Dakota burial above ground. Rosebud Agency, South Dakota. Photograph
by Jesse Hastings Bratley, 1895. Photo Lot 24, BAE 73-123 00516800
scaffold burials. Yankton Reservation, South Dakota. Photograph
by William R. Cross. Photo Lot 24, BAE 4464 00530000.
warriors, Omaha Reservation, Nebraska. Photo Lot 24, BAE 4558,
Every one was late this Saturday morning. Wajapa mended his
shoes, patching them and sewing them with sinew. He was rather
dignified but industrious. He rose very early and I watched
him in the dim dawn, making the fire. When the blaze from the
twigs leaped up, his seamed brown face made quite a picture
in the yellow light.
We breakfasted late. Philosophy, my best of friends, helped
me in the midst of camp experiences. We packed up and moved
off at about ten or after, my watch having run down, and after
a few miles we came to the place where we were to get dinner.
Wood and water available here for the last time for many miles,
a high divide where we saw the camp of the Winnebagoes, when
on their visit last summer - the skeletons of their tents marking
Down a steep hill, on to a pretty bottom, then forded the creek
and camped. It was very, very cold and when Buffalo-chip and
Wajapa came up with the ponies, we were urged to camp, the weather
being threatening and the next camp so far, and the horses so
tired - so we camped.
The Indians made themselves scarce and Mr. T. again did the
work, Buffalo-chips wife going on jolly and valiant, singing
as she drove alone behind us.
We were hardly in the tent, were stretching the cotton cloth,
when the rain came down. We bundled in and the others began
to help. I ran to get the robe, which was barely dry and now
threatened with a second soaking. We were soon packed in. I
had, before the rain gathered some rose and columbine leaves
in memory of what?
When Wajapa and Buffalo-chip came in they were studded with
ice drops, for it was hailing violently.
Buffalo-chip brought in some artichokes and I ate one with
relish, wiping it first on tall grass. Sometimes when I make
my bed, i.e. spread my rubber and put down my bundle of bedding
which I used as a seat in the day time to the ease of my much
bent up knees, I fancy that I am lying in some garden,
the tall grass and flowers rise at my head and feet and up between
my bags and bundles. It is quite pretty. In spite of all the
hardships there is much interest in the wild trip.
As I was eating, Buffalo-chip, with his shy, gentle smile,
said: Once the rose and the artichoke met, and the artichoke
asked the rose his name, "Oh, Ive a very good name,
a very good name, you ought to know it. Tell me your name".
"My name is a great one, a very great one, you ought to
know it, everybody knows it. Tell me yours". "My name
is Rose, a very fine one". "And mine, Artichoke, a
grand one and a chief".
"Mine is the chief, I am known everywhere, every one admires
"Mine is the chief, people eat of me and are pleased".
So the two contended which was chief.
The rain is dripping and when it runs on the tent pole to prevent
it dropping the Indians trace the line of the water to the ground.
Each tent pole has a little water course.
Within the meat is frying, the men smoking, stories are telling
and I am writing.
It is amazing how little rain comes through the opening at
the top, over the heat of the fire converts it to steam before
it descends to the blazing wood.
Buffalo-chip says he has made an oblation to the rabbit with
his tobacco and when he gets to Sitting-Bull, he wants a buffalo
robe. He will give one, too, to Mr. T. and to me, it is to be
When guests are on their way to visit, they tie up little bundles
of Kin-a-kin-nic and send them on by a runner who takes it to
the one who is to be visited. If the Indian receives the gift
of kinekinic, that is a sign that he is inclined to receive
visitors. If he did not want to entertain, he returns the ne-ne-ga-he,
and the persons who were about to visit do not go. A convenient
On the prairie I saw several graves. They were those of Indians
who died during the winter removed from Fort Robinson to the
Ponca Reservation. Hundreds died. Some of them had a cross,
some were buried on platforms. The new and old religion, death
claimed alike. Saw many elk horns, one several feet high, was
stuck up in the ground by the roadside. S. says her father has
found heads of deer or elk locked together where they died fighting.
