Friday, September 23, 2016

Historical Conflict And Trade At Cannonball River, A Review


Challenges And Conflict On The Cannonball
Confluence Of Indians & Traders, A Review
By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, ND – Is the Cannonball River so different today than it was two hundred years ago? Yes and no. The river still drains into the Missouri River as it has done for thousands of years, but the similarities depart from there. The Cannonball River drains into a stretch of the Missouri River that is more lake now than flowing stream.

600 years ago, the Mandan lived in two earthlodge villages, the Big River Villages, on the north and south banks at the Cannonball River and Missouri River confluence. The Cheyenne lived in an earthlodge village located at present-day Fort Yates, ND, and occupied the region including the Cannonball River from around 1700 to about the turn of 1800 before taking up the nomadic horse culture for themselves and moving west. The Arikara contested the Cheyenne occupation, and even came to live at the Big River Village on the north bank for a time.

Tracy Potter’s “Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat” offers a summary of the backstory which sets up the Mandan Indian protagonist Shehek Shote (“White Wolf;” aka Sheheke, or “White Coyote”) in the post-contact and early trade era on the Upper Missouri River. Potter references living oral tradition of the Mandan people, and archaeology of the ancient territory of the Mandan, as well as writings from the early fur traders including the Corps of Discovery to show the struggle and survival of the Mandan on the prairie steppe.

Potter’s teeters back and forth between a biographical epic of White Wolf who journeyed east to parlay with President Jefferson and his return, and a historical summary of the Mandan people. The tale concludes with a grand gesture of self-sacrifice and service to a country that has largely forgotten that White Wolf died protecting Americans on the frontier when the War of 1812 spread to the Missouri River.

Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat was released in 2003 as a companion book to all the Corps of Discovery excitement during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial. Its a genuine original concept, with a focus on the story of a native man, a civil chief of a peaceful first nation, at a time when a dozen books a month were coming out about the Corps of Discovery. It’s 2016 and Potter’s book deserves a second closer look at its brief narrative involving the conflicts on the Cannonball River in light of the current energy interests there.

Inter-tribal conflict is a part of the collective history of the first nations. Different languages yield different world views and values, which may lead to conflict, but contests for control of natural resources is universal in the history of humanity anywhere in the world at any time.

During the Corps of Discovery’s mission, they selected various tribal leaders to journey downriver and east to meet with the great father of the new United States. In 1804, the corps selected Arketarnawhar Was-to-ne (“Is A Whippoorwill”) and a company of six others from the Osage, Missouri, and Pawnee nations, to entreat with President Jefferson. Is A Whippoorwill died in the spring of 1805; the other tribal representatives soon died as well. Jefferson wrote a missive telling the Arikara that their beloved leader had promised their friendship to the Americans before dying, and that he was buried in the east.

The Arikara received official word of their leader’s death in the summer of 1807. By then, the Arikara and Mandan were at war with one another. One of the conflicts between the two nations was at the Cannonball River, where the Mandan had fought the Arikara and killed two of their warriors. The Mandan wanted and supported trade with the Americans; the Arikara wanted the same too, but wanted their leader back more.

In the fall of 1812, war tension spread west. The Hidatsa supported the English in their trade. The Mandan supported trade with the American Fur Company. The Arikara indiscriminately harassed all white trappers and traders on the Upper Missouri. The Cheyenne were withdrawing from the Missouri River for the deep west, but lingering trade drew them back to the Missouri River. The American Fur Company had set up shop with Fort Manuel Lisa near present-day Kenel, SD near the ND-SD border.

The Arikara reported to a Fort Manuel trader that the Cheyenne had robbed and whipped a trader at the Cannonball. The trappers were so nervous when the sun went down, they shot a skulking dog thinking it was a Cheyenne. What’s not reported, is the Cheyenne were lied to and robbed in trade themselves. Their retaliation was just. They didn’t kill the trader, only suffered him to be humiliated for his corrupt dealings. Some of the Cheyenne were still on good terms with the traders at Fort Manuel Lisa and had planned on wintering there in 1812-1813.

Fort Manuel Lisa was attacked and burned in December 1812. Lisa and his men, even the Cheyenne were anticipating attack from the Arikara, but it was the Thítȟuŋwaŋ (“Teton”), persuaded by English trade agent Col. Robert Dickson who had married into the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (“Seven Council Fires;” Great Sioux Nation), who carried the fight to the trade fort.

Potter’s “Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat” is a wonderfully short historical book in clear light prose, but it’s deep and rich enough for serious study. His book is dedicated to the Mandan people and includes many Mandan and Hidatsa descendants in his acknowledgements. Get your copy from the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum store. The book isn’t listed on the website, but it’s available on the floor. Get your copy today! 



Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri River, A Review

The cover of Sunder's book.
The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri
Cannonball River Part Of History, A Review
By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, ND – The first edition of John Sunder’s “The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri, 1840-1865” was published in 1965 by the University of Oklahoma Press. The book focuses on the closing days of the American Fur Company on the Northern Great Plains which effectively concluded with the punitive campaigns of generals Sibley and Sully.

The fur trade has an interesting history in North America. The French and English hooked native peoples with trade goods such as mirrors, knives, kettles, beads, and guns. American Indian tribes even made war on one another for a hundred years in the Great Lakes region until the beaver was effectively hunted out at the turn of 1700. Then the fur trade turned west.

Sunder takes readers to the last of the trading posts on the Upper Missouri, from Fort Berthold where the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan became utterly dependent on the US military for aid in their struggle for survival against the elements and the hostilities of their traditional enemies, the Teton Lakota, to Fort Union Trading Post.

Sunder’s narrative is a carefully constructed study of the last trading posts. That is to say, that this book is dry in its detail, but everything within is genuinely valued and included for its contribution to the development of the American West. This includes mentions of rivers and streams on the Upper Missouri River that have been exploited for their material value, rivers and streams that were inter-tribal conflict sites, and river and streams that have served as important points of interest for river traffic.

Here’s a short excerpt from Sunder’s The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri, 1840-1865 which happens to pertain to the Cannonball River, a western tributary of the Missouri River, and of some interest to the energy industry.

After brief stops at Forts Buford and Union, the St. Ange reached the mouth of the Poplar River. Since the mid-July channel of the Missouri was too low to allow Captain La Barge to go up-river beyond that point, he unloaded freight destined for the Blackfoot country, then swung the steamer around and rode the current downriver to St. Louis, carrying a large cargo of robes and furs and new Indian-country curiosities: spherical stones from Cannonball River and a caged wild songbird resembling an Old World finch. Father De Smet, who disembarked at Fort Union, accompanied Alexander Culbertson and thirty Indians in a small wagon and cart train overland from Yellowstone to Fort Laramie to attend a scheduled September meeting between St. Louis Indian Superintendent Mitchell and the northern Plains tribes.


These spherical stones, concretions, from the 60-million-year-old Cannonball Formation – unique to North Dakota – continue to be a part of North Dakota’s identity and geologic history, so much that a lovely collection of the stones are prominently featured at the new east entrance of the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The stones were collected from Harmon Lake recreation area. There's precious few stones remaining at the Cannonball River. 

Sunder’s book is available at the NorthDakota Heritage Center & State Museum’s gift shop. The book is not listed for purchase on the website, but it's on the floor. Get your copy today!


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Medicine Bear Winter Count Variant

A picture of the Medicine Bear Winter Count from the collections at the Montana Historical Society (picture courtesy of the Montana Historical Society).
Waníyetu Wowápi Tȟá Matȟó Wakȟáŋ Akhé
A Medicine Bear Winter Count Variant

By Dakota Wind
Helena, MT - Medicine Bear was an itáŋčaŋ, one of four principal chiefs, of the Pȟabáksa (Cut-Head) division of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai). He was forty years old when the reservation era, the time of nothing, began. By then he kept a winter count, a history of his band of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna, rendered in his own hand, on muslin cloth. It seems he kept one on brain-tanned buckskin as well.

A variant of that winter count has surfaced in the collection at the Montana Historical Society. The paint on this variant is much worn and flaked (charcoal, but probably mixed with bear grease or other animal fat), but there is enough distinction in the images and execution of style in the pictographs that this researcher has determined that the hide winter count is a variant, if not the originator, of the Medicine Bear Winter Count.

The waníyetu wowápi, winter count, is a pictographic record, a mnemonic device, in which each image represents a year with a story of the people, in this case, Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna. It is not a calendar, not in the sense that you can look ahead and see the next month or year, but a record to look back at previous years.

The traditional homeland of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna lies between the Mníšoše (Water-Astir; Missouri River) and Čaŋsáŋsaŋ Wakpá (White Birch River; James River), and south of Mní Wakȟáŋ (Water With-Energy; Spirit Lake) on the Northern Great Plains. Occasionally the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna ventured as far east as Ohio, and as far west as the Čhaŋsótka Wakpá (Towering Tree River; Little Missouri River).

