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The Adventurous White CTi^f, Soldier, Hunter, Trapper, and Ouide. 




C. F. VENT. 





Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, 

By^C. P. VENT, 

In the Offlce of the Librarian of Congress, at "Washington. 



rr^HE attention of the Publishers was called to the Belden papers 
something over a year ago, since which time a few of them have 
been published in the New York Tribune and the Chicago Tribune^ and 
in the Cincinnati Gazette. The papers thus published, although the 
less important and interesting of the collection, excited a great deal of 
interest, and were read with a great deal of satisfaction by thousands. 
In fact, so great was the satisfaction, that the whole series was eagerly 
sought for publication in serial form before its issuance in book form ; 
but we are happy to state that we secured the entire series, and herein 
present it to the public, fresh and unhackneyed. 

The illustrations are from original designs, many of them made iu 

outline by Mr. Belden himself, and others by Mr. Ini^man, formerly 

of New York, but now of the Regular Army. They were all engraved 

by the New York Bureau of Illustration, and we can not speak too 

warmly of the promptness and fidelity with which their engagement 

was fulfilled. The quality of their work speaks for itself. 


iv publishers' preface. 

It will be observed that nearly every chapter is complete in iiselfy each 
presenting a different phase of Indian or frontier life and character, but 
all so systematized and arranged as to form a connected and com- 
plete whole, 

Cincinnati, September, 1870. 


CHAPTER I.— Difficulties in Writing a Book— My Early Home— Run Away— 
Arrive at Brownsville, Nebraska — On the Banks of the Missouri — First 
Impressions of x\e West — Early Settlers — My Father Moves Out West — 
Starts the " Nemaha Valley Journal " — Growth of the West — Thirst for 
Adventure — Run Away from Home a Second Time — Regrets at Leaving — 
The Pony — Out in the Open Air — Under the Starlight — A Last Look at 
Home— Off for the Plains. 

CHAPTER II. — Nebraska City — Omaha — Council Bluffs — Laying in Supplies — 
A Surprise — Off Again — Lost on the Prairies — An Alarm — The Hunter's 
Cabin — Indian News — A Frontier Supper — The Peace Pipe — Singular Be- 
havior of my Host — The Red Devils at Work — A New Arrival — Oenerosity 
Extraordinary — Sioux City — La Frombe — Joining the Indians — Adopted 
into the Tribe — An Indian Sweetheart — Married by Order — Settling Down to 
be a Warrior. 

CHAPTER III.— Life Among the Indians— My Little Wife Washtella— The 
Medicine Lodge — A Curious Custom — Medicine Arrows — What the Indians 
Eat — A Family Man — Pleasant Evenings — Washtella's Tales — The Ancient 
Yanktons — Indian Amusements — The Ball Game — How it is Played — A 
Spirited Contest — Preparing for the Fall Hunt — How the Indians Travel. 

CHAPTER IV.— Off for the Fall Hunt— Washtella and the Pony— Indian 
Songs — Camping Out — A Stroll in the Wild Woods — Sunset on the Prairies — 
Washtella and I — An Indian Fairy Tale — The Giants of Old — Wearer of the 
White Feather — What Chacopee Saw in the Woods — The Wooden Man — 
Battle of the Giants— Chacopee's Troubles— All's Well that Ends Well- 
Indian Credulity — At the Hunting Grounds. 

CHAPTER v.— The Beautiful Lake— Killing the First Buffalo on the Hunt- 
Unexpected Honors — The Great Hunt — How the Indians Take Buffalo — 
Jerking the Meat — Packing away Winter Supplies — Moving Camp — Killing 
Buffalo Calves — Other Modes of Capturing Buffalo — The Hunt Ended — The 
Buffalo Feast and Dance — Return Homeward — At Peace with all the World. 

CHAPTER VI. — Indian Doctors — Their Ignorance and Vanity — Patent Medi- 
cines — Indian Girl Bitten by a Rattlesnake — The Savage Mode of Treat- 
ment — An Old Indian Physician — A Veritable Ass — How the Girl was 
Cured — Wonder of the Savages — The Council and Explanation — Modesty of 
the Indian Doctor — Practicing Medicine among the Savages — A Bore — I Give 
Up the Doctoring Business. 

CHAPTER VII.— Indian Horse Races — The Santeer Get Beaten — Another 
Expedition against the Pawnees — Crossing the Missouri — Waiting for the 
Santees— The March— The Attack— Woo-Uoo-Yah-Hoo— A Disaster— The 
Retreat— A Battle— The War-Chief Wounded— A Terrible Contest— Defeated 
Again — The Return Homeward — Parting With the Santees — Mourning for 
the Dead. 

CHAPTER VIII.— Conduct of Galles-Sca — In Trouble— A Fight with an 
Indian — New Expedition against the Pawnees — Its Fate — Determines to 
Take a Journey — The Departure — On the March — Beautiful Soeuery— An 


Indian I>urying-Qround — Talk with Washtella about the Dead — Scene in th« 
(j rave- Yard — Curious Indian Customs — How They Bury Their Dead — Super- 
stitions — A Night Camp — The Journey Continued — Far Up the Missouri — 
In the Santee Lands — How We Cooked and Ate. 

CHAPTER IX.— An Indian Village— Mirages on the Prairies— Their Fatal 
Deceptions — The Encampment — A Surprise — A Strange and Beautiful Pic- 
ture — The Warning and Welcome — Locating a Town Lot — The Sautees — 
Curiosity of tlie Women — Resemblance between White and Red Women — 
A Noble People — The Missionary — Pleasant Interview — How the Indiana 
Build their Homes — My New Residence. 

CHAPTER X.— Indian Arrows— How they are Made— Cutting the Shafts— Dry- 
ing and Smoking them — Why they are Wrapped in Rawhide — Peeling the 
Shafts— Making the Notch— Why the Shaft is Fluted— The Arrow-Head— 
Fastening it — Putting on the Feather — Price of Arrow-IIeads — Where they 
are Made — Immense Profits of the Traders — Prices of Arrows — The Indians 
Bad Financiers — Indian Paints — Where they are Manufactured — A Curious 
but Profitable Business — War Arrows — A Deadly Shaft — The Terrible Poi- 
soned Arrow — How it is Poisoned — Disuse of the Poisoned Arrow — The Reason 
Why — Signal Arrows — How they are Made — Their Meaning — Indian Cun- 

CHAPTER XI.— The Bow— Its Antiquity— Indian Boys Learning to Shoot- 
Power of the Bow — The Sioux Bow — How it is Made — Why it is Carried Un- 
strung — Wood for Bows — Their Value — Difiiculty of Drawing them — Shooting 
Bufi"alo with Bows and Arrows — Strengthening the Bow with Sinew — The 
Bow-String — Crow and Cheyenne Bows — The Elk Horn Bow — How it is 
Made — The Value of an Elk Bow — Quivers — How they are Made and Car- 
ried — Names of Indians — The Sioux Chief Spotted Tail — How to Shoot with 
the Bow — Striking with the Bow — Indian Insults and Honor. 

CHAPTER XII.— Indian Manufactures— The Bone, Stone, and Flint Ax— How 
they are Made — Indian Hammers, Mallets, Hatchets, and Hoes— ^Rasps and 
Files — How they are Made, and what Used for — War-Clubs, Spears, and Jave- 
lins — Indian Riding-Whips — Curious Manner of Making them — The Indian 
Knife — A Remarkable Trade Enterprise — The Crow Comb — " Necessity the 
Mother of Invention" Illustrated. 

CHAPTER XIII.— Buffalo Robes— Fleshing, Tanning, and Drying them— Trade 
Robes— Their Value— The Body Robe— The Fur Trade— How it is Con- 
ducted — Its Profits — Indian Prices of Furs — Sending them to Market — Their 
Value at St. Louis — Articles of Trade — What Indians Buy — A New Cur- 
rency — Labor of Preparing Furs — How Much a Squaw Gets for a Full Day's 
Work — Furs the Cheapest Goods in the World. 

CHAPTER XIV.— Pipes and .Tobacco— Where did Man Learn to Smoke?— The 
Tobacco Plant — Where the English Found it — Old Indian Pipes — How and 
of What they are Made — The Way an Indian Smokes — Ceremonies in 
Smoking — The Tomahawk Pipe — Its Use — The Phil. Kearney Battle Club— 
A Horrible Instrument — Pipe Stones — Indian Kinne-kan-nick — How it is 
Made — Sumach Tobacco — The Indian's Acknowledgment of God — Tobacco 
Bags — How and of What they are Made — Their Value. 

CHAPTER XV.— Trapping— When the Indians Learned the Art of Trapping- 
How to Set the Traps — A Trapper's Life — Hard Work — Number of Beaver 
Usually Taken with a Dozen Traps — Indian Peculiarities — Crow Superstition 
about the Bear — The Crow Chief, Iron Bull — Sioux Superstition about the 
Prairie-Dog — What this Animal Really is — A Case of Prejudice — Bear Claws. 

CHAPTER XVI.— Scalping— Why the Indians Scalp People— A Singular Belief- 
No Bald Heads in Heaven — The Scalp-Lock — How the Pawnees, Sioux, and 
Winnebagoes Wear their Hair — Other Indians — Ornaments for the Hair The 


Silrer Tails — A Sioux Long Tail — The Iron Ring Ornament — How to Take it 
Off—Does it Pull?— The Scalping-Knife— A Preserved Scalp— Mr. Belden's 

CHAPTER XVII.— Painting the Pace— Indian Taste— The Lone Paint— Scalp 
Paint — Parting the Hair — How Indian Girls Paint — Love Paint — A Cause of 
Excitement — Laughable Mistakes — The Indian Belle — Her Disappointment — 
The Sioux Death Paint — Crow and Snake Colorings — Looking-Glasses — Nat- 
ural Mirrors — A Sioux Beauty Surprised-»-Her Mortification and Modesty. 

CHAPTER XVIII.— Indian Head-Dresses— How they are Made— The Skull- 
Cap — The Buffalo Head-Dress — An Enormous Hat — Standing Bull's Head- 
Dress — Warriors Visiting — Their Hat-Boxes — An Indian Toilet — The Bald 
and Black Eagle — Their Use — Value of Eagle Feathers — Price of an Indian 
Head-Gear — Feather Signs — Their Use in War — The Scalp Feather — An 
Indian Ensign. 

CHAPTER XIX. — Moccasins — The Indians as Shoemakers — How Moccasins are 
Made — Who Make them — Sioux, Cheyenne, Arrapahoe, Crow, and Pawnee 
Shoes — Their Shape and Tracks — Imitative Power of the Indian — The Win- 
nebagoes as Manufacturers — Winnebago Women — Their Comeliness of Per- 
son — How they Braid their Hair — A Beautiful Custom — Shells of Ocean — ^A 
Bioux Ear-Ring — Bead Belt — Cost of Sea-shells and their use. 

CHAPTER XX. — Indian Women — Child-bearing among them — Physical Endur- 
ance of the Squaw — Her Habits — The Pappoose — Indian Cradles — How 
they are Made — Carrying the Pappoose — Indian Education — Mourning for 
the Dead — Disfiguration of the Body — A Tedious and Barbarous Custom — 
Mourning for the Slain at Phil. Kearney — Punishing Dumb Animals for the 
Dead — The Baby Asleep. 

CHAPTER XXI.— Indian Dogs— Their Origin— Habits of the Dog— His Cow- 
ardice and Treachery — What the Indians do with Him — Number of Dogs to 
a Family — Raising Dogs for Food — Indian Dog Feasts — The Author Attends 
one — Dog Soup — Manners at an Indian Table — How Dogs are Cooked — The 
Prejudice Against Dog Meat — How it Tastes — Why do n't we Eat Dogs ? — 
Wild Artichokes and Corn — The Author Learns to Like Dog — An Enterprise 
Considered — The Enterprise Abandoned. 

CHAPTER XXII.— The Fall Hunt— A New Expedition Planned— The Start- 
Camps on the Missouri — A Delightful Country — Pleasures of Camping Out — 
A Herd of Buffalo— The Old Bull— An Adventure with a Buffalo— The Pur- 
suit — Pursuer Pursued — My Pony — Terrible Fall — Perilous Situation — Given 
up for Lost — The Deliverance — A Lesson to Buffalo Hunters. 

CHAPTER XXIII.— Off for the Mountains— Hunting Elk and Antelope — A Bear 
Hunt — The Three Grizzlies — A Race — Looking for the Game — More Game 
Found than Wanted — Taking up a Position — Skirmishing — The Enemy won't 
Scare — The Battle — A She-Bear and Two Cubs — Intelligence of the Bear — 
A Dead Monster — Skinning a Bear — The Return to Camp — An Alarm — 
Indians — What Frightened them — Supper in Camp — A Night March — Far up 
in the Mountains — Our New Camp. 

CHAPTER XXIV.— Hunting Rocky Mountain Sheep— An Early Start— Meeting 
the Sun on the Mountain-tops — The Big Horns in Sight — La Frombe Kills a 
Sheep — My Chagrin at a Bad Shot — Following the Big Horns — A Toilsome 
Journey — The Sheep in Sight Again — Killing a Ram — His Astonishing 
Strength — A Meal on the Mountain — The Return — Home Once More. 

CHAPTER XXV.— Old Buffalo Bulls— The Monarchs of the Prairies— A Chase 
After one — His Rage and Efforts to Capture me — A Trick — How he Hid from 
me — Terrible Collision — The Result — What I Saw — Dangerous Situation — 
Death of the Buffalo — My Condition — Poor Little Pony — The Return tc 
Camp — Alarm of my Friends — All Right Once More. 


CHAPTER XXVI.— Legend of Crazy Woman— Story of the Old Indian— In 
troduction of Rum among the Crows — The White Trader — Singular Con- 
duct of the Chief— The Crazy Warrior — Crow Council — The Black Water- 
Speech of the Young Warrior — Peril of the Trader — The Confession — An 
Indian Duel — Death of the Trembling Hand — Murder of the Trader-«-The 
White Squaw — Her Escape — The Crazy Woman — How the Stream tctk its 

CHAPTER XXVII.— Stealing Ponies from the Indians— Nelson, my Compan- 
ion — A Short Biography — Dangerous Situation — Discovery of the Indian 
Village — Nielson's Coolness — Watching the Village from the Hills— In the 
Indian Camp — The Old Squaw — The Alarm — Stampeding the Ponies — The 
Pursuit — A Night March — Fighting the Indians — A Friendly Grove — Another 
Night March — The Surprise — The Result — A Safe Arrival at Home. 

CHAPTER XXVIII.— Legend of the White Buffalo— The Crow Chiefs Daugh- 
ter — Unreasonable Conduct of her Father — The Young Chief— His Suit 
Denied— The White Buffalo— The Maiden's Shame— A Death Council— Story 
of the Girl — Another Council — The Young Chief and the Maiden Condemned 
to Death — Battle with the White Buffalo — Led out to Die— Discovery of the 
White Buffalo— The Prisoners Saved— Death of the White Buffalo— A Happy 

CHAPTER XXIX.— Story of the Storm-Child— A Famine among the Crow 
Indians — The Journey to the Mountains — Plenty of Game — Are Threatened 
with Starvation again — The Big Ring Hunt — A Storm — The Hands in the 
Clouds— The Green Child— Death of the Crow Warrior who Touched it— Birth 
of the Storm-Child — A Singular Superstition — The Storm-Child Lives and 
Grows to be a Woman. 

CHAPTER XXX.— The Plum-Stone Game— How it is Played— Manner of Count- 
ing — The Dice — How they are Made — Shaking them Up — A Pair of Old Grum- 
blers — Dead Broke — Story Telling — George Washington — The Missionary and 
his Books — Intelligence of the Indians — Their Love of Reading — How they 
Impart Information to each other — Familiarity with the Character of Wash- 
ington — The Cause — Preparations for the Old Man's Story. 

CHAPTER XXXI.— The Old Man's Story— His Grandfather's Tale— Early His- 
tory of the Sioux Nation — Their Power and Glory — First Visit of the White 
Man — His Gun Described — Astonishment of the Indians at its Power — The 
Council — The White Man Allowed to Remain — The Buffalo Hunt — How the 
White Man Killed Game— Alarm of the Buffalo at the Noise of his Gun — The 
Buffalo all Run Away — Another Council — The White Man Sentenced to 
Death — Death of the Squaw — Death of the White Man — His Prediction — 
Division of the Tribe — Where the Bands Went — The Brule, Ogallala, San tee, 
and Yankton Sioux. 

CHAPTER XXXII.— Indian Pastimes— Jugglers and Mountebanks— Curiosity 
of the Savages — The Gun Trick — Catching Bullets — A Dangerous Trick — The 
Triumphant Juggler — A Juggler Out-juggled — Firing a Gun with Ashes — 
The Trick Successfully Performed — Astonishment of the Indians — How it was 
Done — Throwing the Pony — A Failure — The Owner Throws the Pony to Show 
How it was Done — End of an Indian Show. 

CHAPTER XXXIII.— A Visit to the Missionary— His Anxiety for my Welfare— 
A Proposition to go Home, or become a Missionary — I Respectfully Decline — 
A Visit to an Indian School — Singular Method of Teaching the Children — 
The Object of it — Promise to Visit the Missionary Often — French Pete, the 
Trader — Visit to his Store — I Relate to him my History, and he Tells me a 


CHAPTER XXXIV.— The Trader's Story— St. Paul in Early Times— Failure o' 
the Indian Trade — Panic among the Indian Traders — Off for the Savage 
Tribes — Purchasing Indian Goods — Fort Randall — Meeting with the La 
Frombe Brothers — What they Said — Camping in the Old Ranche — Strange 
Voices — A Frontier Supper — Singular Noises — The Alarm — A Head above the 
Wall — Waiting for the Enemy — Imagined Security — Interviewing the Sav- 
ages — Death of the Man on the Wall — Preparations for the Battle — The In- 
dian War-Whoop. 

CHAPTER XXXV.— The Attack— The Repulse— Firing the Prairie— Strengthen- 
ing our Works — Louis is Wounded — A Broadside at the Indians—Good Effects 
of a DoubN Barreled Gun — A Truce — Carrying off the Dead — Indian Strat- 
egy — All Ready again — Renewal of the Battle — Tomahawked — Death of Bap- 
tiste — Escape of Louis — Return to Consciousness — Kindness of the Indians— 
I join the Tribe and get back my Goods — Trading in the Indian Camp— -The 
Profits— Off to St. Louis for more Goods— End of the Trader's Story. 

CHAPTER XXXVI.— Traditions of the Sioux Nation— Their Origin and Early 
History as told by Themselves — Division of the Assiniboines from the Sioux — 
The Love of a Faithless Woman causes War. 

CHAPTER XXXVII.— The Indian Sweat-Lodge— How it is Built— Manner of 
Using it — How the Indians Treat their Sick — Old Men and Women of no 
Account — Indian Science of Medicine — I get Sick — The Missionary's Medi- 
cine — I Grow Worse — Anxiety of my Squaw — She Consults with the Old 
Medicine Man — AVhat they Did — A Stubborn Doctor and Wife — I am to 
be Killed or Cured — Terrible Sweat — I Faint from Exhaustion — They try 
to drown me — Rapid Recovery — Wonderfully Beneficial Effects of the Sweat- 
Bath — Cases in which the Sweat-Bath is Never Used. 

CHAPTER XXXVIII.— Night Scenes in an Indian Village— Chants of the 
Medicine Men — Smoking, Story-Telling, and Dancing — Wild Young Men — 
A Story-Telling People — Good Listeners — Preservation of Historical Events 
among the Sioux — Remarkable Correctness of their Narratives — What Neil 
says about Them — War Songs — Deeds of the Forefathers — What the Young 
Men are Taught — Indian Girls — Their Coquetry — Childhood of the Indian 
Girl — Her Married Life one of Slavery — The War Path — Consecration of Ani- 
mals — War and Chase Dances. 

.CHAPTER XXXIX.— A Sioux Doctor— Derivation of the Term Medicine Man- 
Superstition about Tails — Sucking Disease out of a Patient — Sending for the 
Doctor — War Prophets — Funny way of Visiting a Patient — Symbols and 
Charms — Casting the Bad Spirit out of a Sick Man — A Water-Cure — The 
Image — Shooting the Image — Perilous Posture of a Woman — Burying the 
Image — Wa-Kan Ton-Ka — Another Kind of Indian Doctor — The Prophets — 
Their Functions and Egotism — Reception of War Parties — Painting and Dye- 
ing Scalps — Dancing the Scalps — How the Ceremony is Performed — Gourd 
Rattles — A Mistaken Theory about Scalp Dancing — What Becomes of the 
Scalp after it is Danced — How the Warrior Wears it — The Eagle's Feather 
with a Red Spot — The Red and Black Hand — The Medicine Men of the 
M'Dewankantonwan Tribe — Freemasonry of the Oanktahee — Initiation of 
a Medicine Man— ^A Severe Ordeal — Description of the Ceremony — Chants of 
the Medicine Men*— Their Translation — An Absurd Conceit — What a Medi- 
cine Bag is Made out of — The Contents of one Exposed. 

CHAPTER XL.— Old Indian Deeds— Rascality of White Men — Jonathan Carver's 
Deed — How the Indians are Cheated out of their Lands — Indian Signa- 
tures — Deeds and Conveyances to Ducharme — Cheap Landi — Bitter Recol- 
lections — Why the Sioux are Distrustful of the White Men. 


CHAPTER XLI.— How the Indians Compute Time— No Months in their Year- 
Number and Designation of their Moons — A Superstition about the Evil Spirits 
Eating Up the Moon — How the Great Spirit Replaces it — The Dog Dance — 
Why it is Seldom Performed — Manner of Performing the Ceremony — Eating 
Raw Dog — What Part the Squaws get — In whose honor Dog Dances are Made — 
The Fish Dance — Origin of the Ceremony — The Sioux Chief — A Singular 
Dream — Mode of Conducting the Fish Dance — No One but Chiefs Entitled to 
80 Great an Honor. 

CHAPTER XLII.— Ma-To-Sca's Saddle— How it was Made— My Anxiety to 
Possess it — Ma-To-Sca Refuses to Sell it — Efforts to get my Squaws to Make 
me a Saddle — The Result — Ma-To-Sca's Gun — The Gun Cover — How it was 

CHAPTER XLIII.— The Old Man— His Age— A Singular Person— A Jovial 
Party — Young Men and Women — Giving the Old Man his Last Smoke — What 
the Squaw said about Him — Death of the Old Man. 

CHAPTER XLIV.— Sioux Women— Their Life— Polygamy among the Sioux- 
Price of Wives — Courting a Sioux Girl — The Bride going to the Groom — 
Buying a Whole Family to get a Wife — What Constitutes an Accomplished 
Indian Wife — Labors of a Sioux Mother — Severe Treatment of Indian Wo- 
men — An Example of Indian Cruelty — Suicide among the Indians. 

CHAPTER XL v.— News from the War— Startling Intelligence— What the Indian 
Runner Said — Determine to Join the Union Army — Pack up and Leave for 
the States — Arrival at Fort Randall — Part with my Squaws — Their Return to 
their Tribe — Reach Omaha — Join the First Nebraska Cavalry — Col. Brown's 
Expedition — Hostile Sioux — Camping on the Republican — The Sioux Defeat 
Lieut. Murie — After the Indians — Our Camp on the Solomon — A Buffalo Bull 
in Camp — He Kills Two Horses — Death of the Buffalo — Eating dear Beef — 
What Col. Brown Said. 

CHAPTER XLVI.— Five Hundred Dollars Reward— Adventure of Sergeants Hiles 
and Rolla — A Dangerous Enterprise — Nelson and I Hunt for an Indian Vil- 
' lage — Perilous Position — The Discovery — The Flight — An Indian Trail — A 
Race for Life — Safe Return to Camp — Sergeant Hiles's Story — Death of 
Rolla — Corralled in a Snow Drift — A Narrow Escape— A Long Walk — All 
Right Once More. 

CHAPTER XLVII.— Hunting Wild Turkeys on the Medicine— The Lost Trail- 
Waiting for the Command — Bag a Fine Elk — Hunting for the Trail — Two. 
Indians — We Camp Out — An Adventure with Wolves — Cayotes and Buffalo 
Wolves — Nine Dead Wolves — The Fatal Leap — A Busy Night — On the 
March — The Trail Lost — Camp out Again — More Wolves — Cannibals — Strik- 
ing for Home — The Camp Found — In my own Tent — Pleasant Reflections and 

CHAPTER XLVIII. — Hunting my Pony on the Prairie — Caught by Indians- 
How I Fooled them — Waylaying the Stage-Coach — A Nice Occupation for a 
United States OflScer — A Disappointment to the Indians, but not to me — 
The Indians become Impatient and Leave — Left Behind — Running to the 
Ranche — The Coach— ^Its Condition — The Attack — The Result — Safe at the 

CHAPTER XLIX. — Capturing Two Sioux Warriors at Gilman's Ranche— My Pet 

Indians — War Dances and Songs — The Entrapped Ogallalas — Escape of the 
Warrior and Ponies — More Dancing — An Unpleasant Request — The Refusal 
— What Came of it — Springer's Advice — Fate of the Two Sioux — Their Hero- 
ism and Endurance — Terrible Barbarity of Savages — What They Had to Say 
about it. 


CHAPTER L. — Guarding Jack Morrow's Ranchc — An Adventure with Wood- 
haulers — Campaigning Along the Platte — My Indian Soldiers — How we 
Opened the Stable — What the Wood-haulers said About It — A Surprise — Sad 
Attempt at Joking— Fixing Up Jack Morrow's Property — Off for Omaha. 

CHAPTER LI. — Massacre of Cottonwood Canyon — The Scurvy among the Troops 
— Lack of Anti-Scorbutics — They Arrive at Last — The Doctor's Advice— 
The Plum Grove — Captain Mitchell's Party — The Indian Attack — Escape of 
Wise — Death of Rentz — A Race for Life — Corralled — Unfortunate Accidents — 
Perilous Position of Captain Mitchell — Spotted Tail — Discovery of Ander- 
son — A Desperate Battle — Death of Anderson — Indian Barbarity — Massacre 
of the Sick Men — The Escape and Pursuit — A Bootless Chase. 

CHAPTER LII.— Captain Hancock's Adventure with the Sioux— The Stage Coach 
Attack — Death of Cinnam in — A Western Stage Driver — What he did when 
the Coach was Attacked —The Dead Horse — A Predicament. — Amputation 
of a Leg — How to fight Sioux Indians — Off for the Ranche — A Funeral Pro- 
cession — Arrival at Gilman's — All Aboard — Off Again — Burial of Cinnamon 
— Recovery of the Wounded — The Sioux Trail — The Signs — Where they went. 

CHAPTER LIII.— General Sully's Expedition against the Sioux— The March up 
the Missouri — Arrival at Fort Sully — Old Keg, the Guide — Inhumanity of his 
Tribe — Scouting for Indians — Hot Weather — The Indians Found — Race for 
the Battle-field — A Desperate Battle — Horrible Treatment of the Wounded— 
Lieut. Levitt — His Desperate Encounter with Squaws — A Night of Horrors- 
Death of Lieut. Levitt — Escape of the Savages — The Pursuit — Their Dead and 
Wounded — Loss of the Whites. 

CHAPTER LIV. — An Indian Attack — Attempt to Rescue the Prisoners — Lieu4 
Bayne's Scout — The Warning— Mistaken Pride — Surrounded by Savages— 
A Desperate Situation — Bayne's Irresolution — A Brave Sergeant — Dreadful 
Charge — Fighting for Life — The Command Saved — The Sergeant's Horse 
Wounded — He is Left Behind — Ingratitude of his Comrades — Noble Sacri- 
fice — Heroism of the Sergeant — He Kills Eight Indians — Death of the Ser- 
geant — The Return to Camp— Bayne's Report — Honors to the Dead Sergeant's 

CHAPTER LV. — Scouting on the Republican — Hiding along the Creeks — Sally 
out to Kill a Buffalo— The Wounded Calf— Hunting Buffalo with two In- 
dians — Race after the Herd — Another Frightened Herd — The Cause of its 
Alarm — Perilous Situation — Hiding in the Bluffs — Returning to Camp— Un- 
expected Game — Some Steaks after all — A Hasty Supper — The Flight— Safe 
in Camp. 

CHAPTER LVI. — Appointed a Second Lieutenant in the Regular Army — Go to 
Washington — Call upon my Old Friends in Ohio— Join my Company — Hunting 
Deserters — With General Sweitzer — Extraordinary Sportsmanship — Prairies on 
Fire — A Beautiful Sight — Indian Attack on Lieut. M'Carthy's Command — The 
Phil Kearney Massacre Ground — Lieut. Shirly's Indian Battle — March to 
his Relief — Scouting on the Powder River — A Storm — Blue Skies again — The 
Crow Indians — A Nation of Beggars — Noble Chiefs — Return to the Fort. 

CHAPTER LVII.— Garrison Life — Hunting Rocky Mountain Sheep — A Chase 
after Indians — How they Carry Off their Dead — Siege of McPherson's Train — 
The Relief— Joy of the Rescued— The Battle-field— March Homeward— The 
Deserted Lodge^Indians Again — Wolves and the Old Buffalo Bull — At Phil 
Kearney — Basache, the Runner — Her History — How She Killed the Bear — 
Why She Received her' Name. 

CHAPTER LVIII.— Indian Alarms— The Sioux— Standing to Arms- Attack on 
the Wood-choppers — Battle at Piney — Death of the Wood-choppers — Pursu- 
ing the Indians — They Won't Fight the Soldiers — Another Alarm — Fire— 

12 CONTEi^TS. 

Suspicions of Treachery — To Fort Reno and Back — New Year's in Camp — The 
Indians on the Hills — A Council — Speech of Dr. Matthews to the Chiefs — 
Their Reply — The Council Ends in Smoke and Bad Blood — Trading with the 
Indians — A Bridal Robe — The Upper and Lower Crows — Basache Determines 
to Leave Me — She Goes to Join her Tribe. 

CHAPTER LIX.— Red Cloud About>-Basache Returns— She is Tired of being 
a Chiefs Daughter with Nothing to Eat — Indian Articles of Value — Their 
Price — Letters from Home — Startling News — A Curious Ceremony — Chris- 
tening an Indian Child — Superstition about Crying — The Dog Law — Indiana 
Eating Dogs — An Amusing Occurrence — No Favor among Curs — The Spring 
Coming — Bird Shooting. 

CHAPTER LX.— The Sioux Threaten Fort Kearney— Attack on Infantry-men— 
Run into the Fort — General Smith's Interview with the Sioux — Who they Were 
and what they Said — A Cavalry Scare — The Indians Encamp Near the Fort— 
Their Defiance — A Train Signaled — We Go out to Meet it — Corralled by In- 
dians — Desperate Situation — A Fight — Twenty against Two — A Struggle for 
Life — The Gates of the Fort Thrown Open — Saved — Punishment of the In- 
dians — Return to Friends — A Joyful Evening. 

CHAPTER LXI.— My Army Duties— Troubles— Customs of Service— The Written 
and Unwritten Law — Modern Slavery — Perplexities of a Young Officer's Life— 
Guard Mounting — Old Army Officers — Mildness of their Manners — How they 
Treat Young Officers — Venerable Buffers — Guard Ceremony — The Officer of the 
Guard — Post Adjutants — Old and New Guards — Relieving the Guard — Posting 
the Sentinels — Minuteness of Military Duty — Errors — The Punishment. 

CHAPTER LXII. — The Regular Army — Its Use in Settling and Developing the 
Country — How Army People Live, and what they Do — Occupation of New 
Lines of Country — The Regular Army on the March — Camping Out — What is 
Carried, and how Soldiering is done in Peace Times — Building Forts — Get- 
ting Up Supplies — Fighting Indians — Settling the Country — What the Cavalry 
Does — Hardships of a Soldier's Life — The Uncertainties of Service — What 
Army Officers are Paid. 

CHAPTER LXIII. — Further Accountof how Indians Get their Names — Mock-Pe- 
Lu-Tah— Ta-Shunk-Ah-Ko-Ke-Pah-Pe— Cin-Ta-Gel-Les-Sca, Spotted Tail's 
Daughter — Closed Hand — White Forehead — No Knife — Superstition among 
the Crows about Tails — Tickling a Crow Girl, and what Came of it — Basache 
— Ba-Ra-We-A-Pak-Peis — Pen-Ke-Pah — Leaving the Powder River Coun- 
try — Arrival at Reno, Fetterman, and Fort Steele — Return to Fetterman — 
Fine Hunting. 

CHAPTER LXIV.— The Shoshonee Indians— Their First Introduction to the 
Whites — Lewis and Clarke's Expedition up the Missouri in 1806 — Their 
Reception by the Snakes — Their Early History and Possessions — Wars of the 

Snakes — Their Allies : the Bannocks — Where the Bands of Snakes Roam 

Washakie's Band — His Reservation — How he Keeps his Treaties — Good 
Indians — What is Likely to Become of Washakie and his People. 

CHAPTER LXV.-The Powder River Country-Its Occupation by Troops in 
1866— The Reasons for Occupying it— Cause of the Indian War that Fol- 
wv .~L^^t?'^^x.^°'^°^°^^^® ^'^ ^^'■^ Territory— Treatment of the Indians— 
What should be Done with Them-The Crow Tribe— Settling Indians on 
Reservations- How it has Worked— Civilization or Starvation the onlv Re- 
sult-Our Duty-Contests with Indians in 1866-67-The Phil Kearney Massa- 
cre— The Powder River Country Described— Climate, Soil, Minerals, and 
Game— The Great Canyon of Big Horn— Rocky Mountain Sheep— Aericult* 
ral Capacity of the Big Horn Country. * ^ 


CHAPTER LXVI.— The Lands West of Powder River and North of the Snake 
Lands — The Climate and Grazing in Montana — Indians and Hunting Grounds 
— An Indian Battle — The Chiefs Daughter — Indian Camps along Bowlder 
Creek — How Savages Amuse Themselves — The Crow Nation — A Tribe of Gour- 
mands and Beggars — Pride and Ignorance of the Savages — The Roads in Mon- 
tana — Some Remarks on Trade, Streams and Forts — Trout Fishing — No Hard 
"Wood beyond the Rocky Mountains — Montana Mountains — Gold Fields — 
Their Yield — Mines and Mining — New Discoveries — Characteristic Letters — 
Expensive Living — Isolated Position of Montana — Her Future Farming 
Lands — Co>»l Fields — The Inhabitants of Montana — Their Peculiarities and 

I. — An Indian Elopement. 
II. — Thr Hunter's Dream. 

Ill Jim Baker. 

IV. — The Magio Circle on the Prateik. 
V. — Striking the Post. 



Assiniboiue Warrior, . . . . , , , , , ' . au 

Belden, rrontisplece 

Buffalo Chase, 57 

Bows, Arrows, and Quivers, . . . . . . . , .113 

Body Robe, 124 

Buffalo Head-Dress, . . 118 

Beaded Moccasins, . . . . . . • • . ..154 

Bear Band, • . . .156 

Baby Asleep, ........... 159 

Basache, . . . . .885 

Crow Head-Dress, .......... 158 

Capturing two Sioux Warriors, ........ 338 

Death of Atchafalaya, ......... 481 

Eagle Head-Dress, 150 

Escape of Atchafalaya, ......... 47tt 

Fine Pipe, 130 

Flagging the Antelope, '" , .171 

Fight in the Old Cabin 258 

Gun Case, ............ 296 

Indian Village on the March, . . . . . . . .41 

Indian Burying-CJround, ......... 85 

Indian Lodges, . . . . , . . . . , .97 

Indian Axes and Clubs, ' . . . , , . - . . .117 

Indian Warrior with Club, . . . . . . . . .119 

Indian and his Pipe, 128 

2 (xv) 


Indian Duel, . . . . . . . . . . .160 

Indian Saddle 2M 

Jim Baker's Bear Fight, 495 

Keep off, , 203 

Let the Father be Silent and Hear, ..... 69 

Lieut. Levitt's Adventure with the Squaws, . . . ... 363 

Mourning for the Dead, ......... 77 

Modern War Club U9 

Modern Indian Pipe, .120 

Matosca's Saddle, 295 

Murder of Ed. Bentz 815 

Old Stone Arrow Heads, . 108 

Pawnee Spear, . . . . . . . . . . .120 

Practicing with Bow and Spear, ........ 121 

Pipe, 129 

Preserved Scalp, .......... 140 

Right-foot Moccasins, . 163 

Bioux Warrior with Spear, ......... 120 

Skinning the Buffalo, . . . . . . . . .125 

Sioux Necklace, 138 

Scalping-Knlfe and Sheath, . 140 

Silver Long Tall and Scalp Feather, 142 

Sioux Ear-Riug, 155 

Saved, 218 

Striking the Post, 600 

Tomahawk Pipe, .......... 180 

Tobacco Pouch, . . . . . ' . . • . . .184 

Trader and Indian, 186 

Twenty vs. Two, .......... 406 

Wampum. 126 

Belden: The White Chief. 








"FT is no very difficult task for me, at one hundred yards, to 
-*- send a rifle-ball against the head of a brass nail, or to cut 
with an arrow, at half the distance, the string that suspends a 
squirrel by the tail ; but the pen is a weapon with which my 
hand has long been unfamiliar. It matters little where a man 
may have been born in this country, or what his earlier life 
may have been; for Americans consider more what men are 
than what they have been. To those who read these pages, 
and who may be curious to know, I will, however, say I was 
born in the good State of Ohio, and, at the age of thirteen, 
ran away from my parents to seek my fortune in the then 
almost unknown West. 

The wild life I have led, and the many adventures T have 
passed through, may seem almost incredible to those accus- 
tomed to living in civilized communities; yet I can assure the 


20 belden: the white chief. 

reader that, although there is a great deal of romance, there is 
no fiction in these chapters, and that what I am about to re 
late is as much every-day life among the wild Indians of tlie 
plains as is the business of the merchant or banker, who goes 
regularly to his counter and desk in the great city. 

How I got from Ohio to Nebraska is my own affair. Suf- 
fice it to say, that I was not yet fourteen years of age when 
I arrived at Brownsville, then a small hamlet of log houses. 
Here, on the banks of the murky Missouri, I first saw the 
" Great West." Emigrants were pouring in from the States ; 
and, filled with the idea of the future wealth and importance 
of this broad land, I made haste to write to my father, de- 
scribing the valley, and urging him to move out. That he 
thought well of what I said, and relied somewhat on my 
judgment, is evinced by the fact that he came with his family 
and settled in Nebraska, where now stands the city of Browns- 

My father had once learned the printing trade, and our first 
enterprise was to establish a weekly newspaper, called the 
^^ Nemaha Valley Journal" It was a sickly affair, but 
through its influence many a well-to-do farmer was induced 
to leave his home in the States to try his fortune in the Far 
West; and of all who came, not one, I believe, regrets the 
day he left the East. Many of them now count their herds 
by thousands and number their acres by miles of land, while 
all who have labored and practiced economy own beautiful 
homes, and 'have abundant wealth. 

In two short years brick houses began to appear; the buf- 
falo, game, and Indians were gone, and I felt Brownsville was 
no longer my home. I burned for adventure, and when our 
little weekly paper was announced as a " daily," I knew it was 


time for me to be oif. I wished to see the mountains covered 
with perpetual snow ; I longed to chase the buffalo and wild 
deer over boundless plains. I wanted to dress as a trapper, 
and live in the open air. far away from the habitations of 
men. The case and the setting of type being no longer toler- 
able, I flung down my stick, and, seeking my father, told him 
of my craving for wild life and adventure. I was a sickly 
boy, and, naturally, he endeavored to dissuade me from my 
purpose to cast myself loose on the prairies. Finding I could 
not gain his consent, I determined to run away once more; 
and, consulting with a friend, I begged him to buy me a 
horse. In two days I had a stout pony, saddle, and bridle 
concealed in the stable of a Mr. Hill, and awaiting my order. 
My rifle and revolvers, which had already become my familiar 
companions and most trusted friends, were carefully cleaned, 
oiled, and laid away. I overhauled my shot-pouch, and pur- 
chased a good supply of powder, ball, and caps. All these 
warlike preparations did not escape the attention of my good 
mother and sisters, who anxiously inquired what I meant to 
do. God forgive me for the story I told them, but I desired 
only to avoid giving them pain, and said I intended taking a 
short hunt some day on the prairies. It is now many years 
ago, but that short hunt is not yet ended, and, probably, 
n«ver will be until death ends the hunter. 

It was a beautiful starlight night when I stole down the 
stairs, and, quietly opening the street door, stepped into the 
open air. For a moment I paused on the threshold, and an in- 
tense desire to go back seized me. I wished to look once more 
on the faces of my dear mother and sisters. Should I ever 
see them again? Ah, who could tell? I stood irresolute, but 
the sound of approaching footsteps on the street aroused me, 


and, cnighing down the great lump in my throat, I brushed 
'aside the gathering tears I could not suppress, and hastened 
to the stable where my horse was concealed. 

To saddle and bridle him, mount and gallop out of the 
town, was the work of but a few minutes. On the rising 
ground overlooking the city I paused for one last look of 
home. How quietly the houses lay in the moon-light! how 
peacefully the hundreds slept ! And is it not strange that I, a 
mere boy, was possessed of a restless spirit that would not let 
me sleep, that was driving me from home, plenty, and friends 
to the wilderness, to take upon myself hardships, privations, 
and dangers that, if foreseen, Avere well calculated to appall 
the stoutest hearts? I said, "O, fool, how long?" and turn- 
ing my horse's head to the northward, plunged my spurs into 
his sides, causing him to rear wildly, and then bound furiously 
over the broad prairie. 

The die was cast; a life of adventure decided upon, and I 
was off for the boundless plains, where the buffalo roamed at 
will; where I could hunt the elk, and trap the beaver; dwell 
in a wigwam, and make my home with the children of the 
" Great American Desert." 






TjlAST and furious I rode forward, never pulling rein until I 
-*- arrived at Nebraska City, then a small village, though 
now a considerable place. Halting to rest for an hour or two, I 
suddenly remembered that my parents had friends in the town, 
and that a telegraph ran from there to Brownsville, and, fear- 
ing lest I should be telegraphed or taken charge of by rela- 
tives, I mounted my pony, and, striking boldly out on the 
prairie, kept in what I supposed the direction to Omaha, and 
just as the sun was going down I saw the city, and by dark was 
in it, having ridden eighty-five miles in less than twenty- four 
hours. The heat had visibly affected me, and I felt fatigued, 
though my tough little pony seemed fresh almost as when 
starting. Opposite Omaha is Council Bluffs, so named from a 
famous Sioux Indian council once held in the hills above the 
city ; and feeling 1 should be more secure there than in Omaha, 
I crossed the Missouri and put up at a small and obscure hotel. 


It was now late at night, and I was completely exhausted. 
Putting the pony in the stable, and seeing him well supplied 
with hay, I went to bed and slept for many hours, until the 
sun shining through the window awoke me, and, hastily dress- 
ing myself* I breakfasted and sallied out to see the town and 
buy some more ammunition. I had determined to stay several 
days at the Bluffs, but, while standing in a store, I saw a 
neighbor from Brownsville pass, and, imagining he was looking 
for me, I slipped out, and, going to the hotel, saddled my pony 
and departed in haste. 

I had purchased many shells, beads, ribbons, and pieces of 
colored cloths, to trade with the Indians, and with great diffi- 
culty managed to carry them along. 

Following up the eastern bank of the Missouri, I passed 
over high hills, through deep caflons, across wide meadows and 
prairies, and climbed precipitous bluffs. It was in August, 
that season of the year when the prairie strawberry is ripe. 
The ground, at times, for miles was covered with this delicious 
fruit, and many were the halts I made to rest my pony and 
gather the luscious berries. 

I was riding to reach a hunter^s cabin, forty miles up the 
Missouri, but the day was hot, and I made slow progress. 
Night came down upon the prairies, and still no cabin was in 
sight. It soon became so dark I could with difficulty follow 
the trail, and was about to give up all effort to go further and 
camp on the prairies, when my pony pricked up his ears and 
set off at a gallop. 

I gave him rein, and he traveled rapidly on what seemed to 
be a well-beaten wagon road. Suddenly halting, so as nearly 
to pitch me over his head, the little fellow began snorting and 
exhibiting unusual signs of terror. I held him firmly, and, 

eelden: the white chief. 26 

although I strained my eyes, it was so dark that I could see 
nothing. While I was endeavoring to force the beast forward, 
a rough voice close by my stirrup inquired : 

" AVho are you, and where are you going ? '' 

" A man going to Sioux City, and looking for a cabin here- 
abouts," I answered. 

"All right," replied the voice; "follow me." 

" Do you live near by ? " I inquired. 

" Yes ; come along." 

Thus urged, I rode on ip silence, and presently entered a 
patch of timber, where I saw a light shining among the trees. 
In a few minutes we were before the door of a hut, and my 
companion, with a blufP "Get down, stranger," entered the 

I did not like the movements of my host; but, dismounting, 
followed him into a snug room, the walls and floor of which 
were completely covered with the ftirs of wild animals. Softer 
than any carpet were the white wolf skins beneath our feet, and 
the walls were rich with the beautiful coverings of antelope 
and red deer, while in the corners were antlers of elk, on which 
hung clothing, shot-pouches, and Indian bead-work. 

By the light of a rag burning in a saucer of grease, I saw 
my host was a large, powerfully-built man, with bushy black 
beard, and a big, honest face. In a moment I felt perfectly at 
ease, for I knew I was in the home of a hardy frontier's-man, 
than whom no honester or braver men ever lived. 

" Darned if I did n't take you for a half-breed at first," he 
said, laughing heartily ; and then added, " "Where on earth are 
you going to, youngster?" 

" To Sioux City," I replied. 

"Got friends there?" 


" No ; only on a pleasure trip." 

" AVell, yon 're after fun, sure, and if you do n't look out 
you '11 get it," said my host, breaking out into an immoderate 
fit of laughter. 

"What news have you?" I inquired. 

" News enough," said my host, growing serious. " Have n't 
you heard that the red devils have broke loose again, and are 
just murderin' every body above here? But hold on till I put 
your pony up, and get you a bite to eat, and then, while we 
smoke, I'll tell you all about it.". 

Here he rose to his feet, and, uttering a loud shrill whistle, 
an Indian squaw came in at the door, and my host, saying 
something to her in the Indian tongue, went out. 

The squaw, with noiseless tread, moved about the room, 
making a fire, cutting meat, and putting the coffee on to boil, 
never once seeming to notice my presence. In a few minutes 
the host returned, and, seating himself, began : " You see, them 
Sioux of the upper country had a big pow-wow with the Min- 
neconja Sioux, and they all have agreed to go to war. A party 
of the dirty, stealin' cusses were down at Randall the other 
day, and drew all their annuities and ammunition, and then 
went over to see the Yanktons, and get them to join in the 
war. I tell you, they are bound to give us thunder this fall, 
and swear they will clear every white off the Missouri before 
spring. They say we must leave ; but I reckon I 'm too old a 
duck to get skeered at a darned Sioux." 

So he talked on until the squaw had cooked the supper and 
set it out on the floor, using a white blanket for a table-cloth. 
The repast was a hearty one of boiled corn, fried elk, 'coon 
meat, and corn bread. The coffee was poured into tin-cups, 
and the host, rising, said : " Come and eat." Seating himself 


opposite to me, on a corner of the blanket, he drew his knife 
from a sheath by his side, and, looking at me, inquired if I had 
any eating tools. I told him I had a knife and fork in my 
saddlebags, and, with the remark, " Better get 'em," he cut off 
a large slice of the elk and commenced eating. Having secured 
my knife and fork, I ate heartily, for I was very hungry. 
^ Picking up the tin cup, I took a sup of coffee, and was obliged 
to spit it out to keep from scalding my mouth. 

" Darned hot, aint it ? " said my host, bursting into a loud 

Instinctively I looked at the squaw, but not a smile, not 
even a muscle moved in her stolid face. An Indian, unless 
addressed, never laughs or notices what happens to others. 

When supper was over, my host filled a long-stemmed pipe, 
and pointing with the stem toward the sky, turned it to the 
earth, and ejaculating " How ! Wa-con Tan Ka ! " (Good, Oh 
God!) handed it to me. Supposing the pipe was for me to 
smoke, I thanked him, and began pulling away at the fragrant 
tobacco. Looking at him, I saw an angry scowl on his face, 
and he said, roughly, " Guess you 've smoked enough." I 
handed the pipe back quickly, asking, "Did you not fill it 
for me?" "Yes," he replied, "but it is a peace pipe, and 
not for much smoke."* I now saw that this white man was 

* Indians, when assembled together in council of friendship, use the 
peace pipe. They never use but one pipe, all sitting in a circle, and the 
f man on the right smoking first. Each Indian takes three or four puffs and 
then passes the pipe to the Indian on his left. When it reaches the last 
Indian on the left, it is passed across to the Indian on the right, and com- 
mences its journey again. No Indian will smoke a pipe coming from the 
left, unless it is the Indian from whom the pipe started, who receives it 
from the man on the extreme left of the circle. 


imbued with some of the strange customs of his savage neigh- 
bors, and, fearing to offend him, said nothing. 

The squaw moved about so noiselessly that I did not hear her 
remove the dishes, but, on looking around, they were all gone, 
and the blanket taken up. How she had cleared away the 
things, without so much as josthng a dish, I could not conjeo- 
ture, and I feared to give offense by making inquiries, though 
I was burning with curiosity to learn more of this strange 

" So you are going to Sioux City ? " abruptly inquired the 
host, after having remained quiet for half an hour. 

" Yes," I replied ; and guessing he wished to know the ob- 
ject of my visit, added : " I 'm going on up to the Yanktons, 
and, perhaps, as far as the Santee village." 

*' What," he inquired, rising to his feet, and eyeing me 

" I 'm going to the Yanktons to live and trade," I answered. 

" You '11 be scalped, as sure as thunder." 

" Tell me all about the Indians' actions." 

"Their what?" 

" What they have been doing of late." 

"Well," he replied, filling up and handing me a pipe, 
" that 's what I was going to do. You see, the brutes came 
down to the settlement across the river, and after getting 
something to eat, killed all they could. They said they were 
hungry, and while one old man was giving an Indian some 
bread another one shot him. They went into one man's 
house, and after eating at his table, shot him dead and carried 
off his wife. The fact is, they stole all they could, killed all 
they could, and then went up to the fort and traded off their 


" What did they do with the woman ? " I inquired, all my 
sympathies aroused. 

" Do with her ! " he exclaimed. " Why, kept her to gamble 
with, of course." 

"How's that?'* I pursued. 

" I guess you aint been much on the frontier," he repl'ed, 

I admitted that such was the case, and he said : 

" You see, when they take a white woman they gamble her 
off every day until she gets pretty much passed round the 
tribe, and then she is turned over to the squaws, who kill her, 
because they're always jealous of white women." 

I could not help shuddering at the thought of a fate so 
terrible, and paid little more attention to what he said. 

Feeling tired, I asked where I would sleep, and, my host 
pointing to a corner of the room, I spread down my blankets 
and soon fell asleep. 

At dawn of day I was awakened by a loud pounding at the 
door, and my host, springing from a pile of buffalo robes in 
the opposite corner of the room, went to see what was the 

He soon learned that a party of miners had come down 
the Missouri from the Yellowstone, in Mackinaw boats, and 
seeing his hut from the river, had tied up and came over to 
find out who lived there, and how far they were from Omaha. 

My host promptly opened the door and cordially welcomed 
the strangers. After a hearty breakfast, we went to the river 
and saw the boatmen off. As they shoved out from shore 
my host looked wistfully after the boat, and said: "Howl 
do wish I had all the robes and beaver skins them fellows 
have ; I 'd leave this tarnal country if I had." 


" Did you hear any thing more of the Indians ? " I in 

" No, they did n*t see any," he answered ; " but, depend 
upon it, they 're not far off." 

" Will your pony eat corn ? " he inquired. 

" I do n't know," I replied. 

" Well, we '11 try him." And ordering the squaw to bring 
him the corn bag, he took from the limited household store 
about two quarts, and carried it to the stable, where I saw 
a superb hunting horse and two splendid hounds, who leaped 
upon their master and licked his hands and face. 

" Do you not feed your own horse with corn ? " I inquired. 

"No, we can't afford it," he replied ; ^* but if you are goin' 
to Sioux City, your nag will need something stronger than 

Returning to the cabin, we found the breakfast cleared 
away and the squaw chopping wood. 

I talked an hour with my new-found friend, and then, sad- 
dling my pony, proposed to be off. I wanted to pay my host 
for what I had received from him, but the kind-hearted man 
refused, saying to me : " Keep your money, young man, for 
you will need it. We never charge here for what little we 
have to give travelers." 

Cordially thanking him for his hospitality, I spurred up 
my pony, who sprang down the little knoll on which the 
cabin was built, and galloped over the prairie. It was a 
bright morning, and the air was ftesh and bracing. Millions 
of beautiful flowers covered the ground for miles, and their 
perfume filled the air. It was a glorious sight, and my' 
pony, seeming to partake of my spirits, went forward at a 
r.ipid pace. 


It was high noon when I halted for an hour to graze the 
pony and eat a few slices of dried beef — ^the only lunch I had. 

At sundown I reached Sioux City, sixty-five miles distant 
from where I had started in the morning. 

I remained at Sioux City a day, and learned during that 
time that the Sioux had been again to see the Yanktons, and 
it was believed the Yanktons were going to war against the 
whites. Not a little dismayed at this intelligence, I set for- 
ward, and after two days' hard riding arrived at Fort Randall. 
I had seen some Indian squaws on the road, going to Yankton, 
on the Missouri, to trade, but being ignorant of the Indian 
tongue could not converse with them. 

At Randall I found a Frenchman, named La Frombe, who 
lived with the Indians, and, joining him, we set out for the 
Yankton tribe. 

In one month after turning Indian, with the aid of my 
friend La Frombe, I had mastered the language so I could 
speak Sioux quite fluently. I liked the wild life of the In- 
dians, and built me a house in the village, composed of nine 
poles and ten robes. 

I had now been in the village nearly two months, and, as it 
was drawing near to the time when the Indians would go on 
their fall hunt for winter provisions, I expressed to La Frombe 
my determination to join the hunt and remain through the 
winter. He said it would be best for me to regularly join 
the tribe, and offered to see the chief about the matter. I 
agreed to leave all to my friend, and do as he advised. Two 
days later Frombe came to me and said it was all arranged. 
I was to be received into the tribe at the next full moon, and 
was to have the squaw, Washtella, for a wife. This was more 
than I had bargained for, and I told La Frombe that I did 


not want a squaw ; but he said it was best to do as the chiel 
wished, if I remained in the tribe. It was two weeks yet 
until the moon was full, so I promised La Frombe I would 
think over the matter. 

One evening soon afterward Frombe came to my lodge, and 
said he would take me to see my sweetheart. I followed him, 
and we went out of the village to where some girls were 
watching the Indian boys play at ball. Pointing to a good- 
looking Indian girl, Frombe said : " That is Washtella." 

" Is she a good squaw ? " I inquired. 

" Very," he replied. 

" But perhaps she will not want to marry me," I said. 

" She has no choice," he answered, laughing. 

" But her parents," I interposed ; " will they like this kind 
of proceeding ? " 

" The presents you are expected to make them will be more 
acceptable than the girl," he answered. 

I did not feel at ease, but determined to follow my friend's 
sdvice, and obey the chiefs wishes in all things. The day 
of the full moon came, and with it my nuptials and adoption. 
[ made the usual presents, and received a wife in return.* 

La Frombe gave me a nice new lodge-cover of tanned elk 
and bufialo hides; and, pitching my house in the midst of the 
village, I settled down to the business of a warrior of the first 
class. • 

* The marriage, funeral, baptism, christening, and other ceremonies of 
the Indians, will be described in a chapter devoted to that purpose. 

belden: the white chief. 33 





I HAD not lived long with the Indians before I perceived 
a jealousy growing up in the tribe against me. Many of 
the old men were my friends, but the young warriors liated 
and despised me. There were many reasons for their dislike, 
for, not only was my squaw the handsomest woman in the 
nation, but I could run, ride, or s^oot with the best young 
Indian, and I did much of my own work, and carried wood 
and water for little Washtella, which the young warriors 
thought was a degrading thing for a man to do. But Wash- 
tella was one of the kindest and best of women, and I really 
liked this wild maid of the forest, and, as is common among 
white men, I was willing to work for my wife. So I pre- 
tended not to see the sneers of the young Indians, and kept 
close to my lodge, for Washtella was teaching me her lan- 

One evening, while lying on the bed in my teepee, I I: card 
a great beating of drums and rattling of gourds in the lower 


end of the camp, and asked Washtella what it all ment. Sht 
replied : 

"The big medicine man calls the warriors to the medicine 

"What for, Washtella?'' 

"To make arrows; then go on a big hunt; kill heap blif 
falo," she replied. 

Gathering my blanket about my shoulders (for I had now 
ceased to wear a coat or vest), I strode out of my lodge and 
made my way to the medicine lodge. Arrived there, I savt 
a number of old men seated around the walls of the lodge, and 
looking very solemn. One old Indian made room for me by 
his side, and I sat down on the ground, crossing my leg, and 
saying not a word. No women or children are allowed to 
enter the medicine lodge, and so none were present. We sat as 
silent as Quakers for half an hour, the drums and gourds 
meanwhile rattling vigorously without. The lodge now was 
full, and a great crowd of Indians, who could not get in, were 
assembled about the door. 

Presently, all the chiefs having come, the drums ceased to 
beat, and the medicine man (there is but one to each tribe) 
arose and built a small fire in the center of the lodge. Cast- 
ing on some brambles and a few light branches of wood as 
soon as it began to blaze, he harangued the crowd, telling 
them it was good time to go on a hunt, and that every sign 
in the sky and on the earth was favorable to their success. 
His speech was pretty long, and outlasted the fire, which 
burned down so low he had to rekindle it at the close of hia 

When it burned bright again he began to chant an invoca- 
tion to the Great Spirit, in which he asked blessings from 


We-tou-ka (God) on the hunters, the game they killed, and 
on the guns, bows, arrows, knives, and ponies. He begged 
most earnestly that the hunters might be permitted to find 
plenty of buffalo, and that they might be successful in killing 
them, so that all the Indians would be fat and comfortable 
during the coming winter. The deep solemnity and reverence 
manifested by the Indians while this prayer was being offered 
up exceeded any thing of the kind I had ever witnessed 
among white men. Not a sound was heard within, and the 
crowd without stood with bowed heads and outstretched necks, 
anxious to catch every word of the great medicine man. 

Taking a bunch of scented grass, he strewed it over the 
coals, when it emitted a sweet perfume, which completely filled 
the lodge and almost intoxicated the senses. While burning 
the grass, he chanted a wild song, keeping time with his foot. 
At length, sitting down, he tossed blades of grass on the fire, 
and the chiefs and warriors arose, and, moving to the left 
around the fire, kept slow time and step to the monotonous 
beating of the drum, which had struck up again. 

When this had continued for some time, the leading chief 
laid on the fire a new arrow, which was gaudy with feathers 
and paint, and had a bright steel point. Then, the next chief 
in rank selected a fine arrow and threw it in the flames; so 
every chief and warrior did, when, seeing La Frombe cast in 
his arrow, I felt badly, for I had none, having come to see 
arrows made instead of destroyed. 

I noticed that I was observed by the Indians, who kept 
going around the ciicle, although every one but myself had 
cast in his arrow, and I began not only to wish myself safe 
out of the lodge, but to wonder how I would get out, when, 
chancing to look around, I saw the next Indian in the circle 


behind me was the old man who had given me a seat when 
entering the lodge. I passed my hand back to him, when, 
seeming to understand what I wanted, he slipped, unobserved, 
a new arrow into my fingers, and, drawing it through as if 
from under my arm, I advanced and threw it into the flames. 
The pile of arrows was quite high, and a bright red flame 
leaped up nearly to the roof of the lodge, the dry shafts 
making a crackling noise as they burned. 

All the time the ceremony was going on, the medicine man 
sat by the fire, muttering to himself, and casting on scented 
grass. When each man had burned his arrow he left the 
lodge, and another warrior entered to replace him in the circle. 
Seeing my arrow consumed, I stepped out of the lodge, and 
went to ray teepee, as did the other warriors to theirs. 

It was now quite dark, and I found Washtella waiting 
supper for me. You may be curious to know how we lived 
in a wigwam, and I will tell you. We had no chairs, but sat 
on skins of wild animals laid on the ground. We had gourds 
for cups, and platters of both wood and tin. For food we had 
corn, prepared almost as hominy is in the States; then roast 
elk, boned buffalo, roast artichokes, flour, biscuit, buffalo tallow 
and water, and fried brains. We never used salt, as the In- 
dians abominate it. At first I could hardly live without it, 
but soon became accustomed to fresh victuals, and even now 1 
do not use a pound of salt in a year. Few Americans appre- 
ciate how much salt they eat — salt in every thing of food kind, 
and pounds of it. 

Coffee and tea, Washtella and I had none; but we had 
jjlenty of pure cold water, and I can assure you it is no bad 
substitute for the stronger beverage. 

I always spent my evenings at home, and I will tell you 


tl»ey were not unpleasant. While I shaved an arrow-shaft, 
Washtella made some pretty head-work, or braided a buffalo 
hide with porcupine quills. Then we talked; and Washtella 
told me the curious tales of her people; how they had once 
lived far to the east, and had a great war with a fierce tribe, 
who drove the Yanktons from their hunting grounds and forced 
them far up the Missouri. Then she told me how the tribe 
wasted away from many thousands to a few hundreds, and how 
their towns had once been seven in number, built of wood and 
clay, and the buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope came and grazed 
within sight of the villages. Once, too, there had been a great 
chief in their tribe, who was famous in war, and so skillful he 
slew or defeated all their enemies; and his name was so terrible, 
tliat he was feared every-where, and his people grew rich, and 
had many horses and much corn, and gave laws to all the other 
nations, who made presents and sent horses and corn, so they 
would not make war upon them. But the chief died, and then 
the fame of the nation decayed, and nobody feared them any 
longer or brought them corn or horses, but made war upon 
them and took away their horses and com. So my dark-eyed 
3ompanion, woman-like, rattled on with her tongue, now 
telling quaint stores of old times or curious legends of the 
lands where they had dwelt. The little maid was always 
cheerful, and made me tell of the great towns in which the 
pale faces live, and their tall houses where people slept far 
above the ground, all of which was very wonderful news to 

In the mellow fall days we walked in the wood, or I joined 
Ihe young men and played at ball. I must tell you how this 
game is played among the Indians, for it is curious. 

A great noise of shouting is heard in the camp, and the 

38 belden: the white chief. 

young men, with bat or club three feet long and crooked at 
the end, go out on the prairie near the camp. Having found 
a smooth spot they halt, and two of the youths, by common 
consent, take opposite sides and pick out the players, first one 
and then the other, until enough are had. 

One morning I heard the young men shouting for ball, and 
I went out with them to the play-ground. The two chiefs, 
A-ke-che-ta (Little Dog Soldier), and Ma-to-sac (White Bear), 
were picking sides, and a number of Indians were already 
seated facing each other, and bantering on the game. As each 
man was selected he spread down his buffalo robe and sat upon 
it, facing his opponent. I was selected by A-ke-che-ta, and 
silently took my place in the line. Presently all the young 
men who were to play were selected, and then several old men 
were appointed to act as umpires of the game. These advanced 
and seated themselves between the contestants, and then the 
warriors rose and commenced betting on the game. First one 
warrior advanced and threw down a robe before the old men; 
then a warrior from the other side came forward and laid a robe 
upon it ; and so all bet, one against the other. Presently there 
was a great number of piles of stakes, some having bet mocca- 
sins, head-dresses, bead-work, ear-rings, necklaces, bows and 
arrows, and even ponies. All these were carefully watched 
over by the old men, who noted each stake and the depositoi 
on a stick. If you did not wish to bet with any particular 
warrior you laid your wager on the big pile, and instantly it 
was matched by the judges against some article of corresponding 
value from the pile of the other side. Thus I bet a hunting- 
knife, half a pound of powder, a pair of moccasins, and a small 
hand-mirror, which articles were appropriately matched with 
others by the judges. All was now in readiness for the game 

belden: the white chief. 39 

to begin, and the parties separated. The two lines were formed 
about one hundred yards apart. In front of each side, twenty 
feet from each other, two stakes, smeared with paint, are driven 
firmly into the ground, and the object of the game is to drive 
the ball between the stakes. Whichever side shall first force 
the ball through the opposite stakes wins the game. The ball, 
•nade of rags and covered with buckskin, is carried to the center 
of the ground between the combatants, and there deposited, by 
one of the old men, who then returns to his post. The judges 
then give the signal, and with loud shouts the players run to 
the ball, and commence knocking it to and fro with their crooked 
sticks. The ball is about the size of a large orange, and each 
party tries to prevent its coming toward their stakes. No war- 
rior must touch the ball with his hands; but if it lies in a hole, 
he may push it out with his foot, and then hit it with his stick. 
In the game which I am telling you about, Ma-to-sac's party 
reached and struck the ball first, lifting it clear over our heads, 
and sending it far to our rear and close to our stakes. Then 
we all ran, and Ma-to-sac's and A-ke-che-ta's warriors fell over 
one another, and rapped each other on the shins with their 
clubs, and there was great confusion and excitement, but at 
length one of the party succeeded in hitting the ball, and 
sent it to Ma-to-sac's stakes. Thither we ran, but no one 
could find the ball. After much search, I discovered it in 
a tuft of grass, and, bidding one of our men run quickly 
to the stakes, I hit it arid drove the ball to him. Unfortu- 
nately, it fell in a hole, and before our Warrior could get it out 
and hit it, a dense crowd of Ma-to-sac*s men were around the 
spot and in front of the stakes. The contest was violent, so 
much so, indeed, that no one could hit the ball, though it was 

continually tramped over. At length some one called out, 



"There it goes," and the warriors scattered in all directions 
looking to see where it was; but one of Ma-to-sac's men, whc 
had called out, stood fast, and when the crowd had scattered, 
I saw him attempting to conceal the ball beneath his foot. 
Running against him from behind with such force as to throw 
him on his face, before he could recover his feet, I hit the ball, 
and, seeing all Ma-to-sac*s men off their guard, with the aid 
of a young man, easily drove it between their stakes, only a 
few yards distant.* 

The judges at once declared the game was ours, and many 
and loud were the cheers sent up by our party, in token of the 
victory, while Ma-to-sac's men retired sullen and disappointed. 
I was declared the winner, and A-ke-che-ta thanked me for 
my services, while the young warriors gathered around and 
congratulated me on my success. Then we all smoked, and 
went over to the stakes to receive our shares. As winner, I 
was entitled to a general share of the spoils; but I declined 
in favor of the young Indian who had helped me drive the 
ball, saying that, as he had last hit it, and actually forced it 
between the stakes, he was, in reality, the most deserving. 
This argument was loudly applauded by the old men, and the 
young warrior, who had not been friendly for some time with 
me, was so touched by my generosity that he came- and thanked 
me, saying frankly, "You, and not I, won the game.'* How- 

*In this game every one must keep his temper, and any stratagem is 
allowed, so the ball is not touched with the hands. It is not suffered, 
however, for any one to hit another over the head, or on the body with 
sticks or the hands, but if you can upset a gamester by running against 
him it is esteemed fair. When either party cheats, foul is called by the 
opposite party, when the game ceases until the judges decide the matter. 
If it is a foul play the game is given to the other side. No one thinks of 
disputing the judges' decision, and from it there is no appeal. 


ever, I forced the general stakes upon him, at which he was 
much pleased. I found that the stakes had won a saddle, half 
a pound of powder, six yards of wampum beads, and a hand- 
somely braided knife-scabbard. When the judges had awarded 
all the winnings, among which were fourteen ponies, each took 
up his trophies and returned to the village, where, for the 
remainder of the day, the game was fought over again ani 
again in the teepees. 

It was now four days since we had made buffalo medicii.e 
(burned the arrows), and the time to go upon the hunt had 
come. The chief, on the fourth evening, sent a crier through 
the village to notify all to be in readiness, and we at once begun 
packmg up our lodges, mending bows, and grinding knives,* 
etc. PoTes!, like shafts, were made for the ponies, and fastened 
across their backs by broad wampum belts at the small ends, 
while the large ends dragged on the ground. On these, 
behind the pony, were lashed robes and bedding, and cooking 
utensils; and on them sat the children. Even the dogs had 
packs to carry, which were tied on their backs with thongs of 
buffalo skin. The squaws walke:! and led the ponies, having 
charge of all the property and children, while the warriors, 
mounted on the best animals, rode ahead, behind, and on the 
flanks of the column, which, when drawn out, was several miles 
long — each pony following the one in front of him. So, we 
went on the great annual buffalo hunt. 

* The knives of Indians are generally ground on one siae, like a carpen- 
ter's chisel; and this is always done when going on buffalo hunts, as they 
are less liable to cut the skin when sharpened in that way. 






XT was a bright, clear morning when the whole village was 
-^ aroused by beating of drums, blowing of horns, and the 
barking of dogs. While the squaws cooked the breakfast, the 
warriors set about pulling down the lodges, and soon almost 
the whole village had disappeared. The few wigwams left 
standing were for the sick, the aged, and those who were too 
infirm to go on the hunt. Bidding good-bye to the Indians 
who were to remain, we set out, as gay a party as ever was 
seen seeking pleasure. 

Those first packed were first ofi*, and, as I was one of the 
laggards, when I pulled out, the column was streaming over 
the hills for miles ahead. 

I had two ponies, one for myself and the other for Wash- 
tella and our household goods. The cha-a-koo, or saddle, had 
been fastened to the little pony's back, and to this were tied 
our teepee, or lodge poles, three on each side. They were 
fastened by the small ends, and the large ends dragged on the 

belden: the white chief. 43 

ground. To prevent the poles from spreading apart, a cross- 
piece of dry wood was lashed with rawhide just behind the 
pony's hams. On the poles were piled our bedding, lodge 
covers, and cooking utensils, while the provisions in flesh-bags 
were slung across the pony's back. Some of the families who 
had children, slung wicker-baskets between the poles, and in 
these were put the papooses. The squaws walked and led the 
ponies, and the dogs and larger children trotted alongside. 
When tired, the squaws or children rode on the pony by 
turns, and one was on his back all the time. It is astonish- 
ing what burdens these little beasts can carry, and still keep 
fat and lively. I have frequently seen them travel hun- 
dreds of miles, loaded down almost out of sight, and thrive 
every day. They have greater powers of endurance than 
the mule. 

My spare pony was led by Washt^lla, who tripped joyfully 
along singing her Indian songs. One of these ran as 
follows : 

" Tish-ah, bo xnoak sa-nin 
Ma-mo, za na geezing 
Ma-mo zah na ahkee 
Ma-mo yah na. 

" Bai mo sa yah na geezhigeny 
Bai mo sa yah na 
Wa bun ong tuz-ze Kwai 
Ne wah ween ne go ha za." 

Which might be rendered thus : 

" We are riding to seek the war path ; 
The earth and the sky are before ut. 
We walk by day and by night, 
And the evening star is our guide." 

44 belden: the white chief. 

Another was : 

" We devote our bodies to the fight, 
And charge with the speed of eagles; 
We are willing to lie with the slain, 
For then our name will be praised." 

Still another: 

" Look how beautiful is my face and form, 
And hear the sweet song of my voice ; 
All my thoughts are of you, darling, 
And I speak to you with my naked heart." 

It was in vain I urged the little maid to ride; to all my 
appeals she replied, " Never mind, pony will be tired enough, 
and I will ride him plenty when we find the buffalo." 

Our first day's journey was only fifteen miles, and early 
in the afternoon we came to a limpid stream where the 
chief ordered us to halt and camp. While the warriors 
pitched the teepees the squaws brought wood and water, and 
soon the fires were blazing and the kettles boiling for supper. 
Leaving the preparation of the meal to the women, we hoppled 
our ponies and picketed them out on the green grass near the 
camp. Several warriors remained to guard them, and the rest 
returned to the village. The Indians never leave their horses 
or camp without a guard, and, no matter how secure the 
country may be, they steadily keep out their pickets or 

Afler supper, the warriors played at ball, made arrows, 
repaired their horse equipments, wrapped the loose sinews on 
their bows, or gathered in groups and smoked. The women 
cleared away the supper, made up the beds in the lodges, and 
carried wood and water for the morning. 

In the evening I strolled out with Wash tclla, and, going to 


the edge of the 'vxoods, saw one of those glorious sights only to be 
witnessed in perfection at sea or on the prairie, a glorious sunset. 
A great red globe of fire hung in the west, sinking slowly and 
grandly behind the hills, lighting up the horizon and clouds 
with molten gold. I gazed long and earnestly at the beautful 
scene, and stood lost in thought until aroused by my com- 
panion, who said, *^ Let us return to the lodge ; it grows late." 
Through the gloaming we walked back to the village, and, 
entering my teepee, I bade Washtella bring me my pipe, and^ 
while I smoked, tell me a story. She brought the pipe, and, 
seating herself by my side, related the following extraordi- 
nary tale : 

Once there were giants on the earth, and they devoured little 
children. The great medicine man of our nation told the chief 
he should bet all the little children of his nation on a race he 
would run with the giants, and, if he beat them, no more chil- 
dren would ever be eaten by the big men. The chief was very 
anxious to rid himself of the giants, besides it was evident 
they would eat up all the children at any rate, so they might 
as well be bet as not. A great council was called, and after 
three days' debate, it was agreed the children should be put up 
and the race run with the giants by the medicine man. All 
the nation was present to witness the contest, but the giants 
easily won the race; so they demanded the children should be 
given up that they might devour th*em. Now, there was one 
old man who had a grandchild that he loved dearly, and when 
the race was lost, he took the child on his back, and traveled 
for many days to the west, until he came to a great wood, and 
in the depth of the forest he built a hut, and hid away the 
child, hoping the giants would not find him. 

The prophets had foretold that a child would bo born in the 


tribe, who would wear a white feather, become a mighty^ man^ 
a great warrior, and slay all the giants. 

The old man kept his grandson in great ignorance, telling 
him they were the only people in the world besides the giants, 
and that if the giants found them out they would kill and eat 
them. The boy was very much afraid, and hid away at every 
noise he heard. 

One day, while out hunting, he shot a bird, and, as it had 
pretty white feathers in its tail, he pulled them out and put 
them in his hair. When he returned home in the evening, his 
grandfather saw the white feathers, and, remembering what the 
prophets had said, he knew at once that his grandson would be 
a great man and destroy the giants. But the old man was 
still afraid the giants might kill and eat the boy, for he was 
yet a small lad ; so he did not tell him of what great honors 
were in store for him. 

Not many days after he had shot the bird, the boy was out 
hunting in the woods, and, as was his wont when tired, he laid 
down in the shade of a great tree to sleep; and as he slept, he 
heard a voice, saying, '^Go home, you wearer of the white 
feather, and when you sleep, you will dream of a pipe and sack 
with a great white feather, and when you wake up you will find 
them, and see that you keep them," When the boy heard these 
words he jumped up and looked whence the voice proceeded, 
and saw a wooden man fixed firmly in the earth. He was 
greatly astonished, for he did not know there were any men in 
the world beside his grandfather. So he ran home and slept, 
and sure enough he dreamed he saw a pipe and sack, and a 
great white feather in it; and when he waked up the articles 
'vere there. He had told his grandfather all about his dfeam 
in the wood, and at once accused him of putting the s^ck and 


pipe with the feather by his bed while he slept. But the old 
man would only answer, **Put the feather in your hair, and 
you will one day become a great man and destroy all your 
enemies." So the boy braided the feather in his hair, and im- 
mediately he felt very strong, and, to see if his strength was real, 
he went out and easily overthrew a great tree, and he became 
very proud of his strength. Next day he said to himself, Now 
that I am so strong I will go out and pull up the wooden man 
and bring him home, so that I can talk with him. And he 
went to the wooden man in the forest, and tried to pull him up ; 
but, although he could uproot great trees, he could not get the 
wooden man out of the ground; whereat he got very angry, 
and struck the man in the face, but only hurt himself, for the 
man had an iron head. The wooden man laughed heartily at 
his rage, and said to the boy, "See, my son, strength is not 
the only thing wc must have in the world, and, in a man or a 
nation, it is of little use without wisdom ; now, if you will dig 
about me, you can easily lift me." Then he dug about the man 
and lifted him out, and carried him home on his back. When 
the old man saw the wooden man he fell to the earth on his 
face, and was mightily afraid, for he knew it was the god the 
giants had stolen when they overcome his nation, since which 
time no luck had come to his people. The boy bade his grand- 
father get up and tell why he was afraid. Then the old man 
said, "My son, whatever you wish will be so, for this is the 
all-powerful god the giants stole and hid away." The young 
man at once lighted his pipe and wished for some pigeons for 
his dinner, and immediately great flocks issued from the smoke 
of his pipe; then he wished for some rabbits, and hundreds of 
them came jumping out of the woods. He took good care of 
his pipe and the wooden man, and wore his white feather, and 


lived in the wood with his grandfather until he grew to be a 
tall man. 

One day the wooden man said to the boy, who was now called 
Chacopee, " You are big and strong; go, slay the giants, but be 
not foolish, for wisdom, and not strength, must win the victory. 
If you think of nothing else until it is done, you will kill all 
the giants. Go and be wise." 

Early the next morning the young man set off alone, and 
after traveling a hundred sleeps he came to the land of the 
giants. When they saw him and observed that he wore a white 
feather in his hair, they laughed, and scoffingly said, "So this 
is the little man who has come to kill us all ! Let the cooks put 
on some water to boil him in, and we will soon make an end of 
him by eating him.'' "Come, short legs,'' cried one of the 
giants, "dance us a jig while the water is heating." But Cha^ 
copee only said, " If my legs are short, they are long enough to 
beat yours, if you will give me a start." "Agreed," cried the 
giant ; " go out to yonder tree, and I will catch you before you 
have run half a mile." Then Chacopee walked out to the tree, 
and all the way along he thought how he should out-wit the 
giant. Unperceived he tied the grass across the path, and cried 
to the giant to come on. So the giant ran, and tripped his foot 
in the grass, and fell to the ground with great force, which sc 
stunned him, that before he could rise Chacopee hit him on the 
head with a war-club and beat his brains out. Another giant 
came running to help his brother; but Chacopee fell flat on the 
earth, and the giant stumbled over him; so he beat out his 
brains. Now, there was still another giant, who was a very 
wise man, who had the power to take whatever shape he wished, 
and, seeing the fate of his brothers, he immediately changed 
himself into a beautiful woman, and came to Chaco]X)e and said, 


" Come and be my husband, for I love you, and have traveled 
a long way to marry you." But Chacopee remembered what 
the wooden man had told him, and at once lighting his pipe he 
wished himself an elk, and immediately he was an elk. The 
woman upbraided him, and cried so bitterly that he repented, 
for she was very beautiful, and he wished himself a man again. 
He became a man at once, and kissed the woman's lips and 
cheeks, and laid his head on her lap and fell asleep. "While he 
slept, she took the feather out of his hair, and, taking his pipe, 
the giant at once became himself, when he called in a loud 
voice to Chacopee to wake up; and, on waking up, poor 
Chacopee found the woman gone and himself as weak as any 
other man. So the giant broke his back with his great club, and 
then, changing Chacopee into a dog, bade him follow him. 
Putting the feather into his own hair, the giant and his dog set 
out for the north, where two famously pretty women lived whom 
the giant wished to marry. These girls were the daughters of 
a great chief, who had sworn they never should marry any one 
but a great chief who, the prophets foretold, would come from 
the south and wear a white feather in his hair. "When the 
giant and his dog came to the village the giant went in to stay 
with the eldest sister, while the dog stole off to the other sis- 
ter's lodge and slept beside her. In the night the younger 
sister dreamed if she took good care of the dog she would 
become a great chief's wife, far greater than he of the white 
feather. Next morning she would not look at the giant, but 
walked out of the village followed by the dog, and when they 
were alone the dog ran to the brook and took up a stone in his 
mouth, which immediately became a beaver, and the chief's 
daughter took it home for their dinner. The giant hunted 
every day, but he could kill nothing, so he and his squaw were 

50 belden: the white chief. 

nearly starved, and the chief was very angry because the giant 
kept his daughter so poorly. The giant, seeing how well the 
younger sister and her dog lived, watched the dog, and when 
he had taken a stone from the brook and saw i1 turn to a 
beaver, the giant drew out a stone from the water and it also 
became a beaver. Greatly rejoiced, he tied the beaver to 
his belt and carried it home, where he skinned it, and hi? 
wife put it in the pot to boil. But when she took off the lid 
to see if it was done, only the stone was there which her hus- 
band had taken from the brook. 