The middle line between the wagon ruts is often very beautiful,
roseberries, grains of various colors, yellow, red, white -
tasseled and tufted, asters, white and yellow, the black seeds
of the sunflowers. The rose berries are wonderful.
Saw dogs carrying wood, two poles tied to each side and then
the wood laid across and tied on. These are Spotted-Tails
- Omaha -
Jan. Blizzard month - No one can say any good of it.
Feb. First goose who comes to see.
Mar. The geese follow.
Apr. Good for nothing Nothing happens.
May When grass comes.
June When the second hoeing of corn.
July Fruit month.
Aug. Buffalo month - when males hunt females.
Sept. Yellow month Elk cry. (Indian Summer).
Oct. When deer paw.
Nov. When deer shed the antlers.
Dec. When little bears are born.
The moon goes in circles and the thirteen points are named.
Then the months, sometimes have two names, the named places
is where she is hidden or stops.
Pa-hun-ga, Long ago -
Once upon a time, there was a hill that swallowed all people,
hunters and travelers, all who came near it. It swallowed a
town, sick and the well, dead and the living. Those buried in
the graves, those on platforms.
The rabbit was going along and he was in a very gay mood. His
tracks were zig-zag. He was very active and merry and he came
to the hill and he ate the plums for plum trees grew on the
hill, and he said to the hill, "Oh, you are the hill that
swallows people, Id like to see you swallow me, try it,
hill, try it". So the hill began to open its mouth and
the rabbit thought it was a crack, and he hopped on and went
right into the mouth of the hill and it closed its mouth and
the rabbit was swallowed by the hill.
When the rabbit found itself in the hill he hopped about and
looked round in the dark. Soon he began to see all the people
the hill had swallowed, the sick and the well, the living and
the dead, and he looked at them and they were hungry and he
said, "Why dont you eat?" and he cut off the
liver and gave it to the people to eat, and he cut out the lungs
and last the heart, and the hill groaned, "Agh! agh!"
When its heart was cut out it couldnt keep its mouth shut
and so it opened and all the people walked out and went back
to their homes.
And the Rabbit went home and told his grandmother. "Oh,
I have killed the hill that swallowed all the people and rescued
them all". "No, you couldnt do that, dont
tell me such a story". "Yes, I have, and I am going
out again". "No, you must not". But the Rabbit
slipped out and he saw a number of people circling about and
they looked so finely that the Rabbit thought it would be nice
to join them in the sport. So he told his grandmother and said
he was going, but she said, "No, no, they are trying to
kill you". "Oh, no, they are jolly men". But
the grandmother went out to get wood and the Rabbit slipped
off to where the men were and he jumped into a tuft of grass
and hid there. The hunters circled about and one saw him and
said, "Oh, here are his tracks", and then he made
believe he did not see him. "Oh, Ive lost him, he
ran way off here", and then the man went away until he
got off far enough to take aim and he shot an arrow at the animal
and struck him, and when the Rabbit felt the arrow, he ran and
ran as fast as ever he could and came to his grandmother. "Oh,"
said he, "Im wounded, ah! ah!" The grandmother
mocked him and said, "Why didnt you follow my advice".
and treated him and drew out the arrow. Bye and bye he got well.
He said, "Oh, I want to have a bow and arrow, all the
men had them and even the little boys". "Go to your
uncles and ask for them, perhaps he will give them to you".
He went and cried and they said, "Why do you cry?"
"Oh, I want something". "What?" "I
want a bow and arrow and sinew". So they pleased him and
gave him the bow and arrows. On his way home he shot at a stump,
and shot at a stone and at last came home well pleased with
his skill. "Oh, grandmother, call all the animals to a
feast of acorns". So she called the deer and the elk and
all came. As they came he shot the three elk and the two deer
and then his arrows were gone and he cried, "Oh, grand
mother send them away", - so she sent them away and some
acorns were left. Then he went out hunting and found two elk
sleeping and he ran home and said; "Oh, grandmother, Ive
killed two elks, burn the old tent, well have a new one
from the skins", and when the grandmother burned the tent
she started off to skin the elk, but they waked up as she came
near and ran off, and the Rabbit cried, "Oh, grandmother,
save the tent", but it was too late, so they went off and
the Rabbit lived near a camp, and one day he got a turkey and
he was very hungry and wanted it all, so he said to his grandmother,
"I am going to have a council and you will not, of course,
be present, and you must make a small tent and go into it, and
I advise you to shut your eyes too, for you must not be seen
or see any one". So the grandmother made herself a tent
and went in and covered up her head. The Rabbit had cooked the
turkey and was alone in the tent with the food but he pretended
that many came to see him. He would talk in varied voices, say,
"How" in reply and flap the tent cloth and knock the
stick, and the grandmother would say, "How many people
come to see my grandson, how much he is honored, what fine things
are said to him".