In Josephine Waggoner’s book “Witness: A Húŋkpapȟa Historian’s Strong-Heart Songs of the Lakotas” there are listed thirteen bands of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna. These thirteen groups were split among three different reservations in the late 1800’s, Standing Rock (Wičhíyena), Fort Peck (Wačhíŋča Oyáte), and Crow Creek (Húŋkpathi).

The Montana Historical Society Medicine Bear Winter Count has been correlated with the Medicine Bear Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) at Dartmouth College, the Blue Thunder Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) at the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND), the High Dog Winter Count (variously listed as Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna and Huŋkphápȟa) at the SHSND, the Chandler-Pohrt Winter Count at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI, and the John K. Bear Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna). The Lakota Language Consortium standard orthography has been used to write the text of each entry in Dakȟóta.

1823 (1): Wahúwapa šéča ȟápi waníyetu kiŋ (Ears-of-corn dried bury-they winter the). That winter they cached parched ears of corn.

1824 (2): Ȟaȟátȟuŋwaŋ ób kičhízapi. Čhaŋkáškapi yuȟdéčapi ([Water] Fall-dwellers with fight-they. Fence-fortification to-tear-apart-they). They fought with the Chippewa. They tore their palisades to pieces.

1825 (3): Mní wičhát’E (Water many-dead). Dead bodies in the water.

1826 (4): Tȟaspáŋna Wakpána éd waníthipi (Apple-[Little] Creek at winter-camp). They made winter camp at Apple Creek.

1827 (5): Wičháakiȟ’aŋ na wičháša čheȟpí yútA, Isáŋyathi (Starvation and people flesh to-eat-something, Santee). In their desperate hunger, the Santee ate their own.

1828 (6): Wakáŋkadaŋ ób kičhízapi (Thunder-beings with fight-they). They fought with the Thunder Beings.

1829 (7): Makhú Šá čhaŋkáğa thípi káğA Hiŋháŋ Wakpá éd (Breast-bone Red trimmed-logs lodge to-build Owl River at). Red Breast built a cabin on Owl River (Moreau River). The variant depicts a lodge alongside a cabin. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts a man wearing a hat (a white man; a trader) next to a cabin.

1830 (8): Pȟadáni ób kičhízapi kiŋ (Arikara with fight-they the). They fought with the Arikara. The variant depicts four figures representing the enemy. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only two.

1831 (9): Nuŋpá kičhíkte (Two killed-each-other). Two men killed each other.

1832 (10): Thí tȟáŋka obléča káğapi (Lodge big square-sides built-they). They built a large cabin.

1833 (11): Wičháȟpi hiŋȟpáya (Star-Nation to-fall-down). The stars fell down.

1834 (12): Matȟó kičhí waníthipi, Čhaŋté Wakpá éd (Bear with winter-camp, Heart River at). They made winter camp with a bear, at Heart River.

1835 (13): Wičhíyena óta wičhákasotapi waníyetu (Wičhíyena many massacre-they winter). Many Upper Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai) were massacred that winter. Both the variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a Hupáwaheyuŋpi (Poles Pack-things-up-to-travel), or travois which was used to move their wounded and deceased.

1836 (14): Tȟatȟáŋka Iŋyáŋke tȟóka kte na thi akdí kiŋ (Bison-[Bull] Running enemy kill and camp return the). Running Bull killed an enemy and returned to camp. The variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a figure above which is featured four horse tracks, killing or counting coup on another figure. The horse tracks represent a successful horse raid against his enemy.

1837 (15): Wičháȟaŋȟaŋ tȟaŋká (Smallpox big). There was an epidemic of smallpox.

1838 (16): Wičháȟaŋȟaŋ aktá (Smallpox again). Another epidemic of smallpox.

1839 (17): Pté sáŋ ktépi (Bison-[Cow] creamy-white kill-they). They killed a female white bison.

1840 (18): Tȟámina Wé Padáni ob kičhize waktékdi (His-Knife Blood Arikara with fight return-in-victory). His Bloody Knife returned in victory from a fight against the Arikara. This is the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakȟóta headman of the Wičhíyena, or PȟabáksA (“Cutheads”) division. In later years he was known as Oscar No Heart. The forehead of the figure in the variant is painted scarlet, indicating that this is a PȟabáksA figure.

1841 (19): Itáŋčhaŋ ktépi (Leader kill-they). They killed a chief.

1842 (20): Tȟatȟáŋka Oyé Wakȟáŋ t’Á. Wakhéya kdézena uŋ wičháknakapi. (Bison-Bull Tracks With-Energy died. Lodge striped using above-the-ground [buried]-they). Holy Buffalo Tracks died. They laid him to rest in a striped thípi.

