Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Re Appropriating Lakota History

The High Dog Winter Count, as seen at the ND Heritage Center.
Lakȟóta History Remembered
Re-Appropriation Must Be Thoughtful Process
By Dakota Wind
BISMARCK, N.D. – The first pictograph on the High Dog Winter Count, carefully drawn a hundred years ago by a hand that still practiced the old style form, meaning that it wasn’t drawn with the detail of post-Catlin/Bodmer pictography nor the finesse of ledgergraph art, begins in the top left corner of a cotton banner, which is followed by more pictographs intentionally wound in a spiral from the outside in.

The story of the first pictograph is, “Wiyáka tȟotȟó uŋ akíčilowaŋpi,” meaning “They sang praises using very blue feathers.” The pictograph recalls a time when the Huŋkphápȟa honored demonstrations of leadership and good character with a gift of blue jay feathers. Women were honored with a blue cloud stone, a blue pendant worn upon their forehead.

High Dog kept the intertwined histories of the Huŋkphápȟa and Iháŋktȟuwaŋna peoples on a winter count painted on cotton. He resided on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation when the reservation era began,

Waníyetu Wówapi kiŋ, the winter count, is a pictographic memory device that records a tribe’s history. Once a year, each tribe, band, or family would gather and determine how best to remember the year. One outstanding event was chosen, and the year was named, then the winter count keeper would render the year in pictograph. At various times throughout the year, he (and even women too) would display the winter count at various gatherings or events and share the history of the people. Sometimes when a new guest arrived, the occasion inspired the keeper to share the history of that tribe, band, or family.

The pre-reservation winter counts were executed on brain-tanned bison robes in circular patterns from the inside-out. Reservation era winter counts were executed on buckskin or canvas – as bison were nearly obliterated from Makȟóčhe Wašté, “This Beautiful Country,” as the Lakȟóta knew it – in patterns which clearly indicated an irrevocable change to a beautiful way of life.

“‘This Beautiful Country,’ as the Lakȟóta knew it…”

The winter count was named after the keeper and when he went on his journey, the winter count went with him. Sometimes someone was appointed to keep the winter count tradition, sometimes it was handed down to a son, grandson, nephew, or other promising individual. Some women picked up the tradition, as men went off to war – some never to return, were sent off to boarding school, or succumbed to addiction as a means to cope with a changed world.  

The unique relationship each Thíthuŋwaŋ tribe, band, or family has with their landscape, their homeland is reflected in their winter counts. This is information that cannot be discounted.

The Lakȟóta year wasn’t set in stone. Some Thíthuŋwaŋ reckoned the year from first snow fall to first snowfall, others from last snow to last snow, and even one that determined the year from high summer to high summer. The year was based on a lunar calendar which lasted thirteen months. Each moon was named for the natural history in that cycle (ex. Maǧákšiča Aglí Wi, or “Moon When The Geese Return;” Čhaŋpȟásapa Wi, or “Moon Of Ripe Chokecherries”).

Some Thíthuŋwaŋ tribes, bands, and families even refer to the winter count variously as either “Waníyetu Wówapi,” (i.e. Huŋkphápȟa) or “Waníyetu Iyáwapi” (Oglála).

This information becomes vital when interpreting the winter count, as various Lakȟóta calendar years overlapped. The Blue Thunder Winter Count (Iháŋkthuŋwaŋna) entry for circa 1833 is actually 1833-34 (spring 1833 to spring 1834), and is remembered as “wičháȟpi hiŋȟpáya,” or “the year the stars fell.” The High Dog Winter Count (Huŋkphápȟa) entry for circa 1833 is actually 1832-33 (fall 1832 to fall 1833), and is remembered as “wičháȟpi okhíčamna,” or “the stars moved all around.”

“…‘wičháȟpi hiŋȟpáya,’ or ‘the year the stars fell.’”

A well-meaning moderator on a community page of a social media website a few weeks ago had shared a few entries of the Šuŋká Wakáŋtuya Waníyetu Wówapi, the Dog Raised Up In High Regard Winter Count (the “High Dog Winter Count), removed the tribal affiliation from this piece of history, replaced an attribution of the work, on one of the entries, from “Maȟpíya Kiŋyáŋ” (Flying Cloud from Standing Rock) to “Sam Kills Two” (aka “Beads, Sičáŋǧu; keeper of the Big Missouri Winter Count). The interpreters of the High Dog Winter Count was Rev. Aaron Beede, an Episcopal missionary on Standing Rock and Flying Cloud (Sihásapa/Iháŋktȟuwaŋna).

