Chippewa and Sioux Feuds
- - 1827-1846 - - CHIPPEWA AND SIOUX FEUDS
[Source: Minnesota in Three Centuries, 1655-1908: Early History by Return I. Holcombe, 1908; transcribed by Mary Kay Krogman]
SIOUX ATTACK ON FLAT MOUTH'S BAND.
AT daybreak on May 28, 1827, the Ojibway Chief, Flat Mouth, of Sandy Lake, with seven of his warriors and some women and children, the entire party amounting to twenty-four arrived at Fort Snelling. They came on a begging expedition simply. At the gates the Chief asked the protection of Colonel Snelling and Agent Taliaferro, from a number of armed Sioux about the Fort. They were told that as long as they remained under the United States flag they would be secure, and were allowed to encamp in front of the Agency House, within musket shot of the walls of the Fort.
During the afternoon Tu Panka Zeze, (Yellow Black Bass) and eight other Sioux of the Little Rapids band, visited the Ojibway camp. They were cordially received and feasted on venison, corn, and sugar and then smoked the peace pipe. There was no sort of suspicion among their hosts, nor among the authorities of the Fort, that they meditated mischief.
About nine o'clock in the evening they rose and departed, shaking hands and bidding everybody good-bye. But, fifty yards from the Ojibway camp, they suddenly turned about, fired their guns into the wigwams of their entertainers, and ran off with shouts of exultation and triumph. A sentinel of the Fort called for the guard, which was soon assembled under arms. The dismayed Ojibways were soon at the gates with their vehement tales of trouble and treachery. Every Sioux shot had taken effect. Eight Ojibways were struck, one of them twice, and among them was a little girl of seven who had been pierced through both thighs with a big bullet; Surgeon McMahon could not save her. Four of the victims had been killed or mortally wounded.
(One woman was killed outright, one man mortally and another severely wounded through both ankles, and all the rest were more or less severely wounded. - Joseph Snelling, Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll. Vol. 1, p. 446.)
Flat Mouth reminded Colonel Snelling, of the promise of protection, and now the Colonel promised him vengeance. Early the next morning Captain Nathan Clark, with about a hundred soldiers, set out for Land's End, a mile or more up the Minnesota, where the murderers were supposed to be. The soldiers had just left the Fort when a party of 100 Sioux, in battle array, appeared on the prairie to the west. After some parleying the Indians turned and ran. Captain Clark pursued them and captured thirty-two at the Land's End, trading post of the Columbia Fur Company.
Colonel Snelling had the prisoners brought before the Ojibways, who identified two of them as participants in the slaughter of the previous night, and they were turned over to their enemies for summary and fatal punishment. They were led out on the prairie in front of the main gate of the Fort, and when placed just within the range of the Ojibway guns were told to run for their lives. They bounded swiftly away, but the Ojibway bullets flew faster and overtook them. Both fell gasping and were soon lifeless.
Then the savage nature of the Ojibways manifested itself. Women and children danced for joy. Dipping their fingers in the wounds they licked the blood in great delight. The men tore the scalps from the dead bodies and fairly luxuriated in the opportunity of plunging their knives into the corpses. Colonel Snelling had prevented the soldiers from witnessing this scene and had done his best to confine the excitement to the Indians.
Later in the day a deputation of Sioux head men interviewed Colonel Snelling. They said they regretted what had been done by their "foolish young men," and agreed to deliver up the leaders. The next day two more of the guilty were brought in by their brethren; one of them was the Yellow Black Bass. Flat Mouth's son and some other Ojibways, escorted by a detachment of soldiers met the party near the Fort. With much solemnity the guilty were delivered.
(Joseph Snelling says the two were brought in by Khu-ya-Pa. or Eagle Head. Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll., Vol. 1, p. 452.)
Yellow Black Bass was entirely without fear. He firmly stripped himself of his clothing and ornaments, distributed them among his friends, and said he was ready to die. His companion was not of such stern stuff. He had a hideous hare-lip and had a bad reputation, the spirit of a coward, to the great mortification of the other Sioux, he prayed for his life, and even denied his guilt. The Yellow Black Bess shamed him saying: "You, are as guilty as I am. Be proud of what you did, as I am, and die like a man."
They, too, were allowed to run for their lives. The coward was killed at the first fire; but Yellow Black Bass, though wounded, ran on and had nearly reached the goal of safety when a second bullet struck and killed him. The body of the coward now became a common object of loathing for both the Sioux and the Ojibways. Both bodies were scalped, but that of the Yellow Black Bass suffered no other mutilation, although his blood was licked by his enemies.
Colonel Snelling directed the Ojibways to remove the bloody corpses and they were thrown from the bluff, 150 feet down, and finally cast into the Mississippi. The dead Ojibways were buried near the Fort. The next day Flat Mouth and the remnant of his party were escorted by the soldiers beyond the danger of Sioux vengeance.
(See Neill, pp. 391-4; also "Running the Gauntlet," by Joseph Snelling. Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll., Vol. 1, pp. 439-456; also "Reminiscence of Fort Snelling," by Mrs. Charlotte O. Van Cleve. Minn. Hist. Soc. Call., Vol. 3, pp. 76-81. Neill's version follows, substantially, Taliaferro's Journal, and is the most reliable. Snelling's account is largely fanciful, although he witnessed the shooting of the Sioux. Mrs. Van Cleve's paper contains many palpable errors. She, too, claims to have seen most of the affair, though she was only seven years old at the time).
After the unprovoked attack by the Sioux on Flat Mouth's band of Chippewas at Fort Snelling, in May, 1827, the hereditary enmity between the two tribes was intensified. Numerous hostile encounters, between small parties, occurred, but few were killed. The Chippewas were constantly lurking about Lake Pepin and elsewhere on the Sioux boundaries, and having their war blood up, became insolent and threatening to everybody. Even the lives of white men who might be ascending and descending the Mississippi were endangered.
In the fall of 1830 a war party of Little Crow's Sioux, under his son, Big Thunder, who afterwards became chief, raided a Chippewa camp somewhere in Wisconsin, four days journey from Kaposia. Only four scalps were secured, and the Sioux had one man killed. The Chippewas were constantly threatening a raid on the Sioux of the Upper Minnesota, and the traders at Lac Traverse and Lac qui Parle. The Sioux often went on war paths to the Mille Lacs, threatening Sandy Lake.
It was this unhappy condition of affairs in this quarter which induced the authorities at Washington to send Henry R. Schoolcraft, then Indian Agent at Sault Ste. Marie, into the Minnesota country to make peace between the Ojibways and the Dakotas. His instructions were sent in April, 1831. July 3, he and his party reached William A. Aitkin's trading post at Sandy Lake; on the 9th they were at Bellanger's post, on Winnebegohish, where was a fine garden in which were growing tobacco, corn, peas and potatoes. The next day they entered Cass Lake, where were several fine corn fields, and where Flat Mouth's band of Chippewas were dancing over three Sioux scalps which they had recently secured.
CHIPPEWAS ATTACK THE SIOUX.
