[Diary Book II]
Rosebud Agency, Oct 15, 1881
The Oglalla and Brule Indians
At Rosebud Agency the Agent is Mr. John Cook.
At Pine Ridge Agency the Agent is Dr. McGillicuddy.
On Saturday called on White Thunder. Lives in a large log house.
He is not well, has not been since in Washington. Mr. Tibbles
said inflammation of the left lung and malaria. He prescribes
An old Indian sat there and when we came in, said, "How
you do?" and extended his hand. Quite polite to give his
White Thunder was on the bed. He was not very cordial toward
me, I thought. We all sat on chairs. He brought out his papers,
the Treaty concerning the Ponca Band, the list of articles to
be issued at the Rosebud Agency for 1881 and 1882. I copied
this in Book II -
Several other Indians there, two young men and an old man.
Swift Bear came in and stayed.
While we sat there, White Thunders wife began to cook.
She made bread and baked it, wretched stuff, heavy and poor.
Coffee and some sort of stripped and dried meat boiled with
pork. A cloth was put on the floor between White Thunders
bed and the stove and the meal served on china plates and cups
and saucers. At the back of the chiefs bed was a bed spread
on the floor, back of this was stored the various packs all
covered with beads, I think four or five of them. There were
trunks and valises and bags.
A pair of paddles lay on a few nails like brackets.
Dont know what they are. A doll, French, was dressed with
a necklace, whereon 10 cent pieces were strung. She was put
in one of the baby hoods. This is a long bag open at one side.
The back is a plain strip the sides joined to it, at the top
a little ornamental flap. Sometimes the end is trimmed with
little brass sleigh bells - these about the babys face.
The baby is laid in there and carried in the mothers arms.
The doll belonged to her daughter, a girl of ten or twelve.
She had her hair in braids with beads at the end a tassel of
The girl wore a blanket most of the time. The mother wore the
usual dress, calico, red. She was painted, bright red cheeks,
her hair part being red. A young comely girl came in, brought
in meat and looked bright and pleasing. This was the wifes
younger sister, had been at Carlisle school. She is about eighteen
I understand that White Thunder wants to marry this girl as
his second wife. She declines. It is rather startling and unpleasant
to contemplate this womans future. I hope she will hold
After the meal, White Thunder began his speech. It seemed to
me that the speech lacked in cordiality. He wanted to know what
we were here for, why Mr. T. &c. Mr. T. said he heard they
had been to Washington and signed a paper and that he feared
there would be trouble, and he had come to see about it, &c.
He constantly said there were women by the sea who had the
interest of the Indians at heart and one had come here, this
woman, my friend.
White Thunder made no acknowledgement. Mr. T. made long speech,
all he had done, &c. &c. After all had talked, Swift
Bear made a most courteous speech. I ventured to speak and plainly
set forth their need. I said that I wanted to say something
because I had their good at heart. I had heard that this summer
many of the children were coming home from the eastern schools.
These children can all speak English and understand figures.
Now what I propose may seem very strange and hard and it will
be difficult, it is, that the chiefs and the leading men, will
spend a part of every day with some of the children and learn
the meaning and use of figures and master as much English as
possible. If they can learn but little, that little will help
them to protect themselves against the white men who wish to
Swift Bear received this with interest. White Thunder did not
say a word. This visit was rather uninteresting. I felt the
influence of the man to be less single and noble, in some ways.
Susette received a pair of saddle bags, a little match bag
and a knife sheath. The women wanted to make her moccasins.
S. gave a silk handkerchief and the owl pin to the daughter.
At the dinner, there were present Buffalo-chip and wife, Wajapa,
Asanpi, who went with us, Mr. & Mrs. T., Swift Bear, the
old man who welcomed us and was the Father of the wife, the
old man with a handkerchief tied about his head knotted in front,
and a young man. The Indians ate with their fingers, tearing
the meat with their hands and teeth.
The walk there was as usual, over the hills, and down gullies
and across creeks and round ledges avoiding the many creeks.
