of Village Showing Tipis, Log Cabins, and Wagons. Cherry Creek,
South Dakota, 1880 Photo Lot 24, BAE 23, Inv. 00510700.
We were up and off about 7.30, the sky gray, wind blowing through
from the southwest. It was as though off a snow field. I bundled
in all I had and gave thanks for the robe, my chest paining
me and my cough hard and tight. I was cold to my skin.
We lost our way and came over the prairie, down hummocks and
through creeks where the springs came together. Our party strings
along, Buffalo-chip in the wagon, cover off, Wajapa on his new
horse, Ga-ha on the sore shouldered horse, astride, her black
blanket tied in the middle about her waist, one half serving
as a sort of skirt over her green calico dress, which is in
turn over her blue one, the upper part a sort of cloak, an old
towel over her head. She rides and drives the ponies, three
of them, flourishing a twig stick, her bracelets and rings flashing
on her dark arms. She is always good natured, singing, laughing
and talking her broken Omaha, which neither Susette or Wajapa
can well understand.
On over hills and plains, the sun at last coming out, but still
it is cold and I feel so ill. Wajapa rides ahead at times to
find our way. He turns his horse or waves his arms, but there
are always misunderstandings, and at last he returns shouting
to us and we amble on together.
Meet two men 1/2 breed Indians, enquire our way - they on horseback
armed, revolvers sticking in their belts.
We reach Turtle Creek about 1 P.M., a swift creek, clear and
uninteresting. One feels the world wide and vacant.
Hea-gar, turkey buzzard - this is his month, that comes about
with the cold, and that is why he wears owls on his feet because
the feathers are warm. Buffalo-chip says the rabbit sometimes
catches these bad birds and breaks their legs.
Buffalo-chip has been singing to the rabbit, Mush-shing-ga.
Last evening Standing Bears horse left his own corn to
go and eat from Buffalo-chips horse. Wajapa said it was
like Standing Bear to leave his own crib to feed at others expense.
Buffalo-chip gave away many things, among others, a beaver
skin, hoping to get a horse. He did get a poor one, very poor,
young and mettled. This trade has been the subject of much sport
Buffalo-chip saying, I could take your this or that and
give you my horse, but you would lose, so today I asked Wajapa,
as he galloped up to our carriage, "How much do you think
Buffalo-chips horse is worth?" Wajapa made no answer
but deliberately drew off his mitten and held up high in air
"Horses do your level best
"Upon the level road"
"Is that poetry, Henry?" asked Susette.
The military road less straight, laid out only about 4 or 5
years ago, and now it is all ruts and on one or the other side
lies the present road, or spreading about.
We made pretty good time - 50 miles claimed, say 35. One of
our pleasantest camps, good wood, shelter, good water and long
grass, like hay to lie on.
The roads are so lonely, nothing in sight but sky and undulating
ground and varied tints of grass, that a tree is quite an excitement.
Have not seen any game, even a prairie chicken, not here, hardly
any birds. Mr. T. said nothing could live here unless supported
by the Government.
Rode on over endless prairie and then drew off the road to
the creek and camped. Every body ill more or less.
We had plenty of dry wood the beavers had cut down and this
made fire possible. Had a good supper of soup and then told
stories. Mr. T., Fox and some grapes - Buffalo-chip told how
the monkey wanted to get across and just then the Hea-gar came
along and was so pestered by the monkey that he said, "Yes,
yes, jump on my wings and I'll take you". So the monkey
jumped on and the Hea-gar carried him high up. As the Hea-gar
dipped and swooped the monkey thought he would fall. It made
him dizzy and afraid and he begged the Hea-gar to let him down
- but on went the bird. At last he tossed the monkey into a
hollow tree and down he fell. He made such noise that some women
near by, cried out, "Oh! theres a coon in that tree,
let us cut it down and get him". So they cut and cut and
the monkey kept up a noise and the women said, "Oh, he
is a big one, let us chop faster". By and by, the tree
fell and out dumped the monkey and the women were so frightened
that they ran as fast one way as the monkey did the other.
Wajapa tells a story very well - full of spirit and gesture.
He lingers long on a word, indeed, all do, as, on---da, the
last syllable given with a sort of snap as if broken short off.
Buffalo-chip tells a story with a sort of gentle effect, dramatic,
however. His voice is rather musical. He is rather romantic,
his gestures are more reserved and graceful; Wajapa, energetic
and full of elam [?]. Wajapa gets very cross and scolds. Buffalo-chip
They wanted another story, so I told them the story of Cinderella,
the German version. Susette interpreted with great spirit, and
they were greatly pleased. I asked if they had no similar story,
and they said "yes", for I noticed in the telling
they exchanged words as if saying, and Susette said they did,
"How like one we know", I am promised the Indian version.
It is odd how Indians manage. Buffalo-chip told how White Thunder
bade him tell us when we were well on our way, that white men
were cutting wood on the Sioux Reserve. It was said that Spotted
Tail had given permission. The first day we called on White
Thunder, a runner started to Sitting Bull to tell him we were
coming. He gave out that Spotted Tail sent him, but, a runner
receives gifts for bringing news, so it was a private speculation.
The runner expects to receive moccasins and all sorts of gifts
- (Human nature).
Wajapa tucked me up finely and I slept better than usual. The
ground was softer on account of the long grass which made it
like hay under our beds.
The hot soup and the blazing fire give me a little warmth
at last and I got on better. It was strange to lie and look
out of the top of the tent into a spangled roof. The tent poles
like pillars - the blue tent lit up by the yellow light of the
wood fire, sparks going up now and then, through the oblong
opening out into the blue. These yellow sparks make the white
stars look so far away, so grand and dignified and a part of
something far greater than our little sparks and yet this is
Wajapa was up at daylight and out gathering wood, moving a
dim robed shadow against the eastern sky. Soon he comes in,
arms filled with sticks and long boughs with twigs and threw
them in the tent door, then kneeling, he turns over last nights
logs and stirs the ashes and blows the little embers. He then
breaks off all the little twigs, gets his hands full and breaks
them short like little slips, and these are dropped on the fire
and soon a leaping blaze, some two or three feet high - then
come the logs laid on like the spokes of a wheel. I lay and
watch the flames and Wajapas profile, and listen to the
snoring of the others and wonder at it all - life included.
Soon I get up and before long, all are astir. We eat breakfast.
I cant eat the dish which the others share and open a
can of fruit, golden drop plums, large as peaches, and soon
we are off but not till after 8 A.M.