UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
Accession No. =f-- Class No.
HISTORY OF THE DAKOTAS.
JAMES W. LYND'S MANUSCRIPTS.
IT is known by many persons in Minnesota, that for'
many years previous to the Sioux outbreak, James "W.
Lynd was engaged in the preparation of a work on the
North American Indians, especially those of the Dakota
family. This was in such a state of preparation that the
winter before his violent death, he expected to have had it
The manuscript has been found in a somewhat damaged
Bearing date Fort Bldgley, Jan. 6, 1864, 1 received a
letter from Captain L. W. Shepherd. He says: "I have
briefly to state that in the course of the spring of 1863, an
enlisted man who was employed under my direction, at
the Lower Sioux Agency saw-rnill, there or near Little
Crow's village, found six bundles of manuscript History of
the Dakotas and other North American Indians, which he
gave to me, and I yet have in my possession. Many pages
seem to be gone. He said some of the same soldiers, under
the mistaken idea that it was valueless, used the same for
In reply to this letter I suggested that the manuscript
be placed in the rooms of the Minnesota Historical Society,
subject to the reclamation of Mr. Lynd's father or brothers.
JAMES WILLIAM LYND was possessed of an acquisitive
and well balanced mind, and had the advantage of a good
education. He was said to have been a good mathemati-
cian, and his talent for acquiring languages was certainly
144 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
of a high order. He had also cultivated music to some
extent. But with all this mental cultivation, he attaches
himself to the Indian trade, and for a number of years may
be said to have lived in a wigwam. Whatever disadvan-
tages morally and religiously must have attended this
manner of life, there can be no question that it gave him
an opportunity of learning the inside of Dakota life and
Dakota legend, such as missionaries did not have, and
could not have enjoyed.
It is known that Mr. Lynd's aim was to write a histori-
cal work, embracing in its scope the origin and destiny,
the manners and customs, the language and religion, the
character and the legends of the Dakota tribes. For my-
self, after an examination of what remains of his manu-
script, I can say truly that I am better satisfied with his
success than I expected to be. He expresses himself clearly
and forcibly ; and every page attests his diligent investiga-
tion. Although in some of his statements and conclusions
I should be obliged to differ from him, yet, on the whole,
I regard him as truthful and trustworthy.
The first chapter of Mr. Lynd's work is entitled " The
Dakota Tribes of the Northwest." This portion of the
manuscript is nearly perfect, consisting of more than fifty
pages. Mr. Lynd first takes a general view of the dif-
ferent Indian stocks, in this part of North America as the
Algonquin, the Iroquois, the Mobilian, and the Dakota.
And then turning his attention to the latter, he gives some
account of the various tribes which are regarded as belong-
ing to this great family. These he arranges as follows:
The Sioux, or Dakota proper; the Assinaboines ; the
Mandans; Upsarokas, or Crows; the Winnebagoes ; the
Osages ; the Kansas ; the Kappa ws ; the Ottoes ; the Mis-
sourias; the lowas; the Omahas; the Poncas; the Ar-
rickarees ; the Minnetarees or Gros-Ventres ; the Arkansas
and the Pawnees. Some of the California tribes, he thinks,
HISTORY OF THE DAKOTAS. 145
belong to this family. "Whether the Chiennes find a place
here or not, is still a question.
The Ahahaway and the Unktoka are mentioned as two
lost tribes. The former were a branch of the Upsarokas,
and lived on the Upper Missouri. The Unktoka, meaning
" our enemies," all said to have lived in "Wiskonsan, south
of the St. Croix, and to have been destroyed by the lowas
about the commencement of the present century.
" The Sioux and their Country" is the subject of the
second chapter. It is quite fragmentary only a dozen
pages remaining out of more than thirty.
The legend of the Red Pipe Stone Quarry, contained in
this chapter, is not devoid of interest. " The Pipe Stone
Quarry is a place of great importance to the Sioux. From
it they obtain the red stone clay Catlinite of which
their pipes and images are formed ; and a peculiar sacred-
ness is, in their minds, attached to the place. Numerous
high bluffs and cliffs surround it; and the alluvial flat
below these, in which the quarry is situated, contains a
huge boulder that rests upon a flat rock of glistening, smooth
appearance, the level of which is but a few inches above
the surface of the ground. Upon the portions of this rock
not covered by the boulder above and upon the boulder
itself are carved sundry wonderful figures lizzards, snakes,
otters, Indian gods, rabbits with cloven feet, muskrats with
human feet, and other strange and incomprehensible things
all cut into the solid granite, and not without a great
deal of time and labor expended in the performance. The
commoner Indians, even to this day, are accustomed to look
upon these with feelings of mysterious awe, as they call
to mind the legend connected therewith.