The dog, finding his secret was discovered, went out into 
the woods and broke a dry twig from a bush that had been 
burned by the fire, and the black twig at once became a black 
bear. The giant watched again, and seeing how the dog got 
his game, he broke a twig off, and immediately it was a black 
bear. So he tied it to his belt and brought it home. But 
when his squaw went to get some of the bear, she saw only a 
charred stick tied to the belt. Then the giant went to the 
chief and told him of the disgraceful manner in which his 
daughter was living with a dog; but the chief said it was 
impossible for a dog to take game as the giant related. How- 
ever, the chief, to satisfy himself about the matter, appointed 
several young men to go and see about it. When the dog 
heard this he told his mistress by bow-wows to sweat him as 
the Indians do sick people. Then she built a pit and left it 
open at the top, and in the pit she put the dog, and put 
several heated stones in with him, and closed the opening. 
So he sweat prodigiously, and when the young men came and 
opened the pit the dog was no longer there, but a nice young 
man in his stead. 

Then they took him out of the pit and brought him 


to the chief, but he had no speech, and could tell them 
nothing. The chief called all the wise men together, and 
they took council. All of them smoked, and the giant 
smoked, but when the young man smoked, behold great flocks 
of pigeons flew out of the smoke. The wise men knew by 
this token that the young man was the real Chief of the White 
Feather, and the giant an impostor. So the wise men smoked 
again, and then took the white feather from the giant's 
head and put it in Chacopee^s hair, for it was he, and im- 
mediately Chacopee's speech returned, and he related to the 
wise men all that had happened to him; how he had been 
raised in the wood; how he had got the white feather; 
how he carried home the wooden man and conversed with 
him; how he had slain the giant's brothers; how he had 
been beguiled by the beautiful woman, transformed into a 
dog by the giant, and brought hither. When he had 
made an end of speaking, the wise men rose up and told 
the chief all they knew, and the chief ordered the 
giant to be beaten to death with clubs. But when the 
warriors came near him, he changed himself into a 
wolf, and ran away so fast that neither the warriors nor 
the dogs could catch him. Until that day no wolf had 
ever been seen, and all the wolves now living are the 
giant's children, and that is why they eat little boys and 

After the giant had run away the chief made a great 
feast, and married both his daughters to Chacopee, who 
took his wives to his people, where he brought also the 
wooden man and his old grandfather, who was still living. 
And Chacopee became a great chief, and had many brave 
8ons and beautiful daughters. And his sons still rule all 

62 belden: the white chief. 

that country, which is toward the setting sun and along 
the sea. 

Thus ended Washtella's story of Chacopee, and, when 
she had done, I ^sked if she really believed there evei 
were giants on the earth. 

"Yes," she replied, "hundreds of lives* ago the men 
and women were all as tall as trees; but they have 
grown smaller and smaller, until now they are no higher 
than bushes, and a hundred lives hence they will be no 
taller than the buffalo grass. Then they will go into the 
ground and live like rabbits." 

"AVashtella, tell me where your people first came 

"Long, long ago," she said, "they lived in the earth, 
which is hollow; but one day they came to an opening 
and came out, when, liking the outside best, they staid and 
would not return. My own father once saw the hole they 
came out of, but I never saw it, as it is far down the 
Missouri, where the white man lives." 

It was now late, and, wrapping ourselves in our blank- 
ets, we lay down and soon fell asleep. 

Early the next morning we resumed our journey, and 
on the fifth day began to see buffalo warders.f On the 

♦An Indian life is sixty-five years. 

f The old bulls that are feeble, and whose horns are dull, are driven 
away from the herd by the young bulls. They stay near the herd, but 
not with it. In approaching buffalo these stragglers or warders, as they 
are called by the Indians, are always met long befctre you come on the 
main body. When they see the hunters they run to the Lord, and give 
notice of approaching danger. 


sixth day we came upon the herds, and pitched our camp 
on the banks of a pleasant lake. The whole evening was 
consumed in putting up the lodges, for the winds often 
blow terrifically on these lakes, and it is necessary to make 
the teepees veiy strong. Hundreds of buffalo were grazing 
within a few miles of us, and every one busied himself in 
making final preparations for the great hunt which was to 
begin on the morrow. 






WHEN our camp was pitched, I walked out along the 
banks of the beautiful lake, to see what I could dis- 
cover. Its waters were clear as crystal and full of fish. Not 
a boat, and perhaps not even a canoe, had ever rippled its 
bosom, and I could not but imagine, as I gazed across the blue 
expanse, that one day commerce would spring up, and towns 
and cities be built upon its green shores. 

Looking to the north, I was startled from my reflections by 
seeing a large buffalo cow coming down to the water to drink. 
Hastening back to the village, I quickly procured my Hawkins* 
rifle and ran over the little eminence that hid the lodges from 
the animal. She had approached quite near the water, and was 
not more than one hundred and fifty yards distant from me, 
when, hearing a noise in my rear, I looked back and saw 
several Indians running toward me with their guns. The 
DOW at the same moment saw them, and turned to make off*j 
but too late, for I had drawn a bead on her heart, and at one 
shot dropped her dead. All the village came running and 


shouting, and the squaws gathered around the dead buffalo, 
jostling and elbowing each other as they tore off the meat. 
It is the Indian rule that game is common property, and 
my buffalo was soon reduced to a pile of bones by the knives 
of the busy squaws. I could not help laughing as I watched 
them struggling for the choice morsels. First, the skin was 
carefully removed, and then the muscles and gristle cut away, 
when, just as a squaw was about to take the coveted part, she 
would be rudely thrust aside, and some other squaw would take 
it. These exploits were received with loud shouts of laughter, 
and no ill-temper or quarreling was observed among the ex- 
cited crowd of women who surrounded the carcass. 

On returning to my lodge, I found Washtella in great glee 
over my good luck, and she explained that it was no small 
matter to have killed the first buffalo slain in the hunt. Pres- 
ently I received a message from the chief, and was informed 
by an old Indian that, having killed the first buffalo, I would 
be entitled to lead the hunt on the first day. Meat was brought 
me, and the skin or robe, which, according to the Indian cus- 
tom, is always given to the one who kills the animal. So 
proud was Washtella, she did nothing all the evening but talk 
of my good fortune, and I could not help being amused at the 
boasts of the little maid. Nothing could possibly have hap- 
pened that would have given her more pleasure. 

The next morning, as soon as it was daylight, I was aroused, 
and told that the warriors were waiting for me, to lead them 
in the chase. Assembling all of them before my lodge, I 
addressed them, saying I was a young man, and lacked experi- 
ence, but if they would allow me, \ would name one worthy 
to lead them in my place. This was received with loud 
>»hnuts of approval, and as soon as quiet was restored, I 


pointed to a young warrior^ and said: "He is a good man; 
go and follow him." The warrior I had selected was mj bittei 
enemy, and had formerly been a lover of Washtella. Ever 
since my marriage he had abhorred me, and omitted no oppor- 
tunity to show his dislike. As his animosity was well known 
in th*^ tribe, the honors thus thrust upon him, by one from 
whom he had expected no favors, surprised and pleased them. 
For a moment the brave hung his head, and then came for- 
ward, and, amid the shouts of the warriors, gave me his hand. 
Feeling unwell, I did not go upon the hunt that day, but iii 
the evening, when the party returned, my old enemy came to 
my lodge, and as a token of his friendship, presented me with 
two fine robes he had taken during the day. 

On the second day I went out with the hunters, and joined 
in a most exciting chase. Under the directions of a chief, we 
deployed at wide distances, and then, closing in, surrounded a 
herd of buffalo on three sides; and as soon as the herd began 
to move, the chase began. Our tough little ponies bore us 
swiftly along, and soon the herd was hard pressed. Presently 
it began to scatter, and then each Indian, selecting a buffalo, 
followed the beast up until he had killed it. It is astonishing 
how fast the great lumbering animals can run, and although 
they do not seem to go over the ground very rapidly, it takes 
a good horse to come up with them. Their shambling " lope'' 
is equal in speed to an American horse's gallop, and they can 
climb steep hills and get over rough ground faster than a horse. 
They run with their heads near the earth, and a hundred of 
them will make a mighty noise, resembling the rumbling of 
distant thunder. The hunter approaches from behind, and, 
when opposite the beast, fires, aiming at the spine or side, im- 
mediately behind the fore-shoulder. One shot in the spine or 


heart will bring a bufiklo down, but it generally takes from 
three to ten balls in the vitals to kill one. 

In the second day's hunt I killed seven buffalo, which was 
considered a good day's work,* only one other warrior killing 
as many. The warriors do not stop to touch the game after 
it is dead, the skinning and packing of the meat being the 
work of the squaws, who follow in the wake of the hunters. 
For this purpose they have pack-ponies, and two women will 
skin and pack three or four buffalo in a day. The meat is 
brought to the villages, where it is cut in narrow slices, about 
an inch thick, and three or four inches long. These slices are 
then hung on poles, or stretched on small willows laid across a 
frame-work of poles. The meat is frequently turned, and 
allowed to remain in the sun and air for three days. It should 
be covered, or brought in at night, and must not be allowed 
to get wet by rain while it is curing. This is called jerking 
buffalo, and is a simple and easy process of curing meat. The 
pure crisp air of the plains soon dries it, and then it has a 
sweet, pleasant taste. I have known climates on the plains 
where nearly all the year carcasses could be hung up and left 
without spoiling until used. Meat, when jerked, is only about 
half the weight and size it is when in a raw state. If soaked 
in water it will swell greatly, and then, unless used imme- 
diately will spoil. When the buffalo flesh is dried suffi- 
ciently, it is put into parfleshes, or wrappers, made of raw^ 
hide, cut square, ^nd which will hold about half a bushel. 
They are sewed up at the bottom and sides, the laps at the 
top being left open until they are filled. The meat is then 

*Mr. Belden has since killed as many as twenty-three buffalo in a 
•ingle day. 

60 belden: the white chief. 

laid in flat, and packed tightly, like plugs of tobacco. When 
two or three layers of meat have been put in, hot buffalo fat 
is brought and poured over it until all the interstices are filled 
up. Then more layers of meat are put in, and more fat poured 
on, until the parflesh is full, when the laps are folded over 
each other and tightly sewed up with sinews. The meat is 
DOW ready for winter use, and two parfleshes are fastened to- 
gether like a pair of saddle-bags, and slung across the back of 
a pony when the Indians travel. To prevent these bags or 
wrappers from hurting the ponies' backs, the under side is 
lined with fur or bear skin. 

We had hunted four days from our camp-on the lake, and 
although we had taken the utmost precaution not unnecessarily 
to alarm the buffalo, most of them had gone a long distance 
from the village. A council was called, and it was determined 
we should go over to the lakes that lay on the Jim River, 
sixty miles distant. We immediately set out, moving around 
the lake to the right of the buffalo, so as not to disturb them. 
Our route lay across a beautiful level country, through which 
meandered little streams eight or ten miles apart. These 
streams are unwooded, and we were compelled to use buffalo- 
chips for cooking. We traveled leisurely along, however, 
halting on the creeks,- and making about sixteen miles per 
day, for many of our ponies were already heavily laden with '' 

On the fourth day we reached the lakes, and again pitched 
our village. Here we found plenty of buffalo and a great 
many calves, which were very acceptable to us, as -we wanted 
Bome parfleshes of veal. 

We hunted four days, and took a great deal of Each 
family had from three to six parfleshes, according to its size, 


which was as much as it could use during the winter, and 
enough for the infirm besides. So the hunt was announced at 
an end, and we began to prepare for our return. I had been 
exceedingly fortunate, and had taken no less than nine par- 
^esher of meat and had twelve robes. 

There are several methods of killing buffalo beside the reg- 
ular chase. One of these, as practiced by the Indians, is as 
follows : 

The buffalo are watched until they graze near a precipice, 
when two or three Indians put a buffalo skin on sticks, and, 
concealing themselves under it, approach near the herd slowly, 
as if grazing. This must be done when the wind is favorable, 
and blowing from the buffalo. If the decoy is successful, other 
Indians make a wide circuit, surrounding the herd on all sides, 
except that toward the bluff. Then they steal up as close as 
possible, and when the buffalo discover them they shout, shake 
their blankets and poles, and close in upon the herd. The 
animals are greatly alarmed, but seeing the mock buffalo (which 
has managed to attract attention) set off for the bluffs, they 
rush madly after it. When the baiters reach the bluff, they 
fling the mock buffalo over the precipice, and betake themselves 
to holes in the bank or crevices among the rocks. It is in 
vain the leaders of the herd halt when they see the chasm ; the 
mass from behind, crazed by the poles and blankets of the 
Indians, who are now close upon them, rush madly on, and 
press those in front over the cliff. 

It is exceedingly dangerous to bait buffalo, as the herd fre- 
quently overtake the false buffalo, and trample it beneath their 
teet, or the great beasts, falling among the rock, crush the 
Indian baiters to death. Many reckless young Indians, who 
as baiters have gone too far inland, have, after the chase, been 

62 belden: the white chief. 

found dead on the plain, or their mangled bodies lay at the 
foot of the precipice with the carcasses of the animals they 
had so cruelly deceived. It takes a brave Indian to be a 
baiter, but there are always plenty of young and foolish boys 
who are anxious to engage in the dangerous sport. 

After the buffalo have fallen and killed or maimed them- 
selves, a party of Indians who have been concealed near the 
foot of the precipice suddenly advance and finish them with 
axes or rifles. As many as a hundred animals are frequently 
taken in a single day in the way I have related. 

Another method of capturing buffalo is in this wise : When 
the Indians have been engaged at war, or, for any reason, have 
not been "fortunate in securing, during the fall, a supply of meat 
for winter, they go to a lake or river where there is game, and 
crossing the country in a wide circuit, fire the prairie. The 
buffalo, alarmed by the fire, and finding themselves surromided 
by flames, plunge into the water, when the Indians easily kill 
them. Another way is to drive them on the ice, where they 
slip and fall, while the Indians can run rapidly in their moc- 
casins on the ice. 

When the Indians get out of provisions in the winter, early 
in the spring they will fire the grass on the opposite side of a 
river from where the buffalo are grazing, and the buffalo are 
tempted to cross the ice in search of the green grass which 
springs up immediately after the fire. The ice, being already 
soft, breaks beneath their great weight, and the animals are 
drowned or killed. Sometimes a large buffalo will get on a 
great cake of ice and float down the river, when the Indians 
will kill him and tow him ashore. It is wonderful how the 
Indians can run on the floating ice. They will frequently 
press a piece no more than a foot square, and yet cross in 


safety. Their moccasins render their footing sure, and they 
spring lightly from one cake to another, never halting for a 
moment, for to halt is to go down. 

Our hunt having ended, the chief ordered that the usual 
feast and rejoicing should take place. A long pole was pro- 
vided, a buffalo head put on the top of it, and a number of tails 
nailed, at right angles, to the sides. The pole was then set 
firmly in the ground, in the center of an open space before the 
village, and buffalo heads were piled up around it. The heads 
were set in a circle, and arranged to look as hideously as possi- 
ble. Immense quantities of buffalo meat were now brought, 
and the feast made ready. Nothing but buffalo meat is eaten, 
and every one makes it a point to gorge himself to the fullest 
extent. Even the dogs are stuffed, and the women and children 
persuaded to eat while they can force down a bite. The greater 
the quantity of meat eaten, the greater the honor ; and some starve 
themselves for two or three days in advance, in order to do jus- 
tice to the occasion. The meat is prepared in every form — 
boiled, fried, broiled, roasted, and raw. When one is full, he 
goes to the pole, and as soon as a sufficient number have col- 
lected, the dance begins. The warriors sit in a circle around 
the pole, and the squaws, gaudily dressed and painted, form a 
circle around the warriors. At a signal the drums beat, and 
all rise and stand. Then the squaws sing, and the warriors 
move around to the right and the squaws to the left, each 
keeping time to the drums with their feet. The dance is a 
slow, shuffling motion, but soon makes one very tired. When 
a warrior or squaw gets' tired, they step out of the circle and 
others take their places. As soon as it is dark wood is brought, 
fires made around the pole, and the dancing is kept up all 
night. The feasting frequently continues for three days, and 

64 belden: the white chief. 

at no time is tiie pole without its set of dancers. The amount 
of buffalo consumed is prodigious, when we consider that, be- 
sides the vast quantities eaten by the Indians, each family has 
from six to ten dogs. 

Xot to dance on such an occasion would seem to be ungrate- 
firl for the good luck I had had in taking meat, so I joined in 
heartily, but by midnight, was completely worn out. Calling 
to Washtella, I told her I was so tired I must go to my lodge, 
and she readily acceded, and went with me. Laying down, I 
immediately fell asleep, but, on waking at daylight, I was 
surprised to find AVashtella already up and going about her 
work. I inquired what made her rise so early, and she then 
confessed that as soon as I was asleep she had stolen out and 
gone back to the dance, from which she had but just re- 
turned. Poor child ! she had done no more than her white 
sisters often do — that is, had a night of it — so I readily for- 
gave her. 

The feast over, we began to prepare in earnest for our return. 
The meat was carefully distributed, so that no pony would be 
overloaded, and every thing was neatly packed. It took both 
my ponies and all my dogs to carry my meat and lodge, so 
Washtella and I had to walk. We considered this no great 
hardship, however, as nearly the whole village was on foot. 
We made only eight or ten miles a day ; but at last, after a most 
fatiguing march, reached the Missouri, and entered our old 
camp near Fort Randall. 

I was glad to be at home once more, and I felt very comfort- 
able, for I had made a good reputation as a hunter, formed new 
friendships, and won over some of my old enemies. Indeed, 
why should I not be comfortable? My domestic relations were 
most happy. I had an abundance of winter's food, twelve 

belden: the white chief. 65 

robes, and Washtella had provided me with a good supply of 
tobacco.* So I sat down with my favorite pipe and was at 
peace with all the world. 

* The cha-sha-sha, or Indian tobacco, is made of red-willow bark. The 
Bquaws gather great quantities of the sprouts or small limbs, and } eel off 
the bark, which, when dried, is broken into pieces of about the consistency 
of Killikinick. When properly preserved, red willow is equal to the best 
Killikin^ck ; and when smoked has a sweet, pleasant taste, and emits a 
delicious perfume. 

66 belden: the white chief. 





XNDIANS have the reputation among white people of being 
-■- great natural physicians, and although it can not be denied 
that they have some knowledge of herbs and simple remedies, 
yet their claim to extensive medical learning is wholly ficti 
tious. Among my earliest recollections are pictures on bottles 
of well-proportioned female Indians receiving from angels 
herbs which were to cure all the ills of the flesh, and the 
knowledge of which some venerable chief, while on his death- 
bed, kindly communicated to a missionary. Hence we have 
Red Jacket's Bitters, when Red Jacket, in fact, never drank 
any bitters. It would somewhat destroy the efficacy of these 
nostrums to inquire to what church the missionary belonged 
who received the information of the medical properties of the 
herbs, and also of what tribe the famous Chief Whang- 
doodleds was the head. We shall recur to this subject again, 
but now give place to the following incident, as illustrative of 
the character of the Indian doctor. 

There were several young girls who came nearly every day 


to my lodge to talk with my squaws, and one day one of these, 
while out gathering brushwood for the fire, was bitten in the 
arm by a rattlesnake. This I was told by a girl who came 
running to my lodge crying bitterly, and saying her sister was 
going to die. I asked Washtella what the medicine man did 
in such cases, and she said nothing at all ])ut pray for the 
spirit of the unfortunate. I told her to run over to the med- 
icine-lodge quickly, where the girl had been taken, and tell 
the "Great Medicine Man" I could cure her. Washtella 
laughed in my face, and said she would not dare do such a 
thing, as no women but the immediate relatives of the afflicted 
were allowed to approach the lodge on such occasions. I 
threatened to punish her if she did not go instantly, and no 
doubt thinking my anger was more to be dreaded than that of 
the medicine man, she ran off, but soon returned to say she 
could not gain admittance. I hastened to the lodge, and on 
approaching saw several poles stuck up over the door with 
charms and feathers tied to them. I heard a great beating of 
drums and wailing within, and while others stood at a respect- 
ful distance I walked boldly up to the door and entered. 
Within I saw the old doctor crouched at the head of the girl, 
who lay extended on a buffalo-robe, her arm bare to the 
shoulder. Her mother was seated at her feet, moaning bitterly, 
and rocking herself to and fro. The doctor was singing vig- 
orously and rattling a gourd over the girPs head ; then he 
would take up a drum made of raw hide and beat it indus- 
triously, raising his humdrum tone to a shrill key, when he 
would resume his gourd and guttural song. So intently was 
this learned doctor engaged in making medicine that he did 
not notice my intrusion, but kept on with his chaunt. Feel- 
ing that I was standing on forbidden ground, and making 


myself liable to a severe punishment, if not death, I deter- 
mined to act quickly, not only for my own sake but the girl's. 
Stepping up to the gray-headed and shriveled doctor, I cried 
in. a loud voice: 

"Let the father be silent and hear." 

For a moment or two the sharp rattling of the gourd 
continued, and the song rose higher and higher, then sud- 
denly it ceased, and the old doctor, rising to his feet and draw- 
ing up his shrunken frame to its full height, demanded : 

" Why come you here?" 

" In His name I come, " I answered, pointing to the sky. 

In a moment the old man was bowed on his knees, and mut- 
tered, " How is this, O God ! " 

"Behold," I continued, "the Great Spirit has sent me to 
eat the poison and cure the girl ; " and so saying I knelt 
down by the side of the poor sufferer. She had now been 
bitten some fifteen or twenty minutes, and already the swelling 
had commenced, and two small purple-looking circles were 
formed around the wound. There were two small red spots 
where the fangs of the reptile had entered the arm, and 1 
feared it was too late to save the poor creature's life, but de- 
termined to try. I applied my lips to the wound and sucked 
it vigorously, but nothing came from it; then I bit it 
gently and a few drops of black looking blood came out. 
Presently it bled freely, and I sucked it as long as the 
blood seemed impure. I next ran over to my lodge and 
sweetened nearly a pint of whisky, which I fortunately had, 
and gave it to the girl to drink. Then I heated a wire, 
and, thrusting it into the wound, cauterized it to the depth 
the snake's teeth had penetrated. The girl held very still, 
and never once moved or complained. Very soon the whisky 


caused her to fall into a deep sleep, and I left the lodge 
motioning the mother and doctor to follow. They had 
looked on with feelings of wonder and awe, and when we 
were outside I said, " Let the maiden sleep as long as she 
will, and when she awakes she will be well. " 

I started toward my lodge, when the medicine man followed 
me a few steps, and, seizing my hand, said, with deep feeling, 
*^ Farewell, my son ; I am sorry for you.*' 

I asked him what he meant, and the venerable ass then ex- 
plained, that, having eaten the poison from the girFs arm, of 
course I would die. I said I hoped not, for I intended to 
spew it up, and I believed the Great Spirit would not let me 
die for doing as he had commanded me. He replied, " O God, 
I guess this is good ! " 

" You bet it is, old donkey," I replied in English, knowing 
he did not understand a word of that language. He bowed 
deeply, no doubt thinking I had paid him a great compliment, 
and departed to his lodge. 

I hastened home, and found my poor Washtella in great 
distress, fur she had heard already that I had eaten the poison, 
and of course would die. I bade her be of good cheer, and, 
drinking nearly a quart of rum, lay down to sleep. In truth, 
I was a little uneasy lest some of the poison had got into my 
system, but hoped to neutralize it with the effects of the rum. 

When I awoke, the morning sun was shining, and a great 
crowd of men and women had collected around my lodge, 
»?nrious to know if I were dead or alive. My first care was to 
inquire after my patient, and to my inexpressible delight found 
she was not only living but well. 

T had slept many hours, but the effects of the liquor were 
still upon me; and, afler smoking the great medicine pipe, and 


giving thanks to the Great Spirit for my own as well as the 
girPs safety, I lay down again to rest. 

In the evening I went out, and, knowing the great desire in 
the village to have the particulars of the cure I had performed 
made known, I desired all the chief men to assemble, and, when 
all were present, gave them the following truthful version of 
the affair : 

" As I lay in my lodge, the Great Spirit came to me and 
said, * A young girl of thy tribe, while gathering brush, has 
been bitten by a rattlesnake, and I desire her to live. Arise, 
and go to the medicine lodge, and eat the poison, and you 
shall not die. Tell the Great Medicine Man, my servant, that 
1 sent you, and he will know I did, for he is very great and 
very wise.' (Here the venerable ass nodded complacently and 
smiled benignantly on us all.) So I went to the lodge, and eat 
the poison, and the Great Spirit did not let the girl die, nor 
am I dead, my fathers.^' 

When I closed, the mighty man of medicine arose and mod- 
estly said : 

" All the brother says is true. When he came, I knew at 
once the Great Spirit had sent him, and that he would eat the 
poison and not die, but save the girPs life. Had he not done 
so, I would have eaten the poison myself; and when any 
of you are bitten by a rattlesnake, come to me and I will 
cure you.'' 

I felt very much like kicking the miserable old liar, but 
dissembled, and then we all smoked, gave thanks for an occur- 
rence so wonderful, and adjourned. 

After this I was considered a great medicine man in the 
tribe, and all the halt, the lame, and the blind in the village 
«ame to me to be cured. I was bored almost to death, but man- 


iged to get rid of most of my patients by sending them to the 
medicine man, who had become a firm, fast friend of mine. 

The girl I had cured wished to marry me, but I declined, 
and so remained a great lion among the young ladies of the 

Note. — Mr Belden has not overstated the case in the above narrative. 
The medicine men of the Indians are, as a general thing, among the most 
ignorant persons in the tribes. The credulity and superstition of the sav- 
ages make them respect these impostors, but it is absurd for them to lay 
any claim to medical knowledge. 

At Forsyth's battle on the Republican, in 1868,'the medicine man of the 
Cheyennes harrangued the young men, and told them to charge the fort, 
for the medicine was all right, and the Great Spirit had told him the 
bullets would not hit them. He also said he could catch a bullet in his 
teeth, and to show them, he rode down toward the fort^ when one of For- 
syth's men shot him through the bowels and he died. It is said that 
these men, by long continued imposition on others, come tg believe their 
own lies — Ed. 




SOON after the incident related in the last chapter the fall 
races began, and we had a lively and exciting time. The 
Yanktons had pitted a number of fine horses against the San- 
tees' stock, and the whole village turned out to see the contest. 
The Indian races present a gay scene, every body being in their 
best dress and feathers, and the horses gay with plumage. The 
running was very fine, and the Yanktons were unusually suc- 
cessful, winning nearly every race over the Santees. I had a 
horse to enter, but the Santees objected to my running him, so 
I was not a little gratified to see them so badly beaten. 

Two weeks after the races were over, time hanging heavily 
on our hands, another expedition against the Pawnees was pro- 
posed. A large number of Santees were to go with us, and the 
party was to be larger, better mounted and equipped, than the 
preceding expedition. All being in readiness, we marched down 
the Missouri, and crossed over where the river was very wide 
and shallow. The crossing, however, was difficult, and it was 
with much labor we eifected it. Each Indian tied his ammuni- 


tion on top of his head, and strapped his gun to the side of his 
pony's head, with the lock uppermost. Then they drove the 
ponies into the water, and taking hold of their tails near the 
root, with the right hand, paddled with the other one, guiding 
the pony toward the opposite shore. We were carried by the 
current some distance down the stream, but landed safely among 
some willows. We marched inland about ten miles to a small 
stream and encamped, building fires to dry ourselves. Here we 
remained all the next day, waiting for the Santees, who had not 
come up yet. Toward night we saw a cloud of dust in the west, 
and soon the Santee warriors came in sight. Another day was 
consumed in dividing up the command, and assigning to each 
warrior his duty. We set out at daylight, and on the following 
day, at one o'clock, found ourselves within two miles of the 
Pawnee village. We went into a ravine, and immediately began 
preparations for the attack. The guns were loaded, forces again 
divided, and all prepared, when a dispute. arose as to whether w« 
should attack them at once, or wait for the cover of night. The 
Santee chief, who was the senior in command, was in favor of 
an immediate attack, urging that delay would be likely to dis- 
cover us to the Pawnees and defeat our designs. I did not wish 
the attack made until night, for fear some of the white men, 
who I knew to be with the Pawnees, would recognize me, and 
afterward give me trouble. My little party of fourteen war- 
riors was, however, easily voted down, and the old chief ordered 
the assault to begin. Eight Indians were detailed to stampede 
and drive off the herd while we held the Pawnees in check. 
We had no idea of capturing the village, but hoped to steal the 
herd, which was the object of the expedition. 

The Santees attacked the village on the west side, and the 
Yanktons on the north, so as to cover the herd, which was 


grazing on that side of the town. The surprise was complete; 
the ravine sheltering our movements until within a few hundrec* 
yards of the teepees; then we dashed up and commenced firing 
our pistols and guns. 

Indians do not fight in line like white men, but scatter out, 
riding furiously about, and firing as often as possible. The 
Pawnees, although surprised, were not dismayed, and soon the 
fire from their lodges was very hot. I saw men and women 
running from shelter to shelter with guns, and was beginning 
to think about falling back, when I heard the long " Hoo ! hoo I 
I-Yah-hoo ! " of the stampeders, and saw the herd going pell- 
mell over the hill, closely followed by our men. I immediately 
withdrew, so as to cover the herd, and was soon joined by the 
Yanktons, who were on my right. We commenced our retreat, 
and all seemed to be going well, when suddenly, we saw a great 
commotion in the herd, and our stampeders came riding down 
the hill, closely followed by a large body of mounted Pawnees. 
In an instant, the Santee chief called out to us to charge them, 
and we did so, turning their right and cutting off about one- 
half of the herd, which we drove rapidly about five miles, when 
we saw a cloud of dust rising in our rear, and the Paw^nees were 
upon us again. The chief ordered the captured stock to be 
driven on as fast as possible to the hills, and halted to give the 
Paw^nees battle. 

We had just crossed a little stream, and took up our position 
among the brush on its furthest bank from the enemy. We 
saw that all the ponies they had recaptured from us were 
mounted by warriors, and, thus re-enforced, the original party 
of Pawnees greatly outnumbered our own. They deployed in 
a long line, and advancing, began the battle by hurling clouds 
of arrows against us. Our war-chief was struck in the shouldei 

Mourning for the Dead. 


and disabled early in the fight. He pulled out the arrow with- 
out even a grimace, and, riding up to me, turned over the 
command, desiring me to hold on as long as I could, and then 
fall back into the hills near by, where I would find him. The 
lighting had lasted half an hour, and the firing becoming slack 
in front, I was about to withdraw, when I perceived a large 
body of Pawnees on my left and rear, and almost between me 
and the herd. While one party had been holding us in front, 
another body had moved down the stream, under cover, and 
crossed over, completely outflanking my warriors. I saw the 
Pawnees making for the herd, and mounting my men, we ran 
for it, but the Pawnees having the shortest distance beat us, 
and cut off, not only the herd, but our stampeders and war- 
chief. The Santees were much concerned about their chief, 
and cut their way to him. The old man was completely sur- 
rounded by Pawnees, and fighting desperately. It was with 
great difficulty we extricated him, and, although hardly able 
to sit on his horse, from wounds and loss of blood, he imme- 
diately resumed command, and with great skill withdrew us 
from the fight. The Pawnees fought desperately, being deter- 
mined to take the old chief's scalp, but we carried him off, 
and the enemy, having now recovered all their stock, did not 
follow us far. 

Sadly we pursued our march homeward, and on the second 
day reached the Missouri. The expedition had proved a total 
failure, and we had lost heavily. Bidding our allies — the 
Santees — good-bye (they wishing to keep up the other bank 
of the river to their tribe), we crossed the Missouri, and soon 
entered our village, where we were received by the howling of 
dogs, beating of drums, and wailing of children and women 
for their dead fathers, brothers, and husbands. 




X HAD been in the village but a day or two after my return 
-*- from the disastrous expedition against the Pawnees, when 
I was made aware, in more ways than one, of a growing dis- 
like to me among the Yanktons. First, Shan-ka Galles-scii — 
the Spotted Dog — who had his lodge close beside mine, pulled 
it down and moved away. He it was who had told me to 
tiike the Santee robes into the council chamber just before the 
raid. When my friend Galles-sca abandoned me, I expected 
to see all the rest of my band follow his example ; but, Avith the 
exception of one other old Indian, all remained steadfast. I 
called my warriors together, and explained to them how it was 
the fault of the Santees, and no fault of mine, or those under 
my leadership, that we had been defeated. They seemed satis- 
fied, and advised me to lay the matter before the general 
council. I attended the council at its next session, but as 

bkldkn: the white chief. 81 

it had been called for the transaction of special business, 1 
could not be heard, and I never attended again. 

One day, some weeks later, I was told a party of young 
men were going out to visit the Poncas, who live on a reser- 
vation near the mouth of the Niobanah River. From the 
secrecy used in their preparations, I suspected something more 
than a friendly visit was meant, and sent my brother-in-law, a 
young warrior of some note, to find out what was going on. 
He soon returned, and informed me that the party was going 
ostensibly to visit the Poncas, but in reality to attack the 
Pawnees. I was cautioned, however, to say nothing, as some 
Santees were then in the village on a visit, and the Yanktons 
did not wish them to know of the expedition. That day, 
nmeh to the gratification of our warriors, the Santees took 
their departure, and the necessity of secrecy being removed, 
the expedition was then publicly talked of. 

In the evening, as I was returning home, I met a warrior 
who was going on the raid, and who I knew did not like me. 
He came up and asked me if I was going upon the new expe- 
dition, and I said. No, I woilld not go ; when he fell to brag- 
ging about what the)- would do, and told me I should go and 
try to redeem myself in the eyes of the tribe. I became angry 
at this unjust taunt of the braggart, and made haste to reply. 

"I fought the Pawnees as well as any Yankton, and better 
than you ever will.'^ 

He laughed, and asked : 

" How many Pawnee ponies have you to trade ? '* 

" More than you will ever capture," I said. 

"Come, now," he replied, "you can go with men this time, 
not squaws" 

" I had rather have Yankton squaws than you," I retorted, 


at which he became pale with rage, for it is a most deadly in- 
sult to call an Indian a squaw. 

Stepping up to me, he struck me with the back of his hand 
on the breast, saying, " Go away, boy ! Go away, boy ! " 

" Stand back ! " I cried, " or I will strike you to the 

" Does the pale face think because the Yanktons have been 
kind to him, he is their equal ?" inquired the warrior, with a 
contemptuous curl of his lip. 

" Yes, and the superior of a squaw's man, and a warrior 
whose mother never allows him to use pointed arrows, lest he 
hurt himself," I answered, hotly. 

With a bound, the Indian sprang upon me, but I leaped 
aside, and gave him a blow on the nose, which made the blood 
spurt out. Blind with rage, he sought to grapple with me, but 
knowing he was much the stronger of the two, I kept out 
of his clutches, and punished him terribly with my fists. In 
a short time his face was beaten like a prize-fighter's, and, 
making a furious bound, I struck him in the stomach, and 
laid him flat on his back. 

The fight had been witnessed by many of the warriors, who 
sympathized with me; and when I had knocked my antago- 
nist down, they set up a great shouting, and my friends took 
me in triumph to my lodge. Next morning I sent for some 
whisky, killed a dog, and made a great feast in token of my 

The warriors who went on this third expedition against the 
Pawnees, returned in a few days completely broken down and 
disheartened. They reported that the Pawnees, under the 
leadership of a white chief, named Frank North, had surprised 
them, captured some ponies, and killed one Ponca warrior, and 


captured another. They had had a hard run to save their 
Jives, and all the ponies were exhausted, and some had died of 
fatigue before they reached the village. 

I was glad I had not gone on the expedition, and wished <o 
go and taunt the Indian I had thrashed with his misfortunes, 
but my friends persuaded me not to do so. 

The summer had now come with its sunshine and flowers; 
the grass was up several inches high, and the birds caroling 
in the trees overhead. As the tribe had determined to remain 
in camp all summer and eat up their buffalo meat, I concluded 
to go on a journey up the Missouri. I had so far overcome 
my first antipathies to Indian wives as to take a second one. 
Polygamy is not only one of the recognized, but one of the 
most honored, practices of the Yanktons. A man may have 
all the wives he can keep, after the fashion of Brigham Young 
and his latter-day saints. As I was a skillful hunter, and 
might have had half a dozen, whereas I only took two, I claim 
some virtue and credit on that account. 

My second rib was a pale-faced, slender beauty — indeed, a 
mere child, with a gentle and submissive disposition. Wash- 
tella evidently did not like this new-comer to the lodge ; but 
she said nothing, and treated the young squaw with respect and 
kindness. Often I saw the pain and grief even her Indian 
stoicism could not conceal, and from the bottom of my heart I 
pitied her, and regretted having brought another to my lodge 
to vex my patient and faithful Washtella. 

AVhen I had fully determined to leave the camp, I called 
my wives together, and informed them of the fact. They ut- 
tered no words of comment, for what has an Indian wife to do 
but obey her master? My warriors were next notified of my 
intended departure, and they said not a word. The old chief 


spoke kindly to me, and asked whither I was going, but I onl)' 
pointed to the northward, and said nothing. 

It was a beautiful morning in the month of June, when my 
wives pulled down my lodge, and we began our journey. The 
lodge cover, and all our effects were packed on two ponies, one 
of which was led by Washtella, and the other by Wacheata, 
my second wife. I followed soon afterward, mounted on my 

I could not help pitying the "ladies" as they trudged 
along on foot through the sand, for the day was quite hot, and 
their skirts narrow and heavy. Tilters would have been of 
great comfort and benefit to them just then. 

At noon we halted in a grove on the river bank, and while 
the ponies grazed, Washtella set out on the grass a repast of 
buffalo meat and ash-cake. 

I asked the women where the trail we were then travel- 
ing led to. I cared not, so it went northward, and away 
from the hostile Pawnees. 

Washtella told me that not far to the north were the 
lands of the Santees, and that where we were then resting 
once stood the village of the Yanktons. Not a vestige of it 
was left, but on the hill beyond the wood I could see the bury- 

I directed Washtella and Wacheata to pack our kitchen 
furniture on the poles behind the pony, and we would go 
up to the grave-yard, for I wished to have a look at it. 
At this their great eyes opened wide with horror, and they 
held up their hands to signify that they did not dare 
commit such a sacrilege, and so I bade them stay where 
they were. Not having the fear of Indian gods before me, 
1 rode boldly up to the hill, and there saw hundreds of 


bodies wrapped in blankets, buffalo robes, and bark, and laid 
out to dry on scaffolds made of poles and forked sticks. 
These scaffolds are seven to eight feet high, ten feet long, 
and four or five wide. Four stout posts with forked ends 
are first set firmly in the ground, and then in the forks 
are laid cross and side poles, on which is made a flooring 
of small poles. The body is then carefully wrapped, so as 
to make it water-tight, and laid to rest on the poles. The 
reason why Indians bury in the open air, instead of under 
the ground, is for the purpose of protecting their dead from 
wild animals. In new countries, where wolves and bears are 
numerous, a dead body will be dug up and devoured, though 
it be put many feet under the ground. 

An Indian grave-yard is a curious sight, with its silent 
sleepers. Here was an old fellow, whose scaffold had fallen 
down at one end, and his skeleton rested with its head on 
the ground, and its bony feet in the air. There the long 
black hair of a woman, falling through the decaying poles, 
streamed in the wind. There were skulls and bones all 
around, and flocks of ravens screamed and wheeled in the 
air. I saw stout warriors, old men and old women, rest- 
ing as peacefully ar if they slept in the beautiful ceme- 
teries of the East. Maidens lay there, too, all unconscious 
of the flowers that were springing up on the prairies around 
them, girls who had died long before my two young wives 
(who were then praying in the grove for my safety) had 
opened their seductive orbs on this world of glass beads and 
buffalo intestines, 

I noticed many little buckets and baskets hanging on the 
scaffolds, and when I returned to the grove I asked Washtella 
what they were for. She said that when an Indian dies the 


body is carried to the grave-yard, wliere, amid rnuch smoking 
and speech-making, it is hoisted upon the scaffold and left to 
rest. All then return to the village except the immediate 
friends and relatives of the dead, who remain to howl around 
the grave. 

After death the soul goes on a journey to the happy hunting- 
grounds, where there is plenty of game, clear streams, beautiful 
groves, pleasant wild fruits, and no wars. While the soul is 
performing this journey it must be fed and have drink, the 
same as though it had remained in the body. The buckets 
and baskets I had seen had contained food and water for the 

I asked Washtella if she was sure the soul ate and drank 
on its journey, and if the food did not remain untouched in 
the basket? 

She replied, "Oh, no; iiie water and food is always gone, 
for the dead are very hungry." I looked at the hundreds of 
ravens perched on the scaffolds, and could account for what 
became of most of the food and water, still I could not help 
thinking there were lazy Indians in every village who got the 
most of their living out of the grave-yards. . 

I asked Washtella how long it took a soul to reach the 
happy hunting-grounds, and she replied : " About one month ; 
and during all that time the wife or nearest relation must go 
every day with a fresh supply of bread and water for the jour- 
neying spirit. When the dead person is rich, a couple of 
ponies are killed and buried under the scaffold, so the spirit 
can ride to the happy home." 

I asked Washtella what the Indians did when there was no 
timber to build scaffolds, and she replied that they never 
camped far from timber; and if any one in the village died 


while on the march, the body was packed on the teepee poles, 
and carried along until they reached a grave-yard, where it 
was buried. 

Having finished my pipe, and satisfied my curiosity in regard 
to the mode of burying dead savages, I ordered the women to 
repack the ponies, and we resumed our journey. 

In the evening, just as the siin was setting, we spied a beau- 
tiful willow grove, and turned off the trail some distance to 
camp in it. A stream of pure cold water meandered through 
the trees, and we pitched our lodge on the green grass by 
its banks. 

I had shot an antelope, and while Washtella dressed it and 
prepared the evening meal, Wacheata put the ponies out ta 
graze and erected the lodge. I sat cross-legged on a bufi'alo 
robe, and smoked my pipe, having nothing else to do, accord- 
ing to Indian custom, where the woi^en do all the work. 

A more beautiful spot than our camp could not be imagined. 
The tall, graceful willows, with their yellow arms, shaded t^je 
greensward from the sun in summer and broke the virdq 
in winter. • 

After supper I. caught some fine fish out of the sti^inni^ and 
when the full round moon came up, I watched its bright rays 
flit and dance among the trees, making a thousand grotesque 
pictures on the ground. 

Next day's journey brought us near Fort Benton. All after- 
noon we had been marching for many hour? along the Mis- 
souri. The valley was wide, covered with luxuriant grass, 
and dotted with many-colored flowers. These flowers, though 
beautiful to the eye, had no fragrance. The river banks were 
fringed with a heavy growth of cottonwood, willow, and dog- 
wood trees. 


At one time this valley was the resort of vast herds of 
buffalo, elk, deer, and antelope, and their skulls and bones 
still lie scattered thick on the ground between the bluffs and 
the river. 

All the game is now gone except a few antelope and deer. 

We halted in some cotton woods by the river, and the squaws, 
gathering a supply of wood, soon had a supper prepared of 
dried buffalo meat, corn, 'coon fat, and ash-cakes.* We all ate 
out of the same kettle, so the dishes were easily washed. To 
eat, smoke, sleep, and march was the same to-day as yesterday, 
and so the journey wore on for nine long, weary suns, when 
we came in sight of the Santee village, and here our travels 
ended for the present. 

* Ash-cake is the Indian's bread. It is maae oi flour mixed with watei 

and kneaded into a tough dough. It is then made into little cakes and 

baked in the ashes. The Indians use no salt in their bread or any of 
their victuals. 

belden: the white chief. 91 



ONE can have no appreciative idea of an Indian village, 
unless he has been permitted to come across the prairie 
through a hot summer's sun, and suddenly discovers one nestled 
under the broad shade trees, beside a clear running stream, in 
a green valley. How pleasant the grass then looks; how re- 
freshing the bright waters, and how cozy the tall lodges, with 
their shaded verandahs of thickly interwoven boughs. 

All day long we had toiled over the scorching plain, through 
clouds of grasshoppers that often struck us in the face with 
sufficient force to make the skin smart for several minutes. 
Once we had seen a mirage of a beautiful lake, fringed with 
trees and surrounded by green pastures, which invited us to 
pursue its fleeting shadows, but we knew all about these decep- 
tions by sad experience, and pushed steadily on over the 
burning sands. 

These mirages often deceive the weary traveler of the desert. 
Suddenly the horseman sees a river or lake, apparently, just 
ahead of him, and he rides on and on, hoping to come up tc 

1)2 bei^den: the white chief. 

it. For hours it lies before his eyes, and then in a momeni 
disappears, leaving him miles and miles out of his way, and ui 
the midst of desert sands. 

Men have ridden all day striving to reach the beautiful river 
just before them, and then at night turned back to plod their 
weary way to Adhere they had started from in the morning. 
These mirages often lead to death both man and horse. 

The mirage we had seen was most delightful, representing a 
clear lake, with trees, meadows, and villages nestling on its 
shores, but it scarcely equalled the reality of the scene when, 
late in the afternoon we ascended a rise in the prairie, and saw 
below us a wide stream lined with green trees, and on its banks 
a large Indian encampment. 

The ponies pricked up their ears and neighed with pleasure 
as they smelt the water, and our own delight was unbounded. 
We halted for a moment to admire the beautiful prospect. 
Through the majestic trees, slanting rays of the sun shivered ou 
the grass ! Far away, winding like a huge silver-serpent, ran the 
river, while near by, in a shady grove, stood the village — the 
children at play on the green lawns not made by hands. The 
white sides of the teepees shone in the setting sunlight, and 
the smoke curled lazily upward from their dingy tops. Bright 
rib.bons and red grass, looking like streamers on a ship, fluttered 
from the lodge-poles, and gaudily dressed squaws and warriors 
walked about, or sat on the green sod under the trees. Thera 
were maidens, as beautiful as Hiawatha,*\)r as graceful as Minne- 
haha, wandering, hand in hand, along the stream, or listening 
under the shade of some wide spreading tree to words of love, 
as soft and tender as ever were poured into woman's ear.* 

* The warriors have a war-paint which they put on when they go to batr 
tie, and they have also a Daint which they wear when in love; it is called 


Near the village were hundreds of horses and ponies, with 
bright feathers flaunting in their manes and tails as they cropped 
the rich grass of the valley.* 

A group of noisy children were playing at a game much 
resembling ten-pins ; some boys were shooting at a mark with 
arrows, and up the stream several youths were returning home 
M ith rod and line, and fine strings of speckled trout. 

Scores of men and women were swimming about in the river, 
now diving, and then dousing each other amid screams of 
laughter from the bystanders on the shore. Here and there a 
young girl darted about like a fish, her black hair streaming 
behind her in the water. 

While we looked, the little children suddenly ceased from 
play and ran into the lodges ; mounted men surrounded the 
herd, and the swimmers and promenaders hastened toward the 
village. We had been perceived by the villagers, and the un- 
expected arrival of strange horsemen at an Indian encampment 
always creates great excitement. They may be friends, but 
they are more often enemies, so the villagers are always pre- 
pared for a surprise. 

Soon men were seen running to and fVo with guns and bows, 
and in a few minutes, some mounted warriors left the encamp- 
ment and rode toward us, going first to the top of the highest 

the " love paint," and means that the warrior is " on the path of love, and 
not the war-path." Nothing is more common i^an to see an Indian maiden 
seated on a buffalo robe, under a shade tree, beading moccasins for her 
dusky lover. 

*The buffalo-grass is dry and hard, and seems to have little nutriment 
in it, but its stem and roots are filled with a rich sweet, juice. The cattle 
and horses get very fat on it, notwithstanding its brown and parched ap- 


mouuds to see if they could discover other horsemen in the 
rear, or to the right or left of us. 

No sooner did they ascertain there were but three in the 
party, than they rode boldly up and asked us our business. 
I told them who we were, and where we were from, upon 
which they cordially invited us to the village. 

As we approached, men, women and children poured out of 
the encampment to look at the strangers, and having satisfied 
their curiosity, the sports and amusements of the evening were 

I asked permission to camp of no one, for I needed none, as 
this was God's land, and not owned by ravenous and dishonest 
speculators. So I marched right down to the center of the vil- 
lage, and finding a vacant space, pitched my lodge. It was not 
necessary to purchase a town-lot here, for no one, save Him who 
owns all, held real estate. 

A few Santee women gathered about my squaws and chatted 
with them, anxious to learn the news from down the river. 
Seeing they were interfering with the unpacking of the ponies 
and the erecting of the lodge, I unceremoniously ordered them 
to begone, and they went quietly away. The lodge was soon 
up ; the ponies unpacked and put out to graze. Having seen 
things put in order for the night, I sauntered out through the 
village to learn the news. 

I was agreeably surprised, when I learned there was a white 
man in the village, who had been sent out to the Indians as a 
missionary. All the savages spoke of him as a kind-hearted, 
good man, who was a great friend of the Great Spirit, and the 
Big I'athcr at Washington. 

I made haste to pay my respects to my white brother, and 
found him indeed a good Chnstian gentleman. He had a 


white wife and child, and he and thej were living comfoitably 
and pleasantly with these wild children of the desert. I talked 
more than an hour with the good man ; it was so delightful to 
see and speak with one of my own blood and color. When I 
left him, I promised I would return the next day and dine 
with him, which I did. It may sound strange to hear one 
talk of " dining out " in an Indian camp, but I can assure my 
civilized readers the meal was none the less wholesome or 
abundant on account of the place in w^hich it, was served. 

When I returned to my lodge, I found it surrounded by a 
crowed of dirty squaws and children, who were intent upon ex- 
amining every thing we had. I ordered them off, and could 
not help laughing when I compared the curiosity of these rude 
Indian women with that I had seen exhibited at church in the 
States by white women. They there go to church, not to hear 
the Gospel, but to see what their neighbors have to wear, and 
these Indian women had come to my lodge with the same 
laudable object. I am not certain that human nature is the 
same every-where, but I am quite certain woman nature is the 
same all the world over. 

I found the Santees a most excellent people. I had heard 
bad stories about them, but was agreeably surprised to learn 
that all that had been told to their disadvantage was false. 
The Omahas, Winnebagoes, Pawnees, Otoes, Sacs, Foxes, 
Crows, Snakes, Arrapahoes, Cheyennes, Blackfeet, Ogallalahs, 
and Yanktons are all either thieves or beggars, but here was 
a tribe of Indians who neither begged nor stole. The women 
were generally neat in their dress, virtuous, and cleanly in 
their persons. The warriors were men of great pride and 
bravery. The chiefs of the Santees were men of few w'ords, 
but they were dignified, courteour, and truthful in all they 

96 belden: the white chief. 

said and did. After all my experiences and disappointments 
among the Indians of the plains, I could not help admiring 
and respecting these people, for here at last I had found a tribe 
such as Cooper had represented, and Longfellow characterized 
in Hiawatha. The longer I lived among the Santees the 
more cause I found to praise them. 

I had built a willow awning over the door of my teepee, 
and shaded it with brush, so it was quite cool and pleasant. 

Every tribe of Indians build their lodges differently. Thus, 
the Winnebagoes live in huts made of the bark of trees, 
closely resembling an inverted teacup on the outside. The 
Pawnee houses are built in the same shape, but are made of 
mud, sod, or adobes. 

The Santee lodges were tall conical- shaped tents, made of 
buffalo hide tanned with the hair off, and stretched around 
twelve poles. These poles are tied together at the top, and set 
about three feet apart at the bottom, around a circle of one 
hundred and eight feet. The lodge, when finished, is thirty- 
six feet in diameter at the ground. The skin or covering is cut 
bias, the small end being fastened to the top of the poles and 
the long end wrapped round and round the poles, and finally 
fastened to the ground with a wooden pin or stone. The poles 
are not set in the ground, but the edge of the lodge cover 
is pinned down with short pegs made of hard wood. An 
aperture is left at the top of the lodge for the smoke to escape, 
and the fire is built in the center. When the door is open 
it draws well, and all the smoke goes up and out at the 

These lodges, although standing on the surface of the ground 
and apparently very fragile, will withstand the most violent 
'^ ind and rain storms. I have seen them outlive the strongest 

belden: the white chief. 99 

modern tents, and stand up when even great trees were blown 

Many of the teepees were painted, having grotesque repre- 
sentations of men, horses, birds, turtles, deer, elk, and other 
animals in red, blue, and black colors on their sides. The 
village contained about two hundred lodges, and represented a 
prairie-dog town, being laid out with little regularity or order 
as to the streets. 

The village covered a great space, the tents being often one 
and two hundred yards apart. 

Having improved and beautified my own lodge to my sat- 
isfaction, I sat down to enjoy myself and smoke my pipe in 
peace among these delightful people, little caring if I never 
saw the Yankton village again. 






IT was during my residence in the Santee village that I saw 
many curious things, and learned much of the mode of life 
and ceremonies of the Indians. Some of these are well worth, 
not only reading but remembering, by persons who peruse this 

Most people have seen the bows and arrows used by boys in 
the eastern States, and those who have observed them know 
how feeble they are, not even being capable of killing the 
smallest animal. Do not be surprised, then, when I tell you 
that an Indian, with his bow, will send an arrow entirely 
through a horse, man, or buffalo. The shaggy-coated bear or 
Rocky Mountain lion will fall beneath a few shots from the 
savage's strong bow, while the fleet, wild deer is not swift 
enough to escape the flight of his arrow. With unerring aim 

belden: the white chief. 101 

the hunter sends his deadly shaft, at eighty yards, into the 
heart or eye of his game, and with ease tips birds from the 
tops of the highest trees. Of course, it requires long practice 
to acquire such skill in the use of the bow, but the Indian will 
tell you that more depends upon the manufacture of the weapon 
than the skill of the marksman. With a good Indian bow 
and arrow a white man can, in a few hours, learn to shoot 
very well, while with a bow and arrow of his own manufac- 
ture he can hardly hit a tree, the size of a man's body, a 
rod off. 

Let me teach you how ta make a good bow and arrow. And 
first, we will begin with the arrow: The shoots, or rods, must 
be cut in the arrow season, .that is, when the summer's growth 
is ended. They must not have any branches or limbs on them, 
but be straight and smooth. The Indians cut their arrows 
late in the fall, when the timber is hardening, to withstand the 
blasts of winter. The sticks are not quite so thick as one's 
little finger, and they are sorted and tied in bundles of twenty 
and twenty-five. These bundles are two or two and one-half 
feet in length, and wrapped tightly from end to end with strips 
of rawhide, or elk skin. The sticks are then hung up over 
fire in the teepee to be smoked and dried, and the wrapping 
keeps them from warping or bending. When they are seasoned, 
which takes several weeks, the bundles are taken down, the 
covering removed, and the bark scraped off. The wood is very 
tough, then, and of a yellowish color. The next process is to 
cut the arrow shafts exactly one length, and in this great care 
must be used, for arrows of different lengths fly differently, and, 
unless they are alike, the hunter's aim is destroyed. Another 
reason for measuring the length of arrows is to identify them ; 
for no two warriors shoot arrows of precisely the same length. 


Each warrior carries a measuring, or pattern stick, and it ib 
only necessary to compare an arrow with the stick to find out 
to whom it belongs. But should the arrows, by chance, be of 
one length, then there are other means of identifying them, 
for every hunter has his own private mark in the shaft, the 
head, or the feather. Of many thousands I have examined, I 
never found two arrows exactly alike when they were made by 
different warriors. 

The shafts being made even, the next work is to form the 
notch for the bow-string. This is done with a sharp knife, and, 
when made properly, the bottom of the notch will be precisely 
in the center of the shaft. The arrow is then scraped and 
tapered toward the notch, leaving a round head an inch long 
near the notch, to prevent the string from splitting the shaft, 
and to make a firm hold for the thumb and forefinger in draw- 
ing the bow. 

All the arrows are pealed, scraped, and notched, and then 
the warrior creases them. To do this, he takes an arrow-head 
and scores the shaft in zigzag lines from end to end. These 
creases, or fluted gutters, in the shaft are to let the blood run 
out when an animal is struck. The blood flows along the little 
gutters in the wood and runs off the end of the arrow. The 
arrow-head is made of steel or stone. It is shaped like a heart 
or dart, and has a stem about an inch long. The sides of the 
stem are nicked or filed out like saw-teeth. Nearly all the wild 
Indians now use steel arrow-heads, they being a great article of 
trade among the savages. There are firms in the East, who 
manufacture many hundreds of thousands every year and send 
them out to the traders, who sell them to the Indians for furs. 

When the shaft is ready for the head, the warrior saws a slit, 
with a nicked knife, in the end opposite the notch, and inserts 



Che stem of the arrow-head. The slit must be exactly in the 
center of the shaft, and as deep as the stem is long. When 
properly adjusted, the teeth of the stem show themselves on 
each side of the slit. Buffalo, deer, or elk sinew is then soft- 
ened in water, and the w^ood is wrapped firmly to the arrow- 
head, taking care to fit the sinew in the teeth of the stem, 
which will prevent the head from pulling out. 

The next process is to put on the feathers. To do this 

properly great care must be 
taken. Turkey or eagle 
quills are soaked in warm 
w^ater, to make them split 
easily and uniformly. The 
feather is then stripped from 
the quill and put on the shaft 
of the arrow. Three feathers 
are placed on each shaft, and 
they are laid equi-distant 
along the stem. The big 
end of the feather is fast- 
ened near the notch of the 
shaft and laid six or eight 
inches straight along the 
w^ood. The feathers are glued 
to the shaft, and wrapped at 
each ^nd with fine sinew. 
The arrow is next painted, marked, dried, and is ready for use 
It takes a warrior a whole day to make an arrow, for which the 
trader allows him ten cents. 

Arrow-heads are put up in packages of a dozen each. They 
cost the trader half a cent, or six cents per package, and are sold 

Old Stone Arrow-heads. 


to the Indians at enormous profits. Thus, twelve arrow-heads 
will be exchanged for a bufiklo robe, worth ?8 or §9, and three, 
for a beaver skin, worth $4. Indians often buy arrow-heads at 
these enormous prices, and then sell the arrow back to the trader 
at ten cents, in exchange for goods, beads, or knives. The paints 
used by Indians in ornamenting arrows are purchased from 
traders. It is put up in small packages, and sold at 500 per 
cent, above cost. Of late years there has been a house in St. Louis 
that has made a speciality of Indian paints, and every Indian 
tribe on the plains knows their brand. These paints are in- 
delible and excellent, the Indians being willing to pay any 
price for them. Generally, imitation of Chinese vermillion, 
yellow and green cromes, indigo, lamp-black, and ink are sold 
to the savages for paints. 

To make war arrows, the Indians manufacture the shafts the 
same as for game arrows. The head is then fastened loosely in 
the wood, and when it is fired into the body it can not be got 
out. If you pull at the shaft the barbs catch and the shaft 
pulls off, leaving the arrow-head in the wound. Some war 
arrows have but one barb, and when this arrow is fired into 
the body, if the shaft be pulled, the barb catches in the flesh 
and the steel turns cross wise in the wound, rendering it im- 
possible to extract it. 

Fortunately but few Indian tribes now use the poisoned 
arrow. This deadly weapon is made like other arrows, except 
that it has a poisoned point. For years past, in the wars along 
the Platte, on the upper Missouri, and in all our contests with 
the Indians, not a single soldier or citizen has been shot with 
a poisoned arrow. Civilization can never be sufficiently grate- 
ful, to even savages, for having discarded a practice so bar- 

belden: the white chief. 1Q5 

A Santee warrior once showed me the method used by Indiana 
hi poisoning arrows, which I will here describe : 

A large, bloated, yellow rattlesnake, the most deadly reptile in 
the world, was caught, and his head held fast by a forked stick. 
An Indian then tickled him with a small switch, by passing it 
along his body from head to tail. The rage of the snake was 
unbounded; he threshed the ground with his body, hissed, 
rattled hi« tail, and his eyes grew bright as diamonds. I could 
not imagine why so simple a thing should make him so angry, 
but his rage was as great as it was amusing. A small deer had 
been brought out alive, and when the snake was most furious, 
the animal was killed, the smoking liver torn out, and, hot and 
bloody, laid before the reptile. The stick was then removed 
from his neck, and in an instant he struck it, his teeth sinking 
deep into the soft flesh. His rage seemed to increase each mo- 
ment, and he hit it again and again. When he tired, and would 
have gone away, the forked stick was brought, his neck pinned 
to the earth, and the tickle used until he became enraged. This 
was kept up as long as the hideous creature could be induced to 
strike the liver. He was then killed, a sharpened pole stuck 
into the liver, and it was carried to the village. It soon be- 
came very black, and emitted a sour smell. Arrows were 
brought, the heads thrust into the liver, and left there for half 
an hour, when they were withdrawn, and laid in the sun to dry. 
A thin, glistening yellow scum adhered to the arrow, and if it 
but so much as touched the raw flesh, it was certain to poison to 
the death. 

Formerly the Indians always carried their poisoned arrows 
in the skins of rattlesnakes, and they were very careful of them, 
selecting arid poisoning only such as had long shafts, peculiar 
points, or different marks. Still, mistakes would occur, warrior's 

106 belden: the white chief. 

Horses, dogs, and children, got accidentally poisoned and died, 
and at last the Indians quit using them, more on account of theii 
own safety than for any humanitarian reasons. 

A liver prepared in the way I have described, would contain 
virus enough to poison a thousand arrows. Years ago, each war 
party carried a poisoned liver, wrapped in a piece of buckskin, 
and it, with many arrows, was packed on a pony, called the 
"dead horse." When they found arrows of the enemy, they 
would poison and throw them on the trails, where they would 
be picked up and used by the foe to shoot game. 

Travelers on the prairie have often seen the Indians throw- 
ing up signal lights at night, and have wondered how it was 
done. I will tell you all about it : They take off the head of 
the arrow and dip the shaft in gunpowder, mixed with glue. 
This they call making fire arrows. The gunpowder adheres to 
the wood, and coats it three or four inches from its end, to 
the depth of one-fourth of an inch. Chewed bark mixed with 
dry gunpowder is then fastened to the stick, and the arrow is 
ready for use. When it is to be fired, a warrior places it on 
his bow-string and draws his bow ready to let it fly ; the point 
of the arrow is then lowered, another warrior lights the dry 
bark, and it is shot high in the air. When it has gone up a 
little distance, it bursts out into a flame, and burns brightly 
until it falls to the ground. Various meanings are attached to 
these fire-arrow signals. Thus, one arrow meant, among the 
Santees, " The enemy are about ; " two arrows from the same 
point, " Danger ;" Three, " Great danger; " many, " They are too 
strong, or we are falling back ; " two arrows sent up at the same 
moment, " We will attack ; " three, " Soon ; " four, " Now ; " if 
shot diagonally, " In that direction." These signals are con- 
stantly cliangcd, and are always agreed upon when the party 


goes oat, or before it separates. The Indians send their signals 
very intelligently, and seldom make mistakes in telegraphing 
each other by these silent monitors. The amount of informa- 
tion they can communicate, by fires and burning arrows, is 
perfectly wonl5erful. Every war party carries with it bundles 
of signal arrows. 

Every tribe of Indians make their arrows differently. The 
Snakes put but two feathers on their shafts ; the Sioux, when 
they make their own arrow-points, or buy them, always prefer 
long, slim points; the Cheyennes, blunt points, sharp on the 
edges ; the Pawnees, medium points ; and the Crows, Blackfeet, 
Utes, Omahas, Ottoes, and "VVinnebagoes, long points. The 
Pawnees wrap their arrow-heads with elk sinew, the Crows 
with deer, and the Santees, with sinew taken from the inside 
of the shoulder-blade of a buffalo bull. Not many years ago, 
the hunters and frontiersmen could tell to what tribe the 
Indians who attacked them belonged by their arrows, but now 
that is impossible. Many tribes trade and exchange arrows, while 
others pick up and keep all the arrows they find. It is a 
practice among the Pawnees, to carefully collect all the arrows 
of their enemies and keep them to shoot again, or trade, while 
many wily Indians, when they wish to attack the whites, or 
commit an outrage, purposely use arrows belonging to other 
tribes. To find a white man dead, with a Pawnee arrow stick- 
ing in him, is no longer, as in former days, evidence that a 
Pawnee killed him, for, most likely, the deed was done by a 
Cheyenne or Sioux, and the blame thus sought to be thrcwn 
on the poor Pawnees. 


AxaqpnTT—umAM man uuxxoro vo SBsxn—fcmwa, J9 


sxKirarG — wo(H> fob bows — vhbib talue — DirFicui.Tr op dbawixg ihem — 


vim acnnr — thb Bow-sacDro — cxow aso chetbkbb bows — thb blk 

■OBai bow— how it is MADB — thb TALCB of ax blk bow — QVIYBSS — HOW 

rilHE bow — the weapon so long in use among the different 
-*- Indian tribes of this continent, so typical of Indian life, and 
die mere mention of which always associates onr ideas with the 
red men — ^is made of varioos kinds of wood, and its mann- 
&ctiire is a work of no little labor. Even at this day the 
bow is much used, and although an Indian may have a gon, 
he is seldom seoi without his long bow, and quiver well filled 
with arrows. The gun may get out of order, and he can not 
mend it ; the ammunition may become wet, and there is an end 
of hunting ; but the faithful bow is always in order, and its swift 
arrows ready to fly in wet as well as dry weather. Thus 
reasons the savage, and so ke^s his bow to £dl back upon in 
case of accident. 

Until the invention of breech-loaders, it is a &ct well known 
to frontiersmen that the bow was a £ir more deadly weapon at 
dose range than the best rifle. A warrior could discharge his 

belden: the white chief. 109 

arrows with mnch greater rapidity and precision than the most 
expert woodsman could charge and fire a mnzzle-loading 

The antiqnite' of the bow is so great that its origin is per- 
haps coincident with war and the necessities of mankind. It 
is paint«»d on the ruins of Xineveh ; it is mentioned in the first 
book of the Bible, and it is known to have been used on the 
eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea, where the human race 
probably first had its origin. 

The Indian boy's first lesson in life is to shoot with a bow. 
He is furnished with a small bow and ^beewaks," or Uunt 
arrows, so he will hurt nobody, and with these he shoots at 
marks. Biy and by, when he has acquired some skill in hand- 
ling his weapon, he is given small arrow-points, and with 
these he shoots birds, squirrels^ and small beasts. As he grows 
older he receives the long4x)w, and at last the stiQiig4x>w. 

These stnmg-bows are powerfiil weapons, and I have seen 
them 80 stifT that a white man could not bend them scarce fimr 
inches, while an Indian would, with apparent ease, draw them 
to the arrow's head. A shaft fired from one of these bows will 
go through the body of a buflSdo, and arrow-heads ha^e been 
found so firmly imbedded in the thigh bones of a man that no 
fiiroe could extract them. 

The parents take great pide in teaching young Indians to 
shoot, and ^e development of the miecles and streng;di of 
their arms i^ watched with much interest. ' A stoat aim, oma 
mented with knots of mnsdeSy is a great honor to an Indian, 
and no one but those who can handle the strong4Miw are 
deemed fit fi>r war. 

Of all the Indians of the West, the Soux ai|d Crows make 

the best bows. The Soox bow is generally fixur feel long, 


110 belden: the white chief. 

and a half inches wide, and an inch thick at the middle. It 
tapers from the center, or " grasp, ^' toward the ends, and is 
but half an inch wide and half an inch thick at the extrem- 
ities. At one end the bow-string is notched into the wood and 
made permanently fast, while at the other end two notches are 
cut in the wood, and the string at that end of the bow is Liade 
like a slip-knot or loop. When the bow is to be used, the 
warrior sets the end to which the string is made fast firmly 
on the ground, and then bends down the other end until 
the loop slips into the notch. This is called '^ stringing '^ the 
bow. The bow is never kept strung except when in actual 
use, as it would lose its strength and elasticity by being con- 
stantly bent. When unstrung, a good bow is perfectly 
straight, and, if properly made and seasoned, will always retain 
its elasticity. 

The wood generally used in manufacturing bows is ash, 
hickory, iron- wood, elm, and cedar. No hickory grows west of 
the Missouri, and it is very difficult to get ; and an Indian will 
always pay a high price for a piece of this wood. 

When the bow is made of cedar, it need not be seasoned ; 
but all other woods require seasoning, and are not worked 
until perfectly dry. Every teepee has its bow-wood hung up 
with the arrows in the smoke of the fire, but well out of reach 
of the flames. A warrior with a sharp knife and a sandstone, 
or file, can make a bow in three days if he works hard, but 
it most generally takes a week, and sometimes a month, to 
finish a fancy bow. When done, it is worth three dollars in 

All the bows differ in length and strength, being gauged for 
the arms of those who are to use them; but a white man 
would, until he learned the slight of it, find himself unable to 


bend even the weakest war-bow. This has given rise to the 
impression that the Indians are stronger than white men, which 
is an error ; for, although only a slight man myself, I learned, 
after some practice, to bend the strongest bow, and could send 
a shaft as far or as deep as any savage. On one occasion I 
shot an arrow, while running, into a buffalo so that the point 
came out on the opposite side; another arrow disappeared in 
the buffalo, not even the notch being visible. The power of 
the bow may be better understood when I tell you that the 
most powerful Colt's revolver will not send a ball through a 
buffalo. I have seen a bow throw an arrow five hundred 
yards, and have myself often discharged one entirely through 
a board one inch thick. Once I found a man's skull trans- 
fixed to a tree by an arrow which had gone completely through 
the bones, and imbedded itself so deep in the wood as to sus- 
tain the weight of the head. He had probably been tied up to 
the tree and shot. 

The Sioux and Cheyenne bows are generally strengtjiened 
on the back by a layer of sinew gliied to the wood. This 
sinew, as well as the bow-string, is taken from the back of the 
buffalo. It starts at the hump and runs along the spinal 
column to the tail, and is about six feet in length. 

The surface of the bow is made perfectly flat, then roughened 
with a file or stone, the sinew being dipped in hot glue and 
laid on the wood. The sinew is then lapped at the ends and 
on the middle, or grasp of the bow. The string is attached 
while green, twisted, and left to dry on the bow. The whole 
outside of the wood and sinew is now covered with a thick 
eolution of glue, and the bow is done. Rough bows look like 
hickory limbs with the bark on, but some of them are beauti- 
fully painted and ornamented. I once knew a trader to glue 


some red velvet on a bow, and the Indians paid him an im 
mense price for it, thinking it very wonderful. 

The Crows make bows out of Elk horn. To do this they 
take a large horn or prong, and saw a slice off each side of it ; 
these slices are then filed or rubbed down until the flat sides 
fit nicely together, when they are glued and wrapped at the ends. 
Four slices make a bow, it being jointed. Another piece ot 
horn is laid on the center of the bow at the grasp, where it is 
glued fast. The whole is then filed down until it is perfectly 
proportioned, when the white bone is ornamented, carved, and 
painted. Nothing can exceed the beauty of these bows, and it 
takes an Indian about three months to make one. They are 
very expensive, and Indians do not sell them ; but I once 
managed to get one from a friend for thirty-tw^o dollars in gold. 

In traveling, the bow is carried in a sheath attached to the 
arrow quiver, and the whole is slung to the back by a belt of 
elk or buckskin, which passes diagonally across the breast, and 
is fastened to the ends of the quiver. The quiver and bow- 
sheath is generally made of the skin of an ox or some wild 
animal, and is tanned with the hair on. The quiver is orna- 
mented with tassals, fringe of buckskin, and the belt across 
the breast is painted or worked with beads. Each Indian has 
his sign or name on his belt, bow, sheath, or arrow quiver. 
The celebrated Sioux chief. Spotted Tail, or *^Sin-ta Galles- 
3ca, " had his bow-sheath made from the skin of a spotted 
ox he had killed in a train his warriors captured, and as the 
tail was left dangling at the end of the sheath, the Indians 
ever afterward called him Spotted Tail, or " The man with the 
Spotted Tail." * You may be curious to know what this In- 

* Mr. Belden is likely mistaken as to the origin of Spotted Tail's 
nam»i. 1 have often been told by soldiers and old frontiersmen that when 

^iiaecn/cvi./a.i^TJiA T«wi 

Bowi, Arrowi, and Quivers. 


dian's name was before he was called Spotted Tail, and I must 
tell you many Indians never have a name, while others have 
half a dozen. Some act of bravery, or an article of clothing, 
generally fixes an Indian's name, but a new deed, or a new 
head-dress, may change it. 

To shoot with the bow properly, it must be held firmly in 
three fingers of the right hand ; the arrow is fixed on the bow- 
string with the thumb and forefinger of the leffc hand, and the 
other three fingers are used to pull the string. The shaft of 
the arrow lays between the thumb and forefinger of the right 
hand, which rest over the grasp of the bow. To shoot, the 
bow is turned slightly, so one end is higher than the other, and 
the arrow is then launched. 

Not only is the bow used as a weapon, but it serves as an 
implement with which to disgrace a man. Thus, an Indian 
who is struck with a bow is as much disgraced and insulted as 
a white man who has been cowhided. To strike one with a 
bow means in the Indian language, " Go, coward ; " or, " You 
are not worthy of being killed by arrows ; " or, " I do not 
consider you a brave or honorable man," which is the worst of 
all insults to a savage. 

Spotted Tail -vras a young man he wore a coon's tail in his hair, and from 
tliin took his name of Spotted Tail, or " The man with the spotted tail" 
Our soldiers have often seen him wearing this coon tail in battle, and I 
think it was from it he derived his name. — Editor. 

116 belden: the white chief. 



11 TOST of the Indian tribes of the west, have obtained 
-LTX from traders, many articles of civilization, but among 
the Santees, I found they relied almost wholly upon their own 
skill to produce tools and household utensils. These M^re 
generally manufactured by old men and squaws, except axes, 
hammers, mallets, files, rasps, and hoes, which were made by 
the warriors. 

The axes were of three diiferent kinds — stone, bone, and 
flint. The stone ax is made from a large pebble, or river 
stone. It is first split in two parts, which gives each section 
a sharp edge and a flat side. The stone is then enveloped in 
rawhide, except the edge. The hide is put on when green, 
and strongly sewed with sinew, and when dry, it is almost as 
hard and tight as the stone. "While the hide is still soft, a 
handle covered with rawhide, and having a long slip projecting, 
is laid on the flat side of the stone, and strongly sewed to the 
skin covering the ax. The slip is then wrapped around the 



ax-head and handle, and sewed fast, after which the whole is 
lapped with sinew, and set away to dry. As soon as it is 
thoroughly dried, the ax is brought out, the edge filed up, 
or sharpened by rubbing it against a sandstone, and it is ready 
for use. It is astonishing how firmly the contracted rawhide 
and sinews hold this rude ax on its handle ; the stone often 
breaks, however, and the ax can only be used for cutting soft 
wood and brush. Three or four of these axes can be made by 
an Indian in a day, so they are of no great value, and are 
thrown away as soon as they break. 

The flint axes are more difiicult to make, but are manu- 
factured in the same manner, except that a notch is sawed in 
the handle, and the ax set in the notch to give it greater 

Indian Axes and Clubs. 

The bone ax is the best as well as the hardest to make. 
Buffalo bones (generally the leg or shoulder-blade) are taken, 
split in two, and trimmed down to the right thickness. A sap- 
ling, young tree, or limb, is then split near a knot, and the 
bone shaved through, where it is left to grow fast. This is 

done in the spring, and by fall the sap will have filled up 

11 ' 


the interstices, and the wood beconae firm around the bone. 
The wood is then cut at the right length, and the handle 
shaved out. The whole is next covered with rawhide sewed 
and lapped with sinew, the bone ground up, and the implement 
is ready for service. One of these axes will last a year and 
rarry a fair edge, but the great objection to them is, that they 
are too light for effective chopping. Elk ham-bone makes a 
very good ax head. 

Mallets, hammers, and hatchets, are made in the same man- 
ner as described for axes, except that the big mallet, used for 
driving stakes and tent-pins, is made of a round stone, in the 
side of which a trench has been pecked, into which the handle 
is laid. The whole is then covered with rawhide, and when 
dry, the hide is pared off one end of the stone, and it is flat- 
tened by rubbing it against a rock, or dressing it as a miller 
does his millstone. 

Hoes are made of flat stones and bones, covered with raw- 
hide, and a handle is fastened with buffalo sinews. These hoes 
are used to dig earth, wild artichokes, and for scraping the hair 
off hides when tanning. 

The most curious process was making files and rasps. To 
do this, an alderberry stick was taken and split in two. The 
pith was then scraped out, and in the grove thus formed, was 
poured glue, mixed with pounded flint. When dry, the parti- 
cles of flint formed the teeth of the rasp, or file. If the file 
became dull, it was only necessary tf wash it in hot water, 
when the glue and old pieces of flint washed out and new 
teeth appeared. These files were very handy, and of vast use 
to the Indians. What steel is to iron, they are to the wood 
and stone used by the Indian. When ponies hoofs became too 
long, or splintered, they were trimmed down by these rasps; 



also, ax handles, teepee poles, and iron, even, were rubbed down 

with them. 

"War clubs are made with han- 
dles three feet long. A sharp flint 
stone is found, and dressed off into 
an oblong shape. A sapling is 
then split, the stone heated an^l 
placed in the split. This is re- 
peated until the crack is almost 
closed, when it is left to grow fast. 
It is then cut, the handle trimmed 
out, the whole, except the point of 
Modem War Club. stone, covered with rawhide, and 

sewed with sinew, when it is beautifully painted and orna- 
Spears are made of hard wood, and pointed with stone or 

iron. If an Indian can 

get an old bayonet, or 

sword-blade, he is de- 
lighted, as it makes a 

splendid head for his 

spear. If no iron can 

be obtained, the wood 

is charred in the fire; 

the burnt particles are 

then scraped off, leaving 

it very hard and sharp. 

