view. Her brilliant light set on fire every snow gem upon the
plains and hillsides about the hunters’ camp.

Up the long ascent he trotted in a northerly direction, yet not
following his master’s trail. He was large and formidable in strength,
combining the features of his wild brothers of the plains with those of
the dogs who keep company with the red men. His jet-black hair and sharp
ears and nose appeared to immense advantage against the spotless and
jeweled snow, until presently his own warm breath had coated him with
heavy frost.

After a time Shunka struck into his master’s trail and followed it all
the way, only taking a short cut here and there when by dog instinct he
knew that a man must go around such a point to get to his destination.
He met many travelers during the night, but none had dared to approach
him, though some few followed at a distance, as if to discover his

At last he reached Shell Lake, and there beheld a great gathering of the
herds! They stood in groups, like enormous rocks, no longer black,
but white with frost. Every one of them emitted a white steam, quickly
frozen into a fine snow in the air.

Shunka sat upon his haunches and gazed.

“Wough, this is it!” he said to himself. He had kept still when the game
scout gave the wolf call, though the camp was in an uproar, and from
the adjacent hills the wild hunters were equally joyous, because they
understood the meaning of the unwonted noise. Yet his curiosity was not
fully satisfied, and he had set out to discover the truth, and it may be
to protect or serve his master in case of danger.

At daybreak the great dog meekly entered his master’s rude teepee, and
found him already preparing for the prospective hunt. He was filling his
inside moccasins full of buffalo hair to serve as stockings, over which
he put on his large buffalo moccasins with the hair inside, and adjusted
his warm leggings. He then adjusted his snowshoes and filled his quiver
full of good arrows. The dog quietly lay down in a warm place, making
himself as small as possible, as if to escape observation, and calmly
watched his master.

“Ho, ho, ho, kola! Enakanee, enakanee!” shouted the game herald. “It is
always best to get the game early; then their spirits can take flight
with the coming of a new day!”

All had now donned their snow-shoes. There was no food left; therefore
no delay to prepare breakfast.

“It is very propitious for our hunt,” one exclaimed; “everything is in
our favor. There is a good crust on the snow, and the promise of a good
clear day!”

Soon all the hunters were running in single file upon the trail of the
scout, each Indian closely followed by his trusty hunting dog. In less
than two hours they stood just back of the low ridge which rounded the
south side of Shell Lake. The narrow strip of land between its twin
divisions was literally filled with the bison. In the gulches beyond,
between the dark lines of timber, there were also scattered groups;
but the hunters at once saw their advantage over the herd upon the

“Hechetu, kola! This is well, friends!” exclaimed the first to speak.
“These can be forced to cross the slippery ice and the mire around the
springs. This will help us to get more meat. Our people are hungry, and
we must kill many in order to feed them!”

“Ho, ho, ho!” agreed all the hunters.

“And it is here that we can use our companion hunters best, for the
shunkas will intimidate and bewilder the buffalo women,” said an old

“Ugh, he is always right! Our dogs must help us here. The meat will be
theirs as well as ours,” another added.

“Tosh, kola! The game scout’s dog is the greatest shunka of them all!
He has a mind near like that of a man. Let him lead the attack of his
fellows, while we crawl up on the opposite side and surround the buffalo
upon the slippery ice and in the deceitful mire,” spoke up a third. So
it was agreed that the game scout and his Shunka should lead the attack
of the dogs.

“Woo, woo, woo!” was the hoarse signal from the throat of the game
scout; but his voice was drowned by the howling and barking of the
savage dogs as they made their charge. In a moment all was confusion
among the buffalo. Some started this way, others that, and the great
mass swayed to and fro uncertainly. A few were ready to fight, but the
snow was too deep for a countercharge upon the dogs, save on the ice
just in front of them, where the wind had always full sweep. There all
was slippery and shining! In their excitement and confusion the bison
rushed upon this uncertain plain.

Their weight and the momentum of their rush carried them hopelessly far
out, where they were again confused as to which way to go, and many were
stuck in the mire which was concealed by the snow, except here and there
an opening above a spring from which there issued a steaming vapor.
The game scout and his valiant dog led on the force of canines with
deafening war-cries, and one could see black heads here and there
popping from behind the embankments. As the herd finally swept toward
the opposite shore, many dead were left behind. Pierced by the arrows of
the hunters, they lay like black mounds upon the glassy plain.

It was a great hunt! “Once more the camp will be fed,” they thought, “and
this good fortune will help us to reach the spring alive!”

A chant of rejoicing rang out from the opposite shore, while the game
scout unsheathed his big knife and began the work which is ever the
sequel of the hunt--to dress the game; although the survivors of the
slaughter had scarcely disappeared behind the hills. The dogs had all
run back to their respective masters, and this left the scout and
his companion Shunka alone. Some were appointed to start a camp in a
neighboring gulch among the trees, so that the hunters might bring their
meat there and eat before setting out for the great camp on the Big

All were busily skinning and cutting up the meat into pieces convenient
for carrying, when suddenly a hunter called the attention of those near
him to an ominous change in the atmosphere.

“There are signs of a blizzard! We must hurry into the near woods before
it reaches us!” he shouted.

Some heard him; others did not. Those who saw or heard passed on the
signal and hurried toward the wood, where others had already arranged
rude shelters and gathered piles of dry wood for fuel.

Around the several camp-fires the hunters sat or stood, while slices
of savory meat were broiled and eaten with a relish by the half-starved

“Ho, kola! Eat this, friend!” said they to one another as one finished
broiling a steak of the bison and offered it to his neighbor.

But the storm had now fairly enveloped them in whirling whiteness.
“Woo, woo!” they called to those who had not yet reached camp. One after
another answered and emerged from the blinding pall of snow. At last
none were missing save the game scout and his Shunka!

The hunters passed the time in eating and telling stories until a late
hour, occasionally giving a united shout to guide the lost one should he
chance to pass near their camp.

“Fear not for our scout, friends!” finally exclaimed a leader
among them. “He is a brave and experienced man. He will find a safe
resting-place, and join us when the wind ceases to rage.” So they all
wrapped themselves in their robes and lay down to sleep.

All that night and the following day it was impossible to give succor,
and the hunters felt much concern for the absent. Late in the second
night the great storm subsided.

“Ho, ho! Iyotanka! Rise up!” So the first hunter to awaken aroused all
the others.

As after every other storm, it was wonderfully still; so still that one
could hear distinctly the pounding feet of the jack-rabbits coming down
over the slopes to the willows for food. All dry vegetation was buried
beneath the deep snow, and everywhere they saw this white-robed creature
of the prairie coming down to the woods.

Now the air was full of the wolf and coyote game call, and they were
seen in great numbers upon the ice.

“See, see! the hungry wolves are dragging the carcasses away! Harken
to the war cries of the scout’s Shunka! Hurry, hurry!” they urged one
another in chorus.

Away they ran and out upon the lake; now upon the wind-swept ice, now
upon the crusted snow; running when they could, sliding when they must.
There was certainly a great concourse of the wolves, whirling in frantic
circles, but continually moving toward the farther end of the lake.
They could hear distinctly the hoarse bark of the scout’s Shunka, and
occasionally the muffled war-whoop of a man, as if it came from under
the ice!

As they approached nearer the scene they could hear more distinctly the
voice of their friend, but still as it were from underground. When they
reached the spot to which the wolves had dragged two of the carcasses of
the buffalo, Shunka was seen to stand by one of them, but at that moment
he staggered and fell. The hunters took out their knives and ripped up
the frozen hide covering the abdominal cavity. It revealed a warm nest
of hay and buffalo hair in which the scout lay, wrapped in his own robe!

He had placed his dog in one of the carcasses and himself in another for
protection from the storm; but the dog was wiser than the man, for
he kept his entrance open. The man lapped the hide over and it froze
solidly, shutting him securely in. When the hungry wolves came Shunka
promptly extricated himself and held them off as long as he could;
meanwhile, sliding and pulling, the wolves continued to drag over the
slippery ice the body of the buffalo in which his master had taken
refuge. The poor, faithful dog, with no care for his own safety, stood
by his imprisoned master until the hunters came up. But it was too late,
for he had received more than one mortal wound.

As soon as the scout got out, with a face more anxious for another than
for himself, he exclaimed:

“Where is Shunka, the bravest of his tribe?”

“Ho, kola, it is so, indeed; and here he lies,” replied one sadly.

His master knelt by his side, gently stroking the face of the dog.

“Ah, my friend; you go where all spirits live! The Great Mystery has a
home for every living creature. May he permit our meeting there!”

At daybreak the scout carried him up to one of the pretty round hills
overlooking the lake, and built up around him walls of loose stone. Red
paints were scattered over the snow, in accordance with Indian custom,
and the farewell song was sung.

Since that day the place has been known to the Sioux as
Shunkahanakapi--the Grave of the Dog.



   Hush, hushaby, little woman!
   Be brave and weep not!
   The spirits sleep not;
   ‘Tis they who ordain
   To woman, pain.

   Hush, hushaby, little woman!
   Now, all things bearing,
   A new gift sharing
   From those above--

   To woman, love.
        --Sioux Lullaby.

“Chinto, weyanna! Yes, indeed; she is a real little woman,” declares the
old grandmother, as she receives and critically examines the tiny bit of

There is no remark as to the color of its hair or eyes, both so black as
almost to be blue, but the old woman scans sharply the delicate profile
of the baby face.

“Ah, she has the nose of her ancestors! Lips thin as a leaf, and eyes
bright as stars in midwinter!” she exclaims, as she passes on the furry
bundle to the other grandmother for her inspection.

“Tokee! she is pretty enough to win a twinkle rom the evening star,”
 remarks that smiling personage.

“And what shall her name be?

“Winona, the First-born, of course. That is hers by right of birth.”

“Still, it may not fit her. One must prove herself worthy in order to
retain that honorable name.”

“Ugh,” retorts the first grandmother, “she can at least bear it on

“Tosh, tosh,” the other assents.

Thus the unconscious little Winona has passed the first stage of the
Indian’s christening.

Presently she is folded into a soft white doeskin, well lined with the
loose down of cattails, and snugly laced into an upright oaken cradle,
the front of which is a richly embroidered buckskin bag, with porcupine
quills and deers’ hoofs suspended from its profuse fringes. This
gay cradle is strapped upon the second grandmother’s back, and that
dignitary walks off with the newcomer.

“You must come with me,” she says. “We shall go among the father and
mother trees, and hear them speak with their thousand tongues, that
you may know their language forever. I will hang the cradle of the
woman-child upon Utuhu, the oak; and she shall hear the love-sighs of
the pine maiden!”

In this fashion Winona is introduced to nature and becomes at once
“nature-born,” in accord with the beliefs and practices of the wild red

“Here she is! Take her,” says the old woman on her return from the
woods. She presents the child to its mother, who is sitting in the shade
of an elm-tree as quietly as if she had not just passed through woman’s
severest ordeal in giving a daughter to the brave Chetonska!

“She has a winsome face, as meek and innocent as the face of an ermine,”
 graciously adds the grandmother.

The mother does not speak. Silently and almost reverently she takes her
new and first-born daughter into her arms. She gazes into its velvety
little face of a dusky red tint, and unconsciously presses the closely
swaddled form to her breast. She feels the mother-instinct seize upon
her strongly for the first time. Here is a new life, a new hope, a
possible link between herself and a new race!

Ah, a smile plays upon her lips, as she realizes that she has kissed her
child! In its eyes and mouth she discerns clearly the features she has
loved in the strong countenance of another, though in the little woman’s
face they are softened and retouched by the hand of the “Great Mystery.”

The baby girl is called Winona for some months, when the medicine-man
is summoned and requested to name publicly the first-born daughter of
Chetonska, the White Hawk; but not until he has received a present of
a good pony with a finely painted buffalo-robe. It is usual to confer
another name besides that of the “First-born,” which may be resumed
later if the maiden proves worthy. The name Winona implies much of
honor. It means charitable, kind, helpful; all that an eldest sister
should be!

The herald goes around the ring of lodges announcing in singsong fashion
the christening, and inviting everybody to a feast in honor of the
event. A real American christening is always a gala occasion, when much
savage wealth is distributed among the poor and old people. Winona has
only just walked, and this fact is also announced with additional gifts.
A wellborn child is ever before the tribal eye and in the tribal ear, as
every little step in its progress toward manhood or womanhood--the first
time of walking or swimming, first shot with bow and arrow (if a boy),
first pair of moccasins made (if a girl)--is announced publicly with
feasting and the giving of presents.