April 1, 1838, a small hunting party of Sioux left Lac qui Parle, accompanied by Rev. Gideon H. Pond, the missionary, who, as he said, went out to become more thoroughly acquainted with "the inside of Indian life." After traveling a few days in the country northeast of Lac qui Parle, the party separated, a portion continuing the hunt and three lodges of men, women, and children remaining in camp near the forks of the Chippewa and upon a lake.
The same day the young son of the old Chippewa chief Poega-ne-ge-shig or Hole-in-the-Day, with ten warriors of the Mississippi band came to the lodges. The Sioux were unacquainted with this particular son of the chief, though he was young Hole-in-the-Day, but they knew his brother, Song-uk-um-ig, or the Strong Earth. The previous fall, the senior Hole-in-the-Day had held a council with the Sioux, smoked the peace pipe, vowed eternal friendship, and promised to meet them again the next spring and make them presents for the privilege of hunting on their lands.
The Sioux of the lodges were, therefore, unsuspicious of their visitors and gave them a friendly reception. Two dogs were killed and the brother of Strong Earth and his companions were feasted to their hearts' and their stomachs' content. The reception over, the Sioux lay down to sleep. When all was silent the Chippewas arose and fell upon their entertainers with knife and tomahawk and killed three men and four women and children. The bodies were all scalped, the heads cut off, limbs severed; and then the victors robbed the tepees and decamped, taking with them, as prisoner, a young Sioux girl, of fourteen or fifteen.
Only two Sioux escaped, a woman and a boy, and they were wounded. While fleeing in the darkness the woman's babe was shot from her arms and the bullet lodged in her breast. Hiding in the darkness behind a tree she watched her enemies while they finished their bloody work. After they left she returned to the tepees, where she remained until day light; then, after the Indian manner she fastened two poles, like buggy shafts to a horse, thus making a rude litter, on which she placed the wounded boy and the bodies of her two butchered children and went in search of the hunting party, which she succeeded in joining.
The next morning, Round Wind, of the hunting party, went back to the camp for a canoe, but soon returned with the startling news of the massacre. Round Wing and Mr. Pond went at once to the scene and found the scalped and mangled remains of their companions of the previous day. They had no tools but a hoe and a large clam shell, yet with these they scooped out a shallow pit in the earth and packed into it the bodies, limbs, and heads of the dead, covered them with earth and spread over the grave a buffalo skin tepee.
(There were seven killed, according to Pond's "Two Missionaries," written by S. W. Pond, Jr., a nephew of G. H. Pond, the missionary mentioned, but others make the number larger. Pond's statement is undoubtedly correct).
Mr. Pond then returned to Lac qui Parle, a messenger bearing sorrowful tidings. Almost every family in the Indian village was in some way related to some of the slain, and there was a season of wailing and mourning and earnest threats of vengeance, upon the Chippewas. But the Chippewas said that the Chippewa River killing was no worse than the murders by the Yellow Black Bass and his Sioux companions at Fort Snelling, ten years before, save that more Sioux had been killed in the Chippewa River affair, and if their friends wanted to make even, "let them come on." (Hole-in-the-Day to Aitkin, letter of Aitkin to Sibley, unpublished Ms. in Sibley Papers, 1830-40).
In June following, Miles Vineyard, as sub-agent of the Indians, was sent from Fort Snelling to visit Hole-in-the-Day. With Peter Quinn as interpreter he held a council on an island in the Mississippi, a short distance above Little Falls. As a result of the council the Sioux girl captive that had been taken by young Hole-in-the-Day was delivered to Vineyard and Quinn and restored to her friends.
Whenever and wherever a tragic affray occurred among the Indians it was bad for the traders. The Indian hunters were afraid to go out on their avocations lest they should run afoul of a hostile war party. If they did not hunt, they would have no furs; if they had no furs, they could not pay the trader for his goods, and business interests were greatly disturbed. After the affair on the Chippewa River, the whole Indian trade of Minnesota was demoralized. April 23, William A. Aitkin wrote from Swan River to Missionary Boutwell, at Sandy Lake:
All is upside down here. These rascals have killed sixteen Sioux, and by that destroyed all the huts here. John [his brother] will give you the particulars of it. His men are going to Sandy Lake for potatoes to plant; so be so good as to give them eighteen bushels and six hoes and four bushels of rice, or five if the Leech Lake people have brought down the rice.
(Aitkin to Boutwell, unpublished Ms. Sibley Papers 1830-40).
In August a Sioux war party left Lac qui Parle to retaliate on the Chippewas for the April slaughter. On Swan River, near the Upper Mississippi, they came upon six Chippewas, five men and a woman. The men retreated, swam the Swan River, and escaped. The poor woman, about to become a mother, swam the stream with difficulty, but sank exhausted on the farther bank. The Sioux soon tomahawked and scalped her and then destroyed the unborn babe. Returning to Lac qui Parle they had a big dance over their exploit.
(Neill p. 455; G. H. Pond to Sibley, unpublished Ms. Sibley Papers 1830-40).
August 2, Hole-in-the-Day, and a few other Chippewas, came to Fort Snelling on a visit. They said, to Major Plympton, the then commander of the Fort, and Major Taliaferro, the Indian agent, they were uninvited and unwelcome, and agreed not to stay long. The next evening, August 3, Rev. Samuel W. Pond, the missionary, met Major Taliaferro at Lake Harriet and informed him that a number of armed Sioux had just left for Baker's stone trading house - which stood between the Fort and Minnehaha Falls - for the purpose of attacking the Ojibways. Major Taliaferro hastened to the scene of trouble and reached it just as the first shot was fired.
In the skirmish an Ottawa of Hole-in-the-Day's party was killed and a Chippewa was wounded. Of the Sioux, the son of To-ka-ta (or One Ahead) was in the act of scalping the dead Ottawa when he was shot by Obequette, a mixed blood Chippewa from Red Lake. Major Plympton at once had the Chippewas placed under protection of the Fort, and at 9 o'clock a Sioux who had participated in the fight was confined in the guard house as a hostage.
The next day Major Plympton and Agent Taliaferro had a council with the head men of the Sioux. In opening the talk Major Plympton said; "It is unnecessary to talk much, I have demanded the guilty; they must be brought."
The Sioux said they would bring them, and the council then broke up. At half past five the same evening they came with two others of To-ka-ta's sons who were delivered, after much ceremony, by their mother. In surrendering her boy the old woman said:
Of seven sons three only are left, and one of them was wounded and will soon die. If you shoot these two my all is gone. I called on our head men to follow me to the Fort. I started with the prisoners singing their death song, and have delivered them to you at the gate of the Fort. Have mercy on them for their youth and folly.
The dead Ottawa had been buried in the Fort graveyard, but that night the Sioux attempted to "snatch" the body, so that they could finish scalping it and "touch" it with their hatchets and knives and thus be privileged to add another scalp feather to each of their collections. The sentinel fired on the would-be resurrectionists and frightened them away.