1843 (21): Čhaŋčéğa Yuhá ečíyapi ptehíko (Drum Has called-by-name-them bison-to-attract). Drum Owner called the bison.

1844 (22): Wíŋyaŋ onákte (woman prairie-fire-killed). A woman died in a prairie fire. The figure depicted is standing in flame.

1845 (23): Huŋkádowaŋpi (Singing-over-a-relative-they). They sang over someone in ceremony and made a relative. The making-of-relatives ceremony is still practiced among the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Seven Council Fires; the name the “Great Sioux Nation” refers to themselves) today.

1846 (24): Šuŋg’híŋzi áwičakdipi (Horse-teeth-yellow captured-return-they). They brought back horses with yellow teeth.

1847 (25): Wašíču nuŋpá kičhí waníthi (Takes-The-Fat two with winter-camp). Two white traders camped with them that winter.

1848 (26): Kičhí ktépi (Each-other killed-they). They killed each other. This year’s entry depicts two men shooting each other.

1849 (27): WatȟókhiyopȟeyA čhúŋkaške éd waníthipi (To-Trade fort at winter-camp). They wintered at a trading post.

1850 (28): Wópȟetȟuŋ waŋ Wičhíyena ópi. Matȟó Núŋpa thíŋktes’a t’eyÁ (Trader a Wičhíyena wound. Bear Two murderer-would-be caused-to-die). An Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna wounds a trader. Two Bear puts the would-be murderer to death. Note: The Two Bear family on Standing Rock insist on the use of “Two Bear” as opposed to “Two Bears.”

1851 (29): Heȟáka šá kútepi (Elk red hunted-they). They hunted a red elk. The variant depicts a lodge in front of the elk indicating that the hunters conferred and prayed about this hunt. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only a leaping red elk.

1852 (30): Matȟó Wašté ečíyapi ptehíko (Bear Good called-them-by-name bison-to-attract). Good Bear called the bison. The variant depicts a lodge in front of the bison indicating that the hunters, in this case Good Bear, prayed about this hunt. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only a charging or leaping bison.

1853 (31): Hé Tópa uŋ waŋ ktépi (Horn/s Four wearing a killed-they). They killed a man wearing a headdress with four horns. Both the variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a head with what appears to be a shaved horn headdress with four horns, and a trailer of what appears to be ermine tails and a slat (slats were quilled and sometimes decorated with feathers or plumes).

1854 (32): Waníyetu kičhízapi (Winter fight-they). They had a fight that winter.

1855 (33): Phuthíŋ Ská wawáhoye kiŋ (Beard White to-order-things the). White Beard [General William Harney] gave the order.

1856 (34): Wapȟáha waŋ yuk’ézapi (Warbonnet in-particular to-shear-off-they). In a fight, he sheared a war-bonnet off [the enemy’s head]. The variant depicts a wapȟáha (a warbonnet) with what appears to be horns. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts the same but without this embellishment.

1857 (35): Tȟatȟáŋka Ináži wiŋyáŋ áwičakdi (Bison-[Bull] Standing woman captured-returned-with). Standing Bull brought back a captive woman.

1858 (36): Waŋbdí Hoȟpí t’Á (Eagle Nest died). Eagle Nest died.

1859 (37): Wókapȟaŋ paŋȟya (Meat-block/pemmican very-much). Much pemmican. The variant depicts blocks or parcels of meat in front of the lodge door. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts the same on the lodge.

1860 (38): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdipi (Horses many captured-returned-with). They returned with many captured horses.

1861 (39): Hitȟúŋkasaŋ Dúta šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdi aktá (Weasel Red horses many captured-returned-with again). Red Weasel returned with many captured horses.

1862 (40): Kȟaŋğí tópa ktépi (Crow four killed-they). They killed four Crow.

1863 (41): Akíčhita Pȟá Tȟáŋka kaškápi. Kdí na t’Á (Soldier/s Head Big imprisoned. Return and die). Soldiers imprisoned Big Head. He returned and died. The variant depicts a figure with four feathers, and appears to be wounded. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts a figure with three feathers.

1864 (42): Wíŋyaŋ nuŋpá ktépi (Woman two killed-they). They killed two women.

1865 (43): Pȟatkâša Pȟá čhapȟÁ t’ekíyA (Jugular-vein-scarlet Head [Western Painted Turtle] stab to-cause-one’s-own-death). Western Painted Turtle Head [or “Turtle Head”] was stabbed to death.

1866 (44): Wóoyake Wičháša ktépi (Story Man killed-they). They killed Storyteller.