" A large party of Ehanktonwanna and Teetonwan Da-
kotas, says the legend, had gathered together at the quarry
to dig the stone. Upon a sultry evening, just before sun-
set, the heavens suddenly became overclouded, accompanied
146 MINNESOTA HISTOKICAL COLLECTIONS.
by heavy rumbling thunder, and every sign of an approach-
ing storm, such as frequently arises on the prairie without
much warning. Each one hurried to his lodge expecting
a storm, when a vivid flash of lightning, followed imme-
diately by a crashing peal of thunder, broke over them,
and, looking towards the huge boulder beyond their camp,
they saw a pillar or column of smoke standing upon it,
which moved to and fro, and gradually settled down into
the outline of a huge giant, seated upon the boulder, with
one long arm extended to heaven and the other pointing
down to his feet. Peal after peal of thunder, and flashes
of lightning in quick succession followed, and this figure
then suddenly disappeared. The next morning the Sioux
went to this boulder, and found these figures and images
upon it, where before there had been nothing ; and ever
since that the place has been regarded as wakan or sacred."
But little light is yet thrown on the question of the
origin of these people. The Mandans are said to have
tradition that they came from under the earth. They lived,
long ago, down under the crust of the earth, by a large lake.
A grape-vine pushed its roots down through. By means
of the vine they crawled up through to the beautiful world
above. But a large fat woman tried to climb up the vine
and broke it, thus preventing the remainder of the tribe
from coming up to the light.
The Osages are said to connect themselves in their origin
with the beaver. The first father of the Osages was hunt-
ing on the prairie all alone. He came to a beaver dam,
where he saw the chief of all the beavers, who gave him
one of his daughters to wife. From this alliance sprang
The Yankton Dakotas have a tradition of the first man,
woman, and baby. The man found the woman on the
prairie. He hunted for her, and they lived very happily
together. The woman grew fatter than the man. By and
HISTORY OF THE DAKOTAS. 147
by he came home from hunting, and found the woman sit-
ting in a corner of the teepee with something that squalled.
He thought it was a bird.
But, tradition aside, Mr. Lynd thinks that the argu-
ments from language and special customs, lead us to con-
nect the North American Indians with the Asiatics, and
especially with the Hindoos. In the Faquir of India he
finds a brother of the dreaming god seeking Dakota.
" The waters of the Mississippi and the Missouri mingle
with the Ganges and the Indus."
The chapter on " Early History," which is the third,
concludes in this way : " One thing alone is evident through
this ancient gloom. A great past idea, that has no reference
to the present state of the Indian, is still self -existent in him,
and points with unmistakable finger to an origin beyond
the land of his later inheritance. But it passes over him
like a dream in a dream, and seems enwrapped in the man-
tle of silence."
Of Mr. Lynd's chapter on character only about ten pages
are preserved. In a note he draws a likeness of the Ta-o-
ya-tay-doo-ta, or Little Crow, which may be interesting.
"Among the present living chiefs of the Dakotas, Ta-o-
ya-tay-doo-ta is the greatest man. He possesses a shrewd
judgment, great foresight, and a comprehensive mind,
together with that greatest of requisites in a statesman,
caution. As an orator, he has not his equal in any living
tribe of Indians. His oratory is bold, impassioned, and
persuasive ; and his arguments are nearly always forcible
"In appearance Little Crow is dignified and commanding,
though at times restless and anxious. He is about five feet
ten inches in height, with rather sharp features and a
piercing hazel eye, too small for beauty. His head is
small, but his forehead bold. Altogether he reminds me
148 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS.
very strikingly, if I may be allowed the expression, of the
late ex-Governor Morehead of Kentucky, whom he cer-
tainly resembles in physical characteristics, except tallness."
"Religion," is the title of one of the most perfect and
valuable chapters in this work, and one which would, in
my opinion, make a very good article in some literary re-
One of the last chapters in this work is entitled " The
Destiny of the Dakota Tribes." None of the perfected
copy of this part, and only a portion of the first leaves re-
mains. Perhaps this is less to be regretted, as the sad
occurrences of the past twenty months have materially
changed the apparent destiny of the Sioux. When writ-
ing these chapters, Mr. Lynd had little thought that he
would be the first victim of such an insane uprising.
In regard to this destiny he takes a hopeful view. The
" painted face and naked skin" of other peoples have been
changed into more civilized appearances and why not
these? Mr. Lynd is very just to our missionary work.
"It has been," he says, "a ceaseless and untiring effort to
promote their welfare."
Again, he says, " The influence of the Mission among
the Dakotas has ever been of a direct and energetic char-
acter. The first efforts of the Mission were directed more
to the christianizing than to the civilizing of the Sioux ;
but of late the missionaries, though their exertions in the
former respect are not at all abated, have been more earnest
in their endeavors to teach the Indians to plant and till."
It is not strange that Mr. Lynd should make this mis-
take. Our previous efforts in that direction were bringing
forth fruit in the latter years of the mission. The Bible
carries with it the plough and the hoe.
There is also a well-written introduction to this work,
which is nearly complete, of more than twenty pages. The
HISTORY OF THE DAKOTAS. 149
manuscript, imperfect as it is, I regard as quite valuable.
And I would suggest that, in case it is not claimed by Mr.
Lynd's friends, the Historical Society would do well to
have it published in some form. Illustrated, it would
make a valuable book.
S. R. RIGGS.
ST. ANTHONY, May 13, 1864.
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