So Winona receives her individual name of Tatiyopa, or Her Door. It
is symbolic, like most Indian names, and implies that the door of the
bearer is hospitable and her home attractive.

The two grandmothers, who have carried the little maiden upon their
backs, now tell and sing to her by turns all the legends of their most
noted female ancestors, from the twin sisters of the old story, the
maidens who married among the star people of the sky, down to their own
mothers. All her lullabies are feminine, and designed to impress upon
her tender mind the life and duties of her sex.

As soon as she is old enough to play with dolls she plays mother in all
seriousness and gravity. She is dressed like a miniature woman (and her
dolls are clad likewise), in garments of doeskin to her ankles, adorned
with long fringes, embroidered with porcupine quills, and dyed with root
dyes in various colors. Her little blanket or robe, with which she shyly
drapes or screens her head and shoulders, is the skin of a buffalo calf
or a deer, soft, white, embroidered on the smooth side, and often with
the head and hoofs left on.

“You must never forget, my little daughter, that you are a woman like
myself. Do always those things that you see me do,” her mother often
admonishes her.

Even the language of the Sioux has its feminine dialect, and the tiny
girl would be greatly abashed were it ever needful to correct her for
using a masculine termination.

This mother makes for her little daughter a miniature copy of every
rude tool that she uses in her daily tasks. There is a little scraper of
elk-horn to scrape rawhides preparatory to tanning them, another scraper
of a different shape for tanning, bone knives, and stone mallets for
pounding choke-cherries and jerked meat.

While her mother is bending over a large buffalo-hide stretched and
pinned upon the ground, standing upon it and scraping off the fleshy
portion as nimbly as a carpenter shaves a board with his plane, Winona,
at five years of age, stands upon a corner of the great hide and
industriously scrapes away with her tiny instrument! When the mother
stops to sharpen her tool, the little woman always sharpens hers
also. Perhaps there is water to be fetched in bags made from the dried
pericardium of an animal; the girl brings some in a smaller water-bag.
When her mother goes for wood she carries one or two sticks on her back.
She pitches her play teepee to form an exact copy of her mother’s. Her
little belongings are nearly all practical, and her very play is real!

Thus, before she is ten years old, Winona begins to see life honestly
and in earnest; to consider herself a factor in the life of her
people--a link in the genealogy of her race. Yet her effort is not
forced, her work not done from necessity; it is normal and a development
of the play-instinct of the young creature. This sort of training leads
very early to a genuine desire to serve and to do for others. The little
Winona loves to give and to please; to be generous and gracious. There
is no thought of trafficking or economizing in labor and in love.

“Mother, I want to be like the beavers, the ants, and the spiders,
because my grandmother says those are the people most worthy of
imitation for their industry. She also tells me that I should watch the
bee, the one that has so many daughters, and allows no young men to come
around her daughters while they are at work making sweets,” exclaims the
little maiden.

“Truly their industry helps us much, for we often take from their
hoard,” remarks the mother.

“That is not right, is it mother, if they do not wish to share with us?”
 asks Winona. “But I think the bee is stingy if she has so much and will
not share with any one else! When I grow up, I shall help the poor! I
shall have a big teepee and invite old people often, for when people get
old they seem to be always hungry, and I think we ought to feed them.”

“My little daughter will please me and her father if she proves to be
industrious and skillful with her needle and in all woman’s work. Then
she can have a fine teepee and make it all cheerful within. The indolent
woman has a small teepee, and it is very smoky. All her children will
have sore eyes, and her husband will soon become ill-tempered,” declares
the mother, in all seriousness.

“And, daughter, there is something more than this needed to make a
cheerful home. You must have a good heart, be patient, and speak but
little. Every creature that talks too much is sure to make trouble,” she
concludes, wisely.

One day this careful mother has completed a beautiful little teepee of
the skin of a buffalo calf, worked with red porcupine quills in a row of
rings just below the smoke-flaps and on each side of the front opening.
In the center of each ring is a tassel of red and white horse-hair.
The tip of each smoke-flap is decorated with the same material, and the
doorflap also.

Within there are neatly arranged raw-hide boxes for housekeeping, and
square bags of soft buckskin adorned with blue and white beads. On
either side of the fireplace are spread the tanned skins of a buffalo
calf and a deer; but there is no bear, wolf, or wildcat skin, for
on these the foot of a woman must never tread! They are for men, and
symbolical of manly virtues. There are dolls of all sizes, and a play
travois leans against the white wall of the miniature lodge. Even the
pet pup is called in to complete the fanciful home of the little woman.

“Now, my daughter,” says the mother, “you must keep your lodge in

Here the little woman is allowed to invite other little women, her
playmates. This is where the grandmothers hold sway, chaperoning their
young charges, who must never be long out of their sight. The little
visitors bring their work-bags of various skins, artistically made and
trimmed. These contain moccasins and other garments for their dolls, on
which they love to occupy themselves.

The brightly-painted rawhide boxes are reserved for food, and in these
the girls bring various prepared meats and other delicacies. This is
perhaps the most agreeable part of the play to the chaperon, who is
treated as an honored guest at the feast!

Winona seldom plays with boys, even her own brothers and cousins, and
after she reaches twelve or fourteen years of age she scarcely speaks to
them. Modesty is a virtue which is deeply impressed upon her from early
childhood, and the bashfully drooping head, the averted look, the voice
low and seldom heard, these are graces much esteemed in a maiden.

She is taught to pay great attention to the care of her long, glossy
locks, combing, plaiting, and perfuming them with sweet-scented leaves
steeped in oil. Her personal appearance is well understood to be a
matter of real moment, and rich dress and ornaments are highly prized.
Fortunately they never go out of fashion, and once owned are permanent
possessions, unless parted with as ceremonial gifts on some great
occasion of mourning or festivity.

When she reaches a marriageable age her father allows her to give a
feast to all the other girls of her immediate clan, and this “Feast of
Virgins” may only be attended by those of spotless reputation. To have
given or attended a number of them is regarded as a choice honor.

Tatiyopa, by the time she is fifteen, has already a name for skill
in needlework, and generosity in distributing the articles of her own
making. She is now generally called Winona--the charitable and kind! She
believes that it is woman’s work to make and keep a home that will be
worthy of the bravest, and hospitable to all, and in this simple faith
she enters upon the realities of her womanhood.


   Braver than the bravest,
    You sought honors at death’s door;
   Could you not remember
    One who weeps at home--
   Could you not remember me?

   Braver than the bravest,
    You sought honors more than love;
   Dear, I weep, yet I am not a coward;
    My heart weeps for thee--
   My heart weeps when I remember thee!
               --Sioux Love Song.

The sky is blue overhead, peeping through window-like openings in a roof
of green leaves. Right between a great pine and a birch tree their soft
doeskin shawls are spread, and there sit two Sioux maidens amid their
fineries--variously colored porcupine quills for embroidery laid upon
sheets of thin birch-bark, and moccasin tops worked in colors like
autumn leaves. It is Winona and her friend Miniyata.

They have arrived at the period during which the young girl is carefully
secluded from her brothers and cousins and future lovers, and retires,
as it were, into the nunnery of the woods, behind a veil of thick
foliage. Thus she is expected to develop fully her womanly qualities.
In meditation and solitude, entirely alone or with a chosen companion of
her own sex and age, she gains a secret strength, as she studies the art
of womanhood from nature herself.

Winona has the robust beauty of the wild lily of the prairie, pure and
strong in her deep colors of yellow and scarlet against the savage
plain and horizon, basking in the open sun like a child, yet soft and
woman-like, with drooping head when observed. Both girls are beautifully
robed in loose gowns of soft doeskin, girded about the waist with the
usual very wide leather belt.

“Come, let us practice our sacred dance,” says one to the other. Each
crowns her glossy head with a wreath of wild flowers, and they dance
with slow steps around the white birch, singing meanwhile the sacred

Now upon the lake that stretches blue to the eastward there appears a
distant canoe, a mere speck, no bigger than a bird far off against the
shining sky.

“See the lifting of the paddles!” exclaims Winona.

“Like the leaping of a trout upon the water!” suggests Miniyata.

“I hope they will not discover us, yet I would like to know who they
are,” remarks the other, innocently.

The birch canoe approaches swiftly, with two young men plying the light
cedar paddles.

The girls now settle down to their needlework, quite as if they had
never laughed or danced or woven garlands, bending over their embroidery
in perfect silence. Surely they would not wish to attract attention, for
the two sturdy young warriors have already landed.

They pick up the canoe and lay it well up on the bank, out of sight.
Then one procures a strong pole. They lift a buck deer from the
canoe--not a mark upon it, save for the bullet wound; the deer looks as
if it were sleeping! They tie the hind legs together and the fore legs
also and carry it between them on the pole.

Quickly and cleverly they do all this; and now they start forward and
come unexpectedly upon the maidens’ retreat! They pause for an instant
in mute apology, but the girls smile their forgiveness, and the youths
hurry on toward the village.

Winona has now attended her first maidens’ feast and is considered
eligible to marriage. She may receive young men, but not in public or in
a social way, for such was not the custom of the Sioux. When he speaks,
she need not answer him unless she chooses.

The Indian woman in her quiet way preserves the dignity of the home.
From our standpoint the white man is a law-breaker! The “Great Mystery,”
 we say, does not adorn the woman above the man. His law is spreading
horns, or flowing mane, or gorgeous plumage for the male; the female
he made plain, but comely, modest and gentle. She is the foundation of
man’s dignity and honor. Upon her rests the life of the home and of the
family. I have often thought that there is much in this philosophy of an
untutored people. Had her husband remained long enough in one place, the
Indian woman, I believe, would have developed no mean civilization and
culture of her own.

It was no disgrace to the chief’s daughter in the old days to work with
her hands. Indeed, their standard of worth was the willingness to work,
but not for the sake of accumulation, only in order to give. Winona has
learned to prepare skins, to remove the hair and tan the skin of a deer
so that it may be made into moccasins within three days. She has a bone
tool for each stage of the conversion of the stiff raw-hide into velvety
leather. She has been taught the art of painting tents and raw-hide
cases, and the manufacture of garments of all kinds.

Generosity is a trait that is highly developed in the Sioux woman.
She makes many moccasins and other articles of clothing for her male
relatives, or for any who are not well provided. She loves to see
her brother the best dressed among the young men, and the moccasins
especially of a young brave are the pride of his woman-kind.

Her own person is neatly attired, but ordinarily with great simplicity.
Her doeskin gown has wide, flowing sleeves; the neck is low, but not so
low as is the evening dress of society.

Her moccasins are plain; her leggins close-fitting and not as high as her
brother’s. She parts her smooth, jet-black hair in the middle and plaits
it in two. In the old days she used to do it in one plait wound around
with wampum. Her ornaments, sparingly worn, are beads, elks’ teeth, and
a touch of red paint. No feathers are worn by the woman, unless in a
sacred dance.

She is supposed to be always occupied with some feminine pursuit or
engaged in some social affair, which also is strictly feminine as a
rule. Even her language is peculiar to her sex, some words being used by
women only, while others have a feminine termination.

There is an etiquette of sitting and standing, which is strictly
observed. The woman must never raise her knees or cross her feet when
seated. She seats herself on the ground sidewise, with both feet under

Notwithstanding her modesty and undemonstrative ways, there is no lack
of mirth and relaxation for Winona among her girl companions.

In summer, swimming and playing in the water is a favorite amusement.
She even imitates with the soles of her feet the peculiar, resonant
sound that the beaver makes with her large, flat tail upon the surface
of the water. She is a graceful swimmer, keeping the feet together and
waving them backward and forward like the tail of a fish.

Nearly all her games are different from those of the men. She has a
sport of wand-throwing which develops fine muscles of the shoulder and
back. The wands are about eight feet long, and taper gradually from
an inch and a half to half an inch in diameter. Some of them are
artistically made, with heads of bone and horn, so that it is remarkable
to what a distance they may be made to slide over the ground. In the
feminine game of ball, which is something like “shinny,” the ball is
driven with curved sticks between two goals. It is played with from
two or three to a hundred on a side, and a game between two bands or
villages is a picturesque event.

A common indoor diversion is the “deer’s foot” game, played with six
deer hoofs on a string, ending in a bone or steel awl. The object is to
throw it in such a way as to catch one or more hoofs on the point of the
awl, a feat which requires no little dexterity. Another is played with
marked plum-stones in a bowl, which are thrown like dice and count
according to the side that is turned uppermost.