One might see how the digital scribe in question may have mistook “Beede” for “Beads,” and amended the information as he understood it. This very assumption, however, only adds to the misrepresentation of the information. What comes off is an amended copy and paste job with good intentions. This new interpretation, however, removes the Huŋkphápha from a landscape that is theirs, and rewrites Sičáŋǧu history into a landscape and history that isn’t Sičáŋǧu.

The winter count tradition was recorded by paternalistic anthropologists as an art form, disregarding the historical perspective and cultural understanding, throughout the reservation era. Many winter count keepers quit recording “the time of nothing” or died, and the tradition faded to a handful. In the latter half of the twentieth century, a few historians and anthropologists rediscovered the winter count and began to recognize that these traditional works have a valuable contribution to the history of the west.

It is a sad state when there are probably more non-native people today who know more about the winter count tradition than there are native people who do.

“The lineage of information is as important as the information itself.”

One of the traditional norms of the Great Plains Indians knowing where or from whom the traditional stories come. The lineage of information is as important as the information itself. Just telling a story, someone may ask, “Where did you hear that one?” or “Who told you that?” The attribution of the story is always acknowledged. At the end of sharing a story from one of the winter count entries, the keeper would conclude by saying, “Keúŋkiyapi,” “They said that.”

There is a need to tell our own stories, from our own sources, and they should be shared at every opportunity in our communities. It is also important to make the distinction from which nation, tribe, band, and family, because that distinction is why our first nations (even those of the same affiliation) are different from one another.

The last pictograph on the High Dog Winter Count concludes with the arrival of a comet seen in the sky above the vast prairie steppe. It reads, “Wičáȟpi waŋ ilé ú kiŋ,” meaning, “A burning star came this way.” There were six comets visible to the naked eye that year, but only one meant something special to the Huŋkphápȟa and Iháŋktȟuwaŋna peoples on Standing Rock.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Spring Returns

A black capped Chickadee rests on a branch.
Spring Returns
Pȟežítȟo Alí

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND – My youngest son and I went for a hike north of Mandan, ND a few weeks ago. At the time, all the snow had melted but for icy remnants tucked away in constant shadow of tree, bush, or along the river banks. The sunlight was as light and warm as a constant summer day.

Meteorologists were prognosticating that there was one more snow on the way, but my faith in their reports is only about fair to partly. Then we heard the Mourning Dove. The Lakȟóta call this bird Wakíŋyela, and they say its springtime song it warns of late snow. There it was, cooing in the branches of quaking aspen and the buffalo berry bush, its song answered by the questioning tweet of škipípi, the chickadee. The Lakota say that when the škipípi sings in springtime it’s really asking if it’s still winter or if in fact that spring is here. We head home.

Then it snowed, but not enough to constitute an emergency shutdown of schools, roads, or work, but enough to lay a soft blanket of powder on the land. There was no roaring wind that came with the snow either, and at best, it might be described best as a quiet light breeze. The snow itself melted as soon as it touched the earth, at least until the earth itself was cold enough to maintain a little accumulation. Then it warmed up, and the snow melted away as quietly as it had come.

I decided to take another hike, and it was a good thing I did. A cool breeze embraced me in my solitary walk. But this breeze came somewhat from the south, over the rolling hills, and across a lake before it enfolded me.

The trail was long but not grueling, and only slightly muddy. A little snow remained collected in the shadows of trees and brush which grew on the north side of this one particular hill. The other side, the one I was aiming for, was covered with last year’s brown grass. The wind and snow had matted the middle grasses to the hilltop like hair on a fevered head.

Sandstone jutted out of the hillside like a toe that worked its way through an old sock. Broken sandstone, worn and blasted from years of wind and rain, lay strewn upon the sides of the hills. 

A Pasque Flower, or Easter Flower on the Northern Great Plains. 

I searched for the first flower of spring and eventually found it on a hillside facing the sun. Glowing in the sun and ready to open their purple petals to the sun. The settlers and their descendants call it the Pasque Flower or Easter Flower, but to the Lakȟóta its known by two names: Hokšíčekpa, which means “Child’s Navel,” because it resembles a child’s bellybutton that is healing after the cord has fallen off; Waȟčá Uŋčí, which means, “Grandmother Flower,” because as it is the first flower of the new year, it is also the first to die.