The butt end of the 

pole is always used for 

the head of the spear, ^ -— .._.^z^" 

and the whole length of Indian Warrior and Clao. 



the instrument is twelve 
to fifteen feet. The 
Sioux, Cheyennes, and a 
few other tribes still use 
these weapons, but they 
are fast disappearing. 
They are clumsy, but 
very dangerous when 
skillfully handled, and 
can be thrown a great 
distance with considera- 
ble accuracy. 

Riding whips are 
made in great numbers 
by the Indians. They 
are of various kinds and curious 

SiOQZ "Warrior with Spear. 

Pawnee and Spear. 

patterns. Some are twisted 
out of horse-hair, and 
wrapped with fine 
sinew, to make them 
stiff and elastic ; others 
are woven of buffalo 
fur, and others of grass 
or bark. 

The regular Indian 
riding whip is made 
of leather, fastened to 
a wooden handle. A 
bone, or piece of round, 
hard wood, about six 
inches in length, is 
taken, and through each 


end a small liole is bored across the grain. Another longer hole 
is then bored in the end of the stick along the grain, until it 
intersects the first hole. The lash, with a loop on its end, la 
next inserted in the end of the whip, and a peg driven through 
the small hole and loop, to keep it from coming out. A lo()]>, 
of wrist-strap, is then put in the other end of the handle, an J 
the whip is ready for use. The lashes of these whips are two oi 
three feet long and very heavy, being made generally of buck- 

Indians Practicing with the Bow and Spear. 

skin, elk, or buffalo hide. They are frequently not plaited, but 
knotted every five or six inches. These knots are called " bel- 
lies," and are intended to make the punishment more severe 
than it would otherwise be. 

The elk-horn whip is very pretty, being usually beautifully 
carved and painted many colors. Sometimes the long prong 
of a blacktail deer is used, studded with brass tacks, or pieces 


of silver. Frequently, the handles are covered with fur, or 
buckskin, which is ornamented with bead-work. 

The Santees could make a rude knife when they could get 
hoop-iron, but nearly all the Indians have knives made by white 
men. These knives are branded Samson & Goodnow, J. Wil- 
son, Clement & Hawks, though how these manufacturers got 
their knives among the Indians, I never could learn. 

The Crow Indians are the only ones who make combs. They 
are very simple, and consist of a hedgehog's tail, the bristles 
serving as teeth. When the hog is killed, the tail is skinned 
off the bone, and a wooden handle inserted. When dry it is 
ready for use, and is by no means a bad substitute for the 
bone, or horn comb we use. A hedgehog comb is an indis- 
pensable article to every Indian girl, as it enables her to keep 
her long black hair in order. 






rilHE robes used by the Indians in winter for wearing as 
-■- protection against the weather, are made of the skins of 
small buffalo bulls or cows. The skin ia dressed down or 
thinned by means of chipping and scraping of the flesh side 
with an adze or hoe made of bone. "When it is as thin as it 
can be cut with the adze, it is rubbed down to the right thick- 
ness with a sandstone. This done, the robe is well soaked in 
bufiklo brains and grease, after which it is dried. It is then 
washed in clear water, and re-washed, until all the grease and 
brains are taken out. The skin now only has to be rubbed 
dry, and the tanning process is complete. 

Squaws and men all wear buffalo robes about their persons 
in winter. They are always worn with the fur side inwards, 
or next the skin, and the flesh side is painted with stars, 
squares, stripes, or whatever strikes the fancy of the wearer. 
The paint is seared in with a hot iron, and is generally black, 
red, or blue, in color. 

The robes made for trading purposes are entirely diff*erent 


belden: the white chief. 

from those worn by the Indians themselves. A private, or 
body-robe, as it is called, is worth a dozen trade-robes. The 
trade skins are never painted, but merely fleshed, brained, 
washed, and rubbed. Once in a while a painted robe finds itb 
way into the market, but 
only as old family jewels 
find their way to the pawn- 
broker's shop among civil- 
ized people. An Indian will 
not part with his painted 
robe unless pressed with hun- 
ger, or to obtain powder and 
bullets. A new body-robe 
is seldom or never sold, and 
those seen in the East are 
mostly old robes, that the 
Indians have parted with 
because they were about to 
get new ones. 

The trade-robes, or bull- Body-robe, 

hides, usually cost at the tribe grounds from §1.25 to $2.00. 
The traders pack them in bales of ten robes each, and ship 
them East, where they are sold at $70 to $90 per bale. What 
it costs to transport them, I am unable to say ; but it is fair to 
presume, that the trader clears from $4 to $6 on each robe. 

When I lived with the Santees it was not yet the trading 
season ; but I have often seen the Crows and Pawnees trade oa 
a large scale. This is generally done in the fall ; and not un- 
frequently a single trader will secure as many as one thousand 
robes. These cost him only $1,250 in goods, and he can sell 
them in the East for $5,000 to $6,000 in cash. The Indians 


do not want money, but goods; and the trader keeps con- 
stantly on hand a large assortment of Indian traps. The arti- 
cles generally sought for by the savages are the following : 

Red, white, blue, black, and green Mackanaw blankets. 

Red and blue " squaw-cloth,'^ which is a flannel of various 
colors, and costs $4 per yard. 

Red, white, blue, black, green, yellow, and purple worsted, 
in one pound skeins. This is used for making tassels and rib- 

Cotton thread, flax thread, and needles. 

Blue and striped bed-ticking, used by the squaws for making 

Cotton and worsted shawls ; very small, and worn over the 
shoulders, and around the neck. 

Balmoral skirts of the most brilliant colors. I have also 
seen crinoline and hoop-skirts readily sold to the squaws. 

Red, blue, and various colored handkerchiefs, both silk and 

Lampblack, indigo, Chinese vermilion, green and yellow 
chrome, and all kinds of paints. 

Gunpowder, bullet molds, bullets, and percussion caps. 

Brass, copper, and iron wires. 

"Wire worms, for extracting charges from loaded guns. 

Brass hawk-bells and brass tacks. 

Brass finger-rings, jewelry, and buttons. 

Butcher knives, lead, ax helves, handles, saws, files, and 

Pipes and stems of all kinds. 

Silver and gold ear-rings. 

Brass wristbands. 

Sugar, tea, coffee, flour, tobacco, candy, raisins, and figs. 
8 . 



Chip hats, calico, paper collars, and whisky. 

Wampum beads, a string, one yard long, being worth fifty 
cents. The trader both sells and receives them at that price 
and they pass as currency among the In- 
dians, the standard value being fifty cents 
per yard; if white or pink, and if purple, 
seventy-five cents per yard. A wampum 
moon, which is a small sea-shell, out of 
which the wampum beads are made, will 
sell for $1. 

These are the principle articles found in 
every trader's store, and for them the Indi- 
ans exchange buffalo robes, elk, deer, ante- 
lope, beaver, muskrat, mink, fox, bear, and 
many other kinds of skins. 

The flesh or meat of the animals they kill 
is dried, put away in caches, for winter use, 
and the hides go into the traders' bales. 

The average value of skins among the 
Indians is: for a buffalo robe, $1.25; for an 
elk skin, $1; deer and antelope skins, 75 
cents each; beaver and otter, $1 each; 
wolf cayote, 25 cents ; muskrat, 10 cents ; 
mink, $1. 

Great labor and a vast deal of time is expended in tanning 
these skins, and I may safely say that, considering the amount 
of work put upon them, they are the cheapest articles of trade 
in the world. A squaw frequently toils a whole day on a skin 
that will only bring her husband ten cents worth of goods, 
which are really worth no more than five cents in cash. 









"VTTHERE and when did men first learn to smoke? The 
' ' sacred Scriptures make no mention of this practice. 
Neither Abraham, Isaac, nor Jacob smoked, and none of the 
old fathers offered their guests the pipe, though the Old and 
New Testament make frequent mention of food entertainment. 
Job set a good table, but there is no evidence he smoked. God 
speaks of " a smoke in my nose,^' but this is the smell of meat- 
offerings, and not tobacco or pipe fumes. . 

The tobacco plant belongs to North America, and has been 
used by the Aztecs and Indians, from time immemorial. It 
was a luxury in Powhatan's sylvan camp, in the days of Poca- 
hontas. Sir "Walter Raleigh first carried it from America to 
England, in 1588, and to the English belong the responsibility 
of introducing this weed to the civilized world. 

As far back as we can trace the savage, the pipe has been his 
pride, the solace of his leisure and weary hours, and the emblem 
of his friendship. The story-tellers of the Indians say, they 


belden: the white chief. 

first received the tobacco plant from an angel, sent by the Great 
Spirit. They smoked the leaves in their pipes, that the angela 
might smell the fames and be pleased. It was also an oblation 
to the Great Spirit, and hence, the custom, to this day, of pre- 
ceding all solemn occasions by much smoking. 

The earliest Indian pipe was curved like an ox's horn, and 
had no stem. There was a hole through it, and the tobacco 
was put in the large end. 
In smoking this pipe, 
the Indian laid on his 
back. The next form 
of pipe used, was that 
of the body of a man, 
the stem of the pipe 
being placed in the small 
of the back. This de- 
sign was got from the 
Idols, which the Indians 
cut out of stone. The 
first attempt at orna- 
menting the pipe was, 
to make it in imitation 
of the snake. The tobacco was placed in the mouth of the reptile, 
the tail answered for a stem, and the body was carved to represent 
the scales. The highest art ever attained in carving an Indian 
pipe was to cut a rude imitation of a lizard on the front of the bowl. 

The warrior's pipe, of the present day, is made of red clay, or 
soap-stone, which is found in nearly every part of the American 
continent. There are some stones that are held in great esti- 
mation by the Indians, for making pipes. The quarry, four 
miles below the falls of Sioux River, between Dakota and the 

An Indian and his Pipe. 



State of Iowa, is held in high repute. The soft red clay, or 
soap-stone, on the Iowa shore of the Missouri, and found on the 
Yellowstone Make, also makes beautiful pipes. This stone is soft 
when taken out, but rapidly becomes hard when exposed to the air. 
Indians make tneir pipes with the common jack-knife. The 
bowl is long, deep, and eight square, or round. The shape of 

the pipe is a rectangle, and the 
hole for the stem is bored with 
an iron rod, or sharp piece of 
stone. The pipes are of all sizes, 
some of them being very large, but 
all have the same elbow. 

The stems are of various lengths 
and shapes, but those most com- 
monly in use are made of a hollow 
^^^®* stick, or one through which a hole 

has been drilled. They are fully three feet long, an inch in 
diameter, and ornamented with brass 
tacks, wire wrappings, and paintings. 

The Santees, Ogallalas, and Yank- 
tons use a flat stem, very long and very 
thick. They are sometimes three inches 
broad, and ornamented at both ends 
with bright feathers. Rows of ver- 
milion, green, duck, and gold-colored 
eagle quills, are split and fastened with 
glue, by their flat surfaces, to the stem 
of the pipe, and the ends are then 
wrapped with wire. Carvings pf birds, 
beasts, fishes, and men, are cut on the 
bowls and stems, and filled with paint. Modern Indian Pipe. 



Besides the red-stone pipe, the Indians use the hammer and 
tomahawk pipe, made of iron. Nearly all the tomahawks seen 
in civilization are made by blacksmiths, employed by the gov- 
ernmpnt, and sent out to the Indians. The friendly savages, 

for whom they are manufac- 
tured, trade them to their war- 
like brethren, and thus they 
become scattered far and wide. 
These tomahawks,though often 
Fine Pipes. Carried in their belts, are sel- 

dom used by Indians as weapons, and, notwithstanding they 
have passed into history as a deadly instrument, they are more 
for ornament than use. It frequently happens, however, that 
the tomahawks made at the agencies, for friendly tribes, are 
captured by hostile Indians, and these savages, in their contests 
with the whites, sometimes use their toma- 
hawks to brain captives, hence, the dread of 
them, and the bloody name they bear. 

The instrument generally used by Indians 
in killing captives, is the war-club, made of 
oak or iron wood, and fully described in 
another place. An oaken club of this kind 
was once shown me, that had been used by 
the Indians, at the massacre of Fort Phil. 
Kearney, in the Powder River country, in 
1866, to break the skulls of ninety-six soldiers Tomahawk Pipe, 
and citizens. The club was a rough stick, and the knots and 
end were still clotted with blood, brains, and human hair. This 
deadly instrument was made of. burr oak, was three feet long, 
shaped like a bat for ball playing, and driven full of nails, some 
of which were bent over to form a loop, or hook. 

belden: the white chief. 131 

To return to our subject, the Indian pipe is not valued by its 
possessor so much on account of the material it contains, as its 
history. Thus, a little, dirty-looking pipe, which I saw in the 
hands of a Santee squaw, was valued at three ponies, or one 
American horse, three squaws, or their equivalent, §150.00, 
because it had been owned by her grandfather, and her great- 
grandfather, who was a great mediciue man. 

The Sioux women smoke, though a young woman is seldom 
seen with a pipe, and most of the smoking is confined to the 
men. Warriors smoke as a part of their religious duty, and an 
acknowledgment of an all-wise Creator. All treaties and acts 
of friendship are preceded by smoking, which calls God to wit- 
ness the sincerity of the Indian's heart. No important trade can 
be made, or message delivered, until the parties have smoked ; 
and when Indians meet together, for pleasure or business, the 
first thing done is, to fill the pipe, hand it to the eldest man 
present, when another seizes a fire-brand, holds it to the 
bowl, and the father smokes. The Indian who holds the 
pipe in his mouth can seldom light it, on account of the great 
length of the stem, and hence he requires the aid of some 
one else. When the father has drawn in a mouthful of smoke, 
he forces it out through his nose, turning his face to the east, 
then the west, north, and south. He thus makes a smoke-ofier- 
ing to the Great Spirit, and having done so, passes the pipe 
to the Indian next on his left. Each warrior takes but two or 
three whiffs, before passing the pipe to his neighbor. One pipe 
is sufficient for five or six smokes. And not only do five or six 
Indians smoke from the same pipe, but they inhale the smoke, 
and pass it through their noses, instead of blowing it away, as 
white men do. An Indian says a white man does not know 

how to enjoy a smoke. Indians do not talk while smoking, but 


132 belden: the white chief. 

chat gayly while others are passing the pipe. When the pipe is 
exhausted, it is refilled, and the first smoker of the new pipe 
always makes a smoke-offering to the deity. 

The Indians make much of their wild tobacco, made from the 
bark of trees. The Sioux, Omahas, Winnebagoes, Cheyennes, 
Arrapahoes, and Ottoes, use willow bark. The squaws gather 
a bundle of the largest-sized shoots, and carry them to the tee- 
pee, where the wind does not blow, and there scrape off the bark 
with a knife. First the outside coating is taken off, which is 
ihrown away ; the soft inner bark is then scraped into a piece of 
rawhide, and left to dry. It is of a greenish color, and emits 
a pleasant smell. The fall of the year is the season for gather- 
ing the willow bark, as the sap is then going down, and the 
bark is mild and more pleasant to smell than if peeled in sum- 
mer. When dry, the squaws grease their hands with buffalo 
fat, and then crush the bark until it is pulverized fine enough 
for the pipes. The grease adhering to the particles of bark 
makes it burn freely. Each squaw puts up several pounds of 
this bark, for the use of her warrior, and I have known Indians 
to travel a hundred miles for the purpose of gathering cham- 

The Pawnee Indians use the red leaves of the sumach bush 
for tobacco. It abounds on the plains, in the Rocky Mountains, 
and on many streams east of the Missouri. This kind of to- 
bacco is called " Lup-pitch,'' and the Pawnees greatly prefer it 
to the " Lup-pa-hot," or " Cham-pa-sha,^' which is the Sioux- 

The Crows, or Absaracks, use a grean leaf, which grows on a 
running vine, in the mountains. This leaf is found above the 
perpetual snow line, and is called 0-pe-sha by the Indians, and 
Lambre ty the whites. The vine runs on the ground, has a 


pear-shaped leaf, and resembles the pig-weed of the north. It 
is an evergreen, blossoming in the winter, on beds of snow, and 
bears bright red berries, of the size of a pea. The berries are 
sour, very hard, and always retain their color. 

The 0-pe-sha is mixed with tobacco, when the Indians can 
get it, and is smoked, lialf and half of each. 

The Sioux have three substitutes for tobacco ; first, the leaves 
of the wild rose bush ; second, the leaves of a bushy weed, which 
grows in the cailons, or valleys of the west ; and third, the small 
curled leaf of the dwarf sumach. These leaves are rolled up 
like minute rolls of tobacco, and when crushed, it is impossible 
to tell them from cut and dry. Indians, whether alone or in 
company, always observe the solemnities of smoking. Never 
does a Sioux Indian light his pipe but he draws a great puff 
of smoke, and blows it out of his mouth toward the sky, ejacu- 
lating, How-wa-con-ton-ka, meaning, " I remember thee, O God,'' 
or " To thee, O Great Spirit," at the same time pointing with 
the stem of the pipe upward. 

The Winnebagoes blow two puffs toward the sky, two to the 
east, two west, two south, and one down, following each with 
the stem of the pipe pointing in that direction. At the same 
time they mutter " O God, propitiate the winds of the east, the 
west, and south, and bless the earth.'' 

The Crows blow a buff of smoke to the sky, one east, and one 
west, meaning, " O Great Strength, I remember thee, from the 
rising to the setting of the sun " (How-ba-tsa-ka). The Chey- 
ennes make the same offering as the Sioux, but use a different 
speech. There is no set term, but generally such expressions as 
" O thou God, keep me." " God defend me from all harm." 
" O God, see me," are used. When on the war path, they pray, 
" God send us our enemies." The Arrapahoes blow a puff of 


belden: the white chief. 

smoke upward, and pointing with their pipes, say, '' God, re 
member us on earth," or " God and us." 

The tobacco for their pipes is carried by 
the Indians in pouches, or bags, made of the 
skins of wild animals, buckskin, or calico, 
ornamented with porcupine quills. The pouches 
are sometimes five inches wide, and eigh- 
teen to twenty inches long. They are carried 
with the mouth of the pouch under the belt, 
and hang down, generally having the tail dang- 
ling, if the bag is made of the skin of an animal. 
Nearly all the pouches are ornamented with 
fringe, or bead pendants, four or five inches 
long. The value of a tobacco bag, of course, 
depends on its workmanship; a fine buckskin 
bag, ornamented with beads, and fifteen days' 
labor, is worth $3.00 ; a mink-skin pouch is 
worth $4.00; an elk-skin, worked with porcu- 
pine quills, $5.00, and an otter kitten as much Tobacco Pouch, 
as $6.00. 

belden: the white chief. 135 




STRANGE as it may seem, it is Done the less true, that 
the Indians learned the art of trapping from white men. 
Long ago they stole along the banks of the creeks, and, hiding 
in the brush, waited patiently for the beaver to show himself 
in the shallow water or on the banks, when they shot him. 
This process was very tedious, however, and they longed for 
some other manner of capturing the smooth-haired little animal, 
so it was with much satisfaction that they saw the white men go 
along the streams, and set a curious instrument in the ground, 
to which the beaver came, and which held him fast until the 
trapper saw fit to take him out. 

Sly Indians watched the process from their bushy cover, and 
when the trapper had gone away, they stole the trap and car- 
ried it off* to their camps. It was a long time before the In- 
dians could set their traps, and not until the white men taught 
them, that they learned how to sit in the still moonlight and 
watch the beaver work ; how to walk on the ice and see if there 

136 belden: the white chief. 

were beaver holes or houses, and then, when having ascertained 
the presence of the coy little fellow, how to put the trap down, 
grease it with the oil of his own tail, and leave it to snare him. 

A trap weighs about five pounds, and it is considered a good 
load to carry twelve. It will require a walk of ten or twelve 
miles, and all of one day, to set a dozen traps properly. If 
three beavers are caught each night for every dozen traps set. 
the trapper considers he is doing a good business. The skins, 
untanned, are worth about one dollar each. During the winter 
season the hunter will average not over four beavers per week, 
for there are many days he can not trap. I had one hundred 
traps worked hard for three months, often floundering through 
the ice, getting wet to my waist, and having to build fires to 
keep from perishing, and at the end of ninety days had but 
fifty beaver skins, worth fifty dollars, for my labor. Still there 
IS something jolly about a trapper^s life, a wild, roving excite- 
ment that strangely allures and fascinates one. Why it is I 
can not tell, but most frontiersmen love trapping, and will pur- 
sue it, even though they take but a dozen beaver per month ; 
just as I have seen sportsmen go, day after day, in the East, 
to angle in a little stream, when they knew there were not 
twenty trout from its mouth to its source. 

The setting of the trap is a delicate job, and every trace of 
it must be concealed, or the cunning little animal will not fall 
into it. Each Indian saves the musk of all the beavers he 
takes, and with this rubs his traps, so that the beaver may 
smell them, come up, and fall a prey. When a beaver smells 
another, he has great curiosity to know where he is, and so runs 
about looking for him, until he treads on the fatal spring and 
is caught. 

After an Indian has set his traps, he becomes very morose, 


and goes to his tent and smokes a great deal. He does not run 
about the village or talk, but sits alone, endeavoring to think 
of his traps all the time, for thereby he believes he will draw 
the beaver tc them. When he lays down to sleep, he recalls all 
the battles and skirmishes in which he has been engaged, and 
tries to dream of them. If he dreams that he is victorious; then 
he rises and goes confidently to his traps, but if he sees a dead 
or live beaver in his dream, he will not visit his traps next day^ 
for he knows by his vision that there are no beaver in them. 
Should he imagine he is fighting five men and whip them, there 
are five beavers in his traps, but if only two men, then there 
are but two beavers. Should he meet men who run away from 
him in his dreams, it is unlucky, for the beaver have run away 
with his traps into their holes. 

The otter does not abound along the Missouri, in Nebraska, 
where I trapped, but sometimes we caught one in the traps set 
in the edge of the water for beaver. The otter's skin is much 
more valuable than that of the beaver. I never saw an Indian 
trapping for any other animal than the beaver, though they 
often shoot otter, mink, and muskrat with the bow. The arrow 
will generally prevent them from getting into their holes, being 
shot with sufficient force to pierce the animal. 

The Crow Indians will neither trap nor hunt the bear. They 
believe it is bad luck to kill a bear, and will not touch the food. 
A party of hunters, who induced the Crow chief. Iron Bull, to 
eat bear meat by representing to him that it was roast beef, 
rame near paying with their lives for the deception, for the old 
chief found out the trick that had been put upon him, became 
very wroth, and it took a present of several ponies to get the 
bad medicine out of him. The Crows say the bear has a spirit 
in him, and to kill it offends the great Wa-con Ton-ka. If a 


Crow meets a bear, when out hunting, he will go around him, 
and if the bear attacks him he will run away. 

The Sioux both hunt and kill the bear, and are very fond of 
the meat. They use the 
skin for robes, and wear 
the claws strung around 
their necks as orna- 
ments. What the Crows 
believe of the bear, the s^o^^^ Necklace. 

Sioux do of the prairie dog. They will not kill or allow any 
one to hurt this little animal, and if they see any person kill 
one, they run away lest it makes them have bad luck. The 
prairie dog is nothing more or less than a prairie squirrel, and 
runs on the ground instead of climbing trees, as does the black 
and gray squirrel of the North. I have often eaten the prairie 
dog, and his flesh is precisely like that of the squirrel. There is 
a prejudice against eating this little animal on account of its 
name, but in this case, unlike most others, every thing is in 
the name. 




XTTHEN the Indians first began to scalp people, or where 
' ' they got the idea of cutting off the scalp-lock, it is 
impossible to tell, but it has been practiced among all tribes 
ever since the discovery of America, in 1492. The savages be- 
lieve that no one can make a respectable appearance in the 
spirit land baldheaded. It is remarkable, but I never saw a 
baldheaded Indian, nor did I ever hear of one. To scalp an 
Indian is to debar him from the happy hunting-grounds, and 
hence it is they scalp white people, believing they can not get 
into heaven without their hair. 

The Indians do not all scalp people alike; nor do they wear 
their own hair alike. The Sioux warrior has a three-strand 
braid or plait of hair taken up on the crown of his head, over 
a space of three inches in diameter ^nd nine inches in circum- 
ference , and this it is that his enemies cut off when they cap- 
ture him. 




The Winnebagoes wear six or seven braids, and it is neces- 
Bary to cut the skin around three or four inches on the crown, in 

order to get a full scalp. The Paw- 
nees have but one braid, the Chey-' 
ennes one, the Crows one, and the 
Arrapahoes one. The Sioux part 
the hair in the middle of the fore- 
head, and then down to the ear 
from the scalp-lock; this they weai 
with the hair behind, made into 
rolls, and tied with red flannel or 
ribbon. I have seen' the hair 
wound about strips of flannel or 
buckskin, and made into a roll as 
thick as one's wrist, and over three feet long. 

Maoy of the Pawnees cut the hair close to the skull all 
around, leaving a ridge or shock 
of hair three inches wide running 
from front to rear over the top of 
the head. This strip of hair grad- 
ually lessens in width, until it 

A Preserved Scalp. 

reaches an edge in rear near the 

Scalping-knife and Sheath. 

back of the neck. It gives the 
warriors a fierce and unnatural appearance. In the center of 
the ridge of hair grows the long scalp-lock, which is plaited and 
falls down the back. I speak now of the custom when the 
Pawnees were savages. Since they have become friendly, they 
seldom shave the head, but wear their hair long and unplaited. 
This is done, however, as .much from policy as for any other 
reason, for they are still rascals and thieves ; and they found 
wearing their hair unlike any other tribe on the plains caused 


tliem often to be detected in their depredations, when they 
might otherwise have escaped and avoided punishment. 

The Crows, except the scalp-braid, wear their hair long, and 
hanging down. To keep it from blowing about their eyes, 
they take little balls of pitch, such as ooze out of the pine- 
tree, and stick it in their hair in belts an inch wide, until it is 
matted together all around their heads. 

Nearly all Indians have black hair; the hair of the Chey- 
ennes, Sioux, Snakes, Pawnees, Omahas, Arrapahoes, and Win- 
nebagoes is jet black, and very coarse. The Crow Indians, 
however, have hair of every color. I have seen full-blooded 
Crows with auburn, red, gray, brown, and black hair. Many 
of their old men are white-headed, and their long hair gives 
them a very venerable appearance. 

The Winnebagoes are the only Indians who can, at the 
present day, be distinguished by means of their scalp-locks. 
They still persist in wearing the six or seven long plaits around 
their heads. 

Nearly all tribes wear some ornament in the scalp-lock next 
to the head. These are made of wood, copper, iron, brass, sil- 
ver, and gold, but most generally of silver. I have seen a 
piece of thin german silver, as large as a man's hand, in the 
scalp-lock, the hair having been drawn through two holes 
in its center. It is also tied to the hair with strings, and 
not un frequently has a long feather attached, called the scalp- 
feather. This feather can be taken off and put on at pleasure; 
it is nearly always taken off at night, as the warrior would un- 
doubtedly break or soil it in his sleep if left in the hair. In 
war times, if this feather is stolen or snatched off by an enemy, 
the warrior is irreparably disgraced. 

Some wild Indians wear a steel or iron ring in the scalp- 



lock, the hair being plaited around the ring in such a way that 

it can not be removed, un- ,^ 

less the hair is unbraided 

or the scalp-lock cut off. I 

have often removed the 

ring by taking off a piece 

of the scalp, which is the 

simplest form of getting it. 

To the ring the feather is 

tied with a buckskin string, 

so that it be removed at 


The Sioux have long had 
the name of " long tails,'' a 
distinction given them by 
frontiersmen and emigrants, 
on account of their wearing 
a strap six, or even seven, 
feet long attached to their 
scalp-lock, and hanging 
down their backs. This 
trails on the ground when 
they walk, or sails in the wind behind them when they ride at 
full speed. The scalp-lock, as well as the strap, was generally 
covered with tin or silver plates, made round, and fastened on 
six or seven inches apart. Most of these circular plates were 
made of silver dollars, beaten out thin. 

A Sioux is very proud of his scalp-lock and tail ; and I have 
seen as many as twenty dollars on the hair and strap. The 
whole weight of the tail is borne by the roots of their hair, 
and, as it sometimes weighs several pounds, it njust pull a 

Silver Long Tail and Soalp-Feather. 


little at first.^ To tramp on a Sioux's long tail, or pull it, 
would be a mortal offense, and demand the shedding of blood 
to wipe out such an insult. When one Sioux pulls another 
one's scalp-lock, it is equivalent to the sending of a challenge 
among white men. 

* Mr. Belden showed the editor of these papers a magnificent belt, made 
from the silver he had taken off a Sioux "long tail." The silver weighed 
cue pound, and the strap to which it had been fastened three-fourths of a 
pound. The whole weight had been sustained by a small wisp of hair ia 
the top of a warrior's head. 






fTlHE painting of the face and body is a very ancient custom 
-■- among tlie Indians. The early discoverers of the continent 
found the Indians using paints, made of clay and stone, to beau- 
tify, as they thought, their persons ; and none were more hide- 
ously painted than the Caribbean Indians, who were among 
the earliest savages known to Europeans. There is not, to my 
knowledge, a tribe in the West, however civilized, that does not 
yet use paints. 

The Yanktons, Sioux, Santees, and Cheyennes use a great 
deal of paint. A Santee squaw paints her face the same as a 
white woman does, only with less taste. If she wishes to 
appear particularly taking, she draws a red streak, half an inch 
wide, from ear to ear, passing it over the eyes, the bridge of the 
nose, and along the middle of the cheek. "When a warrior 
desires tp be left alone, he takes black paint, or lamp-black, 
and smears his face ; then he draws zig-zag lines from his hair 
to his chin, by scraping off the paint with his nails. This is 
a sign that he is trapping, is melancholy, or in love. There 


is, however, no general meaning attached to the painting of 
the head or body by many Indians — any more than there is by 
white men parting their hair on the side of the head, instead 
of in the middle. All Indians, both men and women, part 
their hair in the middle ; the men paint red that part of the 
scalp exposed by parting the hair. 

The sign paints used by the Indians are not numerous, but 
very significant. When the warriors return from the war-path, 
and have been successful in bringing back scalps, the squaws, 
as well as the men, paint with vermilion a semicircle in front 
of each ear. The bow of the arc is toward the nose, and the 
points of the half circle on the top and bottom of the ear; 
the eyes are then reddened, and all dance over the scalps. 

A warrior who is courting a squaw, usually paints his eyes 
yellow and blue, and the squaw paints hers red. I have known 
squaws to go through the painful operation of reddening the 
eye-balls, that they might appear particularly fascinating to the 
young moil. A red stripe drawn horizontally from one eye to 
the other, means that the young warrior has seen a squaw he 
could love, if she would reciprocate his attachment. Of course 
such an advertisement naturally creates a flutter in the village, 
and sets every young feminine heart to aching, and tongue to 
inquiring, if its possessor is the person meant. Some laughable 
mistakes have occurred with this paint, and many bitter disap- 
pointments. I once heard of a famous Indian belle, who loved 
a young warrior, and employed every feminine art known in 
savage love, to entrap his affections. One day the young 
man mounted the love paint, and the Indian girl was so sure 
her charms had been effective, that she told her friends she 
would soon be married, and even went so far as to hint the 
same to the young warrior. Imagine her chagrin and dis- 


appointment, when he politely and frankly informed her, thai, 
not she, but a very plain girl in the village, was the person 
meant by his paint. 

The Sioux have a paint with which they smear their faces, 
when about to pass sentence of death on any one, but as this 
paint is put on in the council chamber, I have never been 
able to learn what it was like, or in what form it was used. 

The Crow and Snake Indians paint their faces red, and 
leave them so for days, renewing the coloring as fast as it 
rubs or wears off. Every Indian who can get one, carries a 
small looking-glass, slung to the wrist by a buckskin strap. 
This, and the paint-bag, are inseparable companions of both 
Indian men and women. The girls often go to clear streams 
and lakes, for the purpose of looking at their reflections in the 
water. I once accidentally surprised a maiden entirely naked, 
gazing at her fair proportions in the lake and she could never 
afterward look at me without blushing. 

belden; the white chief. 147 







ri^HE head-dress is an indispensable article in tbe outfit of 
-■- every first-class warrior. They wear them at all great 
feasts, dances, councils, and when on friendly visits of ceremony 
to neighboring tribes. They are generally made out of the 
skins of elk, deer, buffalo, or bear. Most of them are round 
skull-caps, ornamented with eagle, crow, or duck feathers. 
Take the half cover of a ball, and you have the exact idea of an 
Indian warrior's cap. The feathers are fastened on in bunches 
with sinew, and the bunches are sewed close together. They 
are put on in rows or layers, the feathers all lying one way. 
Fasten a dozen feathers by their middles to a piece of leather, 
then break them, so that both the top and butt end will stand 
up, and put another bunch on beside it, and so on until the 
whole piece of leather is covered. Next trim off* the feathers 
evenly, leaving them about three inches long, and you will have 
made an Indian head-dress. The butts of the quills must be 
cut out so they will not show ; but the better way is to take 
only the tops or small ends of the quills, cut them off the right 


belden: the white chief. 

length, and then fasten them by the thick end to the cap. 
These, when trimmed a little, will make a beautiful head- 

Most Indian caps have a long tail hanging down behind, 
which is ornamented with little bells and bright feathers. The 
bells rattle when the warrior dances, walks, or rides, and the 
feathers, being fastened loosely by their quill ends, swing about, 
giving him a picturesque appearance. At the end of the tail 
are fastened tufts of hair, colored blue, red, or yellow. 

A very popular style of Indian cap is made of buffalo hide and 
horns. It consists of a piece of hide taken from across the fore- 
head of a buffalo, over the top 
of his head along the back of 
the neck and down the spine, 
including the tail. The bone 
is taken, out and the tail 
stuffed, when the piece is one 
unbroken strip from the head 
to the end of the tail. On 
each side of the head are set 
horns, and frequently horns 
are fastened along the strip 
hanging down the back. The 
head-dress of the Sioux chief. 
Standing Ball, recently killed 
by Lieut. Mason, near Fort 
McPherson, was over six feet 
long and carried twelve horns. 
As the whole horns would be 
very heavy, they are split from 
top to base by sawing, and the 


Buffalo Head Dress. 


thick part so hollowed out as to make them comparatively light. 
The horns are highly polished and set six or seven inches apart. 
Besides the horns, a great deal of bead-work, and eight to ten 
bells are put on the head-dress. I have seen four or five large 
sleigh-bells fastened to the tail, and not unfrequently the tails 
are as much as nine feet long. 

When the warriors are en route to visit another tribe, or are 
on the war path, they carry their head-dresses with them, neatly 
done up in a cylindrical bandbox, made of buffalo skin or raw 
hide. These bandboxes are highly ornamented and fancifully 
painted. They are not so symmetrical and elegant as the hat 
and bandboxes of Eastern ladies and gentlemen, but resemble 
more exactly the old-fashioned churn, with the dash taken 

To roll up an Indian head-dress, and put it in the drum so 
the feathers will not get broken or spoiled, requires as much skill 
as to pack away the wardrobe of a fashionable white woman. 
When traveling, the drum is strapped to the back of the saddle, 
and carried as the old-fashioned valise used to be. Before en- 
tering the village they are to visit, the warriors dismount, put 
on their head-dresses, paint their faces, and arrange their hair. 
When their toilet is complete, they remount and ride through 
the town. An Indian always tries to accomplish one of two 
things, either excite the admiration of the women or fear of 
the men. 

The American bald eagle and the great black eagle are fre- 
quently found in the Rocky Mountains and on the plains, but 
they soar very high, and it is extremely difficult to kill them. 
Twelve feathers from the crown of a full-grown eagle will buy 
a good pony among the Indians. These birds are much sought 
after in all tribes, and their feathers are used to ornament va- 



rious articles, as well as make head-dresses. It is exceeding!)' 
\\ijot/ ^/ / difficult to buy an eagle head- 

dress from an Indian, and a 
good one can never be had 
for less than two hundred 

The white feather of the 
eagle's tail is worn attached 
to the manes and tails of the 
war ponies. When return- 
ing from the war path, the 
warriors attach black feath- 
ers to the eagle feathers, and 
when riding through the vil- 
lage, every one has only to 
count the black feathers to 
know how many scalps and 
by whom they have been 
taken, the black feathers in- 
dicating-success are always 
tied in the pony's tail, near 
the crupper, and to the white 
eagle feathers. If the white 
eagle feathers are gone, and only a black feather there, it in- 
dicates that the warrior fell, but killed an enemy before dying. 
If the white feathers are there and no black feathers, it means 
tne warrior still wears his own scalp, but has taken none from 
the enemy. When the expedition has failed and returns, the 
black feathers are worn in the forelocks of the ponies. These 
feathers, fluttering in the wind from the heads of the horses, 
can be seen at an astonishing distance, and often long before 


Eagle Head-Dress. 


the warriors reach the village the ill-success of the enterprise 
is known. 

The feather worn by Indians in their scalp-locks is usually 
very long and symmetrical. It is ornamented with small 
wrappings of porcupine quills at the butt end, and the edges 
of the feathers are sometimes painted green, red, and yellow, 
in bars or stripes, according to the fancy of the wearer. 

152 belden: the white chief. 





rilHE Indians are their own shoemakers, and, with the lim- 
-■- ited means at their command, manage to manufacture an 
excellent protection for the foot, that does away with all fear of 
such modern torments as corns and bunions. The moccasin is 
made to fit the foot, and not the foot to fit the moccasin, as is 
the practice among civilized shoemakers. 

Indian shoes are made by the women and old men. The 
sole is first cut out of rawhide, and then the uppers are cut 
from buck, antelope or elk skin tanned very soft and smooth. 
Buckskin is preferred when the moccasin is to be ornamented 
with beads, and the upper is always worked before it is at- 
tached to the sole. 

The uppers are sewed to the soles with a strong thread 
made of twisted buffalo sinew, and sometimes a double sole 
is sewed on to protect the thread. To the sides and back 
parts, flaps or ears are fastened, which come well up on the 



ankles, and are tied with strings. Frequently the flaps cover 
the calf of the leg, and are fastened at the top by two long 
strings, in the same manner as a woman ties her apron. This 
is done when the moccasin. is made for hunting or perform- 
ing long journeys in, as the high tops not only brace the leg, 
but prevent the moccasin from slipping on the foot, and keep 
out the dust, brambles, gravel, cold, and snow. 

It is no very difficult job to make a moccasin, and a squaw 
v/ill cut out and sew up a plain pair in half a day. If they 
are beaded, however, it takes a week or more to finish them, 
and those ornamented with porcupine quills require a month of 
patient labor. 

In the winter season the moccasins are made of buffalo 
hide or the skins of fur-bearing animals, the hair being 
turned inward. The Indians never wear stockings, but leg- 
gings, which are an excellent substitute when one has fur shoes 
to cover the feet. 

Each tribe of Indians make their shoes a diff*erent shape. 
"A" is the moccasin worn by the Sioux, "B'' the CheyenneS; 
"C" the Arrapahoes, "D" the Crows, and "E" the Paw- 

Right Foot. 

It will be observed that they are all different in shape, and will 
make a different track. An expert frontiersman can readily 


belden: the white chief. 

tell to what tribe Indians belong by seeing their tracks in the 
sand. Unlike their arrows, they seldom or never change their 
moccasins. The follow- 
ing will serve to show 
the imitative faculty 
and ingenuity of the In- 
dians : One day, while 
in camp, I saw a Win- 
nebago squaw weaving 
cloth in a kind of loom. 
She had many threads 
strung to little sticks 
fastened in a frame, and 
through these threads 
she passed a string of 
beads, pressing the 
whole together compactly, after the manner of a weaver. The 
different colors of the beads were ingeniously arranged to give 
a brilliant effect. I examined a purse this girl had made for 
the trader in the Santee village, and it was really beautiful. 
Soon afterward I saw another purse in the trader's store made 
by her, and it had on the side "James Buchanan" neatly 
worked in many-colored beads. I asked if she could read, and 
she said no, but showed me a medal which had been given by 
President Buchanan to one of the tribe during his visit to Wash- 
ington, and from the letters on the medal she had copied the name. 
The Winnebagoes are the only Indians I have ever met with 
who have any knowledge of the manufacture of cloth, and they 
can only weave such things as garters, armlets, purses, leggings, 
and long, beautiful, white bead-bands, which the women wear 
around their hair. * 

Beaded Moccasins. 



The Winnebagoes are very ]ight in complexion, and many 
of their women might be called beautiful, if they would keep 
themselves clean. Ti^ese women are tall, well-formed, have 
bright black eyes, and long, shining black hair. They take 
great pride in plaiting up their hair, 
winding: it in coils, and ornamenting 
it with bead-bands. These bands are 
often five or six feet long, and fringed 
with many-colored beads. They wind 
them about their heads in an ingenious 
way, and the effect among their jet-black 
hair is very charming. 

The Sioux, unlike the Winnebagoes, 
never put up their hair, but always al- 
low it to hang down. They sometimes 
tie the ends of the plaits with ribbon, 
or wind them with red flannel, but 
further than this they attempt no orna- 
mentation of the hair. The Sioux, how- 
ever, are passionately fond of ear-rings, 
and I have seen as many as a hundred 
small rings in a Sioux ear, a slit being 
cut the whole length of the ear to make 
room for them. Many of their ear-rings 
are very heavy, being made of square or 
oblong pieces of California sea-shell. Bead-band. 

which is a regular article of trade among all the Rocky Moun- 
tain tribes of savages. The shells are about one-fifth of an 
inch in thickness, five or six inches long, and four inches broad. 
They are shaped like a saucer, and the outside is prismatic, the 
colors often merging into blue, green, pink, and gold. Near 



belden: the white chief. 


thiB edge the shell is very thin and delicate, but hard to break. 

The Indians saw the shell into pieces, (some round, others square, 
oblong, or pendant, and these they string 
together by means of wire passed through 
little holes bored in the pities. Brass 
beads are often strung on the wires, as 
a sort of washer between different parts 
of the ear-ring, and beads strung on 
sinew form the pendants. A large 
brass ring for the ear generally begins a 
Sioux ear ornament, and to this are hung 
five or six pendants made of beads 
fatrung on wire; to these pendants are 
attached a cross-piece of rawhide or wood ; 
then another column of pendants, to 
which are hung one large and two small 
beads ; then another cross-piece, and next 
three large wampum beads, beneath which 
is suspended the piece of shell that gives 
the ornament its value. A shell will 
make one pair of rings, and it generally 
costs two robes, or about six dollars in 
cash. It will be observed that the ac- 
companying illustration represents only 
one-third the actual size of these ear 
ornaments. In fact, they are frequently 
eighteen inches in length, and from three 
to four inches in breadth in the widest 
part. "What the ears of the wearers are 
made of is a mystery, but pride and 
vanity tell the story with the untutored 




Sioux Ear-ring. 
(Oiae-third actual size.) 



savage, as well as with the more cultivated, but no less proud 
and vain dweller in civilized communities. 

The accompanying cut shows the prevailing style of dressing 
the head for state occa- 
sions among the Crows, 
and it must be acknowl- 
edged that it is much 
more light and airy and 
more senst6?e withal, than 
the immense chignon, and 
the frizzles and fruzzles of 
the pale faces. Once in- 
troduced among the ladies 
of fashion, I have no 
doubt of the immense 
popularity of the Crow 
head-dress, and I would 
seriously recommend it to 
their earnest consideration 

Crow Head-Dresa. 

168 belden: the white chief. 





CHILD-BIRTH among Indians has long been supposed to 
be attended with less pain and danger than among other 
races. This is a mistake, for human nature is very much the 
same the world over, and the Indian women, in bringing forth 
their children, suffer no less than their white sisters. The 
same stoicism which enables the warrior to bear without com- 
plaining the torture of his enemies, enables the Indian mother 
to endure in silence her labor-pains. The education in this 
direction begins the moment a child is born. First, it is lashed 
to a board, and then left for days and days, being suckled with- 
out being untied. . If it cries, no attention is paid to its mur- 
murings further than to ascertain that it does not suffer from 
pain or hunger, and it soon learns that crying does no 

When it can walk, it is allowed to romp and indulge in the 
most violent exercise. If it lives to grow up, it is taught to 



bear heavy burdens, walk long distances, and brave summer^s 
heat and winter's cold. In this way all the muscles are 
thoroughly developed, and the maiden becomes healthy and 

But besides a healthy frame capable of bearing suffering, tlie 
Indian woman is taught that to complain is weak and unwo- 
manly. And again, menstruation and child-bearing are a matter 
of shame and not to be published to the world. Hence it is 
that the Indian woman, finding her time of labor come, will 
often leave her home and go into a swamp or woods, and 
there remain until her child is brought forth, and she able to 
return to her lodge. With no eye save God's to pity her, and 
no hand save her own to help her, she endures the most terrible 
pain to which humanity is subjected. 

The papoose in camp or 
on the march is always car- 
ried on a board. It is made 
of sufficient length to allow 
it to rest its head and feet, 
and the board is wide enough 
to wrap the child snugly, 
and have the strings press 
on the chest and legs instead 
of the sides. The bottom of 
the wrapping is stuffed so as 
to make a firm support for 
the feet, and prevent the 
child from slipping down 
and becoming wedged in, 
which would misshape its S 

feet and legs. •• Baby Asleep.' 


The strings that hold it are fastened to the board, and 
are tied in bow knots on its breast and belly. Little or no 
compression is made of the lower limbs, they being loose in a 
sort of sack formed by the wrapping. The mother removes the 
child from the board as often as necessary for the purposes of 
nature, and no oftener. A willow is bent and fastened to the top 
of the board, which serves as a handle to lift it by, and also as 
a frame upon which to hang a cloth or skin to protect its face 
from the weather and flies. The mother carries the board on 
her back, it being held in its place by a band which passes 
from the top of the board over her forehead. 

The practice of disfiguration prevails extensively among 
nearly all the western tribes. One day an Indian boy was 
thrown from his pony and dashed against a cottonwood-tree 
with such violence that he died next morning of his injuries. 
His mother and sisters, as a sign of their grief, cut off a finger 
each at the first joint. I have seen the Crows gash their arms, 
legs, bodies, and faces when their friends died. The women 
cut several gashes on the' forehead near the roots of the 
hair, and the blood was allowed to remain until it dried and 
wore off. 

To tie up a wound inflicted as a sign of grief is consid- 
ered cowardly. It must not be noticed for at least twenty- 
four hours, and then only to "stop the blood. Many Indians 
bleed almost to death from their self-inflicted wounds, but it 
is considered justifiable to take any position to staunch the 
flow of blood, and Indians not unfrequently, after seve!^ing a 
finger, hold the hand above their heads, or stand all night 
holding to a pole until the twenty-four hours are up, when 
the wound may be tied up in rags. 

It is said that at the Fort Phil Kearney massacre, in 

belden: the white chief. 161 

1866, over three hundred Indians were killed, and that 
hundreds of fingers were cut off and gashes innumerable 
made on their persons by the friends of the dead. A chief, 
two years after the massacre, said, in council, "The Sioux, 
Arrapahoes, and Cheyennes have not done mourning for our 
braves who fell at Phil Kearney.'* 

When a warrior is killed, his pony is gashed in the sides 
and on the legs with knives, to make him feel sorry for the 
death of his master. 

Travelers have often noticed the gashes in the ponies' 
sides and the missing fingers of Indians' hands, and attrib- 
uted them to accident or war, but in nine cases out of ten 
these disfigurations are traceable to the causes mentioned 

162 belden: the white chief. 






DOGS and Indians are inseparable companions. Where 
you find an Indian you are pretty sure to find a dog; 
and, if you enter a village you will see hundreds on hundreds 
of these animals running about. The first question one asks 
himself, on arriving at an Indian town is, What can all these 
dogs be kept for? but a short residence will soon convince 
him that there are none too many. 

The Indian dog resembles the cayote, or prairie-wolf, and 
his bark is so much like this animal's, it is often difficult to 
distinguish the two apart. There is no doubt but that the wild 
dog is a cross between the domestic, or house dog, and the wolf. 

The flesh of the Indian dog is very fine, and resembles the 
flesh of a calf or antelope. There is none of that blackness, 
or coarseness, found in the meat of the domestic dog. Each 
Indian family keeps from six to sixteen dogs, and they are 

belden: the white chief. 163 

very useful for many purposes besides eating. They can be 
made to draw water, carry or haul wood, and when the village 
moves, they are put into little shafts and made to drag burdens 
of camp equipage. They are excellent watch dogs, and nothing 
can approach the camp without their seeing, or hearing it. 
They are very cowardly, but always give the alarm by bark- 
ing when a strange animal or man approaches. They are fierce 
looking brutes, and hundreds of them will run toward a 
stranger as though about to tear him to pieces, but a club 
shied among them will set them scampering in all directions. 
If you run from them they will bite, but if you rush at them, 
scores of them will take to flight, and never stop until safely 
ensconced in or near the teepees of their owners. Their terror, 
in times of attack, is extreme, and they are, undoubtedly, the 
most cowardly brutes in the world. They are ravenous, and 
will bite, or throw down a child to get a bone, or piece of 
meat out of its hand. They are constantly on the watch, and 
if you lay down any food for a moment, some villainous cur 
will be sure to snatch it and run away with it. The cayote 
is not more sneaking or treacherous in his disposition than a 
wild dog. What Indian dogs live on, no one can tell, for 
the Indians take no pains to feed them, unless it be a favorite 
that they wish to eat, and then he is tied up by the teepee to 
fatten. I have often seen them out hunting on the bottoms, 
and along the creeks for mice, prairie-squirrels, and rabbits, 
which they devour with avidity. 

When any great event happens, such as a victory or suc- 
cessful hunt, the Indians make a great dog-feast, and old and 
young partake of the savory food. Dog meat is considered a 
great delicacy, and an old country woman in the East is not 
morn proud and careful of her pullets, than is an Indian of 



his young clogs. I have often eaten dog, though I can't saj 
I am partial to that kind of food now. 

Soon after I joined the Indians, I was invited to two dog- 
feasts, and feeling that it would not be courteous to refuse, I 
went to one. I did not intend to eat any of the meat, but 
changed my mind, on being informed by a friend, that it would 
be downright ill-manners not to partake, at least, of the soup. 
The dog had been boiled well, and was fat, which did not help 
the matter or make the dish more palatable. I had a foolish 
notion that I could eat lean dog, but dog-fat was positively 
repulsive to me. When I arrived at the feast, I was given a 
huge wooden bowl that would hold about three quarts, and 
invited to come up and have it filled. I went to the great 
kettle where the dog had been boiled, and was helped to the 
under-jaw and a part of the fore-quarter. The teeth of the 
jaw looked white and wolfish, and, as I imagined, gave me a 
grin when they came from the pot. Corn and wild artichokes 
had been boiled with the dog, and I was given two huge ladle- 
fulls of these vegetables. I retired to my place in the circle^ 
and taking up my spoon of bufialo-horn, endeavored to keep 
up appearances. I pretended to scrape off some of the meat, 
but as it stuck tight to the bone, I took up some of the corn 
and soup, and tasted it. To my surprise, it was very palatable, 
and if 1 could have forgotten it was dog soup, it would really 
have been good. I was conscious that the Indians were watch- 
ing me, and did the best I could to swallow as much soup as 
possible. Unluckily, as I dipped down deep in the bowl for 
corn, I brought up a piece of meat which had become detached 
by the boiling. I wished to throw it back, but saw two Indians 
looking directly at me, and I boldly raised it to my mouth. As 
it passed between my lips, I felt an involuntary shudder seize 

belden: the white chief. 165 

me, as though I were cold, and I expected to be instantly nau- 
seated, but as I masticated it, I found the meat sweet and 
savory. I tried some more, but despite my resolution, I could 
only eat sparingly. Candor compels me to say, however, that 
but for my prejudice, the food would have been pleasant and 

After this, I attended many dog-feasts, and soon learned to 
eat as heartily as any one. At one time, I had got so far along 
as to seriously think of trading for some dogs, that I might 
have a supply of the meat on hand for my use at all seasons, 
but I gave it up, more because I wished to appear respectable in 
my own eyes, and retain some semblance of civilization, than 
because I had any longer a repugnance to dog — boiled, roasted, 
stewed, or fried. 






rfflHE summer was drawing to a close and the autumn days 
-■- coming on when the annual hunt would begin. Before 
the fall hunt I determined to go on an adventure of my own, 
and, on communicating my intention to several of the Santees, 
they expressed a desire to accompany me. It was all soon 
arranged as to who would go, and we made preparations for a 
special hunt in the Big Horn country. 

First, we were to fall down the river a distance of one or 
two hundred miles, and having drawn as near the mountains 
as possible, and supplied ourselves with buffalo meat, strike 
across the country. 

Our trip along the Missouri was delightful, and our stock 
improved every day. We had all the game we needed, and at 
night camped in delightful spots by clear, running streams. 
Fish, deer, and antelope abounded, and the weather was mild 
and refreshing. Nothing could have been more pleasant than 
this mode of traveling on the broad, wild prairies of the 


One evening, just as we were thinking about going intc 
camp for the night, I spied a buffalo bull lying on a little hill- 
side, and I determined at once to capture him. La Frombe, 
who was with me, and one of the Santee warriors, moved out 
so as to get on the wind side of him, and then we ran for the 
beast. On looking to the west, I saw at a short distance a 
whole herd, and, leaving La Frombe and his compani^oi to 
manage the bull, made for the herd. I was soon up with it, 
and, singling out a bull, fired a ball into him. The herd 
made off as fast as possible, the wounded buffalo following 
rapidly. In jumping a small ravine my pony fell, and so 
badly sprained his shoulder he was unable to keep up witfi^tlie 
game. While I was chafing at my disappointment, and urg- 
ing my little pony to do his utmost. La Frombe and the Santee 
came up with me, having finished their bull, and followed to 
see what had become of me. As soon as La Frombe noticed 
the condition of my horse, he cautioned me against going far- 
ther, and said it would be unsafe to attack a bull with the 
pony in his present disabled condition. Just then, however, 
a fine young bull separating from the herd, I called to La 
Frombe to head him, and as he turned give the buffalo a shot. 
La Frombe did as I desired, and then rejoined the chase after 
the herd. Having my game now going toward the camp, I 
rode along leisurely for some distance, and then dashed up and 
gave him another ball. Instantly, as it seemed to me, the beast 
wheeled, lowered his head, and charged. I spurred my pony 
sharply, and barely escaped his horns. In the surprise and ex- 
citement of the moment, I had dropped my gun while trying to 
reload it, and before I could recover it the buffalo was again upon 
me. I plunged the rowels into the pony's flanks, and he dashed 
forward, but the bull kept close in his rear. I now saw that 


the animal was only enraged and not disabled by the shots 1 
had given him, while my pony began to show evident signs of 

On we went over the prairie, my pursuer with his head 
close to the ground, and intent on plunging his horns into 
the pony's flanks. I looked back as we were ascending a 
little slope, and the bull was within eight feet of me. When 
I reached the crest of the slope, I saw before me a steep 
descent, full of rocks and holes. I hesitated to risk my pony 
on such uneven ground, for he was not sure-footed, but the 
frightened little fellow plunged down the ridge, and I let hipa 
go. Suddenly I felt him sinking under me, and the next mo- 
ment I rolled headlong among the rocks. I looked up, and 
saw the buffalo, with lowered head, plunging at me, and 
scarcely twenty feet distant. Every instant I expected to feel 
his sharp horns in my side or be trampled to death beneath 
his feet, and closed my eyes. While I lay waiting for my 
death, the sharp crack of a rifle rang out on the air, quickly 
followed by another shot. A sharp pain thrilled me, and I 
felt myself flying through the air. The confused sound of 
voices near by caused me to open my eyes, and there sat La 
Frombe and the Santee on their ponies. 

They had followed me, and arrived just in time to give the 
bull two fatal shots as he was about to gore me to death. I 
was so sore from the effects of my wounds that I could not 
rise, but they dismounted and lifted me up, when I saw the bull 
lying dead scarcely a dozen feet distant. An examination 
showed that the beast had struck me with the side of his horn 
on the shoulder, and although he had sent me spinning like a 
top, the horn had not entered the flesh. 

Tn a little while I was able to walk, and, with the assist- 


auce of La Frombe, to mount my pony, who had not been 
hurt by his fall, and was quietly grazing near by. I rode 
slowly back to camp, fully resolved to be more careful in 
future when I hunted buffalo. It was many a day before I 
recovered from the effects of my bruises, and never, until the 
day of my death, shall I ever forget how I felt when I imag- 
ined that buffalo's horns driving through me. 










WE now had all the buffalo meat we needed, and at once 
set out for the mountains. After reaching them, we 
skirted along their base, lool^ng for deer and elk, and suc- 
ceeded in capturing a number of fine animals. 

A pleasant temporary camp was located, where we rested for 
a day or two, and then set out for any adventure that might 
come in our way. AVe had left the base of the mountain one 
morning, soon after daylight, and were moving across the 
plain, when we noticed three objects going in the direction of 
a cafion a mile in advance. Whipping up our ponies we 
were not long in coming upon three huge grizzly bears. In 
a moment all was excitenlent, and we dashed forward, endeav- 
oring to head them off from the cafion, where we surmised 
they had a den. We knew that to attack them on the open 
plain would lessen the danger of the conflict greatly, so w^e 
rode hard, but despite our efforts they reached and entered the 
cafion ahead of us. 


My horse had outstripped those of my companions, and 
seeing the bears about to escape, I spurred on until I passed 
the grizzlies, and then turning, fired a shot, hoping to turn 
them back or bring them to a halt. They, however, came 
steadily on toward me, and I rode to the side of the cafion 
and attempted to climb its steep bank. I succeeded, and for a 
time lost sight of the animals. I waited several moments, ex- 
pecting to hear the guns of my friends in the conflict below, 
when I would ride down and join them. All remained quiet, 
however, and, becoming impatient, I dismounted, and leaving 
my horse, walked to the edge of the canon. I could see 
nothing of the bears or horsemen, and ventured down the 
bank. I was straining my eyes in all directions, when I heard 
a noise above me, and, looking up, saw on the top of the ridge, 
not more than fifty yards from me, the three bears. They had 
followed me up the bank, and skirted along the crest, until 
they came near my horse. I heard the pony snorting and 
trying to break his lariat rope, and a moment afterward he 
was dashing along the ridge, dragging the rope behind him. 
I had hoped the bears would follow him, but, instead of doing 
so, they sat down to watch me. The hill-side was thickly 
strewn with shaggy little pines, blown down by the wind, 
and among these I took up my position. The bears, seeing 
me apparently moving off, followed, and one came within 
forty feet before he saw me. Hoping to frighten off the 
brute as well as attract my friends, I fired my revolver in the 
air. The bear gave an angry growl, and came still nearer. 
Glancing up the cafion, and seeing nothing of my friends, T 
concluded to fire, and raising the hammer of my Henry rifle, 
I took a steady aim at the beast's heart, and pulled the trigger. 
With a roar that made the hill shake, she fell to the ground 

172 belden: the white chief. 

and rolled over. In a moment more she got up and, shakings 
herself, fixed her blood-red eyes upon me. My heart sank in 
my breast, for I saw I had missed the vitals of the animal, and 
only enraged by wounding her. The other two bears, which 
I now saw were large cubs, lay crouching near their mother, 
and apparently watching the battle. Seeing the old bear 
about to rush upon me, I hastily threw the exploded shell out 
of my Henry, and raising the hammer sent a ball at her, but, 
owing to her sudden change of position, missed her, and hit 
one of the cubs that was just behind her. The cub bellowed 
lustily, and the dam ran to him. This was most lucky for me, 
and I lost no time in putting three more shots into the old 
bear. Once more she came bounding toward me, and I 
plumped a shot into the cub that made hira yell with agony. 
The old beast was within a few feet of me, when, unable to 
withstand the piteous cries of her cub, she turned and went to 
him. I now pumped the shot into her as fast as possible, but 
presently she came on again, when again I hit her cub, and 
sent her back to lick his wounds. She had received thirteen 
balls, when she made off, followed by the cubs, one of which 
was so lame he could hardly walk. 

I was debating in my own mind, whether I should pursue 
and finish the bears or let well enough alone, when I preceived 
my companions coming riding down the cailon, and directly 
in front of the grizzlies. I hallooed to them to head off the 
bears and attack them in front, while I followed up my attack 
in the rear. I ran as fast as I could, and coming up to the hind- 
most cub, laid him out at one shot. I next shot the other 
cub, and fired twice at the old bear, but she was getting too 
far ahead for my balls to be effective. La Frombe and the 
Santee headed her, when she came running back to her dead 


cub, sat down, and howled most piteously. 'Then she took her 
paw and rolling him over and over, shook him as if to wake 
him. Smelling his nose, she seemed to understand he was 
dead, and cried as if her heart would break. Suddenly she 
saw me, and, standing on her hind feet, looked at her perse- 
cutor. She made no attempt to come at me, but seemed to be 
waiting foi her death. Never did I see so magnificent a beast, 
as she stood there, with ears flattened against her head, her 
eyes blazing like coals of fire, her neck stretched out, and her 
mouth wide open, disclosing four rows of immense white teeth. 
I did not long keep her in suspense, but fired at her heart, and 
she fell down and rolled over, catching her cub, and seemingly 
trying to embrace it as she died. 

This bear would certainly have weighed over one thousand 
pounds, and after my severe contest with her I had a desire 
to possess her skin. La Frombe helped me skin her, while 
the Santee went to hunt up my pony. "We left on the claws 
and skin of the head. Just as we had finished our job, the 
Santee came back with my pony, and taking the entrails out of 
the smallest cub, we lifted him upon La Frombe's horse, and 
all set out to return to our camp. 

We had gone but a mile or two, when we saw several horse- 
men riding furiously across the plain, apparently with the 
design of heading us off. It needed no second look to con- 
vince us they were hostile Crows, and, dropping the bear, we 
broke for the hills. It was a ride for life, as there were fully 
fifteen Indians in the other party, and we knew if we were 
caught they would burn us at the stake, for they were at war 
with the Sioux, and, what was worse for us, we were hunting 
game on their hunting-grounds. 

Suddenly the Crows halted, and, apparently without any 


cause, put back as fast as they had come. On ascending a 
little knoll, we saw the cause of their alarm, tor there stood 
our camp, half hid away among the t^ees. The Crows had seen 
^the camp, and thinking our party was strong, and that we 
were decoying them to the camp, they began their hasty 
retreat. ^ 

In a few moments not a Crow was to be seen, and we rode 
quietly into camp, laughing heartily at the needless alarm of 
our enemies. After a hearty supper, we packed up, and, 
fearing the Crows would return and discover our weakness, 
when we should all be killed, we determined to move off at 
once. All night long we rode briskly forward, and when the 
sun rose, gilding the mountain peak with silver and gold, we 
were nearly fifty miles distant from where our camp had been. 

We breakfasted on fresh antelope, and rested until noon, 
when we again set forward, and continued our journey for twc 
days. Being now far in the mountains, we felt safe, and 
pitched our camp, intending to hunt for a season. 




WE had been at our new camp several days, and taken 
all the game we wanted when, one morning, I deter- 
mined to climb the mountain peaks and have a hunt after the 
famous mountain sheep. My companions liked the idea of a 
dash at the " hard heads," and we all three set out together. 
The sun met us as we toiled up the steeps, and it was scarcely 
half an hour high, when La Frombe, who was in advance, 
halted, and pointing to a cliff half a mile distant, said, "There 
they are.'' "We looked in the direction indicated, and saw a 
group of four sheep walking along the edge of the precipice. 
They had not yet discovered us, and we stood still until they 
passed out of sight behind some projecting rocks, and then ran 
as fast as we could along the mountain side until we were 
directly under where we had seen our game. Carefully ascend- 
ing from crag to crag, we were not long in coming upon their 
fresh tracks, and now we crept along, looking carefully ahead at 
every turn. Presently, La Frombe pointed to the right, and 
there, standing on a rock, scarcely two hundred yards from us, 


were three large sheep. We each selected a sheep — La Frombe 
taking the one on the left, the Santee the one in the middle, and 
I the farthest on the right. At a signal from La Frombe, we 
fired together, and when the smoke cleared away saw one sheep 
lying on the rock. I ran as fast as I could up the rocks, and 
arrived in time to see the other two big horns going around the 
bluif a quarter of a mile off. La Frombe had killed his game, 
but the Santee and I had missed our mark. I, however, noticed 
blood on the stones, and knowing that one of the other two wats 
wounded, determined ta follow them. Leaving La Frombe ana 
the Santee to skin and dress the dead animal, I climbed from 
ravine to ravine, and rock to rock, for nearly an hour, and had 
began to despair of seeing my game again, when I unex- 
pectedly came upon some blood and tracks. I saw where the 
sheep had laid but a few moments before, and as there was 
some soft soil at this point so I could follow the tracks, I 
crawled carefully along. I paused often to watch and listen, 
but could see nothing, and all was silent, as only the vast 
solitudes of a mountain can be. I had began to descend a 
little, with a view of getting among some scrubby pines near 
by, in order the better to shield myself from observation, and 
just as I reached them, I saw a stately ram walking slowly 
along a ledge of rocks, closely followed by a small ewe. I 
was as yet too far away to shoot with precision, and as they 
were moving slowly, and had not seen me, I stood still until 
they turned the rock. They were moving parallel with me, and 
I now hastened, under cover of the pines, to get ahead of 
them, if possible. After getting one or two falls, and nearly 
breaking my gun and neck over the stones, I perceived the 
sheep nearly above me, and not over two hundred yards dis- 
tant. I crawled to the edge of the rocks, and selecting an 

belden: the white chief. 177 

opeD spot, where I knew the sheep would pass, rested my gun. 
In a moment they appeared, and when the ram came opposite 
the end of my rifle, I fired. The old fellow dropped, rolled 
over, turned upon his horns, and fell over forty feet, lighting 
on his head.* He was desperately wounded, but still able to 
rise. As he steadied himself for another jump, I put a third 
ball mif:> him, and he lay down on the rocks. I scrambled up 
to him, and when he saw me, he made desperate efforts to get 
upon his feet. He lay upon his side, his great red eyes roll- 
ing fiercely. When I went near him he bleated piteously, and 
struck with his forefeet, at the same time tossing his great 
horns savagely about. I tried for some time to get hold of 
him, not wishing to shoot him again, as I had but two charges 
lefb in my gun, and I had left my ammunition-belt behind, in 
order to chmb the better. Every time I approached, he struck 
at me, until finally, losing my patience, I pounced upon him 
from behind, and seizing hold of one of his horns, attempted 
to draw my hunting-knife across his throat. Throwing back 
his head with a strength that surprised me, he struck me with 
his horn on the knee and almost broke my leg. It was only 
after a severe struggle that I was able to drive my knife into 
his neck and finish him. 

When I had killed the ram, I looked up, and there stood the 

* Hunting the Rocky Mountain sheep is the only sport that approximates 
to any thing like the famous Chamois hunting of olden times. The flesh 
of these sheep is very good, but they are exceedingly difficult to kill. 
When pursued by the hunter, or wounded, they will frequently throw 
themselves over precipices fifty feet high, and light on their horns, appa- 
rently without hurting themselves in the least. i 

Mr. Belden gives, in the above sketch, a perfectly natural and correct 

account of a Rocky Mountain sheep hunt. 


178 belden: the white chief. 

doe, hardly fifty yards distant. She had been looking at the 
death of her mate, and now, even as I looked at her, bounded 
nimbly away over the rocks. I fired a shot after her, but it 
did not hit her, and I sat down perfectly satisfied with my 

I was not long in signalling my companions, and presently 
I heard the long " talla-ho ! ^' of La Frombe, who was coming 
up the steeps below me. 

I had my sheep skinned and dressed by the time they came 
up, and the pines affording a favorable place, we cut off some 
of the choice bits, roasted them on the coals, and dined. 

"VYe were all three very tired, and having had enough of 
sheep-hunting for one day, we rested for a couple of hours, and 
then, packing our meat on our backs, began the descent. It 
w^as quite late when we reached our camp, and as we were weary 
and bruised by many a fall, received during the day, we soon 
went to bed. 




WE were now out of the buffalo range, but occasionally we 
met an old bull, who, having been driven away from 
the herd by the sharp horns of his younger brethren, had 
wandered far up into the mountains, to graze and live out the 
remnant of his days in peace. 

These old fellows, disturbed by our presence, would, on being 
approached, throw up their heads defiantly, and then trot off 
to other pastures. 

One day a desire seized me to have a battle with one of 
these monarchs of the prairies. Saddling my pony, I rode out, 
and was not long in coming upon an old soldier who was graz- 
ing in a little grassy valley. He was monarch of all he sur- 
veyed, but nevertheless thought it proper to acknowledge my 
superiority by shaking his head, as a sort of negative admis- 
sion, and then gallop off toward the hills. 

My little pony soon overtook him, however, and I gave the 
old fellow a shot that made him grunt, and set every nerve in 
him quivering. I did not desire to kill him at once, but exer- 
cise the agility of my pony and the skill of myself. Seeing 


him making for a ravine, I spurred by, and, swinging my 
buffalo robe before his face, sought to turn him. He ran back 
at once, and when he was on the open prairie, I gave him a 
shot through the hams. This made him switch his tail and 
cut dirt for a mile, but he presently made signs of battle. 
This was precisely what I wanted, and I gave haste to shoot 
him again, this time in the neck. He now turned and charged 
upon me, but my little pony wheeled and was off like the 
wind. Away we went over the prairie, the pursuer and pur- 
sued. I zigzagged the pony, and, as the old buffalo could not 
turn on less than an acre of ground, he had to run more than 
twice as far as the little horse. It would take him some time, 
to bring himself to bear upon us, but, having got himself in 
range, he would come on like a steam engine, sure that he had 
us, but only to be zigzagged out of line again, and find he was 
charging the air. In a little time he gave it up and started for 
the ravine, near which we had been maneuvering. He Had a 
good start before I perceived what his object was, and, although 
I rode hard, I could not head him in time to prevent him 
from entering it. I dashed down into the canon, and, not 
seeing my game, was about to pull rein, when my horse, in 
turning the sharp butt of a little bluff that run into the ravine, 
came suddenly upon the buffalo lying down, and, before I 
could check his speed, stumbled and fell headlong over him. 
I rolled over and over on the ground, and was so stunned and 
bruised, that for several minutes I could neither rise to my 
feet nor collect my senses. An indistinct idea of danger 
thrilled me, and still, half blinded and choked with dust, 1 
got upon my knees, and, feeling for my revolver, which was in 
the scabbard strapped to my waist, I drew and fired it twice 
at a black-looking mass before me. Whether it was the smell 


of the powder or the noise of the explosion that brought back 
my recollection and sense, I can not tell, but in a moment I 
saw the buffalo close by mc, and attempting to rise to his feet. 
I aimed at his side and fired twice, and, to my inexpressible 
relief, saw the great brute roll over and die. I was still so 
dizzy I closed my eyes and laid down on the ground. Pres- 
ently, by remaining still, I felt better, and, rising, I examined 
to see if any bones were broken. I was terribly bruised, but 
still whole, and I felt so delighted at this discovery, I walked, 
or rather hobbled, to the buffalo, and, cutting his throat with 
my great butcher-knife, sat down upon the carcass. It was 
fully half an hour before I could realize what had occurred, 
and then I found my poor little horse standing in a pocket 
of the canon, and so lame he could hardly walk. My gun 
was broken and my hat lying near it, torn almost in two. 

An examination proved that the buffalo had run into the 
cafion, and, thinking himself free from his tormentor, had laid 
down behind the butt, when a moment afterward I came along 
at full speed, and both rider and horse tumbled over him. 
The collision had rolled the buffalo over, and the blow neces- 
sary to do this had nearly dislocated my horse's shoulder. I 
made haste to mount and work my way back to camp, where 
I arrived in sad plight, long after dark. My companions had 
become so uneasy about me that they were just starting out to 
hunt me up, when I came in and related to them my adven- 
ture and miraculous escape. 

182 belden: the white chief. 





FRESH pony-tracks, seen in a gorge, warned us that the 
hostile Crows were about, and hastily packing up, we de- 
camped to a more safe locality. 

After many days travel, we came in sight of a broad, rolling 
stream, shaded by cottonwood, and pitched our camp on its 
bank. The valley along the river was wide and fertile, and 
flocks of prairie hens and ducks rose from the long grass and 
flew away in all directions. Deer, antelope, and elk, bounded 
over the hills, and far in the distance could be seen a drove 
of wild horses. I could not help wondering how soon this 
wild scene would be changed, and the smoke of the white man's 
cabin ascend all along the rich valley. Already, 1 saw, in 
imagination, corn growing on the slopes, farm-houses nestling 
among the trees, a village in the great bend of the stream, and 
I thought I could hear the tinkling of cow-bells, the laugh of 
children, and the solemn tolling of church-bells. 

La Frombe said the stream was called Crazy Woman, and 


the valley had long been known to the Crows as Crazy Woman's 
Valley. I asked him how it could have obtained such a singu- 
lar name, and he related the following story : 

Many years ago, I visited this spot with a band of Crows, 
and one evening a venerable Indian told us this legend of 
Crazy Woman : Years ago, when my father was a little boy, 
there came among us a man who was half white. He said he 
wished to trade with our people for buffalo-robes, beaver, elk, 
and deer skins, and that he would give us much paint, and 
many blankets and pieces of cloth in exchange for furs. We 
liked him, and believed him very good, for he was rich, hav- 
ing many thousands of beads and hundreds of yards of ribbons. 
Our village was then built on the river, about twenty miles 
above where we now are, and game was very plentiful. This 
river did not at that time have the name of Crazy Woman, but 
was called " Big Beard," because a curious grass grows along its 
banks that has a big beard. What I am about to relate caused 
the name of the river to be changed. 

The trader built a lodge of wood and stones, and near it a 
great, strong house, in which he kept all his immense wealth. It 
was not long until he had bought all the robes and furs for sale 
in the village, and then he packed them on ponies, and bidding 
us good-bye, said he was going far to the East, where the pale- 
face lives, but that he would soon come back, bring us many 
presents, and plenty of blankets, beads, and ribbons, which he 
would exchange as before for robes and furs. We were sorry 
to see him go, but, as he promised to return in a few moons, 
we were much consoled. It was not long until our spies re- 
ported something they could not understand coming into our 
country, and the whole village was in a great state of alarm. 
Some of the boldest ventured out, and returned with the joyful 


intelligence, that the strange objects our young men had seen, 
was the trader and his people. All the village ran to meet him, 
and the sight was strange enough indeed. The Crows had in 
those days never sepn a wagon-horse or ox, and the trader had 
brought all these things. The wagons they called teepees on 
rollers ; the horses were giants, beside the little ponies, and the 
oxen, all believed were tame buffaloes. There, also, was a squaw 
who was perfectly white, and who could not understand any 
thing that was said to her. She wore dresses down to her feet, 
of which she seemed to be ashamed, and our women said she 
tied cords tightly about her waist, so as to make it small. She 
had very long hair, and did not plait, but rolled it, and, in- 
stead of letting it hang down, wrapped it tightly about her 

It was not long until the trader had all his wagons un- 
loaded, and his store open. He had brought all the women 
beads and ribbons, and the men brass rings. Besides what he 
sold, he made many presents; so every body loved him, for no 
one had ever before seen so rich and generous a man. 

One day, he told the Big Chief to come into the back part 
of the store and he would show him something wonderful. 
The chief went, wondering what it could be, and when they 
were alone, the trader drew out a very little barrel, and taking 
a wooden cup, poured out some black-looking water, which he 
told the chief to drink. The chief did as desired, and imme- 
diately felt so jolly he asked for more. The trader promised, 
if he would never tell any one where he got the black water, 
he would give him all he wanted. The chief promised, and 
the trader gave him another cupful. Now the chief danced 
and sang, and went to his lodge, where he fell down in a deep 
deep, and no one could wake him. He slept so long, the war- 

belden: the white chief. 187 

riors gathered about the lodge wondering what could ail hira, 
and they were about to go to the trader and demand to know 
what kind of medicine he had given the chief to make hira 
behave so strangely, when the chief woke up and ordered 
them all to their lodges, and to ask no questions. 

Next day the chief went to the trader, and said he had liaJ 
great dreams; that he thought he had slain many of his ene- 
mies, and that the black medicine must be very good to make 
him have such pleasant visions. He begged the trader to give 
him some more, and he did so. Thus the chief did every day, 
and all the village wondered, for they believed the trader had 
bewitched him. In former times the chief had been a quiet 
and very dignified man, but now he sang, danced in the 
streets, and publicly hugged the women, so every one thought 
him crazy. The Crows disliked the conduct of the chief very 
much, and began to grumble against the trader, for they 
thought he was to blame for the great change that had come 
over their chief. Some said he was bewitched, others that the 
trader had an evil spirit in one of his boxes, and thus they 
talked, some believing one thing and some another, but all 
blaming him. One of the young warriors called a secret coun- 
cil, and the matter was discussed, and it was finally decided that 
the trader must leave or they would put him to death. A 
warrior, who was a great friend of the trader, was sent to tell 
him of the decision of the council, and when he did so the 
trader laughed, and said if he would come into the back of the 
store, and never tell any body, he would show him what ailed 
the chief. The warrior went, and the trader gave him a ladle 
full of the black water to drink. Presently he began to sing 
and dance about, and then went out into the street and sang, 
which greatly surprised every one, for he had never done so 


before. The young men gathered about him, and asked hira 
what ailed him, but he only said, " Oh, go to the trader and 
get some of the black water ! " So they went to the trader, 
and inquired what kind of black water he had that affected 
people so strangely ; and the trader told them he had only the 
same kind of water they drank, and brought out his pail, that 
they all might drink. Each warrior took up the ladle and 
drank some, and made the trader drink some, and then they 
sat down to wait and see if it would affect them like the chief 
and their brother warrior; but it did not, and they rose up 
and said, " The trader or our brother lies, and we will see who 
is the liar." They went to the warrior's lodge, and found him 
sound asleep, nor could they wake him. Two remained to 
watch by him, and the others went to their teepees. When 
the sun was up, the warrior rose, and, seeing the others sitting 
in his tent, said, "Why are you here, my brothers?" And 
the eldest of the two warriors replied, *^ You have lied to us, 
for the trader has no black water." The warrior, recollecting 
his promise not to tell, said, " It is true that the trader has .no 
black water, and who said he had ? " They explained to him 
his conduct of the day before, at which he was greatly aston- 
ished, and he declared if such was the case he must have been 
very sick in his head and not known what he had said. There- 
upon the warriors withdrew and reported all to their brethren. 
The warriors were greatly perplexed, and knew not what to 
do or think, but decided to wait and see. 

The chief and warrior were now drunk every day, and the 
young chief called another council. It was long and stormy 
in its debate, all the wise men speaking, but no one giving 
such counsel as the others would accept. At last a young war- 
rior rose and said that he had watched, and that it was true 

belden: the white chief. 189 

the trader had a black water which he gave the chief and 
warrior to drink, for he had made a hole in the wall of the 
trader's store, and through it saw them drinking the black 
water. He advised them to bring the trader and warrior be- 
fore them, and he would accuse them to their face of what he 
had seen, and if they denied the truth he would fight them. 

