Εικόνες σελίδας
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

and when they starve their hearts are sore. They say the Great Father does not know this. When we complain and my people dance, they send soldiers. But General Miles is our friend and we like him. He sends off the bad agent. He gives us something to eat. We want peace, but we do not want to be robbed. We want what the Great Father has promised us.”




One of the finest looking men, among the Indian Chiefs, is Rocky Bear, a Sub-Chief of the Ogallalas. He is a large, manly looking Indian, over six feet high, about thirty-eight or forty years old, speaks considerable English, has been to Europe, and although a warrior has always been considered a friendly Indian. He made substantially the following statement:

“The cause of the trouble is the same old story. The Great Father sends his agents here to make treaties with us. The white man came and we were driven out. We are promised things, but they never

The Great Father promises to give us food, money, farming tools, and to educate our children, in exchange for our lands, but he forgets to do it. Treaties are only a lot of lies. The Government never kept any treaty it ever made with us. We have always been robbed and lied to. We did not commence the fight. We know that will do no good, but the government takes our lands and puts us here where nothing can be raised, and our wives and children suffer for food; they are cold and hungry.

Then they send soldiers to kill us, and the Agents lie about us after they rob

If my people could get what the Government agreed to pay us, they would all be fat and there would be no trouble. The Great Father knows this, and the white people know this.



One of the most notorious Indians is Crow Dog, who is also a SubChief of the Brules. He is a small, inferior looking Indian, with one withered arm, but he is a man of brains and iron nerve, and is the Indian who killed Spotted Tail in personal combat in 1878.

He said: “The Indians are not to blame. We did not want war. We had many things to contend with. My tribe came to the Ogallalas on a friendly visit and did not intend to fight. General Miles says that ihe Great Father does not know that we have been robbed,

and that we shall have what was promised, and that we shall go

and see the Great Father and tell him all about it. When they took our lands they said our children should be educated and that we should have plenty every year, but we have not received it, and we are hungry. We want what was promised. We want to do right, but we do not want to have our guns taken away and be treated as slaves!"


I am

American Horse is one of the Indians who has become known by reason of his connection with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Although well known to the public through the newspapers, he is not recognized among the Indians as either a leading Chief, or as distinguished in war or council. His experience in the world, however, made an interview with him desirable, and the following statement by him is instructive: “My heart is good.

a man of peace.

I always help the Agent preserve order. I have tried to stop the fighting. The Great Father is our friend. I have tried to pursuade the Brules to turn over their arms and surrender, and I think the trouble is about over. I hope no more people will be killed. Agent Royer was scared and sent for the soldiers too soon. Many Agents are bad and rob the Indians. Let the Great Father turn out the bad Agents and keep the promises which were made and there will be no more trouble. I will go to Washington and tell the Great Father. There are many bad white men who steal our horses and cattle, and they kill our people. We want to learn good things from the whites. We want our children to go to school and learn to work and read. The Indians and the whites should all live as one.”


William Vlandry, a half breed Indian, who was in my employ as scout, made the following statements on the subject:

“The Indians had no intention of fighting until they were forced to it, in what they thought was self defense. They made no attacks upon the settlements or settlers; they were guilty of no raids or depredations. At Wounded Knee, Big Foot was very sick with pneumonia and was shot in his teepee. His band thought they were going to be disarmed, imprisoned and sent to Florida, or Alabama, and kept there as prisoners. They had done nothing whatever, but had been robbed of their rations and were suffering for the necessaries of life, and so they resisted and were killed, with their wives and children. The Government has not carried out its treaties with the Indians. It has made promises, but never performed them. Last year was a very hard year. The Indians who tried to farm raised nothing. The dry weather killed the crops. . Then they did not get only half their usual rations of beef. This was their cause of complaint. If the government had issued them full rations and sent no soldiers, there would have been no trouble. Agent Royer got scared, and then the trouble began. The Indians do not want war.”