Wife kneaded bread on a board on the floor and rolled it with
In the afternoon, Asanpi gave a dance, A meeting
of the Womans club, Ka-ta-lah. Asanpis wife, Wa-ste-we,
the chief or president. It has five officers.
1 - President.
2 - One who presides at the drum but does no drumming.
3 - & - 4 - Two who carry the rattle.
5 - Mistress of Ceremonies. This person, I think called the
others. She was a lively old woman.
All this society is composed of matrons. Few young women. Several
had the round blue spot tattooed on the forehead.
The account of this society in Book II.
The dancing was a sort of jump rising on the toes. Had difficult
steps. Sometimes the dancers moved on with both feet sideways.
The Mistress of Ceremonies stirred up the others. She would
rise first and dance round touching with her right foot the
women who were sitting about the sides of the tent, giving a
sort of poke. It seemed as though it was partly humorous. There
was much laughing and glee.
The calling of relationship was attended with much laughing
The providing was very ample and this caused much fun. The
asking for a blessing was quite solemn. The feeding with the
spoon was quite grave.
The clatter of pans and eating contrasted strangely. Dresses
were given. Those receiving dresses put them on over the dress
they had on. One woman had two dresses given. The first she
put on the second she put about her neck. There was one song
which had quite a little melody, this was sung with words and
rather lofty. The drum was not used, only the sticks tapped
lightly on the frame. It was rather pleasant. Most of the singing
is on one word or tone - a sort of nasal twang - whae - They
quaver and turn and drone. The rhythm is peculiar, syncopated
and jarring - the intervals are not our own. The singing is
flat to our ears but as every time they sing they take the same
tones, I am inclined to think it is a fixed scale.
In one dance the time will often change from fast to slow or
slow to fast.
At the close of one movement the women shout the wa-wa-wa,
which we supposed to be the Indian mans cry.
The drum was at the left as you enter, not far from the place
where the wife sits. Four sticks are driven in the ground and
from these the drum is hung. They had faces at the end and were
decked with ribbons and brass ornaments. I think the drum is
at the right hand as you enter with male dances.
While the dance was in progress, the women gathered outside
suddenly fell back, and the women in the tent were suddenly
quiet, then I heard a queer shouting that grew nearer and nearer
and in a moment a man with his hair out short and naked, all
but his shirt, appeared at the opening of the tent wailing and
crying. In an instant every woman in the tent was howling, her
head covered with the shawl. This wailing man passed round laying
his hand on every ones head, as he was fully in. A woman rose
and threw a blanket over him. He had this on his shoulder hanging
loosely when he passed me and laid his hand on my head. The
cause of his grief was the sudden death of his mother from rapid
inflammation of the bowels only a few hours. She was a member
of the Club - had had the drum position recently. The blanket
was given in her honor. I attended her funeral and it was placed
over the coffin before the earth was thrown on. The women cried
tears. The Mistress of Ceremonies must have been a near relative
for she went at once, so did the head singer at the drum.
It was very weird and strange. It was in the late afternoon,
the fire not yet lighted. A girl some fourteen
or fifteen was at the dance. She had a tunic covered with shell
ornaments. She rose and danced whenever the woman with the rattle
danced. It may be, I was told by Mr. Shaw, whose wife was at
one time, President, that her mother gave a horse to have her
daughter admitted. The women wore leather belts studded with
brass beads. These were buckled not round the waist but low
as if to support the abdomen in dancing. They wore the little
match bags at their belt, left side toward the back.
A part of the navel string of the child preserved, put in among
sweet scented grasses - a little case made for it the
shape of a turtle, a little head and slender neck, a tail and
four legs of long bead and small one at the ends. The body about
3 or 3 1/2 inches long. The case is worked with beads. This
kept as long as the child will be well and pampered. The child
wears it on state occasions on its back or breast.
Buffalo-chip said, if one is asked to take it off and did so
the child was given a horse! Poncas do this as well as the Sioux.
The method of smoking is to take a loud, sipping breath and
then emit two or three puffs of smoke. It sounds as though they
were drinking hot soup.