This speech was received with great satisfaction, and the 
young chief at once sent some warriors to fetch the trader and 
their brother. 

When they were come into the council and seated, the young 
warrior repeated all he had said, and asked if it were not true 
that they would fight him. The warrior who was first asked 
rose up and said the young warrior lied, and that he was ready 
to fight him ; but when the trader was told to stand up and 
answer, he, seeing there was no use in denying the matter, con- 
fessed all. 

He said the black water was given him by the white people, 
a great many of whom drank it, and it made them behave as 
they had seen the chief and the warrior do. He also told them 
that after a man drank of it he felt happy, laughed and sang, 
and when he laid down he dreamed pleasant dreams and slew 
his enemies. 

The curiosity of the warriors was greatly excited, and the 
young chief bade the trader go and bring some of his black 
water, that they might taste it. He was about to depart, when 
the young warrior, who had before spoken, rose and desired 
him to be seated, when he said : 

^* The warriors heard my speech, and it was good. The 
brother, however, when I asked him if he w^ould tell the coun- 
cil the truth, said I lied, and he would fight me. Let us now 
go out of the village and fight.'* 


The young chief asked the drunkard if he had any thing t», 
say, when he arose and addressed the council as follows : 

" Oh, ray brethren, it is true that I have drank of the black 
water, and that I have lied. When the trader first gave it to 
me to drink, he made me promise I would never tell what it 
was or where I got it, and he has many times since said if I 
told any one he would never give me any more to drink. Oh, 
my brethren, the black water is most wonderful, and I have 
come to love it better than my life or the truth. The fear of 
never having any more of it to drink made me lie, and I have 
nothing more to say but that I am ready to fight.'^ 

Then the council adjourned, and every one went out to see 
the warriors fight. They were both men of great skill and 
bravery, and the whole village came to see the battle. He 
who had drank the black water was the best spearsman in 
the tribe, and every one expected to see tiie other warrior 

The spears were brought, and when they were given to the 
combatants it was seen that the hand of him who had lied 
shook so he could hardly hold his spear. At this his friends 
rallied him, and asked him if he was afraid. He replied that 
his heart was brave, but that his hand trembled, though not 
with fear, for it had shook so for many days. 

Then the battle began, and at the second throw of the 
spears, he with the trembling hand was clove through the heart, 
and killed instantly, while the other warrior did not even re- 
ceive a wound. 

After the fight was over, the warriors all went to the trader's 
lodge, and he brought out in a pail more than a quart of the 
black water, which he gave in small quantities to each warrior. 
When they had swallowed it, they began to dance and sing, 

beld:en: the white chief. 193 

and many lay down on the ground and slept as though they 
\vere dead. 

Next day they came again and asked for more black water ; 
and so they came each day, dancing and singing, for more than 
a week. 

One morning the trader said he would give them no more 
black water unless they paid him for it, and this they did. 
The price was at first one robe for each sup sufficient to make 
them sleep, but, as the black water became scarce, two robes, 
and finally three Were paid for a sleep. Then the trader said 
he had no more except a little for himself, and this he would 
not sell; but the warriors begged so hard for some he gave 
them a sleep for many robes. Even the body robes were soon 
in the hands of the trader, and the warriors were very poor, 
but still they begged for more black water, giving a pony in 
exchange for each sleep. The trader took all the ponies, and 
then the warriors offered their squaws, but there was no more 
black water, and the trader said he would go and fetch some. 

He packed all tho robes on the ponies, and was about to set 
out, when a warrior made a speech, saying that now that he 
had all their robes and ponies, and they were very poor, the 
trader was going away and would never return, for they had 
nothing more to give him. So the warriors said he should not 
depart, and ordered him to unpack the ponies. The trader 
told them he would soon return with plenty of black water, 
and give it to them as he did at first. Many of the warriors 
were willing he should depart, but others said no, and one de- 
clared that he had plenty of black water still left, and was 
going off to trade with their enemies, the Sioux. This created 
great excitement, and the trader's store and all his packs were 
searched, but no black water found. Still the warrior asserted 

194 belden: the white chief. 

he had it, and that it was hidden away. The warriors de- 
clared that they would kill him unless he instantly told them 
where he had hid it, and upon his not being able to do so, they 
rushed into his lodge and murdered him before the eyes of his 
squaw, tearing off his scalp and stamping upon his body. This 
so alarmed the white squaw she attempted to run out of the 
lodge, and, as she came to the door, a warrior struck her on the 
head with his tomahawk, and she fell down as though she were 

The chief made a great speech, saying that now, as the trader 
was dead, they would burn his lodge and take back all their 
robes and ponies. So the lodge was fired, and as it burned a 
Crow squaw saw by its light the white squaw lying before the 
door, and that she was not dead, and she took her to her lodge, 
sewed up her wounds, and gave her something to eat. The 
squaw lived and got well, but she was crazy, and could not 
bear the sight of a warrior, believing every one who came near 
her was going to kill her. 

One day the white squaw was missing, and the whole village 
turned out to look for her. They followed her tracks far down 
the river, but could not find her. Some women out gathering 
berries a few days afterward, said the white squaw came to 
them and asked for food, showing them, at the same time, 
where she was hiding in the bluffs near by. She begged them 
not to tell the warriors where she was, or they would come and 
kill her. The squaws tried to dissuade her from a notion so 
foolish, but they could not get her to return to the village. 

Every day the squaws went and took her food, and she lived 
for many months, no one knowing where she was but the 
women. When the warriors came about she hid away, and 
would not stir out until they were gone. 


One day, however, a warrior out hunting antelope came sud- 
denly upon her, and she fled away, but he followed her, wish- 
ing to bring her to the village. All day she ran over the hills, 
and at night tlie warrior came back, being unable to catch her. 
She was never seen again, and what became of her is not 
known, although it is likely she died of hunger, or that the 
wild beasts destroyed her. 

Ever after, when the Indians came here to camp, they told 
the story of the crazy woman, and the place became known as 
" the place of the crazy woman, " and the name of " Big 
Beard " was almost entirely forgotten. * 

* The moral pointed in this tale, and the language that adorns it, are, in 
my judgment, both admirable. The story is probably entirely true, and an 
actual occurrence. The '* Big Beard " grass mentioned still grows in the 
valley, and the stream, though yet far beyond the most remote cabin of the 
white man, is known to all frontiersmen, and is laid down on all maps as 
" Craay Woman. " 

The conduct of the chief and warriors after drinking the black water, 
the fate of him of the " unsteady hand, " and the death of the trader, are 
all thrillingly told by Mr. Belden, and with a naturalness and adherence 
to truth that is quite surprising in an Indian tale. — ^Editor. 

196 belden: the white chief. 






TJEFORE returning home, I made up my mind to steal 
-■-^ some ponies from our enemies, who had given us so much 
annoyance. Nelson, whose name I have not before mentioned, 
was a white man, and had accompanied us for the purpose of 
hunting, and having a share in such adventures as might fall 
to the lot of our party. He had a Sioux wife and two chil- 
dren, but was a roving, reckless, dare-devil sort of fellow, who 
always needed to be led, and who could never be intrusted to 
lead in any expedition, on account of his rashness and indis- 

Nelson and I set out alone to steal some ponies from our In- 
dian foes, little caring whether they were Pawnees, Cheyennes, 
Arrapahoes, or Sioux, so we got their horses. We rode on for 
several days, and finally halted one evening by a clear running 
stream. While I fixed up the camp. Nelson took a jog down 
the creek to see that all was (dear, and, if possible, shoot a deer 
for our supper. He soon returned with plenty of game, re- 


marking he had seen no Indian signs, but thought he had, from 
the top of a hill beyond the stream, discovered smoke rising, 
far down to the east. We made but little fire, and, then putting 
it out after supper, circled around the adjacent hills once, and 
seeing nothing, returned and lay down to rest. 

1 was up before daylight, for I felt uneasy, and rousing 
Nelson, told him to go out on the hills and keep a lookout while 
I kindled the fire and cooked breakfast. He soon disappeared 
over the bluff with his pony, and I hurried to prepare the morn- 
ing repast of fresh antelope, broiled over the coals. The 
breakfast was ready, but no Nelson was there. I ate heartily, 
and waited for him an hour, but still he did not come, and I 
was preparing to mount my pony and follow his trail when, 
just as the first rays of the sun were streaming over the hill- 
tops, he came riding leisurely into camp, and reported that he 
had gone over to the hill from which he thought he saw smoke 
the night before, and sure enough, he saw it again rising dis- 
tinctly against the sky, not more than three miles distant. He 
rode down the creek-bottom, and was soon able to discover a 
large party of Indians preparing their breakfast ; and, leaving 
them to enjoy their meal in peace, he had returned to tell me all 
about it, and get his own breakfast. The coolness of the fellow 
nettled me not a little. One would have thought, to have looked 
at him, that he was dining in a first-class restaurant in a peace- 
ful town, instead of eating within a few miles of a band of 
hostile Indians, who might at any moment dash down upon us 
and put a stop to our ever eating again. I said to him, " Hurry 
up. Nelson, and let us get out of this, for a straggling Indian 
mav, at any moment, discover our camp, and lead the whole 
band down upon us.^' "Well, 'Squire,^' he replied, as was his 
custom to call me, " I reckon you would n't turn a fellow out to 


such hot work, as we are likely to have, without givin* him a 
square meal, would ye ? " I bade him again hurry, but was 
forced to wait until he gorged himself to his heart's content. 
Then we rode out into the hills to reconnoiter, and consult what 
was best to be done. 

We crawled along behind the bluffs, until we got sight of the 
Indian encampment. It was quite large, and evidently per- 
fectly at rest. All day we lay in the bluffs, keenly scrutinizing 
every party of warriors that left the camp. Once a party struck 
out in a direction that we knew must cross our trail, and we felt 
much anxiety, but as hour after hour wore away, and we heard 
nothing of them, we concluded they must have crossed with- 
out observing it. During the day, we discovered that the 
encampment was a temporary one, and that from the scarcity 
of men, most of the warriors were out hunting, or on the war- 
path ; intelligence not a little gratifying to us, and favorable 
to our design. From the signs, we also concluded, the village 
was composed of the families of warriors, and that they had 
been left behind with a very small guard. 

As soon as it was dark, Nelson and I crept down from the 
bluffs and crawled to the village. This we did early, to pre- 
vent the dogs from noticing us, for it is a peculiarity of Indian 
dogs, that they seldom become vigilant until some houis after 
dark. We lay for some time, and then began to move about 
among the ponies. Nelson went to the right and I to the left. 
Several times warriors passed and repassed, but whenever they 
came near me, I wrapped my blanket closely about me, and 
pretended I was asleep, when, no doubt thinking I was one 
of the warriors who had been out hunting all day, and was 
tired, they passed on, leaving me to my repose. Every oppor- 
tunity I got, I cut a lariat, or hopple, and after working 

belden: the white chief. 199 

industriously for an hour with my butcher-knife, I had 
loosened some twenty ponies. Nelson had, meantime, been 
busy, and having a side of the town that was not subject to 
interruptions from strolling warriors or squaws, he had suc- 
ceeded in severing some forty horses from their pickets. We 
were succeeding admirably, when an old squaw came out to 
change the grazing-ground of her pony and found him gone. 
She ran to the picket-stake, and picking up the end of the rope, 
felt it, and finding it had been cut, set up a howl, that brought 
the warriors tumbling from their lodges. Nelson gave me the 
signal to "run,^' and springing on a little black pony that 
stood near me, I swung my blanket around my head, flirted 
it in the faces of the ponies, and shouting, '* Hoo-yah-hoo ! '' 
at the top of my lungs, started some twenty of them toward 
the bluffs. Nelson was equally lucky, and in the confusion 
that ensued in the village, we managed to get together. All 
was noise and excitement throughout the town ; children 
screamed, women shouted, men whooped, while the dogs set 
up a dismal howling. Shots fell thick and fast around us, 
but we succeeded in reaching the bluffs unhurt with all our 

We pushed along smartly for a mile or two, each moment 
getting deeper into the hills. Turning now to the right, then 
to the left, we kept very quiet, hoping in the darkness to 
throw the pursuers off our trail, and before daylight be far to 
the eastward. Just as we began to hope we were not to be 
followed, we heard the Indians directly behind us, and, judging 
by the clatter of the ponies' hoofs, the party was a strong one. 
They, however, approached with great caution, not knowing our 
strength, and fearing an ambush. Twice they made ineffectual 
attempts to stampede the herd by sending warriors ahead and 


concealing them on the line of our march, but the extreme 
cowardice of the savages caused them to run away almost as 
soon as they shouted at the ponies. So we jogged along until 
near daylight, hoping each moment that our pursuers would 
turn back, for we did not wish them to know our weakness^ 
and it was evident the first streaks of morning woukl disclose 
to them our numbers. Having kept remarkably quiet for 
nearly an hour, the Indians had become quite bokl, when sud- 
denly Nelson and I turned and charged them. They were in 
a gulch at the time, and, believing they were cut off, rode 
furiously for the mouth of the gorge, nearly a mile in their 
rear. We did not pursue them, but returned to the herd, 
leaving them to continue their flight until their fears" should 
subside. We had not gone far, however, until we heard them 
coming on again close behind us. Nelson said he knew of 
some timber not far to the north, and we drove hard, hoping 
to reach it before day would break, but as we were crossing 
the prairie, streaks of red shot up the eastern sky, and soon ob- 
jects were distinguishable all around us. We saw we had lost 
many of the ponies in the darkness during the night, but still 
had some twenty left. Telling Nelson to drive these on, I 
halted on a rise in the prairie to wait for our enemies to come 
up. They soon appeared over a bluff, and I saw they num- 
bered twelve by actual count. The odds were fearful, but 1 
felt relieved, for I had thought not less than twenty were in 
the pursuit, and I now sincerely regretted Nelson and I had 
not ambushed them during the night. They continued to fol- 
low cautiously, until, seeing there were but two of us, they set 
up a great shout, and came on whooping and howling like 
demons. I dismounted behind a little hill, and, taking delib- 
erate aim with my Henry rifle, as the foremost Indian came 

belden: the white chief. 201 

around the turu of the hill, I dropped him from his pony. I 
now pumped the shot at them as fast as I could, until I had 
nearly emptied the chamber of my gun, and had the satisfac- 
tion of seeing them turn back, carrying two of their wounded 
companions with them. 

Rejoining Nelson, we pushed on for the timber, which was 
now only a few miles distant, and had nearly succeeded in 
reaching it when the Indians charged down upon us again. 
There were but eight left in the pursuit, and, taking my shot- 
gun, I loaded each barrel with a powerful charge of powder 
and nine buckshot ; then, waiting until the Indians were quite 
close, and as much together as possible, I wheeled and fired 
both barrels at them. The shot raked them like grape and 
canister, and I could see three or four of them were slightly 
wounded. They could not understand where so many balls had 
come from when they saw but one man fire, and so became 
more cautious than ever. At sunrise we reached the friendly 
shelter of the grove, and driving in the tired ponies, left them 
to graze, while Nelson and I sallied out, and, boldly attacking 
the Indians, chased them over the plain, firing as rapidly as we 
could with our Henry's. We succeeded in wounding one fel- 
low, but Nelson got a ball through the arm, nearly disabling 
him, and we returned to the grove. 

"We lay all day in the woods resting, but saw nothing more 
of the Indians. Nelson's wound was quite painful, but not 
dangerous, and we dressed it with green leaves and cold 

As soon as it was dark we set out again, and drove along 
cautiously, fearing the Indians were up to some devilment, as 
they had been so quiet all day. The night wore away, how- 
ever, and we began to feel assured there would be no attack, 


when, while we were driving along a narrow cafion, a shout 
ing arose in front, followed by a few rapid shots, and the ter- 
rified ponies, turning suddenly, nearly ran over us. "We suc- 
ceeded in keeping seven in the cafion, but the rest escaped to 
the open prairie, where we saw the Indians driving them 
off. We made no attempt to pursue them, contenting ourselves 
with the seven we had left, and finding it all we could do to 
keep them, as the little fellows were disposed to escape and fol- 
low the rest of the herd. 

We now drove rapidly to the east, hoping the Indians would 
be satisfied with what they had got, and leave us to pursue our 
way in peace ; but, elated by their success, they came on again, 
and charged the herd, apparently determined to get the remain- 
ing seven. My blood was now up, for I thought they were 
acting a piggish part in wanting all, and riding over a little rise 
in the prairie, I dropped from my pony, and as the first In- 
dian came on the crest of the divide, I shot him dead as a 
door nail. His companions ran to him, and I gave them a 
round dozen of Henry balls, causing them to dodge and scatter 
in all directions. After this they came on again several times, 
but when I turned and presented my Henry, as much as to 
say, " Keep off, '' they would run fit to break their necks. All 
day the red devils followed us, but at sundown gave up the 
chase, and in the twilight we saw them galloping over the hills 
far to our rear on their return to the village. We were not 
again disturbed, and on the evening of the seventh day en- 
tered our own village, bringing in safely all our seven ponies, 
and finding our friends, whom we had left on the " Crazy 
Woman, " at home to welcome us. 









DURING the dull days we lay in camp, waiting for the 
buifalo vseason to begin. I heard many curious tales and 
legends related by the Indians, and some of these I will 

Once there lived on the Big Horn River, at the place where 
'Fort Smith was afterward built, a Crow chief who had a most 
beautiful daughter. Many of the -young men in the tribe 
courted her and were anxious to marry her, but her father 
would not part with her unless he received a hundred ponies ; 
and, as no warrior was able to give so much for a wife, she 
was obliged to remain single. A young chief, who loved tlie 
maiden dearly, and desired to possess her, urged the old chief, 
her father, to reduce the number of ponies, but he only became 
more morose, and finally declared no one should marry his 
daughter unless he had a hundred ponies that had been cap- 
tured in battle. As such a thing was impossible, the young 
warrior despaired, and shut himself up in his tent and refused 


to eat. The girl, who loved him dearly, sent him word to bt 
of good heart and persevere, for she would be faithful to him, 
and die rather than marry any other warrior. Greatly encour- 
aged by this message, the young man ate again, and all went 
along smoothly for several months. 

The lodge of the maiden was pitched close beside that of her 
father's, and occupied by her alone. Often at night the wily 
old chief thought he heard strange noises in his daughter's 
lodge, but, when questioned, she always denied that she had 
heard any noise, or that any thing unusual had occurred. 

One day, however, she could no longer conceal her shame 
from her mother, and confessed that she was about to bear a 
child. When the old chief heard of it he was greatly enraged, 
and assembled his council, that measures might be taken for 
putting her to death, and thus wiping out the disgrace of his 

When the council was assembled, the girl was brought before 
it, and her father sternly commanded her to explain the cause 
of her disgrace. To the astonishment of every one, she came 
not as a guilty wretch, but with head erect, and a clear, flash 
ing eye. When any of the old men questioned her, she looked 
disdainfully at them, and bade them hold their peace, for she 
was a chief's daughter, and would answer only to her august 
father. Her conduct greatly pleased the chief, and he said, 
aside, that whatever might be her fault she was a real Crow, 
and fit to be his daughter. When commanded by her father 
to relate all that had happened to her, she arose and said : 
"Venerable fathers, and you, my noble chief, some moons ago, 
one night, a strange thing happened to me, such as perhaps 
never happened before to any maid in the world. I was sleep- 
ing in my lodge, by the side of my noble father there, when 


suddenly I heard a most peculiar noise as of hoofs and some 
animal walking. I became conscious of something being in my 
teepee, and, being greatly frightened, I lay still. Presently I 
heard the coals being scraped together on the hearth, and 
blown into a flame. When it was light I looked, expecting to 
see a man, when I would have called my father, but, strange 
to relate, I saw, not a man, but a white buffalo. He walked 
upon his hind feet, and I was so terrified I could neither 
speak nor move. He came to my bed and sat down, and I 
fainted away. When I awoke, he was gone. So he came 
every night to see me, and each time I was as much frightened 
as before, and entirely unable to call out for help. The animal 
was very careful not to hurt me with his hoofs or horns, and 
how it came about I can not tell, but in a few months I found 
myself in the condition you now see me, and I have no one to 
blame for my misfortune but the white buffalo." 

The chiefs had listened to this harangue with great patience, 
and when she had done, the chief asked her when the white 
buffalo had last visited her, and she replied, " When the moon 
was full, and that he would come again the first full moon." 

When her story was finished, she was conducted back to her 
lodge, and the old men fell to debating about the matter. Most 
of the chiefs did not believe the story, for they said that such 
a thing as a white buffalo they had never seen in all their 
lives. An old man rose, however, and said there was once a 
white buffalo on the plains, and that he did strange things, 
often being seen in the clouds and walking on water. This 
statement greatly confused the council, and they fell to debat- 
ing anew. At last a chief, who was very old and wise, said 
that it must be possible for a woman to bear children without 
being with a man, for many years ago, when he went to see 

208 belden: the white chief. 

the Great Father at Washington, the whites took him to heai 
their great medicine man, and the medicine man told of a 
woman who had brought forth a child without lying with any 
man, and this all the white people believed. The child was 
not only born, but had lived many years, and became a very 
great medicine man. 

At last "it came the turn of the young warrior, who had 
wished to marry the girl, and he rose and said : 

" I do not doubt the story of the girl, nor question her chastity. 
Undoubtedly a most extraordinary thing has happened, but all 
things are possible to the Great Spirit, and if he came and vis- 
ited our daughter in the form of a white buffalo, it is no more 
than was related by our brother about the daughter of the 
white chief." 

This speech was received by all with much favor, and the 
great chief, who had not spoken a word, adjourned the council, 
stating he would call them together at some future day, to talk 
further concerning the matter. 

The next council had little talk, and almost unanimously 
agreed the young girl should be put to death, when the young 
chief, her lover, rose and said, as it was near the full of the 
moon, when the white buffalo would come again, he begged 
that the execution of the sentence of the council might be 
delayed until after the full moon, when, if nothing occurred to 
corroborate the girPs story, she should die. This was readily 
agreed to, and the pipe was passed around, to see in whose 
hands it would go out, that he might be selected to mount guard 
over the girPs teepee, and watch for the white buffalo. The 
pipe went out in the young chief's hands, and the council 

When the moon was at its full, the chief took up his position 


BO he could see the door of the girPs lodge, but could not be 
seen himself. He also instructed her, if she saw the buffiilo, 
to call out, and he would immediately rush to her assistance. 
On the third night of the watch, he heard her scream, and 
rushed into the lodge with his battle-ax, when, sure enough, 
there was a white buffalo standing on his hind legs. As the 
chief came up, the beast raised its forefoot to strike him, but 
the chief brought his ax down with such force that it com- 
pletely severed the hoof from the leg. The next moment, 
however, the chief was struck senseless by the other forehoof, 
and when he recovered his senses the buffalo was gone. The 
old chief, who had heard the noise of the conflict, had risen and 
was dressed, when the young chief, who was still suffering from 
the blow he had received, came to him, and said that the 
white buffalo had indeed appeared, and that he had fought with 
him, and cut off one of his hoofs, which was produced, and an 
examination of the maiden's teepee showed a pool of blood, 
where the buffalo had bled from the effect of his wound. Great 
excitement spread in the village when the news was made 
known, and nearly all remained up, being afraid to sleep. 

Early next morning the old chief assembled the council, and 
the debate began. The father of the girl was greatly exas- 
perated, and pronounced the whole affair a lie, a fraud, and 
swindle. He said he had examined the ground around his 
daughter's lodge, but could find no footprints of a buffalo, yet 
every one must know that, if so heavy an animal as a buffalo 
had passed that way, he must have left deep hoof-marks in the 
sofl soil. It was also absurd that the buffalo could have 
got itito the girl's lodge without being seen by the young chief. 
In his opinion, both the girl and the chief were a lying pair, 
aud he more than hinted*^that the young chief was himself the 

white buffalo. He recommended, that both the girl and the 
chief be shot to death with arrows, at sunrise in the morning. 

This speech had great effect, and the council almost unani- 
mously voted to put the girl and her supposed paramour to 
death. They were led away, placed under a guard, and bade 
prepare for their fate on the morrow. 

Now it so happened, that there was a warrior in the village 
who had been very sick, and many feared he would die. This 
warrior was greatly admired and feared, on account of his 
bravery and prowess. No other warrior in the village had 
slain so many of the enemy, no one was so strong, andnone so 
willing to go to battle. His sickness excited much talk in the 
tribe, for all hated to lose so valuable a defender. He would 
not tell what ailed him, but lay all the day long, his hands 
placed under his robe, and apparently suffering great pain. 
On the morning of the execution, a girl of the village passed 
by the sick warrior^s lodge, and stopped in to tell him about 
the fate of the chief's daughter and the young chief. She found 
the warrior asleep, and his hands lying on top of the robe. 
The bandages had fallen off, and to her surprise, she saw he 
had but one hand, the other being gone. Quickly it flashed 
through her mind, that the warrior had something to do with 
the affair of the white buffalo, and she ran with all her might 
toward the hill beyond the village, where the execution was to 
take place. As she drew near the hill, she feared she would be 
too late, for she saw the crowd part, the prisoners led out, and 
the bowmen take their places. When she came up, 'the young 
chief was making his last speech, and the bowmen, with arrows 
on their strings, were ready to fire as soon as he should con- 
clude. The girl rushed up to the great medicine man, who 
was conducting the execution, and wliispered something in hia 


ear, at which he was greatly astonished. Then he listened, and 
the girl repeated what she had said. When she had done 
speaking, the medicine man walked between the condemned 
prisoners and the bowmen, and, raising his hands, bade them 
put up their arrows. He then told the crowd, bowmen, pris- 
oners, and all, to follow him, and see what they should aee. 
He walked down to the village, and entering the sick warrior^a 
lodge, bade him hold up his hands. At first he refused to do 
60, but seeing he was found out, he held up his arms, and ex- 
hibited one hand and a bloody stump. The medicine man 
asked where the hoof of the white buffalo was, and being told 
it was at the old chief's lodge, he bade them go and fetch it. 
When it was brought, he took his knife, and, splitting open the 
skin of the hoof, to the surprise of every one, drew forth a 
human hand, which had been neatly sewed up in the hoof. 
Holding it up, so all could see it, he placed it on the stump 
beside the warrior's other hand, and it fitted exactly. Every one 
now knew who was the white buffalo, and all cried out, " Kill 
him ! kill him ! " The old chief hastily assembled an informal 
council, and the young warrior was at once condemned to death. 
So the bowmen who were to shoot the young chief and the girl, 
shot him as he lay in his tent. 

The old chief was so pleased when he knew his daughter had 
told him the truth, that he conferred her in marriage on her 
defender, the young chief. The child of the white buffalo was 
born and strangled, after which the young chief and his wife 
lived many years happily together, and raised a large family of 

handsome daughters and brave young men. 







MANY years ago, there was a great famine among the 
Indians who lived along the eastern slope of the Big 
Horn Mountains. The fall hunt of the Crows had proved 
unsuccessful, and they knew not what to do. A winter of ter- 
rible severity came down upon them, and starvation stared them 
in the face. They were at last reduced to great extremity, and 
runners were sent out in all directions to find game. One of 
them returned one day with the joyful intelligence that he had 
found a locality in which game of all kinds abounded. The 
village was hastily packed up, and all left the Big Horn, and 
journeying for several days under the guidance of the young 
warrior, they at length came to a thickly-wooded country full 
of bears, deer, elk, and antelope. The encampment was pitched 
on a plain by a stream, and soon the teepees were filled with 
meat. For a time, all went well, but presently the game, being 
hunted so much, began to move off, and the Crows saw starvation 
again before them. They determined to make a big hunt, and, 
if possible, take enougTi game to last them through ihe cold 


weather. Men, women, and children turned out, and surround- 
ing a vast extent of forest, they drove the game toward a 
common center, where it was to be slaughtered. The hunt was 
very successful, and much game had been taken, when suddenly 
it began to blow; then black clouds gathered, the thunder 
rolled, and the lightnings flashed overhead, while strange noises 
were heard in the earth. The Crows were greatly frightened, 
for they never had heard it thunder before in midwinter, and 
from the rocking and trembling of the earth, they thought it 
was about to fall to pieces and swallow them up. Presently an 
inky, black cloud covered the peak of the mountain where they 
had driven the game, and after resting on the earth a few mo- 
ments, it rose and hung over the mountain top. Then, two long 
arms were seen to reach out of the cloud and lay something on the 
earth, after which the cloud rose in the air and drifted swiftly 
away. The sky cleared off, the sun shone again brightly, and the 
killing of the game went on. When all the elk, deer, antelope, 
and bears were slaughtered, two warriors went up to where the 
cloud had been seen to lay something on the earth, and there, 
resting on a flat rock, they discovered a young female child, 
perfectly green in color. They called up several squaws, but 
none of them could be induced to touch it ; on the other hand, 
they begged the warriors to come away and leave it. When no 
one would take it up, one of the warriors said, " I will care for 
it ;" and lifting it in his arms, he carried it down the mountain 
and toward the village. As he was crossing the plain, and 
when quite near the encampment, all heard a great noise, and 
looking up, they saw the black cloud coming back and rapidly 
approaching the warrior; again the thunder rolled, the light-^ 
nings flashed, and the earth shook. Suddenly the warrior was- 
enveloped in a bright flame and fell to the ground; then, the 

216 bp:lden : the white chief. 

two hands were seen to reach out of the cloud and grasp the 
child, which disappeared in the vapor, and the whole, lifting 
into the sky, drifted away to the eastward. The warrior was 
found quite dead, and his skin as black as the cloud that had 
enveloped him. He was taken to the village, and the next day 

While the warrior was being enveloped in the cloud, an old 
squaw, who had Hot borne children for years, stood looking at 
him. No sooner did she see the child disappear in the vapor, 
than she felt herself seized with violent labor-pains. All night 
she suffered, and, in the morning, was delivered of a female 
child, perfectly green, like live grass. The Indians all said it 
was the same child that had been in the cloud, and that the 
mysterious hands had no sooner taken it from the warrior than 
they transferred it to the woman. The squaw persisted that it 
was not the child of a man, though she had a husband. In 
token of its strange birth, the Indians named the infant 
" A-pa-ka-her-ra-ris ! " the one who dwells in the clouds, or, 
" The Storm-Child." The pappoose lived and grew finely, and, 
in course of time, became a woman, married, and had a large 

*Mr. Belden says, "I often saw the squaw named 'The Storm-Child/ 
and truth compels me to say, that I have seen few uglier Indian women." 

Note. — ^This story originated in a natural phenomenon. There was a 
storm, and a squaw, frightened by it, gave premature birth to a child. The 
warrior was killed by lightning, and the color of the child, and the hands 
seen in the clouds, are purely Indian exaggerations. It frequently thun- 
ders in the Rocky Mountains in the winter time, though seldom so far 
north as the lands of the Crows. The " Storm-Child " is still living, and 
greatly feared and respected by her tribe, on account of her supposed 
mysterious birth. — Editor. 

belden; the white chief, 217 






rilHE day was very warm, and I had been lying down in ray 
-■- teepee, sleeping most of the time, for want of something 
to do, or for lack of energy to do any thing, if I had it to do. 
I had seen but few of the Indians out of their teepees that day, 
and, though the squaws worked incessantly in warm as well as 
cold weather, their liege lords and masters took the warm 
weather to be too much for even their warm natures ; so they 
stretched themselves out on the grass-rush mats of their teepee 
floors, and went to sleep till eating time should come round 
again (which meant whenever they got hungry), and were com- 
pelled to undergo the cruel exertion of raising themselves to a 
sitting posture, and be waited upon by their squaws, who 
handed each one a wooden bowl of boiled meat and corn. No 
coffee or tea was used, nothing but the beverage provided by 
nature, cold water, and at that season the water was not very 
cold, as it was procured from the Missouri River. 

I had been awakened by a jabbering outside my teepee door, 


and, raising the bottom of the teepee cloth, I saw five men, and 
some two or three squaws, seated under my shade (some forks 
stuck up in front of the teepee door, over which was laid a 
quantity of green w^illow brush to answer the wants of a porch), 
busily engaged in gambling for silver earrings and bead neck- 
laces with plum-stone dice. I lay still and watched them for 
a little while, when, finding sleep impossible, and not wishing 
to afiront the company by ordering them to keep quiet, I got 
up and crawled out to where they were, and, declining to ac- 
cept their invitation to join the game, contented myself in 
quietly watching and learning it. 

They used a kind of dice made of the stones of the wild 
plum, which grew very plentifully in the deep ravines and 
caiions a mile or two back from the Missouri Eiver at this 
point. These stones were first dried hard, then polished by 
scraping them with a knife. Six were used for the game, four 
of them being spotted on one side, and blank on the opposite, 
and the other two striped or checked on one side, and left blank 
on the other. These spots and stripes were made on the stones 
by means of a small iron instrument which they used to paint 
buffalo robes with. The iron was heated, and the spots and 
stripes then seared or burned in the stone. The Indians used 
a wooden bowl, small and light, for shaking the dice, and never 
threw them out of the bowl. To play the game, they sat on 
the ground in a circle, and a blanket, or robe, was doubled up 
and placed in the middle of the ring — the bowl containing six 
dice, being placed on the folded blanket. The stakes usually 
were two or four silver earrings, put up by those who engaged 
in the game, and the sport commenced by some one of the 
players seizing the edge of the bowl with his thumb outside, 
and the ends of his forefingers inside the rim, and, raising it an 

belden: the white chief. 219 

inch or so, bumped it down on the folded blanket three or four 
times, causing the light plum-stones to jump around in the 
most lively manner. After the player had shaken the bowl 
thoroughly, he sat down and allowed the stones to settle on the 
bottom, and then they were counted, thus : if all the spotted 
and striped sides were uppermost, the player won, unless some 
one else tied him. If he threw four spotted ones, it was the 
same as four aces in cards, in the game of bluff; but if he 
threw three spotted and two striped ones, it was equivalent to 
a full hand of bluff, and so on, the only difference being, that 
when all the spotted and striped sides were turned up, it 
showed a higher hand than four aces, and when all the blank 
sides were turned up it showed a flush that ranked next to the 
highest hand, and above the four aces. 

During the game there was considerable quarreling between 
a couple of old men, who were proverbial throi%hout the vil- 
lage for their cross, crabbed natures, but, aside from using their 
tongues very freely in ridiculing and maligning each other, 
nothing more serious occurred. Each repeatedly referred to 
me as a responsible arbitrator in the cause at dispute, but I 
pleaded utter ignorance of the game, and, therefore, inability 
of judging. For this, I did not fail to get my share of their 
abuse, for having lived so long among as respectable a tribe as 
the Santee Sioux, and not knowing the celebrated plum-stone 
game. I took all their abuse good-naturedly, as I knew no 
one in the village ever minded any thing these two old boobies 
said. While they played dice, the squaws sat by smoking and 
laughing at each one's losses. Presently, all but one were 
dead broke ; the game stopped, and, good nature being once 
more restored, all joined in a smoke. As the day advanced, 
and evening came on, the atmosphere became more endurable^ 

ZZO belden: the white chief. 

and conversation became lively. One of the young men 
asked me to tell a story, and all joined in the request, urging 
so hard, that I agreed to do so, provided one of the old men 
would, in return, favor us by telling some old story of the San- 
tees who had lived before the present generation. I knew the 
old men in almost every tribe were full of such stories, and 
they were always agreeable. I inquired what I should tell 
them, whether of some other Indian tribe, or of the white 
people? "Of the whites," they all at once replied. My 
supper was now ready, and, inviting those present to join with 
me in eating a limited number of dishes, I ordered served some 
coifee, dried elk meat and corn, boiled together, for which I had 
to thank the good missionary of the tribe. The invitation was 
accepted by all, and supper was brought outside the teepee 
where we were sitting. After the meal was finished, and 
another smok# indulged in, one of the young men said, "Now 
for the story." I seated myself, and, in as concise a manner as 
possible, related to my auditors the history of the discovery 
of America; the sailing of Columbus; his trials and reverses; 
his landing in triumph ; his meeting with the first Indians ok 
the Atlantic coast, and the growth of the present nation ; wind- 
ing up with a description of Washington, his battles, and the 
success of the struggle for independence. When I had con- 
cluded, I read the interest betrayed in my narrative by the 
upturned faces of my audience, which had augmented in num- 
bers to some fifteen or twenty persons, and among whom was 
the old medicine man of the tribe. The pompous old fool, to 
show his wisdom, said, as soon as I had done, "Me know 
him, Washi'ton ; me see him, Washi'ton, heap o' times. Him 
good man, Washi'ton. No tell um lie. One little lie no tell 
um ! " All acquiesced in this statement, and " How'd " in an 


assenting manner at the end of each sentence. I then told 
them of Washington's boyhood; the old story of the apple 
tree ; the heroic truthfulness of the young first President, and 
his father's pride in his honest boy. To all this the Indian': 
repeatedly assented, by saying, " How ! ^' as if they all knew 
of the circumstances quite as well as I did. I soon found, 
however, a solution of this enigma, by learning from the mis- 
sionary that he had brought several Sabbath-school books up 
with him, among them a condensed history of George Wash- 
ington. He occasionally loaned these books to such as took 
care of them, and he said that several Santees could speak, 
read, and write English in a very good manner. To these 
persons he loaned books, and the contents were, very nat- 
urally, told to the balance of the tribe by the fortunate readers. 
They always listened with avidity to the tales of the readers. 
When I had finished my story, night had fallen over us, and 
the stars were coming out, one by one, illuminating the sky 
with their tiny spangles of diamonds. A large circle of dusky, 
quiet, red men were seated in front of my lodge, waiting to 
catch the words of the old man, who was about to begin his 
story. It was an expectant crowd, and every noise was hushed 
save the soughing of the night winds among the tops of the 
stately cot ton woods that overshadowed our camp. The quick 
rush of the Missouri broke with a hollow sound on the shore, 
as it sped toward the south to meet the Mississippi, and bear 
up the great white trafficking ships of the white men. Here, 
far away from the haunts of civilization, the river's waters 
were as clear as crystal, and no noise or bustle disturbed the 
culm and tranquil scene. 


^rjAjX^xLix-M i xixrj vrxixxxi v;rtxrir, 








npHE fire bad gone out, and the ashes were knocked from 
-■- the bowl ; leaving the sacred pipe lying upon his blanket, 
which he had folded and laid upon the ground, the old, gray- 
headed warrior got upon his feet, in the center of the circle, 
and began his story. I managed to get as near to him as 
possible, in order that I might not lose a word of what he 
said. The old man seemed to feel sorrowful, as he looked at 
the ground near his feet for a few moments, evidently trying 
to recall to memory events of many years gone by. Then, 
raising his head, and looking around upon his hearers, he 
spoke : 

*' Many years ago, many moons, many winter's snows, and 
summer's grasses have come and gone, and many a Santee 
warrior has come into the world, and, after a brilliant and 
noble life, left it again. Many a parent and child have been 


carried to the grave, since the men lived of whom my father's 
father told me when I was a boy, and of whom I will now 
tell you. You see my hair is gray, but it was not so when 
my father's father told me this story, of things that happened 
when he was young. In those days the Sioux all lived to- 
gether, and were a large and powerful tribe. They were then 
one nation of brave warriors, feared by all the tribes, who 
sought their favor, and neglected no opportunity to cement a 
friendship with the most powerful band, that owned hunting- 
grounds for hundreds and hundreds of miles in every direction. 
No tribe ever dared to insult or provoke them to battle; no 
other tribe dared to trespass on their hunting-grounds; no 
other tribe ever owned such beautiful and accomplished women, 
such upright and brave warriors, as the Dakotas. They were 
rich in ponies and silver earrings, their herds covered the 
valleys of the great rivers, their teepees were as white and 
numerous as the snow-flakes in winter, and every stream and 
grove was peopled by them. If any other tribe had occasion 
to go to war with their neighbors, they first courted the coun- 
tenance and favor of the Dakotas, and, if they obtained it, 
they were sure of winning a victory, sometimes without any 
apparent resistance from their enemies, who had been informed 
that the Dakotas favored the other side. Times then were not 
as they now are. When a foreign chief's embassy called upon 
the Dakotas, to ask for permission to fight on their grounds, 
or to ask for assistance in the battle they premeditated, their 
speeches were heard by upright and honest men, who would 
never recognize a war for plunder or gain, and who never 
refused assistance to the injured or oppressed of other nations. 
Thus they were loved, feared, and respected by all, and the 
decision of the Sioux chiefs, in every case, was irrevocable law. 

So there was but little war, and year after year the tribes in- 
creased in numbers, and the warriors lived to great old age, 
and died, some over a hundred years old. Time went on, and 
one day a stranger was brought into the village, whose face was 
white, his hair brown, and his eyes the color of his hair. This 
man's whole body was white, and he could not understand us 
when we spoke to him, nor could we understand him, though 
he talked and made a noise with his mouth, and sometimes 
laughed. He had been found on the high prairies, walking 
alone, and had a bow without any strings to it, and the arrows 
he used were very little, but heavy and round. He fired off 
his bow, and it so frightened our people that several squaws 
dropped to the earth, stunned by the noise which the arrow 
., made in the air. This bow would shoot one of the little 
arrows many steps distant, and send it through the stoutest 
shields of buffalo hide that our warriors owned. The white 
warrior could also shoot very straight, and never missed what 
he aimed at. So, many of our people revered this white man, 
who they believed had been sent to show them how to make 
and shoot with the strange bows that made a noise. Some, 
however, said he was a bad man, and used the Great Spirit's 
thunder in his bow, that he had no right to do so, and if the 
man was to be allowed to live in the village among our people, 
we would be visited by great calamities. These were for im- 
mediately driving him away from our teepees, and not allow- 
ing him to return. The council-house drum was beaten, and 
the chiefs called to deliberate the question whether we would 
keep the white man or send him away. After a whole day 
and night's consultation, it was decided that the man should 
stay in the village, and so it was. He had been called in dur- 
ing the council, and laid his bow down on the ground, when it 


was with great fear and reluctance taken up and examined by 
one of the boldest of the warriors, who said it was made of 
iron, and was very heavy, and not a bow, but a hollow rod. 
The chief then motioned to the man to fix it ready to fire, but 
not to fire it. He did so, and all saw, what they had not bo- 
fore observed, that the white warrior first put some black, 
shining sand in the iron, and then put a little iron ball in the 
end of the rod, which he forced down with a long stick. This 
stick he drew out of a case under the hollow iron, and put one 
end of it on the ball and then pressed with all his might on 
the other, until the ball was pushed to the lower end of the 
hollow. Next he withdrew the stick, and put it back in the 
case, and then he took up the iron and put some of the black 
sand in a little cup on the side of it, and covered up the sand 
with a flat, crooked piece, which was fast to the iron. Just 
behind this crooked iron was another one, in which was fast- 
ened a flat piece of stone, which was made to strike fire when 
the man pulled on a little wire under the hollow iron. When- 
ever this stone made fire, the same noise was heard, and fire 
and smoke came out of the end of the iron. None could see 
the little iron ball as it went to the mark, and some who 
watched, said that the ball struck the tree before the fire came 
out of the iron. 

" So the man stayed and was given a teepee, and he soon mar- 
ried a squaw, and was suffered to live with us for several moons, 
until the hunting moons came, when the tribes were to go out 
to kill and dry their winter's meat. The buffalo ranged all 
around, near at hand, and every season yielded the necessary 
amount of food for the great tribe on whose hunting-grounds 
the buffalo could not be counted, so great was their number. 

A day's journey from the village always took our people into 



the midst of the buffalo country, and, pitching their teepees, 
men and women set to work, and in a few days' time had pre- 
pared sufficient fat and buffalo to last them until the next 
season came. 

" The hunting moon was now at hand, and all the village 
was active, preparing to go out upon the hunt. Among others 
was the white man, with his hollow iron. He had learned to 
talk our language, and could now speak and understand every 
thing. He was also well liked by nearly every one, and was 
especially a favorite with the young women, who constantly 
envied the white man's squaw her position. Some of those who 
had predicted calamities if the white man was permitted to live 
among them, though they never abused him, never had any 
thing to do with him, but held themselves aloof and kept their 
peace, though they did not like him. 

" So all went to the hunting-grounds, and there it was ob- 
served that the white man's hollow iron would bring down a 
buffalo at the distance of two arrow flights, twice as far off as 
the best warrior of the tribe could shoot an arrow, and where 
sometimes it took a dozen arrows to kill a buffalo, the white man 
always shot but once and killed him dead in his tracks. In 
two days' time a sufficient number of buffalo had been killed to 
last the tribe the season, and many of our people now thought 
the white man and his hollow iron were gifts from the Great 
Spirit, sent to make them more powerful as a tribe, and render 
them invincible in war against other nations. 

"All the following year the white man lived with the 
Dakotas, but when the buffalo season came again, and the tribe 
made preparations to go out upon the annual hunt, the parties 
of warriors who had always been sent out in advance a day or 
two, to see where the buffalo cows were feeding (because they 

belden: the white chief. 227 

are beti-^r and more tender meat than the bulls), came back and 
brought tidings that, no buffalo could be found. When this 
was made known in the village, the warriors were derided and 
scoffed at, as being lazy, good-for-nothing fellows, who had not 
taken the trouble to go far enough, and they were sent back 
again by the chief, together w^ith several other young men. 
After several days' absence, they returned, and brought back 
the same intelligence. Great was now the consternation in the 
village, and starvation stared all in the face. It was remem- 
bered, that when the white man had shot his hollow iron, the 
buffalo jumped and bounded with surprise and fear at the 
thunder of the noise, and immediately ran away. But a short 
time was necessary to convince every one that the white man's 
hollow iron had driven off all the buffalo, which had always 
before been easily found. Now, also, were the predictions of 
calamity remembered, and the council was again called. While 
the chiefs were debating in the council-house, the warriors and 
women of the tribe rent the air with their lamentations, so that 
their shrieks reached the ears of the chiefs in the council-house, 
and urged them to prompt action. It was determined that 
the white man was an evil spirit, who had used the Great 
Spirit's thunder to scare away the buffalo. All knew they did 
not fear a mounted warrior of the Dakotas, but turned and 
fought with hoof and horn, while arrows in great numbers 
pierced their sides, but when the white man fired his gun they 
made off. It was, therefore, solemnly declared, that the Great 
Spirit was offended at the killing of buffalo with stolen thunder, 
and the council decided that the white man's blood should be 
offered up as an atonement for the sin of the tribe in eating 
the meat which had been killed by the hollow iron. 

" The white man sat in his lodge apparently unconscious of 

DEjjjjjsidir* , xxixi vvxxAXXi v^njjiir, 

what was going on without, until he heard voices crying, 
' White man ! White man ! come out ! ' He then got up, and 
came to the door, when, as soon as he was observed, a dozen 
arrows were fired at him. Just as the bows were bent to 
send the arrows again, the white man's squaw, * An-pe-tu- 
Sa-pa-U-wQ-a' (black day woman), threw herself before him, 
snd fell pierced by a dozen shafts. The white man ran inside 
the teepee, got his hollow iron, and coming back to the door, 
shot at the medicine man, who stood way off by the council- 
house, and he immediately fell dead, not even uttering a single 
word. The white man then pushed down another ball, and 
called out to the warriors, ' Go away ! or I will have to kill you 
all ! Go away ! ' Most of the warriors went away, and pres- 
ently the white man came outside, carrying the hollow iron in 
his hand. His face was white as snow, and he said he was 
very angry. He took up the body of the dead squaw, and 
putting her face close to his, held it there several moments, 
then placing her body on his shoulder, he started toward the 
river bank. He walked fast, occasionally turning around to 
see if any one followed him. When he had gone some distance, 
no one thinking of running to certain death by following him, 
the leader of those who had predicted evil from the white man, 
raised his voice and demanded his death. * Do you not see him 
going off? He has killed the old medicine man ! He is 
carrying off one of our women ! Why do you stand staring 
at him ? after him, all of you ! Kill him ! ' he cried. * Yes, 
kill him ! ' all shouted, as they ran after the white man, who 
saw them coming, and made every effort to gain the waterV 
edge, where he had a canoe hidden in the willows, and in 
which he hoped to escape, if he could but reach it unharmed. 
His pursuers, however, were too numerous and swift. They 

belden: the white chief. 229 

were not loaded down with a burden as he was, and so ran 
faster. Soon they neared him, when he gently laid the squaw 
on the grass, and raising his hollow iron, pointed it at the 
crowd. lie held the iron aimed, but did not fire. Many ran 
away, and all stopped and stood looking at him, when he said : 
'Why do you follow me? Have I stolen your ponies, or 
taken any thing from you, that you should seek my life?' 
' Yes, you are a thief, though you never stole from us,' an- 
swered the chief, who disliked him, ' you have not stolen from 
us, but you have stolen from the Great Spirit, and for this you 
must die ! ' * What is it I have stolen from the Great Spirit ? ' 
inquired the white man. ' You have stolen his thunder, and 
used it to scare away our game,' replied the chief. The white 
man laughed, but suddenly becoming serious, said, ' You are 
all a pack of fools, and I swear by the Great Spirit, that I have 
never done what you accuse me of. Do you see this poor girl ? 
She was of your people, and I loved her with all my heart, yet 
you have killed her. For this, the Great Spirit will one day 
thin your tribe; he will punish you with diseases, hunger, and 
degradation. Your tribe will decline in glory day by day, and 
my people will take away your hunting-grounds, and drive your 
game beyond the setting sun ; then you will be poor in num- 
bers, and weak-hearted. Now, let me go back to my people^ 
and before I go, let me bury the poor girl, who has given up 
her life for me, and when I have done it, I will leave you, and 
never come near you any more.' When he had spoken, the 
chief urged the warriors to shoot together, and fill him with 
arrows ; at the same time declaring his words were lies, in- 
tended to frighten them from doing their duty. No one obeyed 
him, and the chief, becoming angry, snatched a bow and arrow 

fi'om the nearest warrior, saying. ' I will kill hijn ! ' and im- 
14 . 

mediately placed an arrow upon the bow-string, but as he sought 
to bend it, a loud noise came from the hollow iron, and the 
bow dropped from his hands, the chief fell forward on his face, 
and died without uttering so much as a groan. In an instant 
twenty arrows were shot at the white man, and several of them 
struck him, and stuck in his flesh. But he did not mind them, 
and, stooping, picked up the dead girl, and ran toward the 
river. He soon disappeared from sight under the bank, and 
in a few minutes more was seen jumping from stone to stone, 
at the very edge of the great falls. He had dropped the hollow 
iron over the falls, and now carried the dead girl in his arms. 
He leaped along until he suddenly came to a wide gorge, over 
which the water had washed for many centuries, wearing a 
passage in the solid rocks. Could he but once get upon the 
other side of this gorge, the white man knew he would be out 
of reach of the arrows of his pursuers. He looked first at the 
water, then at the angry crowd on the shore, and holding up 
the body of the dead girl, cried out, * You see her ? She and 
I will come to see you again, and you will know us, when 
your spirit is broken, and your hearts fail you under great 
oppression. Then disease and death will appall you, and you 
will die.' So saying, he threw the girl in the river, and im- 
mediately jumped in after her. For a few moments he was 
seen to struggle, and then floated down and passed over the 
falls. The Indians searched for the bodies, but they never 
were found. 

" After this, the tribe sent out runners in every direction to 
see if they could find game, but all were unsuccessful. All in 
the village were in a starving condition, when an old chief, 
assembling his band, started in search of new hunting-grounds, 
saying, if he found game he would send back word to the rest, 


and they might come and join him. Accordingly, he left the 
village with his party and traveled to the westward, toward 
the mountains. For many days no tidings reached the vil- 
lage of the chief and his party, and the small game and corn 
beginning to give out, it was determined to send another party 
to find the first. This was done, and the village rested, until the 
time came when the last party should return, or send tidings 
of their success. Days and weeks passed, and as no messenger 
reached the village, all began to mourn the absent as lost. 

" The tribe at length moved farther west to the great river, 
and here, finding game, built a village and remained. 

" A year passed, and there were still no tidings of the two lost 
bands. At the end of another year, fears of starvation having 
subsided, and prosperity being restored in the village, it was 
determined to send out a third party to try, if possible, and 
obtain tidings of the absent bands. They were accordingly 
sent, and returned at the end of half a year, with the intelli- 
gence, that they could not find or even hear of them. 

" For many years the tribe lived along the river, hunting and 
warring with other nations, who were angry, because the Sioux 
had come to their country to live, without so much as asking 
their permission. The small-pox broke out in the tribe, and 
carried off many of the people. Then, it had hardly left 
them, before the warriors quarreled among themselves upon the 
subject of moving to the mountains, and the tribe dividing, 
half of them went to the mountains, and the other half 

" So the white man's prediction came true ; disease, quarrels, 
and starvation had split and divided the nation, until its num- 
bers and strength were so reduced, the warriors had no heart to 
go to war. 

it>^ nj^i-txfXjr* ', xtitu vvjixi-cj k^xil^jc , 

" After many years, the tribe was visited by many white men, 
who all came armed with hollow irons, killed our people, and 
drove away our game. From them we learned to use the hollow 
iron, and our young men traded for some to hunt with, as well 
as to use in war. But since the day the white man was drowned, 
the tribe has slowly been decreasing in power and glory, until 
now, it is but the wreck of what it once was. 

" The lost tribes were, after a Jong time, heard from ; they had 
learned to speak another language, and though we could under- 
stand them, yet our languages were very different. 

" The first party, after leaving the village, had gone toward 
the setting sun, and meeting with no considerable quantities of 
game, had traveled on until they came to the mountains ; they 
learned from a tribe they found there, that on the west side they 
would find plenty of game, and accordingly they started to cross 
the chain. The women and children could not travel very fast, 
and by the time they reached the middle of the mountains, they 
found so much time had been consumed on the road that their 
provisions would soon run out. They pushed along, however, 
through snow and ice, and at length their eyes were gladdened 
by coming upon a deep-seated, green, and fertile plain, where 
streams meandered through pleasant vales, and where the deer 
and elk were in numerous herds. Here they pitched their vil- 
lage, and lived for a long time, none being so hardy as to feel 
inclined to risk finding their way back through the mountains. 
So the tribe grew up, and, in course of time, began imper- 
ceptibly to make changes in the language they spoke. 

"The second band traveled toward the mountains, but did not 
attempt to cross them, having kept to the southward along 
their foot, until they came to a broad stream, very shallow, 
and full of treacherous sands, and they saw great herds of 


buffalo feeding upon its banks. Here the tribe stopped, and, 
as the first party had done, built a village, and finding every- 
thing conducive to their comfort, contented themselves to live 
in peace, and the band was raised from the small numbers to 
a great multitude. 

" Their language was also changed in the course of time, and 
was different from either the original tongue, or that spoken 
by the band which had gone across the mountains. 

*^The half of the tribe which had moved to the mountains, 
after the small-pox had decimated the village, were also com- 
])elled to change their language. 

" All these bands, though once strong, powerful tribes, through 
division and contentions, disease, and the white man's poisons, 
have become suddenly weak, and are constantly at war to 
defend themselves, or gain sufficient ground upon which to 
live and hunt. 

"Thus the white man's prediction has been fulfilled, and hun- 
ger and disease have made us weak as women. We have often 
looked to see if the white man and the dead girl were beside 
us. but though we have never seen them, we have seen the efftfcts 
of what he of the hollow iron, prophesied. We murdered a 
woman of our own race, and then murdered him who came to 
aid us ; so none of his people, who have come among us since, 
have been kind, but all are angry, and avenge his death. 

" This was my father's father's story, as he told it to me, and 
when he had done telling it, he cautioned me to try and be 
friendly, with the white men, for they were powerful, and could 
do me and my people much harm." 

The old man ended his tale, and sat down for a moment, 

with his head between his hands; then silently taking up his 

pipe and blanket, he moved away toward his teepee, and the 



j>j'^ijj>/jLiX'^ . xixsu }i7xx±i.i:u y^xn-sur , 

rest of his audience, one by one, followed his example without 
saying a word. 

It was very late, and I went into my lodge, and rolling 
myself in my blankets, lay down to sleep and dream of the 
four bands that had become so separated and divided. I followed 
them over again, through their superstitions and wanderings, 
and saw clearly their reasons for attacking the white man. 
Though my sleep was not refreshing, to my delight I awoke, 
in the morning, to find my squaw had not been filled with 
arrows on my account, but had cooked a kettle of elk and 
corn, upon which she was regaling herself, and I soon joined 

I have since discovered that the party which went over the 
mountains, were the Brule Sioux — those who went to seek 
them, and built a village on the Platte River, the Ogallalla 
Sioux — the band that disagreed and went to the mountains, 
the Santee Sioux, and the other half of the band, that remained 
on the river, the Yanhton Sioux. These four bands comprise 
the four great divisions of the Dakota, or Sioux nation, as it 
is now known. 








"XTTHILE in the Indian camp, I witnessed many strange 
' * feats of strength and dexterity practiced by the young 
warriors, who, when not engaged in the chase or on the war 
path, were constantly exercising their muscles. 

In a large circle of squaws, children, and old men, were 
seated about twenty warriors, witnessing the performances of 
four young men. First, let me tell you, that any tricks of a 
marvelous nature, such as practiced by mountebanks or jug- 
glers, are always very attractive to Indians, who will sit for 
hours quietly, wondering how this or that thing is done. One 
of the young men presently took a single-barreled shot-gun, of 
the flint-lock pattern, and, pouring down powder, held up a 
bullet, and, apparently, placed it in the muzzle ; then, with a 
rammer, pushed the ball down, as it seemed, to the bottom of 
the barrel ; he next primed it, and gave it to a bystander, who 
was known to be a good shot, and requested him to shoot at 
his breast. The warrior at first hesitated, saying he might kill 


him, but, on being urged, the man suddenly jumped up, seized 
the gun, and fired it at the juggler's breast. All expected to 
see him fall, but he stood perfectly still, as he did before the 
shot was fired, and very coolly took the bullet out of his 
mouth, saying, as he showed it to all around him, " You are a 
poor shot, my friend ; you see I have caught it. " This feat 
brought forth loud cheers of approval from his audience, much 
to the chagrin of the warrior who had failed to hit the juggler. 
I said, "That is well done; but why do you use powder?" 
He inquired, " Can you do as I have done without using 
powder?" "Of course," I replied. He immediately handed 
me the gun, and I stepped into the ring, and gave it to several 
old men . to examine, and see if it was loaded. They blew 
down the barrel, thoroughly testing the emptiness of the arm. 
While they Avere examining it, I took the opportunity to pour 
a little powder into my left hand, over which I closed my 
fingers tightly, and, as the gun was handed back, I seized it 
by the muzzle with my left hand, allowing the powder to run 
down unperceived, while, at the same time, I stooped to the 
ground, and called their attention to my right hand, with which, 
having first opened the fingers, I seized a handful of ashes 
that laid on the ground where an old fire had gone out. I 
then held the ashes to the muzzle, and slowly poured the whole 
down the barrel. "Shoot that if you can," said the juggler, 
in an exultant manner. I struck the gun several hard blows 
near the lock, to jolt some powder into the pan, and, raising 
the hammer, pulled the trigger, when a loud report followed, 
throwing a cloud of ashes all around. The surprise of the 
savages was very great, and, bowing, I retired as a juggler 
while my credit was good. The juggler then performed 
several very good feats with bullets, successfully shifting them 


from one to the other of three or four moccasins placed about a 
foot apart. This was well done, no one seeing how it could 
possibly be accomplished without detection. Several young 
men next carried each other around the circle by a small belt 
placed about the waist, and which they seized with their teeth. 
One powerful warrior, who wore a small belt, took a heavily- 
built man in his arms, and lifted him off the ground, holding 
him thus while a third Indian seized the belt in his mouth, 
and carried both men around the ring. This brought forth 
loud applause from the spectators, and, indeed, it was merited. 
Presently, a little pony, stout and sturdy, was led into the ring, 
and its owner offered to give him to any one who would throw 
him down and hold him long enough to put on the bridle. 
This, I thought, was a chance for me, and I walked into the 
ring to try if I could throw him. I tried hard several times, 
but was finally compelled to give it up and retire, amid loud 
cheers and laughter from the lookers-on. Two or three 
warriors attempted to throw the pony, the little fellow standing 
quiet all the time, and never biting or kicking, as I had at first 
expected he would do. The owner of the animal, a light, 
active Indian, then came forward and said he would throw 
him, and actually did so, by seizing him by the fore legs, and 
raising his fore parts as high as three feet from the ground, 
then pulled him suddenly forward, and, quickly pushing him 
backward with a sidling motion, he fell on his back, and was 
instantly pinned to the ground by the agile Indian, who placed 
his knee on the animal's neck, and held him quiet until the 
bridle was put on and adjusted. He then allowed him to rise 
to his feet, and, leaping nimbly on his back, he galloped off. 
This ended the performances for one day. 

238 belden: the white chief. 



X WAS invited to visit the missionary, and upon going up 
-*- to the Mission House, was cordially welcomed by the good 
man, who took me to his rude study, where we conversed for 
several hours. The burthen of his discourse seemed to be the 
expression of a desire that I should renounce my Indian mode 
of living, and either go back to my people again, or go into 
some business which would have for its object, the conversion 
of the savages to white men's ways. I pleaded my inability 
to handle such affairs as they should be, and stated, my present 
object in living among them was, to learn their language, man- 
ners, habits, and customs, as well as to have some little ex- 
perience of wild life. He finally dropped the subject, and 
presently asked, if I would like to visit the natives' school. 
I eagerly accepted his offer, and together we went to the 
banks of the creek, near which was a rude corral, with a shed 
over part of it, under which were seated, on the ground, some 
twenty little Indian boys and girls. In their midst stood a 


tall young Indian with a book in his hand, and I noticed that 
all the children had books. When recitation began, none of 
the children got up to their feet, but remained sitting, the 
teacher walking slowly around among his pupils, asking ques- 
tions of this one, and that one, indiscriminately. Their books 
were printed in Washington by the Indian Bureau, and the 
letters were in Roman type, on ordinary printing paper. But 
all the words were spelled in the original Sioux language, and 
no English words were used at all. The recitations were 
altogether in Sioux. This surprised me very much, and I in- 
quired, why they did not teach the children English? and what 
was the object of teaching them what every child of any Indian 
tribe learns from infancy, by hearing it from its parents ? The 
missionary explained, that they quickly learned to read and 
pronounce words of their own language, and that religious 
books were printed in the Sioux tongue, which were intended 
to be read by these same pupils, who were now just taught the 
meaning of these Roman hieroglyphics, that they might know 
them when they were again seen in religious works. This was 
one of the plans, he said, for conversion of the Indians. 

After listening to the proceedings of a Sioux school for over 
an hour, we walked back to the village, and while passing by 
the trader^s store, I was warmly censured for neglecting of 
late my visits to the good man. Leaving the missionary to go 
to his home, I talked a little while with the trader, whom I 
had found to be quite an intelligent man, who knew many 
legends, and had had many adventures among the Sioux, 
which he said he would " trade," or exchange, for some narra- 
tions of mine. The proposition pleased me, and I said I would 
come down in the evening when he had closed the store, and 
we would have a talk in the back room, where we often sat. 


The trader acquiesced, and asked me to bring tlie old man 
along who had been talking in front of my lodge the night 
before, "for," said he, "as I was coming up from the river, 1 
heard part of his story, which was very interesting, but could 
not stay to hear it out." I promised I would bring the old 
man, and hurried home as fast as I could, for it was growing 
late, and I was very hungry. 

After supper, I went to the old man's teepee, but he would 
not then go with me to the trader's store, promising, how^ever, 
he would be over by and by. So I walked over alone. 

I was shown into the back room, where many bales of 
beaver skins were stacked against the walls, and in a corner 
was spread a thick bed of buffalo robes. Throwing down a 
couple of beaver bales for seats, I sat down upon one of them 
and explained the cause of the old Indian's absence. My 
friend Pete (or French Pete), as the trader was called, had 
a good-looking squaw, who came to him, and he told her 
something in an undertone, when she left the room, and pres- 
ently returned with a bottle of ginger wine — " medicine," as 
Pete called it — and we both took a dram. Then, as my friend 
cut off some tobacco, to mix with willow-bark for a smoke, he 
asked me to tell him how I came to live with the Santees, 
and where 1 had come from. I complied with his request; 
told him of my history and of the Pawnee raid ; after which, 
I lit ray })ipe, and settled myself to hear the trader's story. 









" X WAS living up in St. Paul (Minnesota), about six 
-*- years ago," he began, ''and the Indians having gone 
elsewhere to do their trading that season, business was very- 

" St. Paul, at that time, was only a big trading post, and 
but few settlers had moved there. The Indian trade was the 
life of the place, and one season's failure in this trade caused 
quite a panic among the traders, many of whom had put 
every cent of cash they could get into large stocks of goods, on 
which they expected to double their money. Their disappoint- 
ment was very great, therefore, and several of them boxed up 
their stores and moved back east, while others sold out for what 
they could get, fully believing that the Indian trade at St. Paul 
was at an end. Whole stocks of goods were sacrificed at small 
figures, and I concluded to give up my situation as clerk in a 
trader's store, and with what cash I had saved up, buy some 


goods and go where the Indians lived. This I did, and having 
three ponies already, I purchased another, to be paid for when 
I returned, and loading my stock of blankets, squaw-cloth, 
beads, paint, looking-glasses, hawk-bells, wampum, necklaces, 
shells, brass wire, and sheet silver, started for the Missoun 
River country. I got along well enough until I reached the 
Yankton village (near where Fort Randall now stands), and 
did a little trading there, after which I started up the river, 
when I met, on the second day's journey, two of the La Frombe 
boys, and as I knew them both well, when they were with their 
brother, Frank La Frombe, a trader at St. Paul, I was, of 
course, glad to meet them, and they were also glad to see me 
again. They were going down to Sioux City, on no particular 
business, and I tried to get them to go along with me, but they 
said that the Sioux and they were not on very good terms, and 
they had concluded to stay away from them, lest they might 
have trouble. I endeavored to ascertain the cause of the ill- 
feeling between the boys and the Sioux, but both of them kept 
very mum, and would not tell me. Presently, I changed the 
subject, and began asking them for information which might 
enable me to easily find the Indian villages. By the time we got 
through talking, it was getting on toward night, and Baptiste, 
one of the boys, said we had better go back for about a mile 
and a half, on the road they had just come, where we should 
find an old log shanty, built by a man named Bremer, some two 
or three years before, and in which we could all pass the night. 
I would find, they said, four walls to inclose my ponies for 
safety, and a good fire-place to cook in. So Baptiste, Louis, 
and myself, moved leisurely along the road, conversing all the 
way, until we reached the old house. By this time it was dark : 
80 dark, that if the boys had not known exactly where the 

belden: the white chief. 243 

house stood, we might have passed within a few feet of it and 
not seen it. 

'' I tied my ponies' lariats all together, and allowed them to 
feed just outside the building. The boys hunted around for 
sticks to build a fire with, and had soon raked together an 
arm-load of weeds and brush. We found no fire-place, how- 
ever, and had to tramp down the weeds for three or four feet 
inside the house to make sufficient room to build our fire. 

" Soon a bright blaze rewarded our efforts, and leading the 
ponies up to the door, one at a time, I unloaded them, and 
laid my packs down inside the house. Then hoppling their 
feet, I let them get some more grass before tying them up for 
the night. I now went inside to get something to eat, and 
found the La Frombe boys had the hind-quarter of an ante- 
lope on one of their saddles, and as I had some coffee, a little 
sugar, and some Indian bread, we soon made a hearty meal. 
I ate fast and got through as quickly as I could. The La 
Frombes were but half done eating when I finished, and then 
sat waiting for the bone of one of the antelope quarters to roast 
a little more for Baptiste. Presently, as I was busy untying 
the hopples, and bringing my own and the boys' ponies inside, I 
thought I heard some one talking out on the prairie, a hundred 
or a hundred and fifty yards distant. I was just untying the 
hopples on the last pony, when I again heard voices distinctly, 
and I raised up to my feet and listened, but hearing nothing 
more, concluded I had been mistaken, and went into the house 
with the ponies. I did not say any thing to the boys about 
having heard the voices, for fear it might turn out to be a false 
alarm, and I would get laughed at. Lighting my pipe, I drew 
the buckle of my belt a little tighter, and went to the opening, 
which had once been a door-place, and, leaning against the wall, 


smoked and listened. The La Frombes were still eating away 
and conversing to each other, and I began to think of what 
harm could attend us, even if Indians were in the vicinity, 
for they were not at war with tlie whites, and I liad heard 
lately of no depredations being committed by them. P'shaw ! 
there was nothing to fear after all,' I said to myself, ' but 
might they not be around trying to steal stock ? ' 

"Here was food for my thoughts, and I was busily turning 
the matter over, when I noticed a sudden cessation of the 
conversation between the La Frombe boys. Each sat by 
the fire, their mouths open, their eyes half closed, and appa- 
rently listening to sounds outside. In a moment more, Louis 
La Frombe got up very cautiously, and carefully avoiding 
to break any of the tall weeds as he stepped, went to the 
corner farthest from the fire, where all our rifles were, and 
quietly removing his own from the stack, came back to the 
fire, and spoke a few words to Baptiste, who got up and 
went for his rifle. I now had my sus})icions aroused, and mo- 
tioned for Baptiste to bring my gun with him, which he did. 
When he got to the door, where I was still standing, my ears 
stretched to catch any sound that might betray the existence of 
an enemy outside. Baptiste whispered to me, and asked if I had 
heard it. * Heard what?' I inquired. ^ Some one talking out- 
side the wall, on the side opposite the door,' Baptiste replied. 
' Louis heard it,' he added, ^ but when I listened, I could n't 
hear any thing but the sucking of your pipe.' I led Baptiste 
over to where Louis was, and told both of them what I had 
heard myself. * They've followed us, Baptiste!' said Louis, 
' let us put something in the doorway, for they 've found us, 
sure as we live, and we must fight.' In a few minutes, we had 
arranged my packs, and the saddles, so as to form a tolerable 



hirricade in the door, and each of us arranged our arms and 
a '^munition so as to have them at hand in case of sudden need. 
Then we waited in silence for something to transpire. After 
we had been quietly watching and listening for a long time, and 
the fire had gone down until the blaze died out, and the coals 
only remained gleaming in the ashes, I began to feel more 
easy, and to believe that the night breeze which rustled the tall 
weeds around the old house, had made the noise imagined by 
all of us to be human voices. So I took out my pipe, cut 
some tobacco, and filling it, went to the fire to get a light. 
Going back to the boys, who sat leaning against the wall, their 
gung in their hands, I said, * Louis, what did you mean, when 
you said awhile ago, that the Indians had found you out, and 
had followed you?' *We had a little difficulty with some 
Santees about two days Hgo, and Baptiste killed a girl by acci- 
dent, Avhile shooting at a warrior, who was the brother of 
Baptiste^s squaw,' he replied. He then said, * The warrior and 
Baptiste had a quarrel about a pony trade, and the wind-up of 
the affair was, each tried to killed the other, the Indian firing 
first, missed Baptiste, who, instead of taking steady aim, as he 
had plenty of time to do, jerked up his gun, and fired at the 
fellow, missing him, and hitting a girl in the throat, killing 
her almost instantly.' ' That 's the whole of it, and the cause 
of our traveling eastward,' added Baptiste. 

"'The confounded brutes are after us, or I thought they 
were only a little while ago,' said Louis. 

" ' Well, it 's a tough piece of business, boys,' said I, ' and 
I am surprised at Baptiste using his rifle to settle a quarrel 
about such an affair as a pony trade.' 

" ' Oh, this is not the first time his hot-headedness has got us 
both into trouble,' said Louis; 'he had to get on a bender 


down at Sioux City last fall, when we went with the Sioux tc 
do some trading, and Baptiste quarreled with a white man, 
and drew his revolver and shot him four times, killing him 
dead. The man also shot Baptiste through the leg, and he 
was laid up for two months from it.' 

" ' Boys,' said I, ' one thing is clear : you and I have been 
mistaken about hearing voices outside, for if there had been 
any Indians close, we would have heard from them an hour 
ago. Let us spread out our blankets and lie down, then we 
can listen, and all stay awake as long as we want, or take 
turns in watching.' This was readily agreed to, and still 
keeping our guns with us, laid down on our backs, wjth 
our coats doubled up under our heads for pillows. We lay 
thus for over an hour, when suddenly, I thought I saw 
something like a bunch of grass waving near the corner 
of the wall, on the side of the house opposite the door. 
There was no roof on the house, only the walls being left 
standing. So we laid under the sky. I watched the corner 
very closely, where I thought I had seen the grass move, 
and in a minute saw the same thing again; this time I made 
it out against the sky to be a bunch of feathers. Slowly it 
rose above the wall, and then a head covered with long, black, 
shining hair, appeared, peering cautiously down inside the old 
house to see if we were there. 

"After a moment's survey of our quarters, the head as slowly 
and silently withdrew. 'Did you see that?' I whispered to 
Baptiste, who laid near me. *Yes,' he replied, 'only let it 
come up there again ! ' He raised the muzzle of his rifle, for 
the purpose of having it ready for instant use, when the head 
should appear ; but Louis seized the barrel, and told Baptiste 
to hold up, and not to shoot too quickly, or he might repent it. 


I told the boys that 'as we are now positive our fears are not 
without foundation, and that, beyond a doubt, the Indians are 
around us in large numbers, as they would not start on the trail 
of two such men as the La Frombe brothers; without having 
superior numbers and arms, so as to ensure their success, I 
will go outside and try to find out what they are after, and see 
if talking can not send them ofi*.' 

" ' It will be of no use, I can tell you,' said Baptiste, ' they 
are after me, and \^ill do their utmost to get me. All your 
ponies and stock would not tempt them to leave us alone/ 

" ''I will try it anyhow,' I said, ' only I want you to promise 
not to use your rifle until I first see what can be done.' Louis 
and Baptiste both agreed to this, and, leaning my rifle against 
the door within easy reach, I put my two revolvers in my belt, 
and jumping over the barricade, I called out: 

" ' Sioux ! my friends.' 

" ' What is it ? ' answered two voices. 

" ' I wish to talk with you in. peace, and find out why you 
are here, and what you want ; I have left my gun in the house 
and do not want to shoot you, or have you shoot me. Will you 
talk with me ? ' 

" * We do not know you. You have a strange voice ; yet, 
you speak our language. What do they call you?' 

" * I am a trader from the big trading place in Minnesota, 
and am on my way to visit your people to trade with them. I 
have four ponies loaded with fine goods,' I replied. 

" * We are your friends ; and, if you are ours, you must pack 
up your ponies and go on your road to the village, which is 
only two days' travel. AVe want you to leave the men inside 
of the house, for we have been hunting them for two days, and 
have now just found them.' 


"'I am an old friend of theirs and their brother, and 
would wish to know why you are after them.' 

" ' They killed one of our tribe, and we come for revenge. 
We must kill them ; will you go on toward the village to- 
night, or remain with them and be killed? If you start now, 
you will be safe ; but, if you stay, you will die, for there are 
twenty-two of us, and we declare we will kill all we find in 
the house, after the fight begins.' 

*^ ' If I give you a blanket apiece, and some presents, will 
you leave us and go away ? ' I asked. 

"'No, we want the men, and do not care for ponies or 
presents,' the speaker replied. 

"'Don't talk with the durned skunks any longer, Pete,' 
said Baptiste, ' come inside, or what would be better for you, 
tell them you will go on to their village to-night, and go. 
Ijouis and I can either clean them out, or get away from 
them before morning.' I refused to entertain the proposition 
of going on, and leaving them to fight their enemies alone, 
and immediately told the Sioux, that ' I had traveled a long 
way to visit them, and had always been friendly with all other 
branches of their tribe, but I could not think of leaving my 
own countrymen to fight such an unequal battle, when I 
might aid them by remaining.' I said, I would rather lose 
every thing I possessed, than shoot one Indian, yet, if they 
would attack the two men, I would stay and assist them. I 
had just concluded this reply, when 'crash,' went a rifle 
inside the building, and I heard the heavy thud of a body 
dropping on the ground, below the corner where I had seen 
the head peering over the wall. Quickly I leaped over the 
barricade, and gained the inside of the building, where Bap- 
tiste was engaged hastily reloading his rifle, having just 


added one more to his long list of notches on the stick. I 
seized ray trusty rifle, and placed myself beside Louis, who 
was guarding the door. There was now a great jabbering 
among the Indians, who were carrying away their dead com- 
rade; then, after a few moments' silence, the most unearthly 
yells, which ever met human ears, arose in the still midnight 



belden: the white chief. 





" A MOMENT of painful silence succeeded the yell of the 
-^-^ savages, and then we could hear their suppressed breath- 
ing, as the red devils crawled under the old walls of the shanty. 
I held a position on the left of the doorway, where I could 
have an opportunity of seeing any one who approached from 
the right, and Louis remained on the right side, where he could 
command the left of the doorway. "While we were straining 
our eyes and ears to hear every sound, Baptiste suddenly fired, 
and shot another Indian from the top of the old wall, where he 
had climbed. We heard the body drop with a thud outside, 
where the first had fallen. The noise of voices, all talking 
together, and much excited, as on the previous occasion, was 
heard, and we felt that a great struggle was at hand. 
. " For about a minute not a sound was heard, not even the 
breathing of the villains outside the walls. Suddenly the sky 


grew red with the light of burning prairie grass, which had 
been heaped up around the old building, not with the intention 
ot roasting us out, for that was impossible, but to make a 
light, so the savages could see where to attack to the best ad- 
vantage. They also wished to prevent us from seeing where 
they kept themselves outside the blazing circle. Had they not 
attacked us immediately, the fire would have been to our ad- 
vantage, for we could see and have time to strengthen the bar- 

" With a small hatchet, which I carried with me for camp use, 
and a butcher-knife, I dug up sufficient earth to fill one of the 
cracks in the door, and had almost done working at it, when a 
shower of arrows came rattling over the top of the barricade 
into the shanty, several of which struck, the ponies, causing 
quite a panic among them. We had no time to trouble about 
the ponies, however, for, while I watched the door, Baptiste tied 
a piece of calico around Louis's leg, an arrow having slightly 
wounded him, just below the knee. His wound was not dan- 
gerous or painful, but bled profusely. While Baptiste was 
tying on the bandage, I saw several savages leap over the 
smoldering fire near the building, and rush in a body at our 
barricade. I quickly called to the boys to come on, and we 
raised our guns, and, taking deliberate aim — Baptiste at those 
on the left, Louis at those on the right, and myself at the cen- 
ter of the yelling mass — we fired. The boys each got his 
man, and my old double-barreled rifle knocked down one In- 
dian dead, and badly wounded two more. I still had a load 
in reserve, but not long, for, believing our guns to be empty, 
they came yelling on with bows and hatchets in their hands. 
I quickly fired again, and five of them were badly wounded 
by my second shot. In alarm and astonishment, they gave 


Avay, evidently having never seen or felt the effects of a double 
barreled gun before. 