On the evening of August 6, Major Plympton peremptorily put the Chippewas across the river and ordered them to go to their homes as fast as possible. He further advised them never to return to the Fort without previous permission and a full understanding of the matter. Then he sent for the Sioux chiefs and head men and told them that the killing of the Ottawa half-breed and the wounding of the Chippewa constituted an insult to the American flag under whose protection they were at the time; that the insult must be atoned for, but that if they would punish the two sons of To-ka-ta he would release them. To this the Sioux at once agreed.
On the 8th, the council re-assembled, delegates of chiefs being present from far and near. It was to be a great occasion. A Sioux - one of the great and proud Dakota nation - was to be punished for fighting the inveterate enemies of his tribe! Iron Cloud, chief of the Lake Pepin band, was master of ceremonies. To Major Plympton he said: "If you will bring out the prisoners, I will carry out your wishes." Lieutenant Whitehorne, the officer of the day soon brought them into the office of the Indian agent. "We will not disgrace the house of our father," said Iron Cloud; "let them be taken outside."
When the prisoners were taken to the parade ground half a dozen warriors were called. Then amid the crying and wailing of the women, the shame and sorrow of the men, and the great humiliation of everybody, the two braves were disgraced. First their blankets and then their leggings and breech cloths were cut in small pieces; then their hair was cut short; then they were whipped with long switches, and as there could be no greater punishment, the offense was expiated and the Indians quietly dispersed.
For a long time the Sioux treasured their bitter memory of the tragedy on the Upper Chippewa River. (The scene was near Lake Hassel, in the northern part of what is now Swift County). In the spring of 1839, when Nicollet and his party were in their country, the noted explorer assisted in preparing a letter which was sent to Hole-in-the-Day's band. The letter was written in Sioux by Eagle Help, a pupil of Missionary Riggs. (His Indian name was Wam-a-de O-ke-ya, which Riggs and Pond translate Eagle Help. If O-ke-ya be accented on the first syllable it is translated "help" if on the second it means "talks with." W. L. Quinn says his name was Talks with an Eagle). With a translation in French, by Nicollet; it was received by Hole-in-the-Day, though addressed to his son "Strong Earth's Brother," and eventually came into the hands of Sibley and is now among the Sibley Papers. Previously "Strong Earth's Brother" - who afterward succeeded his father in the chieftainship of the Mississippi band of Chippewas, and assumed the name of Hole-in-the-Day, and became so well known to the whites - had written two letters to the Sioux. In one of these he had invited them to "come on" and get revenge, as noted. Following is a copy in translation of the letter written by Nicollet at the dictation of the Sioux:Brother of the Strong Earth: You have written another letter; we have seen it. You say that last spring you did a bad thing, and that you reproach yourself for it. Indeed! Why should you not blame yourself for it? It was not the act of a man, but that of a woman, which you did. It is not the only one you have to reproach yourself for; there are many others. Blame yourself, then, for all of them. But you say, also, that we shall be relatives. Where are the names of the warriors? We see nothing [of them]. Yours is the only name that appears; it is not that of a chief; it is not a woman, but it is the name of a woman. This is why we shall say nothing more. (Signed) RUNNING WALKER, GRAY TAIL, TOMAHAWK SEEN DISAPPEARING, CLOUD MAN, EAGLE HELP.
This paper I wrote. - Wam-a-de-O-ke-ga. (Eagle Help.)
The letter - which has never before been published - is addressed in French, in Nicollet's hand writing; "To the Brother of the Strong Earth, or Poe-guna-Ge-shig, or Hole-in-the-Day, Swan River."
The Chippewas became apprehensive that a general attack would be made upon them by the Sioux. At Pokegama in July they got ready. They had a war dance. Then in their nervous condition, they were angry at everybody. They menaced the missionaries, shot their cattle, broke their canoes, and threatened to drive all the whites from the country. Finding John Boyce's lumbermen engaged in cutting pine trees at the mouth of Snake or Kanabec River, Little Six's band chased them away. The lumbermen fled down the St. Croix in canoes, and risked their lives in going over the falls, where their canoes were overturned and lost, but not a man was injured. A few miles below the falls they met the first steamboat - the Palmyra, Capt. Middleton, and were safe. The Palmyra brought the good news that the Treaty of 1837 had been ratified a month before.
MURDER OF NEKAY.
During the last days of the month of July, 1839, hundreds of Chippewas, men, women and children came to Fort Snelling under the false impression that, under the Treaty of 1837 they were to receive their annuities at the Fort. There was also other business to be transacted with Major Taliaferro, the Indian agent. Hole-in-the-Day and his people came down the Mississippi from the Crow Wing Country in canoes; many of the Mille Lacs came by land; others came in their canoes down the St. Croix to Stillwater where they left their boats and marched across the country to Fort Snelling.
The Mille Lacs and Hole-in-the-Day's band encamped at St. Anthony Falls, but the other Chippewas, the St. Croix people were located a mile or so north of the Fort, within a few miles of their old enemies, the Sioux of the Lake Calhoun bands, under Eagle Head, Good Road, and Bad Hail and not far from the villages of Black Dog and Little Crow, and not very far from Shakopee's. But during their stay there was peace - peace that took the forms of friendly demonstration. There were visits back and forth, and through interpreters, much converse and talking. Members of the two tribes ate together, and there were every day feasts and brotherly hospitality could go no further. The scene was most pleasing, as of brethren dwelling together in unity. Friendships were formed between these aforetime foes, and there was a love match made between the Sioux O-te-ah Manne (Appears Walking) and a pretty Chippewa girl.
Four days were spent in this pleasant experience, which was delightful, not alone to the Indians, but to Major Taliaferro and the other whites, as it presaged a season of peace and quiet which would be good for everybody. The Chippewas were disappointed that they did not receive their payments, but did not consider that their trip had been a complete failure, since they had made perfect peace with their old time enemies. On the morning of the 1st of July, after many hearty farewells had been said, they set out for their homes following the routes over which they had come. The St. Croix people stopped at Kaposia, the village of Little Crow and spent some hours in a friendly visit.
But some of the Ojibway warriors of Hole-in-the-Day's band, at St. Anthony Falls, were not at all of the friendly disposition of their brethren. They refused to receive some of the Sioux that visited them; told them plainly that they wanted nothing to do with them, and indeed made sundry threats and menaces. The Sioux complained to Major Taliaferro of this treatment; but the agent advised them not to molest the Chippewas, unless the latter should kill some of the Sioux, in which event he gave them full permission to retaliate. Among the unfriendly spirits of Hole-in-the-Day's band were two young men who had "bad hearts" while all the peace palavering and pow-wowing had been going on. Neill states and Pond corroborates him that they were the sons of the man whom the Sioux had killed at the Fort Snelling grave-yard the previous year. On the morning when their party set out for home from St. Anthony Falls, these young fellows stole back in the darkness and ambushed themselves in the tall grass by the pathway leading from Good Road's village, on Lake Calhoun, to Lake Harriet and thence on to the Minnesota.