All this while the Rabbit was quite alone, gobbling up the
turkey as fast as he could, lest his grandmother should find
out his trick. Bye and bye, when all was eaten up but the bones,
he made believe that his visitors were gone and went and called
his grandmother and told her what a fine time he had had, and
that now she could come and get what there was to eat, and the
grandmother believed all his words and tricks.
One day some of the women came and asked the grandmother to
go with them to dig turnips and when the Rabbit heard them he
lay down and rolled on the tent floor and groaned, "Oh,
ugh, ugh!" and said he was so very sick, and the grandmother
as she looked at him said, "I cant go, the tent cant
be left alone and he is too sick to leave here". The old
women said, eyeing him, "He isnt sick, it is only
one of his tricks", so he rolled the faster and kicked
and groaned and cried as if in great pain, and the grandmother
refused to leave him and the women went off.
After they had been gone a little while, he began to get better
and as the time lengthened he got decidedly better and said,
"I think I'll go and hunt", so in spite of his grandmother's
wonderment, he started and stealthily followed the old women.
When he got near them he jumped suddenly and they were frightened
and ran, leaving their turnips, then he at once hid away and
then carried them off to his tent. When the women came back
their turnips were gone and one of them said, I think it was
the Rabbit, so they went back to his tent. When the Rabbit heard
them coming he lay down and pretended to be sick, having first
hid away the turnips, but he had not quite hid all, so when
the old women came they saw some and immediately accused the
Rabbit of the theft. The grandmother, however, protected him
and said, "Really I dont think he has been out since
you left, Oh, no, he has not". But these were the turnips
and one old woman declared, she recognized them as the ones
she had dug herself. The grandmother persisted, and so you see
she told lies as well as her mischievous grandchild.
The Indians point with their lips, tossing up their chin in
the direction they would indicate, and loosing their lips.
The Indian ponies cluster about one, coming around as dogs.
If anything unusual occurs, they paw and whinney.
This A.M, October 24, 1881, Sunday [sic], the horses came tramping
over the ice and snow, making a fearful noise, but no one wakened.
They even tried to enter the tent. Buffalo-chip stirred and
I spoke, and he called out to the horses. Last night they fixed
them in the tall grass, like a stable almost, and there they
stayed at night breasting the storm.
The tent is stiff with frost and snow. It is cold and desolate.
Mr. T. put a stop to my questions about painting of faces.
S. was asking Buffalo-chip about the painting of faces and Mr.
T. broke in and said, "They paint according to their fancy,
it means nothing at all. Thats the truth". "If
you keep on asking Buffalo-chip questions hell tell you
all manner of stuff. Of course if you want to fix a theory,
why that is one thing - the truth is another. Ive lived
twenty years among the Indians and I know, and Ive asked
and that is all".
I said, I wanted to ask certain things, he shouted in, "I
tell you theres nothing, I know, I tell you. Some tribes
will use more black, some more red". "According to
your own account, then, painting is not simple fancy, but as
you say some tribes use more of one color than another".
- and more arrogant talk. Of course further interpretation on
the part of his wife, was impossible, so I could not go on.
This A.M., I asked for the continuation of the story of last
eve. He broke in, "There is no end. There are 40,000 stories
about the rabbit" and so it goes. Well, "Experience
is a dear schoolmaster, and fools will learn in no other".
I am a fool.