" They were now so weak in force, and so badly demoralized, 
that they waved a blanket, and called out: 'No fire again — 
little while.' This was a truce we were not sorry to accept, 
hoping they would, in a short time, go away. I told the boys 
to grant th'eir request, and soon saw the dark shadows busily 
engaged dragging off the dead and wounded, who lay in front 
of the building. I called out, and asked them to tell ns when 
they were ready to begin again, that we were now impatient 
to have a good fight, and wished them to hurry, as it was only 
amusement for us. The answer to my request was, that they 
would notify us when they were ready, or, as they expressed 
it, 'Good! tell you by and by.' The dusky forms were seen 
flitting now and then in front of us, and stealthily moving 
over the ground, as if searching for some article they had 
dropped during the advance upon the building. While we 
Avere quietly watching these shadows, one of them called out, 
* Ready ? ' ' Yes ! ' I answered. ' Well, all right,' he said ; 
and just as we laid our guns over the barricade to repulse 
them from the front, where the speaker stood, a dozen big 
fsavages dropped from the top of the wall into the house, and 
rushed upon us before we had time to take our rifles off the 
]>:irricade. Smash! crash! bang! went the heavy rifle butts, 
and over rolled the warriors, one after another, until five laid 
on the ground, where the frightened ponies kicked and tramped 
them so badly that two were killed outright. The rest of the 
party, who were outside, now dashed over the door barricade, 
and then some one from l)ehind knocked" me down with a 
hatchet. I must have been unconscious for several hours, for, 
when I. recov(Ted, the moon was up very high; and it had not 


belden: the white chief. 255 

yet begun to rise when the fight was going on. I found my- 
self lying on a buffalo robe outside the old building, and sev- 
eral Indians squatting on the ground about ten feet distant, 
dividing my goods and trinkets, which they had found inside 
the ranche. One of the Indians saw me turn over, or, 
perhaps, heard me groan, as I endeavored to turn my head 
in the direction they were, for he said : ' 'Merican man, 
he awake ; what shall we do now ? ' A low conversation was 
held among them, which I could not hear, when presently 
a warrior came to me, and said : ' Brother, you have acted 
very foolishly in helping those two bad men against us. 
You have been nearly killed, and would have been killed 
outright, only that we knew the two bad men had cast a spell 
on you, and you could not help doing what you did. Are you 
very sick ? ' 

" ' No,' I replied ; ' where are the Frombes ? ' 

" ' There is one of them,' said the warrior, pointing to poor 
Baptiste, whose body dangled from the wall, over which he 
had been hung with his own lariat. His head looked white 
on the top, in the moonlight, and I knew it was because the 
scalp had been removed. 'The other one got away,' continued 
the warrior, ' but he can not escape, for good hunters are after 
him ; and we are waiting here until they return. He was badly 
wounded before he got on his pony, so badly, that if any one 
had noticed him in time, we could have caught him before 
he mounted.' 

" * What are you going to do with me ? ' I inquired. 

" ' You told us you were going to our village,' he answered ; 
'and you can go with us.' 

" ' But what is the use of my going to the village, when you 
have taken away all my goods?' 

256 belden: the white chief. 

" *If you will join our tribe, and help us fight our enemies, 
we will give you back every thing we have taken/ 

"'I will do it/ I said, Mf you do not ask me to fight my 
own people/ 

" ' We will not ask that of you/ the warrior answered, as he 
brought me my ponies, and assisted me to pack my things on 
the saddles. Then, bringing me my double-barreled gun, 
he stooped down and tied up my head with a piece of tanned 
elk-skin, and bound some cooling leaves over the wound, 
which made me feel quite comfortable. 

"In about half an hour we heard a shout, apparently a long 
distance to the westward, and the Indians with whom I had 
been conversing answered it, and then hurriedly directed me to 
'mount and come on.' All jumped on their ponies, and, get- 
ting behind my pack animals, whipped them into a fast pace. 
We soon came upon the party who had been pursuing Louis, 
and I saw that the leader, a petty chief, held in his hand Louis's 
rifle. I was sure he had killed him, but could not account for 
the absence of the pony he had rode. My fears were soon set 
at rest, hoWever, by the chief telling my Indian friend that 
Louis had swam the river on his pony, and had shot at them 
just before he went into the water's edge, and then dropped his 
rifle, which they had fished out. They said they fired some 
twenty arrows at Louis as he swam beside his pony, but they 
could not tell whether he was struck or not, as they did 
not see any one coming out on the other bank of the river, 
but admitted it was too dark to see him, even if he had 

" I felt thankful for Louis's escape, but discreetly said noth- 
ing. We now tramped along about a mile further, and then 
halted and encamped for the night. While we were lying 


around the fire, and I was asleep, an Indian came and shook 
me, and said: MVhy do you groan and make such a noise?' 
I told him I did not know I had done so, as I was asleep, and 
that my wounded head was probably the cause of it. He said, 
'Your wounds are nothing — look at those six warriors over 
there! they are every one worse hurt than yourself, yet they 
do not groan or make such a fuss; we can not sleep/ I 
got up and went to one of the Indians who was awake, and 
who was the same one I had hurt with the buckshot of my 
double-barreled gun. Presently all awoke, and I asked one 
of them if I could do any thing for him. He said he 
wanted water, and I immediately brought him some. They 
all drank prodigiously, their wounds making them feverish 
and thirsty. 

'' Next morning, we moved out early, and by night reached 
the village. I bought a teepee, and put my goods up for trade, 
and, in a, short time, sold out, at good prices, all I had. I 
then went to Sioux City, where I got on a steamboat, and hur- 
ried to St. Louis for more goods. I found Indian trading very 
profitable, and ever since then I have engaged in it, more or 
less, among the different tribes. 

*' About a year ago, while at old Fort Pierre, on the west 
side of the Missouri, I met Louis La Frombe, and found him 
Avell and hearty. He said he had been badly wounded, and, 
after fording the river, in which he received an arrow in the 
shoulder, the shaft remaining in for two days, he had lain down 
on the opposite bank, utterly exhausted and helpless. He fell 
asleep, and his pony strayed off a mile or two, putting him to 
a great deal of trouble to find him; but he finally succeeded, 
and moved up the river to the fort, where the traders had ex- 
tracted the arrow and attended him until his wounds were 



healed. They had to keep him concealed all the time, how- 
ever, for fear the Sioux, who came there occasionally, would 
find him." 

Thus ended the trader's story, with which I was much 
pleased; and, after tasting the "medicine'^ again, and having 
a little conversation about his goods, prospects in trade, and 
other matters, we parted for the night. 




ONE evening I had a long conversation with some old men 
of the tribe, during which the missionary was present, 
about the Sioux and Santees. I learned that they had, as far 
back as the oldest warrior could remember, been a separate 
band. Their forefathers had told them they originally lived in 
Minnesota ; but they could not tell me any thing beyond that, 
and believed . they had always lived there. This idea has 
some foundation in the word Minnesota, which is a Sioux word, 
meaning " minne,'' water, " sota," bleared or turbid, i, e., tur- 
bid water. This I readily ascertained from knowing that the 
word " blear-eyed,^' or, as the Sioux call it, " an eye with 
troubled water,'' is, in their language, " ees-ta " (eye) " so-to " 
(bleared or turbid), that is, " blear-eyed." 

The Sioux never call themselves Sioux, but Da-ko-ta. ' The 
term Sioux is a mere nickname given them many years ago by 
the first white men that came among them, who were French- 
men.* The language they speak is called " La-co-ta," a word 

*The name of Sioux that we give to these Indians is entirely of our 
own making, or, rather, it is the last two syllables of the name Nadoues- 
Bioux, as many nations call them. — (Extract from letter of Charlevoix, in 
1721. See Neill's History of Minnesota, page 51.) 


of their own, the " la '' being substituted for " da '^ to distin- 
guish the word man from language. The word Da-ko-ia, b> 
\Nhich they prefer to be called, signifies "allied, or joined to- 
gether in love,'' and is the same as our motto, E pluribus unum. 
A writer of a mission history, published over two hundred 
years ago, says: "For sixty leagues from the extremity of the 
upper lake, toward sunset, and, as it were, in the center of the 
western nations, they have all united their forces by a general 

The Da-ko-tas, as far back as we have any record of them 
up to the present time, are called Soos, Scioux, and Sioux. 
For many hundred years the Indians of Lake Superior were 
at war with the Dakotas, and when they speak of them they 
call them the Na-do-way Sioux, which, in Ojiboway lan- 
guage, means " enemy." From this we have the derivation for 

I also learned from the missionary, who had made the origin 
and early life of the Sioux nation his study, that from a very 
early period the tribe had been divided into three great nations 
or bands — the I-san-ya-ti, or the Is-sa-ti, the name of one of 
the lakes where they lived. The principal band of the Is-sa-tis 
was the M'de-wa-kan-ton-w^an, pronounced " Meddy-waw- 
kawn-twawn." The second great band was the "I-hank-ton- 
wan," or Yankton. They formerly lived north of the Minne- 
sota River, and are now on the eastern banks of the Missouri 
Elver, near Fort Randall, B. T. The third band was the "Ti- 
ton-wans," who lived farther west than the I-hank-ton-wans. 
This tribe was sometimes called the " Tin-ton-wans," a corrup- 
tion of the original name. The pronunciation of the name is 
Tee-twawons. In the last great band is embraced the bands 
known as Santees, Ogallalas, and Brules, who never appear 

belden: the white chief. 


in sight of emigrants' wagons on the prairies, but their hearts 
fill with painful apprehensions. 

North of the Dakotas, on Lake of the Woods, which is con- 
nected with Lake Superior, are the Assiniboines. They were 

once a band of the 
Sioux nation, and 
speak the language at 
this day. An old San- 
tee said he remembered 
a story, which had been 
handed down for many 
generations in his tribe, 
relating to the Assini- 
boines. According to 
this tradition, they are 
Sioux, and had always 
been, but the whites 
called them by another 
name. The following 
was given as the cause 
of their separation from 


AssiuJboiiie Warrior. 

the main Sioux tribe : 

A young warrior loved the wife of another warrior, and 
whenever the latter was absent from home the young man went 
to the warrior's teepee, and talked to his squaw. She began to 
like him ; and they enjoyed each other's company for many 
days, till at last the warrior, having noticed unmistakable signs 
of the faithlessness of his wife, threatened her with instant 
death unless she dismissed her lover. He then went to the 
council house ; and, as soon as he had gone, the guilty woman 
hurried to her lover's lodge, and acquainted him with all that 


had passed. While she still talked to him the husband came 
*into the tent for his squaw ; and a quarrel ensued between the 
young man and the warrior. They came to blows; which 
were soon exchanged for weapons; and the husband met his 
death at the hands of the young man. The husband^s relations, 
among whom was his aged father, went to get the body of the 
warrior, which still lay in the young man's lodge, where it 
had fallen ; and, on the way to the teepee, the father's party 
were met by some friends of the young man, and a fight en- 
sued, in which three of the guilty man's friends were killed. 
The father then went back, and raised a party of sixty warri- 
ors, who declared war against the seducer and his friends. 
Several battles were fought; and the whole tribe finally joined 
in the war, the sides being almost equal in numbers. The af- 
fair ended in a revolt upon the part of the seducer and his 
adherents, who in time became a separate people, and are now 
called the Assiniboines. So ended the tradition, which is th 
story of another woman who caused a war. 









ON many occasions, when traveling over the Indian coun- 
try, I found old deserted camps, in nearly eve/y one of 
which, where the Indians had staid any time, were the skeleton 
or bent poles of the sweat lodges. These were not peculiar to 
any tribe, but alike in the camps of Arrapahoes, Cheyennes, 
Pawnees, and Sioux. A description of this curious institution 
will not be out of place. Unlike any other teepee, it is made 
of stout willows, two and three .inches in thickness, which are 
bent, and both ends pushed into the ground firmly. When all 
the poles are thus set, they are in the shape of a large wire rat- 
trap. This lodge is only about four feet high, and is covered 
with good elk or buffalo hide, devoid of holes or open seams. 
The circumference of the lodge at its base is usually eighteen 
feet. When the canvas or hide covering is well stretched over 
it, the edges next the ground are firmly held to the earth by 
large heavy stones. On the inside of the lodge the ground is 

264 belden: the white chief. 

smoothed, and in the center a hole Is dug for a fire-place, in 
which some ten or twelve large stones are always kept in readi- 
ness should any person need a sudden sweat. 

If the science of medicine is not known, or there is na med- 
icine man present with the band, the Indians are very solici 
tou3 and superstitious about their sick. The Sioux are well 
versed in anatomy, but the great secret of the causes and eifecta 
of circulation of the blood is not known among any of these 
Indians. All they know is, that it is essential to life that the 
blood should be kept in the body. This they have discovered 
from simple causes, such as seeing persons bleed to death from 
wounds, or becoming weak from some slight accident, causing 
little or no pain. They know that when they kill an encmv, 
unless he is shot through the heart or brain, he generally lives 
till his blood is all gone, when he dies, but why, they can 
not tell. 

The young people who get sick are well taken care of, in 
nearly every instance, but the old men and women are often 
neglected, because, whenever they have any thing ailing them, 
the people of the tribe think it is sinful to try and cure them. 
They say whenever the Great Spirit calls for an aged person, 
" whose days have been long on the earth, they should go." 
So they allow nature, in such cases, to take its course. If the 
aged person gets well, it is all right, but if he dies, it is all the 
same. To eifect a cure for many maladies, the Indians prac- 
tice what is known as the '^ steaming process." The sick 
person is stripped, taken into the tent just described, and the 
opening or door firmly closed, to exclude all air. A fire is then 
built in the middle of the lodge, and a dozen stones heated as 
hot as they can be made. Wat^r is next poured on these stones, 
which creates a great deal of vapor. The sick person is kept in 


the lodge until the vapor subsides, when he is taken out com- 
pletely exhausted, and repeatedly plunged into cold water. 
This is done as quickly as possible after taking the patient from 
the sweat-house. The sweat-hduse is always built near the 
banks of a body of cold water, so that the patient may not be 
subjected to the air but a moment or two before being soused. 

I became very unwell, one day, from the effects of the hot 
weather and tepid water we always had to drink, having been 
used to the water of the Missouri River, which is tolerably 
cold. I kept in my teepee all day, and ate but little. But the 
following night I had a violent attack of pain in my stomach, 
and I sent my squaw, about one o'clock in the morning, to the 
missionary's, to see if he had any laudanum or cathartics. She 
returned with a small phial of laudanum, of which I took pretty 
large doses. My pain was relieved for about an hour, but re- 
turned again. All the next day I experienced violent pains, 
and I suppose they would have killed me had not my solicitous 
squaw gone over to the old medicine man and told him of my 
condition. He came into the teepee with the squaw, and, not 
heeding my remonstrances, they gathered up the corners of the 
robe I was lying on and started off with me. 

I abused the squaw and medicine man outrageously, and 
promised the squaw a good thrashing when I should get well; 
but the old medicine man, who seemed to be used to cross pa- 
tients, only said, " He very sick ; he be better by and by. We 
sweat him heap." So, not minding my ravings and abuse, they 
carried me to the sweat-lodge and laid me down on the ground, 
when the squaw left me and went into a teepee, and brought out 
a burning stick, which she carried into the little house built 
close under the banks of the river. I saw smoke issuing from 
the crevices, and p'^^sently the medicine man was told all was in 


readiness. The squaw then went with a sheet-iron kettle to the 
river, and returned with it full of water. She set the bucket 
down by the little house, and, at the direction of the old man 
brought a long lariat, which he tied around my body under the 
arms. After this, he and the squaw completely stripped me 
and, holding to the lariat, the old man said, " Get up now, if 
you can." 

I tried, but I was too weak to rise. He and the squaw then 
pulled me to my feet, and, lifting me off the ground, carried me 
into the sweat-house. Here they placed me on my feet again, 
the old man holding me up while the squaw spread out a 
buffalo robe on the ground. I was next laid down on the robe, 
close by the fire, and as soon as this was accomplished, the old 
man received the kettle of cold water from the squaw, and 
poured it on the hot stones, which hissed and fumed until a 
dense vapor and smoke filled the place. 

The old man hastily retired, and the opening in the lodge by 
which I had entered was securely closed from the outside. The 
hissing and sputtering of the water upon the stones was any 
thing but pleasant to me, and in a little while I could scarcely 
breathe, so dense was the steam, and the great drops of perspi- 
ration oozed from every pore; then my whole body began to 
grow clammy with moisture, and I called out to the old man, 
whom I heard walking around the outside of the lodge, shak- 
ing a couple of rattling gourds, that I had enough of it, and to 
take me out or I should die. He paid no attention to my cries, 
and I began to believe I really should die, so I called the 
squaw to help me, but she would not answer me. Then I lost 
all consciousness, for how long I know not, but I was revived 
by experiencing a drowning sensation, and in a moment felt 
myself raised to the surface of the water by means of the rope 


around my body, one end of which the old man, who was stand- 
ing on the trunk of a cottonwood tree, held in his hands. 

With wonderful rapidity I felt myself reviving- and my for- 
mer strength returning, and, after receiving one or two extra 
douches, I struck out for the shore. I was seized at the bank 
by the old fellow, who helped me out, and he and the squaw 
began a series of heavy rubbing with a buffalo-skin towel, which 
almost curried the hide off my back and ribs. After being 
completely dried, I put on my limited wardrobe, and, singularly 
enough, felt all right ; in fact, as well as if I had never expe- 
rienced a day's sickness in my whole life. 

I have many times since seen the sweat remedy employed for 
nearly all the diseases the Indians have, and in most instances 
it relieved the sufferer. The exceptions where the swoat-bath 
is not used, is where the person is dying, or a warrior has been 
wounded in battle. 








TF you strolled through an Indian village at night, you 
-■- would be sure to hear the unearthly chanting of the med- 
icine man endeavoring to exorcise some spirit from a sick 
man; or you would see a group lounging about, whiffing, 
out of their sacred red-stone pipes, the smoke of red willow 

A common sight, too, is that of young men sneaking 
around a lodge, and waiting for the lodge fire to cease blazing 
before they perpetrate some deed of mischief. You would also 
hear a low, wild drumming, and observe a group of men naked, 
with the exception of a girdle about their loins, and daubed 
with vermilion, engaged in some of the grotesque and exciting 
dances of the nation, and others, again, praying for the suc- 
cess of the expedition which they proposed making on the 

Again would be seen and heard the groups of story tellers, 


arid the occasional song sung by the hearers at the end of each 

The Sioux are the greatest people in the world for story- 
telling, and their attention, when others are telling stories, is 
quite as remarkable as their colloquial powers. Some of their 
tales and legends are very beautiful, and many of them are 
marvelous. 1 shall find occasion to repeat a few of them in 
another part of this work. 

As before related, the manner in which historical events and 
traditionary legends are preserved among the Indians, is by 
their old men retaining the facts in their memory ; and occa- 
sionally in the cool evenings of summer, when the people 
are lying around their villages, without having any hunt- 
ting or warfare on their hands, telling them to listening 
groups. ■ 

The Indians are possessed of peculiarly retentive memories, 
and are always respectful and attentive listeners to the narra- 
tives of their old men. A tale once heard is remembered by 
the hearers for years, and, in like manner, is handed down by 
them to another generation. Thus, events of many centuries 
are transmitted to posterity, and all the facts are remarkably 
well preserved, and, what is still more wonderful, are nar- 
rated without comparatively any change from the original 

As Neil, the historian, says, " You might enter a Da- 
kota village at midnight, and you would be almost sure 
to see some few huddled around the fire of a teepee, listen- 
ing to the tale of an old warrior who has often been en- 
gaged in bloody conflicts with their old and present enemies, 
the whites;'^ or you might hear some legendary tale of 
deeds and events of the forefathers of the nation, who lived 

270 belden: the white chief. 

several hundred years before white men were known to the 

The earliest songs to which an Indian boy listens are those 
of war, and his delight is in hearing, during the long sum- 
mer evenings, stories of bloodshed, and the deeds his forefathers 
did before he was born. 

As soon as the child begins to walk about, if a male, he is, 
as has already been said, furnished with a little bow and some 
blunt-headed arrows, which are the only playthings he is 

The little girls are early instructed in the art of paint- 
ing their faces, ornamenting their ears with rings, their necks 
with beads, and their little moccasins with porcupine quills. 
They soon become adepts in the art of coquetry, and cause 
many a bashful youth to rue the day of his birth. 

The days of her childhood are the only happy or pleasant 
days the Indian girl ever knows. As soon as she is wedded 
to a warrior, her life of toil and drudgery begins, which ends 
only at her grave. This subject will be treated of more fully 
in a subsequent chapter. With the boy it is quite different. 
The first thing he is taught, as being truly noble and manly, 
is taking a scalp, and he is eager until it is done. At the age 
of sixteen he is frequently on the war path. When his friends 
think he has arrived at the proper age to go to war, he is pre- 
sented with weapons, one giving him a bow, another arrows, 
another a knife, and still another a horse. He makes his own 
war-club. He then consecrates certain animals, or parts of 
animals, which he vows never to eat until he has slain an en- 
emy. After he has killed one enemy, he is at liberty to eat a 
certain portion of the animal from which he agreed to abstain. 
If he kills another enemy, the prohibition is taken off another 



part, until finally, by deeds of bravery, he has emancipated 
himself from his oath. 

Before young men go out on a war party, they endeavor to 
propitiate their patron deity by a feast, music, and dancing. 
During the night, before they are to start, they perform the 
" Shield Dance," and follow the wild performance by feasting, 
drumming, dancing, and singing, interspersed with fierce shrieks 
and yells. 







"TTNTIL the past few years, the Sionx, whenever any sick- 
^^ ness happened, believed they were possessed by the spirit 
of some snake, bird, or animal. The Crow story of the super- 
stitions of that tribe, as narrated in this book, shows that, if the 
Sioux have in time come to banish such erroneous beliefs about 
animals, insects, and reptiles, taking possession of people^s 
bodies, the Crows still hang to it, and hence, their superstition 
about " tails " of animals, which are said, and believed, to in- 
habit the stomach. 


The medicine men of tbe Sioux are supposed to have unlim- 
ited strength and suction power of the mouth, so that by sucking, 
alone, they can draw away the evil spirit from the sick man, 
and thus cure him. 

Before going any fai'ther, it will, however, be best to explain 
what kind of fellow the Sioux medicine man is. Any thing 
mysterious and wonderful, or for which he can not account, is 
always called AVa-can, or Wa-kah, (medicine). The early 
French explorers called a doctor "mecZici'n," and all Indians 
have thereby called their doctors " medicine men," or Wii-ka, 
Pa-zhir-tii, We-cha-sa (spirit medicine man). "A medicine 
man " means, then, in the broadest Indian sense, ^^ a doctor " 
who calls to his aid charms and incantations to cure the sick. 
The medicine men are divided into conjurers; or spirit doctors, 
and war prophets. These latter are greatly feared by all the 

They have some very curious customs and ceremonies, which 
to me seemed ridiculous, but my good sense and knowledge 
of what was best for me, never allowed me to witness any of 
their freaks of foolishness, except with a grave countenance, 
and apparent respect and confidence in the power and ability 
of the medicine man to do whatever he wished. Iliave seen 
several cases of sickness under the hands of medicine men, and 
a description here of the general mode of procedure may not 
be uninteresting. 

The doctor is always to be found seated in the medicine 

lodge, unless attending a feast, or dance, or when out of an 

evening walking for his health. As he never sends around 

his "bills for professional services," he must receive his fees 

in advance. Some one is sent to notify him that he is wanted, 

and the request is accompained by a present of a pony, blanket, 


274 belden: the white chief. 

or something useful and valuable, for dress or ornament. The 
messenger sometimes has a gourd-rattle, which he shakes at tht 
medicine man's door till he comes out ; again he takes a pipe, 
lights it, goes into the medicine man's lodge, and hands him 
the pipe ; then .sits down in front of him, and rocking back- 
ward and forward, cries and groans, as though he were sick. 
Again, the messenger strips himself to his breech-cloth and 
moccasins, and carries the gourd-rattle in his hand. On en- 
tering the lodge, he shakes the rattle vigorously, walks up to 
the medicine man, and unceremoniously kicks him. He then 
jumps for the door, and having gained the outside, shakes his 
rattle and runs for the sick person's teepee as fast as he can — 
the medicine man following close after him. If the medicine 
man overtakes the messenger in his chase, and kicks him, the 
doctor is at liberty to return to his teepee w^ithout having seen 
the sick person, even if the messenger is overtaken within a 
few feet of the sick man's door. The sick person then sends 
another messenger, and so keeps on sending runners, with 
presents, until one is fast enough to outrun the medicine man 
and reach the sick lodge first. As soon as the messenger 
beats the doctor to the sick man's teepee, the physician enters, 
but, before going into the teepee, he strips himself, and wears 
only his breech-cloth and moccasins. He now sends to his 
lodge, where, in front of the doorway outside, hangs a large 
rattle of the kind just mentioned, ^nly this one is covered with 
painted heiroglyphics, and ornamented with eagle's feathers at 
the handle. The rattle, or gourd, with the drum, medicine 
shield, and box containing roots, teeth, bear's and other 
animal's claws, hangs on a pole outside the door of every medi- 
cine lodge in an Indian village. The rattle is brought to the 
sick man's teepee, and the doctor begins to shake it, and sing 


in a wild, chanting voice. This he continues for a few min- 
utes, when he gets down on his hands and knees and . crawls 
up to the patient. He hangs over the breast of the putient a 
moment or two, and then rises to his feet, gags and makes 
ugly faces, as if he was sick at his stomach and trying to 
vomit. Presently he goes to a bowl of water and puts his 
whole face into it, and, by blowing, causes bubbles to rise thick 
around his face. He makes all believe (for it is their business 
to believe) that he has blown into the bowl of water the spirit 
which has been troubling the patient. The doctor next care- 
fully examines the water while carrying on a slow and almost 
inaudible chaunt, and at length decides what species of animal 
has possessed tho patient. He now makes out of bark an 
image of the animal he has discerned in the bowl, and plunges 
it in a kettle of water, set outside the door of the teepee. The 
animal of bark is to be shot, and two or three Indians are in 
waiting, with loaded guns, ready to kill it, whenever the doctor 
tells them to do so. To make sure that the conjuring has the 
desired effect, a woman must stand astride the kettle, with her 
dress raised as high as the knees. The executioners are in- 
structed how to act by the doctor, and as soon as he makes his 
appearance out of the lodge, they all fire into the kettle, and 
blow the little bark image to pieces. The woman then steps 
aside, and the doctor goes to the bowl on his hands and knees, 
and commences blubbering in the water as he did in the teepee. 
While this is going on, the woman has to jump on the doctor's 
back with her feet, and stand there for a moment ; when she 
gets off, and as soon as he has finished his incantations, the 
woman takes him by the hair of the head and pulls him back 
into the sick man's lodge. If there are any pieces of the little 
bark image left, after it is shot, they are buried under ground. 


If this does not cure the patient, a similar ceremony is per- 
formed; but some other animal is shaped out, each time, until 
the patient gets well or dies; and if he dies, the conclusion is 
arrived at, that the Great Spirit, or Wa-kan Ton-kii, was the in- 
habiting one in the patient, and, of course, could not be cast out. 

There is another class of Indian medicine men I have as yet 
barely mentioned, called prophets, or priests, who, by relating 
stories of dreams they have had, or pretended to have had, and 
by making exciting speeches or exhortations, endeavor to incite 
the tribes to«war against each other. 

If a party is successful in securing scalps, they generally 
paint their faces black and come home wild with delight. As 
they approach the town or village, the people run out to meet 
them and hear the news. They then conduct the warriors to 
the council house, when the war prophet, or medicine man, meets 
them at the door. He assumes great importance, and seems to 
say, " Did n't I tell you so ? I brought you all this good 
fortune, and the credit is mine.'' The scalps are then pre- 
pared for exhibition, by being stretched on a small willow hoop 
or ring, and painted red on the flesh side. They are next tied 
to the top of a long pole, and set in the ground on some open 
space, suitable for accommodating a dance, in which the whole 
tribe can engage. If the scalp is a man's, they fasten an 
eagle's feather to the hair ; but if it is a woman's, no ornament 
of any kind is attached to it. The warriors who were on the 
expedition, in which the scalp was taken, form a large or small 
circle around the pole, and dance. If any of their party have 
been killed, an equal number of other warriors who remained 
at home, are selected for the dance, and their faces painted 
black from the eyes to the edge of the hair. They are then 
placed nearest to the pole, and do not dance, but stand per- 


fectly still. They represent, the Indians say, the dead men 
who fell in the battle where the scalps were taken. The war 
party now form a circle outside of the representatives of the 
dead, and the villagers form another circle outside of the war. 
partv. Then the «^quaws, in two circles, are outside of the 
warriors — the olde«^t squaws forming the inner circle. The 
members of the war party have each a gourd-rattle, or a small 
drum, which they shake and play incessantly, singing all the 
time the scalp song, which varies in almost every tribe. I have 
heard three or four different scalp songs among the Sioux, and 
believe there are several which I have never heard. Some 
writer has stated, that "if a scalp is taken in the summer, the 
Indians dance, and celebrate the event until the leaves fall, and 
if it is taken in winter, they dance until the leaves come in 
spring." This may be so with the Pawnees, but it is not the 
case among the Sioux. The scalp is danced for only three 
days and nights, the Indians stopping to feast and rest, a few 
at a time for some moments, and then renewing the dance. 
At the end of three days, the scalp is taken down and claimed 
by the warrior who took it from the wearer's head. The 
owner hangs it up in his teepee as a proof of his bravery, and 
often wears it attached to his belt, or, if he has one there 
already, hangs one on each side of his body. 

An eagle's feather, with a red spot painted on it, worn by a 
warrior in the village, denotes, that on the last war-path he 
killed an enemy, and for every additional enemy he has slain, 
he carries another feather, painted with an additional red spot 
about the size of a silver quarter. 

A red hand painted on a warrior's blanket, denotes that he 
has been wounded by the enemy, and a black one, that he has 
been unfortunate in some way. 


The medicine men, in the M'dewahkantonwan tribe, have 
a sort of freemasonry among them, of which they are the 
founders, and this tribe is the only one of all the many tribes 
that can initiate a warrior to the mysteries, superstitions, be- 
liefs, and rites, which all real medicine men are supposed to 

In addition to their many other secret ceremonies, the 
MMewankantonkas initiate a candidate for the honors of 
" M. D.'' as follows : The candidate is first introduced to the 
chief medicine m^n by participating in " the medicine dance." 
This dance is said to have been instituted by Oanktahee, the 
patron of all medicine men. The editor of the "Dakota 
Friend," says truly, in his description of the dance : " When 
a member is to be received into this society, it is his duty to 
take a hot bath, four days in succession." In the mean- 
time, some of the elders of the society instruct him in the 
mysteries of the medicine and Wam-noo-hah (shell in the 
throat). He is also provided with a dish (Wajate) and spoon. 
On the side of the dish, is sometimes carved the head of some 
voracious animal, in which resides the spirit of " Eo-yah " (an 
abbreviation for " Glutton God "). This dish is always carried 
by its owner to the medicine feast, and it is his duty, ordina- 
rily, to eat all which is served up in it. "Gray Iron" (a 
noted chief of former times), had a dish, which was given him 
at the time of his initiation, on the bottom of which was 
carved a bear, complete. The candidate is instructed with 
what paints, and in what manner, he shall paint himself, 
which must always be the same, when he appears in the dance. 
There is supernatural virtue in this paint, and the manner in 
which it is applied; and those who have not been furnished 
with a better, by the regular war prophets, wear it into battle 

belden: the white chief. 279 

as a life-preserver. The bag contains, besides the claws of 
animals, the "Toanwan^' (influence or power), with which 
they can, it is believed, inflict painful diseases and death on 
whomsoever they choose. 

The candidate being thus duly prepared for initiation, and 
having made the necessary offerings for the benefit of the 
institution, on the evening of the day previous to the dance, a 
lodge is prepared, and from ten to twenty of its more sub- 
stantial members pass the night in singing, dancing, and 
feasting. In the morning, the tent is opened for the dance. 
After a few appropriate ceremonies, preliminary to the grand 
operation, the candidate takes his place on a pile of blankets 
which he has contributed for the occasion, and is naked, except 
the breech-cloth and moccasins, duly painted and prepared for 
the mysterious operation. 

An elder having been stationed in the rear of the novice, the 
master of the ceremonies, with his knee and hip-joints bent to 
an angle of p,bout forty-five degrees, advances, in an unsteady, 
unnatural step, with his bag (containing medicine) in his hand, 
uttering, " Heen ! Heen ! Heen ! " -with great energy, and rais- 
ing the bag near a painted spot on the breast of the candidate, 
gives the discharge, the person stationed in the rear gives him 
a push forward at the same instant, and as he falls headlong, 
throws the blankets over him. Then, while the dancers gather 
around him and chant, the master throws off the covering, and, 
chewing a piece of the bone of the Oanktahee, spirts over him, 
and he revives and resumes a sitting posture. All then return 
to their seats except the master; he approaches, and, making 
indescribable noises, pats upon the breast of the novice, till 
the latter, in agonizing throes, throws up the wamha (or shell), 

which falls from his mouth upon the bag which had been pre- 

280 belden: the white chief. 

viously spread before him for that purpose. Life being noTV 
completely restored, and with the mysterious shell in his open 
hand, the new-made member passes around and exhibits it to 
all the members and to the wondering bystanders, and the cere- 
monies of the initiation are closed. The dance continues, 
interspersed with harmlessly shooting each other, smoking, and 
refreshments, till they have danced to the music of four sets 
of singers. Besides vocal music, they make use of the drum 
and gourd-shell rattle. 

The following chants, which are used in the dance, will best 
exhibit the character of this mysterious initiation of the 
Oanktahee : 

" Wa-du-la o-na me-c*d-ga, 
Wa-du-l'd o-n*d me-ca-ga, 
Nim-ne yft-ta e-te wa-can de m'dgQ 
Ton-k*d ixdan. 


" Ton-ka ixdan pe-gi-hoo-ta Wd-ca me-cU-ga, 
He we-ca-ke. 
Min-ne ya-ta o-i-ca-ga wa-k'd ke magu ye, 
Ton-ka ixdan e-te ke u-win-t*d wo, 
Wa-hoo-to-pa yu-ha e-te u-win-t*d -wo." 


" He created it for me inclosed in red down, 
He created it for me inclosed in red down, 
He in the water with a mysterious visage gave me this, 
My grandfather. 

belden: the white chief. 281 


" My grandfather created for me mysterious medicine, 
That is true. 
The mysterious being in the water gave it to me ; 
Stretch out your hand before the face of my grandfather, 
Having a quadruped* stretch out your hand before him.'* 

The medicine-bag is made of the skin of an otter, fox, or 
Bome other animal of long shape — sometimes a skunk skin, 
containing certain articles held sacred. f 

* Quadruped is the only word we can substitute for " Wa-hoo-to-pa,'* 
which is " four" (to-pa) "legs" (Wa-hoo). 

■j- A waj-rior, leaving the village to go on a perilous hunting trip, left his 
pouch with a friend of the writer. The owner having died, he retained it, 
and being at his teepee one day, it was at my request opened. The con- 
tents were .some dried mud, a dead beetle, a few roots, and a scrap of 
an old letter, which he had probably picked up near some old fort 





AS, no doubt, nearly all the readers of these pages are ig- 
norant of the modus operandi by which an Indian sale 
or transfer of land is made, and as I have been at considera- 
ble trouble to collect every thing novel or entertaining about 
Indians for this book, I will here insert some verbatim copies 
of deeds made long ago by the savages to certain white persons. 
That rare old historian, Neill, has given us much that is curi- 
ous, but he has by no means covered the ground;. and what I 
give will at least have the merit of being new. 

The following is a true copy of the great Carver deed, over 
which Congress wrangled for months in 1806, and which they 
finally decided to be a valid conveyance : 


To Jonathan Carver, a chief under the most mighty and 
potent George the Third, King of the English, and other na- 
tions, the fame of whose courageous warriors has reached our 
ears, and has been more fully told us by our good brother 
Jonathan aforesaid, whom we rejoice to see come among us 


and briDg us good news from his country, We, chiefs of the 
Nandowissies, who have hereto set our seals, do, by these 
presents, for ourselves and heirs forever, in return for the 
many presents, and other good services done by the said Jona- 
than to ourselves and allies, give, grant, and convey to him, 
the said Jonathan, and to his heirs and assigns forever, the 
whole of a certain tract or territory of land bounded as fol- 
lows (viz.): From the Fall of St. Anthony, running on the 
east banks of the Mississippi, neairly south-east, as far as the 
south end of Lake Pepin, where the Chippeway River joins 
the Mississippi, and from thence eastward five days^ travel, 
accounting twenty English miles per day, and from thence 
north six days' l^ravel, at twenty English miles per day, and 
from thence again to the Falls of St. Anthony, on a direct, 
straight line. We do, for ourselves, heirs, and assigns forever, 
give unto the said Jonathan, his heirs and assigns forever, all 
the said lands, with all the trees, rocks, and rivers therein, re- 
serving for ourselves and heirs the sole liberty of hunting and 
fishing on land not planted or improved by the said Jonathan, 
his heirs and assigns; to which we have affixed our respective 
seals, at the Great Cave, May the first, one thousand seven 
hundred and sixty-seven. 


His Mark. 


His Mark. 


In order to show in what way, and for what consideration 
or price, Indian titles and claims were procured by the early 
French traders and settlers in the north-west of Wisconsin, the 
following extract is made from the records of Brown County, 
of that State (Record-book B, pp. 110, 111) ; 

(No. 1.) 

En mille sept cent quatre vingt treize, trouvent present Wa- 
bisipine et le Tabac noir, lesquels ont voluntairement abandonnez 
et c^d^z a Monsieur Dominique Ducharme, depuis le haut de 
portage de Cacalin j usque du bout de le Prairie d'enbas, sur 
quarante arpens de profondeur; et sur Fautre cot^ vis k vis le 
dit portage, quatre arpens de large, sur trent de profondeur. 
Lesquels vendeurs se sont trouv^s contents, et satisfaits pour 
deux barrils de Eum. Enfois de quois, ils ont faits leur 
marques le vieux Wabisipine etant aveugle, les Tremoins ont 
fait sa marque pour lui. 

J. Harrison, 

J. Marrison, 1 

Lambert Macaulay, | ^'•^^'^- 

Maraue de Wabislpine. 
De la Attribute de 

Marque du Tabac noir. 

belden: the white chief. 285 

(No. 2.) 
Des servenants aiant reclaims droit qu'ils avoient aussi dans 
le Portage, ont vendues aussi leurs pretensions, et guarranti de 
touts troubles. Ont acceptur pour leur part, cinque galons de 
Rum, lesquels se sont trouv^s contents et satisfaits. En fois de 
quois ont fait leur marques. 

J. Harrison, Tremoin. 



CHE AIEa \ ,/ 'i\\ BITTB. 


(No. 3.) 
Ratifi^ au' Portage du Cacalin PAnn^e de notre Seigneur mil 
sept cent quatre vingt seize; le 31me jour de Juillet, en mil cep 
cent quatre vingt dix sept pour parte du portage une barrille 

AouT 8. 
En mil cep cent quatre vingt dix huit, un barrille de rum 
mefe pour contenter les filles souscritant. 

Juillet 16. 
Et en quatre vingt dix neuf un barrille de rum mde% d me 


belden: the white chief. 

sines pour contenter les differan entre eux. Lesquels se son 
trouve comptemps et satisfaite. 







[Translation of the above Deeds and Entries.] 

(No. 1.) 
In one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, are found 
present Wabisipine and the Black Tobacco, who have volunta- 
rily given up and ceded to Mr. Dominique Ducharme from the 
head of the portage of Kakalin to the end of the prairie below, 
by forty arpens in depth; and on the other side, opposite the 
said portage, four arpens wide, by thirty in depth. The said 
vendors are contented and satisfied for two barrels of Rum. In 
faith of which, they have made their marks. The old Wabisi- 
pine being blind, the witnesses have made his mark for bi;n. 

J. Harrison, | 

Lambert Macatjlay, J TTt^nmes. 

Mark of the Wabisipine of the attribute of the Eagle. 
Mark of the Black Tobacco. 


(No. 2.) 
The undersigned, having claimed a right which they also 
have in the portage, have also sold their claims, and warranted 
from all troubles. They have accepted, for their part, five gal- 
lons of Rum, with which they find themselves content and sat- 
isfied. In faith of which, they have made their marks. 

J. Haeeison, Witness. 




(No. 3.) 
Ratified at the Portage of the Kakalin, in the year of our 
Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six; the 31st 
day of July, in one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, 
on account of the portage, one barrel of rum. 

August 8. 
In one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight, one barrel 
of rum, mixed, to content the sons subscribing. 

July 16. 
And in ninety-nine, one barrel of rum, mixed d me sines, to 
settle the difference between them, with which they find them- 
selves content and satisfied, 




Land was cheap in those days, and the Indians of the Sioux 
tribe often sold theirs for a mere trifle — such as a keg of pow- 
der, or a few gallons of whisky. These swindles afterward 
caused great dissatisfaction, and the rascality of the whites was 
remembered against them even to the third and fourth genera- 
tion. So well has the history of these transactions been pre- 
served, that the Sioux yet know all about them, and, to this 
day, speak bitterly of the folly of their fathers in allowing the 
white men to cheat them out of their ancient hunting-grounds. 
It is this that causes the Sioux to be suspicious of the whites, 
and to always sign treaties with the greatest reluctance. 






ri^HE Indians compute their time very much as white men 
-■- do, only they use moons instead of months to designate 
the seasons, each moon answering to some month in our cal- 
endar. The word " we '' in the Indian tongue always means 
" moon," though it is often transposed in their sentences.* 

I. — January. 
We-ter^-i— " The Hard Moon." 

XL — February. 
We-ca-ta-we^— "The Raccoon Moon." 

in. — March. 
Ee8-ta''-we-ca''ya-za,''we — "Sore-Eye Moon," 

♦Many Indians add one moon to every twelve, which they call the 
"lost moon." A day is a "sleep," and half a day mid-noon, which is in- 
dicated by pointing at the sky over one's head. 


IV. — ^April. 
M'1-gtlV-ka-de-we — " The Moon in which the wild geese lay eggs." Also 
called Wo-ca-da-we, and sometimes Wa-to^pa-pe-we — " The Moon when 
the streams are navigable again.*' 

v.— Mat. 

Wo-ju-^pe-we — " The Planting Moon. 

VI. — June. 

Wa-jus-te-ca-sa-we — " The Moon when the strawberries are red." 

VII.— July. 

Ca-pa-sa-pa-we or Wa-su''-pa-we — " The Moon when chokeberries are ripe," 

or " The Moon when the geese shed feathers." 

VIII. — August. 

Wa-su''-to-we — "The Harvest Moon." 

IX — September. 

Psinh-nd-ke-tu-we — " The Moon when rice is laid up to dry." 

X. — October. 

We-wa-ju-pe or Wa-zu^-pe-we — " The rice-drying Moon." 

XI. — ^November. 

Ta-ke''-u-ra-we — " The deer-killing Moon." 

XII. — ^December. 

Ta-he''-ca-psu-we — " The Deer Moon." 

The Indians believe that when the moon is full evil spirits 
begin nibbling at it, to put out its light, and eat a portion each 
night until it is all gone. Then the Great Spirit, who will not 
permit them to take advantage of the darkness and go about 
the earth doing mischief, makes a new moon, working on it 
every night until it is completed, when he leaves it and goes 
to sleep. No sooner is he gone than the bad spirits return and 
eat it up again. The savages think all evil deeds are com- 
mitted in the dark of the moon, and that it is a good time to 
go upon any prowling or stealing expedition. They generally 
will not start on the war path in the dark of the moon, but 


time their departure so as to arrive in the country of the enemy 
between moons. 

I will here introduce brief accounts of two curious ceremo- 
( nies, called respectively the Dog Dance and the Fish Dance, 
i The dog dance is seldom performed, most Indians thinking 
too much of their dogs to give them up for a feast. The dance 
begins as on ordinary occasions, when suddenly some one 
throws a dog into the middle of the crowd of dancers, and be- 
fore the unfortunate animal can make his escape, he is toma- 
hawked, cut open, his liver and heart taken out and tied to the 
pole round which the Indians dance. 

The dancers now hop around very lively, the mouth of each 
watering for a bite of the delicious morsel hanging against the 
pole. After three circles have been accomplished about the 
pole, the highest in authority among the dancers steps up to it, 
and, without touching the body with his hands, seizes a mouth- 
ful of the liver and then takes his place in the circle. 

After the dancers have described another round, the next 
warrior in rank comes up, and in like manner takes his mouth- 
ful of dog, and so on until all have had a bite of liver, when the 
squaws come in for the heart, which they eat in the same man- 
ner. Should any person be generous enough to throw in an- 
other dog, the operation is repeated. 

There is no special meaning or importance attached to this 
feast on. ordinary occasions, but it is often performed at wed- 
dings, and when unexpected arrivals occur. The people then 
dance to demonstrate their high esteem for the new comers, or 
to show good-will for the warrior and his bride. The bride- 
groom, or the person in whose honor the dance is held, is ex- 
pected to contribute two or three dogs for the feast, and the 
dancing is kept up as long as the supply lasts. The capacity 


of an Indian stomach for dog meat is as infinite as it is 

The Fish Dance, — A Sioux chief was very sick, and the med- 
icine men could not cure him, when one night, while the hot- 
wind (fever) was upon him, he dreamed that a spirit told him, 
if he would make a feast of raw fish, he would live until the 
young cranes were grown. So he summoned his warriors, 
related to them what had happened, and they all agreed to 
make a ceremony and assist the chief in eating his raw fish. 

After one or two days spent in the sweat-house and in danc- 
ing the '* Shield Dance," a tent was prepared, with the door 
set toward the east. A long fence of willow bushes was then 
built from one side of the door, around a considerable space to 
the other side of the door, and within the inclosure was planted 
a bush for each person who was to participate in the dance. 
Nests were next built in the bushes, and early in the morning 
of the day on which the feast was to take place, the master 
informed two warriors where the fish were to be caught, how 
many, and of what kind. These persons went out, and as the 
chief desired, brought in two pike, each about one foot in 
length, which they had speared in the river. 

The chief then painted the pike with vermilion, and orna- 
mented their bellies and lower jaws with strips of wild-goose 
down dyed red, and when complete they were laid on some 
willows in the center of the inclosure, where they were left to 
dry. Near the fish were a number of birch-bark dishes filled 
with sweetened water, and the implements of war belonging to 
the participators were placed in the tent. When all was in 
readiness, the dancers, who were almost naked, fantastically 
painted, and ornamented with down dyed red, yellow, black, 
and white, formed in four ranks, and commenced to sing, 


each rank in its turn accompanying the song witn drum and 

The drums are used by only the fourth rank, the first, sec- 
ond, and third ranks being singers. The dancers rest when 
each rank has had a turn and ceased singing. Presently the 
fourth rank begins to sing, the drums beat furiously, the 
dancers leap, yell, and make frightful contortions of the face 
and body, acting as much like demons as possible. Suddenly 
the music changes, the dancers dash at the fish, and tear them 
with their teeth, eating the head, body, and entrails. Then 
they swallow some mouthfiils of the sweetened water, and 
each, taking one of the large bones of the fish which are left, 
deposit them in the nests made in the bushes, and the feast is 

The Indians allege that the chief in whose honor this dance 
was instituted lived until the cranes had become full-grown 
birds, and then he died. Since then this feast is only prepared 
for a chief who can not be cured of his sickness by the medi- 
cine men. A medicine man, however, if he is a chief also, 
may have the benefit of a fish dance, but no one else except 
chiefs are entitled to so great an honor. » 

The feasts and dances of the Indians are so near alike that 
I do not deem it necessary to repeat the same details for each, 
and will hereafter only describe them generally, when I have 
occasion to refer to them at all. 





TTAPPENING into the teepee of Ma-to-sca (White Bear), 
-'--'- one day, I saw one of his squaws working on a piece 
of red cloth, garnishing it in a most tasteful manner with cut- 
glass beads of different colors. Not knowing what the cloth 
could be used for, being of a different shape from any thing I 
had before seen, I inquired, and was told it was a saddle skirt. 
The squaw had almost completed it, and I asked her who it 
was for, when she told me it was a present for her husband. 
She promised to bring it to my teepee when it was completed, 
and let me see it, and three days afterward she brought it for 
my inspection. The Indian saddle was made of buckskin, 
having no frame, but being simply a 
pad of doubled soft leather, stuffed 
with antelope hair. The skirts were 
long, very beautiful, and ornamented 
with fringe. This saddle was only 
used for riding on important occasions, 
and was fastened to the pony's back 
Ma-to-sca's Saddle, by a girth or band of rawhide three 



inches broad, which was attached to the buckskin pad. No 
buckles were used. A strong buckskin string fastened the 
girth to the pads. There were no stirrups, but soft loops for 

Ma-to-sca's Saddle. 

the feet. I tried to purchase this beautiful horse gear of White 
Bear, but, he said, as it was a present from his squaw, he did 
not like to part with it. I asked my squaws if they thought 
they could make me one like it, and offered to give them each 
a new dress of squaw cloth if they would do so; but they told 
me frankly it was " heap o' work,'' and they did not know how 
to lay off the patterns. Each of them, however, made me a 
present of a pair of dancing moccasins, finely beaded, with little 
urass hawk bells attached to the instep, and a magnificent pair 
of beaded leggings, so I felt compelled to give them the new 

White Bear's saddle had a crupper made of buffalo hide 
tanned soft, over which was laid blue squaw cloth hand- 

296 belden: the white chief. 

somely beaded and embroidered, and to the end of which was 
attached long buckskin fringe. His bridle was made much in 
the same fashion as those used by the whites, only that, in place 
of being leather it was rawhide covered with red cloth, and 
ornamented with diamond-shaped silver pieces, two of which 
were placed on each side of the cheek pieces, and two on the 
brow and nose-band. 

There was no throat-latch, and I believe I have never 
seen any used by the Indians. The tit was a straight- 
armed curb of Spanish pattern, and ornamented at the ex- 
tremities of the* curb by pendant chains about nve inches 
long, to which was attached a silver plate. This swung back 
and forth, glittering in the sun as the pony galloped. The 
bridle alone was valued at thirty dollars, and, together with 
the saddle, would have cost sixty-five dollars. 

"White Bear was fifty-five years of age, and a great dandy, 
and very vain of his dress and ornaments. Though maimed, 
he was always anxious to appear to advantage in the eyes of 
the women. 

Gun Case. 

He carried a gun of great length, and seemed to think a deal 
of it. This gun was protected from rain and dampness by a 
gaudy cover made of tanned elk hide, gorgeously beaded, and 
ornamented with fringe cut from buckskin. 

belden: the white chief. 297 

He always carried his gun across the pummel of the saddle 
when riding, and the fringe was so long it hung down on 
each side in front of the rider's knees. These gun cases' I 
have seen many times among the Sioux, but had never seen 

so fine a one as Ma-to-sca's. 


298 belden: the white chief. 



X HAD often observed in the teepee of a good-natured old 
-^ squaw, wKbm I used to visit almost every day, a warrior, 
whose hair was silvery white, and who was so old that no one 
in the village knew his age. Several of the Indians told me 
he was more than a hundred years old, and I would have 
guessed him to be over that age, so venerable was his appear- 
ance. He was a paralytic, and always lay in the same posi- 
tion when I entered the teepee. He never looked at me or 
any person in the lodge, and seemed barely alive. He could 
not so much as move a finger, and always lay stretched out on 
his back, being fed and attended by his daughter, who was 
the old squaw I have just mentioned. 

No one seemed to pay any attention to him, every one mak- 
ing the casual inquiry of " How is the old man to-day ? '' and 
the answer invariably was, " About as yesterday." Nothing 
could disturb the poor old fellow. Young, boisterous girls 
and squaws would laugh, scream, and cut up pranks in the 
lodge, but the old man never heeded them. He was very tall, 
over six feet high, I should think, but was a mere skeleton, 
his skin and bones being yellow and transparent. He eagerly 


sucked at a pipe whenever any of the company were good 
enough to present the end of the stem to his withered lips ; 
but he never spoke or thanked them for what he seemed to 
relish so much ; indeed, I believe he was never heard to speak, 
though he could talk when he wished to do so. 

One evening some four or five girls and a couple of young 
warriors were with me at the old woman's lodge, and all were 
laughing and enjoying themselves ; some of the girls quizzing 
the young men as to whom they liked best among the females 
of the village, and the warriors retorting by joking the girls. 
All were noisy and boisterous, never heeding the old man, who 
lay in one corner of the lodge. They had been laughing 
heartily at a remark made by the old womailfwhen I hap- 
pened to look over to where the old man was lying, and tak- 
ing pity on him, I turned to one of the young men, and asked 
him to let me have his pipe and kinnikinnick, and I would 
give the old fellow a smoke. He handed me the pipe and to- 
bacco, and while I was cutting off some to fill the bowl, one 
of the young men remarked, " I gave him a smoke a few 
minutes ago, and he can not be very bad off." The old wo- 
man spoke 1^ hastily, and said: "He'd smoke all the time if 
some one would hold a pipe, bother on him ! " I filled the 
pipe and passed it to the young men to give them a few puffs 
first, as courtesy demanded, then held it to the old man's lips, 
saying : " Fathei*, here is the pipe, smoke in peace." He 
deigned no reply, but drew in one or two long puffs, and I saw 
his lips moving as if he was praying. I smoked the pipe a 
little to keep it lit, and put it to the old man's lips again and 
again, but noticed that he did not press the stem, nor draw 
away the smoke. Supposing he did not want to smoke any 
more, I went back to the company, and remarked, " We will 

300 belden: the white chief. 

Lave to finish this pipe, for the old man does not seem to want 
any more." The old woman said : " You put the stem in hia 
lips and he '11 smoke any time.'' I replied he had smoked at 
first, but the last time I offered him the pipe he did not draw 
away any smoke. I also told them of his moving his lips as 
if in prayer ; and, having aroused the curiosity of all, we went 
over to the old man's bed, and his daughter, lifting up his 
hand, said; "He is dead." He was, indeed, dead, having 
passed away without a struggle while he had been smoking. 

This singular as well as unfortunate man was much rever- 
enced in the village ; and the old woman told me he had been 
lying as I saw him for fifteen years, having apparently lost the 
use of his limbs through age. She put his years at one hun- 
dred and eight. 

belden: the white chief. 30I 



AS before stated in these pages, the happy days of a Sioux 
woman is her childhood. When she arrives at the age of 
puberty she is sold to a warrior for his wife, and then her life 
of hardship commences. No matter how kind or loving her 
husband may be, his quality as a warrior, and his superiority 
-as a man, will not permit him to depart from the old rules of 
the tribe, which marks the weaker sex as the hewers of wood 
and drawers of water. All that is unusual for a white woman 
to do, the Indian wife must do. She cuts wood, butchers, 
dries meat, and waits on her liege lord. 

The Sioux are notorious polygamists, and a warrior obtains 
his wife — or, more generally, another wife — by a practice as old 
as the Book of Genesis, that of purchase. When a young 
man courts a girl, and (which he seldom does) gets her to love 
him, he then obtains her consent, and buys her from her 

As a rule, when a warrior wants a wife, or an additional 
wife, he announces the fact to his friends, and begs them to use 
their influence to procure him one. When she is found, he ia 


notified of the fact, and he then goes to her lodge to see her, 
the girl, in most cases, being ignorant of the object of his visit. 
She generally, however, has a suspicion, for every girl, after 
arriving at the age of maturity, is constantly expecting some 
one to come for her. After the warrior has seen his future 
wife, he leaves the lodge, and, if he is satisfied with her, takes 
an early opportunity to consult her parents, when the price to 
be paid for her is agreed upon. If all is satisfactory, the girl 
is then notified she has been sold, and is, thereafter, to be con- 
sidered the wife of so and so. She immediately packs up her 
little keepsakes and trinkets, and, without exhibiting any emo- 
tion, such as is common to white girls, leaves her home, and 
goes to the lodge of her master. On entering his teepee, where 
he is waiting for her, he orders her to sit down on a blanket, 
folded up for a seat and laid on the floor, and, if she obeys, she 
thereby acknowledges him as her husband, and henceforth be- 
comes his willing slave. I have read somewhere that the an- 
cestors of many of the first families of Virginia purchased their 
wives from a London company for one hundred and twenty 
pounds of tobacco; but the Sioux pays a higher price for his 
wives, and takes more of them. 

The usual price for an Indian girl is an American horse, or 
its equivalent, two ponies, four or eight blankets — indeed, any 
thing amounting in value to one hundred dollars. A warrior 
sometimes falls in love with several sisters, and, in that case, 
buys the whole family. I once knew a young man who had 
about a dozen horses he had captured at difierent times from 
the enemy, and who fell desperately in love with a girl of nine- 
teen. She loved him in return, but said she could not bear to 
leave her tribe, and go to the Santee village, unless her two 
eisters, aged respectively fifteen and seventeen, went with her. 


Determined to have his sweetheart, the next time the warrior 
visited the Yankton village he took several ponies with him, 
and bought all three of the girls from their parents, giving 
five ponies for them. A squaw wife can be sold by her hus- 
band to any one who wishes to buy her, but at a greatly re- 
duced price. Thirty or forty dollars is considered a large sum 
for a second-hand wife. The squaws are valued by the middle- 
aged men only for their strength and ability to work, and no 
account whatever is taken of personal beauty. The girls are 
always adepts in the art of beading and porcupine-quill em- 
broidering, and this is often of great assistance in selling them, 
as most Indians like to have accomplished wives. Well indeed 
does the Sioux woman deserve the sympathy of every tender 
heart, for, from the day of her marriage until her death, she 
leads a most wretched life. They are more than the hewers of 
wood and drawers of water, for they are the servants of serv- 
ants. On a winter day the Sioux mother is often obliged to 
travel eight or ten miles, and carry her lodge, camp-kettle, ax, 
child, and several small dogs on her back and head. * Arriving 
late in the afternoon at the appointed place of camping, she 
clears the snow off the ground where the teepee is to be erected, 
and then, in the nearest grove, cuts down some poles twelve or 
fourteen feet in length, which she forms into a skeleton, or 
frame-work, for the teepee cover ; she next unstraps her packs, 
unfolds the teepee, and brings the bottom part to the base of 
the poles, where she pins it fast to the ^th with little wooden 
pins cut for the purpose. 

She next obtains a long pole, fastens the small end of the 

* Young puppies are treated as tenderly as children, and, in £ict, often 
inhabit the same wicker baskets with the children. 


teepee cloth to it, then raises it up around the poles, pushing it 
to the top, and stretching the cloth as tight as possible without 
pulling the pins out at the bottom. The two edges of the 
teepee cloth are then drawn around the poles until they meet, 
when a seam is formed by sewing it with little wooden pins. 

This seam extends from the bottom to the top of the cover. 
She next goes inside the teepee, takes each pole in turn, and, 
raising it, pushes the butt end out as far toward the center of 
the lodge as the cloth will admit. When it is perfectly taut, 
she makes a small opening at the top for smoke to escape. 
This done, she rolls her baby in a robe, and leaves it in the 
teepee while she goes to the timber for wood. Presently 
she returns with about one-fourth of a cord on her back, 
builds a fire, and then goes for water. The camp-kettle is 
put on, and while it boils she cuts the meat and prepares sup- 
per. By the time the meat is done her husband arrives, jumps 
off his pony, goes in and sits down to rest or eat, while his 
•wife takes off the pony's saddle and bridle, and pickets him out 
to graze. When supper is over she gets an ax and cuts a 
bundle of wood for the night. This done, if she receives no 
further orders from her husband, she nourishes her child, and 
sits down silent and tired to doze away an hour or two until 
her master goes to sleep, when, having assured herself, that he 
is asleep, she folds her babe to her bosom, and, drawing her 
blankets around her, lies down for a few hours' repose, only to 
wake to repeat her rou^d of toil on -the morrow. 

The Sioux wife is subject to all the whims and caprices of 
her husband, and woe be to her if he is a bad-tempered man. 
So severe is their treatment of women, a happy female face is 
hardly ever seen in the Sioux nation, and the few met with 
belong to single women. 


Often they become callous, and take a beating much as a 
horse or ox does; but sometimes one of the more spirited 
women rebels against the cruel treatment of her husband, and 
resorts to suicide to put an end to her sufferings. An incident 
occurred some years ago at a lodge which was pitched at the 
mouth of the St. Croix Eiver, which will serve to show the 
desperation to which Indian women are sometimes driven. 

A warrior was continually drunk whenever he could get any 
liquor, and he was seldom without it, often keeping a keg in 
his lodge. Whenever he drank he was very abusive to his 
wife, often beating her and her children unmercifully. One 
day he went hunting, and, while he was gone, the poor woman 
hid the keg of liquor, and upon his return he could not find it. 
He demanded to know where it was, but she refused to tell him, 
when he beat her cruelly, and so distressed was she that she 
went to a grove of timber near by and hung herself with a 
lariat rope. 

Suicide is very common among Indian women, and con- 
sidering the treatment they receive, it is a wonder there is not 
more of it. 


306 belden: the white chief. 







"VTTE had heard occasionally of the great war being waged 
' ^ for the Union, but had received no very definite in- 
formation until one evening, an Indian, who had been far 
down the Missouri, at one of the forts, came into camp, and 
brought the intelligence that the rebels were gaining victory 
after victory, and that all the soldiers were leaving the plains 
and going east to help fight the rebels. The Indian also said 
the Government was going to raise volunteer troops on the 
border to replace the regular soldiers who were going east, and 
many Omaha, Winnebago, and Pawnee Indians were joining 
the whites at the forts. I can not describe how these tidings 
affected me. I could not sleep, and all night long walked up 
and down the camp. Next morning my mind was thoroughly 
made up to return to the east and help fight for the Union. 
Ordering my squaws to pack up the lodge, we at once set 


out down the Missouri. After many days patient journeying 
we arrived at Fort Randall, and there, bidding my squaws 
good-by, I left them to make their way with my property to 
their tribe, which was not far distant, while I continued my 
journey alone to Omaha. 

On arriving at Omaha I learned a mounted regiment was 
being fitted out for service on the frontier, and presenting my- 
self, was duly enrolled a soldier of the United States army in 
the First Nebraska Cavalry. The Indians, under the cele- 
brated Sioux chief, Spotted Tail, had become very troublesome, 
and our regiment was ordered to join the expedition of Col. 
Brown, then rendezvousing near North Platte, on the Platte 
River. The expedition consisted of the First Nebraska Cav- 
alry, Twelfth Missouri Cavalry, and a detachment of the Sec- 
ond United States, and Seventh Iowa Cavalry — Col. Brown, 
the senior officer, commanding the whole force. 

The snow was quite deep on the plains, and knowing that 
the hostile Indians, who were then encamped on the Repub- 
lican River, were encumbered by their villages, women, and 
children, it was thought to be a favorable time to strike them 
a severe blow. There were many Indians in our command, 
among others a large body of Pawnee scouts. Early in Janu- 
ary the expedition left the Platte River, and marched south- 
ward toward the Republican. When we reached the river a 
depot of supplies was established and named " Camp Wheaton," 
after the general then commanding the department of the 
Platte. This done, the scouting began, and we were ready for 
war. Nor were we long kept waiting, for Lieut. James 
Murie, who marched out to Short Nose Creek with a party of 
scouts, was suddenly attacked by a large body of Sioux, and 
six of his men wounded. Col. Brown considered this an un- 


fortunate affair, inasmuch as tlie Indians, having learned by ii. 
the presence of troops in their country, would be on the alert, 
and, in all probability, at once clear out with their villages. 
He determined, if it were possible, still to surprise them, and 
ordered the command immediately into the saddle. We pushed 
hard for Solomon's Fork, a great resort for the savages, but 
arrived only in time to find their camps deserted and the In- 
dians all gone. 

One evening, as we were encamped on the banks of the 
Solomon, a huge buffalo bull suddenly appeared on the bluff 
overlooking the camp, and gazed in wonder at a sight so un- 
usual to his eyes. In a moment a dozen guns were ready to 
fire, but as the beast came down the narrow ravine washed by 
the rains in the bluff, all waited until he should emerge on the 
open plain near the river. Then a lively skirmish was opened 
on him, and he turned and quickly disappeared again in the 
gulch. Several of the soldiers ran up one of the narrow water- 
courses, hoping to get a shot at him as he emerged on the open 
prairie. What was their surprise to meet him coming down. 
He ran up one ravine, and being half crazed by his wounds, 
had, on reaching the prairie, turned into the one in which the 
soldiers were. As soon as he saw him, the soldier in front 
called out to those behind him to run, but they, not under- 
standing the nature of the danger, continued to block up the 
passage. The bull could barely force his great body between 
the high and narrow banks ; but before all the soldiers could 
gst out of the ravine, he was upon them, and trampled two of 
them under his feet, not hurting them much, but frightening 
them terribly. As the beast came out again on the open bank 
of the river a score of soldiers, who had run over from the 
camp with their guns, gave him a dozen balls. Still he did 

belden: the white chief. 309 

not fall, but, dashing through the brush, entered the cavalry 
camp, and running up to a large gray horse that was tied to a 
tree, lifted the poor brute on his horns and threw him into the 
air. The horse was completely disemboweled, and dropped 
down dead. The buffalo next plunged his horns into a fine 
bay horse, the property of an officer in the Seventh Iowa Cav- 
alry, and the poor fellow groaned with pain until the hills re- 
sounded. Exhausted by his exertions and wounds, the bull 
laid down carefully by the side of the horse, as if afraid of 
hurting himself, and in a moment rolled over dead. "We 
skinned and dressed him, and carried the meat into camp for 
our suppers ; but it was dearly bought beef, at the expense of 
the lives of two noble horses; and Col. Brown notified us he 
wished no further contracts closed on such expensive terms. 






AlTHILE we lay encamped at the depot of supplies, on the 
* ^ Republican, Colonel Brown called for volunteer scouts, 
stating he would give a purse of five hundred dollars to any 
one who would discover a village of Indians and lead the com- 
mand to the spot. This glittering prize dazzled the eyes of 
many a soldier, but few had the courage to undertake so haz- 
ardous an enterprise. Sergeant Hiles, of the First Nebraska, 
and Sergeant Rolla, of the Seventh Iowa, came forward and 
said they would go upon the expedition provided they could go 
alone. Both were shrewd, sharp men, and Colonel Brown 
readily gave his consent, well knowing that in scouting, where 
the object is not to fight, but to gain information and keep 
concealed, the fewer men in the party the better their chances 
of escape. 

On the day after Hiles and Rolla had left camp, Nelson, who 
had come down and joined the army as a guide, proposed tc me 
that we should go out and hunt an adventure. My old love 
of Indian life was upon me, and I joyfully accepted his prop- 


osition. I applied to Colonel Brown for permission to set out 
at once, but he declined to grant my request, on the ground 
that it was not necessary or proper for an officer to engage in 
such an enterprise. I, however, coaxed the colonel a little, 
and he finally told me I might go. 

Packing several days supplies on a mule, as soon as it was 
dark Nelson and I started, he leading the mule, and I driving 
him from behind. We traveled over to the Little Beaver, 
then up the stream for some distance, when we crossed over 
and camped on Little Beaver. Here we expected to find In- 
dian signs, but were disappointed. We rested for a short time, 
and then traveled down the Beaver until opposite Short Nose 
Creek, when we crossed the divide and camped on that stream. 
Two days later we pushed on to Cedar Creek, and then crossed 
over to Prairie Dog Creek. We had traveled only at night, 
hiding away all day in the brush that lined the creeks, and 
keeping a sharp lookout for Indians. So far we had seen no 
Indian signs, and began to despair of finding any, when one 
morning, just as I was lighting the fire to cook our breakfast, 
I heard several shots fired, apparently four or five miles up 
the creek. Nelson run out on the bluff, and, applying his 
ear to the ground, said he could distinctly hear the reports 
of many rifles. We could not imagine what this meant, and 
withdrew into the bluffs to " make it out,'^ as the old trappers 

Nelson was the first speaker, and he gave it as his opinion 
that Colonel Brown, who had told us before leaving camp he 
would soon start for the Solomon,, had set out earlier than he 
expected, and was now crossing above us. I set my compass, 
and, finding we were nearly on the line where Brown would 
cross, readily fell in with Nelson's reasoning. So sure was I 


that the guns we had heard were Colonel Brown's soldiers out 
hunting, that I proposed we should saddle up and go to them. 
This move came near proving fatal to us, as will presently ap- 
pear. We rode boldly up the stream, in broad daylight, some 
live miles, when, not finding any trail, I began to express my 
surprise at the long distance we had heard the reports of the 
guns, but Nelson told me it was no uncommon thing, when snow 
watt on the ground, to hear a rifle shot ten to twenty miles along 
a creek bottom, and, incredible as this may seem, I found out 
afterward it was nevertheless true. 

We rode on about five miles further, when suddenly Nelson 
halted, and, pointing to an object a long distance ahead, said he 
believed it was a horseman. We lost no time in getting into 
the bluffe, where we could observe what went on without being 
seen, and soon saw an animal coming rapidly down the creek 
bottom. As it drew near, we discovered it to be a horse, evi- 
dently much frightened, and flying from pursuers. The horse 
galloped past, but stopped half a mile below us and quietly 
went to grazing, every now and then raising his head and look- 
ing up the creek, as if he expected to see some enemy following 
him. We lay for several hours momentarily expecting to see a 
body of Indians coming down the creek, but none came, and at 
noon Nelson said I should watch, and he would crawl down the 
creek and see if he could discover any thing from the horse. I 
saw Nelson approach quite near the animal, and heard him 
calling it, when, to my surprise, it came up to him and followed 
him into the bluffs. The horse was the one Sergeant Hiles had 
ridden from the camp a few days previous, and was well known 
to Nelson and me as a superb animal, named "Selim." 

It did not take us long to come to the conclusion that Hiles 
and Holla had been attacked, and that the firing we had heard 


iu the morning was done by Indians. From the fact that Hiles's 
liorse tiad no saddle on when found, we conchided he had been 
in the hands of the Indians, and probably broken away from 
them, and we doubted not that at least Hiles was dead. 

Fearing the savages would come down upon us next, we lost 
no time in getting down the creek. We soon passed where we 
had encamped the night before, and, finding the fire still burn- 
ing, put it out, and, covering up the ashes, pushed on for sev- 
eral miles and camped among the bluffs. Nelson carried up 
several logs from the creek, with which to make a barricade in 
case of attack, and, Nelson taking the first watch, I laid down 
to sleep, without fire or supper, except a piece of raw pork. 

At nine o'clock I arose to watch, and soon after midnight, 
the moon coming up bright and clear, I awoke Nelson, and 
suggested to him we would saddle up and cross over to Cedar 
Creek, for I had a strong presentiment that some misfortune 
would befall us if we remained longer where we were. It is not a 
little singular, but true, that man has a wonderful instinct, and 
can nearly always divine coming trouble or danger. This instinct 
in the frontiersman, of course, is wonderfully developed by the 
perilous life he leads; but, call it presentiment or what you will, 
this instinct exists in every beast of the field, as well as in the 
human breast, and he who follows it can have no safer guide. 
Several times have I saved my life by obeying the dictates of 
that silent monitor within, which told me to go, and yet gave 
no reason for my going. 

We had not ridden far when we came upon a heavy Indian 
trail, and found it not more than four or five hours old. The 
tracks showed some fifty ponies, and all going in the direction 
of the Republican. We were now convinced that Rolla had 
f^scaped and the Indians were pursuing him. Following on 


the trail for some distance, until we came to a bare spot on the 
bluflP where our horses would leave no tracks in the snow, we 
turned to the left, and, whipping up the ponies, struck out foi 
a forced march. We knew the Indians might return at any 
moment, and if they should find our trail they would follow 
us like blood-hounds. 

All night long we pushed on, halting only at sunrise to eal 
a bite and give our poor ponies a few mouthfuls of grass. 
Again we were off, and throughout the day whipped and 
spurred along our animals as rapidly as possible. At night 
we halted for two hours to rest, and then mounted the saddle 
once more. On the fifth day we met a company of cavalry that 
had been sent out by Col. Brown to look for us, and with them 
we returned to camp. 

We learned from the cavalrymen that Sergeant Hiles 
had been attacked by Indians, and Sergeant Rolla had been 
killed. Hiles, though he had lost his horse, had managed to 
work his way back to camp on foot, where he had arrived 
the morning they left camp, nearly starved. We had gone 
much out of our way to escape the Indians who had followed 
Hiles; but since we had succeeded in avoiding them and sav- 
ing our scalps, we did not care a fig for our long and tiresome 

Sergeant Hiles related to me his adventures after leaving 
camp, and I will here repeat them as a sequel to my own. He 
said : " Rolla and I traveled several days, and finally pulled up 
on Prairie Dog Creek. We had seen no Indians, and were be- 
coming careless, believing there were none in the country. One 
morning just about day-break I built a fire, and while Rolla 
and I were warming ourselves we were fired upon by some 
forty Indians. Rolla fell, pierced through the heart, and died 

belden: the white chief. 315 

instantly. IIow I escaped I know not, for the balls whistled 
all around me, knocking up the fire, and even piercing my 
clothing, yet I was not so much as scratched. 

" I ran to my horse, which was saddled and tied near by, 
and flinging myself on his back, dashed across the prairies. 
The Indians followed, whooping and yelling like devils, and 
although their ponies ran well, they could not overtake my 
swift-footed Selim. I had got well ahead of them, and was 
congratulating myself on my escape from a terrible death, 
when suddenly Selim fell headlong into a ravine that was 
filled with drifted snow. It was in vain I tried to extricate 
him; the more he struggled the deeper he sank. Knowing 
the Indians would be up in a few minutes, I cut the saddle* 
girths with my knife, that the horse might be freer in his 
movements, and then, bidding him lie still, I took my pistols 
and burrowed into the snow beside him. After I had dug 
down a little way, I struck off in the drift, and worked my 
way along it toward the valley. I had not tunneled far before 
I heard the Indians coming, and, pushing up my head, I cut 
a small hole in the crust of the snow, so I could peep out. As 
the savages came up they began to yell, and Selim, making a 
great bound, leaped upon the solid earth at the edge of the ra- 
vine, and dragging himself out of the drift, galloped furiously 
across the prairies. Oh ! how I wished then I was on his back, 
for I knew the noble fellow would soon bear me out of reach 
of all danger. 

" The Indians divided, part of them going up the ravine 
and crossing over to pursue Selim, while the rest dismounted 
to look for his rider. They carefully examined the ground all 
around to find my trail, but not finding any they returned and 
searched up and down the ravine for me. Two or three tiraea 


they punched in the snow near me, and once an Indian passed 
within a few feet of my hole. Great drops of perspiration 
stood on ray forehead, and every moment I expected to be dis- 
covered, dragged out, and scalped, but I remained perfectly 
still, grasping my pistols, and determined to sell my life as 
dearly as possible, and make it cost the red-skins at least three 
of their number. 

"After awhile the Indians got tired searching for me, 
and drew off to consult. I saw the party that had gone in 
pursuit of Selim rejoin their companions, and I was not a 
little gratified to observe they did not bring back my gal- 
lant steed with them, from which I knew he had made his 

'' The Indians mounted and rode down the ravine, examin- 
ing every inch of ground for my trail. As I saw them move 
off hope once more revived in my breast ; but in an hour they 
came back and again searched the drift. At last, however, 
they went off without finding me, and I lay down to rest, so 
exhausted was I, from watching and excitement, that I could 
not stand. I knew I did not dare to sleep, for it was very 
cold, and a stupor would come upon me. All that day and 
night and the n^xt day I lay in the drift, for I knew the In- 
dians were watching it. 

"On the second night, as soon as it was dark, I crawled 
out, and worked my way to the foot of the ravine. At first 
I was so stiff and numb I could hardly move hand or foot, 
but as I crawled along the blood began to warm up, and soon 
I was able to walk. I crept cautiously along the bluffs until 
I had cleared the ravine, and then, striking out on the open 
prairie, steered to the northward. Fortunately, the first day 
out I shot an antelope and got some raw meat, which kept me 


from starving. In two days and a half I reached the camp, 
nearly dead from fatigue and hunger, and was thoroughly glad 
to be at home in my tent once more with a whole scalp on my 

We had not found an Indian village, and none of us got the 
$500, but we had all had a glorious adventure, and that to a 
frontiersman is better than money. 








\1THILE we lay in camp on Medicine Creek, Colonel 
' ' Brown sent for me, and ordered me to look up and 
map the country. I was detached as a topographical engineer, 
and this order relieved me from all company duty, and en- 
abled me to go wherever I pleased, which was not a little grat- 
ifying to one so fond of rambling about. 

Packing my traps on my pony one day, I set out down the 
Medicine ahead of the command, intending to hunt wild tur- 
keys until near night, and then rejoin the command before it 
went into camp. The creek bottom was alive with turkeys, 
the cold weather having driven them to take shelter among the 
bushes that lined the creek. I had not gone far when a dense 
fog arose, shutting out all objects, even at the distance of a few 
feet. It was a bad day for hunting, but presently as I rode 
along I heard a turkey gobble close by, and, dismounting, I 
crept through the bushes and peered into the fog as well as I 


could. I saw several dark objects, and drawing up my double- 
barreled sbot-guH) fired at them. Hardly had the ncffse of the 
explosion died away, when I heard a great flopping in the 
bushes, and on going up to it found a large turkey making his 
last kicks, I picked him up and was about to turn away, 
when T saw another fine old gobbler desperately wounded, but 
trying to crawl off. I ran after him, but he hopped along so 
fast I was obliged to give him the contents of my other barrel 
to keep him from getting away into the thick brush. 

I had now two fine turkeys, and, as the day was bad, de- 
termined to go no further, but ascend the bluffs and wait for 
the command. I went out on the prairie, and made a diligent 
search for the old trail, but, as it was covered some seven 
inches deep with snow, I could not find it. Knowing the 
command would pass near the creek, I went back to hunt, 
thinking I would go up after it had passed, strike the trail, 
and follow it into camp. 

I had not gone far down the creek when I ran into a fine 
elk, and knocked him over with my Henry rifle. I cut off the 
choice pieces, and, packing them on my pony, once more set 
out to find the trail. I knew the command had not passed, 
and ascended the highest point on the bluff, straining my eyes 
to see if I could not discover it moving. I waited several 
hours, but not finding it, I concluded it had not marched by 
the old trail, but struck straight across the country. I now 
moved up the creek, determined to keep along its bank until 
I came to the old camp, and then follow the trail. I had not 
gone far when I came upon two Indians who belonged to my 
company, and who were also looking for the command. 

Night was coming on, the wind rising, and the air growing 
Litter cold, so I said to the Indians we would go down tne 


creek where there was plenty of dry wood, and make a night 
camp. They readily assented, and we set out, arriving at a 
fine grove just before dark. 