Just after daylight on the morning of July 2, an Indian called the Badger (Nekay) a son-in-law of sub-Chief Cloud Man, and a nephew of Red Bird, the medicine man, left the Calhoun village to hunt pigeons in the woods south of Lake Harriet. His nephew, a lad of ten years, was with him. The path ran along the east side of Lake Harriet and thence to the grove. On the southeastern side, in easy range of the path, low in the tall grass and weeds, lay the Chippewas in ambush, crouching like tigers in a jungle and every whit as fierce and dangerous. When the Badger came up in the right position, they fired at the same instant and both bullets struck him, killing him instantly. In a few seconds his scalp was torn off. The boy, who lived to be David Watson, and died at Flandreau, South Dakota, a few years since, was not harmed; perchance he was so little that he was not seen in time; but at all events he escaped, apparently unobserved, and ran back to the village crying, "Kah-Kah-ton-wan! Kah-Kah-ton-wan!" The news reached the mission station as soon as it came to the village, and the Pond brothers were at the side of the murdered warrior as soon as the Indians.
The body of the Badger was borne to his village, where it was lain, as it were, in state. There was a sudden and a very wild excitement. From village to village the thrilling cries were borne: "The Chippewas! The Chippewas! They have turned back from their homeward journey and have begun butchering us. Nekay is already killed. On the bank of Lake Harriet - there lies his dead body all bloody. Go and see it. But get your weapons of war ready first."
A great crowd soon gathered about the corpse. Zitkah-dan-Doota (Red Bird) the medicine man, bent over it and kissed it, though it was yet warm and bleeding. Then he removed from it the ornaments it had worn, and holding them up solemnly swore by them, thus: "I will avenge you, O, my nephew, though I too am killed." Turning to the assembled warriors he demanded that they too avenge their comrade, and they fairly yelled that they would.
In an hour or so the warriors, stripped almost as naked as Adam, but painted and armed, were all ready and eager for the war path. It was unanimously agreed to pursue the Chippewas on both of the routes they had taken. The Kaposia band of Little Crow alone was to follow after the St. Croix division. Red Bird was to lead the little army of perhaps 300 warriors that was to follow the trails of those who had gone up the Mississippi. All the warriors were, in effect, sworn into service. The oath was brief but it was strong and comprehensive. It bound him who took it to fight to the death, and to show no quarter to any living Chippewa thing. No mercy was asked and none was to be given. The babe was to be served as the grandsire and the virgin as the warrior.
The Sioux divided their forces in pursuit. The bands about Fort Snelling led by Red Bird followed Hole-in-the-Day's people and the Mille Lacs up the Mississippi. The Kaposia band struck across the country to the St. Croix to intercept the Sandy Lake people as they came up in their canoes.
On the morning of July 3 the Mississippi Chippewas were overtaken near the mouth of Rum River. They had just broken camp. Many of the warriors had gone out along the line of march as hunters to supply the rest, and the moving column was very largely composed of women and children. The guns of the few warriors left with it were loaded with bird shot. The Sioux had come upon the camp before daylight, but remained in concealment until the hunters had left. Then when the main Chippewa column began to move they followed it stealthily in the usual crawling, creeping Indian manner. They had marched all night and were greatly wearied, but their battle blood was warming and strengthening them. Red Bird gave the signal to attack by a loud and long war whoop. At once the Sioux sprang upon their unsuspecting enemies. The onset was as impetuous as it was sudden. The Chippewa women and children fled in horror and dismay; the Sioux leaped upon them and cut them down. The Chippewa sweetheart of O-te-ah-Manne recognized him and ran to him for protection. There was a struggle between love and duty. By his oath he was bound to slay her at once. By the monitions of his heart he ought to take her to his breast and save her with his strong arms. He touched her lightly with his spear and put her aside and in an instant the warrior at his heels clove her pretty head with his tomahawk. (See article by General Sibley written in 1849 and printed in the Pioneer Press, May 13, 1894).
The slaughter went on. It is better not to describe the details. The Chippewa warriors fought well, but their first volleys were uneffective; what could they do with bird shot? In time they were re-enforced by the hunters on their flanks of the line of march who heard the sound of conflict and hastened to the scene. Now the killing was not all on one side. Several of the Sioux were shot. Red Bird, the leader, was on horseback. He rode upon a wounded Chippewa who was in a death agony, but still held his gun and was dismounting to finish him with a knife, when by a last effort the Ojibway shot him through the neck and the noted medicine man fell a corpse.
Now the Sioux, bearing seventy scalps began to retreat. Not through cowardice altogether, but they had killed many, enough for one morning's sport, and the fewer of their own number hurt the greater the victory. The Chippewas pursued, but finally the Sioux distanced them. Shakopee, the chief of the Prairieville band covered the retreat. (Father of the Shakopee who was chief in the outbreak of 1862 and hung at Fort Snelling in 1865). Many of his men were wounded and a few were killed. He called to his brethren in front to turn and fight, saying among other things: "You have poured blood upon me and now you run away and leave me."
Red Bird's young son, a lad of fifteen, was mortally wounded. A Chippewa bullet tore open his abdomen, letting out the intestines. As he was being carried from the field, he said, "Where is my father? I want him to see this. I suppose it is what he wanted." On being told that his father was killed, he said nothing, and their spirits were soon together. Two days before, the boy was standing by the bloody corpse of his relative, Nekay, and was crying. His father said to him petulantly: "What are you crying for?" Then he added significantly: "Don't you know which way his murderers have gone?" Because of this hint the boy had gone on the war path.
The Sioux pressed their retreat and were soon back to the shelter of Fort Snelling, very tired, very hungry, but covered all over with the most refulgent glory. The Chippewas turned back to care for their stricken ones and to chop to pieces the bodies of their enemies left on the slaughter field.
Meanwhile the Kaposia band, with detachments from some of the other Medawakantons had gone in pursuit of the St. Croix and Sandy Lake Chippewas. The Sioux route was through the present site of St. Paul and across the prairie to Stillwater, and the distance was compassed in a day, that of July 2. That night they found the Ojibways encamped in the big ravine where the penitentiary now stands. The old trader, William A. Aitkin, was in the camp, and the Sioux did nothing to hurt him, for he was a white man and had a good name among all Indians.
Just at dawn the Sioux made known their presence. They had crept up within easy gun shot and bow shot of the Chippewa camp and from the commanding bluffs poured in a sudden plunging fire upon its occupants. The first volleys were followed by a wild charge. The Chippewas retreated towards the shore of Lake St. Croix, the women and children in front, the warriors protecting the rear, fighting bravely. In a little time the Sioux attack was checked. Then after half an hour's fierce fighting they retreated, with twenty-five scalps and the Chippewas did not follow them. The fight at Rum River and that at Lake St. Croix occurred at the same hour. In both encounters the Chippewas had at least ninety-five killed; the Sioux seventeen. The wounded of neither side was counted, but among the Sioux "Lame Jim," well known to the first settlers of St. Paul, lost a leg at Lake St. Croix. The Sioux estimated the number of their enemies killed by the scalps secured, but some the killed were not scalped. A large majority of the scalps were secured from the heads of women and children.
