Camping With the Sioux: Fieldwork Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher

Wooden Chapel at Santee, 1880. Photo Lot 24, Inv. 00509500.

 

 

 

View of A. L. Rigg's House 1880. Photo Lot 24, BAE 23, Inv. 00512000.

September 26, 1881

At 9. A.M. attended Mission school. Children sang, read responses from Psalms. Prayer. New scholars, one boy cries, finds some solace in keeping his hat on. Class in arithmetic. 14 - 9 girls. Wrote up to 600, studying one month, numbers given in English. Two weeks of the time spent on from 1 to 20. 13 and 15 the numbers last taught. 30 & 50 the same. Sounds alike.

Class – Multiplication - given out, 3 minus 4 twelves. Class gone up and down 8 scholars, 4 girls 4 boys. Twelves in 64 - sevens in 49. Teachers addition, subtraction, multiplication and division at once. Reading - 4 sound of words, recitation, very clever and well done.

Gymnastics, counting and [?] very well done. First case in arithmetic. To 4 boys, 3 girls. Difficulty in acquiring fixed rules.

Gifts and barter being the custom. Each man putting on the articles his own valuation, regulated by a sort of common custom or opinion. The idea of fixed law outside of individual thought one of the peculiarities of development - strictly racial. Very hard in doing a sum, to keep clearly the condition of the problem. The teacher very clever. Mr. Robbins - he makes the subject very practical and clear. A wonderful gain in old methods. Marvelous patience. The Indians are not intellectually slow, but slow in manifesting their intellectual results, this must be overcome in meeting civilization. The lack of value of time enters into this peculiarity, and when the people can comprehend that laws are beyond man’s touching the improvidence so characteristic of the Indian will be partly overcome.

Mr. Robbins trained at Hampton, an octoroon. White teachers would not eat with him there, until a year - a very fine teacher, very courteous.

Reading and writing taught at the same time, also punctuation and capitals.

First taught to read Sioux by a book containing pictures and the Sioux name for the object. Then a book similarly arranged with English and Sioux. The pictures colored and very attractive. Guyot’s geography translated into Dakota.

New scholars - A large and figured blue calico and moccasins embroidered in blue beads in pattern, black, yellow and red, colored handkerchiefs - all bead work shows the trace of antecedent porcupine work. Chinese fans, almond shaped eyes, wide apart, flat faces, large mouths, large square teeth, two front teeth turn out at side edges.

A map of states west of Lake Michigan and south line through Kansas and Colorado - The Sioux land painted green. Class in translation. Question given in English. Ann can roll the hoop well. Is that the ox that eats the corn. Section in Dakota: - I have a nice doll. John has a large brick house. Did you ever know an ox or a pig as fat or as large as this ox and this pig. Tatanka wan quais kukuse wan tatanka kinde qua kukuse kinde iyecan cipa qua iyican tanka tohinni sdom-yaya he.

Among the Omahas in the best classes when a man well off dies, the relations gather together and all the property is kept for the children - the eldest, whether boy or girl, gets the largest share, the rest getting equal shares, in which the wife is included. If the husband has expressed his wish, before his death it is like a will. This is always respected by the good, but sometimes there are avaricious relatives, and they defy the wish of the deceased, and divide the property among themselves. The wife gets nothing if there are no children - unless her husband wills otherwise. The widow generally marries again and this is - - [?]. When there is no will the property goes to the relatives.

Indians write cipher letters. Susette writes one for Wajapa in which he conveys to his friend intelligence that the agent can not understand, it all appearing simple on the surface. Mr. Riggs says Mr. R. has noticed the same among the Dacotas. A man will say something that can be taken in more than one way and only one in the secret can get at the true meaning.


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