Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

 

October 25, 1881 10:30 A.M.

Started for Fort Randall. The horses without water. We went some mile or more out of our way, passing in the dark our camping place and camping only a short distance from the forks.

Wajapa said the white people lost a month, as they reckoned time. The Indians had 13 months, the white man but 12. The Indian watched the moon until it died and then they knew a new one would come.

They all begged me not to write of this great mistake in camping, for the Indians, if they got hold of it, would never cease laughing.

Sketched our camp at a little distance - nothing to be seen but tent top and wagon hoops - the grass taller than I am. A perfect day, warm and delightful. Everybody in better mood. Ga-ha painted the part of hair and her cheeks, and also her husband’s and they put pomatum on their hair. This done with a round stick about 10 inches long, the point somewhat sharpened. The paint in a long sort of pocket like a spectacle case. The stick gets covered with paint for some inches.

Reached Fort Randall about 2 P.M. Called on the Commander of the Post, Col. George L. Andrews. After a little conversation, Mrs. A. appeared. A New England lady. She graciously received me, and I became their guest. The rest were camped on Stony Point, a pretty spot near to water and the pasturage fair for the horses.

Fort Randall established in 1854. Then there was much trouble with the Indians. Two of the block houses remain. In these houses the women and children were sent for safety, and sometimes kept for weeks. Mrs. Dean, wife (bride) of Lieut. Dean, was born here. She remembers seeing the hills black with Indians, threatening the Post.

Now the 25th infantry here, colored. The skill and proficiency shown in the drill very remarkable. Band good.

Went to drive in the afternoon with Mrs. Andrews, Mrs. Dean and Capt. Wilson. Delightful. Learn that Mrs. A. is cousin of the lady Prof. Putnam is to marry, and knows many friends of mine. A delightful lady.



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