The Lakȟóta say that the Grandmother Flower sings to the other flowers of the season, telling them to have courage, and that all things go in their time. The flowers have spirits too, you see. They are the colors of the rainbows.

I looked around where the Grandmother Flower was growing and saw the return of something green. It was there, determined to grow, pushing its way through the surface of the earth.

I lay down upon the hillside and reached out and touched the flower before me. It looks like it has a coat of soft fur, and indeed, it is soft to my caress. The petals and leaves as well. Botanists could tell you that it is an ice age flower. That it evolved over time to bloom in the cold and ice. The Lakȟóta could tell you that this flower was gifted her coat, and the color of its coat, by the creator ages ago. Regardless what you would believe, the flower is medicine too.

My lekší Cedric shared with me that the Grandmother Flower can be used to treat dry skin. Others say that the whole flower is used to treat arthritis ailments.

The impulse to pluck the Grandmother flower is strong. The feeling is almost overwhelming as I lay on the ground looking at this flower. I remind myself that I have nothing to leave if I do take one, but also that I have no reason to take one in the first place. I take a few pictures instead, stand up, and dust off bits of dirt and grass. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Origin of The Rainbow

"Rainbow over the Fort Pierre National Grasslands" by Greg Latza.
The Origin Of The Rainbow
The Spirits Of All The Flowers

Edited By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, N.D. - From the last snows of winter to the first frost of the next, from the Pasque Flowers and Easter Daisies in the lingering snows of spring to the White and Purple Asters of the cool fall, the native flowers of the open prairie rise from the heart of grandmother earth and beautify the grassy steppe.

The Lakȟóta say that long ago the flowers could speak. Long ago the Pasque Flower conversed with a young man and reassured him that he would receive a vision. They say that the Prairie Rose used to greet the Lakȟóta as they passed by, a shy flower anyway, became forever silent when its greetings were either unheard or unanswered.

They say that long ago, on a bright summer day, when all the flowers were out, dancing and bobbing in the wind with all their bright and beautiful colors, that they flowers were talking to one another about mortality and the hereafter. The Great Spirit listened to their conversation.

“I wonder where we will go with winter comes and we all must die,” said the flowers. “It doesn’t seem fair. We do our share to make grandmother earth a beautiful place to live. Should we not also go to a spirit country of our own?” they asked.

The Great Spirit carefully considered their questions and decided that the flowers would live on and their beauty would be remembered after the winter snows. Now, after a rain, we may look to the sky above and see all the pretty colors of the flowers from the past year making a beautiful rainbow across the heavens. [1]

In the ancient days, they say that the rainbow used to be solid, that one could actually touch the colors. Then one day a boy, in his rush to climb a rainbow, found sure footing and grip enough to climb the rainbow, and so he did. When he reached the top, he fired a blazing arrow to signal the people, but they couldn’t find it. When they searched for the boy, neither could they find him. The spirits kept the arrow and the boy elusive. Whenever they approached the rainbow it too proved elusive.

The Lakȟóta refer to rainbows as Wígmuŋke, or "A Snare." It is said that the wígmuŋke, causes the storm to end by trapping it, so that no more rain can fall. No one points at the wígmuŋke with their fingers, but use their lips or elbows if they gesture to it.

“When a rainbow comes everyone looks at it. But no one points at it. If you point at it you will suffer then. Your finger will grow very large. It gets big. It is bad to point at the rainbow.” Mrs. Amanda Grass, May 15, 1921. [2]

[1] Works Progress Administration. Legends Of The Mighty Sioux. 5th Printing ed. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2008.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Chairman Reflects On President's Visit To Reservation

President Obama visits with Standing Rock children Tȟatȟáŋka Aná’taŋ (Charging Bull) (left) and Matȟó Napé Ská (White Hand Bear) (right) at the Cannonball Flag Day Wačhípi, June, 2014. 
Chairman Reflects On President's Visit
A Visit With Youth Provokes Action
By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, N.D. – Every Flag Day on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation the 
community of Cannonball hosts the annual Flag Day Wačhípi (Pow-wow). Families from across the reservation bring the American flags of their loved ones in memory over each gathering. 

The 2014 Cannonball Flag Day W
ačhípi was going to be different. 