(According to Pond, "Two Missionaries," p. 146 Neill, (p. 457) gives the Chippewa loss in killed at Lake St. Croix, as "forty or fifty;" and that the Sioux lost ten or fifteen killed and wounded. He says (p. 458) that from the two encounters the Sioux brought back ninety-one scalps).
The scene at Fort Snelling when the Sioux returned from their victories was one of the wildest and fiercest exultation. Rev. Gideon H. Pond, who was present, wrote: "It seemed as if hell had emptied itself here." They paraded their bloody scalps with great ostentation, as if for the delectation of the white spectators, yelled and danced until they worked themselves into a perfect frenzy of delight. The scalp dance in all the surrounding villages was kept up for a month.
There were at Fort Snelling at the time Right Reverend Bishop Mathias Loras and his assistant, the Abbe Pelamourgues, who had come up from Dubuque to look after the adherents of the Mother Church in this quarter. The gentle-souled, mild-mannered Bishop was inexpressibly shocked at the loathsome and hideous spectacle of the dancing and howling Sioux with their ghastly trophies. William L. Quinn, then a boy of eleven years, had been baptized by the good Bishop the day before the Sioux returned from their expeditions. Mr. Quinn remembers that the good Bishop was affected to tears by the sights he saw and well nigh prostrated with horror.
But what of the two young Chippewas who had caused this disaster to their people and all of the tribe generally? One of them died on the Mille Lacs reservation only a year or two since. It is now known that, after they had shot the Badger and taken his scalp, they fled eastward and made their way to the "Little Falls," now the Falls of Minnehaha. Behind the sheet of water that forms the cataract, snug under the shelving bluff, they crawled and hid themselves. Here they remained for two days and a night. All about the Falls there were brambles and brushwood and the big white blanket of the cataract completely shielded them from view. On the second night they slipped out, and soon made their way back to their village. They were greatly distressed over the reports of the big fire they had kindled, but their people forgave them because they had meant well and acted bravely from the Indian point of view.
SIOUX ATTACK ON THE POKEGAMA MISSION.
About the middle of May, 1840, Jeremiah Russell, then Government farmer for the Chippewa Indians of Lake Pokegama, sent Elam Greely and two Chippewa young men to St. Croix Falls for supplies. The day after their arrival at the Falls, a steamboat came up from St. Louis, and the Captain reported that a Sioux war party was advancing from Kaposia, apparently against the Chippewas of the St. Croix.
At once the two young warriors who had come with Mr. Greely started for home to warn their people. They were armed and very brave, and so disregarded all suggestions that they remain at the Falls until the danger had passed. They had not gone a mile until they came upon the Sioux, who were stripped and painted and preparing for battle by cleaning guns, testing bows and bow-strings.
Behind a log, not thirty yards from the ambushed Chippewas, sat two young Sioux devil-may-care youths, reckless and off their guard. They were princes, the sons of Big Thunder, chief of the Kaposia band, and were on their first expedition against the enemy eager to fight and win their first scalp feathers. (Their names were Tah Mahzah Waukon, or His Spirit Iron and Dow an, or Sing; the latter was also called Left Hand. They were half brothers of Tah-O-Yah-te Doo-tah, or the Little Crow of 1862. Had they not been killed, one of them would have succeeded his father as chief. (See General Sibley's Reminiscences," in Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll. Vol. 3, pp. 251-2.) Their father was in command of the expedition, and their brother, careless and reckless as they, was on picket or sentinel duty, and had allowed the two Chippewas to approach undiscovered.
The two Chippewas had but one thing to do, and that they did right speedily. In the twinkle of an eye they had both fired at point blank range, and the bullets from their rifles sped straight to the hearts of the Sioux princes, who died and made no sign. Of course the firing alarmed and roused the Sioux and the two Chippewas fled. It so happened that the brother of the slain princes, the careless sentinel who had allowed the slayers to approach and do their fatal work, shot and killed one of them, but the other escaped to Pokegama.
Great was their astonishment and fiendish the rage of the Sioux at the disastrous surprise. The bodies of the Chief's boys were dressed in gala costume (they had been half stripped, in battle garb,) and then set up against trees with their faces towards the enemy's country. ("The father hastened to the dead bodies of his sons, washed the blood from the bodies, painted their faces with fresh war paint, combed their hair, placed his own gun by their side and left them in sitting posture leaning against trees." - Macalester College Contributions. First Series, p. 63. It would seem, however, that Big Thunder was not present but was back at Kaposia, when his sons were killed; although Rev. Riggs, in his History of Protestant Missions, (in Minn. Hist. Soc. Coll. Vol. 6, p. 144) says the party "was headed by Little Crow, father of Little Crow of 1862 notoriety.") The body of the stricken Chippewa was horribly mutilated and mangled. His scalped head was placed in a shallow kettle and suspended in front of the two Sioux corpses. It would be gratifying to the spirits of the dead youths to see before them the bloody and scalpless head of one of their slayers.
When the bodies of the youths had thus been disposed of it was decided at once that the war party should return to Kaposia. It would be bad luck to proceed farther against their enemies; the fates were not propitious. So what had been a proud, advancing military host became a funeral procession, and sad was the news it bore to the village, and great was the grief thereat. Some weeks later the Chief returned to the site of the death of his boys, collected their bones and carried them back to Kaposia for interment, but two former members of the Kaposia band who are still living, assure the compiler that the Chippewas burned the remains of the boys literally to ashes, which were scattered by the winds. (Mrs. A. R. McLeod and Mrs. Henry Belland, of West St. Paul.)
But there were other Sioux war parties in the field. The expedition against the Chippewas was composed of parties from the villages and bands of Big Thunder or Little Crow, Black Dog, Good Road, and of Lake Calhoun. The party from Kaposia, or Big Thunder's village had gone straight up the St. Croix. The second party took another route and reached the month of Snake River, where news of the affair at the Falls was received. In great disappointment, realizing that the Chippewas had discovered them and would be prepared for their attack the Sioux of this band turned back, as the first band had done. The third band went on to the vicinity of Pokegama and halted to wait for their brethren. Finally a messager came to tell this band of the skirmish at the Falls and that bands one and two had gone back to Kaposia. Band three determined that all its trouble to make the long, hard march should not go for nothing, but that there should be a little blood-letting, and if at all practicable there should be a little scalp-taking too.
Not until Friday, May 21, when the surviving Chippewa sent with Mr. Greely returned, did the Pokegamites learn of the occurrence at the Falls of St. Croix when their brother and two of their enemies were killed. The young man killed was a son whose parents had renounced paganism and lived on the lake shore, in a comfortable log house, and he himself was considered a convert.
On the Sunday following Jeremiah Russell, the Indian farmer and his guest, William Holcombe, then of St. Croix Falls, went across the Pokegama Lake to attend religious services at the mission. En route a half-breed told them that the Sioux were coming in search of revenge. Meanwhile some Indian families had taken refuge on an island in Lake Pokegama, where they expected to be safe from an attack, if one should be made. On Monday morning some Sioux with blackened faces were seen skulking in the grass along the lake shore. The islanders at once sent out a scouting party toward the south and dispatched three men to Mille Lacs to warn their brethren there that the Sioux were out. The messengers took with them two little Chippewa girls, about twelve years of age, to bring back the canoe in which the trip was made from the island to the west shore of the lake.