Winona’s wooing is a typical one. As with any other people, love-making
is more or less in vogue at all times of the year, but more especially
at midsummer, during the characteristic reunions and festivities of
that season. The young men go about usually in pairs, and the maidens do
likewise. They may meet by chance at any time of day, in the woods or
at the spring, but oftenest seek to do so after dark, just outside the
teepee. The girl has her companion, and he has his, for the sake of
propriety or protection. The conversation is carried on in a whisper, so
that even these chaperons do not hear.

At the sound of the drum on summer evenings, dances are begun within the
circular rows of teepees, but without the circle the young men promenade
in pairs. Each provides himself with the plaintive flute and plays the
simple cadences of his people, while his person is completely covered
with his fine robe, so that he cannot be recognized by the passerby. At
every pause in the melody he gives his yodel-like love-call, to which
the girls respond with their musical, sing-song laughter.

Matosapa has loved Winona since the time he saw her at the lakeside in
her parlor among the pines. But he has not had much opportunity to speak
until on such a night, after the dances are over. There is no outside
fire; but a dim light from within the skin teepees sheds a mellow glow
over the camp, mingling with the light of a young moon. Thus these
lovers go about like ghosts. Matosapa has already circled the teepees
with his inseparable brother-friend, Brave Elk.

“Friend, do me an honor to-night!” he exclaims, at last. “Open this
first door for me, since this will be the first time I shall speak to a

“Ah,” suggests Brave Elk, “I hope you have selected a girl whose
grandmother has no cross dogs!”

“The prize that is won at great risk is usually valued most,” replies

“Ho, kola! I shall touch the door-flap as softly as the swallow alights
upon her nest. But I warn you, do not let your heart beat too loudly,
for the old woman’s ears are still good!”

So, joking and laughing, they proceed toward a large buffalo tent with a
horse’s tail suspended from the highest pole to indicate the rank of
the owner. They have ceased to blow the flute some paces back, and walk
noiselessly as a panther in quest of a doe.

Brave Elk opens the door. Matosapa enters the tent. As was the wont of
the Sioux, the well-born maid has a little teepee within a teepee--a
private apartment of her own. He passes the sleeping family to this
inner shrine. There he gently wakens Winona with proper apologies. This
is not unusual or strange to her innocence, for it was the custom of the
people. He sits at the door, while his friend waits outside, and tells
his love in a whisper. To this she does not reply at once; even if she
loves him, it is proper that she should be silent. The lover does not
know whether he is favorably received or not, upon this his first visit.
He must now seek her outside upon every favorable occasion. No gifts
are offered at this stage of the affair; the trafficking in ponies and
“buying” a wife is entirely a modern custom.

Matosapa has improved every opportunity, until Winona has at last
shyly admitted her willingness to listen. For a whole year he has been
compelled at intervals to repeat the story of his love. Through the
autumn hunting of the buffalo and the long, cold winter he often
presents her kinsfolk with his game.

At the next midsummer the parents on both sides are made acquainted
with the betrothal, and they at once begin preparations for the coming
wedding. Provisions and delicacies of all kinds are laid aside for
a feast. Matosapa’s sisters and his girl cousins are told of the
approaching event, and they too prepare for it, since it is their duty
to dress or adorn the bride with garments made by their own hands.

With the Sioux of the old days, the great natural crises of human life,
marriage and birth, were considered sacred and hedged about with great
privacy. Therefore the union is publicly celebrated after and not before
its consummation. Suddenly the young couple disappear. They go out into
the wilderness together, and spend some days or weeks away from the
camp. This is their honeymoon, away from all curious or prying eyes. In
due time they quietly return, he to his home and she to hers, and now at
last the marriage is announced and invitations are given to the feast.

The bride is ceremoniously delivered to her husband’s people, together
with presents of rich clothing collected from all her clan, which she
afterward distributes among her new relations. Winona is carried in a
travois handsomely decorated, and is received with equal ceremony.
For several days following she is dressed and painted by the female
relatives of the groom, each in her turn, while in both clans the
wedding feast is celebrated.

To illustrate womanly nobility of nature, let me tell the story of
Dowanhotaninwin, Her-Singing-Heard. The maiden was deprived of both
father and mother when scarcely ten years old, by an attack of the Sacs
and Foxes while they were on a hunting expedition. Left alone with her
grandmother, she was carefully reared and trained by this sage of the
wild life.

Nature had given her more than her share of attractiveness, and she was
womanly and winning as she was handsome. Yet she remained unmarried for
nearly thirty years--a most unusual thing among us; and although she had
worthy suitors in every branch of the Sioux nation, she quietly refused
every offer.

Certain warriors who had distinguished themselves against the particular
tribe who had made her an orphan, persistently sought her hand in
marriage, but failed utterly.

One summer the Sioux and the Sacs and Foxes were brought together under
a flag of truce by the Commissioners of the Great White Father, for
the purpose of making a treaty with them. During the short period of
friendly intercourse and social dance and feast, a noble warrior of the
enemy’s tribe courted Dowanhotaninwin.

Several of her old lovers were vying with one another to win her at the
same time, that she might have inter-tribal celebration of her wedding.

Behold! the maiden accepted the foe of her childhood--one of those who
had cruelly deprived her of her parents!

By night she fled to the Sac and Fox camp with her lover. It seemed at
first an insult to the Sioux, and there was almost an outbreak among the
young men of the tribe, who were barely restrained by their respect for
the Commissioners of the Great Father.

But her aged grandfather explained the matter publicly in this fashion:

“Young men, hear ye! Your hearts are strong; let them not be troubled
by the act of a young woman of your tribe! This has been her secret wish
since she became a woman. She deprecates all tribal warfare. Her young
heart never forgot its early sorrow; yet she has never blamed the Sacs
and Foxes or held them responsible for the deed. She blames rather
the customs of war among us. She believes in the formation of a blood
brotherhood strong enough to prevent all this cruel and useless enmity.
This was her high purpose, and to this end she reserved her hand.
Forgive her, forgive her, I pray!”

In the morning there was a great commotion. The herald of the Sacs and
Foxes entered the Sioux camp, attired in ceremonial garb and bearing
in one hand an American flag and in the other a peace-pipe. He made
the rounds singing a peace song, and delivering to all an invitation to
attend the wedding feast of Dowanhotaninwin and their chief’s son. Thus
all was well. The simplicity, high purpose, and bravery of the girl won
the hearts of the two tribes, and as long as she lived she was able to
keep the peace between them.


The Little Missouri was in her spring fullness, and the hills among
which she found her way to the Great Muddy were profusely adorned with
colors, much like those worn by the wild red man upon a holiday!
Looking toward the sunrise, one saw mysterious, deep shadows and bright
prominences, while on the opposite side there was really an extravagant
array of variegated hues. Between the gorgeous buttes and rainbow-tinted
ridges there were narrow plains, broken here and there by dry creeks
or gulches, and these again were clothed scantily with poplars and
sad-colored bull-berry bushes, while the bare spots were purple with the
wild Dakota crocuses.

Upon the lowest of a series of natural terraces there stood on this May
morning a young Sioux girl, whose graceful movements were not unlike
those of a doe which chanced to be lurking in a neighboring gulch. On
the upper plains, not far away, were her young companions, all busily
employed with the wewoptay, as it was called--the sharp-pointed stick
with which the Sioux women dig wild turnips. They were gayly gossiping
together, or each humming a love-song as she worked, only Snana stood
somewhat apart from the rest; in fact, concealed by the crest of the

She had paused in her digging and stood facing the sun-kissed buttes.
Above them in the clear blue sky the father sun was traveling upward as
in haste, while to her receptive spirit there appealed an awful, unknown
force, the silent speech of the Great Mystery, to which it seemed to her
the whole world must be listening!

“O Great Mystery! the father of earthly things is coming to quicken
us into life. Have pity on me, I pray thee! May I some day become the
mother of a great and brave race of warriors!” So the maiden prayed

It was now full-born day. The sun shone hot upon the bare ground, and
the drops stood upon Snana’s forehead as she plied her long pole. There
was a cool spring in the dry creek bed near by, well hidden by a clump
of chokecherry bushes, and she turned thither to cool her thirsty
throat. In the depths of the ravine her eye caught a familiar
footprint--the track of a doe with the young fawn beside it. The hunting
instinct arose within.

“It will be a great feat if I can find and take from her the babe. The
little tawny skin shall be beautifully dressed by my mother. The legs
and the nose shall be embossed with porcupine quills. It will be my
work-bag,” she said to herself.

As she stole forward on the fresh trail she scanned every nook, every
clump of bushes. There was a sudden rustle from within a grove of wild
plum trees, thickly festooned with grape and clematis, and the doe
mother bounded away as carelessly as if she were never to return.

Ah, a mother’s ruse! Snana entered the thorny enclosure, which was
almost a rude teepee, and, tucked away in the furthermost corner, lay
something with a trout-like, speckled, tawny coat. She bent over it.
The fawn was apparently sleeping. Presently its eyes moved a bit, and a
shiver passed through its subtle body.

“Thou shalt not die; thy skin shall not become my work-bag!”
 unconsciously the maiden spoke. The mother sympathy had taken hold on
her mind. She picked the fawn up tenderly, bound its legs, and put it on
her back to carry like an Indian babe in the folds of her robe.

“I cannot leave you alone, Tachinchala. Your mother is not here. Our
hunters will soon return by this road, and your mother has left behind
her two plain tracks leading to this thicket,” she murmured.

The wild creature struggled vigorously for a minute, and then became
quiet. Its graceful head protruded from the elkskin robe just over
Snana’s shoulder. She was slowly climbing the slope with her burden,
when suddenly like an apparition the doe-mother stood before her. The
fawn called loudly when it was first seized, and the mother was not too
far away to hear. Now she called frantically for her child, at the same
time stamping with her delicate fore-feet.

“Yes, sister, you are right; she is yours; but you cannot save her
to-day! The hunters will soon be here. Let me keep her for you; I will
return her to you safely. And hear me, O sister of the woods, that some
day I may become the mother of a noble race of warriors and of fine
women, as handsome as you are!”

At this moment the quick eyes of the Indian girl detected something
strange in the doe’s actions. She glanced in every direction and behold!
a grizzly bear was cautiously approaching the group from a considerable

“Run, run, sister! I shall save your child if I can,” she cried, and
flew for the nearest scrub oak on the edge of the bank. Up the tree she
scrambled, with the fawn still securely bound to her back. The grizzly
came on with teeth exposed, and the doe-mother in her flight came
between him and the tree, giving a series of indignant snorts as she
ran, and so distracted Mato from his object of attack; but only for a
few seconds--then on he came!

“Desist, O brave Mato! It does not become a great medicine-man to attack
a helpless woman with a burden upon her back!”

Snana spoke as if the huge brute could understand her, and indeed the
Indians hold that wild animals understand intuitively when appealed to
by human beings in distress. Yet he replied only with a hoarse growl, as
rising upon his hind legs he shook the little tree vigorously.

“Ye, ye, heyupi ye!” Snana called loudly to her companion
turnip-diggers. Her cry soon brought all the women into sight upon a
near-by ridge, and they immediately gave a general alarm. Mato saw them,
but appeared not at all concerned and was still intent upon dislodging
the girl, who clung frantically to her perch.

Presently there appeared upon the little knoll several warriors, mounted
and uttering the usual war-whoop, as if they were about to swoop down
upon a human enemy. This touched the dignity of Mato, and he immediately
prepared to accept the challenge. Every Indian was alive to the
possibilities of the occasion, for it is well known that Mato, or
grizzly bear, alone among animals is given the rank of a warrior, so
that whoever conquers him may wear an eagle feather.

“Woo! woo!” the warriors shouted, as they maneuvered to draw him into
the open plain.

He answered with hoarse growls, threatening a rider who had ventured
too near. But arrows were many and well-aimed, and in a few minutes the
great and warlike Mato lay dead at the foot of the tree.

The men ran forward and counted their coups on him, just as when an
enemy is fallen. Then they looked at one another and placed their hands
over their mouths as the young girl descended the tree with a fawn bound
upon her back.

“So that was the bait!” they cried. “And will you not make a feast with
that fawn for us who came to your rescue?”

