Monday, December 9, 2013

No Two Horns' Narratives Of Apple Creek Conflict And Burnt Boat Fight

The Episcopal priest, Aaron Beede, in Fort Yates, ND, collected this piece authored by No Two Horns. The story: No Two Horns entered an enemy village, likely Crow as indicated by the hair style of the Indian peering out of his lodge, and has successfully stolen two horses. 
No Two Horns’ Narratives Of 1860's Battles
Apple Creek Conflict & Burnt Boat Fight
By Dakota Wind
BISMARCK, N.D. – Chances are that if you have ever visited the North Dakota Heritage Center you may have come across the works of Hé Núŋpa WaníčA, No Two Horns. No Two Horns is listed by the State Historical Society of North Dakota and by Standing Rock Tourism as being Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta.

Like many Plains Indian men, No Two Horns had another name, Kimímela Ská, White Butterfly. No Two Horns was said to have been born in 1852, or earlier. His father was Ištá Sapá, Black Eyes, who was also known as Wasú Šá, Red Hail. No Two Horns was a master artist of the Plains Indian pictograph and many of his carvings serve as evidence of a graceful careful hand. By his own account, he was quite a horse thief in his youth, and a veteran of the Little Bighorn fight.

In May of 1924, Col. A. B. Welch, adopted son of John Grass, met with No Two Horns and others ostensibly to talk about the Burnt Boat Fight between the Lakota and a group of miners who descended the Missouri River and beached their vessel on a sandbar. One story has it that the miners caught a mother bathing her child nearby and overcome with lust, raped her, and then killed her and her little one.

No Two Horns explained to Welch how the Burnt Boat Fight came about after explaining how his band of people came to be engaged there the summer following the 1863 Apple Creek Conflict.

Here is an excerpt of Colonel A.B. Welch’s War Drums (Genuine War Stories From The Sioux, Mandan, Hidatsa, And Arikara). Only minor edits have been made to the Lakȟóta text within Welch’s paper:

I have often heard several men of the Sioux make veiled remarks about this (1864) incident for some years before I finally succeeded in obtaining a story regarding it. The Indians appeared to be reticent about discussing it, apparently being afraid that they might be punished for it even at this late date, after treaties had been signed in which all acts of hostility had been mutually forgotten and forgiven. However, when I talked with them regarding the Sibley Expedition, I began to get more of the facts as the Sioux knew them.


"The Sibley Campaign 1863," by depression era artist Clell Gannon.

There are many men alive today, who were young me at that time and who were fighting at the Big Mound north of Tappen, Dead Buffalo Lake north of Dawson, and along the trail from there to where the Indians were forced across to the west side of the Missouri river, at Sibley Island. It is from these old men that I have the information as herein given, as well as stories told to me by several white men and Mandan and Arikara, who were in a position to know much regarding this affair.

The story of the white boy captive and his tragic death appears to be authentic, although I have never been able to get an Indian to tell us positively that it is a fact. Nevertheless, they will not contradict the statement and many have said that they understood or had heard about the boy and that he had died soon after the fight. They intimate that his death was caused by the hysterical demand of the woman, who cried for revenge to “cover the body” of Ištá Sapá (Black Eyes, the father of No Two Horns) who was killed in the battle. I had tried to obtain trace of this boy for years, before I finally was convinced that, if he was actually taken prisoner, he lost his life in some strange manner, soon after.

As no one of the white party survived, it is not possible to obtain any but the Indian account of the actual affair, but the story of Mr. Larned, as given, indicates that the miners might still may have been under the influence of their wild time at Fort Berthold and quite likely had much liquor aboard the craft. Roughly speaking, it is about one hundred miles from Fort Berthold by river, to the place where they met disaster and the flow of the current is about seven or eight miles per hour. If the party were not hung up on some sand bar or did not land to hunt for meat, it would have taken them some fourteen or sixteen hours to have reached the mouth of the creek where they were killed. They probably landed for the night time upon some of the many islands, as there were Sioux upon the east, or left, band and Mandans, Hidatsa and Arikara upon the west, and it stands to reason that the miners would not have invited a night attach. Meat hunting would not have taken much of their time as game was very plentiful and they had stocked up with trader’s goods at Fort Berthold and would have been glad to eat “civilized food” again for a time. I believe that they left Fort Berthold early in the morning; spent that night in the vicinity of the mouth of the Knife River and were late in the next day.

The party was composed of some fourteen or fifteen miners, presumably all Montana miners from Alder Gulch ‘diggins’ (Virginia City). Dust worth several millions of dollars was taken out of this short gulch placer mining district, and the history of the rough times there is wonderfully told in “The Vigilantes.” Wilder men never gathered together in any spot, than there. The members of this party had cleaned up and were returning with their dust to the down-river points in 1864. After their wild debauch at Fort Berthold, and universally holding the Indian in contempt, it is easily understood how they maliciously fired upon the Sioux and were overwhelmed by them when their mismanaged craft struck upon a sand bar on the eastern shore near the Sioux camp. Who they were, or information regarding their family histories, will never be known, but there can be little doubt but that this party of wild frontier miners was completely wiped out by the Sioux, at the first draw north of the present Northern Pacific Railway Mandan-Bismarck bridge in the fall of 1864.