Just as the canoe was about to reach the shore near the mission house, a dozen or more Sioux, in war paint and with a war whoop, sprang out from their ambush among the trees and grass and began firing. The three Chippewa youths seized their guns, leaped into the shallow water answered the yells and the shots of their enemies, then ran ashore and into the tamarack jungle and escaped, although each received two or three severe wounds.
The poor little girls, who were pupils of the mission school, and innocent as babes, jumped into the water, and in their terror and dismay waded aimlessly about, uttering piercing and piteous cries for help. The Sioux warriors were soon upon them, carried or dragged them ashore, cut their throats, scalped them, then cut off their heads and left a tomahawk sticking in each little skull. They also cut off and bore away an arm from one of the bodies. In the old Indian warfare a life was a life. It was as noble to kill a nursing infant as a warrior; the scalp of a little girl counted as much as that of a chief. A life was a life, a scalp was a scalp - one as good as another.
The fathers of the Chippewa girls heard the frightful cries of their loved ones, and burning for revenge took their guns, jumped into a canoe and paddled swiftly to the scene. They too landed near the mission house. The Sioux were retiring, but noting that two - and only two - more Chippewas had come, returned to finish them. The two Chippewas hid behind a log, near Mr. Ayer's house and when three Sioux came in range, fired and killed one and wounded another. Then twenty other Sioux came in sight and the two fathers were forced to flee. Launching their canoe one lay down in it, the other remained in the water, holding and towing the craft with one hand and swimming with the other, but keeping the canoe as a shield between himself and the bullets of the Sioux, and putting his head under water when he saw the flash of a gun. The two returned to their island unharmed. Holcombe and Russell watched with painful interest the progress of the canoe as it moved over the lake propelled by a force they could not see.
The Chippewas about the mission house were so confused by the sudden and unexpected attack that they did not act in concert. Some escaped in canoes to the island; others shut themselves up in the log cabins of the station and waited for the Sioux to attack them in these shelters, while others bravely sallied forth into the open and sought for the enemy.
The Sioux of the third party that made the attack numbered 111 warriors, and were chiefly of the Lake Calhoun bands. The plan of attack miscarried by the precipitancy of those who killed the little girls. It had been arranged and understood that they were not to fire, or even show themselves, until their brethren in the woods, on the other side of the mission, had begun their attack. But the opportunity to kill three warriors and two little girls of their enemies and take five scalps was too tempting to be resisted, and they embraced it without hesitation. Their action was not only premature but ineffective, and defeated the main purpose of the expedition, by warning the Chippewas and giving them time to conceal and defend themselves. A desultory, unconcerted, and harmless fight was kept up for two hours by the Sioux and then they retreated. They had lost two men, killed and half a dozen wounded. The Chippewa Indian mission people, only fifteen in number, did the fighting for the Pokegamites. Their casualties were confined to the loss of the two little mission scholars and the wounding of three young messengers.
After the firing had ceased and it was evident that the Sioux had withdrawn, Mr. Edmund F. Ely, the school teacher at the mission, with two of his friends crossed the lake to care for the dead bodies of his scholars. He found them mutilated as has been described, but gathered them up and brought them to the main mission, where they were given Christian burials.
The second day after the attack the Chippewas went out on the trail of their foes to reconnoiter. They found the dead bodies of two Sioux warriors and great was their joy. The heads were scalped and one head cut off, one arm amputated, and gobbets of flesh cut from the breast and thighs, and bore back in triumph to Pokegama. The head was given to one of the murdered girls' mother, who when she saw the canoes approaching with the Sioux head on a pole in the prow of the boat, waded into the water to meet them, grabbed the head as a famishing wolf would snatch a beefsteak, and carrying it ashore dashed the grinning trophy again and again on the stones, finally placing it on the grave of her buried daughter. The unconverted Indians made a stew of the Sioux flesh, flavored with wild rice, and partook of it with great relish.
And now there was an instance of the influence of Christianity upon the converts. One of the Indian women who had united with the mission church and baptized as Eunice, was the mother of the young man killed by the son of Little Crow IV. (or Big Thunder) at St. Croix Falls, and whose severed head was then shriveling and blackening in the wilderness. She was offered the arm of one of the dead Sioux as something that would assuage her grief and modify her sorrow. She accepted it and taking it to her son's widow, another convert, she said, "My daughter, we must not do as others are doing. We have been taught better." Then the two women wrapped the ghastly member in muslin, offered up a prayer, and then buried it deep in the ground.
THE FIGHT AT PINE COULIE.
In revenge for the Sioux raid the Chippewas meditated retaliatory action. The Sioux said the Pokegama murder was in retaliation for the assassination at Fort Snelling, and the Chippewas averred that the victims of the attack had been killed for an earlier murder by the Sioux, and the story of the feud ran back a long way.
In the late summer of 1842 about forty Chippewas of the Fond du Lac band formed a war party and started for a raid upon the Sioux. Going to Mille Lacs and carousing with their brethren there, it was determined to attack the Kaposia Sioux, or Big Thunder's band. En route some members of the St. Croix band were recruited until the entire party numbered about 100. The leader was a son of old Wiskob (Sweet) of the Fond du Lac band, who was one of the signers of the Prairie du Chien Treaty of 1825.
The party slipped down the St. Croix Valley to the head of Lake St. Croix and then marched across the country to St. Paul. The general situation of the Sioux was known to them, and it was concluded to strike first the few Indians and Sioux mixed bloods living on the north side of the river and then fall upon any of the Kaposia villagers, that might chance to be in the near vicinity. A dozen scalps would amply pay for all the trouble.
The Chippewas reached the vicinity of Pig's Eye at the close of a day's march from the St. Croix and went into bivouac for the night; their sleeping place was found next day. The next morning they stole cautiously forward, and by 10 o'clock were well concealed among the thick timber and brushwood in and about the mouth of the large ravine called Pine Coulie. Scouts were sent out to ascertain the exact location of the isolated Sioux. Some of these suddenly encountered Henry Sinclair, a Red River Chippewa half breed, who had come into the country from the Selkirk settlement three years before and was now an employe of the Red Rock Mission Station. Somehow they could tell he was of their race and called out to him in Chippewa: "Brother, are there any Sioux about?" Sinclair was about to reply when the pony he was riding took fright at the painted warriors, who appeared suddenly from the brush at the side of the trail, and galloped off towards the mission station as fast as it could canter.
Reaching the station a mile or so away, Sinclair at once shouted out what he had seen. There were two Sioux men at the mission, and they at once ran away to Kaposia to give the alarm. Elizabeth Williams, a half breed girl, attending school at the mission, (afterwards the wife of Thomas S. Odell) hid herself in an inner room with some other Sioux blood girls. When, a few moments later they heard the rattle of the guns indicating that the fight had commenced, like good Christian girls, as they were, they fell upon their knees in prayer; and as the battle progressed like true Dakota girls, as they were, they prayed fervently that their red brethren might win the victory.