“The fawn is young and tender, and we have not eaten meat for two days.
It will be a generous thing to do,” added her father, who was among

“Ye-e-e!” she cried out in distress. “Do not ask it! I have seen this
fawn’s mother. I have promised to keep her child safe. See! I have saved
its life, even when my own was in danger.”

“Ho, ho, wakan ye lo! (Yes, yes, ‘tis holy or mysterious),” they
exclaimed approvingly.

It was no small trouble for Snana to keep her trust. As may well be
supposed, all the dogs of the teepee village must be watched and kept
at a distance. Neither was it easy to feed the little captive; but in
gaining its confidence the girl was an adept. The fawn soon followed her
everywhere, and called to her when hungry exactly as she had called to
her own mother.

After several days, when her fright at the encounter with the bear had
somewhat worn off, Snana took her pet into the woods and back to the
very spot in which she had found it. In the furthest corner of the
wild plum grove she laid it down, gently stroked its soft forehead, and
smoothed the leaflike ears. The little thing closed its eyes. Once more
the Sioux girl bent over and laid her cheek against the fawn’s head;
then reluctantly she moved away, hoping and yet dreading that the mother
would return. She crouched under a clump of bushes near by, and gave the
doe call. It was a reckless thing for her to do, for such a call might
bring upon her a mountain lion or ever-watchful silvertip; but Snana did
not think of that.

In a few minutes she heard the light patter of hoofs, and caught a
glimpse of a doe running straight toward the fawn’s hiding-place. When
she stole near enough to see, the doe and the fawn were examining one
another carefully, as if fearing some treachery. At last both were
apparently satisfied. The doe caressed her natural child, and the little
one accepted the milk she offered.

In the Sioux maiden’s mind there was turmoil. A close attachment to the
little wild creature had already taken root there, contending with the
sense of justice that was strong within her. Now womanly sympathy for
the mother was in control, and now a desire to possess and protect her
helpless pet.

“I can take care of her against all hunters, both animal and human. They
are ever ready to seize the helpless fawn for food. Her life will be
often exposed. You cannot save her from disaster. O, Takcha, my sister,
let me still keep her for you!” she finally appealed to the poor doe,
who was nervously watching the intruder, and apparently thinking how she
might best escape with the fawn.

Just at this moment there came a low call from the wood. It was a doe
call; but the wild mother and her new friend both knew that it was not
the call of a real doe.

“It is a Sioux hunter!” whispered the girl. “You must go, my sister! Be
off; I will take your child to safety!”

While she was yet speaking, the doe seemed to realize the danger. She
stopped only an instant to lick fondly the tawny coat of the little one,
who had just finished her dinner; then she bounded away.

As Snana emerged from the bushes with her charge, a young hunter met her
face to face, and stared at her curiously. He was not of her father’s
camp, but a stranger.

“Ugh, you have my game.”

“Tosh!” she replied coquettishly.

It was so often said among the Indians that the doe was wont to put on
human form to mislead the hunter, that it looked strange to see a woman
with a fawn, and the young man could not forbear to gaze upon Snana.

“You are not the real mother in maiden’s guise? Tell me truly if you are
of human blood,” he demanded rudely.

“I am a Sioux maiden! Do you not know my father?” she replied.

“Ah, but who is your father? What is his name?” he insisted, nervously
fingering his arrows.

“Do not be a coward! Surely you should know a maid of your own race,”
 she replied reproachfully.

“Ah, you know the tricks of the doe! What is thy name?”

“Hast thou forgotten the etiquette of thy people, and wouldst compel me
to pronounce my own name? I refuse; thou art jesting!” she retorted with
a smile.

“Thou dost give the tricky answers of a doe. I cannot wait; I must act
before I lose my natural mind. But already I am yours. Whatever purpose
you may have in thus charming a poor hunter, be merciful,” and, throwing
aside his quiver, he sat down.

The maiden stole a glance at his face, and then another. He was
handsome. Softly she reentered the thicket and laid down the little

“Promise me never to hunt here again!” she said earnestly, as she came
forth without her pretty burden, and he exacted another promise in
return. Thus Snana lost her fawn, and found a lover.


It was a long time ago, nearly two hundred years ago, that some of our
people were living upon the shores of the Great Lake, Lake Superior. The
chief of this band was called Tatankaota, Many Buffaloes.

One day the young son of Tatankaota led a war-party against the
Ojibways, who occupied the country east of us, toward the rising sun.

When they had gone a day’s journey in the direction of Sault Ste. Marie,
in our language Skesketatanka, the warriors took up their position on
the lake shore, at a point which the Ojibways were accustomed to pass in
their canoes.

Long they gazed, and scanned the surface of the water, watching for
the coming of the foe. The sun had risen above the dark pines, over
the great ridge of woodland across the bay. It was the awakening of all
living things. The birds were singing, and shining fishes leaped out of
the water as if at play. At last, far off, there came the warning cry of
the loon to stir their expectant ears.

“Warriors, look close to the horizon! This brother of ours does not lie.
The enemy comes!” exclaimed their leader.

Presently upon the sparkling face of the water there appeared a moving
canoe. There was but one, and it was coming directly toward them.

“Hahatonwan! Hahatonwan! (The Ojibways! the Ojibways!)” they exclaimed
with one voice, and, grasping their weapons, they hastily concealed
themselves in the bushes.

“Spare none--take no captives!” ordered the chief’s son.

Nearer and nearer approached the strange canoe. The glistening blades
of its paddles flashed as it were the signal of good news, or a
welcome challenge. All impatiently waited until it should come within

“Surely it is an Ojibway canoe,” one murmured. “Yet look! the stroke is
ungainly!” Now, among all the tribes only the Ojibway’s art is perfect
in paddling a birch canoe. This was a powerful stroke, but harsh and

“See! there are no feathers on this man’s head!” exclaimed the son
of the chief. “Hold, warriors, he wears a woman’s dress, and I see
no weapon. No courage is needed to take his life, therefore let it be
spared! I command that only coups (or blows) be counted on him, and he
shall tell us whence he comes, and on what errand.”

The signal was given; the warriors sprang to their feet, and like wolves
they sped from the forest, out upon the white, sandy beach and straight
into the sparkling waters of the lake, giving the shrill war-cry, the
warning of death!

The solitary oarsman made no outcry--he offered no defense! Kneeling
calmly in the prow of the little vessel, he merely ceased paddling and
seemed to await with patience the deadly blow of the tomahawk.

The son of Tatankaota was foremost in the charge, but suddenly an
impulse seized him to stop his warriors, lest one in the heat of
excitement should do a mischief to the stranger. The canoe with its
occupant was now very near, and it could be seen that the expression of
his face was very gentle and even benignant. None could doubt his utter
harmlessness; and the chief’s son afterward declared that at this moment
he felt a premonition of some event, but whether good or evil he could
not tell.

No blows were struck--no coups counted. The young man bade his warriors
take up the canoe and carry it to the shore; and although they murmured
somewhat among themselves, they did as he commanded them. They seized
the light bark and bore it dripping to a hill covered with tall pines,
and overlooking the waters of the Great Lake.

Then the warriors lifted their war-clubs over their heads and sang,
standing around the canoe in which the black-robed stranger was still
kneeling. Looking at him closely, they perceived that he was of a
peculiar complexion, pale and inclined to red. He wore a necklace of
beads, from which hung a cross bearing the form of a man. His garments
were strange, and most like the robes of woman. All of these things
perplexed them greatly.

Presently the Black Robe told them by signs, in response to their
inquiries, that he came from the rising sun, even beyond the Great Salt
Water, and he seemed to say that he formerly came from the sky. Upon
this the warriors believed that he must be a prophet or mysterious man.

Their leader directed them to take up again the canoe with the man in
it, and appointed the warriors to carry it by turns until they should
reach his father’s village. This was done according to the ancient
custom, as a mark of respect and honor. They took it up forthwith, and
traveled with all convenient speed along the lake shore, through forests
and across streams to a place called the Maiden’s Retreat, a short
distance from the village.

Thence the chief’s son sent a messenger to announce to his father that
he was bringing home a stranger, and to ask whether or not he should be
allowed to enter the village. “His appearance,” declared the scout, “is
unlike that of any man we have ever seen, and his ways are mysterious!”

When the chief heard these words, he immediately called his council-men
together to decide what was to be done, for he feared by admitting the
mysterious stranger to bring some disaster upon his people. Finally he
went out with his wisest men to meet his son’s war-party. They looked
with astonishment upon the Black Robe.

“Dispatch him! Dispatch him! Show him no mercy!” cried some of the

“Let him go on his way unharmed. Trouble him not,” advised others.

“It is well known that the evil spirits sometimes take the form of a man
or animal. From his strange appearance I judge this to be such a one.
He should be put to death, lest some harm befall our people,” an old man

By this time several of the women of the village had reached the spot.
Among them was She-who-has-a-Soul, the chief’s youngest daughter, who
tradition says was a maiden of much beauty, and of a generous heart. The
stranger was evidently footsore from much travel and

weakened by fasting. When she saw that the poor man clasped his hands
and looked skyward as he uttered words in an unknown tongue, she pleaded
with her father that a stranger who has entered their midst unchallenged
may claim the hospitality of the people, according to the ancient

“Father, he is weary and in want of food. Hold him no longer! Delay
your council until he is refreshed!” These were the words of
She-who-has-a-Soul, and her father could not refuse her prayer. The
Black Robe was released, and the Sioux maiden led him to her father’s

Now the warriors had been surprised and indeed displeased to find him
dressed after the fashion of a woman, and they looked upon him with
suspicion. But from the moment that she first beheld him, the heart of
the maiden had turned toward this strange and seemingly unfortunate man.
It appeared to her that great reverence and meekness were in his face,
and with it all she was struck by his utter fearlessness, his apparent
unconsciousness of danger.

The chief’s daughter, having gained her father’s permission, invited the
Black Robe to his great buffalo-skin tent, and spreading a fine robe,
she gently asked him to be seated. With the aid of her mother, she
prepared wild rice sweetened with maple sugar and some broiled venison
for his repast. The youthful warriors were astonished to observe these
attentions, but the maiden heeded them not. She anointed the blistered
feet of the holy man with perfumed otter oil, and put upon him a pair of
moccasins beautifully worked by her own hands.

It was only an act of charity on her part, but the young men were
displeased, and again urged that the stranger should at once be turned
away. Some even suggested harsher measures; but they were overruled by
the chief, softened by the persuasions of a well-beloved daughter.

During the few days that the Black Robe remained in the Sioux village he
preached earnestly to the maiden, for she had been permitted to converse
with him by signs, that she might try to ascertain what manner of man he
was. He told her of the coming of a “Great Prophet” from the sky, and of
his words that he had left with the people. The cross with the figure of
a man he explained as his totem which he had told them to carry. He also
said that those who love him are commanded to go among strange peoples
to tell the news, and that all who believe must be marked with holy
water and accept the totem.

He asked by signs if She-who-has-a-Soul believed the story. To this she

“It is a sweet story--a likely legend! I do believe!”

Then the good father took out a small cross, and having pressed it
to his heart and crossed his forehead and breast, he gave it to her.
Finally he dipped his finger in water and touched the forehead of the
maiden, repeating meanwhile some words in an unknown tongue.

The mother was troubled, for she feared that the stranger was trying to
bewitch her daughter, but the chief decided thus:

“This is a praying-man, and he is not of our people; his customs are
different, but they are not evil. Warriors, take him back to the spot
where you saw him first! It is my desire, and the good custom of our
tribe requires that you free him without injury!”

Accordingly they formed a large party, and carried the Black Robe in his
canoe back to the shore of the Great Lake, to the place where they had
met him, and he was allowed to depart thence whithersoever he would.
He took his leave with signs of gratitude for their hospitality, and
especially for the kindness of the beautiful Sioux maiden. She seemed to
have understood his mission better than any one else, and as long as
she lived she kept his queer trinket--as it seemed to the others--and
performed the strange acts that he had taught her.

Furthermore, it was through the pleadings of She-who-has-a-Soul that the
chief Tatankaota advised his people in after days to befriend the white
strangers, and though many of the other chiefs opposed him in this,
his counsels prevailed. Hence it was that both the French and English
received much kindness from our people, mainly through the influence of
this one woman!

Such was the first coming of the white man among us, as it is told in
our traditions. Other praying-men came later, and many of the Sioux
allowed themselves to be baptized. True, there have been Indian wars,
but not without reason; and it is pleasant to remember that the Sioux
were hospitable to the first white “prayingman,” and that it was a
tender-hearted maiden of my people who first took in her hands the cross
of the new religion.