The snow lies in ridges on the stricken grass, which falls
right and left in a woeful manner. Life is so full of dread
contrasts. Today it seems as though my heart would ache itself
out of my body. Why cant I die?
Women make packs of hides and paint them, putting the various
colors in separate dishes and painting with sticks, some 8 or
10 inches long, pointed at one end. The Sioux use yellow, red
and black colors.
Wajapa says he prefers the beaver to all other animals, they
build dams and work like men!
Buffalo-chip was given, by Mr. T. one of Ss. photos.
He sang the song of thanks which is sung when horses are given
The sinew thread is twisted between the palms of the hands,
wet with saliva and pointed with the teeth and fingers. Holes
are made with an awl and then the thread put through.
Buffalo-chip has gone off to hunt his horses and taken his
gun. He said when he had been gone some time, I must sing. "Ah,
that he may find many animals". He asked the Rabbit for
game and which is best he will be sent on the way of.
Ga-ha has a little trunk about a foot or so square. This is
her work box and treasure chest. She carries its key together
with two others on a red string which she loops onto her girdle
- says she values this trunk more than anything else.
Read in "The Word" and in "Heaven and Hell"
How wonderful it seems in these surroundings and yet not apart
from them, the Grace of the Lord is in the modesty, kindliness,
faithfulness of Ga-ha, and in the struggling manhood of Wajapa,
and in the courteous, kindness, and tenacity of Buffalo-chip,
and in S. and Mr. T., all different and yet bearing the Lords
For me - only - "Alas! Ichebod".
Yesterday the artichoke which they brought in was unearthed
near a ground squirrels nest. Buffalo-chip brought in
a few of which I had one. Today, as I had expressed the wish
for more, Wajapa went to look for them. The little mound, some
six inches in diameter where the roots were stored, was empty.
The little squirrels fearing their winter supply was about to
disappear, had worked all night in the storm and carried all
the artichokes into their nest. This little one is all that
remained. It looks like a little bird head piping out the tale
of industry, cleverness and pitilessness of the human race.
S. said, "I am glad they didnt take more and couldnt
get them today. Are you not, Miss F?" They all speak of
animals as though of kindred.
The Rabbit and the Hagar had an argument about the weather.
The Hagar wanted it to freeze and snow, but the Rabbit wanted
good weather. The Rabbit won, so we will have good weather until
the moon gets little next month, then there will be plenty of
It is beautifully clear tonight. I went up on the hill and
looked over the wide silent prairie and rolling lands. The clear
sun of yellow and red and the little blue tent was as good as
any home, since all life holds dear, is gone. So the wide earth
is alike home and homeless. The silence is wonderful - no railroad
for a hundred or more of miles, no tremble of travel - a silence
unknown, unattainable in the east or where white men congregate.
The Rabbit rules the weather. Every time Buffalo-chip smokes
he smokes the Rabbit for good things at Sitting Bulls.
Wajapa says the Rabbit has issued the word - Good-Weather -
and he told all the little groundlings to lay in store and the
beavers also, to go to work.
When Buffalo-chip was a boy and living with the Sioux in the
Black Hills, they were hunting buffalo, where there are two
hills which are called the Deer-ears. There were some Indians
come on the war path. One of the Indians who came in from the
chase climbed onto one of the hills and took a spy glass. Some
one had scared the buffalo but as he looked he saw people coming
toward the fleeing buffalo and the leader wore a headdress of
a fox and the nose of the fox pointed right out. They were working
to come right between the forked hills but they did not know
the country, the trees circling around the creek and every one
of the Sioux were busy gathering their horses and as the Indians
came on, the Sioux were circling round and surrounded them.
One of the hills was very stony.
But when night came, the Sioux set fire all round for the Indians
war party were fully surrounded and their fires showed it to
the war party, but they thought they could throw down stones
from one of the rocky hills so they mounted the hill and found
A young brave thought he would win great honor so he aimed
to get to the top of the hill before light and strike the war
party with his bow, a great disgrace to the war party, but he
did not reach the camp until daylight, when he was discovered
and shot and killed, so his bravery came to an end.
