Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Pahá Kȟoškálaka: Young Man’s Butte

Pahá Kȟoškálaka: Young Man’s Butte
Plains Indian Warfare And Bravery
By Dakota Wind
RICHARDTON, N.D. – The Lakȟóta and the Kȟaŋğí (Crow) were once traditional enemies, that is, before the reservation era, these two tribes fought for war honors such as counting coup and stealing horses. Once in while however, these two tribes came together in great violent clashes that could not be called skirmishes, but battles.

At times warfare amongst the tribal nations in the pre-reservation era also involved the abduction of women and children. Sometimes a warparty might be mustered for the grim sake of revenge too.

The warparty that went out to steal horses did so, not just for war honors, but to keep the enemy off-balance. Having horses meant that a Thiyóšpaye, extended family, had the power to move a camp swiftly and further than those without horses. Horses meant a change in hunting too. No longer did the Oyáte, people, have to organize a community-wide effort to startle and direct a bison stampede over a cliff, which risked the safety of runners and scouts, and if unsuccessful, left them facing starvation.

Sometimes a horse raider might take advantage of a frenzied moment and on impulse abduct a woman too. That woman might then be married into the tribe. This was practical too as inter-tribal marriage, whether by formal trade or abduction, kept the blood lines open.

The young man’s self-sacrifice was regarded as gesture of great courage...

The John K. Bear winter count, a pictographic record of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Pabáska, Cuthead Yanktonai, recalls a full scale battle in 1710 as the year they wiped out another group whom they referred to as Wičóšawaŋ.

Cedric Goodhouse Sr. carries a story which came to him from his father, the late Innocent Goodhouse, about how a Lakȟóta horse-stealing raid to Crow country led to a young man stealing a woman there and bringing her back to his Thiyóšpaye. She grew to dearly love the Lakȟóta, and they her. When she took her journey, the Lakȟóta dressed her in her finest Crow regalia and took her home.

Another story handed down from Innocent Goodhouse was that a Lakȟóta Thiyóšpaye was camped at the base of Fire Heart Butte, north of the present-day North Dakota and South Dakota border just off HWY 1806. Late one night, the Crow made a successful horse-stealing raid to recover horses which were taken from them.

North of Spearfish, SD is the sight of Crow Buttes, where according to story, a Crow warparty were killed to the last man on the buttes there in a bloody standoff. Nine Crow Indians were shot and left there. A tragedy for certain, but also a story of bravery for not one of them pleaded for his life.

About three miles east of present-day Richardton, ND on the north side of I-94 is a little butte. It’s an unassuming hill and resembles many others on the western plains.  

The story goes, a long time ago, that a Crow hunting party numbering 106 came east to hunt. Perhaps drought drove bison east that summer, as drought drove the Húŋkpapȟa east across the Mníšoše, Missouri River, in 1863 to hunt bison which had migrated out of the dry airy region.

The Lakȟóta happened upon the Crow hunting party, immediately surrounded them, and fought them, for the Crow were not just hunting but trespassing on Lakȟóta territory. The Crow fought to the last, until there was one left, a young man.

The young Crow ascended the butte, whereupon he sang his last song. When he finished his song he took his own life rather than be taken by the Lakȟóta.  The young man’s self-sacrifice was regarded as gesture of great courage by the Lakȟóta who regarded the butte thereafter as a very significant and special place. From that day forward, they came to call it Pahá Kȟoškálaka, Young Man’s Butte.