One of the most remarkable women of her day and nation was Eyatonkawee,
She-whose-Voice-is-heard-afar. It is matter of history among the
Wakpaykootay band of Sioux, the Dwellers among the Leaves, that
when Eyatonkawee was a very young woman she was once victorious in a
hand-to-hand combat with the enemy in the woods of Minnesota, where her
people were hunting the deer. At such times they often met with stray
parties of Sacs and Foxes from the prairies of Iowa and Illinois.

Now, the custom was among our people that the doer of a notable warlike
deed was held in highest honor, and these deeds were kept constantly in
memory by being recited in public, before many witnesses. The greatest
exploit was that one involving most personal courage and physical
address, and he whose record was adjudged best might claim certain
privileges, not the least of which was the right to interfere in any
quarrel and separate the combatants. The peace-maker might resort to
force, if need be, and no one dared to utter a protest who could not say
that he had himself achieved an equal fame.

There was a man called Tamahay, known to Minnesota history as the
“One-eyed Sioux,” who was a notable character on the frontier in the
early part of the nineteenth century. He was very reckless, and could
boast of many a perilous adventure. He was the only Sioux who, in the
War of 1812, fought for the Americans, while all the rest of his people
sided with the British, mainly through the influence of the English
traders among them at that time. This same “One-eyed Sioux” became
a warm friend of Lieutenant Pike, who discovered the sources of the
Mississippi, and for whom Pike’s Peak is named. Some say that the Indian
took his friend’s name, for Tamahay in English means Pike or Pickerel.

Unfortunately, in later life this brave man became a drunkard, and after
the Americans took possession of his country almost any one of them
would supply him with liquor in recognition of his notable services as
a scout and soldier. Thus he was at times no less dangerous in camp than
in battle.

Now, Eyatonkawee, being a young widow, had married the son of a lesser
chief in Tamahay’s band, and was living among strangers. Moreover, she
was yet young and modest.

One day this bashful matron heard loud warwhoops and the screams of
women. Looking forth, she saw the people fleeing hither and thither,
while Tamahay, half intoxicated, rushed from his teepee painted for war,
armed with tomahawk and scalping-knife, and approached another warrior
as if to slay him. At this sight her heart became strong, and she
quickly sprang between them with her woman’s knife in her hand.

“It was a Sac warrior of like proportions and bravery with your own,
who, having slain several of the Sioux, thus approached me with uplifted
tomahawk!” she exclaimed in a clear voice, and went on to recite her
victory on that famous day so that the terrified people paused to hear.

Tamahay was greatly astonished, but he was not too drunk to realize that
he must give way at once, or be subject to the humiliation of a blow
from the woman-warrior who challenged him thus. The whole camp was
listening; and being unable, in spite of his giant frame and well-known
record, to cite a greater deed than hers, he retreated with as good a
grace as possible. Thus Eyatonkawee recounted her brave deed for the
first time, in order to save a man’s life. From that day her name was
great as a peace-maker--greater even than when she had first defended so
gallantly her babe and home!

Many years afterward, when she had attained middle age, this woman
averted a serious danger from her people.

Chief Little Crow the elder was dead, and as he had two wives of two
different bands, the succession was disputed among the half-brothers
and their adherents. Finally the two sons of the wife belonging to the
Wabashaw band plotted against the son of the woman of the Kaposia band,
His-Red-Nation by name, afterward called Little Crow--the man who led
the Minnesota massacre.

They obtained a quantity of whisky and made a great feast to which
many were invited, intending when all were more or less intoxicated
to precipitate a fight in which he should be killed. It would be easy
afterward to excuse themselves by saying that it was an accident.

Mendota, near what is now the thriving city of Saint Paul, then a queen
of trading-posts in the Northwest, was the rendezvous of the Sioux. The
event brought many together, for all warriors of note were bidden from
far and near, and even the great traders of the day were present, for
the succession to the chieftainship was one which vitally affected their
interests. During the early part of the day all went well, with speeches
and eulogies of the dead chief, flowing and eloquent, such as only a
native orator can utter. Presently two goodly kegs of whisky were rolled
into the council teepee.

Eyatonkawee was among the women, and heard their expressions of anxiety
as the voices of the men rose louder and more threatening. Some carried
their children away into the woods for safety, while others sought
speech with their husbands outside the council lodge and besought them
to come away in time. But more than this was needed to cope with the
emergency. Suddenly a familiar form appeared in the door of the council

“Is it becoming in a warrior to spill the blood of his tribesmen? Are
there no longer any Ojibways?”

It was the voice of Eyatonkawee, that stronghearted woman! Advancing at
the critical moment to the middle of the ring of warriors, she once
more recited her “brave deed” with all the accompaniment of action
and gesture, and to such effect that the disorderly feast broke up in
confusion, and there was peace between the rival bands of Sioux.

There was seldom a dangerous quarrel among the Indians in those days
that was not precipitated by the use of strong liquor, and this simple
Indian woman, whose good judgment was equal to her courage, fully
recognized this fact. All her life, and especially after her favorite
brother had been killed in a drunken brawl in the early days of the
American Fur Company, she was a determined enemy to strong drink, and
it is said did more to prevent its use among her immediate band than
any other person. Being a woman, her sole means of recognition was the
“brave deed” which she so wonderfully described and enacted before the

During the lifetime of She-whose-Voice-is-heard-afar--and she died only
a few years ago--it behooved the Sioux men, if they drank at all, to
drink secretly and in moderation. There are many who remember her brave
entrance upon the scene of carousal, and her dramatic recital of the
immortal deed of her youth.

“Hanta! hanta wo! (Out of the way!)” exclaim the dismayed warriors,
scrambling in every direction to avoid the upraised arm of the terrible
old woman, who bursts suddenly upon them with disheveled hair, her gown
torn and streaked here and there with what looks like fresh blood, her
leather leggins loose and ungartered, as if newly come from the famous
struggle. One of the men has a keg of whisky for which he has given a
pony, and the others have been invited in for a night of pleasure. But
scarcely has the first round been drunk to the toast of “great deeds,”
 when Eyatonkawee is upon them, her great knife held high in her wrinkled
left hand, her tomahawk in the right. Her black eyes gleam as she
declaims in a voice strong, unterrified:

   “Look! look! brothers and husbands--the Sacs and Foxes are upon us!

   Behold, our braves are surprised--they are unprepared!

   Hear the mothers, the wives and the children screaming in affright!

   “Your brave sister, Eyatonkawee, she, the newly made mother,
   is serving the smoking venison to her husband, just returned
   from the chase!

   Ah, he plunges into the thickest of the enemy!
   He falls, he falls, in full view of his young wife!

   “She desperately presses her babe to her breast,
   while on they come yelling and triumphant!

   The foremost of them all enters her white buffalo-skin teepee:
   Tossing her babe at the warrior’s feet, she stands before him, defiant;
   But he straightway levels his spear at her bosom.

   Quickly she springs aside, and as quickly deals a deadly blow with
   her ax:

   Falls at her feet the mighty warrior!

   “Closely following on comes another,
   unknowing what fate has met his fellow!

   He too enters her teepee, and upon his feather-decked head her ax falls
   --Only his death-groan replies!

   “Another of heroic size and great prowess,
   as witnessed by his war-bonnet of eagle-feathers,

   Rushes on, yelling and whooping--for they believe
   that victory is with them!

   The third great warrior who has dared to enter Eyatonkawee’s
   teepee uninvited, he has already dispatched her husband!

   He it is whose terrible war-cry has scattered her sisters
   among the trees of the forest!

   “On he comes with confidence and a brave heart,
   seeking one more bloody deed-
   One more feather to win for his head!
   Behold, he lifts above her woman’s head his battle-ax!
   No hope, no chance for her life!...
   Ah! he strikes beyond her--only the handle of the ax falls
   heavily upon her tired shoulder!

   Her ready knife finds his wicked heart,--
   Down he falls at her feet!

   “Now the din of war grows fainter and further.
   The Sioux recover heart, and drive the enemy headlong from their lodges:
   Your sister stands victorious over three!
   “She takes her baby boy, and makes him count with his tiny
   hands the first ‘coup’ on each dead hero;

   Hence he wears the ‘first feathers’ while yet in his oaken cradle.

   “The bravest of the whole Sioux nation have given the war-whoop
   in your sister’s honor, and have said:

   ‘Tis Eyatonkawee who is not satisfied with downing
   the mighty oaks with her ax--
   She took the mighty Sacs and Foxes for trees,
   and she felled them with a will!’”

In such fashion the old woman was wont to chant her story, and not a
warrior there could tell one to surpass it! The custom was strong, and
there was not one to prevent her when she struck open with a single blow
of her ax the keg of whisky, and the precious liquor trickled upon the

“So trickles under the ax of Eyatonkawee the blood of an enemy to the


Many years ago a large body of the Sioux were encamped at midsummer
in the valley of the Cheyenne. It was customary at that period for
the Indians to tie up their ponies over night within the circle of the
teepees, whenever they were in disputed territory, for they considered
it no wrong to steal the horses of the enemy. Hence this long procession
of young men and maidens, returning at sunset to the camp with great
bundles of green grass hanging gracefully from their saddles!

The “green grass parade” became a regular custom, and in fact a
full-dress affair, since it was found to afford unusual opportunities
for courtship.

Blue Sky, the pretty daughter of the Sioux chief, put on her best
doeskin gown trimmed with elks’ teeth, and investing her favorite
spotted pony with his beaded saddle-blanket, she went forth in company
with one of her maiden friends. Soon two young warriors overtook the
pair; and as they approached they covered their heads with their robes,
exposing only the upper part of the face disguised with paint and the
single eagle feather standing upright. One carried a bow and quiver full
of arrows; the other, a war-club suspended from his right arm.

“Ah, hay, hun, hay!” saluted one of them; but the modest maidens said
never a word! It was not their way to speak; only the gay calico ponies
pranced about and sportively threw back their ears to snap at the horses
of the two young men.

“‘Tis a brave welcome your horses are giving us!” he continued, while
the two girls merely looked at one another with perfect understanding.

Presently Matoska urged his pony close to the Blue Sky’s side.

“It may be that I am overbold,” he murmured in her ear, “to repeat so
soon my tale of love! I know well that I risk a reprimand, if not in
words, then by a look or action!”

He paused to note the effect of his speech; but alas! it is the hard
rule of savage courtship that the maiden may with propriety and dignity
keep silence as long as she wishes, and it is often exasperatingly long.

“I have spoken to no maiden,” he resumed, “because I wished to win the
war-bonnet before doing so. But to you I was forced to yield!” Again
he paused, as if fearing to appear unduly hasty; but deliberate as were
speech and manner, his eyes betrayed him. They were full of intense
eagerness mingled with anxiety.

“Sometimes I have imagined that I am in the world with you alone,
traveling over the prairie of life, or sitting in our lonely white
teepee, as the oriole sits with his mate before their swaying home. Yet
I seemed to be never lonely, because you were there!” He finished his
plea, and with outward calmness awaited her reply.

The maiden had not lost a word, but she was still thinking. She thought
that a man is much like the wind of the north, only pleasant and
comfortable in midsummer! She feared that she might some time have to
furnish all the fuel for their love’s fires; therefore she held her
peace. Matoska waited for several minutes and then silently withdrew,
bearing his disappointment with dignity.

Meanwhile the camp was astir with the returning youths and maidens,
their horses’ sides fringed with the long meadow grass, singing
plaintive serenades around the circular rows of teepees before they
broke up for the night.

It was a clear and quiet night; the evening fires were kindled and every
teepee transformed into an immense Chinese lantern. There was a glowing
ring two miles in circumference, with the wooded river bottom on one
side and the vast prairie on the other. The Black Hills loomed up in the
distance, and the rapids of the wild Cheyenne sent forth a varying peal
of music on the wind. The people enjoyed their evening meal, and in the
pauses of their talk and laughter the ponies could be heard munching at
the bundles of green grass just outside the teepees.

Suddenly a chorus of yells broke cruelly the peace of the camp, followed
by the dashing charge of the Crow Indian horsemen! It was met as bravely
and quickly by the Sioux; and in the clear, pale moonlight the dusky
warriors fought, with the occasional flash of a firearm, while silent
weapons flew thick in the air like dragon-flies at sunset.

The brave mothers, wives, and sisters gave their shrill war-cry to
inspire their men, and show the enemy that even the Sioux women cannot
be daunted by such a fearful surprise!