There then was the war party on this hill, isolated from food
and water. For two days they fought, the Sioux using bow and
arrows and the war party returning the shooting and rolling
heavy stones. At the end of two days, all were dead of the ten
or twelve men - dead from wounds or thirst. Upon the man they
charged and he drove his assailants for a long time. At last
he was killed.
Small parties stealing horses. Some ten years since. The Santees
stole half the Omahas horses. About ten or twelve years
the Otoes had been visiting the Omahas, and just after they
left, the Kaws made a raid and stole horses. The Omahas thought
it was the Otoes and a negro led a retaliating party against
the Otoes and captured their horses. The Otoes turned and captured
the Omahas and forced them to return the horses, but as the
two tribes were at peace and it was a mistake, they laughed
at them and let them off. These Omahas have never heard the
last of the capture.
Indians are fond of bantering and playing practical jokes.
Our camp witnesses this.
Standing Elk killed Logan. Logan married Wajapas sister.
Seven years since, the Omahas, Poncas, Pawnees were all out
on the hunt. The Omahas were chasing buffalo, south of the camp.
The Poncas and Pawnees were chasing buffalo, north of the camp.
The camp on the move, 1000 buffalo. The Sioux came on the Poncas
and Pawnees and each one was shot down singly. The Sioux killed
this way. The Poncas and Pawnees did not know the Sioux were
fighting for the Sioux were circling about as though chasing.
The Sioux did not come on the camp or they would have been
killed, being weary. Wajapa was with the Poncas. S.s.
father, mounted on his horse, Jack, had just shot a buffalo
and was butchering it when a man came up and said, "Stop,
the Sioux are on us, leave your meat". Wajapa did not load
his meat on the horse, but went back to protect the camp.
White Thunder had horse killed under him. He was stunned by
the fall. Pawnees lost several. Sioux retreated. Some hurt.
Republican, Sioux surprised the Winnebago, Sioux caught two
men and flogged them. S. remembered a hunt when Sioux surprised
them - the dead brought in, women wailed and rang little bells.
S. asked her mother "What do they ring for?" and her
mother said, "Some of their relatives are killed by the
Sioux". S. remembers seeing two Winnebago women with a
naked boy in their laps, the boy dying and the camp moving on.
Buffalo-chip said, he was never brave but once, then in a fight
with the Sioux all retreated and he was left to face the 60.
He was on a bank when the men advanced on him. He stood and
faced them. He had his gun and pointed it at the first man that
moved. Three men tried to advance. They could not flank him
but they tried. One was on a yellow horse, one on a gray, one
on a bay. At last he shot the man on the yellow horse through
the foot and killed the gray horse and the 60 horsemen turned
and left him. He was probably the war leader who must give his
life if needful.
He and his wife in a canoe on the Missouri river. He had heavy
clothes and he sank. Some one came to his help and saved him
but his wife struck out for shore. His clothes weighed him down.
Buffalo-chip tells a story well. Changes his voice and his
gestures and all are wonderful. Once he was with a camp and
he lagged behind and then was taken sick - would go a little
way and lie down to rest. He fainted and when he came to, no
one was to be seen.
He knew nothing of God, but he prayed to God all the time,
then he fed himself with water and at the end of the three days,
he was found on the hill nearly dead. He had been missed and
some returned to look for him.
- A touching story -
S.s mother tells of one Omaha woman, who on a hunt was
supposed to die. They left her sitting under a tree, burying
her thus. A month after she appeared in the camp. Her nose was
disfigured and her cheek also. She told how she knew nothing
till she felt her toes hurting her and she stood and there were
the birds knawing at her toes. They had bitten her nose, &c.
For a month she lived on nuts and water and found her way back.
Wajapa was on the hunt when the two men were flogged, and when
the Omahas gave chase to punish the Sioux for the insult, he
found that he got on a horse that would not go and his valorous
spirit had a check on the obstinacy of the animal.
Buffalo-chips grandmother, nearly 100 years old, told
this story which her husband knew.
Once a tribe living far to the north made war on the Poncas
and took a woman captive. In a few months she gave birth to
a boy. The woman who had her in charge was of high position.
