The sound of the browsing horses, the stir of birds and insects
made the night queer. Dawn came with a dappled sky and broad
bend of clear sky.
Wajapa was stirring with the earliest light, gave corn to the
horses which answered to his approaching footsteps. He whistled
a strange wild cadence like a wood bird, something like this:
Privacy is impossible, he watched me furtively clean my teeth.
I fancy he must think white women spend much time in adornment
that hardly pays. He was really moved to speech by the sight
of my hair. When Susette asked him to look at it as she sat
by the fire cooking breakfast and he was by the wagon. I was
off at a distance. He said it was the longest he had ever seen
and that nothing was so beautiful on a woman. Susette said he
paid me a great compliment but I could not understand it.
Breakfast of flapjack and bacon. I ate coffee and crackers
and an apple. Sat on the hammock as the wagon was being repacked,
horses harnessed, wheels greased, and wrote up this journal.
Over the stretch of plain flocks of birds pass on their way
south. The bluffs look hazy in the distance. The bottom lands
are varied in hue - patches of sunflowers, acres of cornfields,
the rows of corn giving lines to the picture - acres of cut
grass turning to hay - making yellow squares dimpled with hay
cooks - Deep green, light green, varied shades of brown - here
and there clumps of trees. A strange scene. Philosophy, science,
endurance, esthetic, appreciation, patience all go to this camping
outfit and excursion. Mr. & Mrs. T. good natured and kind.
Ready to start about 8 a.m. on to Ponca City.
Left Mosquito camp. When Indian cuts a whip he leaves a little
tuft of twigs on the end. These answer for a lash and he can
take off flies.
As we rode on we left a little town of Jackson to the right
and behind us. Here in the meadow we heard a bird sing. S. said
that the Indians say that when this bird comes in spring it
sings: "Winter is gone and will not come again soon".
Indians make signals with their blankets and with puffs of
smoke. They build a fire of green wood, then either four men
take hold of the corners of the blanket and lay it on the fire,
then lift it suddenly and the smoke goes up in puffs or rings.
If but one man signals he ties the two corners and then with
the other two corners in his hands he manages to signal. These
signals varied, they can tell of buffalo, enemies or other items
Indian ponies trained to guide by the feet. Mr. Tibbles rode
to Jackson while we turned off and got apples.
A long ride to Ponca city over hilly moors. Rain came on, Mr.
T. rode on to secure food and feed. Wajapa drove. Road became
slippery, bad holes, one washout. S. and I got out, [?]. Found
my waterproof no proof, wet to my skin. Reach Ponca city at
1.30. Turn into ash grove. Wajapa pitches tent, lights fire.
Horses ranged about the trees Mr. T. gets potatoes. S. puts
them on to boil. Horses to be shod - cant stand on their
bare hoofs. Harness to be altered, collars too large, saddle
to be adjusted - all the harness worse for wear, but nothing
serious. Dry myself by the fire, determine to camp out and take
the luck of camp life.
Conclude to think of going direct to Spotted Tail Agency from
Santee. To camp here all night and push on. early in the a.m.
Men as they pass seeing Indian tent and Wajapa hoot and yell
- Mr. T. or I appear, quiet follows. Storm passes about and
sun comes out - hope for fair weather. Must lay in more supplies.
Have been unable to buy bread, but found some here, brought
here from Sioux City. Saw dug-outs, cant think them healthy
or cleanly. Little is so. Black mud everywhere. Roads good when
dry, a little rain converts the top soil into a sticky paste.
Wajapa tells me the name of this place is in Indian, "The
place where the Iowas farmed". Ma-hu-ta Wa-a-e-ta.
Here Mr. Tibbles comes back from the town and we hear the fearful
tidings, "Garfield is dead". So falls a good man,
killed by the power that loves office and spoils. The same cruel,
barberous interest makes the Indian an exile and outcast in
the land of his birth, all good finds its birth through life
sacrifice, so may a juster estimate of citizenship and Republican
government come to the land and greeds and spoils be abased,
and probity and high mindedness find place with power.
Garfield died on Monday night, September 20 - a sore bereavement
Indian good manners just the reverse of ours, never speak to
the person by name when present, no word of courtesy, silence,
never good morning or good night, come silently, go silently.
In the tent the wifes place is by the door at the left
hand as you enter, husband next, guest at the rear opposite
the door. Other members of the family on the right.
We built our fire in the tent, cooked and sat by it. Smoke
made the eyes smart, the lower one sits the less smoke. Indians
lie down in tent - sensible. I did so. Straw and hay in the
bottom of the tent. The floor was all muddy, clay. No grass
under the trees.
We all ate a hearty supper of soup and coffee, went to bed
a little after eight. After the meat was cooked Wajapa took
out the sticks that smoked so we had only the glowing embers
as we ate and talked. Bed first then the comforter. I putting
down my rubber blanket and the comforter and blankets over not
much undressing, women to bed first. Wajapa staid out till all
in bed, then came in, took off moccasins and lay in the buffalo
robe. He put out the candle, a circle of darkness through the
opening in the top, irregular in shape. I saw the boughs of
the trees and stars. Silence broken by the rush of the water
over the dam near by, and the tossing of the hay by the horses
which were tied to trees near the tent. The wagon had been hauled
to the front.
The beauty of our camp at night beggars description. I was
out and turning toward the tent, two trees formed a high arch
of the tent, the bags &c. taken out for safety, we being
now among the white people. The door of the tent formed by the
ends of the circle were laced up by Wajapa.
The real campers slept without waking. I being a novice slept
uneasily and with difficulty feeling like a bag of stones dropped
heavily on the ground. Owls began to hoot and the [?] in the
town near by keyed out lustily.
I wakened before day - bye-and-bye the trees grew more distinct
against a dim light, then Mr. T. and Wajapa stirred and rose,
I ventured to sing out "ough!" the usual Indian salutation
The soup pot was put on for an extra boil on the fire outside
while S. and I got up on our knees and dressed.
The night before when we finished our supper it was clear that
our one kettle could not be spared to heat dish water for it
had still a goodly portion of soup which we needed for breakfast
so we each placed our tin cups and plates beside our beds to
know them apart and have them ready for the breakfast.