Big Road, Chief of the Wafagas, made the following statement:

“When I promise to do something, I do it. When the Great Father promises he never does it. Yet they say the Indian is a bad

The Great Father should have good Agents, and he should not lie to us. Ilis Agents rob us and starve us, and do not give us anything that they agreed to. They promise us good things-money, clothes, tools, and plenty of food for our good lands, and they said they would teach us to farm, but they lied. I do not lie like the white men. The Great Father should not let his Agents steal. The Indians should stand up for their rights. They have a right to food and money, and clothing, and everything that was promised them. The Indians have not stolen from the white neighbors, but they have stolen our cattle and horses. The Indians have not killed our white neighbors, but they have killed our women and children. We did not want to fight. The Indian who is starving has a right to complain, has a right to dance the same as a white man. Let the Great Father do right by us and there will be no trouble. Our hearts are not bad, but we have some rights.”



[ocr errors]

The Omaha” in May, 1856, was slowly making her way up the Missouri, having on board a large number of persons bound for Nebraska—some to settle, some to go thence to Salt Lake. Among several I have forgotten were: V. Berkley, A. N. Snider, Theo. Dodd, John Chapman, nephew of the late Jas. S. Chapman. Kansas was in a troubled state, and our boat had several chests of arms for delivery at certain stations on the border. We expected to be annoyed; but as our boat was“ all right,” its officers being in the pro-slavery clique, no disturbance occurred. At one point near Atchison, we were visited by a large number of lately arrived South Carolina troops, that had come there as immigrants. They were howling and raging and thirsting to get a look at an abolitio nist. Poor fellows! Before many years, they saw enough to satisfy them for all time; many for all eternity. By this time, we were getting near the promised land.

We were flooded with circulars and pamphlets booming the country.

Each town-site, then, was as well up and posted on advertising its merits, as any to-day. Nor has anything in these days of 1880–88, surpassed in "puffery” the efforts of our pioneers in Nebraska, at that early day. Cities, whose names are now forgotten, loomed up in all the possible magnificence of coloring and print.

None of us had ever seen a prairie save those endless Hats of Illinois. We were very curious to get a glimpse of what land looked like from the tops of some of those enormous bluffs along the river. So one afternoon, we came to a place where there was a coal mine, far up the bank on the Nebraska side.

There was

an opening, and coal

*Mr. Irwin is son-in-law of Hon. Hadley D. Johnson, whose article on the “KansasNebraska Boundry” was published in Vol. II, of the Transactions.


lying around and men stood there. The boat stopped to get fuel, which had been very scarce and poor. And we all started to climb to the top, and get a view. I will never forget that an old Pennsylvania farmer was first to arrive there. He whirled his hat, gave a yell, and cried My God boys! Here is a perfect ocean of glory." Sure enough and so it seemed to us. I thought then, and have ever since, that all this region of the Missouri River, north of Kansas City, and extending several miles, on both sides, is certainly the most beautiful country in the world. It might be a notion of my own, but I was confirmed in it by the report of Bayard Taylor, who in one of his chapters of Colorado," happens to mention a trip by stage down the Nebraska side; and coming to some place on the uplands south of Brownsville, he pauses to describe the country, whose great characteristic, in his opinion, was beauty. He had been, he said, everywhere, mentioning various famous regions and the character of their scenery; but, if I remember rightly, he awards to this the palm for simple “Beauty.” And that word aptly describes it. The person, who can stand on a bright day in June, on one of the numberless eminences overlooking the scenery of this region, and not feel a thrill all through him—a kind of ecstacy, is certainly blind or “has no music in himself,” as Lorenzo says in “Merchant of Venice."

To us, strangers, arriving on the borders of our future home, the sight was intoxicating. Most of us had lived on dull flat prairies or

. in towns or amid vast forests of deadened timber, where a three mile view was wonderful. To have such a vision, extending, as the captain of our boat assured us, fifty miles, was like a miracle. lovely, so unspeakably charming! We all became delighted. I have often thought, however, that our descendants do not appreciate this supreme characteristic of our landscapes. Born in it, they are too familiar with it.

Our boat often had great difficulty in making her way, and several times, just as she was making past a difficult point, she would be hurled back by the current, four or five miles. Our trip was long and tedious, but no one complained. We seemed like one family; and friendships to last for life, were there formed, and, indeed, several business partnerships and agreements made. One man on board was a lot speculator in Omaha; and he sold a lot to a German for some five hundred dollars, before the boat landed. The lot was


[ocr errors]


And so

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »