Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Yellow Horse's tent

October 2, 1881

Wakened to find it drizzling. Mr. T. started for the wagon, came back late. Had eggs for breakfast. Standing Bear came over and brought a horse to lend us. Found we had lost a day thinking it Saturday rather than Sunday. All went to town to try and get a coat for Wajapa. I had promised to replace the one burned - to buy meat &c. About eleven all returned but Wajapa, he came on foot. A quarrel had taken place. Wajapa thought Standing Bear very mean not to give the horse, never heard of such an Indian who would not help his friend &c. We packed in. Buffalo-chip had come and his wife, the seam of her hair painted red. She wears bracelets and rings and earrings and necklace. Mr. T. rode the horse and Standing Bear who is to take charge of Mr. Riggs’ tent &c. got into Buffalo-chip’s wagon and drove off, leaving S. and I in the buggy with Wajapa who could not make up his mind to yield. We sat there some five minutes. The others were out of sight and then Wajapa got in and made the horses spin. Bad as our roads have been, the road for several miles exceeded all others. We followed a discarded railroad bed, the gullies, little creeks to ford, sidling and washing of roads made curious and horrid. S. and I frequently had to get out - the wagon careened and pitched like a ship in a heavy sea.

Standing Bear went with us over some of the worst, jumping out and prospecting regardless of his fine moccasins. He was very courtly to S. and me, but took no notice of Wajapa, neither Wajapa of him. This is the way feuds arise. Misunderstanding piled on misunderstanding until hatred is bred. We went on after Standing Bear left us, taking with him the tent and stove. The road got better and worse and we wondered what it would come to. At 2.P.M. we neared a camping place. Mr. Tibbles bought some watermelons where some Indian women were killed, as they pulled roots because it is said, they were off the Reservation. Our dinner was bacon and bread. I had bread and coffee and an apple. Had a bad headache and felt strained from the severe wrenching of the wagon. We went on and on over sand and mud, passing now and then houses showing thrift. Most were living in frame houses, having passed the stage of dugout and log house. After going over a hill and struck a fine bottom, here we saw several buildings looking like school houses. One had three lightning rods, the other four. Saloon was painted in clear lettering over one, and the same word cleared on a board nailed to a flag staff, a sort of liberty pole on the green in front. Cart loads of Germans were driving up to the doors, jolly and healthy. Leaving this queer settlement we went up, up, up and at last reached a divide. Here was the finest scene I have beheld since I came west. Bluffs, sharp and irregular in form far in the distance and between vast stretches of land, varied in hue. The clouds were rippled and growing brilliant in the setting sun, back of us lay the lovely fertile valley we had left, the Niobrara flowing in its rapid waves, caused by its uneven bottom, full of ruts. There was a majesty, a solemnity in the view that made it very delightful, and gave the one touch of Sunday to the day. The foreground was broken and in the ravines or gulches, the sumack [sic] and elders made beautiful contrast of color, red and yellow, green, and the asters filled in. We drove for two miles over this wonderfully fine climb and then descried a long hill, with here and there steep pitches to the valley of the creek where we camped. I, too ill to eat, except the apples Mrs. Riggs put up. Walked alone - and went to bed at nine. Little animals tried to get in the tent - slept better, however. Watched the ducks fly overhead - spiders span down on my pillow. Clouds gathered.


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