Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Government agent distributing rations to Yankton Sioux (detail). Photograph by J.H. Hamilton, before Nov. 1867. NAA MS 4605, Inv. 01600804.

Where the ration of meat was issued.

October 17, 1881

On Monday, October 17, 1881, the day for issuing beef, called on the agent, met Lieut. Macomb and Carnish. They took me to the corral, the only place where the thing could be safely seen.

Climbed up on top of a crib like scale. Indians came in every direction, dressed in full costume, paint, feathers, gay blankets, mounted on their ponies with rifles. Women, too, on ponies, painted - the shell earrings hanging to their waist, between the rows of shells pieces of buckskin, bracelets, necklaces, beads, hair painted, some with faces painted yellow. Children painted, braids rolled up in a strip of beaver skin, part painted red, and faces spotted.

The cattle were rounded up by the cow boys and let out one by one, the Interpreter marking off on a book, as he sat on a fence. A crier called the Indian and as the steer issued, the Indian either chased or shot it. A most brutalizing scene. The cow boys were the worst - would shoot some 6 or 7 times at one poor steer penned where it could not escape.

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