While one of the Indians gathered wood, the other one and 
I cleared away the snow to make a place for our camp. The 
snow in the bottom was nearly three feet deep, and when we 
had bared the ground a high wall was piled up all around 
us. The wood was soon brought, and a bright fire blazing. 
After warming ourselves we opened a passage through the 
snow for a short distance, and, clearing another spot, led our 
horses into this most perishable of stables. Our next care 
was to get them some Cottonwood limbs to eat, * and then we 
gathered small dry limbs and made a bedstead of them on 
which to spread our blankets. Piling on more wood until the 
fire roared and cracked, we sat down in the heat of the blaze, 
feeling quite comfortable, except that we were desperately 
hungry. Some coals were raked out, the neck of the elk cut 
off and spitted on a stick to roast. When it was done we 
divided it, and, sprinkling it with a little pepper and salt from 
our haversacks, had as savory and wholesome a repast as any 
epicure might desire. After supper, hearing the cayotes howl- 
ing in the woods below, I had the Indians bring in my saddle, 
to which was strapped the elk meat, and, cutting the limb off a 
tree close by the fire, we lifted the saddle astride of the stump 
so high up that the wolves could not reach it. All being now 

*The Indians often feed their horses on cottonwood limbs. Officers 
on the plains give their horses cottonwood to eat when they can get 
no feed or grass, and say the bark of the cottonwood is almost as 
nutritious as hay. A horse will chew up limbs as thick as a man's 
thumb, and in winter-time eat the bark off every cottonwood tree he can 
reach. — Editor. 

belden: the white chief. 321 

in readiness for the night, we filled our pipes and sat down to 
smoke and talk. 

At nine o'clock the Indians replenished the fire, and, feeling 
sleepy, I wrapped myself in my blankets and lay down to rest. 
T soon fell asleep, and slept well until near midnight, when I 
was awakened by the snapping and snarling of the wolves near 
the fire. The wood had burned down to a bed of coals, and 
gave but a faint light, but I could see a dozen pair of red eyes 
glaring at me over the edge of the snow-bank. The Indians 
were sound asleep, and, knowing they were very tired, I did not 
awake them, but got my gun, and, wrapping myself in my 
blankets, sat up by the fire to watch the varmints and warm my 
feet. Presently I heard a long wild howl down in the woods, 
and knew by the "whirr-ree, whirr-ree^' in it that it proceeded 
from the throat of the dreaded buffalo wolf, or Kosh-6-nee, of 
the prairies. There was another howl, then another, and 
another, and, finally, a loud chorus of a dozen. Instantly 
silence fell among the cayotes, and they began to scatter. For 
a time all was quiet, and I had begun to doze, when suddenly 
the coals flew all over me, and I opened my eyes just in time 
to see a great gray wolf spring out of the fire and bound up 
the snow-bank. I leaped to my feet and peered into the dark- 
ness, where I could see scores of dark shadows moving about, 
and a black cluster gathered under my saddle. I called the In- 
dians, who quietly and nimbly jumped to their feet, and came 
forward armed with their revolvers. I told them what had 
happened, and that we were surrounded by a large pack of gray 
wolves. We had no fear for ourselves, but felt uneasy lest 
they might attack our horses, who were pawing and snorting 
with alarm. I spoke to them kindly, and they immediately 

became quiet. At the suggestion of the Indians I brought 


322 belden: the white chief. 

forwara my revolvers, and we all sat down to watch the var- 
mints, and see what they would do. 

In a few minutes, a pair of fiery, red eyes, looked down at 
us from the snow-bank ; then, another and another pair, until 
there were a dozen. We sat perfectly still, and presently one 
great gray wolf gathered himself, and made a leap for the elk- 
meat on the saddle. He nearly touched it with his nose, but 
failed to secure the coveted prize, and fell headlong into the fire. 
We fired two shots into him, and he lay still until one of the 
Indians pulled him out to keep his hair from burning and 
making a disagreeable smell. In about five minutes, another 
wolf leaped at the elk-meat and fell at our feet. We dispatched 
him as we had done the first one, and then threw him across 
the body of his dead brother. So we kept on firing until we 
had killed eight wolves, when, tired of killing the brutes with 
pistols, I brought out my double-barreled shot gun, and load- 
ing each barrel with nine buck-shot, waited until they were 
gathered thick under the tree on which hung my meat, and then 
let them have it. Every discharge caused some to tumble 
down, and sent the rest scampering and howling to the rear. 
Presently they became more wary, and I had to fire at them at 
long range. 

The Indians now went out and gathered some dry limbs, 
and we kindled up a bright fire. Next we threw the car- 
casses of the nine dead wolves, that were in our camp, 
over the snow-bank, and knowing that the beasts would 
not come near our bright fire, two of us lay down, to 
sleep, while the third remained up to watch and keep the fire 

The cayotes now returned, and with unearthly yells, attacked 
their dead betters, snapping, snarling, and quarreling over their 

belden: the white chief. 32«i 

carcasses as they tore the flesh and craunched the bones of the 
dead wolves. 

We rose at daylight, and, through the dim light, could see 
the cayotes trotting off to the swamp, while near the camp lay 
heads, legs, and piles of cleanly licked bones, all that was left 
of the gray wolves we had killed. 

After breakfast, we set out to find the command, striking 
across the country, expecting to come upon the trail. We 
traveled all day, however, and saw no trail. At night we 
camped out again, and were scarcely in camp, when we again 
heard the wolves howling all around us. They had followed 
us all day, no doubt expecting another repast, such as had been 
served to them the night before. We, however, kept a bright 
fire burning, and no gray wolves came about; so the cayotes 
were disappointed, and vented their disappointment all night 
long in the most dismal howls I ever heard. At times, it 
seemed as though there were five hundred of them, and join- 
ing their voices in chorus, they would send up a volume of 
sound that resembled the roar of a tempest, or the discordant 
singing of a vast multitude of people. 

While we cooked breakfast, a strong picket of wolves 
watched all around the camp, feasting their greedy eyes from a 
distance on my elk-meat. When we started from camp, a hun- 
dred or more of them followed us, often coming quite close to 
the pack-pony, and biting and quarreling about the elk that waa 
never to be their meat. When we halted, they would halt, 
and sitting down, loll out their red tongues and lick the 
snow. At length, I took my shot-gun, and loading the 
barrels, fired into the thickest of the pack. Two or three 
were wounded, and no sooner did their companions discover 
that they were bleeding and disabled, than they fell upon 

324 belden: the white chief. 

them, tore them to pieces, and devoured every morsel of theii 
flesh. I had seen men who would do the same thing with 
their fellows, but until I witnessed the contrary with my own 
eyes, I had supposed this practice was confined to the superior 
brute creation. 

The third day out, finding no trace of the command, we 
concluded to go back to the Medicine and seek the old camp, 
from which place we could take the trail and follow up until we 
came upon it. "VYe reached the Medicine at sun-down, and 
there, to our satisfaction, found the troops still in camp, where 
we had left them, they not having marched in consequence of 
the cold and foggy weather. 

I was soon in my own tent and sound asleep, being thoroughly 
worn out with the exposure and fatigue of my long journey. 




I WAS sent down from Camp Cottonwood (now Fort 
McPherson), with thirty men, to Oilman's Ranche, fifteen 
miles east of Cottonwood on the Platte, where I was to re- 
main, guard the ranche, and furnish guards to Ben Holliday's 
overland stage coaches. In those days. Oilman's was an 
important place, and in earlier times, had been a great trading 
point for the Sioux. Two or three trails led from the Repub- 
lican to this place, and every winter the Sioux had come in 
with their ponies loaded down with buffalo, beaver, elk, and 
deer skins, which they exchanged with the traders at Oilman's. 
War had, however, put a stop to these peaceful pursuits ; still 
the Sioux could not give up the habit of traveling these favorite 
trails. The ponies often come in from the Republican, not now 
laden with furs and robes, but each bearing a load of beastiality 
called a Sioux warrior. The overland coaches offered a great 
temptation to the cupidity and vices of the Sioux, and they 
were not slow to avail themselves of any opportunity to attack 


them. The coaches carried the mails and much treasure, and 
if the savages could now and then succeed in capturing one, 
they got money, jewels, scalps, horses, and not unfrequently 
white women, as a reward for their enterprise. 

Troops were stationed in small squads at every station, 
about ten miles apart, and they rode from station to station on 
t he top of all coaches, holding their guns ever ready for action. 
It was not pleasant, this sitting perched up on top of a coach, 
riding through dark ravines and tall grass, in which savages 
were ever lurking. Generally, the first fire from the Indians 
killed one or two horses,, and tumbled a soldier or two off the 
top of the coach. This setting one's self up as a sort of target, 
was a disagreeable and dangerous duty, but the soldiers per- 
formed it without murmuring. My squad had to ride .up to 
Cottonwood, and down to the station below, where they waited 
for the next coach going the other way and returned by it to 
their post at Oilman's. All the other stations were guarded in 
like manner; so it happened that every coach carried some 

One evening I found my pony missing, and thinking he had 
strayed off but a short distance, I buckled on my revolvers and 
went out to look for him. I had not intended to go far, but 
not finding him, I walked on, and on, until I found myself 
some four miles from the ranche. Alarmed at my indiscretion, 
for I knew the country was full of Indians, I hastily set out to 
return, and as it was now growing dark, I determined to go up 
a ravine that led to the post by a nearer route than the trail. I 
had got nearly to the end of the ravine, where the stage-road 
crossed it, and was about to turn out into the road when, on 
looking up the bank, I saw on the crest of the slope, some dark 
objects. At first, I thought they were ponies, for they were 


moving on all fours, and directly toward the road. I ran up 
the bank, and had not gone more than ten yards, when I heard 
voices, and looking roiind, saw within a dozen steps of me, five 
or six Indians lying on the grass, and talking in low tones. 
They had noticed me, but evidently thought I was one of their 
own number. Divining the situation in a moment, I walked 
carelessly on until near the crest of the hill, where I suddenly 
came upon a dozen more Indians, crawling along on their hands 
and knees. One of them gruffly ordered me down, and I am 
sure I lost no time in dropping into the grass. Crawling care- 
fully along, for I knew it would not do to stop, I still managed 
to keep a good way behind and off to one side. AYe at last 
reached the road, and the Indians, gun in hand, took up their 
position in the long grass close by the road-side. I knew the 
up-coach would be due at the station in half an hour, and I 
now found myself in the unpleasant position of waylaying one 
of the very coaches I had been sent to guard. Perhaps, one of 
my own soldiers coming up on the coach would kill me, and 
then what would people say ? how would my presence with the 
Indians be explained? and how would it sound to have the 
newspapers publish, far and near, that an officer of the United 
States army had deserted his post, joined the Indians, and 
attacked a stage-coach ? However, there was no help for it, and 
I lay still waiting for developments. It was now time for the 
coach, and we watched the road with straining eyes. Two or 
three times I thought I heard the rumbling of the wheels, and 
a tremor seized me, but it was only the wind rustling the tall 
grass. An hour went by, and still no coach, when the Indians, 
becoming uneasy — one who seemed to be the leader of the 
expedition, rose up, and motioning the others to follow him — 
started off down the hill toward the ravine. I made a motion 


as if getting up, and seeing the Indians backs turned, dropped 
flat on my face and lay perfectly still. Slowly their footsteps 
faded away, and raising my head, I saw them mount their 
ponies and disappear over the neighboring hill, as if going 
down the road to meet the coach. 

As soon as they were out of sight, I sprang up and ran aa 
ast as I could to the ranche when, relating what had happened, 
I started with some soldiers and citizens down the road to meet 
the stage. We had not gone far when we heard it coming up, 
and on reaching it, found it had been attacked by Indians a few 
miles below, one passenger killed and two severely wounded. 
The coach had but three horses, one having been killed in the 
fight. The Indians had dashed at the coach mounted, hoping 
to kill the horses, and thus cut off all means of retreat or flight, 
but they had only succeeded in killing one horse, when the 
passengers and soldiers had driven them off, compelling them to 
carry two of their number with them, dead or desperately 

I was more careful after that, when I went out hunting 
ponies, and never tried again to waylay a coach with Indians. 

belden: the white chief .329 




AMONG the soldiers stationed at Gilman's Ranche, were a 
number of Omaha and Winnebago Indians, who belonged 
to my company, in the First Nebraska Cavalry. I had done all 
I could to teach them the ways of civilization, but despite my 
instructions, and their utmost endeavors to give over their wild 
and barbarous practices, every now and then old habits would 
become too strong upon them to be borne, and they would in- 
dulge in the savage customs of their youth. At such times 
they would throw aside their uniforms, and, wrapping a blanket 
about them, sing and dance for hours. 

, One evening they were in a particularly jolly mood, and hav- 
ing obtained permission to have a dance, went out in front 
of the building, and for want of a better scalp-pole, assembled 
around one of the telegraph poles. One fellow pounded lustily 
on a piece of leather nailed over the mouth of a keg, while the 

others hopped around in a circle, first upon ciie leg, then the 



other, shaking oyster-cans over their heads, that had been filled 
with pebbles, and keeping time to the rude music, with a sort 
of guttural song. !N"ow it would be low and slow, and the 
dancers barely move, then, increasing in volume and rapidity, 
it would become wild and vociferous, the dancers walking very 
fast, much as the negroes do in their " walk arounds/' We had 
had all manner of dances and songs, and enough drumming and 
howling to have made any one tired, still the Indians seemed 
only warming up to their work. The savage frenzy was upon 
them, and I let them alone until near midnight. Their own 
songs and dances becoming tiresome, I asked them to give me 
some Sioux songs, for I had been thinking all the evening of 
the village up the Missouri and my squaws. The Indians im- 
mediately struck up a Sioux war song, accompanying it with 
the war dance. 

All the Indian songs and dances are terminated with a 
jump, and a sort of wild yell or whoop. When they had danced 
the Sioux war song, and ended it with the usual whoop, what 
was our surprise to hear the cry answered back at no great' 
distance, out on the prairie. At first I thought it was the echo, 
but Springer, a half-breed Indian, assured me what I had heard 
"was the cry of other Indians. To satisfy myself, I bade the 
Indians repeat the song and dance, and this time, sure enough, 
when it was ended the whoop was answered quite near the 
ranche. I went inside, lest my uniform could be seen, and 
telling Springer to continue the dance, I went to a back window 
and looked out, in the direction from which the sound appeared 
to come. 

The moon was just rising, and I could distinctly see three 
Indian warriors sitting on their ponies, within a few hundred 
paces of the house. They seemed to be intently watching 

belden: the white chief. 331 

what was going on, and were by no means certain as to tlie 
character of the performers or performance. At a glance, I 
made them out to be our deadly enemies, the Ogallala Sioux, 
and determined to catch them. I quickly called Springer, and 
bid him kindle a small fire, and tell the Indians to strike up 
the death song and scalp dance of the Sioux. This, as I ex- 
pected, at once re-assured the strange warriors, and, riding up 
quite close, they asked Springer, who was not dancing, and who 
had purposely put himself in their way, 

" What are you dancing for ? '' 

" Dancing the scalps of four white soldiers we have killed,^' 
replied Springer. 

"How did you kill them,'' inquired the foremost Indian 

" You see," said Springer, who, being part Sioux, spoke the 
language perfectly, " we were coming down from the Neobarrah, 
and going over to the Kepublican to see Spotted Tail and our 
friends the Ogallalas, when some soldiers fired on us here, and 
seeing there were but four of them, we attacked and killed them 
all. They are now lying dead inside," added Springer; '^ come, 
get down and help dance their scalps." 

Two of the warriors immediately dismounted, giving their 
ponies to the third one to hold, who remained mounted. 
Springer seemed to take no notice of this, but leading the 
warriors up to the dance, joined in with them, the other Indiana 
making room in the circle for the new-comers. 

When the dance was ended. Springer said, " Come, let us bring 
out the scalps," and turning to the two Indians, inquired, "Will 
you look at the bodies?" About half the Indians had already 
gone into the ranche, under pretense of getting the scalps, and 

332 belden: the white chief. 

the two Sioux walked in with Springer, apparently without 
suspicion that any thing was wrong. 

As soon as they had crossed the threshold the door was closed 
behind them, and two burly Omahas placed their backs against 
it. It was entirely dark in the ranche, and Springer proceeded 
to strike a light. When the blaze of the dry grass flared up it 
revealed every thing in the room, and there stood the two Sioux, 
surrounded by Omahas, and a dozen revolvers leveled at their 

Never shall I forget the yell of rage and terror they set up, 
when they found they were entrapped. The Sioux warrior 
outside, who was holding the ponies, heard it, and plunging 
his heels into the sides of his pony, made off as fast as he 
could. Notwithstanding my men fired a dozen shots at him, 
he got off safely, and carried away with him all three of the 

The two Sioux in the ranche were bound hand and foot, and 
laid in one corner of the room ; then my Indians returned to the 
telegraph pole to finish their dance. Feeling tired, I lay down 
and feel asleep. 

Near morning I was awakened by most unearthly yells, 
and looking out, saw my Indians leaping, dancing, and yelling 
around the telegraph pole, where they now had a large fire 
burning. Presently Springer came in and said the Indians 
wanted the prisoners. I told him they could not have them, 
and that in the morning I would send them to Col. Brown, 
at McPherson, as was my duty. Springer, who was a non- 
commissioned officer, communicated this message to the Indians, 
when the yelling and howling redoubled. In a short time 
Springer came in again, and said he could do nothing with the 


Indians, and that they were determined to have the prisoners, 
at the same time advising me to give them up. I again refused, 
when the Indians rushed into the ranche, and, seizing the 
prisoners, dragged them out. Seeing they were frenzied I 
made no resistance, but followed them closely, keeping con- 
cealed, however. 

They took the Sioux to an island on the Platte, below the 
ranche, and there, tying them to a tree, gathered a pile of wood 
and set it on fire. Then they thrust faggots against the naked 
bodies of the prisoners, stuck their knives into their legs, arms, 
and finally into their bowels. They next cut off their ears and 
noses, and then their hands, after which they scalped and dis- 
embowled them. The Sioux uttered not a complaint, but en- 
dured all their sufferings with that stoicism for which the Indian 
is so justly celebrated, and which belongs to no other race in the 

Sick at heart, I crept back to the ranche and went to bed, 
leaving the Indians engaged in a furious scalp dance, and 
whirling the bloody scalps of the Sioux over their heads, with 
long poles to which they had them fastened. 

Next morning, when I awoke, I found the Indians wrapped 
in their blankets, and lying asleep all around me. The excite- 
ment of the night had passed off, and brought its corresponding 
depression. They were very docile and stupid, and it was with 
some difficulty I could arouse them for the duties of the day. 
I asked several of them what had become of the Sioux prisoners, 
but could get no other answer than, " Guess him must have got 

I was sorely tempted to report the affair to the commanding 
officer at Fort McPherson, and have the Indians punished, but 


believing it would do more good in the end to be silent, I said 
nothing about it. After all, the Omahas and Winnebagoes had 
treated the Sioux just as the Sioux would have treated them, 
had they been captured, and so, it being a matter altogether 
among savages, I let it rest where it belonged. 







T WAS for a time, in 1865, on duty at Fort Cottonwood, 
-■- Nebraska, as adjutant of my regiment, the First Nebraska 
Vol. Cavalry, when the scarcity of officers at the post made it 
necessary for the commanding officer to detail me, with thirty 
Indian soldiers, to proceed to, and garrison Jack Morrow^s 
ranche, twelve miles west of the fort, on the south side of the 
Platte River. The Sioux were very hostile then, and it was 
an ordinary occurrence for ranches to be burned and the owners 

Morrow's ranche, unlike the little, low, adobe ranches every- 
where seen, was a large three-story building, with out-buildings 
adjacent, and a fine large stable for stock, the whole being well 
surrounded by a commodious stockade of cedar palisades, set 
deep in the ground, and projecting to the height of about ten or 
twelve feet above the surface. 

Upon arriving at the ranche, late at night, ray usually noisy 
Indians were quietly sleeping in the huge ox-wagons, which 
had been provided for transportation. I found the front of the 

338 belden: the white chief. 

ranche lit up by fires built between the stockade and the build- 
ings on a narrow strip of ground, serving for a front yard. I 
had been informed by the commanding officer at Cottonwood, 
that Mr. Morrow was not living at his ranche, but was away, 
East, and the object in sending me there was to prevent the 
Indians from burning so valuable a property. I was not pre- 
pared to find a party encamped at the ranche, and not knowing 
but that they might be Indians, waiting in so favorable a spot 
to waylay travelers or emigrants passing the road in front of 
the stockade, I told my drivers to halt their teams, and, 
quietly awakening my Indians, I bade them be in readiness to 
rush up if I should give them a signal by yelling, but to remain 
in the wagons until I called them, and to make no noise. I 
then quietly rode forward to reconnoiter, and as the stockade 
timbers were set very close together, I had to crawl up to the 
loop-holes cut in the timbers to see what was going on inside. 
Standing on the ground, and holding my pony's nose with my 
hand to keep him quiet, I stood on my tip-toes, and could see, 
through one of the loop-holes, a curious sight, but one natural 
enough on the frontier. 

Grouped around three small fires, built close to the front of 
the ranche, sat some ten or twelve browned and weather-beaten 
men, whose hair hung to their shoulders, and each one of whom 
wore a slouched hat, a pair of revolvers, and a good stout knife, 
the inseparable companions of a western prairie man. All were 
intent on eating supper of fried bacon, slapjacks, and coffee. 

They had no guard, doubtless feeling secure in their number 
and means of defense, against any Indian attack that might be 
made. "Hello!" I shouted, "have you got supper enough for 
one more ? " " Yes, if you are white or red ; but if black, no," 
was answered back, with an invitation " to show " myself. I 

belden: the white chief. 339 

led the pony across the narrow trench which ran around the 
stockade, and, mounting him, rode into the yard. As I ap- 
proached the party I overheard remarks, such as, "An army 
cuss;" "One of those little stuck-up officers." But not ap- 
pearing to have heard them, I got down, and asked what party 
they were. " Wood-haulers," they replied ; " taking building 
logs down the road ; " followed by " Who are you, and where 
are you going this late at night ? " I told them who I was, 
and that I had now finished my journey, as I intended to stop 
there. I was immediately informed in a curt manner that 
they guessed it was rather " mixed " about staying there, if I 
had any stock along, for the stables were full, and the ranche, 
too; and they had no room for any additional people or stock. 
I told them that I had two teams standing outside, and that it 
was my intention to put the mules and my pony in the stable ; 
and if there was no room there, I should make room by turning 
out some of their animals. To this I was plainly told that I 
could neither turn a mule out or put an animal in, nor could 
I remain at the ranche, which they had occupied for their own 
quarters. Jack Morrow having left and gone East, probably 
never to return. They said they were a little stronger in num- 
bers than myself and my two drivers, and I must move on or 
they would make me. I told them that I was a United States 
officer, acting under orders, and that it would be an easy matter for 
me to ride back to Cottonwood and get men enough to enforce 
my orders unless they submitted. Several of the rough-look- 
ing fellows said that they each carried good revolvers, and that 
it was an easy matter to stop me if I attempted to return to 
Cottonwood, and swore they would do so. I remained quiet 
for a moment, and the leader of the party, looking at me, 
asked: " What are you going to do about it?" " I am going 


to open the stables and put my animals in shelter/' I replied, 
at the same time mounting my pony and riding out to the 
sfables, a short distance in front of which stood my teams. 
Several of the frontiersmen got up, and, without saying a word, 
walked to the stables, and went up close to the doors. I or- 
dered the teamsters to drive to the stables, unharness from the 
heavy ox-wagons, place their teams inside, and if they could 
not find vacant stalls enough, to untie and turn loose mules to 
empty the required number for my teams. The teamstera 
obeyed by driving up, and when they had dismounted and were 
about to unhitch from the wagons, one of the wood-haulers at 
the stable door said : " You can save yourself the trouble, mis- 
ter, of unhitching them mules, for you aint agoing to put them 
in this stable ; and the first man that attempts it I '11 fix.'' 

" Suppose I wish to open that door and put up my teams," 
said I, 'Svithout any trouble; wouldn't it be better for all 
of us ? " " You go to h — 1 ! " he replied ; and added, " you 
won't get in this ' stable ; that 's settled." " I '11 see about 
that ! " and yelling Turn out I Turn out ! in the Indian lan- 
guage, my soldiers jumped from the canvas-covered wagons, 
yelling like demons, and brandishing their carbines and re- 
volvers in a threatening manner. Never were men so taken 
back as the wood-haulers. They were sure we were Sioux, and 
started to run, but I called them back. Not a word was then 
spoken while my Indians led the mules, that were now un- 
hitched, into the stables. 

Leaving the teamsters to feed and water their animals, I 
turned my pony over to an Omaha, to unsaddle, and marched 
my soldiers up to the house, of which I took possession. The 
roughs changed their tune, and tried to laugh the matter off, 
saying they knew all the time the wagons were full of sol- 


diers, and they only wanted to see if I had " nerve." I told 
them they could leave their teams in the stables, as my team- 
sters told me there was room enough yet remaining for all the 
mules, but that in the morning they must leave. At early 
light they were off, not, however, before I had found out the 
names of the leaders of the gang. The doors of the house 
had been taken off the hinges, and the framed pine used to 
sleep and chop meat on, all being marked with gashes chopped 
in them with axes. The windows were also broken, the glass 
and sashes gone, and the building as much damaged as if In- 
dians had been there a month. I did all I could to save the 
property scattered over the grounds, and remained at the ranche 
pome weeks, until an order came for me to go to Omaha as a 
witness before the United States Court. 

342 belden: the white chief. 







WHILE the troops lay at Camp Cottonwood, now Fort 
McPherson, the scurvy broke out among the men and 
caused terrible suffering. There were no anti-scorbutics nearer 
than Leavenworth, Kansas, which could be had for issue to 
troops, and before these could be received, the disease increased 
to an alarming extent. At last, however, the remedies arrived, 
and the men began rapidly to convalesce. The doctor advised 
them to eat wild fruit and berries, and to take plenty of exer- 
cise in the open air. There was a plum grove about four miles 
from the camp, and as this wild fruit was very wholesome, the 
sick men went out nearly every day to gather it. 

One morning, Captain Mitchell, of the Seventh Iowa Cav- 
alry, procured an ambulance, and, taking with him a driver 
named Anderson, an orderly named Cramer, and seven hos- 
pital patients, started for the plum grove. They arrived at the 

belden: the white chief. 343 

first grove about ten o'clock, and, finding that most of the 
plums had been gathered, drove on to another grove some three 
miles farther up the cailon. They were now about seven miles 
from camp, too far to be safe, but, as no Indians had been seen 
lately in the country, they did not feel uneasy. At the upper 
grove they found two soldiers of the First Nebraska Cavalry, 
named Bentz and Wise, who had been sent out by the quarter- 
master to look for stray mules, and they had stopped to gather 
some plums. As both these men were well armed. Captain 
Mitrhell attached them to his party, and felt perfectly secure. 

Bentz and Wise went up the cafion a little way, and while 
eating fruit were suddenly fired on from the bushes by almost a 
dozen Indians. At the first volley, Bentz had his belt cut 
away by a ball, and lost his revolver. The soldiers turned to 
fly, but, as they galloped ofi*, another ball entered Bentz's side, 
desperately wounding him. They now rode down the cailon, 
hoping to rejoin Captain Mitchell's party, but soon saw a body 
of Indians riding down the bluff ahead of them, evidently with' 
the design of cutting them off. Wise told Bentz to ride hard, 
at the same time handing him one of his revolvers, to defend 
himself in case of emergency. Bentz was very feeble and 
dizzy, so much so, indeed, that he could barely sit in the 

Wise was mounted on a superb horse belonging to Lieutenant 
Cutler, which he had taken out to exercise, and, seeing that the 
Indians would head them off, and that Bentz, who was riding 
an old mule, could not keep up, he gave the powerful brute rein, 
and shot down the cafion like an arrow. He passed the inter- 
vening Indians in safety, just as three of them dashed out of a 
pocket in the bluff and cut off poor Bentz. 

Wise saw Bentz knocked from his mule, and, knowing it 


was useless to try to save him, left him to his fate, and thought 
only of saving his own life. He rode hard for Captain Mitchell, 
who was not far distant, but before he could reach him another 
party of Sioux headed him off, and he turned and rode up the 
bluffs to the flat lands. The Indians pursued him, and made 
every effort to kill or capture him, but his fine horse bore hira 
out of every danger. Three times he was cut off from the 
camp, but, by taking a wide circuit, he managed to ride around 
the Indians, and at last succeeded in reaching the high road 
above the camp. As many settlers lived on this road, the In- 
dians did not venture to follow him along it, and he was soon 
safely housed in the log-cabin of. a frontiersman, and relating 
his adventures. 

Meanwhile Captain Mitchell, having seen the fate of Ben tz 
and escape of Wise, made haste to assemble his party, and, 
lifting those who were too weak to climb into the wagon, they 
set off for the camp. Mitchell and Anderson were the only 
two of the party who had arms, but they assured the sick men 
they would defend them to the last. Anderson took the lines 
and drove, while Mitchell seated himself in the rear end of the 
ambulance, with a Henry rifle to keep off the Indians. 

They had not gone far before they came upon a large force 
of warriors drawn up across the cafion, to cut off their retreat. 
The bluffs were very steep and high on both sides of them, and 
escape seemed impossible, nevertheless Mitchell ordered Ander- 
son to run his team at the right hand bluff and try and ascend 
it. The spirited animals dashed up the steep bank and drew 
the wagon nearly half way up, when one of the wheelers balked 
and nearly overturned the wagon. A loud yell from the sav- 
ages, at this moment, so frightened the horses that they sprang 
forward, and before they could appreciate it they were over the 


belden: the white chief. 347 

bluff on the level prairie, and flying toward the camp at the 
rate of ten miles an hour. 

They now began to hope, but had only gone as far as the first 
plum grcve when they saw the Indians circling around them, 
and once more getting between them and the post. Still they 
hoped that some soldiers might be in the first grove gathering 
p'ums, or that Wise had reached the post and given the alarm, 
60 that help would soon come to them. Captain Mitchell fired 
his rifle once or twice, to attract the attention of any persons 
who might be in the plum grove, but there was no response, 
and Anderson drove rapidly on. 

The Indians now began to close in upon the ambulance from 
all sides. They would ride swiftly by a few yards distant, and, 
swinging themselves behind the neck and shoulders of their 
ponies, fire arrows or balls into the wagon. Two of the sick 
men had already been wounded, and Captain Mitchell, finding it 
impossible to defend them while the ambulance was in motion, 
the shaking continually destroying his aim, ordered Ander- 
son to drive to the top of a hill near by, and they would fight 
it out with the red-skins. Cramer now took the lines, when, 
either through fear or because he did not believe in the policy 
of stopping, he kept straight on. Captain Mitchell twice or- 
dered Cramer to pull up, but, as he paid no attention, he told 
Anderson to take the lines from him. In attempting to obey 
the captain's order, Anderson lost his footing and fell out of the 
wagon. The captain now sprang forward, put his foot on the 
brake to lock the wheels, when a sudden lurch of the wagon 
caused him to lose his balance, and he fell headlong on the 
prairie. Fortunately, he alighted near a deep gully, where the 
water had cut out the bank, and, rolling himself into it, he 

looked out and saw Anderson crawling into a bunch of bushes 
21 ^ 


near by. When these accidents happened, the ambulance had 
just crossed the crest of a little hill, and, as the Indians had not 
come over it yet, they did not see either of the men fall from 
the wagon. The captain had only two revolvers, but Ander- 
son's gun, a Spencer rifle, had been thrown out with him, and 
he picked it up and took it into the bushes. 

In a few moments the Indians came up, riding very fast, 
and the main body crossed the ravine near where Captain 
Mitchell lay. Some of them jumped their horses directly over 
the spot where he was concealed, but in a few moments they 
were gone, and soon had disappeared behind the neighboring 
divide, leaving the captain and Anderson to their own reflec- 
tions. What to do was the next question. That the Indians 
would overtake the ambulance, kill all its occupants, and re- 
turn, the captain had not a doubt. He determined to go down 
the ravine, and, calling to Anderson to follow, started off. He 
had already crawled some distance when, hearing the clatter of 
horses' hoofs, he peeped over the edge of his cover, and saw 
about seventy-five Indians riding directly up to where he was 
concealed. Giving himself up for lost he laid down, drawing 
his revolvers and preparing them for action, for he was de- 
termined not to let the savages have his scalp without making 
a desperate resistance. The warriors came up, and, dismount- 
ing within thirty yards of him, began a lively conversation. 
The chief walked up close to the brink of the ravine, and almost 
within arm's length of the captain, and stood gazing on the 
ground. Mitchell now saw the chief was blind of an eye and 
wore a spotted head-dress ; and he knew by these marks he was 
none other than the celebrated Sioux warrior, Spotted Tail. 
On making this discovery the captain leveled both his revolvers 
at the chief's breast, and was fully determined to firr. He 


believed that the loss of five captains would be a small matter, 
if by their death they could secure the destruction of the great 
leader of the Sioux. Just as he was about to pull the triggers 
a loud shout from the warriors caused Spotted Tail to start for- 
ward and run rapidly up the hill. The ponies were led down 
the ravine and the warriors scattered in all directions, seeking 
cover. One of them ensconced himself in the ravine not more 
than thirty feet from Mitchell. Raising his head so he could 
see out, the captain endeavored to ascertain what caused all the 
excitement among the Indians. At first he had thought he was 
discovered, then that re-enforcements from the fort had arrived, 
and a battle was about to begin ; but now he saw Anderson was 
discovered. "When the captain had started down the ravine 
Anderson had followed him, and just emerged from the bushes 
when the Indians suddenly came up. He had dropped on the 
ground, and endeavored to roll himself back among the sage 
brush, when an Indian saw him and gave the alarm. The 
warriors, not knowing how many white men might be in the 
brush, with their usual caution, had immediately sought cover. 

A hot fire was opened on Anderson's position, and at first 
he did not respond at all. A warrior, more bold or indiscreet 
than the rest, ventured to go closer to the bushes, when a small 
puff of white smoke was seen to rise, a loud report rang out 
on the air, and the warrior fell, pierced through the heart. A 
yell of rage resounded over the hills, and three more Indians 
ran toward Anderson's cover. Three reports followed each 
other in rapid succession, and the three Indians bit the dust. 
There was now a general charge on Anderson, but he fired so 
fast and true that the Indians fell back, carrying with them two 
more of their number. 

The captain now felt it his duty to help Anderson, and was 


aoout to open fire with his revolvers, when Anderson, who, n; 
doubt, expected as much, yelled three or four times, saying, in 
a sort of cry, " My arm is broken ; keep quiet ; can't work the 
Spencer any more." The brave fellow no doubt intended this 
as a warning to the captain not to discover himself by firing, 
and he reluctantly accepted the admonition and kept quiet. 

A rush by some thirty warriors was now made on Ander- 
son, and, notwithstanding his disabled condition, he managed 
to kill three more Indians before he was taken. He was over- 
powered, however, dragged out of the bushes, and scalped in 
full sight of the captain. He fought to the last, and compelled 
them to kill him to save their own lives. Nothing could exceed 
the rage of the Indians, and especially old Spotted Tail, as he 
saw the body of warrior after warrior carried down the hill, 
until nine dead Indians were laid beside Anderson. In his 
grief for the loss of his braves, the old chief kicked the corpse 
of poor Anderson, and the other Indians, coming up, stuck 
knives into it. Then they rolled it over, cut nine gashes in 
his back, one for each warrior he had killed, and stabbed it 
nine times. Next, they drove a stake in the eye, drew it out, 
and filling the hole with powder, blew his skull to pieces. 

In a few minutes after the death of Anderson, a mounted 
party was seen coming over the hills, and about thirty warriors 
rode up to Spotted Tail, and reported that they had captured 
the ambulance and killed all who were in it. They exhibited 
to Spotted Tail the scalps of all Captain Mitchell's late com- 
panions, except that of Cramer. The ambulance horses were 
brought back, each carrying a greasy mass of brutality, known 
down east as a " noble red man." 

In a few moments the warriors had their dead comrades se- 
curely strapped to ponies, and, mounting their own, set out 


toward the Republican. As soon as they were out of sight, 
and it became dark, Captain Mitchell started for the camp, 
where he arrived about 10 o'clock, and told the story of the 
" Cottonwood Massacre," as I have here related it. 

Early the next morning I was sent *out with a strong force 
to pursue and, if possible, overtake and punish the Indians. 
For two days I followed them hard, and, on the evening of 
the second day, came upon a small party as they were crossing 
a stream, but, in attempting to charge them, they scattered over 
the prairie and were soon lost in the darkness. The trail now 
divided in every direction, and it would have been impossible 
to follow it unless each soldier had pursued some half a dozen 
warriors, when it is not likely he would have returned. So we 
turned back, and marched for Cottonwood. The bodies of the 
dead had been brought in and buried, and every thing had 
been found just as Captain Mitchell had stated. 

Private Wise was severely censiu-ed for not immediately go- 
ing to the camp and giving the alarm, but he said he had no 
idea the wagon and its sick men had ever left the cafion, for 
there were at least one hundred and fifty warriors around it 
when he came away, so he thought he might as well rest until 
morning before bearing such dismal news as he had to commu- 
nicate to his fellow-soldiers. 



CAPTAIN Hancock's adventure with the sioux — the stage coach attack — 




DURING the time when we were guarding Ben Holliday's 
stage coaches, and when attacks on them were of fre- 
quent occurrence, I had an adventure which I think is worth 

I was at one of the lower ranches, and the Indians 
were very troublesome. Our guards were nearly all sick or 
wounded, and the coaches had to go out insufficiently .pro- 

One evening the coacli was late, and, as to be behind time 
was a sure sign that something was wrong, we all felt very 
uneasy. The drivers made it a rule to get from one station to 
another on time, and if they did not arrive parties were imme- 
diately started out to the next ranche, ten miles below, to see 
what the matter was, the stations being all eight, ten, and 
twelve miles apart. 

On the particular evening in question, I had got tired wait- 


ing, and gone over to the stable-keeper to see if we had not 
better take the change horses, go down the road, and try if we 
could not find the coach. It was due at the station at 8 : 30 
P. M , and it was now ten, so I was confident it had been at- 
tacked or had broken down. While we were talking, flbe sen- 
tinel on the outpost, whose business it was to look out for the 
stage and give notice of its approach, signaled the coach was 
coming. We all ran down the road to meet it, and soon saw 
it coming slowly along with three horses instead of four, and 
the driver driving very slowly, as if he were going to a funeral 
or hauling wounded. 

When we came up to the coach we learned that he was in- 
deed both conveying a corpse and wounded. On the arrival 
of the party at the ranche. Captain Hancock, who was a pas- 
senger, related to me all that had happened, and I repeat the 
story as it fell from his lips. 

^' We were, " said the captain, " driving along smartly in 
the bottom, about four miles below, when, just as we crossed a 
little ravine, some twenty Indians jumped up out of the long 
grass and fired on us. The first volley killed Mr. Cinnamon, 
a telegraph operator, who was a passenger, and was on his way 
from Plum Creek to some point up the river. He was riding 
on the box with the driver at the time when he received the 
fatal shot, and the driver caught his body just as it was falling 
forward off the coach on the rear horses. He put Cinna- 
mon's corpse in the front boot among the mail bags, where it 
now is. 

" The first fire had also killed our nigh wheeler, and, as the 
coach was going pretty fast at the time, the horse was dragged 
a considerable distance, and his hind leg becoming fast be- 
tween the spokes of the fore-wheel, his body was drawn up 


351 belden: the white chief. 

against the bed of the coach, and all further progress com 
plete^y blocked. 

" The driver took it very coolly, first swearing ftarfully at 
the Indians, toward whom he cracked his whip repeatedly, as 
if flaying their naked backs, and then, having vented his 
spleen, he quietly descended from his box and stripped the 
harness off the dead horse. 

" Meanwhile the Indians had been circling around us, firing 
into the coach every few minutes, and I had got under the 
wagon with ray clerks, the better to be protected and to fire at 
the Indians, who could be seen best from the ground, as they 
moved against the horizon. 

" The driver tried in vain to extricate the leg of the dead 
horse from the wheel, but it was firmly wedged in, and after 
uniting my strength to his I found it necessary to take 
ray knife and amputate the leg at the knee-joint. The 
body was at length removed, and, mounting the box, the 
driver bid us get in, and we were off once more. One of 
the clerks had been severely wounded, and, as his wound was 
quite painful, we had to drive very slowly; so we were late 
getting in. " 

While the captain was talking the driver came to the door 
to say the coach was waiting, for on the plains stages stop not for 
accidents or dead men. I bade my friend good-night, hoping 
he would not again be interrupted on his journey by the red 
skins, and, the driver cracking his whip, the four fresh bays 
bounded forward at a gallop, and soon carried the coach out 
of sight of the valley. 

Next day we buried poor Cinnamon, and sent the wounded 
man to McPherson, where he could have medical attendance, 
and we were pleased to learn he speedily recovered. 

belden: the white chief. 355 

I rode down to where the coach had been attacked, and saw 
the dead horse and the ravine from Avhich the Indians had 
sprung. The fight had evidently been a sharp one, and I could 
see by the trail that the savages had followed the coach nearly 
to the ranche, and then struck across toward the Republican, 
never stopping, in all probability, until they reached it, ninety 
miles distant. 

356 belden: THE white chief. 






rriHE bloody engagements between the expeditionary forces, 
-"- under General Sully, and the Sioux tribes of the Upper 
Missouri, have, perhaps, never been equaled in the history of 
Indian warfare on this continent. The incidents of that expe- 
dition, I believe, have never been published, and, as I was 
present and engaged in it, I will here relate some of them — 
General Sully's official report, as is always the case in such 
documents, being necessarily brief, and omitting those minor 
details which are of most interest to the general reader. 

The troops consisted of the Second Nebraska Cavalry, Col. 
Furnas commanding; a battalion of the Sixth Iowa Cavalry, 
Major House commanding; two companies of the Seventh 
Iowa Cavalry, and two companies of infantry with the train, 
for guarding the supplies. 

The forces moved up the Missouri, and established at Fort 
Sully a supply depot. This place is nearly opposite old Fort 


Early in August, 1863, we marched for the Indian country, 
with instructions to punish the savages, who had been com- 
mitting horrible outrages on the whites in Minnesota. The 
weather was intensely hot, and we toiled slowly along, march- 
ing early in the day and lying by during the afternoons. We 
had reached Cannon Ball River, and were moving on to 
Painted Wood River, when our scouts found an old Indian, 
by tJie name of " Keg," and brought him in. This old fellow 
had been left by his inhuman companions to die by the side of 
a stream. He related that he had frozen his feet during the 
past severe winter, and the hot weather having inflamed his 
sores so he could not travel, his tribe had stolen all his ponies 
and blankets, and cast him out to die of starvation. Gen. Sully 
had his wounds dressed, gave him clothing and food; and this 
kind treatment so deeply touched him, that he felt bound to 
answer all the generaPs inquiries concerning his ungrateful 

He said they had gone to the lakes, some hundred miles dis- 
tant, to hunt buffalo, and would be there a long time, as they 
wished to take enough meat to last them during the fall and 
winter. On this intelligence, the general moved forward, tak- 
ing with him old " Keg " as a guide. 

Every day the sun poured down his intense rays from nine 
o'clock in the morning until four o'clock in the ^ternoon, and so 
great was the heat that we could only march very early in the 
morning and late in the evening; nevertheless, we made good 
days' journeys. The nights were so cold we had to wear thick 
woolen clothing and sleep under blankets. This condition of 
the weather kept us constantly peeling off to keep from roast- 
ing, or shivering in great overcoats. 

Scouts were out daily looking for Indian camps, and fresh 

358 belden: the white chief. 

trails and skeletons of recently-killed bufiklo warned us that 
the Indians were not far off. One evening we came to a lot of 
fr«sh carcasses that had evidently been slaughtered but a few 
hours before, and General Sully, halting, sent out Major House 
to scout. 

We were now moving among a tier of beautiful little lakes, 
some ten miles apart; and these were the ones alluded to by old 
" Keg '^ as the hunting-grounds of his tribe. The general had 
instructed the scouts to move with great caution, and not alarm 
or engage the Indians, but simply report what they saw. 

On the day in question, after Major House had gone out, I 
lay down in my tent to sleep, and, as was the custom, the whole 
camp, except the guards, was asleep, for we had been marching 
nearly all night. About three o'clock I was awakened by a 
great uproar, and, rushing out of my tent, saw troops stream- 
ing over the prairie to the westward. It took but a moment 
to learn the cause of all this excitement, and it was to the effect 
that Major House had found the Indians posted in force on a 
ridge not far off, and a great battle was about to begin. Not 
waiting to dress, I buckled on my revolvers, and, mounting 
my pony, placed myself at the head of a squad of my men, 
and galloped hard for the battle-field, eleven miles distant. It 
was a long ride on that hot day, but we reached it at last just 
as the sun was going down over the western hills. "VVe found 
the Indians drawn up on a jutting ridge, with their women, 
children, and ponies corralled behind them in a hollow. Gen- 
eral Sully was already on the ground, and directing the move- 
ments of the troops as they came up. The savages were soon 
completely surrounded, and we impatiently waited for the ac- 
tion to begin. The Indians kept falling back on a spur that 
put into a deep ravine, and were, in a short time, closely 


crowded together on the extreme point. They liad evidently 
only halted to fight Major House's force, and were appalled on 
seeing our great numbers. 

The troops were dismounted, and. No. 4 holding the horses, 
Nos. 1, 2, 3, of each set of fours in the cavalry advanced to 
fight on foot. We had approached quite near the savages and 
halted, when an orderly was seen to gallop up to Major House 
and deliver an order from General Sully.* We saw House's 
men slinging their carbines, and in a moment we knew it was 
an order not to attack. A murmur of disappointment ran 
along the lines; and, at that moment. Captain Bayne, of the 
Second Nebraska Cavalry, stepped out in front of the men, 
and said : 

" Boys, we have come a long way to fight the Indians, and 
now, that we have got them, I am in favor of whaling them. 
Shall we advance?" "Yes! yes!" ran along the lines, and 
Bayne cried out : " Each mcin pick his Indian." There was 
no order to fire, but every soldier leveled his carbine. An 
Indian was now seen advancing, wrapped in a garrison flag, 
and crying, " How ! how ! " moving his hand up and down, as 
if shaking hands. As yet not a gun had been fired, and the 
Indians stood wrapped in their blankets, their arms concealed, 
and only the top of a bow in sight here and there. They were 
very cool, and stood perfectly still. The Indian in the flag 
continued to advance, and when he was close to our line, a 
little Dutchman on the left fired and killed him, he gathering 
the flag about him as he fell, and making of it a winding 
sheet. There were two or three more shots along the line, 

* The order referred to was from General Sully, to hold the Indians in 
check and not attack until he had concluded the council he was then hold- 
ing with some of their chiefs. 

360 belden: the white chief. 

then a scattering volley; and the Indians on the hill throw- 
ing off their blankets, nearly every one was seen to have a 
gun. The action soon became general along our line, and 
Major House^s battalion wished to join in the battle, but their 
officers, stepping in front of them, declared they would cut 
down the first man who fired a shot. About one hundred and 
twenty-five Indians had gone up on the hill where General 
Sully was, and were holding a council with him when the 
battle began. They immediately b^gan to withdraw, but Gen- 
eral Sully ordering his body-guard, two companies of cavalry, 
to surround them, they w^ere all taken prisoners. 

The Indians were now fighting desperately, most of them 
having mounted their ponies, charging and yelling furiously. 
It was growing dark, and, as the darkness increased, the sav- 
ages became more bold, dashing among our men and toma- 
hawking them as they forced their ponies through the lines. 
The soldiers, with clubbed guns, resisted them, and many a 
pony, Indian, and white man went down together in death in 
that bitter hand-to-hand struggle. House's men had become 
engaged, and the battle surged and roared over the hills, the 
flashes of the guns lighting up the darkness of the fearful 
scenery. Despite our exertions, many of the Indians escaped, 
and the remainder held firmly to the hill. We lost a little 
ground after dark, and the battle lulled. All night we lay on 
the ground near where we had fought, and within hearing of 
the cries of our wounded, many of whom had been left behind 
in the hands of the Indians. Little did we know of the fear- 
ful tragedy that was enacting on the hill above us under cover 
of night; for if we had, we would have advanced and ended it,' 
though it had cost the lives of one-half the men in the command. 

As soon as it was dark the squaws had descended from the 


hill, and attacking our helpless wounded with long-handled 
tomahawks, beat their brains out, after which they took a 
butcher-knife and cut out their tongues. 

Lieut. Levitt was wounded early in the action, and his 
horse at the same time being shot, and falling on his leg, held 
him fast, so that when the men fell back he was, unfortunately, 
left behind. He said next day, he saw the squaws come down 
the hill and attack our wounded and dying men, nearly all of 
whom bravely defended their lives, wounding many of the 
squaws. He lay close to his dead horse, partly hidden by his 
saddle, and he hoped they would not discover him. Presently, 
however, he saw a squaw approaching, evidently with the de- 
sign of rifling the saddle-bags. While she was engaged in this 
occupation she saw the lieutenant, and, springing quickly back, 
struck at him with her tomahawk. He made a thrust at her 
with his saber, but could not reach her. After trying for some 
time to kill him with her long-handled weapon, she screeched, 
and brought half a dozen other squaws to her assistance. 
They all now attacked him, making feints and motions, and 
then suddenly striking him. Using his saber as well as he 
could in his cramped and disabled condition, he, for a long 
time, kept them at bay. He held his left hand over his head, 
and with his right thrust out with the sword. The fingers of 
his left hand were nearly all broken, and the flesh on his arm 
so gashed and bruised, that it was laid bare to the bone all the 
way from the wrist to the shoulder, and the tendons severed at 
the elbow. At length, making a desperate thrust, he severely 
wounded a squaw, and. she set up a fearful howling; the rest 
carried her off", and did not again return to molest him. So 
weak was he, from fatigue and loss of blood, that he fainted as 
soon as the squaws left him. Next day we found the poor 


fellow in a terrible condition, and brought him to camp, where 
every thing was done for him that kindness could suggest, but 
he died after a day of great suffering. 

To return once more to the battle-field. After the fighting 
for the day had ceased the Indians crept away, and before 
morning nearly all had escaped. "VVe followed them up, and 
found nearly every buffalo wallow, filled with their -dead and 
wounded. They would carry them along until they came to a 
wallow, and then, depositing them, leave them to their fate. 
We counted in all two hundred and twenty-five dead Indians, 
and we had one hundred and twenty-five prisoners. There were 
also seven hundred head of Indian stock killed, wounded, oi 
captured. Our own loss amounted, in killed and wounded, to 
fifty-eight men, eighteen belonging to the Second Nebraska 
Cavalry, and forty to the Sixth Iowa Cavalry. 






SEVERAL of us were standing by the bed-side of poor 
Lieut. Levitt, who had just finished his story of suffering 
and honor on the battle-field, and now lay dying. It was sad in 
the extreme, for we all loved him dearly, and not a man of us, 
as we watched his heavy and painful breathing, could refrain 
from hating the authors of so much misery. As for myself, I 
made a resolve I would not rest until I had at least two scalps 
at my girdle for Levitt's death, and I fear there were many 
similar resolves made by the hardy and hardened men who 
surrounded that death-bed. 

Scarcely had we reached our tents, when " bang ! " " bang ! " 
went the guns of the pickets on the hill, and the cry of " In- 
dians! Indians!" resounded through the camp. There was 
rushing to and fro, and mounting in hot haste; but, in less 
time than it takes to record it, a hundred horsemen were flying 

to the support of the pickets. I did not go out, thinking it a 


feint ; it proved, however, to be a real attack of the red rascals, 
who had returned, hoping to surprise us, and, by a dash, suc- 
ceed in liberating the 125 of their people we held prisoners. 
The assault was a feeble one, and soon repelled, not an Indian 
escaping from our camp to reward the savages for their enter 

As soon as the Indian attack was over. General Sully ordered 
the Indian camp and supplies to be destroyed. It was a very 
large camp, well stocked with provisions and robes, and the 
burning of it was no small job. Teepees were pulled down 
and heaped up on the lodge-poles, and on top of these were 
thrown bales of robes, parfleshes of meat, and pieces of wood. 
The whole was then fired, and stirred up until it burned down. 
Thousands of articles were consumed, and the soldiers, in the 
light of this burning town, looked like real fire fiends as they 
ran about in their red shirts thrusting their torches in every 
combustible pile. 

While the town was burning a most lamentable sight was 
witnessed. The Indian dogs that had been left in the village 
with the property, as was customary, trotted about, howling 
most dismally. They had little shafts strapped to their sides, 
and on these were tied cooking utensils, and, not unfrequently, 
Indian babies. During the battle many of the dogs had be» 
come frightened, and hid away in the rocks and ravines, and 
the Indian mothers, making their escape in the night, had to 
go away without their babies. The dogs, true to their charges, 
would not allow the soldiers to approach their loads, but fled 
over the hills when any one went toward them. In a little 
while they would return, and, sitting on a hill-top, gaze at the 
burning town and cry piteously. The little babies, that the 
dogs were dragging about on their travaises, never cried, but 


lay perfectly still, though the dogs galloped over ditches and 
gullies, shaking and jolting them at a terrible rate. The sol- 
diers, not being able to catch the dogs, shot them, and it some- 
times happened the dog would move, or the aim not be good, 
when the baby, instead of the dog, would receive the ball. It 
was, perhaps, well it was so killed, for if left out on the prairie 
it would have starved to death; if brought in, we had no way 
to keep it or take care of it, but if dead it was at rest. Poor 
little creatures, however much we pitied them we could not 
help them. 

When the camp was burned, General Sully determined to. 
follow up the Indians and administer still further punishment, 
as they exhibited no signs of coming to terms. It was deeply 
to be regretted they had not been attacked in the first fight, but 
the only way now was to fight it out and conquer if possible. 
The general detached Lieut. Bayne, with sixty men, to scout 
and find the Indians. Taking the old trail, Bayne pushed on, 
and the first day out came upon two Indians who were making 
their way on foot to the blufls. One of them seemed to be 
wounded, and was leaning on the shoulder of his companion, 
who pretended to be helping him along. When first noticed 
they were moving slowly, but, on Lieut. Bayne calling out to 
his men, " There are two of the rascals, let us go for them, 
gallop, march,'^ the Indians began to run. The guide, who 
was an old and experienced frontiersman, no sooner saw the 
Indians set off than he rode up to Bayne, and called out: 

" Look out, lieutenant, they are a decoy ; see how that lame 
Indian mends his pace." 

'^ Silence, sir," retorted Bayne, angrily, to this well-meant 
admonition ; " I, not you, command here." 

The guide, without uttering a word, reined up his horse and 


allowed the column to pass him, and then turning toward the 
camp, plunged the rowels into his steed^s flanks, and in a mo- 
ment had disappeared behind a protecting bluff. 

Bayne kept straight on following the two Indians up a 
narrow cafion, and gaining on them every moment. He was 
now within pistol shot of them, and they were running for 
dear life, when suddenly they disappeared, and instantly the 
hills swarmed with Indians. 

" They are in our rear," shouted several soldiers, and, halt- 
ing the command, Lieut. Bayne looked down the cafion and 
saw three or four hundred savages coming out of the bluff, 
and completely closing the passage along which he had just 

*^Look! look!" shouted the sergeant, and directing his 
eyes up the valley, the lieutenant discovered two solid lines 
of savages advancing upon him, stretched out from bluff 
to bluff. 

" We are lost ! " cried Bayne, and, for the moment, seemed 
completely prostrated by the sad predicament into which he 
had got himself and his devoted troopers. "Fours, right- 
about, wheel," shouted the sergeant, and the men mechanically 
obeyed the order. " Now," cried the brave sergeant, " ones and 
fours, cut right and left, and twos and threes, go ahead ; steady 
column! forward! gallop, march!" 

Away went the troopers, and dashing at the solid lines of 
Indians, rode or cut them down. Fast and furious fell the 
saber strokes, and the savages, appalled at the sudden and ter- 
rific onset, parted in twain, and allowed the column to pass 
through to the open plain. Many horses were wounded, but 
strange to relate, not a man was killed. Lieutenant Bayne 
fought desperately at one time with his single saber, holding 


the Indians in check, until some troopers, who had got behind, 
came up and passed through tlie gap. 

Once out on the plain the column headed for camp and rode 
swiftly forward. Suddenly the brave sergeant^s horse was seen 
to stagger and reel under his weight, and then fall to his knees. 
He reined him up and allowed the column to pass, then calling 
to some troopers, who were behind, to stop and take him up 
behind on one of their horses, he dismounted, but the demoral- 
ized soldiers paid no attention to his request, and the column 
swept on. Once more mounting his steed, the sergeant pushed 
him to his utmost speed, hoping to overtake the column, but 
seeing he was each moment losing distance, and the noble 
horse becoming more and more feeble, the sergeant turned him 
off the trail and rode him across the prairie. This he did for 
the purpose of drawing as many of the Indians as possible after 
him and thus, by sacrificing his life, increase the chances of 
escape for his comrades. "We saw the gallant fellow dashing 
over the prairie, followed by a horde of hooting savages. Sud- 
denly the horse stopped, sank to the ground, and rolled over 
dead. The sergeant lay down behind his horse, and taking 
deliberate aim at the foremost Indian in the chase, killed him at 
the first fire from his Enfield rifle. Quickly loading, he fired 
again, and another Indian fell. He now drew his revolvers, and 
sheltering his body from the arrows and bullets of his savage 
assailants, fired away at them. It was not until he had killed 
eight Indians, and fell weak and bleeding from wounds, that 
they could get him from behind his horse ; then they dragged 
him out and scalped him, but seeming to respect his bravery, 
refrained from mutilating his body. 

The guide, after leaving Lieutenant Bayne, had waited only 

to see the attack begin, and then rode straight to camp, where 



he informed General Sully of all that had happened. Generaj 
S. lost no time in sending re-enforcements to Lieutenant Bayne 
who was met a short distance from camp, quietly returning, the 
Indians having given up the pursuit after killing the brave 
sergeant.* The whole party returned to camp, and Lieutenant 
Bayne was immediately ordered to make out a full report of 
the affair. He did the sergeant justice, and when General 
Sully read the report, he sent out a strong force, brought in 
the body of the sergeant, and buried it with all the honors of 

* The sergeant here referred to, was Sergeant Bain, of the Second Ne- 
braska Cavalry. A short time before Lieutenant Bayne' s scout took place, 
Sergeant Bain had been reduced to the ranks for having scalped twenty- 
seven Indians. The circumstances were these : Sergeant Bain, while out 
following the Indians after the battle fought by General Sully, near Goose 
Lake, on the third of September, 1863, came upon a buffalo-wallow, filled 
with sick and wounded Indians, some of whom were in a dying condition, 
and otliers barely able to sit up. With a ferocity unparalleled, he sprang 
into the wallow, tomahawked twenty-seven of the Indians with their own 
tomahawks, and scalped them with their own scalping-knives. He did this, 
he said, in revenge for the squaws cutting the tongues out of the mouths 
of our wounded the night before, and in order, as he observed, that the 
Indians might know how it went to have their own barbarity applied to 
themselves. He was, undoubtedly, influenced by honest, but, nevertheless, 
mistaken motives ; but, for his cruelty, he was broken by General Sully, and 
reduced to the ranks as a private. 

After Bayne' s scout, in consideration of the signal services he had ren- 
dered the command on that occasion, the order was revoked reducing him 
as sergeant ; he was reappointed a sergeant, and then his poor body was 
laid to rest, and there was not an officer or soldier in the command, but 
felt a regret for his untimely and sad death. — Editor. 

belden: the white chief. 371 





IT was while I was with Colonel Brown that I had an ad- 
venture which came near being my last, and, as I have 
omitted to relate it in its proper place, I will here insert it. 

We were camped on a tributary of the Republican, and I 
had been sent out with a small party to scout. Our numbers 
were too few to travel by daylight, and, besides, it was not our 
business to be seen, but to see. We had been traveling through 
a buffalo range, and one evening, unable to resist the tempta- 
tion to hunt, I sallied out down* the little creek on which we 
had been hiding, hoping to stalk a buffalo calf. I had not 
gone far when I saw a fine fellow grazing near the water's 
edge, and, firing, broke his shoulder. He made off for the 
herd, which was feeding near by, and thinking I could soon 
overtake and finish him, I mounted my pony and made after 
him. Notwithstanding his three legs, he ran along so smartly 
that, before I could overhaul him, he had joined his dam and 
mbgled in the herd. The buffaloes started across the prairie^ 


and, chagrined and excited, I followed, determined to get some 
buiFalo meat before I returned to camp. I knew I was get- 
ting too far from the camp for safety, but still on we went, up 
hill and down, my little pony each moment gaining on the 
herd. I had got quite close, and was about to shoot, when I 
saw another herd coming in the opposite direction at a full 
run. Knowing buffalo did not move so rapidly unless fright- 
ened, I stopped and looked hard at them, but seeing nothing, 
I concluder' they had been started by prairie wolves, and, 
plunging the iDwels into my pony, continued the pursuit after 
my own herd. They soon swung round to the left, and joined 
the herd I had seen flying across the flat. I was on the right 
of the herd, which was now very large, and had just singled 
out a fine young bull, and was about to fire, when, seeing the 
head of the drove suddenly lurch to the left and change the 
direction of the whole body, I looked, and, to my horror, saw 
two Sioux Indians hunting on the right of the herd. Quickly 
reining my pony up, I dodged into a ravine in rear of the 
buffalo, and, riding around the bluff, waited with fear and 
trembling the events of the next few minutes. I scarcely 
dared hope I had not been seen, and yet, singular as it may 
appear, such was the case. Kiding up on the bluff when I 
found no one was after me, I saw the buffalo in full flight, and 
a dozen Indians firing arrows into the now thoroughly fright- 
ened beasts. I at once took the back track, and as my route 
to camp carried me along the trail the second herd had run, I 
fortunately found the carcasses of two fine buffaloes sticking 
full of Sioux arrows. I cut out some choice steaks, and then, 
haggling the meat so as to make the Indians think a wolf had 
been at their game, I rode back to our hiding-place, taking 
good care to keep in the ravine? mtil I reached the creek. 


Hastily broiling some of the buffalo on the coals, we saddled 
up and left the place, well knowing that the Sioux would re- 
turn to skin and dress their game, and fearing they might dis- 
cover it was a two-legged wolf that had been cutting up their 
beef for them. 

Had I fired a single shot at the herd, it would probably 
have proved my last buffalo hunt, as subsequent events showed 
I was near an Indian village, and in the midst of a large 
Sioux hunting party. 

Under cover of night we crept away, and by building only 
small fires, eating sparingly, and riding hard, we succeeded in 
making our escape, and returning in safety to the military camp. 

374 belden: I-he white chief. 


appointed a second lieutenant in the regular army — go to wash- 
ington— call upon my old friends in ohio — join my company — hunt- 
ing deserters — ^with general sweitzer — ^extraordinary sportsman- 
ship — prairies on fire — a beautiful sight — indian attack on lieut. 
McCarthy's command — the phil. kearney massacre ground — lieut. 


IT was on the 10th of July, 1867, that I was informed 1 
had been appointed Second Lieutenant in the regular 
army, the appointment to date from the 9th day of June. 
This commission was given me for services rendered during 
the war, and was not a little gratifying to me, as a position 
in the army would enable me to continue, in a more regular 
form, the wild life on the frontier, of which I had become 
so fond. 

As the law then required all officers to be examined before 
being assigned to duty, I immediately set out for Washington, 
to report to General David Hunter, who was President of the 
Board of Examiners. In due time I passed the ordeal, and 
was assigned to the Second United States Cavalry, then serv- 
ing in the Department of the Platte. On my return home to 
the West, I stopped for a short time at New Philadelphia, 


Ohio, to visit some relatives and friends, and spent several 
delightful days with them. All the way through the East, 
I could not help noticing how crowded together the people 
lived, and I can not to this day understand how it is possi- 
ble for men to be contented where there are no prairies or 
wild game. 

On the 8th of September I started to join my company, 
which was stationed in the Powder River country of the Rocl^y 
Mountains. Our route lay up the Platte River to Julesburg, 
and thence to old Fort Laramie, where I was placed on tem- 
porary duty, with Company F of the Second Cavalry. We 
marched to Fort Fetterman, and then to Reno, where I met 
the command of General Sweitzer, and reported to that 

My first military duty was to pursue three deserters, but, after 
searching several trains, and following them thirty-three miles, 
I lost all trace of them, and returned, having made a dead fail- 
ure, for which I received the comforting assurance of the com- 
manding officer that I ^' would do better next time.^' 

General Sweitzer sent me to Fort Phil. Kearney, and imme- 
diately on my arrival there, I wa;^ ordered out, with forty sol- 
diers, to guard some workmen who were cutting hay near the 
post. The country abounding in game, I amused myself by 
hunting, and the first day out killed four elk, one black-tail 
deer, and an antelope. The next day I killed three wolves, 
one of which was a large gray fellow, and the day after that 
shot a black-tail deer and a fine young antelope. Going into 
the garrison to draw rations for my men, I carried in my game 
with me, having several hundred pounds of meat, which I gave 
to the officers. From the 10th to the 27th of October, during 
which time I was stationed near the hay-fields I killed the fol- 

376 belden: the white chief. 

lowing extraordinary quantity of game : two buffalo, four elk, 
four Rocky Mountain sheep, eight black-tail deer, seven ante- 
lope, five wolves, five prairie chickens, one mountain grouse, 
one jack rabbit, one small rabbit, and one fox squirrel, besides 
wounding nineteen animals, which I did not get. This was 
considered good hunting, even in that prolific country. 

In the last days of the month the Indians fired the grass all 
around the post, and for a time we thought we should be burnt 
up. The slopes of the hills, as far as the eye could reach, were 
covered with lines of fire, and tall sheets of flame leaped up 
from the valley or run crackling through the timber. The 
parade ground of the garrison was lighted up at night so one 
could see to read, and for a distance of many miles every tree 
and shrub could be distinctly seen. The crackling of the fire 
sounded like the discharge of thousands of small arms, and 
every few moments the bursting of heated stones would resound 
over the valley, resembling the booming of distant cannon. In 
all my life I had never seen so grand and imposing a sight, 
and never expect to witness one like it again. For three days 
the flames raged over a vast extent of country, and then, hav- 
ing consumed all the grass and dry trees, went out, doing us 
no harm, owing to the streams around the fort, which com- 
pletely checked the advance of the destroying element. 

The first day of November a horseman approached the fort, 
riding at full speed, and his horse covered with foam. The 
officers gathered around the head-quarters, to learn what was 
up, and we were soon informed that the messenger had brought 
a note from Lieutenant McCarthy, which stated that his whole 
command, while escorting a train to Big Horn, had been sur- 
rounded by Indians, and that he was then hard pressed, but 
would endeaver to hold out until forces could be sent to his 


relief. The messenger said he had cut his way through the 
Indians, and had to ride for his life all the way to the fort. 
General John E. Smith, who commanded the post, ordered me 
to take Company D, Second United States •Cavalry, and go 
immediately to the assistance of Lieutenant McCarthy. In 
an ho'ir we were well on the road, and soon reached the be- 
leaguered command, which had driven off the Indians before 
our approach, and was then moving on its journey. 

As we returned to the fort, we rode over to the Phil. Kear- 
ney massacre ground, and Major Gordon pointed out to me the 
places where the hardest fighting had -taken place. There, on 
the 21st of December, 1866, three thousand Sioux, Cheyenne, 
and Arrapahoe warriors, under the noted Sioux chief. Red 
Cloud, surrounded Colonel Fetterman and his command, and 
killed every one. 

The ground was still covered with the debris of the fight. 

Skeletons of horses and mules, human bones, pieces of skulls, 

knapsacks, torn uniforms, and broken guns lay scattered over 

the ground for a mile or more. Major Gordon showed me 

where Fetterman made his last stand, and where eighty-six 

soldiers and citizens lay dead in one pile. He also pointed 

out to me the rock behind which Jim Wheatley, the guide, 

and Captain Brown had taken shelter, and in front of which 

fifteen Indians lay dead. This massacre was unparalleled in 

the history of savage warfare. The fight was desperate in the 

extreme, each soldier firing until his ammunition gave out, 

and then defending himself with rocks and the butt of his 

gun. One bugler boy was seen to knock two Indians down 

with his bugle before he was run through by an Indian 

lance. Tlie stones and rocks were still stained with blood 

and covered with hair where the Indians had beat out the 



brains of* the white soldiers with their war clubs. I pickea 
up an old flint-lock Indian gun, and it bore the brand, "Lon- 
don, 1777." The history of that gun would certainly be cu- 
rious could it be written — how many battles and skirmishes 
had it been in ? where had it traveled, and how many wild an- 
imals, Indians, and white men had it slain? These and many 
other questions suggested themselves to my mind while looking 
at this relic of by-gone days. 

I now remained in the fort for several days, engaged in mil- 
itary duties, but found time to ride out occasionally and shoot 
a bufiklo or elk, these animals often coming down in full sight 
of the post. 

It was the 5th of November when a runner came hastily 
into the fort to announce that Lieutenant Shirly, who had been 
sent out with a detachment of men, had been attacked by two 
hundred Indians, and a severe battle had been fought. The 
lieutenant had been shot through the foot and severely 
wounded, one soldier killed, and seven wounded. It was late 
in the evening when the news of the battle reached us, and at 
one o'clock at night Colonel Green left the fort with two com- 
panies of cavalry, and arrived at the scene of the battle about 
daylight the next morning. We found wagons overturned, 
and sacks of flour, sugar, rice, and bacon scattered over the 
ground. Boxes of crackers, packages of stationery, pipes, to- 
bacco, books, belts, scabbards, swords, and broken guns lay 
every- where. A dead horfee, and a mule with a saddle yet on, 
lay on the road, and further out on the plain were a dozen dead 
ponies, where the Indians had charged. All the savages had 
left, but the trail was only a few hours old, and leading east- 
ward. While most of the soldiers went in pursuit of the In- 
dians, the rest of us busied ourselves in looking aft^r th« 


wounded. One corporal had his thigh broken, and another 
his hand shattered, rendering amputation necessary in both 
'^ases A soldier was shot through the lungs, another in the 
knee another in the shoulder, and still another in the arm. A 
citizen, who had acted as postilion to a mounted howitzer, re- 
ceived a ball in the thigh. Lieutenant Shirly's wound was 
very severe and painful, the ball having passed through the 
instep and flattened against the sole of the boot. Shirly said 
the principal object of attack by the Indians was the howitzer, 
they having killed or wounded every man around it in their 
efforts to capture it. They no doubt wished to secure the 
piece, so as to shell and annoy the forts with it. 

We gathered up the stores as well as we could, and, taking 
the wounded men, returned to the fort. Soon afterward the 
cavalry came in, having failed to overtake the Indians. 

I started out to scout with Major Gordon's company of cav- 
alry, and the second day a violent rain and snow-storm broke 
upon us. The wind blew a gale, and we went into camp as 
soon as we could find shelter. Toward evening the wind fell, 
the rain ceased, and the sun came out bright and warm, dis- 
persing the gloomy clouds. Next morning, however, it was 
very cold, and we took the road as soon as it was light, push- 
ing on smartly until we reached Fish Creek, a distance of four- 
teen miles. During the day I shot several prairie grouse, and 
some birds. In the evening, after we had pitched our camp, a 
band of Indians appeared on the hills to the west, and, on being 
hailed, answered they were friendly Crows, and asked permis- 
sion to come in and' visit us. Major Gordon said they might 
come, but they soon annoyed us so the major was obliged to 
drive them off. 

We marched to Muddy Creek the following day and en- 


camped, Avhere the Crow Indians again visited us, and begged 
every thing they could, even to small pieces of straps. The 
chiefs : Bad Elk, Little Wolf, and Bird-in-the-Neck were with 
them, and these noble red men were not too proud to beg, or 
so honest they would not steal. 

Our march now lay to Big Horn, and, on the third day, 
which was the evening of the 13th of November, 1867, we 
reached the post. 

belden: the white chief. 381 




HUNTING, scouting, and reading occupied my time till the 
end of the month, when I went out to kill buffalo and 
Rocky Mountain sheep. We soon saw three sheep standing on 
some shelving rocks, far up the mountain side, and leaving the 
corporal,. who was with me, to hold the horses, I climbed for an 
hour among the rocks, and at the end of that time found my- 
self within three hundred yards of a fine buck. I fired, and 
he fell over, when the ewes that were with him started to run 
away, and, although I succeeded in putting two balls into one 
of them, she got off. The buck had both his fore-shoulders 
broken; but was very anxious to fight me, striking with his 
horns, and kicking like a mule with his hind feet. I soon 
laid him out with my big butcher, and started in pursuit of 
the wounded ewe. Following her trail for over a mile, often 
getting heavy falls, she at last had ascended che rocks, where 
it was impossible for me to climb, and I turned back to secure 
and dress my buck. His horns were enormous, and cutting 
off his head, I carried it to the fort, where I presented it to 


our accommodating quartermaster, Gen. Dandy, who wished tc 
send it to some friends in the East. 

Next morning I again started out, accompanied by Colonel 
Smith, Dr. Gisedorf, and some soldiers. It was snowing, and 
the thick undergrowth made so much noise that, although we 
saw several deer, we did not succeed in killing any. Leaving 
my companions, to see if I could not scare up something by 
myself, I soon came upon a fresh bear track, and followed it 
for six miles, when I gave out, and sat down. Fortunately, 
one of the soldiers had followed me with my horse, and mount- 
ing, I rode back to camp, having shot nothing during the day 
but a mountain grouse. This was the poorest day's hunting I 
had ever done in that country. 

On the 29th of November the pickets on the hill overlook- 
ing the fort signaled " Indians," and a few minutes afterward 
reported that they were attacking the ox train, three miles dis- 
tant. I immediately saddled up some horses, and, accompanied 
by a small party of cavalrymen, set out for the train. On our 
approach the Indians, ten in number, made off, and we gave 
chase. After following them about seven miles, we overhauled 
four savages, and killed them. A dozen times we got within a 
hundred yards of the others; but could not get any more of 

It was wonderful to see the coolness and agility of the sav- 
ages. "When one would get wounded or killed, the rest would 
halt, and, in a moment, lash him to his horse, when they would 
set off again at a full gallop. We succeeded in getting two 
ponies ; but the Indians put the dead bodies of their comrades 
on other ponies, and carried them off. One Indian was tied by 
the neck to the bow of his saddle, and by one leg to the cantle, 
the other one dragging on the ground. 


Early in December a messenger came to the fort, and re- 
ported that, a train belonging to Mr. McPherson ha(} been 
attacked and corralled, about forty miles out on the Phil 
Kearney road. The same nighj; Mr. McPherson^s herder came 
in, and confirmed the report, stating that the men with the train 
had been fighting since Sunday morning, and when he left one 
had been killed and seven wounded. I was ordered out with 
the cavalry company and one mountain howitzer, and directed 
to go, with all possible haste, to the assistance of the train. 

We had not marched more than ten miles from the fort, 
when, near Rock Creek, we were fired upon by a small party of 
Indians, who were concealed in the bluffs. Their fire did no 
harm ; and we pushed on until near morning, when we were 
challenged with "Who goes there?" and upon answering, 
" Relief from the fort," cheer after cheer burst from the throats 
of the besieged men. They were wild with joy, and many sat 
down, and cried like children, when they knew they were really 
delivered from a horrible death. Over two hundred Indians 
had surrounded them, and only left when they learned of our 
approach. So closely had they watched, that it was impossible 
to get word to the fort, and one man was killed while attempt- 
ing to steal through the Indian lines. The herder had only 
escaped at great risk, and by keeping in a ravine until he got 
among the rocks, where he crawled for over a mile on his hands 
and knees. 

The battle-field bore marks of a desperate conflict, arrows, 
guns, blankets, dead oxen, and ponies lying thick over the 
ground. We saw white human bones, where the wolves, in the 
night-time, had dragged the bodies out on the prairies, and 
eaten every particle of flesh off of them. Even the skulls were 
broken in, and the brains sucked out by the ravenous beasts. 


Gathering up the wounded, we set out with the besieged 
train fdi* the fort; and on the first night of the march campeid 
on Clear Creek, where we saw, in the evening, signals being 
made by the Indians on the raou'ntain sides with poles and red 
feathers attached to the end of them. Pushing out a small 
jjarty in the direction of the savages, they soon came upon a 
lodge the Indians had just left, and which still contained cook- 
ing utensils, pipes, tobacco, and some robes. Destroying the 
lodge, the party returned to camp ; and we saw nothing more 
of the Indians. In the morning I witnessed a curious contest 
between an old buffalo bull and a pack of wolves. Nearly a 
hundred of these fierce brutes had attacked the old fellow, and 
were endeavoring to pull him down. They had torn open the 
scrotum, and terribly lacerated his hams. After watching the 
unequal battle for some time, we put an end to it by firing a 
volley into the wolves, who scampered off. We then killed 
the old buffalo, and started on our march for Shell Creek. We 
camped there all night, and the next day reached the fort, the 
day being very cold and a rain falling at the time we entered 
the stockade. 

I now busied myself in making a suit of buckskin, taking 
my tour as officer of the day, and occasionally shooting a few 
sage hens and rabbits. 

So time passed until the 9th of December, when I went out 
one morning to hunt blacktail deer ; and on my return to the 
fort in the evening, I learned that the Indians had been there, 
and attempted to run off the herd. I determined to be more 
careful in the future, and remain in the fort, lest I should lose 
my scalp. 

I had employed, as cook, an Indian girl named Basache; and 
«s she was good looking, I was constantly annoyed by young 



warriors of the friendly Crow tribe, who came to court her. 
Basache had a history, which is worth relating. She was a 
Crow ; and one fall, when her tribe was out hunting, a startling 

adventure befell her, she 
then being a mere child. 
The village was pitched in 
a valley, beside a heavily- 
timbered stream; and the 
men were killing buffalo, 
while the squaws were en- 
gaged in cutting up and 
preserving the meat and 
hides, Basache had gone 
out into the woods to gather 
berries, and was climbing 
up a vine on an old tree, 
to pick some grapes, when, 
through an opening in the leaves above her head, she saw two 
great eyes glaring at her from a hole in the trunk. In a mo- 
ment she knew it was a bear, and began to descend as rapidly 
as possible ; but the bear also slid rapidly down the inside, and 
came out just as Basache reached the ground. She started to 
run, the bear following close at her heels. When she emerged 
from the timber several warriors, who were strolling near the 
village, saw her, and aimed their guns to shoot the bear, but 
feared to fire, lest they should hit the girl. Seeing the bear 
would catch her, they called out to her to lay down ; and instantly 
she dropped as though she was dead. Bruin came up, smelt 
her face, and, taking his paw, rolled her over and over. She 
kept her eyes shut ; and presently the bear sat down beside her, 
as if to meditate upon the matter. Bears will not touch a dead 


human body; but Bruin seemed to have his doubts as to 
whether Basache was really dead. Meanwhile, the warriors 
resorted to various artifices to attract the attention of the bear, 
and, if possible, draw him off in pursuit of themselves. At 
length they succeeded, and told the girl to run for the village ; 
but no sooner did she rise to her feet than Bruin left the war- 
riors, to pursue Basache. She ran as fast as she could ; but the 
bear was soon again close upon her ; when, seeing no chance 
of escape, she stopped, drew her tomahawk, and, as he came up, 
dexterously struck him between the eyes, sinking the sharp 
blade deep into his brain. The brute turned around, fell to 
his knees, and, roaring furiously, rolled over on his side, and 
died. So the Indians named the girl, who, before this occur- 
rence, had no name, Basache, " the bear-runner." 

belden; the white chief. 387 



ON the 13th of December we had a serious alarm, the 
friendly Crows reporting a large body of Sioux warriors 
approaching the post, evidently with the intention of making 
an attack, as they were in war paint, and had sent all their 
pack-horses and women to the rear. The companies were all 
got out, the cannon and arms cleaned, and every preparation 
made for battle. We remained under arms all night, but 
morning came and we were still unattacked. About eight 
o'clock it was announced that our outpost, at Piney Creek, 
near the fort, where the wood-cutters were, had been attacked, 
five Indians killed, and six wood-choppers wounded, four of 
whom had since died. The Indians had captured all the oxen 
and wagons, and driven them off. A half-breed, who came 
into the fort, said a number of Crow Indians were in the fight 
with the Sioux, and, on going out, we picked up several Crow 


arrows, which had been fired at the wood-cutters. This was 
not, however, considered conclusive evidence against the Crows, 
as we knew the wily Sioux had, in all probability, fired the 
arro;vs, in order to get the Crows into trouble, they having, 
of late, made several efforts to induce the Crows to join them 
in their war against the whites. 