Meanwhile the work of death had commenced and was in progress. On Pig's Eye bottom, a little distance away from the Pine Coulie, where the Chippewas lay in ambush, were the cabin and little fields of Francois Gammel, (or Gamelle) a French-Canadian, who had come to Minnesota as a voyager in 1829, and for some years had been in the employ of the American Fur Company at Mendota. He married a Dakota woman and they had one son, David Gamelle, then a child, and afterwards a Union soldier in the Fifth Minnesota. That morning a Kaposia Indian named Kha-dayah, or Rattler, had come over to Gamelle's house, with his two wives and little son and daughter to help the Gamelles hoe their corn. Gamelle, his wife, and one of the Rattler's wives were in the field at work. The other Mrs. Rattler was taken suddenly ill and she and her husband were in the house. The three children were playing near-by.
A squad of Chippewas that had been sent out to reconnoiter crawled through the bushes outside the field and seeing the two Sioux women at work fired upon them, killing Mrs. Rattler instantly. Mrs. Gamelle was mortally wounded. Her husband lifted her in his arms and carried her into the cabin. The Chippewas rushed after him and actually scalped the dying woman in her husband's arms. Then, not knowing the Rattler and his wife were hidden in the room, they ran away, giving the scalp halloo, having the scalps of two women at their belts. Gamelle caught up his gun and shot one of them through the leg. His comrades were helping him off the field when they saw Rattler's little boy trying to hide in the brush; his little sister, Ta-tepee (Her Lodge) had already hidden herself, along with little David Gamelle. The Chippewas at once seized the little Rattler boy, scalped him and cut off his head and this then gave them another scalp. They now had three scalps of the enemy to dance and gloat over.
The attack on Gamelle's claim was a great blunder on the part of those who made it. According to the statements of the Chippewas made afterwards' the plan had been to crawl unobserved to the north bank of the Mississippi, opposite Kaposia, and lie in wait for the unsuspecting Sioux, as many of whom were accustomed to cross the river for various purposes, and kill and scalp in silence during the entire day. But seeing the unprotected, helpless Dakota woman in the corn field excited them and they seized upon the opportunity to strike without much danger of being struck in return.
The situation was more favorable for the attack of the Chippewas than they were aware of. The Sioux at Kaposia had secured a quantity of whisky and were in the various stages and degrees of a great spree. The women, as was customary under similar circumstances, had hidden the men's guns and other weapons to prevent their doing harm to one another in their drunken frenzy. Many warriors were lying in besotted stupor and others had wandered up to Mendota and Fort Snelling for more whisky. But when the two messengers from the mission station arrived at the village and the pattering of the rifle shots at Gamelle's was heard, there was a great change. "Hkaj-ton-wan! Hkah-Hkah-ton-wan!" The startling cry was enough to sober up the drunkest Dakotan, and almost in an instant well-nigh every warrior was upon his feet. "Clothed and in his right mind."
The drunken babble was changed to the shrill and inspiriting war-whoop. The guns and tomahawks were hunted up, and fifty warriors led by the head soldier of the Kaposia band, hurried to their canoes and crossed the river to meet the enemy, regardless of his strength and position. Straggling re-enforcements followed as fast as they could. The word went to Fort Snelling and the whisky-seekers returned at once to the village to help defend it. The women and children of the village yelled and screamed constantly, with the idea that the Chippewas would conclude that there was a large force yet to come upon them. Meanwhile the Chippewas had advanced from the Pine Coulie to near the bank of the river, above the noted big Red Rock, and here, on the flat bottom land back to the foot of the bluff, the battle mainly took place. The fight raged with great spirit for several hours. The Sioux were constantly re-enforced, and about noon the Chippewas began to fall back to the bluff and the Pine Coulie fighting every foot of the ground. The Sioux followed them, drove them over the bluff, through the timber, and pursued them well on the way to Stillwater. From first to last these were stirring incidents and hand-to-hand fights were numerous.
The Chippewas left the bodies of four dead on the field. Including their mortally wounded the Sioux lost ten or twelve killed and about as many more severely wounded. All the dead Chippewas were scalped and some of the bodies were mutilated. A Sioux lad of fifteen named Wah-kahn-de-y-ahgah a Lightening Maker, cut off the head of a wounded Chippewa that had killed his (the boy's) brother and showed the ghastly thing to Sibley when he came down. Old Betsy, and other Sioux women came over after the fight and took part in beating and mutilating the dead bodies of their enemies.
When the Chippewas first made the attack a Sioux messenger ran to Fort Snelling with the startling news. Under the prevalent military policy of the Government at the time, Major Dearborn, then in command of the Fort at once sent down detachments of Companies D, G, and H, of the First Infantry, composing the garrison, with instructions to hurry to the scene and stop the fighting. The effort was of course futile as might have been assured. The soldiers came down the Mississippi in boats to below Pickeral Lake and there disembarked and marched over the bluffs to Kaposia, arriving at the village long after the fight was over.
LITTLE CROW V. CHIEF OF THE KAPOSIA BAND.
In the fall of 1845 - probably in the month of October - Chief Little Crow IV. (or Big Thunder) of the Kaposia band, accidentally shot himself, inflicting a mortal wound from which, three days later he died. The old chieftain with a wife and two or three grandsons, set out with a cart, drawn by his yoke of oxen to gather some newly ripened corn in his field on the crest of the high hill back of Kaposia Village. His loaded gun lay in the cart, the rear end of which was open. As the vehicle ascended the steep, high hill, the weapon was sliding towards the ground and the chief caught it by the muzzle and was drawing it towards him, when it was discharged, the load entered his body. He was loaded into the cart and taken back to his lodge and the village medicine man, Surgeon George F. Turner, of Fort Snelling also came, but the old chief was past all pagan sorcery or Christian surgery. He died and before death directed that his wayward but favorite son, Tah-O-yah-te Doota, (whose mother was Minne-Okha-da-vin. of Wabasha's band) should be his successor.
At the time of and for some years before his father's death Tah-O-yah-te Doota (His Red Nation) was at Lac qui Parle and had been living on the Upper Minnesota among the Wahpetons of E-ahn Manne's band. He had married three daughters of the Chief, lived with and was practically a member of the band. At rare intervals he made a brief visit to Kaposia. He was in bad repute and ill favor with his father's band, because he was a Lothario in morals, a debauchee in habits, and yet was of a haughty and overbearing disposition, especially towards his half brothers. He had been forced to leave Kaposia because of threats against him by certain husbands whom he had wronged.