When the morning sun sent its golden shafts among the teepees, they saw
it through glistening tears--happy tears, they said, because the brave
dead had met their end in gallant fight--the very end they craved! And
among those who fell that night was Brave Hawk, the handsome brother of
the Blue Sky.

In a few days the camp was moved to a point further up the Cheyenne and
deeper into the bosom of the hills, leaving behind the decorated
grave lodges belonging to the honored dead. A great council teepee was
pitched, and here the people met to credit those who had earned them
with the honors of the fight, that they might thereafter wear the eagle
feathers which they had won.

“The first honor,” declared the master of ceremonies, “belongs to Brave
Hawk, who fell in the battle! He it was who compelled the Crows to
retreat, when he bravely charged upon them and knocked from his horse
the Crow chief, their war leader.”

“Ho, it is true!” exclaimed the warriors in chorus.

“The second honor,” he resumed, “belongs to Matoska, the White Bear!”

“Hun, hun, hay!” interposed another, “it is I, Red Owl, who touched the
body of the Crow chief second to Brave Hawk!”

It was a definite challenge.

“The warriors who witnessed the act give the coup to Matoska, friend!”
 persisted the spokesman.

Red Owl was a brave youth and a close rival of Matoska, both for war
honors and for the hand of the prettiest maiden in the tribe. He had
hoped to be recognized as one who fought in defense of their homes by
the side of Brave Hawk; that would please the Blue Sky, he thought; but
the honor was conferred upon his rival!

There was a cloud of suppressed irritation on his dusky face as he
sullenly departed to his own tent--an action which displeased the
council-men. Matoska had not spoken, and this caused him to appear to
the better advantage. The worst of it was that Blue Sky herself
had entered the ring with the “orphan steed,” as it was called--the
war-horse of her dead brother, and had therefore seen and heard
everything! Tanagila, or Hummingbird, the beautiful charger, decorated
according to custom with the honors won by his master, was led away by
the girl amidst resounding war-whoops.

Unable to remain quiet, Red Owl went out into the hills to fast and
pray. It was sunset of the next day when he again approached the
village, and behind a little ridge came suddenly upon Matoska and the
girl standing together. It was the first time that they had met since
the “green grass parade,” and now only by accident, as the sister of
Brave Hawk was in deep mourning. However, the lover had embraced his
opportunity, and the maiden had said that she was willing to think of
the matter. No more words were spoken.

That very night the council drum was struck three times, followed by the
warriors’ cheer. Everybody knew what that meant. It was an invitation to
the young men to go upon the war-path against the Crows!

Blue Sky was unconsciously startled by this sudden announcement. For the
first time in her life she felt a fear that she could not explain. The
truth was that she loved, and was not yet fully aware of it. In spite of
her fresh grief, she had been inexplicably happy since her last meeting
with Matoska, for she had seen in him that which is so beautiful, so
compelling in man to the eyes of the woman who loves. He, too, now
cherished a real hope, and felt as if he could rush into the thickest of
the battle to avenge the brother of his beloved!

In a few days the war-party had reached the Big Horn and sent out
advance scouts, who reported a large Crow encampment. Their hundreds of
horses covered the flats like a great herd of buffalo, they said. It was
immediately decided to attack at daybreak, and on a given signal they
dashed impetuously upon the formidable camp. Some stampeded and drove
off a number of horses, while the main body plunged into the midst of
the Crows.

But the enemy were not easily surprised. They knew well the Sioux
tactics, and there was a desperate struggle for supremacy. War-club was
raised against war-club, and the death-song of the arrow filled the
air! Presently the Sioux were forced to retreat, with the Crows in hot
pursuit, like wolves after their prey.

Red Owl and Matoska had been among the foremost in the charge, and
now they acted as a rear-guard, bravely defending the retreat of their
little army, to the admiration of the enemy. At last a Crow raised his
spear against Matoska, who in a flash dismounted him with a stroke of
his oaken bow; but alas! the blow snapped the bow-string and left him
defenseless. At the same instant his horse uttered a scream and fell,
throwing its rider headlong!

There was no one near except Red Owl, who clapped his heels to his pony
and joined in the retreat, leaving Matoska behind. He arose, threw down
his quiver, and advanced alone to meet the oncoming rush of the Crows!

The Sioux had seen him fall. In a few moments he was surrounded by the
enemy, and they saw him no more.

The pursuit was stopped, and they paused upon a hilltop to collect the
remnant of their force. Red Owl was the last to come up, and it was
observed that he did not look like himself.

“Tell us, what were Matoska’s last words?” they asked him.

But he silently dismounted and sent an arrow through his faithful steed,
to the astonishment of the warriors. Immediately afterward he took out
his knife and stabbed himself to the heart.

“Ah!” they exclaimed, “he could not live to share our humiliation!”

The war-party returned defeated and cast down by this unexpected ending
to their adventure, having lost some of their bravest and best men. The
camp was instantly thrown into mourning. Many were in heavy grief, but
none was more deeply stricken than the maiden called the Blue Sky, the
daughter of their chief.

She remained within her teepee and wept in secret, for none knew that
she had the right to mourn. Yet she believed that her lover had met with
misfortune, but not death. Although his name was announced among those
warriors who fell in the field, her own heart assured her that it was
not so. “I must go to him,” she said to herself. “I must know certainly
whether he is still among the living!”

The next evening, while the village was yet in the confusion of great
trouble and sorrow, Blue Sky rode out upon her favorite pony as if to
take him to water as usual, but none saw her return! She hastened to
the spot where she had concealed two sacks of provisions and her extra
moccasins and materials for sewing. She had no weapon, save her knife
and a small hatchet. She knew the country between the Black Hills and
the Big Horn, and knew that it was full of perils for man and much more
for woman. Yet by traveling only at night and concealing herself in the
daytime she hoped to avoid these dangers, and she rode bravely forth on
the trail of the returning warriors.

Her dog, Wapayna, had followed the maiden, and she was not sorry to
have so faithful a companion. She cautioned him not to bark at or attack
strange animals unless they attacked first, and he seemed to understand
the propriety of remaining on guard whenever his mistress was asleep.

She reached the Powder River country in safety, and here she had more
than once to pick her way among the buffaloes. These wily animals seemed
to realize that she was only a woman and unarmed, so that they scarcely
kept out of her path. She also crossed the trails of riders, some of
them quite fresh, but was fortunate enough not to meet any of them.

At last the maiden attained the divide between the Tongue and the Big
Horn rivers. Her heart beat fast, and the sudden sense of her strange
mission almost overwhelmed her. She remembered the only time in her life
that the Sioux were upon that river, and so had that bit of friendly
welcome from the valley--a recollection of childhood!

It was near morning; the moon had set and for a short time darkness
prevailed, but the girl’s eyes had by this time become accustomed to
the dark. She knew the day was at hand, and with its first beams she was
safely tucked into one of those round turns left by the river long ago
in changing its bed, now become a little grassy hollow sheltered by
steep banks, and hidden by a fringe of trees. Here she picketed her
pony, and took her own rest. Not until the afternoon shadows were
long did she awake and go forth with determination to seek for the
battlefield and for the Crow encampment.

It was not long before she came upon the bodies of fallen horses and
men. There was Matoska’s white charger, with a Sioux arrow in his side,
and she divined the treachery of Red Owl! But he was dead, and his death
had atoned for the crime. The body of her lover was nowhere to be found;
yet how should they have taken the bravest of the Sioux a captive?

“If he had but one arrow left, he would stand and fight! If his
bow-string were broken, he would still welcome death with a strong
heart,” she thought.

The evening was approaching and the Crow village in plain sight. Blue
Sky arranged her hair and dress as well as she could like that of a Crow
woman, and with an extra robe she made for herself a bundle that looked
as if it held a baby in its many wrappings. The community was still
celebrating its recent victory over the Sioux, and the camp was alive
with songs and dances. In the darkness she approached unnoticed, and
singing in an undertone a Crow lullaby, walked back and forth among the
lodges, watching eagerly for any signs of him she sought.

At last she came near to the council lodge. There she beheld his face
like an apparition through the dusk and the fire-light! He was sitting
within, dressed in the gala costume of a Crow.

“O, he is living! he is living!” thought the brave maiden. “O, what
shall I do?” Unconsciously she crept nearer and nearer, until the sharp
eyes of an Indian detected the slight difference in her manner and
dress, and he at once gave the alarm.

“Wah, wah! Epsaraka! Epsaraka! A Sioux! A Sioux!”

In an instant the whole camp had surrounded the girl, who stood in their
midst a prisoner, yet undaunted, for she had seen her lover, and the
spirit of her ancestors rose within her.

An interpreter was brought, a man who was half Crow and half Sioux.

“Young and pretty daughter of the Sioux!” exclaimed the chief, “tell us
how you came here in our midst undetected, and why!”

“Because,” replied the Blue Sky, “your brave warriors have slain my only
brother, and captured my lover, whom you now hold a prisoner. It is for
his sake that I have thus risked my life and honor!”

“Ho, ho! You are the bravest woman I have ever seen. Your lover was
betrayed into our hands by the treachery of one of his own tribe, who
shot his horse from behind. He faced us without fear, but it was not his
courage that saved his life. He resembles my own son, who lately fell in
battle, and according to the custom I have adopted him as my son!”

Thus the brave maiden captured the heart of the wily Crow, and was
finally allowed to return home with her lover, bearing many and rich
presents. Her name is remembered among the two tribes, for this act of
hers resulted in a treaty of peace between them which was kept for a


Away beyond the Thin Hills, above the Big Lone Tree upon the Powder
River, the Uncpapa Sioux had celebrated their Sun Dance, some forty
years ago. It was midsummer and the red folk were happy. They lacked
for nothing. The yellowish green flat on either side of the Powder was
studded with wild flowers, and the cottonwood trees were in full leaf.
One large circle of buffalo skin teepees formed the movable village. The
Big Horn Mountains loomed up against the deep blue sky to the westward,
and the Black Hills appeared in the far southeast.

The tribal rites had all been observed, and the usual summer festivities
enjoyed to the full. The camp as it broke up divided itself in three
parts, each of which had determined to seek a favorite hunting-ground.

One band journeyed west, toward the Tongue River. One followed a
tributary of the Powder to the south. The third merely changed camp, on
account of the grazing for ponies, and for four days remained near the
old place.

The party that went west did not fail to realize the perilous nature
of their wanderings, for they were trespassing upon the country of the
warlike Crows.

On the third day at sunrise, the Sioux crier’s voice resounded in the
valley of the Powder, announcing that the lodges must be razed and the
villagers must take up their march.

Breakfast of jerked buffalo meat had been served and the women were
adjusting their packs, not without much chatter and apparent confusion.
Weeko (Beautiful Woman), the young wife of the war-chief Shunkaska, who
had made many presents at the dances in honor of her twin boys, now
gave one of her remaining ponies to a poor old woman whose only beast of
burden, a large dog, had died during the night.

This made it necessary to shift the packs of the others. Nakpa, or Long
Ears, her kittenlike gray mule, which had heretofore been honored with
the precious burden of the twin babies, was to be given a heavier and
more cumbersome load. Weeko’s two-year-old spotted pony was selected to
carry the babies.

Accordingly, the two children, in their gorgeously beaded buckskin
hoods, were suspended upon either side of the pony’s saddle. As Weeko’s
first-born, they were beautifully dressed; even the saddle and bridle
were daintily worked by her own hands.

The caravan was now in motion, and Weeko started all her ponies after
the leader, while she adjusted the mule’s clumsy burden of kettles and
other household gear. In a moment:

“Go on, let us see how you move with your new load! Go on!” she
exclaimed again, with a light blow of the horse-hair lariat, as the
animal stood perfectly still.

Nakpa simply gave an angry side glance at her load and shifted her
position once or twice. Then she threw herself headlong into the air and
landed stiff-legged, uttering at the same time her unearthly protest.
First she dove straight through the crowd, then proceeded in a circle,
her heels describing wonderful curves and sweeps in the air. Her
pack, too, began to come to pieces and to take forced flights from her
undignified body and heels, in the midst of the screams of women and
children, the barking of dogs, and the war-whoops of the amused young

The cowskin tent became detached from her saddle, and a moment later
Nakpa stood free. Her sides worked like a bellows as she stood there
meekly indignant, apparently considering herself to be the victim of an
uncalled-for misunderstanding.