1867 (45): Waníyetu osní (Winter cold). It was a cold dark winter. The accompanying text of the Medicine Bear Winter Count says that this was an especially cold winter. The image depicted for this year’s entry is a circle that appears to be hastily filled in. This might also represent the solar eclipse the summer of 1868.

1868 (46): Itázipčho akézaptaŋ t’Á (Without-Bows fifteen died). Fifteen members of the Itázipčho (Sans Arc) died. The conflict appears to be with the Kȟaŋǧí (Crow Nation).

1869 (47): Kȟaŋğí wičháša wikčémna yámni wičháktepi (Crow men ten three men-killed-they). They fought and killed thirty Crow men. Only four are depicted.

1870 (48): Wašíču waŋ Nasú ikčéka kté (Takes-The-Fat a Brain common killed). Brain, a Lakȟóta, killed a white man. This entry appears to correspond to the Blue Thunder Winter Count entry for 1871-1872.

1871 (49): Witkówiŋ nuŋpá ktépi (Crazy-women two killed-they). They killed two prostitutes.

1872 (50): Wakhéya Šáya t’Á (Lodge Red-Painted died). Red Painted Lodge died.

1873 (51): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ otá áwičakdipi (Horses many captured-returned-with). They returned with many captured horses. The variant depicts many horse tracks, while the Medicine Bear depicts only captured horses.

1874 (52): Wičháša zaptáŋ ahí ktépi (Men five came-here killed-they). They killed five of them.

1875 (53): Tȟóka nuŋwaŋki napá (enemy swim-home escape). The enemy escaped by swimming home. The arch below the enemy figures represent each one’s escape.

1876 (54): Heȟáka t’Á (Elk died). Elk died. A man named Elk died. The image represents a name glyph in this case, as opposed to them actually hunting an elk.

1877 (55): Waníyetu snížE (Winter withering). A withering year. Whether this year represents the weather or is in reference to the fallout of Okíčhize Pȟežísla Wakpá (the Battle of the Greasy Grass; the Battle of the Little Bighorn), it was a long wearying year. They were tired. This year marks the first of the remaining entries to include a palisade before the figure. This represents the “prison” era, or the beginning of the reservation era.

1878 (56): Tȟašúŋke Máza ktépi (Horse Iron killed-they). They killed Iron Horse.

1879 (57): Wapȟáha Sápa šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdi (Warbonnet Black horse many captured-returned-with). Black Warbonnet led a successful horse raid.

1880 (58): Phizí thí (Gall lodge). Gall lodge. Soldiers fired into Gall’s camp on the Tongue River. Gall and his followers, Crow King, Black Moon, Low Dog, and Fools Heart, and their extended families (a total of 230 people) were brought to Standing Rock Agency in the summer of 1881.

1881 (59): Wakíŋyaŋ Nuŋpá ktépi (Thunder-Being Two killed-they). They killed Two Thunder. Two Thunderbirds are depicted.

1882 (60): Kȟaŋğí wičháša hípi (Crow men three came-they). The Crow man came to them. One Crow man is depicted “followed” by a white man.

1883 (61): 1883 (61): Matȟó Wakȟáŋ t’Á (Bear With-Energy died). Holy Bear died. The Medicine Bear and Blue Thunder Winter Counts both say that Medicine Bear died this year.

1884 (62): Makȟá k’apí (Earth dug-they). They dug earth. This could reference the construction of a sod house, construction (maintenance possibly) of an earth lodge, or preparations for funerals.

1885 (63): Waȟúŋ Nap’íŋ t’Á (Burning Necklace died). Burning Necklace died.

1886 (64): Wakȟáŋpahomni ktépi (With-Energy-Turns killed-they). They killed Turns Holy.

1887 (65): Maȟpíya Hétoŋ mníwani kté (Cloud Horn Turning kill). Turning Horn Cloud was killed. The image resembles the Medicine Bear Winter Count entry for this year. The Blue Thunder Winter Count text for this year, however, seems to be a better correlation: Matȟó Núŋpa huŋká waŋžítku t’Á, Čhečá Yámni ečíyapi (Bear Two ceremoniously-adopted one-his died, Thighs Three name-they). Two Bear’s ceremonially adopted brother, whom they called Three Thighs, died. Neither text from Blue Thunder nor Medicine Bear seem to fully match the entry on this variant. One of the figure’s cheek is colored red, as a woman would have colored her cheeks. Red painted circles on a woman’s cheeks were considered beautiful accents.

1888 (66): Išúŋmanuŋ t’Á (Fails-To-Steal died). Does Not Steal died.

1889 (67): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ waŋ kiíyaŋkdi t’Á (Horse a race-horse died). A race horse died.