The map is from an 1890s survey of the Missouri River, about thirty years after the Apple Creek conflict. This reproduces the movements of native civilians & warriors, and Sibley's response. 

Hé Núŋpa WaníčA (No Two Horns), a Sioux Indian in whom I place much reliance as to historical data concerning that people, had told me that he was in the fight with the Indians who confronted Gen. Sibley from Big Mound to Sibley Island. He says that, after the Indians were safely upon the west banks of the Missouri, his band of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna followed the Heart river to its headwaters and passed on into the Bad Lands of the Little Missouri, and that a month or two later they started back with the intention of crossing again to the east side and spending the winter in their old territory between the Missouri and the James, known to them as “The Earth Dish of Wa’anáta.”

He states that one of the mouths of the Heart was north of the present Northern Pacific railway bridge and that they crossed at that place to the east side and moved up into the first draw, where there was fresh water and wood and where they camped for a time.  This deep, steep-sided gully was a well-known Sioux camping place, and from it travois trails led by east stages up to the high lands and thence by good roads, to the valley of Apple Creek, which they followed up into the Dog Den Butte country, up into the region of Sibley Butte and as far as “Wagon Wheel Hills,” north of Steele, at the east end of which the trail divided, the main route leading along the line of lakes and high choteau (sp?) and into the Čhaŋsása, or James River valley, and another trail bearing north and east of north toward the Mníwakaŋ or Devils Lake regions. This camp site was about a mile south of a well-known Missouri river ford, where passage might be easily made without bull boats or rafts, and which was the generally-used ford in the vicinity for all Indian parties. The west entrance of the ford was just below the United States Government harbor now known as Rock Haven, and required not more than one hundred yards of swimming in the main channel. Why this ford was not used by the party of No Two Horns, at that time, is not known to me.

No Two Horns says: “We were camped in that place then. There was much water flowing out of the hills and the feed was good. Our horses would not leave the grass and shade of the trees along the little stream. There was good wood in the timber there. Many deer were in the bottom lands and antelope up on the prairie. Down on Apple Creek there were many elk. We had much meat. We had been chased across the river by the horse soldiers from the east. We crossed then just above the mouth of the Little Heart. We got across easy. We killed some of the enemy there, too. We had been in the Mníwakaŋ country. We were not Little Crow’s people. We were looking for someone to come and thank us. Inkpáduta (Scarlet Point) and several of his men were in that camp. When we got to the river, they went north on the east side. We went across. We went up the Heart River. We went into the Good Horse Grass country (the Sioux frequently speak of the Bad Lands by that name). When the Indians who followed the horse soldiers came back, we started back to our own country. We crossed the Missouri at the mouth of Heart River then. That was where the railroad bridge is now. We went up to this water-grass place. My father was with me, too. He was an old man.”


"Mackinaw Boat Under Attack On The Missouri," by William de le Montagne.

“Then we saw a boat coming down the river. It had white men in it. We wanted to trade for powder, lead, guns, coffee and cloth. We had some fine otter pelts and other skins to trade.

We waved our arms and asked them to come and trade with us. They shot us then. They killed my father. His name was Ištá Sapá (Black Eyes). We were mad then. They fired guns at us. They were working hard at shooting. The boat run on some sand where the little stream run out. We killed them all then. We set fire to the boat and it burned to the water. We got their clothes and guns and kettles. Some yellow earth, we poured out of some little sacks. We did not know it was worth anything then. But it was gold. We buried my father in a lodge there. I can show you the place where it stood. We went away. They shot at us. We were friendly people.  The leader of the horse soldiers did the same thing. He made us fight. The Government always treated the people who fought the best. It was fall before the snow came. I don’t remember any more about that time by the little stream which flowed into the Mníšoše (Missouri).”


Thaóyate Dúta, His Red Nation (aka Little Crow).

It will be remembered that, at the time of the Minnesota Massacres (1863) by Little Crow’s Santees, many members of the Iháŋktȟuŋwan and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna divisions moved away into the Devils Lake regions, with the expressed purpose of keeping out of the trouble. They fully expected that the Government would send a messenger to them, to thank them for that action. They nearly starved during the winter and early in the spring were in the vicinity of Steele and Dawson, Kidder County, North Dakota, hunting buffalo when they were surprised by the advance of Sibley’s column.

Their own story is that they sent forward several old, honorable men to smoke with Gen. Sibley, and that these old men were fired upon by Sibley’s men and the fight started. Many of these friendly Indians were killed in the running engagement, but the troopers were, to say the least, perfectly satisfied to see the Indians cross the river, after which the soldiers returned to Minnesota.


Inkpáduta, or Scarlet Point, pictured here, went on to fight at the Little Bighorn. 

The hostile renegade, Inkpáduta (Scarlet Point), and about twelve of his men had joined this hunting party a few days before Sibley found them, but had already been notified by the camp soldiers, that he must go away at once. When the Indians neared the Missouri, he, together with his men, left the main body and slipping through the soldiers guard, succeeded in passing north along the east bank of the stream and went off into the Devils Lake region, and north, to be close to the Canadian border. The other Indians broke up into small parties after the crossing, and went into several directions, but the camp with which No Two Horns traveled, went into the Bad Lands, which they reached about August 15th, 1864. No Two Horns argued that the Government made peace only with those who fought against them, and that his people should have done so, under the thought that they would have been treated better if they had.