“I should put an arrow through her at once, only she is not worth a
good arrow,” said Shunkaska, or White Dog, the husband of Weeko. At his
wife’s answer, he opened his eyes in surprised displeasure.

“No, she shall have her own pack again. She wants her twins. I ought
never to have taken them from her!”

Weeko approached Nakpa as she stood alone and unfriended in the face
of her little world, all of whom considered that she had committed the
unpardonable sin. As for her, she evidently felt that her misfortunes
had not been of her own making. She gave a hesitating, sidelong look at
her mistress.

“Nakpa, you should not have acted so. I knew you were stronger than the
others, therefore I gave you that load,” said Weeko in a conciliatory
tone, and patted her on the nose. “Come, now, you shall have your own
pet pack,” and she led her back to where the young pony stood silently
with the babies.

Nakpa threw back her ears and cast savage looks at him, while Shunkaska,
with no small annoyance, gathered together as much as he could of their
scattered household effects. The sleeping brown-skinned babies in
their chrysalis-like hoods were gently lowered from the pony’s back and
attached securely to Nakpa’s padded wooden saddle. The family pots and
kettles were divided among the pack ponies. Order was restored and the
village once more in motion.

“Come now, Nakpa; you have your wish. You must take good care of my
babies. Be good, because I have trusted you,” murmured the young mother
in her softest tones.

“Really, Weeko, you have some common ground with Nakpa, for you both
always want to have your own way, and stick to it, too! I tell you, I
fear this Long Ears. She is not to be trusted with babies,” remarked
Shunkaska, with a good deal of severity. But his wife made no reply, for
she well knew that though he might criticise, he would not actually
interfere with her domestic arrangements.

He now started ahead to join the men in advance of the slow-moving
procession, thus leaving her in undivided charge of her household. One
or two of the pack ponies were not well-trained and required all her
attention. Nakpa had been a faithful servant until her escapade of
the morning, and she was now obviously satisfied with her mistress’
arrangements. She walked alongside with her lariat dragging, and
perfectly free to do as she pleased.

Some hours later, the party ascended a slope from the river bottom to
cross over the divide which lay between the Powder River and a tributary
stream. They had hitherto followed that river in a westerly direction,
but here it took its course southward, winding in a blue streak until
lost to view among the foot-hills of the Big Horn Mountains. The ford
was deep, with a swift current. Here and there a bald butte stood out
in full relief against the brilliant blue sky. The Sioux followed a deep
ravine until they came almost up to the second row of terraces.

“Whoo! whoo!” came the blood-curdling signal of danger from the front.
It was no unfamiliar sound--the rovers knew it only too well. It meant
sudden death--or at best a cruel struggle and frantic flight.

Terrified, yet self-possessed, the women turned to fly while yet there
was time. Instantly the mother looked to Nakpa, who carried on either
side of the saddle her precious boys. She hurriedly examined the
fastenings to see that all was secure, and then caught her swiftest
pony, for, like all Indian women, she knew just what was happening, and
that while her husband was engaged in front with the enemy, she must
seek safety with her babies.

Hardly was she in the saddle when a heartrending war-whoop sounded on
their flank, and she knew that they were surrounded! Instinctively she
reached for her husband’s second quiver of arrows, which was carried by
one of the pack ponies. Alas! the Crow warriors were already upon
them! The ponies became unmanageable, and the wild screams of women and
children pierced the awful confusion.

Quick as a flash, Weeko turned again to her babies, but Nakpa had
already disappeared!

Then, maddened by fright and the loss of her children, Weeko became
forgetful of her sex and tenderness, for she sternly grasped her
husband’s bow in her left hand to do battle.

That charge of the Crows was a disastrous one, but the Sioux were
equally brave and desperate. Charges and counter-charges were made, and
the slain were many on both sides. The fight lasted until darkness came.
Then the Crows departed and the Sioux buried their dead.

When the Crows made their flank charge, Nakpa apparently appreciated the
situation. To save herself and the babies, she took a desperate chance.
She fled straight through the attacking force.

When the warriors came howling upon her in great numbers, she at once
started back the way she had come, to the camp left behind. They had
traveled nearly three days. To be sure, they did not travel more than
fifteen miles a day, but it was full forty miles to cover before dark.

“Look! look!” exclaimed a warrior, “two babies hung from the saddle of a

No one heeded this man’s call, and his arrow did not touch Nakpa or
either of the boys, but it struck the thick part of the saddle over the
mule’s back.

“Lasso her! lasso her!” he yelled once more; but Nakpa was too cunning
for them. She dodged in and out with active heels, and they could not
afford to waste many arrows on a mule at that stage of the fight. Down
the ravine, then over the expanse of prairie dotted with gray-green
sage-brush, she sped with her unconscious burden.

“Whoo! whoo!” yelled another Crow to his comrades, “the Sioux have
dispatched a runner to get reinforcements! There he goes, down on the
flat! Now he has almost reached the river bottom!”

It was only Nakpa. She laid back her cars and stretched out more and
more to gain the river, for she realized that when she had crossed the
ford the Crows would not pursue her farther.

Now she had reached the bank. With the intense heat from her exertions,
she was extremely nervous, and she imagined a warrior behind every bush.
Yet she had enough sense left to realize that she must not satisfy her
thirst. She tried the bottom with her fore-foot, then waded carefully
into the deep stream.

She kept her big ears well to the front as she swam to catch the
slightest sound. As she stepped on the opposite shore, she shook herself
and the boys vigorously, then pulled a few mouthfuls of grass and
started on.

Soon one of the babies began to cry, and the other was not long in
joining him. Nakpa did not know what to do. She gave a gentle whinny and
both babies apparently stopped to listen; then she took up an easy gait
as if to put them to sleep.

These tactics answered only for a time. As she fairly flew over the
lowlands, the babies’ hunger increased and they screamed so loud that a
passing coyote had to sit upon his haunches and wonder what in the world
the fleeing longeared horse was carrying on his saddle. Even magpies and
crows flew near as if to ascertain the meaning of this curious sound.

Nakpa now came to the Little Trail Creek, a tributary of the Powder, not
far from the old camp. No need of wasting any time here, she thought.
Then she swerved aside so suddenly as almost to jerk her babies out
of their cradles. Two gray wolves, one on each side, approached her,
growling low--their white teeth showing.

Never in her humble life had Nakpa been in more desperate straits. The
larger of the wolves came fiercely forward to engage her attention,
while his mate was to attack her behind and cut her hamstrings. But for
once the pair had made a miscalculation. The mule used her front hoofs
vigorously on the foremost wolf, while her hind ones were doing even
more effective work. The larger wolf soon went limping away with a
broken hip, and the one in the rear received a deep cut on the jaw which
proved an effectual discouragement.

A little further on, an Indian hunter drew near on horseback, but Nakpa
did not pause or slacken her pace. On she fled through the long dry
grass of the river bottoms, while her babies slept again from sheer
exhaustion. Toward sunset, she entered the Sioux camp amid great
excitement, for some one had spied her afar off, and the boys and the
dogs announced her coming.

“Whoo, whoo! Weeko’s Nakpa has come back with the twins! Whoo, whoo!”
 exclaimed the men. “Tokee! tokee!” cried the women.

A sister to Weeko who was in the village came forward and released the
children, as Nakpa gave a low whinny and stopped. Tenderly Zeezeewin
nursed them at her own motherly bosom, assisted by another young mother
of the band.

“Ugh, there is a Crow arrow sticking in the saddle! A fight! a fight!”
 exclaimed the warriors.

“Sing a Brave-Heart song for the Long-Eared one! She has escaped alone
with her charge. She is entitled to wear an eagle’s feather! Look at the
arrow in her saddle! and more, she has a knife wound in her jaw and an
arrow cut on her hind leg.--No, those are the marks of a wolf’s teeth!
She has passed through many dangers and saved two chief’s sons, who will
some day make the Crows sorry for this day’s work!”

The speaker was an old man who thus addressed the fast gathering throng.

Zeezeewin now came forward again with an eagle feather and some white
paint in her hands. The young men rubbed Nakpa down, and the feather,
marked with red to indicate her wounds, was fastened to her mane.
Shoulders and hips were touched with red paint to show her endurance in
running. Then the crier, praising her brave deed in heroic verse, led
her around the camp, inside of the circle of teepees. All the people
stood outside their lodges and listened respectfully, for the Dakota
loves well to honor the faithful and the brave.

During the next day, riders came in from the ill-fated party, bringing
the sad news of the fight and heavy loss. Late in the afternoon came
Weeko, her face swollen with crying, her beautiful hair cut short in
mourning, her garments torn and covered with dust and blood. Her husband
had fallen in the fight, and her twin boys she supposed to have been
taken captive by the Crows. Singing in a hoarse voice the praises of her
departed warrior, she entered the camp. As she approached her sister’s
teepee, there stood Nakpa, still wearing her honorable decorations. At
the same moment, Zeezeewin came out to meet her with both babies in her

“Mechinkshee! meechinkshee! (my sons, my sons!)” was all that the poor
mother could say, as she all but fell from her saddle to the ground. The
despised Long Ears had not betrayed her trust.


The old man, Smoky Day, was for many years the best-known story-teller
and historian of his tribe. He it was who told me the story of the War
Maiden. In the old days it was unusual but not unheard of for a woman to
go upon the war-path--perhaps a young girl, the last of her line, or a
widow whose well-loved husband had fallen on the field--and there could
be no greater incentive to feats of desperate daring on the part of the
warriors. “A long time ago,” said old Smoky Day, “the Unkpapa and the
Cut-Head bands of Sioux united their camps upon a vast prairie east of
the Minne Wakan (now called Devil’s Lake). It was midsummer, and the
people shared in the happiness of every living thing. We had food in
abundance, for bison in countless numbers overspread the plain.

“The teepee village was laid out in two great rings, and all was in
readiness for the midsummer entertainments. There were ball games,
feasts and dances every day, and late into the night. You have heard of
the festivities of those days; there are none like them now,” said the
old man, and he sighed heavily as he laid down the red pipe which was to
be passed from hand to hand during the recital.

“The head chief of the Unkpapas then was Tamakoche (His Country). He was
in his time a notable warrior, a hunter and a feastmaker, much beloved
by his people. He was the father of three sons, but he was so anxious
to make them warriors of great reputation that they had all, despising
danger, been killed in battle.

“The chief had also a very pretty daughter, whose name was Makatah.
Since all his sons were slain he had placed his affections solely upon
the girl, and she grew up listening to the praises of the brave deeds
of her brothers, which her father never tired of chanting when they were
together in the lodge. At times Makatah was called upon to dance to the
‘Strong-Heart’ songs. Thus even as a child she loved the thought of war,
although she was the prettiest and most modest maiden in the two tribes.
As she grew into womanhood she became the belle of her father’s village,
and her beauty and spirit were talked of even among the neighboring
bands of Sioux. But it appeared that Makatah did not care to marry. She
had only two ambitions. One was to prove to her father that, though
only a maid, she had the heart of a warrior. The other was to visit the
graves of her brothers--that is, the country of the enemy.

“At this pleasant reunion of two kindred peoples one of the principal
events was the Feast of Virgins, given by Makatah. All young maidens of
virtue and good repute were invited to be present; but woe to her who
should dare to pollute the sacred feast! If her right to be there were
challenged by any it meant a public disgrace. The two arrows and the red
stone upon which the virgins took their oath of chastity were especially
prepared for the occasion. Every girl was beautifully dressed, for
at that time the white doeskin gowns, with a profusion of fringes and
colored embroidery, were the gala attire of the Sioux maidens. Red
paint was added, and ornaments of furs and wampum. Many youths eagerly
surveyed the maiden gathering, at which the daughter of Tamakoche
outshone all the rest.

“Several eligible warriors now pressed their suits at the chieftain’s
lodge, and among them were one or two whom he would have gladly called
son-in-law; but no! Makatah would not listen to words of courtship. She
had vowed, she said, to the spirits of her three brothers--each of whom
fell in the country of the Crows--that she would see that country before
she became a wife.

“Red Horn, who was something of a leader among the young men, was a
persistent and determined suitor. He had urged every influential friend
of his and hers to persuade her to listen to him. His presents were more
valuable than those of any one else. He even made use of his father’s
position as a leading chief of the Cut-Head band to force a decision in
his favor; and while the maiden remained indifferent her father seemed
inclined to countenance this young man’s pretensions.