Flags caught in the wind rippled and snapped above the wačhípi grounds. 

After a months-long assessment, White House staff selected Standing Rock for the President and First Lady to visit from among a handful of other destinations that day. Standing Rock Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II credits former Chairman Charles Murphy for creating a positive professional relationship with the White House Chief of Staff, Mr. Pete Rouse.

When the President landed in Cannonball, his first order of business was to meet with youth for a roundtable discussion about the many challenges of growing up on the reservation from poverty to homelessness. “The worst is over,” said the President, and remarked that neither he nor the First Lady came from wealth, but said that anything was possible and that “the future holds anything.”

Sometime after 4:00 PM the President and the First Lady entered the wačhípi circle to cheers and a song of encouragement song by the Grand River Singers. The President greeted the people in hesitant Lakȟóta, “Haú mitákuyapi [Greetings my relatives],” and 
spoke for only eleven minutes, about the improving nation to nation relationship that exists between the federal government and American Indian first nations, and giving Indian Country the resources to meet the needs of the youth. 

The President spoke of, “returning control of Indian education to tribal nations with additional resources and support so that you can direct your children's education and reform schools here in Indian Country.”

Chairman Archambault offered the President a star quilt and Mrs. Archambault offered the First Lady a shawl on behalf of the people of Standing Rock and Indian Country. Dancers were divided between the men, women, and the youngest to exhibit their living culture. “The pow-wow was a surreal experience. As we sat there, I explained to him the different dances,” said Archambault. When the Chairman voiced his doubt that the President would actually visit Standing Rock, the President replied, “I wouldn’t miss it for the world!”

As a result of his visit, the President invited the youth panel to visit him in Washington D.C. and play basketball on his court. He immediately challenged his Cabinet to do all they can in their power and authority to do all they could in Indian Country, and he has established a native youth initiative with a focus on education.

When the youth traveled to the White House, they saw all the gifts from Standing Rock to the President and First Lady on display. “The Youth realized that the President’s visit meant more to him than just an afternoon on the reservation. He genuinely cared about the youth. And the youth were inspired to become productive members of their communities,” said Chairman Archambault.

Coolidge vacationed in the Black Hills. During his visit he was honored with a Lakȟóta name.

The last time a president met with members of Standing Rock for a cultural exchange like this was in 1928 when President Calvin Coolidge met the Lakȟóta in the Black Hills, there, Coolidge was gifted with the name Matȟó Čhuwíksuya (Bear Rib), in honor of one of the great Huŋkphápȟa Lakȟóta leaders. 

President Obama was honored with the name “Black Eagle” by the Crow Indian Nation in May, 2008.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission Since 1949

Map of tribal nations of North Dakota. Standing Rock and the Lake Traverse (Sisseton-Wahpeton) extend into South Dakota. 
North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission
A Reflection Of State To State Relations

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND – In 1949, the North Dakota Legislature created the North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission (NDIAC). The first responsibilities of the NDIAC was to secure assistance for American Indians to work in agriculture or other self-sustaining businesses and to work with the five tribal nations to secure federal funding for programs that benefit all citizens of North Dakota.

In the early years of the NDIAC, the commission took a paternal approach to providing assistance to first nation peoples, and believed that the way of helping the first nations was to assimilate them into the state through their association with the larger population in their day-to-day business and social relationships. At the time, the NDIAC un-successfully lobbied the federal government to administer Bureau of Indian Affairs assistance and programming.

As paternal as the NDIAC was in those early years, the NDIAC lobbied many important issues regarding Indian Country, including two: that the federal government determine a new and more specific definition of who and “Indian” is, and that off-reservation American Indians should be entitled to all the same benefits as regular North Dakota citizens, such as medicine, education, housing, and employment.

In 1952, the NDIAC lobbied Congress to abolish the reservation system, and soon after, the federal recognition status of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa was placed in jeopardy. Federal recognition is granted to tribal peoples who signed treaties with the United States for irrevocable rights in exchange for permanent land cessions. 

Scott Davis is the current NDIAC Executive Director. He is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, but he is also part Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. His Lakota name is Ošká Tȟáwa, His Celebration. Listen to Davis' story

Treaties are legal agreements between two or more nations. The relationship between the United States and the First Nations people was established in the 2nd Article of the US Constitution. Tribes that have entered into treaties with states have state recognition. Tribes that have entered into treaties with the United States have federal recognition. Federal recognition general entails that certain lands are set aside for the use of a tribe forever.

