on the Omaha Reservation. The photographer was probably Francis
La Flesche, 1898. Photo Lot 24, BAE 4558, No. 4466.
The dawn was wonderfully fine, the sky clear, a few rippling
clouds. I watched the soft gray become primrose and deepen into
gold. From under the drapery of the tent hanging over wagon,
made my toilet partly under cover and partly out on the prairie,
while the others still slept. A herd of cattle came along as
I was waiting and stood astonished in a circle about me, bye
and bye a frisky heifer lifted her heels and made off with a
snort, as much as to say, "Ive seen enough of civilized
nonsense". After the level rays of the sun had touched
with color leaves and flowers and tall grass, the others stirred
and soon our camp was all activity, fire burning, coffee boiling
and tent out drying. I went to the house near by to purchase
eggs and bacon, eight cents per dozen. Eggs I got but not the
other. A slender girl answered my knock and said she would call
the lady of the house. She came, a good natured Irish woman
with broad brogue, far less lady-like than my Jane or Jennie.
I bought the eggs, She put them in a sack. I said it was too
heavy and the road slippery with mud, I might break it. "Bless
yo heart, I would not feel bad to you if you did. Where are
you going?" "Some hundreds of miles west" "Ach!
Im high enough, bright enough any day!" "Youve
a nice house". "Yes, and I worked hard to get it".
"Ive no doubt". "Bad rain last night".
"Yes, and ye camping too, camping is nice when the weather
is fine, its mighty bad when it isnt." I bade
her goodbye and passed out through the sanded walk with flowers
on either side, wall flowers, morning glories.
The bay mares back being sore from the saddle and made
worse by the rain, she was put in harness and we all prepared
for a struggle for the mare is peculiar. When she wont she wont
and theres the end on it. She favored us and we sped on.
Wajapa was driver. We made good speed over moor and prairies.
Not a house save now and then. At noon we pulled up at camp.
Road bad, lost our way, ruts. Wajapa rides ahead, buying bread,
butter and milk at a log house near by, where dirt and children
were equally plenty. Germans. Wajapa gathered wood by the creek
and brought a steak which has been sawed by kavers. We had scrambled
eggs, fried potatoes and coffee, a jolly good dinner and by
2.30 were off.
1 1/2 hours at camp. We drove all the afternoon through a treeless
country, here and there a settler burning fire breaks preparing
for prairie fires. Passed a lone post office and sketch as I
ride. Mr. T. is not well. At 5.30 or 6 , we camped at
"Hidden Trees". On the way there Wajapa pointed out
spots where Indians had rested, and their camp fires. He
thought they were Omahas who had last June visited Spotted-tail.
We had supper of hard boiled eggs, coffee and pancakes.
The talk about the camp fire was serious. The future struggles
of the Indians.
Wajapa - Grandfather a chief, father, leader of band. S.'s
father succeeded. Five years ago the Omahas lived in a village,
mud lodges. Now he has a fine farm. Two years since changed
to citizens dress, has sent daughter east to Miss Read's
school. Indians think him hard hearted to send away a little
girl. He says "No, I look to the future, I shall sleep
easy when I die if my children are prepared to meet the struggle
that is coming when they must - cope with the white settlers".
His mind is alert and of a statesman like character, tho he
is rather restless, made so by the uncertainty of Indian tenure
of land. Indians love their land as no white man realizes, and
will not part from it for any cause if possible to prevent it.
Wajapa rides ahead, when the road is good he will sometimes
make short cuts. When a distance off he will sing in the expressive
Indian fashion. At every high hill he gallops to the top and
then stands, he and his horse silhouetted against the clear
blue sky. He picks out the way for us. The trails lie over the
boundless, billowy prairie, like the marks of two fingers a
little apart, drawn side by side. Often the ruts are deep and
the gutter nearly perpendicular. It is a desolate wilderness,
yet it is not without charm. On some of the high lands, for
we are up and down all the time, we could see nearly one hundred
miles, off into Dakota. Log houses, dirt roofs, clay walls,
Dug out. Snakes made their way in. Mr. T. lying in bed once
in a dugout saw a great snake crawl along the center beam.
We made our beds early before the dew began to fall and went
to bed by 8.30 or earlier. My first night under the stars. I
waken about midnight for the ground makes me ache very badly.
The stars were wonderfully fine. The dew on my waterproof was
in puddles. I had put my hat over my head for the cold was great.
Orion was just coming up over the horizon. By turning
over and taking a fresh side I fell asleep but pain wakened
me again. Then I tried all sorts of ways and at last
slept once more, when I wakened again I was thankful for the
sight of the morning star. I watched and waited for the first
grey light when I rose and began to dress. It was wet and
cold but clear.