At Lac qui Parle the young prince had been well received by Chief E-ahn Manne became an inmate of his household, and finally his threefold son-in-law. After his marriage he seems to have abandoned his bad habits, except that he was lazy, and did not like to hunt and never went out with but one war party against the Chippewas. He had many admirers among the Wahpetons and Sissetons because of his smooth speech, agreeable manners, and rare good judgment. When the news of the death of his father reached him Tah O-yah-te Doota began preparations for assuming the chieftainship held and the titular name borne by him. The death message had been accompanied by a stern warning that the assumption would be resisted to the death point, by his half brothers and other members of the band, who regarded him as wholly unfit to be their Chief. He was also informed, however, that there were many other members of the Kaposia band that believed he was entitled to the position, because he was the heir apparent, because his father willed that he should be, and because he was no longer "foolish," but like a man, he spent the ensuing fall and winter in preparation. In the spring of 1846, just as soon as the ice was well out of the rivers, he decended the Minnesota from Lac qui Parle, with his three wives and some Wahpetons. At Shakopee's and Black Dog's villages some of the members of the bands were induced to join him, and from the mouth of the Minnesota to Kaposia he had quite a flotilla or canoes all well filled with his partisans. Messengers from Black Dog's village had hurried across the bend of the river to Kaposia, ahead of the boats, and informed the villagers that the prince was coming to claim his own.
When the Red Nation's boats drew up to the river bank at Kaposia they were met by a large and threatening crowd, with the heir apparents two half brothers, guns in hand, to the front. "Don't land! Don't land! If you do you shall die," was the general threat. Red Nation's canoe paddled by his wives, led the fleet and was the first to touch the shore. The young Chief stepped out and advanced slowly but steadily towards the menacing throng. If you come ten steps farther, I will shoot you," called out his half brother, leveling his gun. "You are not wanted here. Go and live at Lac qui Parle. You are a Wahpeton now and no longer a Medawakanton. Go back - go back, or I will shoot."
For answer Red Nation stepped bravely forward a few steps, folded his arms upon his breast and said loudly: "Shoot then where all can see. I am not afraid and they all know it." At once the half-distracted brother, mad with jealousy and half insane with hatred fired. Red Nation stumbled backward and fell into the arms of Too-kahn-na-na Manne, who had run forward to prevent the shooting.
A wailing from the wounded man's wives, a cry of alarm and excitement from the crowd, a wild tumult and commotion generally resulted. There was a revulsion in the sentiment of the people, a sympathy for their beloved old Chief's son, lying welting away in his blood. Scores of the best warriors ran forward, calling out wildly that if he died from his wounds the direst vengeance would be taken upon his murderers, and if he lived he and he alone would be Chief of the Kaposia band and bear the name of his father, Little Crow. The bullet, fired at close range, passed through both of Red Nation's folded and interlocked arms, breaking both the forearm bones of one, making a flesh wound through the other, and passing into the body, where it always remained. The medicine man got busy at once, but his surgery was so poor that the fore-arm bones grew together in a great knot. For many weeks while the bones were knitting, the young Chief suffered intensely, but made no sign. Frequently he walked about the village, a wife on either side and his wounded arms resting on a sort of cushion suspended about his neck.
His brothers and their partisans fled at once. Crossing the river, they went by way of White Lake and above St. Anthony's Falls to Rattling Moccasin's band near Little Rapids, on the Minnesota. Here they were given temporary shelter, and then again became fugitives. In the fall of the year, when the cold winter was fast approaching, the two brothers returned to Kaposia and threw themselves upon the mercy of their brother, the Chief, now Little Crow, head of the Kaposia band, with his authority undisputed and his personal security unmenaced.
But the quality of Little Crow's mercy was finely strained. In his view his brothers had committed an unpardonable sin, and he would not forgive them, although the blood of a common father ran in his and their veins. Disregarding all pleas and intercessions in their behalf, he had them bound from head to foot. Their arms were lashed to their sides and their legs tied together. After nightfall they were carried to the bank of the river and shot to death by two of the Chief's closest friends, and then their bloody bodies were tossed into the river current and given sepulture in its rolling depths. There was general acquiescence in their fate; certainly no thought of avenging it.NOTE - The foregoing particulars of the death of Big Thunder and of the accession of his son the Red Nation, to the chieftainship have been obtained from surviving members of the old Kaposia band, including both full and mixed bloods. The information was furnished to the compiler at different times and places, but all the accounts agree in all essentials. Those who furnished the information are William Columbus, at one time head soldier of Little Crow's band; Good Thunder, a former member of the band who became a well known character at Morton, Minn.; John Wakeman, alias White Spider, alias Renk-to-ma Ska, a son of Big Thunder, (or Little Crow IV.) and a half brother of His Red Nation (or Little Crow V.) and who in his later life was well known in Minnesota; St. Clair, alias Wa-Kah-an-de-yah-gah, alias Lightning Maker, who in late life lived at Mendota and was a man of deep and fervent piety; Mrs. David Wells, daughter of the Chief E-ahn manne and one of the wives of Red Nation; Mr. and Mrs. Wm. L. Quinn and Mrs. Henry Balland and Mrs. Nancy McLeod, of St. Paul. All of these persons testified that the facts stated were of their own personal knowledge, and all of them were of good repute for truth and veracity.
This particular statement is made necessary in view of that made by the late Gen. Henry H. Sibley of the circumstances of the death of Big Thunder. General Sibley positively states that he was present in the Chief's lodge soon after the (Big Thunder) had been mortally wounded, and that his son, the Red Nation, was also present. The General also relates with much elaboration and particularity the death-bed lecture given by the old chieftain to his wayward son, which was listened to not only by the son, but by General Sibley Dr. Turner, of Fort Snelling, and Alexander Faribault. And yet the surviving members of the old Kaposia band, so far as they have been consulted, testify, without exception, that at the time of his father's death and for a long time prior thereto Red Nation was and had been two hundred miles or more from Kaposia, and did not come to the place for months afterward; that he did not learn of his father's death for at least two weeks after his death. General Sibley's account was written twenty-seven years after Big Thunder's death and it is quite probable that he confounded the incident with another. He makes no mention whatever of the shooting of Little Crow by his brothers.
Soon after he became a Chief Tah O-yah-te Doota justified the words of those who said that he was no longer foolish. He exerted all his authority and influence to stop whisky drinking among the members of his band; to encourage them to become industrious, economical and thrifty; to promote morality among them, and to advance their physical and moral welfare generally. Reminded that he had been a whisky drinker and sporting character generally himself, he said: "I was only a brave then; I am a chief now." He applied to the Sioux agent, Bruce, at Fort Snelling and asked for a missionary to establish a mission and reside in the Kaposia village. Agent Bruce at once wrote to Dr. T. S. Williamson, the devoted missionary and skilful physician, then at Lac qui Parle, asking him to comply with Little Crow's request. Dr. Williamson gladly consented and in November 1846, came to Kaposia. He established a school and soon had a number of Indian and half-breed scholars, among the latter were several girls who married white, men and a few of them are still living.
There was now a change in the moral character of Kaposia. For a year or more before the drunken Indians were almost constant menace to the little settlement at St. Paul's. Many shameful scenes were witnessed in and about the village. Very frequently bands of the Kaposia warriors came in the village, became furiously drunk and went about threatening the lives of the inhabitants. Often the people barricaded their doors or hid themselves from the half-delirious savages, "Who," says Williams, "though passibly civil when sober, were very devils when maddened by fire-water." Soon after the coming of Red Nation to the chieftaincy and the advent of the missionaries at Kaposia there was a great change in conditions for the better, both in the red man's and white man's village.
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