In 1954, the Turtle Mountain band of Chippewa successfully lobbied to retain their recognition and rights.

The NDIAC has changed with the needs of the tribal nations, and in 1959, sixteen years before the federal government recognized sovereignty in tribal nations’ own determination with the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act, the first nations of North Dakota were given a voice on the NDIAC board.

Despite the oppositional agenda on which the NDIAC was founded, the NDIAC has since worked hard to improve the state to state relationship between the State of North Dakota and the five federally recognized nations within North Dakota. Highlights include scholarships to American Indian students attending a North Dakota institution, the development of the United Tribes Technical College, which opened its doors to native and non-native students in 1969, and legislative support for North Dakota to adopt an Indian education requirement for educators to have had at least one college course in American Indian Studies in their pursuit to teach in North Dakota.

In March of 1999, the NDIAC observed its fiftieth year in operation by co-sponsoring the University of North Dakota’s Writer’s Conference, which featured Native American authors and film makers, and brought their work in contact with the general public.

In 1999, the NDIAC updated its goals to include: “work for greater understanding and improved relationships between Indians and non-Indians.”

Scott Davis (enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe), Executive Director, NDIAC (2009-present), believes the NDIAC as evolved and matured as the state has realized the unique status of federally recognized tribal nations, “Our state is ahead in its relationship between tribal nations and the state. The NDIAC is really the only state with a cabinet level position dedicated to fostering a nation to nation relationship.” 

President Lindquist is known to her people as Šuŋka Wičháȟpi Wiŋ, Star Horse Woman.

Dr. Cynthia Lindquist (enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation), President of Candeska Cikana Community College on the Spirit Lake (2003-present), was the Executive Director of the NDIAC when the commission observed its 50th anniversary.

Lindquist recalls of the NDIAC’s 50th anniversary, “The most memorable thing for me was that the governor was so supportive. United Tribes set up some tipis on the lawn – we had to acquire special permission to set those up. We had elders from all the reservations come and share their stories.” When asked about the next fifty years, Linquist added, “We Indian people still struggle with how we relate to our state and our country. There needs to be a better relationship between our native people and non-native peoples. We should always have a place at the table of the state.”

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Bullhead And The Last Days Of Sitting Bull

Lt. Henry Bullhead, a Yanktonai Dakota. Photo by D.F. Barry. 
Who Really Killed Sitting Bull?
Lakota Leader Killed In Confrontation

Edited By Dakota Wind
FORT YATES, N.D. – Note: the following article appeared in the Sioux County Pioneer which had previously ran a story attributing the murder of Sitting Bull at the hands of Red Tomahawk. This article refutes and minimizes Red Tomahawk’s role in Sitting Bull’s camp.

Francis B. Bullhead, son of the famed Bullhead who led the policemen in the arrest and killing of Sitting Bull, has taken exceptions to an article appearing in the Pioneer some weeks ago giving Red Tomahawk credit for the killing of Sitting Bull and has requested us to publish the sworn statement of Wakhutemani (Shoots-Walking), one of the policemen who took part in the affair. His statement is verified by police men Cross Bear and Looking Elk, who were also present. The story of the killing of Sitting Bull follows which is very interesting reading:

“We had orders to meet at the home of Chief of Police Bullhead on the Grand River about three or four miles from the camp of Sitting Bull on the night of the fourteenth of December, 1890. We left Bullhead’s place on the morning of December 15th, mounted, and rode directly to the camp of Sitting Bull. When within one-half mile of his camp, we charged rapidly directly [sic] to his house.

In accordance with instructions we surrounding his house and Captain Bullhead, Sergeant Shavehead, Little Eagle, High Eagle, and Warrior Fear Him, entered the house. The remainder of the force were to stand outside but I was curious to know what was going on and went into the house with the officers. Sitting Bull was in bed with one of his wives and was pulled out of bed by High Eagle and Little Eagle. His rifle, which was lying by his bed was taken by Captain Bullhead and another rifle which was hanging on the wall was taken by Sergeant Shavehead. After Sitting Bull was dressed, I was ordered outside and the officers followed almost immediately with Sitting Bull. 

