Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Sintegaliska (Spotted Tail). Photograph by Northwestern Photographic Company. Photo Lot 24, BAE 4544 #38, Inv. 00551000

 

October 5, 1881

Wednesday A.M. Rainy again and we cant get on. Buffalo-chip is a Medicine man, has little positive humor, rather sober and dignified. A queer childish consciousness. He wears the scalp lock. This morning he took a stick and with queer mumblings, he raised it to and fro. This was to gain better weather. It is a strange thing to sit opposite and witness veritable, heathen performances. One realizes the power and gift of spiritual life by the blessed Lord. I needed to see all this to realize the verity of "I am the way, the truth and the life". The darkness and paucity of their mental life is pitiful. Buffalo-chip is far behind Wajapa who is free and blithe in comparison.

This A.M. I have been teaching Wajapa more arithmetic, addition by object lessons in plums, trying to make the figures a verity to him. One feels so sorry for them, so longs to broaden and deepen and brighten their life.

Deer are reported ahead. We are promised deer to eat, and I have asked for the antlers. By Indian rule the skin belongs to the owner of the gun. As Buffalo-chip owns the gun they will be his. The antlers are thrown away, so I may get mine.

Spotted Tail was made by the government, Head Chief. He was only a subordinate chief. This angered the people and also that he had a salary from Government, and was sustained by it against the Indians. Government aims to turn the soldier lodge into a police and it pays them a salary.

Spotted Tail received all the money from Government.

I sketched Wajapa's profile. When I said I was going to, he sprang up and said in his hearty, impulsive loud voice, "I will go and wash my face". I laughed, thinking it a joke, but it was not, he returned and his face glossy, his hair combed and shining and sat down by me. That was queer to experience. We had more arithmetic, while Buffalo-chip’s wife went out and gathered Kinikinick and Buffalo-chip made a sort of screen to dry it on the sticks which had been stripped of the inner bark, and weaving in and out of the three prongs (Sketch) - split partly down the stick. Buffalo-chip says, that Rabbit says, "We use too much salt over the fire". In earnest, he said, "The Rabbit says, after".

Spotted Tail was not shot on account of the woman. This woman left her husband and went off to Spotted Tail. The husband appealed to the council and the council decided the woman must return and Spotted Tail give four horses to the husband who was poor. The man was a Yankton, the woman a Sioux. They were visiting Spotted Tail, when the elopement occurred. The decision of the Council was obeyed. Crow-dog who killed Spotted Tail was in no way connected with this Yankton man. Spotted Tail had flogged a younger brother in some quarrel and Crow-dog was chief of the Soldier Lodge. Spotted Tail deposed him from office. Some land had been sold to a R.R. One day Crow-dog saw much money with Spotted Tail and accused him of keeping back the money, so a coolness sprang up, and bye and bye Spotted Tail heard that a woman of this kind was in the tribe and he knew that Crow-dog was the only one who could stand it and so he deposed Crow-dog.



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