We marched out to the relief of the wood-cutters, and, 
although the hills were full of Indians, we could not induce 
any of them to come down and give us battle. "We found 
most of the cattle, and brought in the wood-men, five of whom 
were dead. 

' Sioux, Cheyennes, and Arrapahoes in great numbers continued 
around the fort, causing us much uneasiness^ — as we knew, from 
their sullen deportment, they were bent on mischief. One night, 
just as we were going to bed, several shots were fired by the 
sentinels, and we all sprang from our beds, anticipating every 
moment an Indian attack. The alarm proved, however, to be 
caused by a fire, which had broken out in the barracks, near 
the corrall. The wind was blowing stiffly at the time, and, 
for awhile, the whole garrison was in danger of being burned, 
but the prompt exertions of the soldiers extinguished the 
flames, and restored safety. To add to our troubles, while the 
fire was burning, the Indians came around, and we were by no 
means certain that it was not a ruse to get us off our guard 
and then attack us. The gates were closely watched, however, 
and the savages finally retired without making any hostile 

In the last days of December I was ordered down to Fort 
Reno with the mails, and set out, taking with me thirty men 
and two wagons. In three days I reached my destination in 
safety, having had a pleasant journey, and without seeing any 

belden: the white chief. 389 

Indians. After waiting three days for the return mails, I 
started for Kearney, and reached that place on the 31st of De- 
cember, thus closing the' year with a most dangerous, but suc- 
cessful trip. 

Next day 1 ate a New Year's dinner with Lieut. Warrens 
and his accomplished lady, and spent some delightful hours. 

On the second of January, the Indians again appeared around 
the fort, and Dr. H. W. Matthews, one of the Peace Commis- 
sioners on the part of the United States Government, called 
them to meet him in council. A number of chiefs and prin- 
cipal warriors came in, and, after they were all assembled, 
Dr. Matthews rose, and said : 

"Chiefs and warriors: There was a time when the Indian 
and white man were friends. The Great Spirit and the white 
father at Washington desires they should still be friends. 
Your father has sent me to tell you this, and to try and in- 
duce you to listen to his words. He is anxious to please you, 
and wishes you to live at peace with his children. Yesterday 
was a great medicine day among the whites. Resolutions and 
good intentions made on that day are sacred, and will be kept 
throughout the year. We resolved to be at peace with you, 
and have sent for you, that we might talk together and under- 
stand one another. I hope that the peace we now make will 
be a lasting one, and kept, not only throughout the year, but 
forever. I would like to make a treaty now, but the great 
father will not permit me to do so, as I am but a subordinate 
chief. He has authorized me, however, to say to you, that if 
you will cease from war on his people during the winter, early 
in the spring he will send his commissioners, who are great 
chiefs, to sign your treaty at Laramie. This offer he makes 
you as a last offer, and if you reject it, the white father will 


be very angry. He loves you, but is not afraid to punish you 
I hope you will consider well what I have said, and decide 
wisely on peace.'' 

When this speech had been translated into Sioux, Cheyenne, 
and Arrapahoe, so that all the Indians understood it, the doctor 
sat down, and a Sioux warrior, named " Stabber,'' addressed the 
council as follows : 

" Whoever our father, who has just spoken, is, I believe he is 
a good man. We are told that the great father (President) 
sent word some time ago for his soldiers to leave the country, 
and I want to tell you that we want them to hurry and go. 
Send word to the great father to take away his warriors with 
the snow, and he will please us. If they can go right away, 
let it be done, so that we can bring our old men, women, and 
children to live on these grounds in peace, as they did before 
you all came here. The Sioux, Arrapahoes, and Cheyennes 
never fought each other until you came and drove away the 
game (meaning in the whole West), and then attempted to 
drive us away. Now we fight each other for sufficient ground 
to hunt upon, though all the lands to the East were once ours. 
We are talking to-day on our own grounds. God Almighty 
made this ground, and when he made it he made it for us. 
Look about you, and see how he has stocked it with game. 
The elk, the buffalo, and deer are our meat, and he put them 
here for us to feed upon. Your homes are in the East, and 
you have beef cattle to eat. Why, then, do you come here to 
bother us ? What have you your soldiers here for, unless it is 
to fight- and kill us? If you will go away to your homes and 
leave us, we will be at peace ; but if you stay, we will fight. 
We do not go to your homes; then why come to ours? You 
say we steal your cattle and horses; well, do you not know 

belden: the white chief. 391 

that wlien you come into our lands, and kill and drive away 
the game, you steal from us? That is the reason we steal your 
stock. I am done." 

When " Stabber " sat down, " Black Hawk " came forward, 
and said: 

" Where was I made? I was raised in the West, not in the 
East. I was not raised in a chair, but grew upon the ground. 
(He then sat down on the earth, and continued :) Here is my 
mother, and I will stay with her and protect her. Laramie 
has always been our place for talking, and I did not like to 
come here. You are getting too far West. You have killed 
many of our young men, and we have killed some of yours 
in return. I want to quit fighting to-day. I want you to take 
pity on us and go away." 

A Cheyenne chief next addressed the council. He said : 

"We have been told that these forts are to be abandoned 
and the new road given up, and we have come in to see about 
it. If this is true, tell me so. I never thought we would 
come to a Council so far west; but the old men prevailed, and 
we are here. All last summer we heard that Gen. Harney 
wanted to see us at Laramie; but we would not go. Gen. 
Sherman also sent for us ; but we would not listen while yoii 
were here. I do n't know the name of my father there (point- 
ing to Dr. Mathews), nor who at present is my great father 
(President) at Washington; but this I do know, my father 
(his parent), when he raised me, told me to shake hands with 
the white man, and try to live at peace with him, for he was 
very powerful. But my father also told me to fight my ene- 
mies, and since the white man has made himself an enemy, 1 
6ght him. How are you our enemy ? You come here, and 
drive away our game; and he who does that steals from us our 


bread, and becomes the Indian's bitterest enemy, for tlie Indiaii 
must have food to live. I have fought you, and I have stolen 
from you ; but I have done both to live. The only road you 
have a right to travel is the Platte road. We have never 
crossed it to fight you. I am a soldier. I have q great many 
young men here who are soldiers, and will do my bidding. It 
is our duty to protect and feed our old men, women, and chil- 
dren, and we' must do it. If you are friendly, why do n't you 
give us powder and bullets to shoot game with? We will not 
use them against you, unless you do us harm. I want ten 
kegs ; and when the other tribes know that you have given 
them to me, they will know we are good friends, and will come 
in and treat, and we will all live at peace. I came here to hear 
talk ; not to make talk. We are poor. Take pity on us, and 
deal justly by us. I have done." 

The next speaker was a Crow chief, who, standing by the 
council table, said : 

" Sioux, Cheyennes, Arrapahoes, Crows, Father : I have 
been listening to your words, and they sound good. I hope 
you are not lying to each other. The Crows have long been 
the friends of the whites, and we want peace for all. We want 
powder; and when the white father makes us presents, I 
want him to give us a good deal of ammunition." 

An Arrapaho chief said : 
I want to say this I'Tou are here with your soldiers ; and 
what for? Soldiers are your fighting men. Do you then 
want to fight ? If so, tell us. If you desire peace, send yom 
soldiers away. I have some of your stock. I would like to 
see you come, and try to get it back." 

This closed the speaking on the part of the Indians, and Dr. 
Matthews replied. He said that the Peace Commissioners 


would as willingly meet at Laramie as at any other place; but 
that it was more convenient for the Indians to come to Fort 
Kearney. He did not say when the posts would be abandoned, 
or the country and roads given up. He made no reply to the 
demands for powder ; but simply said : " If the Indians cease 
fighting, and keep the peace during the winter, the Commis- 
sioners will meet them in the spring, and make a treaty which 
will be satisfactory to both parties." 

The council broke up, having effected no good result; and 
the Indians left more dissatisfied than ever. When asked why 
Bed Cloud did not attend the council, a chief replied : " He 
has sent us, as the great father has sent you. When the 
great father comes, Red Cloud will be here." This evidently 
meant that the haughty chief would only treat through his 
agents or ministers, unless the President was present in person. 

After the council I went down to the Arrapahoe camp to 
trade for some buffalo robes, and finally succeeded in getting a 
fine bridal robe ; but had to pay the enormous price of $98 for 
it. I brought it up to the post, and showed it to the officers, 
some of whom had never seen so fine a robe ; and all wanted 
to buy it. Gen. Smith wished me to get him one, and seeing 
he had taken a great fancy to the one I had, I presented it to 
him ; but had hard work to prevail upon the good old man to 
accept so valuable a present. Next morning I went into the 
Sioux camp to buy another robe ; but could not induce the In- 
dians to sell any for money, though they offered me any thing 
they had for powder and bullets. A single charge of powder 
was worth $4, and four ounces of the little black grains would 
bring $40. The officers were not allowed to sell the Indians 
ammunition, however ; and so I failed to make any trades. 

One day Basache, my Indian cook, came to me in great glee, 



and announced that the Upper Missouri Crows, who had not 
visited the Montana Crows for some years, were coming down 
to live with them. She said her father was the head chief of 
the Upi^er Crows ; and she must go immediately on their ar- 
rival, and join her tribe. I readily acquiesced, and gave the 
happy girl a present of a new dress to wear on the occasion. 1 
asked her to stay a few days longer, and tan some skins for 
Gen. Smith, which she said she would be pleased to do. On 
the eighth day she went away ; and I was sorry to part with 
her, for she really was a very kind-hearted and useful servant. 

belden: the white chief. 39r) 






ABOUT the middle of Januaiy, Red Cloud came down 
and encamped within ten miles of the fort, sending word 
he was for peace, but would not come to the post, or talk with 
any of the officers. At the same time, Basache came back and 
begged me to take her again into my service. She found it 
much pleasanter, and far preferable, to being even a great chief's 
daughter. These chiefs had little else for women, she said, than 
plenty of hard work ; so I returned her to my pots and kettles, 
and* she was once more happy. She had been with me but a 
short time, when her father sent her word to return to the tribe, 
and notified me that Basache must not live any longer with the 
whites. I advised her to go back to her father's lodge, but this 
she positively declined to do. 

I had, by trading with Indians, secured a great many curi- 
ous and valuable things, and as the list of articles in my 
cabinet shows the variety and cost of Indian goods, I will here 
append it : 



One Lance, . . • 

Two Bows, . 

One Pipe-tomahawk, 

Seven Arrows, 

Thirty Arrows, 

One Arrow, 

Fifteen Arrows, 

Ten Arrows, 

One Bow-case and Quiver, 

One Gun-cover — beaded. 

Two Knife Scabbards, 

One set Scalp Feathers, 

One pair Mocca°ins, 

One pair Moccasins, 

One pair Moccasins, 

Two Tobacco Pouches, 

One Gun Case, 

One Saddle Cover, 

One Hundred Brass Beads, 

One Squaw Dress, 

One Double-knife Scabbard, 

One Single-knife Scabbard, 

One Beaded Belt, . 

One Beaded Buffalo Eobe, . 

One Painted Buffalo Eobe, 

One Painted Buffalo Eobe, 

One Porcupine Garnished Eobe, 

Two other fine Eobes, . 

One tanned Grizzly Bear Skin, 

One Eed Stone Pipe, , 

One pair Leggings — beaded, . 

Six Arrapahoe Arrows^ 

Three Buffalo Eobes — plain, . 

One Indian Blanket — painted, 

Twenty-seven Strings Beads, . 

Thirty-five Strings Beads, . 

One Indian Pony, . 

One Garnished Bridal Eobe, 

One Garnished Bridal Eobe, . 

Sioux, , 


Sioux, . 


Sioux, . 

Nee Perce, 



Crow, • 


Sioux, . 


Sioux, . 






Nee Perce, 


Sioux, . 




Sioux, r 


Sioux, . 


Sioux, . 


Sioux, , 


Sioux, . 


Sioux, . 




The routine of garrison duty occupied us until the fifth day 
of February, when I received letters from home informing me 
of the marriage of my eldest sister, and the death of a lady 

belden: the white chief. 897 

who was an old and esteemed friend of the family. The letter 
of the husband of this lady, written to a brother then at our 
post, was, to me, one of the most touching epistles I had ever 
read, and it made a deep impression upon my mind. 

While at Fort Phil. Kearney, I was called upon to partici- 
pate in the curious ceremony of christening an Indian child. 
The father, Raphael Galleges, was a half-breed, and the mother 
a Sioux Indian. A Sioux warrior stood up on the mother^s 
part, and I represented the father. All the women, except the 
mother, were excluded from the building, and then a bunch of 
sweet-scented grass was rolled up with some " Indian medicine,*' 
in a piece of elkskin, and set on fire. The room was soon filled 
with smoke, and the mother, taking the child, held him over the 
fire until the little fellow was completely smoked, when the 
father, taking him by the left hand, called him by name, 
"George Galleges.'' The mother next dropped some clear 
water on his face, and rubbing him thoroughly, the ceremony 
was ended. It was considered a good omen, that during the 
ceremony the child did not cry, for if he had, it would have 
been emblematical of a troublesome life, and that he would 
become an enemy of his ''godfather." I was thoroughly glad, 
therefore, when the little fellow thus showed his good temper, 
for it would have given me great pain to reflect that, in after 
I'fe, I should be obliged to kill my Indian namesake. 

About this time there was an amusing occurrence at the gar- 
rison that will bear relating. . The post had become filled with 
dogs, and General Smith, the commanding officer, determined 
to get rid of the nuisance. An order was accordingly issued to 
shoot all dogs found running at large during the daytime ; and 
soon several curs who had no masters to tie them up were killed 

and thrown outside the stockade. The Indians, who were 


camped near, were not long in learning of the order; and, 
every morning, presented themselves to receive the dead car- 
casses. One day, the officer of the day shot a large dog near 
the guard-house, and, on turning around, to his horror saw his 
own favorite dog following him. He ordered the sentinel not 
to shoot him, and immediately sent him home and had him tied 
ip; but the officer to whom the dog that had been shot be- 
longed, watched his chance, and threw the dog belonging to the 
officer of the day over the stockade, when he was immediately 
nabbed, killed, and cooked by the Indians. This created a 
great row about the dog-law, but it was finally decided that it 
would not do to be partial, and that, if one loose dog was killed, 
all must share the same fate. 

It was now well along in the month of March, and the sun 
was becoming quite warm, so that we knew the spring was 
approaching. Birds were numerous, and I often went out 
hunting near the post and met with good success, but did not 
dare venture far enough away to kill larger game than rabbits, 
sage hens, and occasionally an antelope or deer. 









ON the 8th day of April the Sioux, mounted on fleet 'horses, 
appeared in large numbers on the bluffs north of the fort, 
and rode furiously around the hilltops, yelling and brandishing 
their weapons in a hostile manner. Many of them carried scalp 
poles, and were dressed in feathers and war paint. Most of the 
former parties had professed friendship, but these fellows would 
not come down to the fort, and were defiant in their actions. 
Some of the officers went outside of the stockade to see the In- 
dians, but the savages would not allow them to approach the 
hill on which they were. General Smith then signaled them 
to come into the fort, but they refused. Three or four of them 
crossed the creek and galloped toward the fort, but wheeled 
suddenly and made off. Presently we saw three infantry sol- 
diers, who had been out hunting, running for the fort, and a 
long line of Indians, stretched out like skirmishers, following 

400 belden: the white chief. 

close in pursuit of them. The men were nearly exhausted, and 
the Indians could easily have overtaken them, but seemed only 
desirous of giving them a good fright. "We opened the gates 
and let the poor fellows in, who, perhaps, never were so happy 
in their lives as when they saw the gates of the fort close be- 
tween them and their enemies. The stockade was crowded with 
men, and the Indians sat quietly on their horses, apparently 
watching to see what we would do. General Smith ordered 
the cavalry to saddle up and stand to horse, and then, taking 
Boyer, the interpreter, rode out of the fort and approached the 
hill where the Indians were. He wished to go up to the sav- 
ages, but Boyer advised him not to do so, and, yielding to his 
advice. General Smith told him to call to the Indians to come 
down and talk with him, which he did, but for some time could 
succeed in getting no reply, when General Smith, advancing a 
few steps, cried out, " How ! " This was immediately answered 
by some one on the hill with " How ! '* The general then 
directed Boyer to repeat again that he wished to talk with 
them, and an Indian, who seemed to be a chief, inquired, 
" What do you want to talk about ? ^' 

Gen, Smith (to Boyer). "Ask him who they are and what 
they want.'' 

The Chief. " We are part of Red Cloud's warriors, and come 
to see when you are going to leave our country with your 

Gen, Smith, "Ask them where they have come from, and 
where they are going." 

The Chief, " We have been fighting the Snakes on the 
Laramie road, and are going north.'' 

The chief and three or four warriors then rode down quite 
near the general, and the interview continued. 


Gen. Smith, ''Tell them they have been expected for some 
time by the Peace Commissioners at Laramie, to sign the treaty 
about these lands." 

ITie Chief, " We have been at the big talk at Laramie, and 
the Commissioners promised us the forts should be pulled down 
and the country abandoned in two months.'' 

G&r, Smith. " Ask him if the time is up.'' 

The Chief. " It is, and we want to know why you stay here 
with your soldiers." 

Gen. Smith. " We have made preparations to go, and will 
leave as soon as we are ready, but if your warriors commit 
depredations or kill any more white men, we will not go at 
all, but stay here, kill you, and drive off your game." 

The Chief. " We are not afraid, but I want you to go, and 
meantime give me some food for my young men to eat. Do 
you see that creek over there? Give me something to eat, and 
I will go over and encamp on its banks to-night." 

Gen. Smith. " I have nothing to give you, but I want to 
warn you to restrain your young men from committing any 
depredations around here." 

At this stage of the interview, the cavalry company, which 


General Smith had ordered to saddle up and stand to horse, 
but not to show themselves, was seen marching out of the gates 
of the fort, and as soon as the Indians caught sight of it they 
wheeled their ponies, and, putting the whip to them, never 
stopped until they were out of sight. 

General Smith ordered the company bacl!, and was much 
provoked at the interruption of his" talk, as well as the false 
impression it had made on the minds of the Indians of treach- 
ery on his part. Toward evening the Indians again returned 

to the hill, but they could not be induced to come down or 



talk. One of tliem, who was Red Cloud^s son, rode down, 
and, passing around the fort, minutely examined the works, 
but would not come in, or talk. 

Near sunset the Indians were seen crossing the flat towara 
the creek where the chief had indicated that he would camp. 
The evening gun was fired as they crossed the stream, and the 
whole party halted and looked at the fort. After consultation, 
they seemed to think some sort of defiance had been given 
them, and a warrior, aiming at the fort with his gun, fired. 
The ball struck on the parade-ground, but did no harm. The 
Indians then went into camp, but left the next morning for Red 
Cloud's head-quarters, which were supposed to be near by. 

Two days later, another party of Sioux came down near the 
fort, and, on the day following, a large band of Arrapahoes 
encamped within a mile of us. There was no doubt now in 
our minds that the Indians meant mischief, and were gather- 
ing around the fort with the intention of attacking it as soon 
as their numbers should be sufficiently strong. 

All remained quiet, however, until the 10th of June, when, 
about five o'clock in the evening, the pickets signaled a train 
was approaching, and I rode out with Lieutenant McCaulley, 
of the Twenty-seventh Infantry, to meet it. We had gone 
across a small knoll to the south of the pickets, and passed out 
of sight of them but a short distance, when suddenly we saw 
ten Indians riding down upon us. I called out to McCaulley 
that they were hostile, and we must ride for the fort as hard as 
we could. Turning our horses, we set off at full speed, and had 
got within full sight of it, and only about a mile and a half 
from the gates, when we observed some twenty Indians passing 
directly between us and the fort, evidently with the design of 
cutting us off. We were passing along the base of a steep hill 


at the time, and I told McCaulley we must climb the hill and 
fight it out until help could reach us. Dismounting, we clam- 
bered up the hill, dragging our horses after us, who made the 
ascent with the utmost difficulty. When we had got about half 
way up, several Indians came to the foot of the bluffs and fifed 
at us. We had no guns, but I could easily have killed one of 
them with my revolver, and was about to fire, when McCaulley 
called out not to shoot until they came closer. 

We had now got to the top of the hill, and took up our posi- 
tion on the very crest. The Indians, going around to where the 
ascent was not so steep, were soon seen coming up, so as to sur- 
round us on three sides. Sheltering our horses behind the crest, 
on the side where there were no Indians, I told McCaulley to 
hold the animals while I drove back the enemy. Covering a 
big savage with ray revolver, I was again about to fire, when 
McCaulley said, " Do n't shoot until they charge," and at the 
same time the Indian, seeing my pistol pointed at him, turned 
and ran down the hill, followed by several others. I now 
brought it to bear on other parts of the line, and the cowardly 
rascals ran whenever I aimed at them. 

We were in full sight of the fort, and anxiously looked for 
help, but as yet could s^e no one coming to our assistance. I 
now examined my revolvers, and to my horror, discovered I 
had but two charges in the barrels, and no ammunition with 
rae. The situation was perilous in the extreme, and I almost 
gave myself up for lost, but determined not to die without a 

Suddenly McCaulley called to me to look out, and turning 
my head, I saw an In lian crawling on the ground within 
twenty feet of the hoises. As McCaulley spoke, the savage 
fired an arrow, which barely missed the lieutenant, and buried 


itself deep in the shoulder of his horse. The animal reared^ 
and plunged with pain, but McCaulley hung to him, while 1 
pointed my revolver at the Indian, who sprang, to his feet and 
ran down the hill, leaping twenty feet at a jump. 

I now had to be very active, and bring my pistol to bear in 
every direction, but observing I did not fire, the Indians be- 
came more bold, and approached within a few yards of us. 
Then, taking deliberate aim, I pulled the trigger, and an In- 
dian dropped from his pony and rolled down the hill. The 
other savages fell back some eighty yards and commenced 
firing at us. The wounded horse was very restive, and I told 
McCaulley to let him go, which he did, when the animal 
bounded down the hill, and, to our delight, most of the sav- 
ages put after him. About a dozen, however, again began to 
ascend the hill, and borrowing one of McCaulley's revolvers, 
I waited until they were within thirty feet of us, when I fired, 
and one fellow fell, but clung to the neck of his pony, and with 
the help of his comrades got away. 

They were close upon us again, when a shout of joy burst 
from the lips of McCaulley, and turning my eyes toward the 
fort, I saw the gates swing open, and the cavalry come stream- 
ing out. The Indians had seen it, too, and were preparing to 
charge, when I called out to McCaulley, if we could hold on 
a few minutes longer, we would be saved, at the same time 
directing him to let the remaining horse go and give me his 
other revolver. He did as I desired, and, running around the 
hill-top, I fired seven shots in rapid succession, with such good 
effect as to cause the Indians to take to their heels. The 
shouts of the approaching troopers could now be distinctly 
heard, and the Indians, putting whip to their ponies, soon dis- 
appeared over the hills. 


During the fight, one red rascal, who had a rifle, had gone 
up on the ridge opposite us, and which commanded our posi- 
tion, and taking shelter behind a rock, had amused himself by 
firing at us fi^r over an hour. One of his balls ripped open 
my jacket, and another cut Lieutenant McCaulley's sleeve. I 
also got an arrow through my collar, and one struck the vizor 
of my new uniform-cap, completely ruining it. We lost one 
horse which belonged to me, and had on when captured, a 
fifty-dollar saddle, and a Mexican hair-bridle, that I had paid 
one hundred and twenty-five dollars for, but a few days be- 

The cavalry that rescued us, pursued the Indians and over- 
took them, when they had a sharp fight, but it is not known 
how many were killed, as it was took dark to see. We had 
had a narrow escape, and late in the evening, when we returned 
to the fort, and received the congratulations of our friends, I 
felt happier than I had done for many a day. 

408 belden: the white chief. 





I DID not get along very smoothly in the army, the wild 
life I had led having in a great measure unfitted me for 
the duties of a soldier. Thus, one day, after finishing my nice 
new buckskin suit, I put it on and went out to show it to my 
friends, when the Adjutant of the post placed me under arrest 
for not wearing the United States uniform. On another occa- 
sion I was caught with a pair of moccasins on, and imme- 
diately sent to my quarters and threatened with arrest. Then 
I could not be at roll-calls at the precise moment I should have 
been there, and this enraged that peculiar old clock, Major 
Gordon, who was constantly blowing me up. Other sources 
of annoyance, such as omissions to cross a ^ or dot an i in pro- 
ceedings of courts-martial and boards, constantly presented 
themselves, so it did not take me a great while to become 
thoroughly disgusted with the service. Those who think an 
officer has an easy time of it are most wofully mistaken, for I 


certainly know of no harder or more thankless labor than serv- 
ing in the army of the United States. Every man who ranks 
you is your master, and you are, to all intents and purposes, his 
slave, though they call it by the polite names of senior and jun- 
ior. I did not like the dry old " Blue-book," and still less that 
excellent and entertaining cobweb of Hardee's, called " Tactics," 
while as to the unwritten " customs of service," there was no 
end to them, and they were, if any thing, more obnoxious 
than the written ones. 

A single example will serve to show some of the difficulties 
that beset the young officer on entering service, and I can 
assure the readei the problem given is only one of many more 
difficult that the youthful soldier is compelled to work out im- 
mediately on joining his regiment. A day or two after report- 
ing at the garrison, he receives a neatly-folded three-cornered 
note, elaborately done in red ink, informing him that he has 
been detailed for " Officer of the Guard to-morrow." The cer- 
emony of " Mounting the Guard " generally takes place in the 
cool hours of the morning, in the presence of the commanding 
officer, the old officers, and the ladies. If a new lieutenant is 
to mount guard for the first time, the turnout is always unusu- 
ally large, and should the poor devil make a single mistake in 
the long rigmarole that follows, he is not only laughed at by 
his comrades, but severely scolded by the commanding officer. 
There is a form in the " Blue-book " for mounting the guard, 
which is about as clear as the " Rule in Shelly's Case," but much 
of what takes place is the " custom of service," or the whim of the 
commanding officer, who wishes his guard mounted in a " pae- 
TICULAR manner J^ These old bummers, who sail through the 
world under the general title of "commanding officer," are 
mostly dried up with age, and as cross as a Texas cow. They 


scrutinize every movement, and a saber held a little out of tlie 
perpendicular, or a hand half an inch too high upon the piece, 
will cause them to rear and charge like a bull in a china-shop. 
As to a downright mistake, should you be so unfortunate as to 
make one, they no sooner observe it than they grow purple in 
the face with rage, and if they did n't swear they certainly 
would burst. 

I give the problem of guard mounting in the regular army, 
as I worked it out when in the service, though it is a long time 
since I " mounted a guard," and it is probable I may have for- 
gotten something. 

The line has been formed, and the officer of the guard takes 
his post in front of the center of his guard and about four paces 
from it. At the command, "Front!" given by the adjutant, 
the officer of the guard marches forward eight paces, and at 
the command given by the adjutant, " Officers and non-commis- 
sioned officers ! About fece ! Inspect your guard ! March ! " the 
officer of the guard makes an about-face, stands fast until the 
sergeants and corporals reach their stations, when he commands, 
" Order arms ! Inspection arms ! " and, returning his saber, 
marches to the center of the guard, faces to the left, and, march- 
ing to the right of the guard, inspects the arms from right to 
left of the front rank, then passes in rear of the rank from left 
to right, scrutinizing the uniforms of the front rank men. Next 
he goes to the rear rank, which is inspected from right to left, 
and the uniforms of this rank are examined, and then the ser- 
geants and corporals are inspected. He then marches frem the 
rear to the right of the front rank, draws his saber, and, step- 
ping one pace to the front, faces to the left, and commands, 
" Open boxes ! '' If there is cavalry in the front rank, he passes 
it, going down the front line, and inspecting only the boxes of 

belden: the white chief. 41", 

the infantry. The rear rank is then inspected, and, afler all is 
done, he takes post four paces in front of the guard, and the 
adjutant commands, " Parade rest ! '^ when the officer of the 
guard lowers the point of his saber to the ground, places the 
center of the right foot in rear of the left heel, and, crossing his 
hands on top of the hilt of his saber, stands still. The adjutant 
next commands, " Troop beat off ! " when the musicians march 
to the front, turn to the left, and play down in front of the 
officer of the guard. When they have returned to the right 
again, the adjutant commands, " Attention guard ! Carry arms ! 
Close order, march ! ^^ at which the officer of the guard brings 
his saber to a carry, and, facing his guard, marches to the center, 
then turns to the left, and takes his position on the right of the 
guard. The adjutant, seeing his last orders complied with, 
commands, " Present arms ! ^' when both the officer of the 
guard and the adjutant salute with the saber, and the adjutant, 
facing about, reports to the officer of the day : " Sir, the guard is 
formed." The officer of the day then instructs the adjutant how 
he shall march the guard, generally commanding, " March the 
guard in review, sir! " when the adjutant faces about, and com- 
mands, " Carry arms ! " at which the officer of the guard also 
comes to a carry with his saber. The adjutant then commands, 
" Platoons right wheel, march ! " and the officer of the guard 
repeats the command, and then steps to the left of the first 
platoon, and commands, after it has wheeled, " First platoon 
left dress ! " and, seeing it dressed, takes his position in front 
of the center of the leading platoon and one pace from it. 

The adjutant now commands, " Forward, guide left, march ! " 
and, as the guard marches in review past the officer of the day, 
the officer of the guard salutes with his saber. He also must 
command the guard in its march, and give all necessary orders. 


When he leaves the parade ground, he will command, " Hight 
snoulder shift arms ! " and march his guard to the guard-house. 
The old guard has turned out and formed in line, and, on ap- 
proaching the left of it, the old guard will present arms, at 
which the new officer of the guard will command, ^* Carry 
arms!" and march down the front of the old guard. Arrived 
on the right, he will halt and dress on the old guard, and com- 
mand, " Present arms ! " and salute the old officer of the guard. 
Both guards now come to an order arms, and await the approach 
of the old and new officer of the day, and when they come near, 
the new officer of the guard will command, "Old and new 
guard carry arms! Present arms! " at the same time saluting 
with the saber. The guard is then brought to a carry and an 
order arms, when the prisoners are turned over, the reports ex- 
amined, the old guard relieved, details for the day made, and 
the posts relieved, all of which, without going further into 
details, takes about as long as what has gone before. 

All this duty has to be done with a minuteness and precision 
wonderful to behold, and if an error is committed, the unfor- 
tunate officer is sure to catch it from the commanding officer. 




A S soon as the traveler crosses the Missouri, and enters the 
-^-^ territories, he begins to find the blue jackets, and the far- 
ther west he goes the more numerous they become. It is only 
just to the army to say that it has ever been the pioneer of 
civilization in America. Ever since Washington crossed the 
Alleghanies, and, with his brave Virginians, pushed to the 
Ohio, the work has been steadily going on. From Pittsburg, 
far down the Ohio to the Mississippi, and thence along the 
Father of Waters to New Orleans ; next west to the Miami, 
and far up the lakes; then to the Missouri, and so on for thou- 
sands of miles until the other ocean was reached through 
Oregon and California. A line of forts are pushed out into 
the new and "uninhabited country, and presently people come 
in and settle near the posts. A few years elapse, and there are 
hundreds of citizens in all directions. Then the forts are sold 
or pulled down, and the troops march farther west to found 
new postff. 



The knapsacks are packed, the cavalry are mounted, and we 
are ready to occupy a new line of country. " Head of column 
west, forward, march ! " and away we go. What an outfit ! 
The long lines of cavalry wind over the hills, and then follows 
the compact column of infantry. Then come a few pieces of 
artillery and the train. What a sight ! Hundreds of wagons, 
filled with every conceivable article of food and implement of 
labor : steam-engines, saw-mills, picks, shovels, hoes, masses of 
iron, piles of lumber, tons of pork, hard bread, flour, rice, 
sugar, coffee, tea, and potatoes, all drawn in huge wagons. Six 
mules or ten oxen are seen tugging the monster wheeled ma- 
chines along. The train is generally preceded by a score or 
two of carriages, ambulances, and light wagons, containing the 
families of officers, women, children, and laundresses. In rear 
of the train are driven the herds of cattle and sheep, and, last 
of all, comes a company of infantry, and, perhaps, one of 

Day after day the living, moving mass toils on toward the 
setting sun. Bridges are built, gulleys filled, hill-sides dug 
down, and roads cut along precipices. We wonder how the 
pioneer corps can keep out of our way ; but each day we go 
steadily forward, seeing only their work, never overtaking them. 
A ride to the front will show us how this is done. It is mid- 
day, and a company is going out to relieve the pioneers. The 
knapsacks are lightened, and ofi* we go at a quick pace. At 
sundown we come upon the pioneers, and find some building a 
bridge, while others cut down the hill so the wagons can pass. 
We relieve them of their shovels, picks, and axes, and one- 
half of the company goes into camp, and the other half goes 
to work. At midnight we are aroused by the beating of the 
drum, and the half of the company that is in camp goes out 


to relieve the working party. At daylight we are relieved in 
turn ; the work, goes on day and night, and that is the way 
the pioneers keep ahead of the train. 

Let us return to the column. It is near sunset, the bugles 
sound the halt, and the columns file off into camp. The cav- 
alry horses are sent out to graze, the tents put up, fires lighted, 
and the suppers put on to cook. The white canvas gleams in 
the setting sun, and the camp resounds with mirth and laugh- 
ter. Water is brought from the brook, and soap and towels 
are in great demand to remove the dust and stains of travel. 
Folding chairs, tables, beds, mattresses, are opened out, and car- 
pets spread on the ground. The butchers have slaughtered a 
beef or two, and the fresh meat is brought in for distribution. 
The commissary wagons are opened, and sugar, coffee, rice, 
hominy, and canned fruits dealt out. In an hour we sit down 
to a smoking hot dinner and supper of roast beef, hot coffee, 
fried potatoes, fresh biscuit, and canned peaches. If the air is 
cool the little peaked Sibley stoves are put up, and the even- 
ing is spent in telling stories, playing at cards, and singing 
songs. Here is heard the thrumming of a guitar, and the 
sweet voice of woman; there are a lot of officers playing 
euchre, and yonder a group of soldiers gathered about their 
camp-fire telling tales of how they campaigned in Oregon, or 
foiiglit the Comanches and Apaches in Texas and New Mexico 
twenty years ago. 

The bugles sound tattoo, the rolls are called, taps blow, the 
lights are put out, and the busy camp sinks into stillness. 
Only here and there a light is left burning, where the quarter- 
master, in his tent, is busy over his papers, the adjutant 
making the orders for the morrow's march, or a noisy trio of 
officers continuing to an unseasonable hour their jests and 

416 belden: the white chief. 

songs. No soldier is allowed to have his light burning aftei 
taps, but the officers can do as they please. 

Every one sleeps soundly, for each knows he is well guarded. 
It is near midnight, and, if you like, we will walk about the 
camp a little. Here is the officer of the day, and we will ac- 
company him. ^Ye go out to the edge of the camp, where a 
large group of men are gathered about a blazing fire. " Who 
comes there ? " rings out upon the still night air. " Friends, " 
is answered back. " Advance one and be recognized. " This 
is done, and then comes the cry of " Officer of day, turn out 
the guard. " There is a rattling of muskets, a hurrying and 
bustling to and fro, and the guard falls into line and is in- 
spected — so far as to ascertain that all are present and every 
thing right. Frequently an officer, but most generally a ser- 
geant of experience, commands the guard, and all the sentinels 
are posted according to the directions of the officer of the day, 
who receives his instructions from the commanding officer of 
the camp. 

The wagons are drawn up in long lines or semicircles, with 
the tongues inward, to which are tied the mules and oxen. 
Sentinels pace up and down to see that all goes right, and 
rouse the teamsters to tie up the mules that are constantly 
getting loose. The cry of " loose mules " will bring a dozen 
teamsters out of their wagons, and at least a hundred oaths 
before the animal is caught and secured. The cavalry wagons 
are placed twenty or thirty feet apart, and long ropes drawn 
through the hind wheels, to which are picketed the horses. 
Guards are every-where, and the sentinels are keenly on the 
alert. Each hill-top has its silent watcher. The herds are 
kept where there is as much grass as possible, and mounted 
herders constantly watch them, ready for an Indian alarm 


or a stampede. A cry of " Indians, Indians, " produces great 
life and commotion among the herders, guards, and sentinels, 
but the body of the camp does not deign to move unless the 
firing is very heavy, and the order given to " turn out." This' 
is the Regular Army on the march. 

When the troops enter the Indian country, and the attacks 
become frequent, the column marches more compactly; the 
herds and wagons are kept well up ; the women and children 
put among the infantry; flankers thrown out, and a howitzer 
sent to the front to throw shells and frighten off the savages. 
The boom of a cannon seems to be the voice of advancing 
civilization, and greatly terrifies the Indians. 

At last the line of country that is to be occupied has been 
reached, and a fort is built. This consists of a stockade, log- 
houses, and shelters for the stores. Then the troops are 
divided, and another fort is built fifty or a hundred miles from 
the first, and so on until the whole line is " occupied." If 
there is danger, earthworks are thrown up, and one or two 
pieces mounted. Now begins the work in earnest; keeping 
open the communication between the forts ; getting up supplies 
from the rear, and securing the way for immigration. The 
country is mapped, the land surveyed, the streams looked up 
and named, and saw-mills built. Settlers come in and open 
farms near the forts, and they creep up and down the valleys, 
and over the hills, until they stretch away for hundreds of 
miles. Meanwhile, there are Indian battles, surprises and 
massacres by scores. Hundreds lose their lives, but the set- 
tlements go on. There is a little grocery, a rum shop, a town, 
and by and by a city. 

Every spring, as soon as the grass grows, the cavalry takes 
the field and scours over the country for hundreds of miles. 


The infantry remains in the posts, or guards trains to and fro 
From April until December, the cavalry is on the go con- 
stantly, and the officers separated from their families. When 
the snows fall they come into the forts to winter, but are 
often routed out by the approach of their savage foes, and made 
to march hundreds of miles when the thermometer is far below 
zero. It is this that makes the troops so savage, and often 
causes them to slaughter the Indians without mercy. After a 
long and hard summer's campaign, the officers and men come 
in tired, weary, and only too glad to rejoin their families and 
rest, when scarcely have they removed the saddles from their 
horses' backs, when murders, robberies, and burnings, announce 
the approach of the fierce foe, and they are ordered out for a 
winter campaign. Full of rage and chagrin, they go forth 
breathing vengeance on all Indians, and after toiling a month 
or more, through ice and snow, with freezing hands, feet, and 
ears, they overtake the savages and punish them with terrible 

The soldier's life is, indeed, one of danger, exposure, and 
trouble. The hard-earned reputation of twenty years, often, is 
lost by the misfortunes of an hour. Old gray-headed officers, 
who have gained a score of Indian fights, are surprised once, 
lose their stock, and if they survive the conflict, are dismissed 
the service for " neglect of duty." Others, after years of toil, 
in a moment of rage, utter some hasty words, and are dismissed 
for " disrespect to their superiors," and others, again, for, in an 
unhappy mood, taking too much barleycorn. 

Nothing will give a man more aches, make him feel old 
sooner, or is a more uncertain business than soldiering. I 
know that a different opinion prevails in the east, but it ia 
founded wholly in error, and is dispelled the moment one 

belden: the white chief. 419 

arrives on the frontier, and sees what an important part our 
little army plays in the great work of civilizing and develop- 
ing our country. 

Even in winter time, when in quarters and resting^ the sol- 
diers are kept very busy. At day-break there is reveille, and 
immediately afterward, grooming of horses for one hour and a 
half. After stables, three-quarters of an hour for breakfast; 
then fatigue call and sick call. At 10 o'clock drill for one 
hour. Dinner call at 12 o'clock; fatigue call at 1 o'clock; 
drill at 2 o'clock ; stables at half-past 3 o'clock to half-past 4 ; 
supper and retreat at 5 o'clock, and to bed at 9 o'clock, to go 
through the same routine to-morrow. Besides these duties, 
there are boards of survey, boards of inspection, schools of 
instruction in tactics, signals, and various other matters. 
Where is the business man, or the professional man, who 
works more steadily? 

For these services, it is generally supposed the officers receive 
large pay, yet, the fact is, they get but a miserable pittance, as 
the following list of salaries will show : A second lieutenant of 
infantry gets §1,368 per year ; a first lieutenant of infantry, 
$1,428 ; a captain of infantry, |1,648 ; a second lieutenant of 
cavalry, $1,467.96 per year; a first lieutenant the same as 
second; a captain, $1,648; majors of infantry, cavalry, and 
artillery, $2,160; lieutenant-colonels, $2,460; colonels, $2,748. 
This does not include service rations, quarters and fuel in kind, 
or commutation of quarters and fuel when not with troops. An 
officer receives a service ration for every five years he has re- 
mained in the service; it is worth $9 per month, or $108 per 
year. When officers are serving with troops they are provided 
by the Government with quarters and fuel free of charge, but 
when they are stationed in a city, or on staff duty, they are 

420 belden: the white chief. 

allowed to commute tlieir quarters and fuel money, at a price 
fixed by the army regulations. If an officer is married, it is 
cheaper for him to be with troops, and be furnished with quar- 
ters and fuel in kind for himself and family; but, if he is a 
single man, then he can board in a family in the city, and hia 
money allowance for quarters and fuel will go a long way in 
paying his expenses. 

belden: the white chief. 421 






ONE day at Fort Kearney I sent for my cook Basache, and 
. asked her the meaning of Mock-pe-Lutah. She said it 
was the Indian name for Red Cloud or Bloody Hand, and that 
this terrible warrior had derived his name from his deeds of 
blood and the red blankets his warriors wore, who never moved 
on their enemies without appearing as a cloud, so great were 
their numbers. Sweeping down with his hosts on the border, 
he covered the hills like a red cloud in the heavens, and never 
returned until he had almost exterminated the tribe or settle- 
ment against which his wrath was directed. 

Basache then went on to give me some most interesting in- 
formation concerning the manner in which Indians obtained 
their names. 

Ta-shunk-ah-ko-ke-pah-pe was " Man-Afraid-of-His-Horses," 
and obtained his name from having captured a great many 
horses, which he was constantly afraid he would lose. On one 
occasion, when the Shoshonee Indians attacked his camp, Ta- 

422 belden: the white chief. 

shunk-ah-ko-ke-pali-pe left his family in the hands of the 
Snakes, to carry oiF his horses. 

As has been said in another chapter, most Indians receive 
their names from some peculiarity of person or costume, or from 
some misfortune. Thus, Ba-oo-Kish, or Clo&ed Hand, a noted 
Crow Indian, was so named from the fact that when young 
his hand was so badly burned as to cause his fingers to close 
into the palm, and grow fast. Another was called White 
Forehead, because he always wore a white band across his fore- 
head to conceal a scar that had been given him by a squaw. 

The Omaha Indians name nearly every child from some inci- 
dent or event that occurs at the time of its birth. Thus, a 
child was born on the march, and the mother having no knife 
to cut the naval string, broke it, and the child was ever after- 
ward known by the singular name of No Knife, and became 
a noted man in his tribe. 

I will here give place to a touching incident concerning a 
daughter of the noted chief Spotted Tail, the origin of whose 
name has been given in a preceding chapter. This girl, who 
was said to be very beautiful, fell deeply in love with an officer 
stationed at Fort Laramie. He did not reciprocate her passion, 
and told her he could never marry her ; but the poor girl came 
day after day to the fort, and would sit on the steps of the offi- 
cer's house until he came out, when she would quietly follow 
him about like a dog. She seemed to ask no greater pleasure 
than to see him, and be near him, and was always miserable 
when out of his sight. Spotted Tail, who knew of his 
daughter's love, remonstrated with her in vain ; and, when he 
found he could not conquer her foolish passion, sent her to a 
band of his people several hundred miles away. She went 
without murmuring ; but, arrived at her destination, she re- 

belden: the white chief. 423 

fused food, and pined away, until she became a mere skeleton. 
Spotted Tail was sent for, to come, and see her die ; and being 
a favorite daughter, he hastened to her side. He found her 
almost gone but, with her remaining strength, she told him 
of her great love for the whites, and made him promise that he 
would live at peace with them. Then she seemed very happy, 
and, closing her eyes, said ; "This is my last request, bury me 
at Laramie;'^ and then died. The old chief carried the body 
to Laramie, and buried it with the whites, where she wished 
to lie. The grave has been carefully marked, and is still an 
object of great interest to people who visit the fort. Spotted 
Tail, since the death of his daughter, never speaks in council 
with the whites but he mentions her request, and declares it 
to be his wish to live at peace with the people she loved so 

Several romping Crow girls being present, at my quarters 
one day, one of them, for sport, commenced tickling another, 
who could not bear to have any one touch her under the arms. 
The poor girl screamed frantically, and rolled over and over, 
but the other kept on poking her in the ribs until she fainted 
outright. Basache then, in great alarm, raised her up and called 
to me to bring quickly the scented grass; for the girPs tail was 
coming up in her throat and choking her to death. I brought 
the grass, of which Basache always kept a good supply on hand, 
and lighting some of it, one held the fainting girl over it while 
the other threw a shawl about her head. She soon revived and 
took her departure, when I asked Basache to explain to me wha< 
she meant by saying the girPs tail had come up in her throat. 
She said very gravely, " Every human being has a tail in his 
stomach, and it is this that always makes him sick. Some 
have fox tails, others cow tails, others again tails of birds, and 

424 belden: the white chief. 

still others dog, mink, beaver, raccoon, and horse tails. The lattei 
are very dangerous, and constantly liable to get out of ordei. 
No one can be sick while their tail is in order, but as soon a& 
any thing gets the matter with it then they are sick. If a man 
hag cold, it is his tail ; if he has fever, vomit, rash, boils, and, 
above all, pains in his stomach, there is something wrong with 
his tail." 

This theory was so absurd I could not help laughing, at which 
Basache was very angry, and left my presence, but I called her 
back to inquire what kind of a tail she had in her stomach, 
when, to my surprise, she promptly answered, " A wolPs tail, 
sir." I said, " Do each of you indeed know what kind of a tail 
is in your stomach ? " "Oh yes," she replied, " every body 
knows that, and there is my sister, Ba-ra-we-a-pak-peis, who has 
a cow's tail, and Pen-ke-pah, whom you know very well, has a 
horse tail, which is constantly making her sick. When Ba- 
ra-we-a-pak-peis was younger, her tail troubled her a great deal, 
and mother says it often came up in her mouth, and sometimes 
protruded from her throat, but it never does so now, since the 
Indian doctor gave her some bitter herbs to swallow." 

All this was very curious and ridiculous to me, but, upon in- 
quiry among the Crows, I learned it to be a well-founded super- 
stition, and nearly every Crow believed a tail of one kind or 
another dwelt in his stomach, which was the sole cause of his 
ills, aches, and pains. 

On the 29th of June, 1868, 1 received orders to escort a train 
over the mountains, to Fort Steele, on the Platte, and as it was 
understood we would not return, this order occasioned no little 
joy. We signalized the event by starting on the 4th of July, 
and in due time arrived at Fort Reno. From Reno we marched 
to Fort Fetterman, where Major Gordon left me, and I con- 

belden: the white chief. 425 

tinued to march toward Steele with Major Gregg. We arrived 
safel} at Steele, on the 29th of July, and went into camp. 

On the 6th of August I set out to return to Fort Fetterman, 
and had marched as far as Elk Mountain, by the 8th of the 
same month. Here I found the lumber-men had just lynched a 
white man, and I went up to see the body, but it was gone, 
though a tripod with a hangman's noose at the top was still 
standing. Under this rude scaffold was a fresh grave, and 
in it the unfortunate man slept his last sleep. 

While marching up to Fetterman we found the hunting ex- 
cellent, and killed in all forty-three antelope, three white-tailed 
deer, five elk, besides an immense number of prairie-hens, rab- 
bits, and mountain grouse. 

We remained at Fetterman until late in September, and 
while the command was out cutting hay, guarding trains, and 
scouting, I had some splendid hunting, and enjoyed myself 
better than I had at any time since joining the army. 




LEWIS AND Clarke's expedition up the Missouri in 1806 — their recep- 

ROAM — Washakie's band — his reservation — how he keeps his treaties 


THERE is a. people of more than common interest, living 
in the west, called the Shoshonees, or Snakes. They in- 
habit a belt of country lying on the north-west border of the 
territory of Wyoming. Their earliest recollection of the whites 
dates from 1806, when Lewis and Clarke made their famous 
expedition up the Missouri. In a battle with the Minnetarees, 
of Knife River, the Shoshonees were defeated, and several of 
their women and children captured. One of these, Sacajawca, the 
wife of a warrior, was carried far down the Missouri, and there 
Lewis and his companions found her. She showed them the 
way up the Missouri, to where the Jefferson Fork empties, 
which was the place where the battle had been fought. Cap- 
tain Lewis, with three men, proceeded up the Jefferson, in search 
of the tribe, but could not find them. This was on the first day 
of August, 1806. On the third day of the same month, Lewis 
niade another attempt to find the Snakes, and, although he saw 
fresh moccasin tracks, and knew the Indians Were near at hand, 
and hiding among the hills, he could not induce any of the 


savages to show themselves. On the eleventh day of August, 
however, he saw an Indian on horseback, near the river, and 
spreading down a blanket, which is the sign of friendship among 
the Indians, the captain motioned the warrior to come and sit 
by him, but he fled swiftly away into the hills. Taking some 
provisions, Lewis set out on the track of the Indian, and on the 
third day saw several men and women gathering berries. The 
men sprang upon their horses and made off, and the women hid 
in a ravine; but Lewis and his men captured one old squaw 
and a little girl. When the woman saw them near her she sat 
down, as is their custom, and holding out her neck, waited for 
death. Lewis raised her up, and cried ^Habha honCy^ which 
means white roan, at the same time stripping up his sleeve and 
showing her his arm, for his hands and face were as bronzed as 
an Indian's. Little by little the poor woman took courage, and 
looked up when Lewis put beads on her neck, and gave the 
little girl a pewter mirror. Then he told her to call the women 
who were hiding in the ravine, and she did so, but only two 
young squaws had the courage to come out. Lewis painted the 
cheeks of all three women red, with vermilion, and showed them 
their faces in the pewter mirror, which pleased them mightily. 
Presently a troop of sixty warriors were seen riding at full speed 
toward Lewis and his companions. The women ran out to meet 
them, and showed the warriors the presents they had received. 
A parley took place, and after some explanations, three Indians 
advanced, and embracing Lewis cried out, Ah-hi-e, ah-hi-e. " I 
am glad to see you," or, "I am pleased you have come.'' All 
the warriors embraced Lewis's men, and then they smoked the 
shoshonee, taking off their moccasins, which means, " If we are 
false, may we be barefooted forever," a terrible penalty on the 
thorny plains. 


The whole party soon set off for the village, and when withiu 
two miles of it, they were met by the great chief, who made a 
friendly speech, welcoming the whites. 

In the village, Captain Lewis and his party were given leathern 
lodges, which were nicely fitted up with the skins of wild animals, 
and young men came to build fires, bring water, and wait upon 
them. The chief came in state to smoke with the white men, 
first removing his moccasins, as a token of his good faith toward 
them. Lewis remained several days with the Shoshonees, and 
was hospitably entertained and pressed to stay longer, but hear- 
ing his boats had ascended to the Jefferson, he set off for the 
river, accompanied by the chief and his whole tribe, all wishing 
to see the boats. This branch of the Snakes was under a chief 
named Cameahwait, and numbered about four hundred, but 
Captain Lewis learned that the whole nation then contained some 
thirteen thousand souls, and was scattered over a vast extent 
of territory. They claimed all the lands between the Missouri 
valley and the Columbia River. They spread over the upper 
Platte, and roamed along the Green, Bear, Sweetwater, Colorado, 
and Wind rivers. Their eastern neighbors were the Dakotaa 
(Sioux), and their northern lands extended to the country* of the 
bloody Blackfeet. West and south of them ranged the Coman- 
ches. At the time, however, of Captain Lewis's visit, the Sho- 
shonees were at war with the Pawnees and Minnetarees, who were 
found as far north as the mouth of Jefferson River, on the Missouri. 

Lewis found the Snakes armed with bows, arrows, and shields, 
but a few had fusils, which they had obtained from the Yellow- 
stone Indians, who had got them from the North-west Fur 
Company's traders. Though they had often heard of them, 
and had guns, it is doubtful if ever the Shoshonees saw a white 
man before Lewis and Clarke's expedition. 


The supposition by Schoolcraft and other Indian writers, that 
the Snakes are one of the primary stocks of the llocky Mount- 
ain Indians is a mistake. They speak the sanie language as 
the Comanches, and are undoubtedly an off-shoot of that tribe. 
So says General Alvord, on the testimony of an American, who 
had lived thirty years west of the mountains ; and Colonel Cady, 
who has been in the United States service since 1829, confirmed 
the statement, at Fort Laramie, in 1863^ 

"When the division of the Snakes and Comanches took place 
is not so clear, but probably about 1 780. Nothing is known as 
to the cause of separation. The Snake Indians found by Lewis, 
lived in the rugged and cold country bordering on the Jefferson 
River, and they were extremely poor and miserable, being com- 
pelled to live at times for weeks without meat, subsisting upon 
roots and fish. They had but few horses, but were fierce and 
war-like, their enemies greatly fearing them on account of their 
hardihood and bravery. Notwithstanding their wretched con- 
dition, they were honest, polite to strangers, and dignified in 
their bearing. 

In 1845, we find the Snake, or Shoshonee nation, divided 
into the Yam-pal ick-ara, or Root Eaters, and Bo-na-acks, or 
Bannacks. They then, with the Utahs, inhabited the basin of 
the Great Salt Lake, and extended as far south and west as the 
borders of California and New Mexico. Their numbers at this 
date is not known. In 1850, we find them divided into the 
assimilated tribes of Bannacks ; Yam-palick-ara, Root Eaters ; 
Kerlsatik-ara, Buffalo Eaters; and Penentik-ara, or Honey 
Eaters. Their whole number then was four thousand and five 
hundred souls. 

General Fremont, in his expedition, came upon the Snakes 
first in the north latitude 42°, and longitude 109°. They had 


no horses, and lived principally upon roots. In the topo> 
graphical maps of 1846, the land between Red Buttes, in North 
Platte River, and junction of Big Sandy with Green River, is 
laid down as " War ground of the Sioux and Snake Indians J* 
The distance between the two points thus marked was one 
hundred and ninety-two miles, and it was the dark and bloody 
ground of the west. There raged the terrible contests of the 
great Dakotas and the fierce Shoshonees for more than half a 
century. The Snake lands then began, as they claimed, at the 
mouth of the Sweetwater, but they seldom ventured so far east, 
even in time of war. Their western boundary was at the Co- 
lumbia and along the Snake River, or Lewis's Fork. The breadth 
of these lands was one hundred and fifty miles. The eastern 
part consisted of sandy plains covered with sage brush, except 
the Sweetwater and Wind River valleys, which were rich and 
tolerably well timbered. The central moiety lay across the 
summits of mountains; and the western lands, for one hundred 
and forty miles, consisted of small valleys and bristling spurs 
of volcanic formation, through a fissure of which the Bear River 
wound, and then poured into Salt Lake. 

The Shoshonees, as we before said, extended under various 
names as far north as the sources of the Missouri, and south to 
New Mexico, Texas, and Arkansas. The overland route, first 
opened by the Mormons to the west, lay directly through the 
Snake lands, aild, mustering all their force, the Shoshonees 
sought for years to drive back the pale faces. From the Sweet- 
water to the Great Salt Lake Basin the road is marked with 
graves. Here, on this lonely plain, they killed a straggler, 
there, by the little stream, they surprised the encampment; 
and yonder, in the gorge, they pounced down upon the train 
and murdered men, women, and children. A rude pile of 

belden: the white chief. 431 

stones, or a rough cross, marks where the boues of the emi- 
grants molder with the dust. 

In 1864, we find the Snakes greatly reduced in numbers 
(not over fifteen hundred in all), but still scattered over a vast 
extent of territory. Their ancient allies, the Bannacks, still lived 
with them, and had intermarried with the Shoshonees, but spoke 
a difierent language. Who the Bannacks are, or where they 
come from, is not certainly known, but, most probably, they are 
one of the numerous branches of the Dakota or Sioux family. 

At present, the Bannacks are divided into two bands, the 
most numerous of which is Ti-gee's. This chief and his war- 
riors roam in summer from Soda Springs, Idaho, to Fort Hall, 
and in winter live with the Snakes, on Wind River, in AVyom- 
ing. Pivi-a-mos, or Big Finger, who leads the other band of 
Bannacks, lives in summer, near Virginia City, Montana, and 
in winter they go to the Yellowstone Riv^er. They have fine 
trout fishing during the warm months, along the Snake River, 
and in the cold months, live on buffalo and dried salmon. 

The Snakes proper are the Ho-can-dik-ara, or Lake Diggers, 
who live near Salt Lake City, in Utah. On the 19th of Jan- 
uary, 1863, this band having become hostile. General Conner 
made a forced march with the Second Regiment of California 
Volunteers to Bear River, where he surprised them and almost 
annihilated the band. The Aga-dik-ara, or Salmon Eating 
Snakes, live on Snake River, and subsist on salmon.* 

The largest band of Snakes is Wash-a-kees, which roams in 
summer on Green River, and winters on Wind River. They 
eat deer, antelope, and fish in summer, and buffalo in winter. 
The Salmon River Snakes, called Took-a-rik-aras, or Sheep" 
Eaters, live on Salmon River. As indicated by their name, 

they subsist on musmen, or musimen, or muffon, or wild sheep. 

432 belden: the white chief. 

It closely resembles the wild sheep of Barbara, Corsica, and 
Sardinia, and is supposed by Buffon " to be the sheep in a wild 

It is of the Eastern Snakes or Wash-a-kees band I wish 
more particularly to speak. The chief is sixty years old, tall 
of stature, and of dignified manners. This noble old Indian 
maintains his treaty with an exactitude that would be credit- 
able to the most enlightened ruler. Several years ago he ceased 
from war, and since then has done all he agreed to perform in 
the treaty with the whites. In 1864, some of his young men, 
having become dissatisfied, wished to go and fight the whites ; 
Wash-a-kee made a speech, and tried to dissuade them. 
Among other things, he said : " I am not only your chief, but 
an old man, and your father. It, therefore, becomes my duty 
to advise you. I know how hard it is for youth to listen to 
the voice of old age. The old blood creeps with the snail, but 
the young blood leaps with the torrent. Once I was young, 
my sons, and thought as you do now. Then my people were 
strong, and my voice was ever for war. We fought long years, 
and at length, when wasted by the bullet and torn by disease, 
the nation sought for peace. Go count, the graves of the slain, 
and you will learn my reasons for being anxious to save you 
who are still left me. Behold our women and children ; if you 
go to battle, who will hunt and feed them ? Make no more 
enemies, but save your valor for the Sioux, who come every 
year to fight us. We said it in the council, and we wrote it 
on the paper, that we would war no more. What we have 
signed we will keep; what we have said to the white father 
we would do, that we will do. No, a Shoshonee can not lie. 
You must not fight the whites ; and I not only advise against 
it, but I forbid UJ* Seeing the young men were determined on 

belden: the white chief. , 433 

war, the old chief covered his head with a blanket, that he 
might not see them depart. For three days he mourned for 
them as for the dead, and then arose and denounced them as 
rebels against their chief. 

Soon after their departure the rebel band was caught by the 
whites and nearly all the warriors killed. Those who escaped 
came back, and humbly begged to be taken into the tribe again, 
but Wash-a-kee refused, and bid them begone, for rebels. For 
a whole year he would not see them ; but, at last, softened by 
the lapse of time and the petitions of his people, he said : 
"Wash-a-kee knows his duty, but his heart is too weak to 
withstand your voices. Tell the rebellious warriors to come 
home.'' He, however, deprived the chief who had led them, 
of his authority, and appointed a new chief over" them. All 
this Wash-a-kee did from convictions of duty, to comply 
strictly with the terms of his treaty, and, as he said, " show 
the white father that I would do what I had promised him in 
the council, and written on the paper." 

The present reservation of the Shoshonees commences at the 
mouth of Owl Creek, runs due south to the middle of the 
divide between the waters of Wind River and the waters of 
the Sweetwater; thence west along the divide and crest of 
Wind River Mountains to the longitude of the north fork of 
Wind River ; thence north to the north Fork, and up the same, 
thirty miles ; thence east to the south bank of Owl Creek, and 
down Owl Creek to its mouth, to the point of beginning. 

The belt of land lying within these lines is ninety miles 
wide and about one hundred and ten miles long. It was set 
aside two years ago by the Peace Commissioners, for the sole 
and exclusive use of the Shoshonees and Bannack Indians ; but 
white men have already gone in and opened several fine farms. 

434 belden: the white chief. 

The beautiful valleys, pure water, ricli soil, excellent timber, and 
delightful climate of the reservation make it a particularly de- 
sirable region for agriculture. It is, undoubtedly, the best por- 
tion of Wyoming Territory ; and the Sweetwater gold mines, 
lying on the edge and partly in the reservation, have brought 
together thousands of miners, who readily buy up all the veg- 
etables, corn, and grain that can be raised in the valleys be- 
yond. South Pass City, Atlantic City, and Miner's Delight 
are fine towns, and furnish ready markets for produce. Miner's 
Delight is on the reservation, and husbandmen are every year 
coming in and opening farms. The increasing immigration 
will soon repeat the old story, and the white man will have the 
Indian's land. 

Wash-a-kee, when told that the whites would soon want his 
land, bowed his head, and replied, with trembling voice, " I 
feared it, but I had hoped it would not come in my day. Look 
at me; I am old, and won't trouble the white father long. My 
people are rapidly passing away. Every year I see them fall- 
ing around me. They will soon be gone. Once we owned all 
the mountains and valleys to the Missouri. See what a little 
mite we have left. We are weak; we are poor; we can not 
resist the wrongs that are put upon us. Let the white father 
have pity. Let him spare us this great sorrow, and leave us 
our last home ! " 

And what reply did the white father make to this sad and 
touching appeal? In their last convention, "The People" of 
Wyoming " Resolved : That the proper development of the ter- 
ritory requires that the lands known as the Snake Indian Res- 
ervation, should be opened as speedily as possible for settlement 
by white men." 

That was the answer sent back to the old chief and his peo- 


pie, and the governor of "Wyoming reiterates the cry of the 
people, in his message, and then goes to "Washington to have the 
Indians removed from his territory. So it has been for more 
than two hundred years: civilization touches barbarism, and 
barbarism recoils like a burnt child from fire. 

The face of the white man, like an insatiable fiend, presents 
/tself constantly before the Indian, and a voice cries, " Back, 
back, to the setting sun. I want your land, your game, your 
home, even the graves of your people ; and I will have all I 
all I'' 

Some nations fight, some implore; but the result is the same — 
the white man becomes the possessor. So the beautiful valleys 
of the Snake lands will soon teem with population; towns 
will spring up, and the iron and coal, plaster and copper, be 
dug from the hills; mills will be heard on the clear streams 
of the Poppoagie, church bells will ring along the silent waters 
of "Wind River, and poor "Wash-a-kee and his children, where 
will they be ? Dead ! Under the earth. Gone to the happy 
hunting-grounds of their fathers — with King Philip and his 
people, the Pawnees, the Minnetarees, the Mohicans, the Man- 
dans, and all who have gone before. 






rfflHE Powder Kiver country, as it lias been known since 
-*- 1866, embraces all that unsettled tract between the head 
waters of Powder River on the south and the mouth of the 
Big Horn on the north, and between the Big Horn Mountains 
and the waters of the Missouri, an area that one day will be 
divided into several large States. This country was unknown 
except as an Indian hunting-ground until 1866, when an emi- 
grant road was opened through it to reach the Montana mines, 
but trappers and hunters had been familiar with it for many 
years, and had found it one of the best fur-producing sections in 
the West. Here the buffalo, bear, elk, deer, antelope, beaver, 
martin, mink, and white weasel, were found in abundance, and 
the pelts of all these wild animals were collected by the bold 
trappers or Indian traders, packed on rude boats built in the 
forests, and floated down the Big Horn, Yellowstone, and Mis- 
souri Rivers to the great fur mart of St. Louis. 



Just after the war of the rebellion, General Conner was sent 
into this country to chastise the Indian tribes, who had taben 
advantage of the state of war and the absence of troops from 
the border, to commence their raids on the unprotected settle- 
ments in Montana and Dakota. Conner had some Western 
regiments, raised on the frontier, and, though he possessed a 
good deal of merit and ability as a commander, and pushed his 
column into the center of the Indian country, he could not do 
much toward punishing or quieting the hostile Indians. 

In 1866, General Pope, who commanded in the West, ordered 
a road opened through the Powder River country, for emigrants 
bound to the Montana mines and Oregon. Troops were sent 
into the country to protect the route, and they built three forts, 
which have become historical on the border, Forts Reno, Phil 
Kearney, and C. F. Smith, all named after distinguished officers 
of the Union army, who lost their lives during the war of the 
rebellion. Reno was built on Powder River, Phil Kearney on 
the Piney, and C. F. Smith on the Big Horn. 

The building of these forts in the Indian country gave great 
offense to the tribes inhabiting it, both hostile and friendly, be- 
cause the Government took possession of the country without 
the consent of the Indians, and in violation of the common, but 
pernicious system, of making treaties before going on to their 
lands. After two years of active war with these Indians, during 
which one regiment of the army lost one hundred and fifteen 
men and three officers killed, in various combats, the Govern- 
ment decided, upon the recommendation of a commission of 
distinguished officers and citizens, to restore this territory to the 
Indians for a hunting-ground, withdrawing the troops, aban- 
doning the forts, and giving up to the caprices of a savage race 
a vast and fertile region, which had once been occupied in the 

438 belden: the white chief. 

interests of civilization, and for which many scores of valuabk 
lives had been sacrificed. The policy of surrendering this ter- 
ritory to the Indians, after occupying it with a military force 
for years, has often been questioned, and the discussion of this 
matter has produced many sharp criticisms on the conduct of 
officials who advised and secured the abandonment of a rich, 
fertile, and beautiful country to a few thousand savages, who 
can make no use of it but to chase the lessening herds of buffalo 
and deer, and fit but from distant camps their yearly raids on 
the peaceful settlements of border States and Territories. 

In the summer of 1868, the troops and settlers who were in 
the Powder Kiver country, left it for the lower settlements, and 
since then nothing has been heard of it, except from half-breeds 
or friendly Indians. It is known that the Indians burned the 
forts almost as soon as they were abandoned, and no white men 
would be safe there now, unless in sufficient strength to defy 
the Indians. 

Those people who are interested in the West will naturally 
wonder that the Government should withdraw its outposts, built 
for the protection of the border, and restore to the savage tribes 
what had been claimed for civilization, and it is a question that 
interests all of us : how long fifteen or twenty thousand Indians, 
less than the population of a farming county, shall hold for 
their exclu&ive use a valuable country as large as three or four 
States the size of Illinois ? 

So long as the Indians live by hunting alone, they will re- 
quire a large country to subsist them of course, and just so long 
they will be vagabonds, living a precarious life, often hungry, 
and always poor, their hand against every man, and every man's 
hand (in the civilized sense) against them. 

It is time the Government adopted a policy that should be 


beneficial to the Indians, instead of pursuing the old plan of 
taking their lands by treaty, in exchange for a few trinkets, and 
then leaving them to decay by the inevitable results of vice 
and poverty. 

The contest between civilization and savage superstition 13 
decided, and it is a problem for this generation to solve, whether 
the remnants of the savage tribes can be saved, and reduced to 
a state of self-supporting peace. Just how this can be done it 
is difficult to say, but it has been done with some tribes, and 
undoubtedly can be done with others. A few devoted and self- 
sacrificing men are now making efforts among Indians on the 
upper Missouri, and meeting with a success which warrants the 
belief that all tribes can, by proper effort, be turned gradually 
from their wild habits of roving, and living from day to day, 
to settle on reservations and live as herders and farmers. 
: Until we adopt the policy of putting the Indians upon small 
reservations and compelling them to stay there, ^e shall have 
constant trouble with them, and they will all the time be grow- 
ing poorer in men and the means of living, for it is well known 
that large game is growing scarce every year, and before an- 
other generation comes on the ground, the buffalo, the Indian^s 
meat and bread, will have become as scarce on the Powder, the 
Big Horn, and the Yellowstone, as it is now on the Platte. 

The Indians understand this, and it is no wonder they are 
determined to fight for the Powder River country, for it fur- 
nishes the only valuable hunting-ground in the North, and they 
see no way but to keep the whites out of it, or starve. 

Ked Cloud, chief of the Sioux, one of the ablest and most in- 
telligent Indians in the country, lately said, to an officer of the 
army, that he knew the white men could wipe out his tribe, but 
he was fighting for his home ; it was a question of starving or 


being killed, and of the two he had rather be killed. This is 
Indian philosophy, and from his stand-point it is right; but 
should not the civilization of the nineteenth century find a 
better solution to the question than starvation and the destruc- 
tion of a race ? 

Civilization brings its benefits and its pleasures, but it brings 
its duties and penalties also, and the verdict of impartial his- 
tory, the verdict of the higher law, in which we all believe, and 
to which we defer, will condemn us, unless we save and hand 
down to posterity at least a remnant of the race which we have 
driven across the continent, and to whom our example has been 
evil and not good for over two hundred years. 

The Indian tribes inhabiting the Powder River country are 
the Sioux, Crows, and small bands of Cheyennes and Arrapa- 
hoes. This country properly belongs to the Crows, or rather 
the western half of it, and is known in the Indian tongue as 
AbsaraJca, '^ The Home of the Crows.'' The Sioux, however, 
have driven the Crows from nearly all this country, by their 
superior numbers, and now claim it as theirs by right of con- 
quest. The principle of meum and tuum is as little regarded 
among Indian nations as among white, and they rule very 
much as we do, the stronger taking about what it wants. 

The Sioux are the strongest tribe in the North, and probably 
the strongest in the whole country. The tribe is made up of 
eight different bands, under different chiefs. Of these the Ogal- 
lalas, Minneconjoes, and Unkpapas are hostile, while the Brule, 
Yankton, Santee, Blackfeet, and Saus-arcs bands are friendly 
in the main, though they often send out war parties to attack 
the settlements and emigrants. The Yankton and Santee bands 
are probably as friendly to the whites as any Indians in the 
country. They are settled on reservations on the upper Mis- 

belden: the white chief. 441 

fiouri, and have commenced planting crops and raising stock in 
a civilized way. The Government furnishes them agents, who 
employ farmers and mechanics to instruct them in the various 
branches of industry, and two or three devoted men are living 
with them as missionaries, and are gaining a good deal of influ- 
ence among them, even inducing them to build school-houses 
and churches. 

This effort among the Sioux may lead to a solution of the 
Indian difficulty, and it is certain it is leading in the only 
right direction. The men who are devoting themselves to it 
should be sustained, and if they succeed they should be hon- 
ored for the signal service rendered two races. 

The hostile Sioux are led by chiefs of ability and determina- 
tion. Some of them are very capable men, and fully posted 
on the Indian situation as affecting them and us, and it will 
be difficult to control them unless we can convince the think- 
ing men of the tribe that we are sincere in our plans for their 
future. The Indian is naturally suspicious, but he is now des- 
perate and revengeful, because he feels his poverty and sees no 
hope of better times. 

The northern Cheyennes, a small band split off from the 
southern tribe, are allies of the Sioux, and have joined them in 
all their operations against us. The northern Arrapahoes were 
allies of the Sioux until 1868, when they separated from them, 
and have since been at peace with the whites. 1866-67 were 
active years in the Powder River country — the Sioux, Chey- 
ennes, and Arrapahoes were on the war-path continually, deter- 
mined to drive the white men out of the country, and number- 
less combats ensued, involving a large loss of life on both sides. 

The odds in numbers were always on the side of the In- 
dians, but the troops generally came off victorious, owing to 



superior arms and discipline. The Indians could numbei 
about 2,500 warriors at this time, and there were never more 
than 700 troops employed against them. The engagements 
w^re always between detachments of troops, one or two com- 
panies or less, and bodies of Indians numbering from one hun- 
dred to two thousand. 

The most important engagement in the Powder River coun- 
try, the only one in w^iich the Indians were successful against 
an organized force, was what is known as the Phil Kearney 
massacre, fought on the 21st of December, 1866, between a de- 
tachment of ninety-one men of the Eighteenth and Twenty- 
seventh Infantry and Second Cavalry, and 2,000 Sioux, Chey- 
ennes, and Arrapahoes. The troops were commanded by 
Colonel Fetterman, a gallant man, and most excellent officer, 
who had served with distinction during the war, and the In- 
dians were led by Red Leaf, Iron-clad, and other noted chiefs. 
This fight shows a good example of Indian tactics and cunning. 
The garrison of Fort Phil Kearney consisted at this date of 
fiive companies of infantry and one of cavalry, commanded by 
Colonel Carrington. The Indians knew that trains left the 
fort daily for the mountains, to procure timber and wood, and 
that they had a small guard to escort them. So, collecting their 
forces, they reached the vicinity of the fort the day previous to 
the attack, and concealed their men behind the mountains, four 
or five miles distant. On the morning of the 21st December 
the train went out as usual, and, before it was out of sight of 
the fort, was attacked by fifty Indians. The attack was soon 
signaled to the fort by the picket on a neighboring height, 
and a detachment of ninety-one men, under Colonel Fet- 
terman, were sent out to drive off the Indians and relieve the 

belden: the white chief. 445 

Fetterman, instead of moving directly for the train, took a 
line to get in rear of the Indians, and cut off their retreat ; see- 
ing this, the Indians fell back, skirmishing with the troops, and 
were followed over the hills, being pressed sharply by Fetter- 
man, until about five miles from the fort, when he found his. 
command suddenly beset by about two thousand savages, part 
mounted and part on foot, and all eager to fight. Fetterman's 
forre was probably scattered at the moment the ambush was 
discovered, and many of his men fell at the first shock, but he 
drew back his party, and after retreating a mile, closely followed, 
he made a stand on the top of a high ridge, determined to fight 
it out ; and here, after two hours of life-and-death struggle, the 
whole party of ninety-one men and three officers were killed, 
not even a wounded man escaping to tell the story. 

All that is known of the fight, after Fetterman's party dis- 
appeared from the sight of their friends at the fort, is gleaned 
from the reports of the Indians, coming to us through half- 
breeds on the frontier, and from the position of the dead bodies 
when found after the fight. 

The faults which led to the sacrifice of ninety-four men, well 
armed and well commanded, were purely military, and should 
not be discussed here ; but they were well understood, and were 
not repeated. The Indians frequently attacked trains and de- 
tached parties of troops in 1867, but were always defeated, a 
small company on two occasions defeating seven and eight hun- 
dred Indians. 

The losses which the Indians suffered in the Phil Kearney 
fight, and in other affairs with the troops, have never been 
known, as they always carry off the bodies of the dead or wound- 
ed as soon as they fall, holding it greater misfortune to lose 
the body of one of their men than to lose his life, and they will 


often sacrifice two or three in their efforts to carry off one who 
has fallen. 

The Crows are the peaceful Indians of the Powder River 
country, and are old and firm friends of the white man. They 
are a fine set of people, and the best specimens of the Indian 
race to be found. They are superior to the Sioux in courage 
and ability, and often fight them successfully two to one. If 
the Crows were enlisted in our cause, armed, and sent against 
the Sioux, they would soon take the fight off our hands, and 
either subdue the Sioux or drive them out of the country. 

The Government has adopted the policy of using friendly 
Indians to fight hostile ones, as in the case of the Pawnees, and 
they could not do a better thing, if hostilities are to continue, 
than to arm the Crows and other friendly tribes to settle the 
matter with the Sioux and others, who will not be quiet until 
they are soundly whipped. 

The Powder River country is destined to be the home of a 
large and rich population at no distant day. It possesses all 
the elements of wealth, a fine soil and good climate, coal in 
abundance, limestone, and superior building stone, and undoubt- 
edly great mineral wealth ; iron is found in many places, and 
gold has been discovered by chance prospectors, in quantities to 
warrant the belief that the Big Horn Mountains and the Black 
Hills will prove to be very rich in precious metals, when they 
can be safely and thoroughly explored. Abundant streams of 
pui*e water run through the country, and they will furnish mora 
water power than all the streams of New England, when the 
time comes to use them. 

The climate of the Powder River country is much finer than 
would be supposed from the latitude. From 43° to 45° it is 
about like the climate on the line of the Pacific Railroad, but 


from 45° to 46° it is much milder, being influenced by almost 
constant westerly winds, which bring to it the soft airs of the 
Pacific. The Indians call this section "Medicine Ground," 
because it is so pleasant and healthful. Snow falls in small 
quantities, and most of the winter the weather is delightful for 
out-of-door life. 

The average temperature on the Big Horn is about that of 
the country bordering the Ohio. Cattle and all kinds of stock 
could live out all winter without shelter, and with no food but 
what they pick up; the grass, in this pure air, dies on the 
ground without losing its nutriment, and is just as good for 
food as that cut and cured in the usual way. 

For stock raising, no country could be finer than this, for the 
conditions are such as to insure the minimum of expense and 
labor, and the fine air and water insure health to the herds. 
This country, including and bordering the Big Horn Mountains, 
is particularly fitted for sheep raising. Sheep like high land 
and dry air, and these, with the fine rich grasses of the mount- 
ain slopes, would produce fleeces not excelled in any part of the 
world. Sheep husbandry is in its infancy with us, but the time 
will come when the Big Horn country will be as famous for its 
flocks and wool as any parts of the old world, and perhaps as 
famous for its looms and mills too. 

Game is more abundant on the Powder River than in any 
part of our possessions. Here the buffalo range in herds of 
twenty to fifty thousand together, sometimes blackening the 
country for miles with their huge bodies; but, though they are 
found in large masses, still all experience of border men shows 
that they are lessening in numbers, and the sections in which 
large herds are found are becoming narrower every year. The 
tribes in the North subsist almost entirely on bufiklo meat, and 

446 belden: the white chief. 

they probably kill a quarter of a million of buffalo every 

As they kill cows mainly, on account of the better quality of 
meat, they reduce the herds much faster than is needful, with 
proper management. The elk, the finest of the large game, is 
found in large numbers, often one or two thousand in a band. 
Black-tail and white-tail deer, antelope; black, cinnamon, and 
grizzly bear; beaver, otter, and all the fur-producing animals, 
are very abundant. The streams are full of excellent salmon, 
trout, catfish, and bass ; and of the feathered game, geese, 
brant, ducks, and grouse are as plentiful as any sportsman 
could wish. 