According to Mr. Ernie LaPointe, the direct lineal descendant, great-grandson of Sitting Bull, the police knocked on the door and asked Sitting Bull to come outdoors, then waited for him. When Sitting Bull walked to the door, Crow Foot rose with his rifle and said to his father, "I will stand with you." Sitting Bull turned to his family and sang: "I am a man and where ever I lie is my own." Just after Sitting Bull and Crow Foot stepped through the door was Sitting Bull shot and killed. Crow Foot joined his father seconds later. 

Sitting Bull had been brought out about forty yards from the house and was surrounded by a cordon of policemen with the officers in the middle of the enclosed space. There were thirty-four or thirty-five policemen.

By this time it had become somewhat light and we could begin to recognize each other at some distance in the early dawn. The hostiles were running from all directions toward us yelling to kill the policemen either by shooting them or clubbing them to death.

After Sitting Bull saw that his followers were surrounding the police he yelled in a loud voice in [the] Sioux language, “I will not go! Attack! Attack!” At this time, Catch The Bear, a hostile, broke through the cordon of police and weeping and lamenting demanded that the police turn Sitting Bull loose. Closely following Catch The Bear, three other hostiles broke through the cordon of police, wearing blankets with their rifles concealed under them. As they entered the ring they threw their blankets away and made for the group of officers surrounding Sitting Bull. 

Sitting Bull, photo by D.F. Barry.

Little Eagle was standing at the right of Sitting Bull and High Eagle was at Sitting Bull’s left. These two men had been chosen to handle the person of Sitting Bull as they were powerful men physically. They had hold of him and prevented him from getting away. Captain Bullhead stood immediately in front of Sitting Bull facing him and Sergeant Shavehead stood immediately behind Bullhead.

As the hostiles threw away their blankets Catch The Bear reached the group of officers first and fired point blank at Captain Bullhead, the bullet striking the officer at about waist line and passing through his body.

At the same instant Strikes The Kettle shot Sergeant Shavehead. When Captain Bullhead was shot he immediately raised his rifle and shot Sitting Bull. The bullet struck Sitting Bull just above the sternum and passed upward and back through his body, breaking the spinal column where his neck and body join. Where the bullet left the body it tore a hole about two inches in diameter. Sitting Bull dropped dead. Neither Bullhead nor Shavehead fell when shot but Sitting Bull collapsed at once.

I actually saw these things. The battle then became general and most of the police fell back towards Sitting Bull’s barn. Two of us remained where the officers had fallen. I was not hit, but a bullet went through my hat and was fired at such close range that my neck was burnt by the powder. During the fight it was impossible to observe what was going on but I know the man remaining with me, Broken Arm or Armstrong, was killed. Three other police remained beside the house, Bad Horse, Looking Elk, and Cross Bear. None of them were wounded.

Three of the four hostiles who started the fight were killed. They were Catch The Bear, Spotted Horn, and Black Bird. Strike The Kettle was wounded but he got away and lived for many years after the fight.

While the battle was still in progress the military detachment from Fort Yates arrived at the top of the hill and apparently began firing at us. They also discharged a cannon at us twice, the shells falling within a hundred yards of us and exploding. We sent a policeman with a white flag toward the military and formed in line and marched in twos to let the military know who we were. They then changed their range and fired their cannon in the direction in which the hostiles were retiring. The cannon scattered the hostiles in every direction and the battle was over. 

LaPointe's narrative says that during the military cannon fire, Sitting Bull's oldest daughter, Many Horses, his wives, Seen By Her Nation and Four Robes, their five children and perhaps 200 more fled south across the Grand River, but were intercepted by the military and then brought to Fort Yates. 

We then found that Bullhead and Shavehead were still alive. As the police came back to the point where the fight started and saw their officers lying mortally wounded and their comrades dead, many of them shot into the body of Sitting Bull. His body was badly mutilated. Swift Cloud, a half-brother of Little Eagle, was not a policeman but as he came to the battle ground and saw his brother lying dead, he seized a club and beat the head of Sitting Bull into a shapeless mass. Holy Medicine, who was not a policeman but was a brother of Broken Arm, also came to the battle ground and seeing his brother dead, seized a club and beat the remains of Sitting Bull. 

Crow Foot, by D.F. Barry.

Crow Foot was the son of Sitting Bull. He was a young man of seventeen or eighteen at the time and when his father was taken from the house followed at three different times in an effort to get him back to the house. The first two times he was sent back to the house but the third time the battle began.