“She had many other lovers, as I have said,” the old man added, “and
among them was one Little Eagle, an orphan and a poor young man, unknown
and unproved as a warrior. He was so insignificant that nobody thought
much about him, and if Makatah regarded him with any favor the matter
was her secret, for it is certain that she did not openly encourage him.

“One day it was reported in the village that their neighbors, the
Cut-Head Sioux, would organize a great attack upon the Crows at the
mouth of the Redwater, a tributary of the Missouri. Makatah immediately
inquired of her male cousins whether any of them expected to join the

“‘Three of us will go,’ they replied.

“‘Then,’ said the girl, ‘I beg that you will allow me to go with you!
I have a good horse, and I shall not handicap you in battle. I only ask
your protection in camp as your kinswoman and a maid of the war-party.’

“‘If our uncle Tamakoche sanctions your going,’ they replied, ‘we shall
be proud to have our cousin with us, to inspire us to brave deeds!’

“The maiden now sought her father and asked his permission to accompany
the warparty.

“‘I wish,’ said she, ‘to visit the graves of my brothers! I shall carry
with me their war-bonnets and their weapons, to give to certain young
men on the eve of battle, according to the ancient custom. Long ago I
resolved to do this, and the time is now come.’

“The chief was at this time well advanced in years, and had been sitting
quite alone in his lodge, thinking upon the days of his youth, when he
was noted for daring and success in battle. In silence he listened as
he filled his pipe, and seemed to meditate while he smoked the fragrant
tobacco. At last he spoke with tears in his eyes.

“‘Daughter, I am an old man! My heart beats in my throat, and my old
eyes cannot keep back the tears. My three sons, on whom I had placed all
my hopes, are gone to a far country! You are the only child left to my
old age, and you, too, are brave--as brave as any of your brothers. If
you go I fear that you may not return to me; yet I cannot refuse you my

“The old man began to chant a war-song, and some of his people, hearing
him, came in to learn what was in his mind. He told them all, and
immediately many young men volunteered for the war-party, in order to
have the honor of going with the daughter of their chief.

“Several of Makatah’s suitors were among them, and each watched eagerly
for an opportunity to ride at her side. At night she pitched her little
teepee within the circle of her cousins’ campfires, and there she slept
without fear. Courteous youths brought to her every morning and evening
fresh venison for her repast. Yet there was no courting, for all
attentions paid to a maiden when on the war-path must be those of a
brother to a sister, and all must be equally received by her.

“Two days later, when the two parties of Sioux met on the plains, the
maiden’s presence was heralded throughout the camp, as an inspiration to
the young and untried warriors of both bands to distinguish themselves
in the field. It is true that some of the older men considered it unwise
to allow Makatah to accompany the war-party.

“‘The girl,’ said they to one another, ‘is very ambitious as well as
brave. She will surely risk her own life in battle, which will make the
young men desperate, and we shall lose many of them!’

“Nevertheless they loved her and her father; therefore they did not
protest openly.

“On the third day the Sioux scouts returned with the word that the Crows
were camping, as had been supposed, at the confluence of the Redwater
and the Missouri Rivers. It was a great camp. All the Crow tribe were
there, they said, with their thousands of fine horses.

“There was excitement in the Sioux camp, and all of the head men
immediately met in council. It was determined to make the attack early
on the following morning, just as the sun came over the hills. The
councilors agreed that in honor of the great chief, her father, as well
as in recognition of her own courage, Makatah should be permitted to
lead the charge at the outset, but that she must drop behind as they
neared the enemy. The maiden, who had one of the fleetest ponies in that
part of the country, had no intention of falling back, but she did not
tell any one what was in her mind.

“That evening every warrior sang his warsong, and announced the
particular war-charm or ‘medicine’ of his clan, according to the custom.
The youths were vying with one another in brave tales of what they would
do on the morrow. The voice of Red Horn was loud among the boasters, for
he was known to be a vain youth, although truly not without reputation.
Little Eagle, who was also of the company, remained modestly silent, as
indeed became one without experience in the field. In the midst of the
clamor there fell a silence.

“‘Hush! hush!’ they whispered. ‘Look, look! The War Maiden comes!’

“All eyes were turned upon Makatah, who rode her fine buckskin steed
with a single lariat. He held his head proudly, and his saddle was heavy
with fringes and gay with colored embroidery. The maiden was attired in
her best and wore her own father’s war-bonnet, while she carried in her
hands two which had belonged to two of her dead brothers. Singing in a
clear voice the songs of her clan, she completed the circle, according
to custom, before she singled out one of the young braves for special
honor by giving him the bonnet which she held in her right hand. She
then crossed over to the Cut-Heads, and presented the other bonnet to
one of their young men. She was very handsome; even the old men’s blood
was stirred by her brave appearance!

“At daybreak the two war-parties of the Sioux, mounted on their best
horses, stood side by side, ready for the word to charge. All of the
warriors were painted for the battle--prepared for death--their
nearly nude bodies decorated with their individual war-totems. Their
well-filled quivers were fastened to their sides, and each tightly
grasped his oaken bow.

“The young man with the finest voice had been chosen to give the
signal--a single highpitched yell. This was an imitation of the one
long howl of the gray wolf before he makes the attack. It was an ancient
custom of our people.

“‘Woo-o-o-o!’--at last it came! As the sound ceased a shrill war-whoop
from five hundred throats burst forth in chorus, and at the same instant
Makatah, upon her splendid buckskin pony, shot far out upon the plain,
like an arrow as it leaves the bow. It was a glorious sight! No man has
ever looked upon the like again!”

The eyes of the old man sparkled as he spoke, and his bent shoulders

“The white doeskin gown of the War Maiden,” he continued, “was trimmed
with elk’s teeth and tails of ermine. Her long black hair hung loose,
bound only with a strip of otter-skin, and with her eagle-feather
war-bonnet floated far behind. In her hand she held a long coup-staff
decorated with eagle-feathers. Thus she went forth in advance of them

“War cries of men and screams of terrified women and children were borne
upon the clear morning air as our warriors neared the Crow camp. The
charge was made over a wide plain, and the Crows came yelling from
their lodges, fully armed, to meet the attacking party. In spite of the
surprise they easily held their own, and even began to press us hard, as
their number was much greater than that of the Sioux.

“The fight was a long and hard one. Toward the end of the day the enemy
made a counter-charge. By that time many of our ponies had fallen or
were exhausted. The Sioux retreated, and the slaughter was great. The
Cut-Heads fled womanlike; but the people of Tamakoche fought gallantly
to the very last.

“Makatah remained with her father’s people. Many cried out to her,
‘Go back! Go back!’ but she paid no attention. She carried no weapon
throughout the day--nothing but her coup-staff--but by her presence and
her cries of encouragement or praise she urged on the men to deeds of
desperate valor.

“Finally, however, the Sioux braves were hotly pursued and the retreat
became general. Now at last Makatah tried to follow; but her pony was
tired, and the maiden fell farther and farther behind. Many of her
lovers passed her silently, intent upon saving their own lives. Only a
few still remained behind, fighting desperately to cover the retreat,
when Red Horn came up with the girl. His pony was still fresh. He might
have put her up behind him and carried her to safety, but he did not
even look at her as he galloped by.

“Makatah did not call out, but she could not help looking after him. He
had declared his love for her more loudly than any of the others, and
she now gave herself up to die.

“Presently another overtook the maiden. It was Little Eagle, unhurt and

“‘Take my horse!’ he said to her. ‘I shall remain here and fight!’

“The maiden looked at him and shook her head, but he sprang off and
lifted her upon his horse. He struck him a smart blow upon the flank
that sent him at full speed in the direction of the Sioux encampment.
Then he seized the exhausted buckskin by the lariat, and turned back to
join the rear-guard.

“That little group still withstood in some fashion the all but
irresistible onset of the Crows. When their comrade came back to them,
leading the War Maiden’s pony, they were inspired to fresh endeavor, and
though few in number they made a counter-charge with such fury that the
Crows in their turn were forced to retreat!

“The Sioux got fresh mounts and returned to the field, and by sunset the
day was won! Little Eagle was among the first who rode straight through
the Crow camp, causing terror and consternation. It was afterward
remembered that he looked unlike his former self and was scarcely
recognized by the warriors for the modest youth they had so little

“It was this famous battle which drove that warlike nation, the Crows,
to go away from the Missouri and to make their home up the Yellowstone
River and in the Bighorn country. But many of our men fell, and among
them the brave Little Eagle!

“The sun was almost over the hills when the Sioux gathered about their
campfires, recounting the honors won in battle, and naming the brave
dead. Then came the singing of dirges and weeping for the slain! The
sadness of loss was mingled with exultation.

“Hush! listen! the singing and wailing have ceased suddenly at both
camps. There is one voice coming around the circle of campfires. It is
the voice of a woman! Stripped of all her ornaments, her dress shorn
of its fringes, her ankles bare, her hair cropped close to her neck,
leading a pony with mane and tail cut short, she is mourning as widows
mourn. It is Makatah!

“Publicly, with many tears, she declared herself the widow of the brave
Little Eagle, although she had never been his wife! He it was, she said
with truth, who had saved her people’s honor and her life at the cost of
his own. He was a true man!

“‘Ho, ho!’ was the response from many of the older warriors; but the
young men, the lovers of Makatah, were surprised and sat in silence.

“The War Maiden lived to be a very old woman, but she remained true
to her vow. She never accepted a husband; and all her lifetime she was
known as the widow of the brave Little Eagle.”



A-no-ka-san, white on both sides (Bald Eagle).
A-tay, father.
Cha-ton’-ska, White Hawk.
Chin-o-te-dah, Lives-in-the-Wood.
Chin-to, yes, indeed.
E-na-ka-nee, hurry.
E-ya-tonk-a-wee, She-whose-Voice-is-heard-afar.
E-yo-tank-a, rise up, or sit down.
Ha-ha-ton-wan, Ojibway.
Ha-na-ka-pe, a grave.
Han-ta-wo, Out of the way!
He-che-tu, it is well.
He-yu-pe-ya, come here!
Hi! an exclamation of thanks.
Hunk-pa-tees, a band of Sioux.
Ka-po-sia, Light Lodges, a band of Sioux.
Ke-chu-wa, darling.
Ko-da, friend.
Ma-ga-ska-wee, Swan Maiden.
Ma-ka-tah, Earth Woman.
Ma-to, bear.
Ma-to-ska, White Bear.
Ma-to-sa-pa, Black Bear.
Me-chink-she, my son or sons.
Me-ta, my.
Min-ne-wa-kan, Sacred Water (Devil’s Lake.)
Min-ne-ya-ta, By-the-Water.
Nak-pa, Ears or Long Ears.
Ne-na e-ya-ya! run fast!
O-glu-ge-chan-a, Mysterious Wood-Dweller.
Psay, snow-shoes.
Shunk-a, dog.
Shunk-a-ska, White Dog.
Shunk-ik-chek-a, domestic dog.
Ske-ske-ta-tonk-a, Sault Sainte Marie.
Sna-na, Rattle.
Sta-su, Shield (Arickaree).
Ta-ake-che-ta, his soldier.
Ta-chin-cha-la, fawn.
Tak-cha, doe.
Ta-lu-ta, Scarlet.
Ta-ma-hay, Pike.
Ta-ma-ko-che, His Country.
Ta-na-ge-la, Humming-Bird.
Ta-tank-a-o-ta, Many Buffaloes.
Ta-te-yo-pa, Her Door.
Ta-to-ka, Antelope.
Ta-wa-su-o-ta, Many Hailstones.
Tee-pee, tent.
Te-yo-tee-pee, Council lodge.
To-ke-ya nun-ka hu-wo? where are you?
Tunk-a-she-dah, grandfather.
Un-chee-dah, grandmother.
Unk-pa-pa, a band of Sioux.
U-ya-yo! come here!
Wa-ba-shaw, Red Hat (name of a Sioux chief).
Wa-ha-dah, Buyer of Furs.
Wah-pay-ton, a band of Sioux.
Wa-ho, Howler.
Wa-kan, sacred, mysterious.
Wak-pay-ku-tay, a band of Sioux.
Wa-pay-na, Little Barker.
Wee-ko, Beautiful Woman.
We-no-na, Firstborn Daughter.
We-sha-wee, Red Girl.
We-wop-tay, a sharpened pole.
We-yan-na, little woman.
We-zee, Smoky Lodge.
Yank-ton-nais, a band of Sioux.
Zee-zee-win, Yellow Woman.
Zu-ya-ma-ni, Walks-to-War.

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