After she had been there four years and her boy 3 1/2, one day
the tribe were dancing and singing, and the woman said to the
captive, "I am sorry for you, do you know what that is?
It is your dirge. They are going to kill you, but I mean to
save you. You must do just as I say". So she gave her a
good outfit of clothes, a young buffalo skin, some sinew, some
pounded buffalo meat and some pieces of skin to make moccasins,
when those she fitted them out with should be gone. These things
she gave her and said: "The hunt for you will last four
days. Every night you must travel and in the day time hide in
the grass or wherever you can. After the fourth day you will
be safe". She took the woman cautiously, while all the
tribe were dancing, out into the woods, and then she dug a hole
and put the woman and her child in it and covered it up with
boughs and bade her stay there and be very still. Then she went
back and when the dance was over, she ran among the people and
said, "Oh, help me, the captive woman has slipped from
me. Help me hunt her". So they all ran and hunted all that
day and the woman could hear them shouting as she cowered in
her hole. Night came on and she did as her benefactor had bidden
her. She crept out and traveled all that night. At day break,
she dug a hole in the tall grass and covered it so that no one
would know it was there, and all day she held her boy close,
while the hunters circled about her, looking for her everywhere.
Again at night she traveled, keeping steadily south, and the
next day she hid, being at times in imminent peril. That night
under the stars, she went on. The little boy walked as fast
and as long as he could, and then the mother would put him on
her back and push on, on, on. The fourth day she heard little
noise, and after a day more of hiding, she traveled on by day.
All she knew was that her home was in the south and she said
to her son, "Keep a sharp lookout for two pointed hills,
when we see those I shall know my country". And the boy
looked, but all that summer, they traveled and saw not the two
sharp pointed hills. She gathered herbs and fruits and they
slept and ate with the birds and the little groundlings. Winter
came on. Their clothes were in tatters - their skin used up
in making moccasins, and still the longed for hills were as
yet invisible. One day they came near to a river and there she
saw buffalo, and as she came nearer she saw that a pack of wolves
had driven a buffalo out from the herd and were trying to kill
it. She hid herself and watched. When the wolves had slain the
animal, she rushed out, drove off the wolves and captured the
prize. She cut up the meat and dried it. She dried the skin
and prepared the sinew and saved every bit of the animal. Then
she built her self a house of boughs and earth and she and her
boy lived all the winter by this river. Then the spring came,
she once more started for the south. She had made fresh clothing
and as their meat gave out, the fruits and herbs afforded them
sustenance. She passed on. Every day she talked to her boy about
the hills, and every day they looked in vain. The grass was
turning from green to gold and the days and nights were colder,
the clothing too, was wearing away and the feet bare once more
still the mother pushed on with her boy, now a year and a half
older than when they started away from death. One day, the boy
who had run up a little hill came flying back and said, "Oh,
Mother, I think I have seen the hills, let us hurry", and
she climbed with all speed the short and steep hill before them,
and there, on the hazy blue of the horizon were the two little
points and she said, "Yes, I think those are the hills",
so she plucked up fresh courage and pushed on. Day after day
the points grew taller and taller until at last they stood out
stark against the clear blue sky. On she pushed and she said,
"This is my country", and they walked and walked but
no sign of human habitat met their view. When she captured the
buffalo, she made the little boy a bow and arrows of sinew and
stick and pointed bone. He learned to shoot birds and ground
squirrels for their food.
(The hills were the buttes of Fort Randall. I sketched them
at Keyapaha, we sighted them this morning. They are now on the
other side of us.)
At last she came to a stream, and she said, "Yes, this
is my country". "Let us wash in the creek", and
she and the little boy bathed in the clear running water. They
were quite hid by the bushes and did not know they were at the
ford. Now it chanced, two Indians were passing and one said,
"I hear splashing in the water and he peeped through the
bushes and started back. It is a woman and child and I think
the woman is your sister". "That is impossible, she
died long ago after she was taken captive". But the less
incredulous friend looked again. "It is her or her ghost".
At this the other peeped, stopped in wonderment. "It is
my sister, I thought dead". He made himself known to her
and took her home. The boy grew, became a great hunter and in
time a chief in the tribe.