After the battle we carried the dead and wounded into Sitting Bull’s house. When we made the third trip for the body of Little Eagle we heard two shots, following a commotion in the house and a voice pleading for mercy. As we came near the house a body was hurled through the door. It was Crow Foot. He had hidden under a pile of bedding in the corner of the hut and when found by the officers had been sent by Lone Man and One Feather. 

Mr. LaPointe begs to argue this discrepancy. "It seeks to humiliate the memory of his son," says LaPointe. Crow Foot died outside the cabin. Crow Foot's younger half-brother, William, was about twelve years old. William was the crying child present. 

The hostiles killed in the fight were Catch The Bear, Spotted Horn, Black Bird, Jumping Bull, his son Brave Thunder, and Crow Foot, the son of Sitting Bull. They were buried by Riggs, a Congregational minister.

There is no question as to who killed Sitting Bull. I saw the captain of police kill him, saw him fall and saw the terrible wound made by the heavy police rifle afterward. It literally tore the upper part of his chest to pieces.

After cooking our breakfast with the military our dead were loaded into a wagon and the wounded into a military ambulance and we started for Fort Yates. The wounded reached the agency that night but we camped on Oak Creek near where the town of McLaughlin now stands. The next morning the military proceeded to Fort Yates and we received orders to return to the Grand River and order the hostiles to report to the agency. This we did with those who still remained in that vicinity but most of them had stampeded to Pine Ridge.

Many years have gone by since that fateful morning but the events as I have related them are burned indelibly upon my mind. The ride in the early morning hours, the frenzy and the screams of the ghost dancers as they rallied to their leader, the wily medicine man who made every excuse to delay his departure, his change of front when he thought his followers could save him, the bravery of the officers who knew they faced certain death, the death of Crow Foot and the tardy arrival of the military make a picture on my mind that will never be effaced.”

Suggested reading:

Sitting Bull: His Life And Legacy, by Ernie LaPointe, Great-Grandson of Sitting Bull. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Coolidge Remembered As Bear Ribs

President Coolidge seen here with members of the Sicangu Lakota people.
Coolidge Recognized With Lakota Name
Standing Rock Sioux Call Him “Bear Ribs”
Edited by Dakota Goodhouse
Bismarck, N.D. (Bismarck Tribune, July 1927) – The following appeared in the Bismarck Tribune, summer 1927, when three tribal community members sent a letter to President Coolidge. These three later met the President in the Black Hills, August 1927, when he established summer camp near Spearfish, S.D.

President Coolidge has been adopted by an Indian tribe, which has given him the name Bear Ribs, meaning the Indian conception of the chief who originally bore that name as “a far seeing, progressive man.” Another honor bestowed upon the President is the gift of an Indian pipe and beaded tobacco bag. He intends to smoke the pipe, he said, although he does not enjoy pipe smoking.

News of the President’s adoption came to the White House in a letter signed by the committee of three Indians, living on the reservation near Fort Yates, N.D. as follows:

Hon. Calvin Coolidge
President of the United States,
Washington D.C.

Dear Mr. President:

The Indians of the Kenel District on this reservation at their local council desire to congratulate you upon your re-election and take pleasure in mailing you, under separate cover, a pipe and beaded tobacco bag.

Presidents in the past have done much in reference to the Indian and his destiny, but it remained for you to give to the Indian that citizenship which he hoped for through many years. We desire to express our heartfelt appreciation for the citizenship granted us, and also for the good judgement shown in protecting our property rights and by not turning them over to the Indians without supervision. To turn the property rights over without protection would have been a great misfortune to us.

For many years the Indian has doubted the government’s good intentions, but we now know that it had a definite purpose in view and that the government’s ultimate intention was to train us for citizenship.

Many years ago when trouble arose between the Indians and the soldiers under a white general we called White Beard, we fought the soldiers, but later there came peace between us. At that time Bear Ribs, a progressive chief of the Hunkpapas [Huŋkphápȟa], tried to teach us the white man’s way.

The Indians objected to learning this new way, and as a result Bear Ribs was finally murdered because of his progressive ideas.

We now know that Bear Ribs was right, and we honor his memory. Because Bear Ribs was a far-seeing, progressive man, we now give you the name Bear Ribs, by which you will be known to our tribe.

Very respectfully,
Antoine Claymore
Jovita Badger
Pius Shoots First