Wild fruits, such as plums, currants, gooseberries, raspberries, 
buffalo berries, and soervice berries, grow almost every-where, 
and are excellent. The Indians make-a good deal of use of 
them for food, drying large quantities, and mixing them with 
the marrow of buffalo bones, for winter use ; the dried berries 
are sometimes pounded up with buffalo meat and fat, making 
a sort of "pemican,'' which is packed in skins, and called 

The most singular of all the wild animals in the country is 
the mountain sheep, which lives in the mountain ranges, the 
higher and wilder ihe better, and which are seldom seen in the 
low country. The mountain sheep, allusion to which is 
made elsewhere, is about the size of the common deer, 
weighing from one to two hundred pounds; the flesh is 
good, and very much like venison, having no flavor of mut- 
ton ; the hair is coarse, like the antelope, and perfectly straight ; 
the only resemblance to sheep is in the horns ; these greatly 
eclipse any thing seen in domestic flocks, being long, spiral, and 
giving the head a massive and imposing look. It is difficult to 


see what the animal was furnished such head-gear for, unless, 
as the hunters say, he uses them to break his fall when taking 
dangerous leaps, striking on his horns instead of his feet; 
whether this is so or not, he is a great leaper, and difficult to 
kill on acco'int of his inaccessible haunts, and his boldness in 
eluding pursuit. If these animals could be caught and tamed, 
they would be great curiosities in our parks ; but we have never 
heard of their being captured while young, and there are few 
opportunities to secure living specimens.* 

One of the greatest natural curiosities on the continent is the 
Big Horn caflon, where the Big Horn River breaks through 
the mountains, and when it is known, it will rival the famous 
cailon of the Colorado. It is about sixty miles long, as nearly 
as can be ascertained from those who have seen most of it, 
but it is not likely that any one has seen its whole length 

Old Bridger, the trapper and guide, has been through a part of 
it in a boat, and tells many marvelous stories of its wonders and 
dangers ; and in 1867, Mackenzie, an adventurous frontiersman, 
saw a good deal of it, in attempting to run timber through for 
the use of the fort on the Big Horn, but he came to grief, losing 
his timber, which lodged on rocks, and wrecking himself and 
companions, with a loss of every thing but their arms. The 
canon is more than half a mile high in many places, and 
varies in width, like all breaks in the mountains, being nar- 
row in places, and in others very wide. It is one of the 

* A kid of the Rocky Mountain sheep was caught, about a year ago, on 
the Platte River, and brought into Fort Steele, Wyoming Territory. Every 
care was taken of the animal, and efforts made to raise it, but it died, 
though it became quite tame and would follow the soldiers all around the 
fort.— Ed. 


448 belden: the white chief. 

most picturesque spots imaginable ; its perfect seclusion gives 
it an air of mystery, and the slight sense of awe which creeps 
over one, in threading its wild paths, is not lessened by the 
sight of an occasional grizzly. 

The chief beauty of the caflon is in the multiform shapes 
taken by rock, and tree, and foliage; the rocks take every 
shape imaginable : turrets, spires, minarets, towers, and nat- 
ural bridges. The timber covers the slopes sometimes from 
the bank of the river to where the top breaks abruptly 
against the sky, and beautiful streams twine themselves 
around the rude masses of rock, until one can often fancy he 
sees the old ruins of an abbey, with an English ivy creeping 
over it. 

Whatever there is of beauty in the wildest scenes of nature, 
in the massive grandeur of rock, in the grace of vines and 
foliage, and the charm of running water, is furnished by this 
lonely canon. And one of these days, when the Yellowstone 
and Big Horn are navigated by steamers, the traveler will 
seek this spot in pursuit of health and pleasure, as he now 
does Niagara and the Alps. ^ 

The agricultural value of the Big Horn country will be 
as great as Minnesota, or any of the Northern States. All 
the cereals will grow there without doubt. The valleys are 
fertile and well watered, and much of the high land will 
raise the small grains. 

The valley of the Powder Eiver is the poorest country in 
this section, but the valleys of Clear Fork, Piney, Goose, 
Wolf, Trout, Tongue, Little Horn, and Big Horn, are as 
fine as men need to live in, and much better land than a 
majority of farmers cultivate in the East. 

belden: the white chief. 449 



XUST west of the Powder River country, and north of the 
^ Snake lands is a very rich territory called Montana. The 
climate is delightful during the summer months, it not being 
too warm, and at night a person finds it necessary to sleep 
under one or more blankets. Much of the time the atmosphere 
is hazy, not unlike an Indian summer in the Eastern States. 
During the winter the weather is extremely cold, and people 
easily get frostbitten by exposure. It is never very windy, but 
quiet, still, cold weather, which is sometimes exceedingly 

The grazing can not be excelled in any country, and much 
of the stock runs out all the winter, though there is by no 
means any lack of snow. In spring-time the stock is fat, and 
it is fair to say that no better beef can be found. Horses and 


450 belden: the white chief. 

cattle thrive, and look fine and sleek. There is plenty of tim- 
ber on the mountain sides and in* the canons, and a thick under- 
growth of bushes in which there is an abundance of berries. 
In such a country game must abound, and here are found the 
moose, elk, buffalo, deer, antelope, cinnamon or black bears, 
badgers, beavers, martins, mink, and a variety of other wild 

The Upper Crow Indians, who are friendly, live in the 
middle of the territory, in the unsettled portion, and seem to 
get along pretty well in their wild and savage way. Their 
reservation is on the Yellowstone River, in a fine game coun- 
try ; and a small, compact fort for the use of the agent has 
been built there. Here the Indians live, and hence they make 
their way to the buffalo grounds, and return laden with dried 
meat and robes. 

In November, 1869, there were over three thousand five 
hundred Mountain Crows at the agency for the purpose of 
receiving the annuities given to them by the Government, 
The Crows had had a fight with the Cheyennes, in the country 
of the Sioux, in which the Crows were victorious. They killed 
six adult Cheyennes and captured four young ones. These they 
tortured in the most barbarous manner, cutting off their hands, 
then their feet, and finally killing them. One Crow warrior 
was badly wounded, and died afterward. The daughter of 
"Iron Bull,'' a principal chief, also died at the agency, and 
her body was wrapped in furs and placed upon a scaffold in 
great pomp. Iron Bull burnt his lodge, destroyed his property, 
and killed his horses as a sign of mourning. 

Over her and the warrior who died of his wounds, the camp 
was in a general state of mourning, black paint was daubed on 
many hideous faces, gashes being cut with knives, and hair torn 


out by the handful. The Indians were mostly encamped on 
Bowlder Creek, near its confluence with the Yellowstone, and 
a great many River Crows were encamped below. After con- 
siderable difficulty about the character of the goods, the annui- 
ties were distributed. 

The Crows had a very successful fall hunt, and it was estima- 
ted that there were over six thousand buffalo robes in their 
camp, which was also bountifully stocked with buffalo meat. 
The buffalo at that time were ranging within twenty-five miles 
of the agency, and after receiving their goods many of the 
Indians returned to the hunting-grounds. Tindoy^s band of 
Bannack Indians were out hunting during the whole fall with 
the Crows, and brought back many robes and a good supply of 

The lodges of the Crows along the bank of Bowlder Creek 
were made of dressed buffalo skins, and presented a picturesque 
appearance, half hidden as they were amid the bushes and trees. 
It was late in the fall, and the leaves had fallen, but the gray 
hues were softened, and the russet of the grass in the creek 
bottoms was enlivened by the presence of hundreds, perhaps 
thousands, of Indian ponies. Night was made hideous by the 
singing of the Indian songs and the howling of Indian dogs. 
In the daytime there was a grand display of Indian firing by 
the young dandies, and scalp dances over the scalps of the un- 
fortunate Cheyennes who had been killed. 

The Crows have always been friendly to the whites, with 
perhaps a few exceptions. They are arrant thieves, and on 
more than one occasion have been accused of cowardice, though 
that is not true of them. A more persistent nation of beggars, 
however, does not exist upon earth. An Indian always expects 
a present of some kind, but it has been remarked that few, if 



any, Indians make presents in return. " Get all you can and 
keep all you get " is the maxim of the Aborigin^es. One of 
them never was known to give away any thing that was not 
absolutely worthless. A squaw of the Crow tribe, or as they 
call themselves Absarcis, never visits a white man's house 
without saying in the most pitiful and drawling tones, "Awush- 
me; Avmsh-me;^^ meaning, "I am hungry; I am hungry;" 
even though she has just eaten enough food to kill a white 
woman outright. A more sorrowful and melancholy cadence 
can not be given to any language than that given by the Crows 
to their own. I had the honor to become acquainted with 
some of the big-nosed and nobby-complexioned leaders of this 
nation of Indians, among whom I recollect with peculiar feel- 
ings the chiefs Iron Bull, Black Foot, Show-his-face, Old "Wolf, 
The Coat, Black Bird, and several others whose distinguished 
names do not now occur to me. They have an immense idea 
of their own importance, " and feel so big," as the Californians 
say, " that a very large overcoat would only make for them a 
moderate-sized vest." Their highest delight is to smoke kee- 
nick — kee-nick from the bowl of a red pipe with a long stem. 
They are excessively dignified and correspondingly ignorant. 

There are some excellent roads in the territory of Montana. 
The one leading from Virginia City to Helena, and thence to 
Fort Benton, is a most excellent thoroughfare. A road was 
made in the summer of 1869 from Borzeman across the coun- 
try to the mouth of the Muscleshell, and thence back to Helena. 
It was thought Hhat all freight would be brought up to the 
mouth of the river, by boats on the Missouri * River, and 
freighted across the country to such points as it might be des- 
tined for, but this has been superseded by the railroad ; and 
now, unless the cost of carriage is too high, the freighting will 


all be done that way, and from Corinne it will be carried up 
into the territory. It may cost somewhat more this way, 
but it is more expeditious, and on the whole far more satis- 

Montana has within her borders several rivers, the largest of 
which are the Missouri, Clarke's Fork of the Columbia, and the 
Yellowstone. The former is navigable as far as Fort Benton, 
but this is only for an exceedingly limited portion of the year, 
and ordinarily boats can make but one trip from St. Louis to 
Fort Benton and back again during the season. In some ex- 
ceptional cases, however, two trips have been made. Clark's 
Fork is on the west side of the Rocky Mountains, and is formed 
by the junction of the Bitter Root and Flat Head Rivers, the 
Bitter Root being itself formed by the junction of the Big 
Blackfoot, Missoula, and the Hellgate Rivers. The whole in- 
terior of Montana is remarkably well watered, and there are 
gold placers on many of the creeks, the names of which it would 
be useless to give, as it would only lead to confusion in obtain- 
ing a knowledge of the country. The Missouri is formed by 
the junction of the " Three Forks," called Respectively the 
Jefferson, the Madison, and the Gallatin Rivers, so named by 
Lewis and Clarke. 

These ai'e all noble and beautiful streams, lined with fine 
growths of timber, and abounding in trout. In the Madison 
are found the "half trout," a peculiar kind of a fish, which has 
specks and scales, being half trout and half whitefish. The 
timber and underbrush along these streams is a favorite resort 
for Indians who are now friendly. It is somewhat singular 
that no hard wood, such as hickory and maple, is found west 
of the Rocky Mountains. 

There are several ranges of mountains, as the name of the 


territory indicates, and long before the whites came it was 
known to the Snake or Shoshonee Indians as ^^ To-yahe-shock- 
wp," or " the Country of the Mountains/' The only consider- 
able body of water is Flat Head Lake, in the north-western 
corner, and the source of the river of the same name. 

As the main importance abroad given to Montana is wholly 
connected with the gold mines, an account of them may be in- 
teresting, though it is exceedingly diflficult to convey to the 
reader a good idea of them. Gold is not picked up by the 
handful, even in the best of diggings ; and long lines of sluice 
boxes, piles of cobble stones, and thick beds of mud in the 
shape of " tailings," have all to be taken into account when 
thinking of getting out gold in the placers. To this must be 
added the heavily-booted and thickly-bearded miners, who are 
a distinct class of people, having their own peculiar phrases, 
their own laws, their own amusements, and their own ways of 
dressing, living, and working. That they do work is certain : 
in no country on earth do they work so hard, and all the 
mining that has ever been done in the United States has not 
paid in coin more than ten cents per day. When people think 
of going to the gold mines, it would be well to bear this fact 
in view. 

It would be useless to go into dry mining details, which at 
best are unsatisfactory, and therefore only the general results 
will be given in round numbers. It must be said that this 
statement has been drawn up by a warm friend of the Mon- 
tana mines, and must be received with some caution. Since 
the discovery that gold has been found in the territory, it is 
supposed the following-named sums have been taken out of the 
placer mines in the several counties of the territory : 

belden: the white chief. 455 

Madison County, $40,000,000 

Lewis & Clarke County, 19,360,000 

Deer Lodge County, . . . . . 13,250,000 

Meagher County, 6,949,200 

Jefferson County, 4,500,000 

Beaver Head County, 2,245,000 

Emigrant Gulch on the Yellowstone Neighbor- 

ingburg, 80,000 

Yield for Quartz, 6,000,000 

Total, $92,384,200 

In addition there are Choteau, Missoula, Musclesliell, and 
Gallatin Counties from which there are no returns. 

In the autumn of 1869 rich gold discoveries were made in 
Missoula County. The new diggings are said to be very ex- 
tensive, and a large mining camp sprung up there during the 
winter of 1869-70. A great many people left Helena and 
other towns on both sides of the range, and the roads leading 
in the direction of Missoula were dotted with eager gold-seek- 
ers bound for speedy fortunes. 

As all gold discoveries run about the same course, the follow- 
ing characteristic letters are given relative to these mines : 



" Fish Creek Fbkry, Missoula County, 

Montana TBRRiTORr, Dec. 4, 1869 

"About two weeks since a few Frenchmen passed here, and 
the report was a ' big strike ' had been made somewhere near 
Losa's Ranche, situated some twenty miles below Frenchtown. 
Two or three days more and the stampede was up in earnest, 


men passing at all hours of the day and night. ] started at 
dark, and reached Losa's Ranche at 2 o'clock. Next morning 
we followed our guide across the Missouri River, thence five 
miles down, crossed a stream, and followed it up about four 
miles. Here we left our horses, took a little grub and cur 
blankets, and footed it nine miles up the creek, and were in the 
diggings. They were discovered last summer by French, who 
panned out over three hundred dollars in six days' time, from 
different places up and down the gulch. One nugget of eight- 
een dollars was found. I located claim 63 below discovery. 
Ten cents to the pan has been taken out of the top gravel for 
two thousand feet below my ground, and, in one instance, as 
high as fifty-eight cents was taken out of two pans. It is 
thought the whole length of the main creek is good ; also, the 
right-hand fork, which is seven or eight miles long, and empties 
in below discovery. Respectfully, etc., 

"Nelson J. Cocheane. 

A Missoula correspondent, writing under date of December 
6, 1869, communicates the following : 

" I will now come to another excitement, which, I am Sure, 
will be of more interest to the public. I refer to the stampede 
now going on to the new Eldorado of Montana, and located on 
the west side of the Missouri River, some seventy-five miles 
below here, and to which place every body has gone or is going 
as soon as he can. The excitement commenced last week, but 
little was then thought of it. Last week parties arrived in 
town from there, when the news spread like fire, and never, 
since the memorable stampede from Bannack to Alder Gulch, in 
1863, have I seen the like. Every one who can get a horse 
Jias gone. A creek ten or twelve miles long has been pros- 

belden: the white chief. 457 

pected, and the result shows it to be of fabulous richness — even 
too rich to be told by a newspaper correspondent. Suffice it tc 
say that it bids fair to rival Alder Gulch in its best days. I 
saw and talked with the discoverer to-day, and others direct 
from there. The gulch or creek proper was discovered by a 
Canadian named Louis Bassette, and the majority of the men 
in there are Canadians. I have seen some of the gold, and it 
much resembles that from McClellan Gulch — quite coarse and 
of good quality. Runners have been sent to the camps in 
Deer Lodge, and a general stampede from the other country ia 
expected to commence in a few days, as men can not hold 
ground unless they are there in person. 

"J. N. RiNGOLD." 

In April, 1865, flour sold in Virginia City for one hundred 
and ten dollars a hundred pounds, or one dollar and ten cents 
in gold per pound. It must be confessed this was a high price, 
and every thing else was in proportion. At that time men 
liv^d on " beef straight," and gave the flour to the women and 

The largest nugget yet found in the territory was one which 
was discovered in Nelson's Gulch, on the 3d July, 1863, which 
was worth two thousand and sixty-three dollars. Near this 
gulch the outline of the mountains present a most singular 
appearance. In Arizona a bold outline on the mountain side, 
a short distance west of Maricopa "Wells, is called " Montezu- 
ma's Face," and is, indeed, a most perfect representation of the 
face of a man lying on his back, dead. It is looked upon with 
awe by the neighboring Indians. 

Montana is now almost isolated from the great and stirring 
events which are going on in the new path of commerce which 
stretches across the continent. It seems to be, and really is, 


one of the most remote portions of our country, blocked in by 
the far Western States and those of the Pacific, and having foi 
its boundary on the north the bleak and almost limitless Brit- 
ish Possessions. It is a majestic, wild, and solitary land. 

Embracing that region lying between the 45th and 49th 
parallels of north latitude, and the 27th and 39th meridians 
west from Washington, it contains an area of one hundred and 
forty-three thousand seven hundred and seventy-six square 
miles, equal to ninety-two million sixteen thousand six hun- 
dred and forty acres, extending from east to west about seven 
hundred and fifty miles, and from north to south about two 
hundred and seventy-five miles. This area is nearly equal to 
that of California, and three times that of New York. 

Of this region the Surveyor-general, in his report for 1869, 
estimates that fully thirty millions six hundred and seventy- 
two thousand two hundred and sixteen acres are susceptible of 
cultivation. This is about one-third of the territory; the 
other two-thirds comprise the main range of the Rocky Mount- 
ains, running north and south across the territory, and numer- 
ous subordinate spurs, whose peaks often surpass in altitude 
those of the main range. 

Among the spurs may be mentioned the Coeur d'Alene and 
Bitter Root Mountains, making the dividing line between 
Montana and Idaho on the west, between which and the main 
range lies the rich and productive country embraced in Deer 
Lodge and Missoula Counties; the Belt and Judith Mount- 
ains, separating the sparsely settled Musleshell County on the 
north-east, and Choteau County on the north-west, from the 
rich mining regions of Meagher County on the south, extend- 
ing to the Missouri River, which is also the north-eastern 
boundary of Lewis & Clark County ; the Bear's Paw and 

belden: thb white chief. 459 

Little Rocky Moun|ains, still to the north; the Big Horn 
Mountains extending into Dakota, in the south-east, north and 
east of which lies the unorganized county of Big Horn or 
Vaughan, embracing the Yellowstone region, with Gallatin 
County to the north-west, and Madison and Beaver Head lying 
west and south-west ; and the western spurs of the Wind 
River Mountains, on the extreme eastern border. 

Coal of a good quality has been found in Montana, and as 
rapidly as the country settles up, and it becomes necessary to 
develop this source of wealth, it will no doubt be found in 
great abundance, and perhaps of a superior quality. Near 
Borzeman a fine vein of bituminous coal has been developed. 
Just above Benton a promising vein has been opened ; above 
Bannack, and also near Virginia City, and on the Dearborn, 
veins from four to five feet have been discovered. 

The inhabitants of Montana are a generous, open-hearted 
people, full of life and activity, and noted for that boundless 
hospitality which is peculiar to the frontiers. They change 
their places of abode readily, build up a town rapidly, and with 
little or no ceremony, and abandon it as readily with no symp- 
toms of regret. Wherever mines are there they are also. They 
believe in themselves ; take an immense amount of stock in the 
Great West ; do not object to " whisky straight ; " are always on 
hand to assist a friend in distress, and take kindly to theaters 
and hurdy-gurdy saloons. " Plug " hats and store clothes are 
their abomination. A buckskin rig is considered the height of 
the ton, with a broad-brimmed soft hat " reared back " in front. 

Supplementary Chapters, 


rllHE British traveler, Atkinson, has already told the tale 
-■- of Souk, and had he laid his story among the Ogallala 
Sioux, instead of the wild Kirghis, and dated it about the 
middle, instead of the beginning of the present century, he 
would have been entirely correct. 

Souk, was the son of the great chief of his tribe, and a 
young man of remarkable ability. His father had great con- 
fidence in the sagacity of his son, and intrusted him with all 
impoi'tant expeditions of war and diplomacy. So great, indeed, 
was the belief of the old chief in his son, that he would under- 
take no enterprise without first consulting him. 

The Ogallalas and Brules had sprung from the same parent 

stock, and had long been friendly. They were the two most 

powerful tribes on the plains, and by uniting their councils and 

forces, gave law to all the weaker tribes. At the head of the 

Brules was an old and experienced chief, who often met Souk's 

father to consult about the welfare of their tribes, and, on all 

such occasions. Souk was present as the prime minister of his 

chief and father. The old Brule frequently noticed the young 

Ogallala, and seemed mightily pleased with him. On one or 

two occasions, he spoke to Souk encouragingly, and one day 

went so far as to invite him to visit his tribe, and spend a few 
28 (463) 


days at his lodge. These visits were often repeated, and it 
during one of them, Souk met the daughter of his friend, who 
was the belle of her tribe, and, besides her great personal 
charms, was esteemed to be the most virtuous and accomplished 
young woman in the nation. It did not take long for her tc 
make an impression on the heart of Souk, and soon both the 
young people found themselves over head and ears in love with 
each other. 

The Indian girl was proud of her lover, as well she might 
be, for he was only twenty-eight years of age, tall, handsome, 
good-tempered, and manly in his deportment. Besides these 
considerations in his favor, he was virtually the head of his 
tribe, and no warrior was more renowned for deeds of valor. 
A born chief, the idol of his aged father, prepossessing in his 
appearance, already at the head of his tribe, and its chief war- 
rior, he was just such a person as was likely to move the heart 
and excite the admiration of a young girl. 

Atchafalaya* was the only daughter of the Brule chief, and 
the spoiled pet of her father. She was tall, lithe, and agile as 
an antelope. She could ride the wildest steed in her father's 
herds, and no maiden in the tribe could shoot her painted bow 
so well, so daintily braid her hair, or bead moccasins as nicely 
as Atchafalaya. Giving all the love of her passionate nature to 
Souk, he loved her with the whole strength of his manly heart 
in return. Day after day, the lovers lingered side by side, sat 
under the shade of the great trees by the clear running brook, 
or hand in hand, gathered wild flowers by the shadows of the 
tall hills. 

Sometimes Souk was at the village of his father, but he 

* Pronounced — Chaf-fa-ly-a. 


always made haste to excuse himself, and hurried back to the 
camps of the Brule chief; indeed, he was never content, except 
when by the side of the bewitching Atchafalaya. The old men 
knew of the growing attachment between their children, and 
seemed rather to encourage than oppose it. Atchafalaya was 
buoyantly happy, and a golden future seemed opening up before 
her. Souk often reflected how happy he would be when he 
and his darling were married ; and, frequently, at night, when 
the stars were out, the young lovers would sit for hours and 
plan the future happiness of themselves, and the people over 
whom they would rule. 

One day. Souk returned to his father's camp, and formally 
notified him of his love for Atchafalaya, and demanded her in 
marriage. The old chief listened attentively, and at the close 
of Souk's harangue, rose and struck the ground three times 
with his spear, declaring that he knew of no reason why hLs 
son should not be made happy, and have Atchafalaya to wife. 
The grateful Souk was so overjoyed, that forgetting his position, 
and the rank of his chief, he fell upon his neck, and kissing 
him again and again, actually shed tears. Putting him kindly 
aside, the father, well knowing the impatience of young lovers, 
hastily summoned three of his most distinguished chiefs, and 
said to them, " Mount your swiftest horses ! go to the camps of 
the Brule, and when you have come to him, say. Souk, the son 
of his old friend, loves his only daughter, Atchafalaya, and that 
I demand her of him in marriage to my son. You will also say, 
that, according to the ancient customs of our tribes, I will pay 
to him whatever presents he may demand for the maiden, and 
that it is my desire, the friendship long existing between our- 
selves and our people may be cemented by the marriage of our 



Bowing low, the chiefs retired, and were soon on their wa* 
to the Brule village, which was three days' journey distant. 
Rather than wait impatiently in the camp until the chiefs 
would return, Souk proposed to go on a short hunting excur- 
sion with some young warrior friends to whom he could 
unbosom himself. 

Meantime, the chiefs had proceeded on their errand, and on 
the evening of the third day, caught sight of the Brule camp. 
They were hospitably received by the venerable chief, who did 
all in his power to make them comfortable after their fatiguing 
ride. On the following morning, the chief assembled his coun- 
selors, and making a great dog- feast, heard the request of the 
embassadors. When they had done speaking, the Brule rose 
and announced his consent to the marriage, saying, he was 
delighted to know that his daughter was to be the wife of so 
brave and worthy a young man as the son of his friend. He 
then dismissed the chiefs, stating that he would shortly send an 
embassy to receive the promised presents, and conaplete the 
arrangements for the marriage of the young couple. 

When the chiefs returned to their camp and announced the 
result of their mission, there was great rejoicing, and Souk, 
who had cut his hunt short and returned before the chiefs, was 
now, perhaps, the happiest man in the world. There was still, 
however, one thing which greatly troubled him. He knew his 
father was very proud, and considered the honor of an alliance 
with his family so great that but few presents would be re- 
quired to be made. On the other hand, the old Brule was 
exceedingly parsimonious, and, no doubt, would take this 
opportunity to enrich himself by demanding a great price for 
his daughter's hand. 

Determined not to wait the pending negotiations before see- 


ing his sweetheart, Souk summoned a band of his young 
warriors, and burning with love, set out for the Brule camp. 
It being the month of June, Souk knew the old chief would 
have removed from his winter encampment to his summer hunt- 
ing-grounds and pasture, on the Lower Platte. This would 
require some seven or eight days more travel, and carry him 
through a portion of the territory of his enemies; but love 
laughs at danger, and selecting eight tried companions, he set 
out. The evening of the second day brought him to the bor- 
der of his father's dominions, and, selecting a sheltered camp 
by the side of a little stream, they determined to rest their 
animals for a day before crossing the country of the hostile 

As soon as it was dark they saddled their horses, and, swim- 
ming the Upper Platte, set out to cross the enemy's lands. 
Their route lay in a south-easterly direction, and led them over 
a fine hilly country, almost destitute of wood, except in the 
deep valleys and narrow ravines. The sun had long passed 
the meridian, the horses had rested, and th(. cravelers taken 
their midday meal, but as yet had seen nothing to indicate that 
man was anywhere in this vast region. 

The sun was fast going down, and they were endeavoring to 
reach a good camping-ground known to several of the party, 
when suddenly, as they were descending a mountain, they saw 
below them smoke curling up, and, in the distance, two objects 
which looked like ants on the plain. From their position they 
could not see the fires from whence the smoke arose, but the 
eight of it caused them hastily to dismount and lead their 
horses under shelter of the projecting rocks, that they might 
not be discovered. 

Two advanced on foot to reconnoiter, creeping cautiously 

468 beIiDen: the white chief. 

round the base of the rocks, and then onward among fallen 
masses that completely screened them. At length they reached 
a point from which they beheld, about half a mile below them, 
an encampment of over one hundred men. Three large fires 
were blazing, and while groups were gathered around them, 
others were picketing out the horses, and evidently preparing 
to encamp for the night. Souk's men had not long been in 
their observatory when they saw two men riding furiously 
down the valley toward the camp, and they instantly surmised 
that these were the two black spots they had seen on the plain, 
and that Souk and his party had been discovered. They were 
not long left in doubt, however, for as soon as the horsemen 
reached the camp they rode to the chiefs lodge, commenced 
gesticulating violently, and pointing toward the cliffs where 
Souk and his men were. A crowd gathered around the new- 
comers, and presently several were seen to run to their horses 
and commence saddling up. The scouts now hastily left 
their hiding-place, and hurried back to Souk, whom they in- 
formed of all that w^as transpiring below. 

Not a moment was to be lost, and, ordering his men to 
mount. Souk turned up the mountain along the path he had 
just come. He knew he had a dangerous and wily enemy to 
deal with, ten times his own in numbers, and that it would re- 
quire all his skill to elude them, or the greatest bravery to de- 
feat them, should it become necessary to fight. 

Fortunately he knew a pass further to the west that was 
rarely used, and for this he pushed with all his might. On 
reaching the mountain-top, and looking back, black objects 
could be seen moving rapidly up the valley, and they knew the 
enemy was in pursuit of them. All night Souk toiled along, 
and, when the morning began to break, saw the pass he was 


seeking still several miles ahead. Reaching the mountain's 
edge at sunrise, they dismounted and began the perilous descent 
into the gorge. In two hours it was accomplished, and they 
entered the somber shadows of the great cafion. They had 
begun to feel safe, when suddenly the man in front reined up 
his horse and pointed to several pony tracks in the sand. Souk 
dismounted and examined them, and, on looking round, saw 
where the animals had been picketed, apparently, about two 
hours before. 

Could it be possible that the enemy had reached the pass 
before him, and were waiting to attack him higher up in the 
gorge? He could hardly credit it, and yet it must be so, 
for who else could be in that lonely ^len. Kecollecting that 
the caiion to the right would carry him into the great pass 
some ten miles higher up, he still hoped to get through be- 
fore the enemy reached it, and, hastily mounting, they galloped 
furiously forward. They had come in sight of the great pass, 
when, just as they were about to enter it, they saw a man sit- 
ting on a horse a few hundred yards ahead of them, and 
directly in the trail. On observing the Ogallalas, the horse- 
man gave the Cheyenne war-whoop, and, in a moment, a dozen 
other mounted men appeared in rear of the first. 

Grasping his spear. Souk shouted his war-whoop, and, or- 
dering his men to charge, dashed down upon the enemy. 
Plunging his spear into the nearest foe, he drew his battle-ax 
and clove open the head of the one in rear, and before his 
comrades could come up with him had unhorsed a third. A 
shout down the great cafion caused Souk to hurriedly look 
that way, when he saw about fifty warriors galloping toward 
him. He now knew he had reached the pass ahead of the 
main body, and encountered only the scouts of the Cheyenues. 


Ordering his men to push on up the pass to the great valley 
beyond, he, with two companions, remained behind to covei 
their retreat. On coming to their dead and wounded warriors 
the Cheyennes halted and held a conference, while Souk and 
liis friends leisurely pursued their journey. In the gorge in 
which he then was. Souk knew ten men were as good as a hun- 
dred, and he was in no hurry to leave the friendly shelter of the 
rocks. Taking up a position behind a sharp butte, he fortified 
the place, and quietly waited for the Cheyennes. Hour after hour 
passed, but they did not appear. The shadows of evening were 
beginning to creep into the ravines, and several of Souk's party 
were anxious to quit their retreat and continue their journey, 
confident that the Cheyennes had returned to their camp, but 
the wily young Sioux told them to be patient, and he would 
inform them when it was time to go. The evening deepened 
into twilight, the moon rose over the peaks and stood overhead, 
indicating that it was midnight, but still Souk would not go. 
His men had begun to grumble, when suddenly a noise was 
heard in the gorge below, and presently voices and the tramp 
of horses could be distinguished. Souk ordered four of his 
men to mount and be ready to leap the rude rock breastworks 
when he gave them notice,' and to cheer and shout as loudly as 
possible. He then lay down with the other four, and waited 
for the foe. To his delight he noticed, as the Cheyennes came 
up, many of them were dismounted, and leading their ponies.' 
They came within a few feet of the barricade before they per- 
ceived it, and then Souk and his comrades commenced a rapid 
discharge of arrows into their midst. Three or four shots had 
been fired before the Cheyennes knew what the matter was, or 
where the whizzing shafts came from. Then Souk shouted his 
battle-cry, and the four mounted Sioux, repeating it from }>e- 


hind the butte, dashed over the barricade and charged the 
enemy, who broke and fled in the utmost confusion down the 
gorge. In a moment Souk, with his remaining Sioux, wa3 
mounted and after them. The animals of the Cheyennes 
broke loose from some of the dismounted warriors before they 
could mount, and left them on foot. Several hid among the 
rocks, but four. Souk overtook and killed. The pursuit was 
kept up for nearly five miles, when Souk turned back and 
hastily continued bis journey to the Brule camp, where he ar- 
rived in safety on the evening of the seventh day. 

He was kindly received by the father of his bride, and given 
a dozen fine lodges for himself and friends. The meeting be- 
tween Souk and his sweetheart was as tender as that of lovers 
could be, and now, that they were once together, both were 
perfectly happy. Near the Brule encampment were some 
mountain vines covered with flowers, and here Souk and 
Atchafalaya each day spent hour after hour in sweet com- 
munion with each other. The stream was dotted for miles 
with hundreds of richly-painted teepees ; thousands of horf^es 
and ponies were constantly to be seen grazing in the green 
valley, and scores of warriors in their gay and various-colored 
costumes galloped to and fro among the villages. It was a 
pleasant sight at the home of the old Brule, and one that filled 
their young hearts with pride and joy, for all these herds and 
people were one day to be theirs. 

After lingering a month in the camp, the old Brule one day 
announced to Souk he was about to send the chiefs to receive 
the presents for Atchafalaya's hand, and if the young man and 
his friends wished to return home it would be a favorable op- 
portunity for them to do so. Souk took the hint and mao« 
preparations accordingly. 

472 belden: the white ohief. 

By the advice of the old chief, the party took another route, 
and, although it was two days longer, it brought them in safety 
to the Ogallala encampment. 

At Souk's request, his father immediately assembled the coun- 
cil, and the negotiations for Atchafalaya's hand began. An aged 
Brule made the first speech, expatiating on the power of his 
chief, the richness of the tribe, and the beauty of Atchafalaya. 
This was followed by an Ogallala, who dwelt at length upon 
the power of his chief, his rank, and age, and upon the noble- 
ness, bravery, and skill of Souk. Several other speeches were 
made on each side, in which the young man and woman were 
alternately praised, and the glory of their fathers extolled to the 
skies. The council then adjourned until the following day, the 
important point of the conference — the price of the lady's hand — 
not having been touched upon at all. 

Next day the conference continued, and toward evening the 
Brule chiefs, after having spoken a great deal, abruptly demanded 
fifty horses and two hundred ponies, as the price for Atchafalaya. 

The friends of Souk were a good deal surprised at the ex- 
travagant demand of the Brules, it being about three times more 
than they expected to give. Souk's father could not conceal his 
indignation, and saying he would give but twenty-five horses 
and one hundred ponies, adjourned the council, directing the 
Brule chiefs to return home and inform their venerable head of 
his decision. 

Souk returned to his lodge with a heavy heart, for he clearly 
foresaw trouble, and that his love, like all other " true loves," 
was not to run smoothly. Summoning his friends, he desired 
them to make as many presents as possible to the Brule chiefs, 
and before they started he added five fine horses of his own, 
hoping by this liberality to secure their good will. He also 


caused them to be secretly informed, that if they could induce 
the Brule chief to accept his father's offer he would, on the day 
of his marriage, present to each of them, a fine American horse. 

Before leaving the Brule camp, Souk and Atchafalaya had 
vowed a true lover's vow, that, come what would of the council, 
they would be faithful to each other, and die rather than break 
their plighted troth. Souk had also promised his betrothed he 
M'ould return in the fall and make her his wife, with or with- 
out the consent of the tribes. 

As the summer months wore away, and no word was received 
from the Brule camp, Souk became each day more restless, and, 
finally, calling together a few of his friends, started once more 
for the Brules' home. 

He was received most cordially by the old chief, and as be- 
fore, given most hospitable entertainment. Often, however, he 
thought he detected sadness on the old man's face, and on ques- 
tioning Atchafalaya as to the cause of her father's trouble, the 
poor girl burst into tears and confessed she was about to be 
sacrificed f )r her father's good. She said that the Cheyenne 
chief, with whom her fath^ had long been at war, had asked 
her hand, and promised, on receiving her as one of his wives, 
to cease from warring with the Sioux. Her father, actuated by 
a desire to do his people and friends good, had, after the refusal 
of Souk's father to furnish the required presents, given the 
Cheyenne a promise, and they were to be married the fol- 
lowing year, when the grass grew gr^en on the earth. The old 
chief preferred greatly to have Souk for a son-in-law, but he 
wished also to serve his people and old friends. The treaty 
was to be binding on the Cheyennes, for the Ogallalas as well 
as the Brulcs, and therefore Souk and his father would be greatly 

benefited bv her marriage to the Cheyenne. 



This astounding intelligence came near upsetting Souk's bettei 
judgment, and for awhile he was nearly demented. Taking 
the fond girl in his arms, he swore, rather than see her the wife 
of the hated Cheyenne, he would spill both his own and her 
blood, and they would go to the happy hunting-grounds to- 
gether. Atchafalaya begged him to be calm, and she would make 
her escape with him and fly to his people. It was agreed that, 
early in the spring, before the encampment moved to its sum- 
mer pastures. Souk, with a chosen band, should come over the 
mountains, and in the confusion, when the tribe was on the 
march, they would seize a favorable opportunity to escape into 
the mountains, from which they could make their way to Souk's 
father and implore his protection. 

Cautioning him to conceal, even by a look, all knowledge of 
her engagement to the Cheyenne, the lovers parted, and next 
day Souk set out for his home, apparently utterly indifferent 
as to the result of the negotiations for his marriage. 

Slowly the winter months dragged along, and to the impatient 
Souk they seemed interminable, but at length the water began 
to come down from the mountains, ^nd the ice grew soft on the 
streams. As soon as he saw these indications of returning 
spring, Souk called his bravest friends together and set out from 
the camp. He did not tell any one where he was going, and it 
was only when they began to ascend the mountains they sus- 
pected they were on their way to the Brule camp. In eight days 
they descended the plain into the old chiefs home. 

He was greatly astonished to see Souk, for he believed it im- 
possible, at that season of the year, for any one to cross the 
mountain. However, he gave Souk and his friends a hearty 
welcome, and again provided them with every thing they 


Next day the chief rode down the river to prepare the camps 
for moving, and Souk and Atchafalaya, being left alone in the 
camp, had all the oppportunity they desired for laying their 
plans. Atchafalaya said the camp would move in four days, 
and that in the meantime they must make every preparation for 
iheir flight. There was one horse in the herd, she said, that 
was the swiftest in the tribe, and he must be either killed or 
she would ride him. Her father had always objected to her 
mounting this animal, because he was so vicious, but, now that 
he was away, it would be a good time for her to ride the ani- 
mal, and show to her father that she was a better horsewoman 
than he thought. Once upon him, she could pretend a fond- 
ness for the beast, and thus secure him to ride on the trip. 
Souk agreed to all she said, and the wild horse was at once 
sent for. He reared and plunged fearfully, but at length he 
was conquered, and Atchafalaya mounted his back. Souk rode 
by her side, and they galloped down the river, to meet the old 
chief, who they knew must by that time be returning home- 
ward, as it was nearly evening. They soon met him, and 
when he saw his daughter on the wild horse, he was greatly 
surprised, but not displeased, for all Indians are proud of their 
horsemanship. Cautioning her to be very careful, and hold 
him fast. Souk, the old chief, and Atchafalaya rode back to- 
gether to the village. 

Next day Atchafalaya again rode the wild horse, and in the 
evening slyly extracted a promise from her father that she 
should be permitted to ride him when the village changed its 

On the morning of the fourth day the herds were gathered, 
the teepees pulled down, and the village commenced its march 
to the summer pastures. The men had got the herds fairly on 


the way, and the sun was just tipping the icy peaks of the 
mountains, wlien Souk and Atchafalaya mounted their steeds 
and galloped swiftly forward. Atchafalaya rode the wild horse, 
and Souk was mounted on a splendid stallion. All of Souk^s 
warriors had been sent the day before to Pole Creek, a day in 
advance, under the pretense of hunting. 

Biding on until they reached the head of the herd, they were 
about to pass, when the herders informed the young couple that 
it was the chiePs orders no one should go ahead of the herd, 
and they could proceed no further. the men a pleasant 
answer, Atchafalaya said she was only trying the mettle of hei 
horse, and at once turned back. They had gone but a little 
distance, when they entered the sand-hills, and, making a wide 
circuit, came out far in advance of the herd. They were now 
on the banks of a little lake, and, giving their horses full rein, 
sped by its clear waters. 

Long before night the young people reached Pole Creek, and 
found Souk's warriors. He hastily explained to them what had 
happened, and, charging them to remain, and if possible draw oft* 
the enemy from the trail. Souk and his sweetheart again set 

One of the warriors who remained behind was to personate a 
woman, and, if possible, make the old chief's people think he 
was Atchafalaya. Souk said he knew a pass through the Black 
Hills that would bring them to his father's country two days 
sooner than by any other route, and, although the way was 
somewhat dangerous, they must take all risks, and depend on 
the swiftness of their horses for escape. 

All night they rode on, and at sunrise halted on the top of a 
high hill, to breakfast on cold roast antelope and wild arti- 
chokes. Atchafalaya's horse bore her light weight without 


seeming fatigue, but Souk was heavy, and his steed began to 
show signs of distress. 

Far in the distance they could see the blue line of the gap 
that still lay between them and safety, and, hurriedly refresh- 
ing themselves from a spring of pure water, they again set out, 
hoping to reach it before night. 

It was near sundown when they began to ascend the high 
ridge that led into the gap, and they had just reached the crest 
when Atchafalaya, scanning the valley below them, descried 
horsemen following on their trail. They had hoped they were 
not yet discovered, and under cover of night might still reach 
the pass in safety, but the horsemen soon divided, and one-half 
went up the valley, while the others continued to follow the trail. 
Souk knew in a moment that those who went up the valley 
were going to head them off, and, although they had nearly 
double the distance to ride, their road was comparatively smooth, 
while Souk's lay along precipices and over crags. Calling to 
Atchafalaya that they must now ride for their lives. Souk 
whipped up the horses, and they began to climb rapidly the 
rugged pathway. 

All night they pushed along, and at daylight found themselves 
quite near the pass. Souk scanned the valley through the hazy 
light, but could detect no traces of the Brules people. He began 
to hope that they had not yet arrived, and spoke enpouragingly 
to Atchafalaya, who, pale with fatigue, now sat upon her horse 
like a statue. Descending into the deep canon. Souk directed 
Atchafalaya to ride rapidly for the pass, while he followed close 
in the rear, ready to attack any enemy that might appear. 
They had gone half a mile, and were just entering the jaws of 
the great gorge, when a cry of distress rose from the lips of the 
girl, and, looking to his right, Souk saw about twenty Brules 


rapidly closing on the pass. The noble girl whipped up hei 
horse, and, darting forward like an arrow, shot through the 
pass full fifty yards ahead of the foremost Brule warrior. 

Souk grasped his battle-ax, and, reaching the pass just as 
the first Brule came up, struck his horse on the head, dropping 
him on the ground and sending the rider rolling over the rocks. 
The second warrior, seeing the fate of his companion, swerved 
his steed to one side and strove to pass Souk, but he quickly 
drew his bow and drove an arrow through the horse behind 
the fore-shoulder, causing him to drop to his knees and fling 
his rider on the ground. 

The lovers were now ahead of all their pursuers, and, urging 
their gallant steeds to their utmost, they soon had the satisfac- 
tion of hearing the shouts of the Brules dying in the distance 
behind them. In an hour they halted, refreshed themselves, 
and rested their horses. In the distance they could see the 
Brules halting by a stream, and apparently resting also. The 
lovers were the first to move on, and, when once in the saddle, 
they lost no time. 

It was past noon when Souk saw some objects several miles 
off on the left, and soon made them out to be part of the 
Brules, who were making for the river, to cut him off from 
the ford. The race was a long one, but the lovers won it, 
and crossed in safety. 

On the third day they entered the great mountains, and 
drew near the borders of the country of Souk's father. At 
sunset they crossed a little creek, which Souk pointed out to 
Atchafalaya as the boundary of the Ogallala lands. Riding 
forward a dozen miles, they halted in a wild, mountainous re- 
gion, and, for the first time since starting, prepared to take 
some rest. Souk comforted Atchafalaya with the assuran(» 


that another day would take them to his home, and that they 
were now well out of danger. 

A sheltered spot was selected for their camp, near a t^tream, 
and, while Souk gathered some sticks to make a small fire, his 
bride walked down to the water's edge. He saw her turn up 
the stream, and in a moment more she was lost to view. The 
fire was soon lighted, and Souk busy preparing the evening 
meal, when suddenly he heard a fearful shriek at no great 

Seizing his battle-ax, he rushed toward the spot from whence 
the sound proceeded, but could see no one. Calling the name 
of his bride, he dashed forward through the thicket, but could 
see or hear nothing of her. He called loudly again, but re- 
ceived no response. The silence was agonizing, and he listened 
for several moments, when he heard the crackling of some 
branches in the distance. He rushed frantically to the spot, but 
his career was quickly stopped by an object on the ground. It 
was the torn and now bloody mantle of his beloved. The 
mystery was in part explained: she had retired to this secluded 
spot to offer up a prayer to the Great Spirit for their safe dc; 
liverance, and, as was her custom, had taken off her mantle 
and spread it on the earth. On this she had knelt, when a 
grizzly bear, those terrible beasts of the Rocky Mountains, had 
rushed upon her and killed her before she could utter a second 
cry. His huge paws were deeply imprinted on the sand, and 
the trail was distinctly visible along which he had dragged 
his victim. Souk, taking the rent garment, plunged into the • 

He crossed the thicket in several directions, but in vain ; it 
was dark, and he could not follow the trail. He returned to 
the camp in a frame of mind bordering on despair. Raising 

484 belden: the white chief. 

his hand to heaven, he swore by the great Wa-con Ton-ka to 
track the beast to his den and slay him, or perish in the con- 
flict. It seemed to him an age before the light appeared, but 
at length the gray streamers began to streak the east, and Souk 
was on the trail. Again and again he lost it, but the growing 
light enabled him to find it, and lie pushed on. He found the 
lair half a mile out, where the beast had eaten a part of his 
beloved, and, as he looked at the blood stains on the ground, 
his brain seemed about to burst from his skull. Pieces of gar- 
ments were left on some of the bushes where the bear had 
dragged the body along. Far up iuto the mountains Souk 
followed the trail, but at length lost it among the rocks. All 
day he hunted for it in vain, and when night came he returned 
to his camp. He expected the enemy had come Up during his 
absence, but he found the horses where he had left them, 
and the camp undisturbed. Plow he wished the Brules would 
come and kill him. He cursed himself, and wished to die, but 
could not. Then he slept, how long he knew not, but the 
sun was far up in the heavens and shining brightly when he 

Mounting one of the horses, and leading the other, he started 
at full speed. He wished to leave as quickly as possible, and 
forever, the cursed spot that had witnessed the destruction of all 
his earthly happiness. It afforded him some relief to ride fast, 
and he dashed onward, he neither knew nor cared where. His 
well-trained steed took the road for him, and as the evening 
-shadows were beginning to creep over the valley, he saw far 
ahead the teepees of his father's village. He lashed his horse 
and rode like a madman into the town. His faithful warriors 
had returned, but they hardly knew their beloved young 
chief^ so changed was he. At the door of his father's lodge 


bis brave borse fell dead, and Souk rolled over on tbe ground 

He was carefully lifted up and laid on bis own bed, wbere 
for many days be remained in a raging fever, at times delirious, 
and calling wildly on tbe name of Atcbafalaya. Little by lit- 
tle be recovered, and at lengtb went about the village again, 
but be bardly ever spoke to any one ; and for years tbe Brule8 
and Ogallalas never visited eacb otber. 

486 belden: the white chief. 



{From the Ottawa.) 

THERE was once a beautiful girl, who died suddenly on 
the day she was to have been married to a handsome 
young hunter, who had also proved his bravery in war, so 
that he enjoyed the praises of his tribe, but his heart was not 
proof against this loss. From the hour his betrothed was 
buried, there was no more joy or peace for him. He went 
often to visit the spot where the women had buried her, and 
sat musing there for hours, when, it was thought by some of 
his friends, he would have done better to try and amuse him- 
self in the chase, or by diverting his thoughts in the war-path. 
But war and hunting had lost their charms for him. His heart 
was already dead within him, and he wholly neglected both his 
war-club and his bow. 

He had heard the old people say, that there was a path that 
led to the land of souls, and he determined to follow it, and 
accordingly set out one morning, after having completed his 
preparations for the journey. At first he hardly knew which 
way to go. He was only guided by the tradition that he must 
go south. For awhile, he could see no change in the face of 
the country. Forests, and hills, and valleys, and streams, had 
the same look which they wore on his native plains. There waa 

THE hunter's dream. 487 

snow on the ground when he set out, and it was sometimes seen 
to be piled and matted on the thick trees and bushes. At 
length, however, it began to diminish, and, as he walked on, 
finally disappeared. The forest assumed a more cheerful ap- 
pearance, the leaves put forth their buds, and before he was 
aware of the completeness of the change, he found he had left 
behind him the land of snow and ice. The air became mild 
and balmy ; the dark clouds had rolled away from the sky ; a 
pure field of blue was above him ; and, as he went forward in 
his journey, he saw flowers beside his path, and heard the 
song of birds. By these signs he knew that he was going the 
right way, for they agreed with the traditions of his tribe. At 
length he spied a path, which led him through a grove, then up 
a long and elevated ridge, on the very top of which, he came to 
a lodge. At the door, stood an old man with white hair, whose 
eyes, though deeply sunk, had a fiery brilliancy. He had a 
long robe of skins thrown loosely around his shoulders, and 
a staff in. his hands. 

The young man began to tell his story ; but the venerable 
chief arrested him before he had spoken ten words. " I have 
expected you," he replied, '^ and had just risen to bid you wel- 
come to my abode. She, whom you seek, passed here but a 
short time since, and being fatigued with her journey, rested 
herself here. Enter ray lodge and be seated, and I will then 
satisfy your inquiries, and give you directions for your journey 
from this point." Having done this, and refreshed himself by 
rest, they both issued forth from the lodge door. " You see 
yonder gulf," said the old man, "and the wide-stretching 
plain beyond : it is the land of souls. You stand upon its 
borders, and my lodge is the gate of entrance. But you can 
not take your body along. Leave it here with your bow and 


arrows, your bundle and your dog. You will find them safe 
upon your return." So saying, he re-entered the lodge, and 
the freed traveler bounded forward as if his feet had suddenly 
been endowed with the power of wings. But all things re- 
tained their natural colors and shapes. The woods, and leaves, 
and streams, and lakes, were only more bright and comely 
than he had ever witnessed. Animals bounded across his path 
with a freedom and confidence, which seemed to tell him 
that there was no blood shed there. Birds of beautiful plu- 
mage were in the groves, and sported in the waters. There 
was but one thing which he noticed as unusual. He noticed 
that his passage was not stopped by trees and other objects. 
He appeared to walk directly through them; they were, in 
fact, but the images or shadows of material forms, and he be- 
came sensible that he was in the land of souls. 

When he had traveled half a day's journey, through a coun- 
try which was continually becoming more and more attractive, 
he came to the banks of a broad lake, in the center of which 
was a large and beautiful island. He found a canoe of white 
shining stone tied to the shore, and was now sure that he had 
come to the right path, for the aged man had told him of this. 
Immediately entering the canoe, and taking the shining paddles 
ju his hands, to his joy and surprise, on turning round, he 
beheld the object of his search in another canoe, exactly the 
counterpart of his, in every respect. It seemed, in fact, to be 
the shadow of his own. She had exactly imitated his motions, 
and they were side by side, and they at once pushed out from 
the shore and began to cross the lake. Its waves seemed to be 
rising, and, at a distance, looked ready to swallow them up; 
but, just as they entered the whitened edge, they seemed to melt 
away, as if they were but the images of waves. But no sooner 

THE hunter's dream. 489 

was one wreath of foam passed, than another, more threatening 

still, rose up. Thus they were in perpetual fear; which was 

increased by the clearness of the water, through which they 

could see heaps of the bones of persons who had perished 


The master of life had, however, decreed to let them pass, 

for the thoughts and acts of neither had been bad. But they 

saw many others struggling and sinking in the waves. Old 

men and young men, males and females, of all ages and ranks, 

were there ; some passed, and some sank. It was only the little 

children, whose canoes seemed to meet no waves. At length 

every difficulty was gone, as in a moment, and they both leaped 

out on the happy island. They felt that the very air was food. 

It strengthened and nourished them, and they wandered together 

over the blissful fields, where every thing was formed to please 

the eye and ear. There were no tempests; there was no ice, 

nor chilly winds; no one shivered for the want of warm 

clothes; no one suffered for hunger; no one mourned for the 

dead. They saw no graves ; they heard of no wars. Animals 

ran freely about, but there was no blood spilled in hunting 

them: for the air itself nourished them. Gladly would th« 

young warrior have remained there forever, but he was obliged 

to go back for his body. He did not see the Master of Life, 

but he heard his voice, as if it were a soft breeze. " Go back," 

said this voice, "to the land from whence you came. Your 

time has not yet come. The duties for which I made you, and 

which you are to perform, are not yet finished. Return to your 

people, and accomplish the acts of a good man. You will be 

the ruler of your tribe for many days. The rules you will 

observe will be told you by my messenger who keeps the gate. 

When he surrenders back your body, he will tell you what to 



do. Listen to him, and you shall afterward rejoin the spirit 
which you have followed, but whom you must now leave be- 
hind. She is accepted, and will be ever here, as young and as 
happy as she was when I first called her from the land of 
snows." When this voice ceased, the narrator awoke. It wa** 
the fancy work of a dream, and he was still in the bitter land 
of snows and hunger, death and tears. 




BAKER was born in Illinois, and lived at home until he 
was eighteen years of age, when he enlisted in the Amer- 
ican Fur Company, went to. the Rocky Mountains, and re- 
mained there foi many years. He married an Indian wife, ac- 
cording to the Indian custom, from the Snake tribe, and lived 
with the Indians several years, adopting their habits, ideas, and 
superstitions. He firmly believed in the efficacy of charms, 
and incantations of the medicine men. He contended zealously 
that they could cure diseases, divine where the enemy was to 
be found, and foretell the result of war expeditions. Unfor- 
tunately he would occasionally take a glass or two too much 
whisky, and, while under its influence, would commit many in- 
discretions. When sober. Baker was a noble, generous, big- 
hearted man, as, indeed, are nearly all trappers, hunters, and 
guides on the border. He was the friend and companion of 
Kit Carson, Jim Bridger, and Jack Robinson, and would 
divide his last crust with an associate or stranger. 

*' Jim Baker, ''as he was familiarly known all along the 
border, accompanied General Marcy, in 1857-58, in his expe- 
dition over the Rocky Mountains, from Fort Bridger to New 
Mexico, and proved himself a most valuable assistant, guide, 
and interpreter. Marcy had engaged a Digger Ute Indian as 

492 belden: the white chief. 

guide, and promised him many presents as soon as they should 
reach New Mexico. On the first day out the Indian pretended 
not to believe he would receive the promised presents, and iu 
the evening announced his intention of returning to Fort 
Bridger. Marcy told the Indian he had the presents with 
him, but still seeming not to be satisfied; Baker advised the 
general to show him the presents. This was done, and, know- 
ing their propensity to steal, Marcy ordered the presents to be 
closely guarded ; yet, notwithstanding every precaution, the 
wily savage managed, during the night, to get hold of the most 
of them, and then deserted. Next morning, when Baker learned 
of his treachery, he was so enraged that he wished to follow 
the Digger Ute and scalp him, but General Marcy restrained 

During the expedition Marcy came upon a baud of Utes at 
the western base of the Rocky Mountains, and, as he was 
scarce of ponies, he tried to buy some, but, although these 
people subsisted on rabbits, bugs, and crickets, they could not 
be induced to part with their ponies at any price. The gen- 
eral then tried to hire one of them as a guide across the mount- 
ains, but in this he also failed, when Baker came to the rescue. 
He said to the chief, " Come, show us the way to New Mex- 
ico, '^ and upon the chiefs replying that the snow was too deep 
for any human being to attempt the passage of the mountains, 
Baker slapped his breast and said, " Do you think we are old 
women ? I at first took you for a warrior, but I see now you 
are a squaw, " and the Indian becoming very much enraged 
at this taunt. Baker added : *' Go home now, and cover up 
warm, or assist your squaw in taking care of the babies. '' The 
Ute was beside himself with rage, but still he pointed to the 
mountains, and said : " You think I dc not tell you the truth, 


but look, you can see the white snow upon the peaks from here. 
When I crossed in the autumn the leaves were beginning to 
fall, and the snow was then a foot deep in the passes, but it is 
now above my middle, and I could not possibly wade through." 
Nevertheless, General Marcy undertook the passage of the 
mountains, and, afler losing nearly all his animals, and endur- 
ing months of suffering and privation, he forced his way to 
Fort Massachusetts, and accomplished what General Fremont 
had failed to do. This was really one of the most remarkable 
marches on record, and entitles its conductor to lasting fame. 
In saying that Baker, Tyburn, and Mariano were invaluable, 
and probably saved the expedition, I am only repeating what 
General Marcy has often himself said in both public ancj 

When General Marcy first met "Jim," he inquired if he 
had traveled much in the States before coming out into the 
mountains, to which he replied : " Right smart, Cap. " Marcy 
asked : 

" Where have you been ? " 

" To Chicago, " was the reply. 

" Have you ever been to New York ? " 

" No, sir." 

"To New Orleans?" 

' No, Cap, I has n't been to Horleans, but I'll tell you whar 
I have been. I've traveled mighty nigh all over four counties 
in UlinoiSj " and this, it appeared, was the extent of his wan- 
derings before leaving home. 

When sober. Baker was a mild and sensible man, but when 
in liquor he was violent, boisterous, and dangerous. He ap- 
peared to be very fond of his squaw and children, but on one 
occasion, coming into his house and finding a friend there, he 


pretended to get jealous, and abused his wife. His friend, see- 
ing he had a drop too much liquor, tried to appease him and 
convince him of the injustice of his suspicions, but " Jim '' 
only became more indignant and furious, and, seizing a hunt- 
ing-knife, swore he would cut oiF one of her ears, and it was 
with the greatest difficulty his friend could prevent him from 
doing so. This was one of the Indian methods of punishing a 
truant spouse, and it seemed to Jim the most appropriate for 
that occasion. 

"When Marcy's expedition reached New Mexico, Baker con- 
cluded it would be a good opportunity to cast aside his leg- 
gings, moccasins, and other mountain gear, and adopt the ha- 
biliments of dvilization. He accordingly bought a full outfit of 
citizens clothing, and when the general met him soon after- 
ward, so great was the change that he hardly knew him. 
" Why, '^ said Marcy, " Jim, you are so metamorphosed I 
hardly knew you. '' 

" I do n't know what you call it, '* replied Baker, " but con- 
found these store clothes, they choke my feet like . '^ It 

was the first time in twenty years Jim had worn any thing 
but moccasins, and his feet were not prepared for the torture 
of breaking in new boots. In a little while he was seen walk- 
ing along in his bare feet, and carrying his boots in his hand, 
and when asked about it, he said, '* I specks these store clothes 
makes me look kind o' 'spectable, but they hurt, and I feel 
like a durned fool. " An hour afterward he came out in his 
mountain rig and moccasins, and said he would never again 
" attempt to wear store clothes, or act the gentleman. " 

Baker had been in at the death of many a grizzly bear, and 
related many stories of his terrible encounters with these mon- 
sters of the mountains, but he had one great bear fight that he 




loved most to recount. He and his friend Bridger were one day 
setting traps on the head waters of Grand River, when they 
came suddenly upon two young grizzly bears, about the size of 
well-grown dogs. Baker remarked that if they could pitch in 
and scalp the varmints with their knives, it would be an ex- 
ploit to boast of. They accordingly laid aside their rifles anc 
went at them, Bridger attacking one, and his companion the 
other. He says the bears immediately raised on their hind 
feet, and, squatting upon their haunches, were ready for battle. 
He ran around, endeavoring to get an opportunity to give a 
blow from behind with his long sharp knife, but the young 
brute was too quick for him, and turned, as he passed around, 
so as always to confront him face to face. He knew, if he 
came within reach of him, though young, he could strike ter- 
rible blows and inflict severe wounds with his claws ; moreover, 
he felt great apprehensions that the piteous howls of the cub 
would bring the old dam to its rescue, when the chances of es- 
cape from death would be small. Anxious to terminate the 
contest as soon as possible, he made several passes at the bear, 
who warded off his strokes with the skill of a pugilist. Several 
of the lunges cut the cub's paws, and the pain greatly enraged 
him. At length, exasperated, the grizzly took the offensive, 
and sprung at his antagonist. Baker grappled with him, 
and, after a most terrible conflict, in which his arn;s and legs 
were torn and lacerated nearly to the bone, the mountaineer 
succeeded in giving the animal a death wound. 

Meanwhile Bridger was fighting a terrible battle with his 
bear, and had become greatly exhausted, and the odds were 
turning decidedly against him, when he entreated his companion 
to come to his relief, and, although Jim said he did not like to 

" meddle with another man's bar fite,'' he finally went in, when, 


498 belden: the white chief. 

to his surprise, Briclger immediately retired from the contest^ 
and left him to fight it out alone. In vain Baker begged him 
to help him by shooting or stabbing the bear, but Bridger only 
replied, " Go ahead, Jim ; you kin kill and skulp him your- 
self." After a severe struggle, Jim was again victorious, and, 
when he demanded an explanation of his conduct, Bridger re- 
plied, " Yer tarnal fool, Jim, yer got me into yer scrape, and 1 
got meself out. Yer wanted ter kill and skulp bars with 
butcher-knives, and I made up my mind I'd jest shoot mine; 
so as the bar fite were yours, I thort I would 'nt interfere." 

Baker reflected a moment, and then responded, " Dod rot it, 
Jim, if yer aint rite,- and I '11 never fite nary 'n other grizzly 
without I have a good shootin' iron in my paws." 

Like most mountaineers. Baker was liberal to a fault, and 
consequently was very improvident. He had made a great deal 
of money in trading and trapping, but, at the annual rendez- 
vous of traders he would spend the earnings of a whole season 
in a few days. He had been particularly lucky one year, and 
laid up the snug sum of nine thousand dollars, when he made 
up his mind he would abandon his mountain life, return to the 
States, purchase a farm, and settle down. He accordingly made 
his preparations to start, and was on the point of departure, 
when he concluded to have a little blow out with some friends, 
whom he never expected to see again. They got some grog, and 
finally wandered into a monte-bank, which had been opened in 
the camp. He was easily persuaded to take some more drinks 
and try his luck, and the result was, that the next morning 
Baker found himself without a cent. To a friend whom he met 
soon afterward, he said, " Guess I won't buy a farm this year," 
and next day returned to his hunting-grounds. 

After a time Baker left the Indians, and established a little 


Store on the old Mormon trail, at the crossing of Green River. 
Here for some years he did a fair business in trading with In- 
dians and trafficking with passing emigrants, but one day a 
Frenchman appeared and set up a rival establishment, which 
greatly reduced Baker's profits. This terribly enraged the old 
frontiersman, who claimed the exclusive " rite to trade on them 
crossin'/' and he posted a "notis" for the Frenchman "tew 
quit." The Frenchman, however, went on with his business, 
and soon all intercourse of a friendly nature ceased between the 
neighbors. One day Baker declared war, and sent a challenge 
to the Frenchman, which was promptly accepted. They both 
retired to their cabins, which were facing each other, and 
prepared for battle. Baker had no liquor, and the polite 
Frenchman sent over his antagonist a quart. After liquoring 
up, they appeared at the doors of their cabins and fired with 
revolvers. Between each round they would go in and drink, 
and soon got so drunk and unsteady there was little danger of 
their hitting each other. This peculiar duel had lasted for sev- 
eral hours, when Baker's old friend Marcy happened by, return- 
ing from Utah to the States. He asked Baker what was up, 
and he replied, " Yer see, Cap, that thar yaller-bellied, toad- 
eatin' parly-voo over thar come here to trade agin me, and we 
have had a bit of a skrimmage to-day." 

Marcy lectured him on the sin of monopoly, but Baker only 
replied, " This yer 's my crossin', I reckon, Cap, and I '11 raise 
the har o' that sneakin' pole-cat yet. I '11 skulp him, Cap, if 
he do n't leave these diggin's, darned if I do n't." 

He then gave notice to Marcy to stand aside, for he waa 
going to blaze away, but Marcy stepped up to Baker, and took 
his pistol away, telling him he was greatly astonished to see a 
man of his sense make such a fool of himself. Baker submit- 


ted quietly, but upbraided Marcy, saying he wished to disgrace 
him by making him take insults from a cowardly, frog-eating 

Next morning, however, he called on Marcy, and apologized 
for what had taken place the day before, said he was drunk; 
and when he allowed himself to drink whisky he had "nary 
sense." He also said he would leave the country, and the 
" cussed toad-eater might keep the durned old crossin." 

Baker is still living in Colorado, but has left the mountains, 
and, being very old, is waiting to take the long journey whence 
no mortal has yet returned. 




4 YOUNG hunter, following the trail of a deer on the 
-^^^ prairie, suddenly came upon a circular path trodden 
smooth by long use. It gave evidence of recent footsteps, 
made by dainty feet, but nowhere could he discover a trail 
leading to or from it. This puzzled him not a little, and he 
resolved to ferret out the mystery. Accordingly he concealed 
himself in the tall prairie grass near by, and patiently awaited 
the coming of the being or beings who had trodden the path 
so smoothly, for he knew this could have been done only by 
long-continued and frequent use. After a short time his vigil 
was broken by music, very faint at first, but exceeding sweet, 
which seemed to descend out of the heavens. Guided by the 
melody, his keen eye discovered a speck far up in the sky. 
Soon the speck grew larger, and the music plainer and sweeter 
still, and it was evident that the bird-like speck and the music 
were approaching the earth together. Never for a moment did 
the young hunter take his eye off the object that seemed com- 
ing right down upon him, and soon he discovered it was a very 
large basket, but, as it was made of ozier, very light. But he 
forgot the basket when he saw its wonderful burden. Twelve 
charming maidens sat upon cushions in the basket, and each 
had -a little drum which she beat with the grace of an angel. 

502 belden: the white chief. 

Lower and lower came this magic car, with its precious freight, 
until it rested exactly in the center of the ring formed by the 
mysterious path. Scarcely had it touched the ground, when 
the twelve maidens sprang out and began to dance around the 
circle, and to strike a shining ball from one to another. 

The young hunter had seen many a gay dance among all 
the tribes of the prairie, but never had he seen any thing to 
compare with this. The music had at first delighted him, but 
now the matchless beauty and charming grace of the maidens 
made him forget all the world beside. All of them charmed 
him, but one, the youngest and loveliest, completely entranced 
him, and he resolved to seize and carry her home at any risk. 
Slowly and quietly he crept toward the circle, and succeeded 
in getting entirely up to it without making the least noise, or 
in any way attracting attention. . Then, when his idol ap- 
proached the side where he lay hid, he attempted, by a sudden 
spring, to capture her. But no sooner did the maidens see 
him, than they all sprang nimbly into the basket, and were 
sped, with the quickness of thought, back to the skies and out 
of sight. 

Poor Algon, the hunter, was completely foiled. He stood 
gazing upward after his new love till the music of the singing 
maidens faded from his ear and the car vanished from his sight. 
Then he who an hour before was the bold hunter, brave, and 
fancy free, began to bewail his fate. " She is gone, forever 
gone, and I shall see her no more ! " he said, and sadly turned 
away. He hunted no more, but went home to his lodge. All 
night he thought of this new wonder, and he determined to go 
back to the prairie next day, and once more try to win the fair 
maiden, the youngest of the twelve. Warned by his former 
failure, he did not attempt to seize her openly, but, by his magic 


power, changed himself into an opossum. He did not wait 
long before he heard again the sweet music, and saw the car 
descend into the center of the ring. Again the maidens com- 
menced the same gay dance and play. They seemed even more 
beautiful than the day before, and she, the youngest, was the 
perfection of grace. Slowly and cautiously the opossum crept 
toward the ring, but even this disguise could not deceive the 
wary maidens. The instant they saw him they sprang into the 
basket and rose in the air. The car stopped when a little way 
from the earth, however, and one of the older maidens spoke. 
" Perhaps," said she, " it is come to show us how the game is 
played by mortals;'' but the youngest replied, "Oh no! quick! 
let us ascend," and, all joining in a heavenly chant, they rose 
out of sight. 

Algon returned to his lodge again, sadder and more dejected 
than ever, but still resolved not to give up his new-found 
treasure. The night seemed an eternity to him, and early in 
the morning he set out over the prairie again, his head full of 
expedients to decoy and capture the cause of all his rapture 
and of all his uneasiness. Directly in his path lay an old hol- 
low stump, in which a number of mice had made their nest. 
Surely, thought he, these diminutive forms can not create alarm, 
I will be one of them. So, moving the stump as near the circle 
as he dared, he became a little, harmless mouse, and mingled 
with the rest in the old stump. He had not been long in his 
new character, when the car descended and the sports began. 
"But see!" cried the youngest sister, "that stump was not 
there yesterday," and she ran, affrighted, to the car. The others 
only smiled, and, gathering around the stump to show her there 
was no danger, began to strike it in jest, when the mice all ran 
out and Algon among them. The sisters killed them all but 


one, whicli the youngest pursued out into the prairie, where 
she was no longer protected by the charm of the circle. Just 
as she raised her stick to kill the mouse, it changed to a brave 
hunter before her eyes, and she was clasped in the arms of 
Algon. The other sisters all sprang into the ozier basket, and 
were drawn up to the skies, but the youngest was carried, an 
unwilling captive, to the hunter's lodge. 

The young hunter exhausted all his skill and invention to 
win the affections of his fairy bride. He wiped the tears from 
her eyes, told in pictured words his adventures in the chase, 
painted all the charms of life on the earth, and told his never- 
dying love. He was incessant in his attentions, and picked out 
the smoothest path as he led her toward his home. How hia 
heart beat with joy and love as she entered his lodge ! From 
that moment he was the happiest of men. Winter and sum- 
mer quickly sped away, and another joy came. A little boy, 
pledge of their love, was added to the lodge-circle. The nov- 
elty of the scenes at first amused the young bride, and the lov- 
ing devotion of Algon made her content to live on earth, but 
by and by she began to pine to see her sisters once more, and 
to visit her father — for she was the daughter of one of the 
stars. But she was obliged to hide these feelings from her 
husband, and to appear cheerful and contented before him, for 
she knew he would thwart any attempt she might make to 
leave the earth. She remembered the charm that would carry 
her up, and secretly made a wicker basket, large enough to hold 
herself and her son, and kept it hid away. Now she collected 
all the rare and beautiful things of earth that she thought would 
please her father, together with the most dainty kinds of food. 
At last all was ready, and she only awaited an opportunity to 
escape. Taking her child and her treasures, with the basket, 


one day while Algon was absent in the chase, she set out across 
the prairie to the magic circle. Taking her little son in her 
arms, she sat down in the basket and commenced her song. 
The charm was still potent, and as her song rose on the air the 
basket began to ascend. 

Algon was hunting on the prairie, and, as the song was borne 
by the winds, it struck his ear with ineffable sweetness. In a 
moment he recognized the voice, and, in an agony of surprise, 
realized that his wife and son, all that he cared for on earth, 
were being wafted to the skies. Wild with suspense, he ran 
with the swiftness of the deer toward the fatal spot, but, before 
he could reach the ring, the basket, with its precious burden, 
was high in the air. Loudly and anxiously he cried to his 
dear ones to come back, but all of no avail. Higher, higher 
went the basket, the happy song of his wife, dirge of all his 
hopes, grew fainter and fainter, and finally died away. He 
watched the receding speck, straining his eyes until it entirely 
vanished ; then, gazing up into heaven where his loved ones 
had gone, long after they had disappeared, he stood alone on 
the prairie, alone in the world. Then he bowed his proud 
head in agony to the ground and wept like a child. 

A long, dreary winter and a cheerless summer passed, and 
still Algon bewailed his loss. The chase had lost its charm to 
him now, and he loathed his food since the loving hands that 
were wont to prepare it were absent. He mourned the loss of 
his beautiful wife, but his son, who was all his hope and who 
was to perpetuate his race, was still a greater loss. His smile 
was gone, and he who had been the life of the village was now 
sad and gloomy. 

Meanwhile his wife had reached her starry home, and almost 
forgot, in the renewed joys and blissful employments of her child- 



hood's home, that she had left a husband on the earth. Bui 
her son, true to his race, longed to visit the place of his birth, 
and to see his father, whom he could just remember as the 
proud hunter. The little fellow's entreaties so won the heart 
of his grandfather that, calling his daughter to him one day, 
" Go, my child," he said, " take your son down to his father, 
and ask him to come up and live with us, and tell him to 
bring a specimen of every bird and animal he kills in the 

So she took the boy and returned to earth. Algon, who 
ever hovered near the enchanted spot, heard her voice, singing 
as she had sung the first time he saw her. How slow the de- 
scent of the car seemed to him ! His heart beat with impa- 
tience and hope as he saw the forms of his wife and child, and 
soon he clasped them in his arms, and was happy once more. 
He heard the message from the star, and accepted the invita- 
tion with alacrity. Now he began to hunt with the utmost 
activity, that he might collect the presents for the grandfather 
of his son. Whole nights as well as days he spent on the 
prairie, searching for every curious and beautiful bird and use- 
ful animal. He only kept a foot, tail, or wing of each, and 
when he had collected specimens of all that was beautiful or 
useful in the chase, he took them with his wife and child, and 
was wafted up in the wicker-basket, to the music of his wife's 

Great joy was shown when they arrived on the starry plains. 
The star-chief summoned all his people to a great feast, and, 
when they had assembled, he proclaimed aloud that each one 
of the guests might take of the earthly gifts whatever he liked 
best. Immediately a very strange scene of confusion com- 
menced. One chose a foot, another a wing, another a tail, 


and another a claw, until all the guests had chosen gifts. Then 
those who had chosen a tail or a foot became animals and ran 
off; the others chose a wing or a claw, and became birds and 
flew away. Algon chose a white hawk's feather, which was 
his token. His wife and son followed his example, and all 
three became white hawks, and flew down to earth and mingled 
with the feathered tribes. From that day the white hawk be- 
came the boldest of birds. 



WH( )EyEE has observed the varying phases of Indian 
so« jiety, as it exists both in the forests and in the plains, 
must hav*3 become sensible that the feature of military glory 
constitutor the prime object of savage attainment. It is not, 
indeed, sach glory as is gained among civilized nations at the 
cannon's mouth, or in charging the enemy in well-drilled squad- 
rons, but it is none the less gratifying to the savage hero. 
There are no walled towns to batter down or moats to scale, 
but the object to be attained is the same, viz., that of renown. 
It is to j)rove that one set of men are braver or stronger than 
another. The civilized warrior receives a badge of honor, and 
the Indian is content to wear an eagle's feather in his hair, 
which marks him as a brave man to all his tribe. His step ia 
proud, and his satisfaction for the honor as great as that of any 
civilized warrior. 

One of the principal means of cultivating a heroic spirit in 
the Indian is the public assemblage for reciting deeds of bravery 
done in the tribe. For this purpose a post is erected on some 
eligible spot where the whole village (ian observe the ceremony. 
This post is painted red, the usual symbolic color of war. 
Music is provided by the Indian drum and rattles, and by 
having present a corps of singers. After a few preliminary 

i ;> |: f 


flourishes, a sharp yell gives notice that one of the warriors 
present is about to recite his exploits. The music immedialcly 
ceases, and he receives the most profound attention of the as- 
semblage. Dressed out in his finest robes, and wearing all his 
marks of war and honor, the warrior steps forward and, with 
his club or lance, strikes the painted post. He then recites, 
with all the enthusiasm of an orator, his deeds, accompanying 
every word with appropriate gestures and actions, and when he 
has finished his recital all the warriors join in yells of victory 
and defiance. The music then recommences, and is continued 
until some other warrior signifies his willingness to tell of his 
deeds. Hours on hours are thus employed, and the music and 
singing is continued until all who wish have spoken. Striking 
the post is the forest school in which the young boys learn 
their first lesson of war. They are always seen in large crowds 
at the ceremonies, eagerly drinking in the words of the speak- 
ers, and their stories fill their youthful bosoms with an ambi- 
tion that is never satisfied till they have torn the bloody scalp 
from the head of an enemy. 



Fort Steele, Wyoming Territory, July 4, 1870. 
Mr. C. F. Vent, Publishers, Cincinnati, 0. — 

Dear Sir: The Belden MSS. have abruptly terminated. Mr. Belden hag 
quit the army and returned to the wild life of a mountaineer. I doubt if I 
shall be able to secure from him any more manuscript for several months, 
and I have determined not to wait, but forward you what I have for pub- 
lication. In March last I received the following note from Belden, which 
will explain itself: 

Old Fort Kearney, Neb., March 1, 1870. 

Dear General: Yesterday, on my return from the Kepublican Kiver, I 
received your two letters, which had been forwarded to me from Wind 
River. I am out of the army, and once more a free man. My ponies are 
packed, and I am about to be off for the trapping and hunting-grounds. 
For the present, pen-writing with me is over. If you can make a book 
out of the diaries and manuscripts I have sent you, do so, but I shall 
hardly be able to add any thing to them. Good-by, and ho for the mount- 
ains 1 Yours truly, Geo. P. Belden. 

Later I heard from Mr. Belden, who was trapping alone on the Repub- 
lican, in the country of the hostile Indians ; and in May last an officer who 
visited my camp told me he saw, on the Union Pacific Railroad, at Kearney 
station, a wild white man dressed in buckskin, with an eagle's feather 
braided in his hair and a huge rifle on his shoulder. This was Belden, 
who had come to get ammunition and sell his pelts. A few days afterward 
1 heard of a white man being on Medicine Creek, whom the Indians had 
repeatedly attacked and in vain attempted to drive away. Two or three 
rude lines scrawled on the fly-leaf of a book, and sent by the hands of a 
hunter, informed me who this was, and they ran thus : 


I am trapping and hunting on the Medicine, and while over at the Ke- 
publican and Loup Fork met with a couple of splendid adventures. Ail 
safe and sound yet, and my hair in the proper place. 

Yours, Belden. 

In sending you Mr. Belden's life, I have thought it best to re-write the 
whole of it, but have only made such changes as would enable me to place 
it in a connected form, and in most cases have allowed the manuscript to 
retain the exact words of the adventurous chief, soldier, hunter, trapper, 
and guide. 

It is only fair to Mr. Belden to say that his career has been more varied 
and remarkable than that of any pale-face west of the Missouri; and in 
taking leave of him I can not refrain from expressing the wish, in which I 
am sure all the readers of his narrative will join me, that he may Long live 
to pursue the wild life he seems to enjoy so much. 

Yours truly, James S. Brisbin, U. S. Army.