Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche

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Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of the American Indian Archives Center
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is Liberty,
1958
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"LAW IS LIBERTY"
BRIGHT EYES
Compiled & Edited
by
Anna C. Smith Pabst
14 Elizabeth St.
Delaware, Ohio
1958
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
1. Treaty with The Indians 1854
1-11
2. Biographies Of Chiefs Who Signed The Treaty 12-27
3. "To The Driving Cloud"
H. W. Longfellow
4. The Ponca Chiefs
T. H. Tibbles
28-35
36-66
5. The Omaha Indians a. Alice C. Fletcher
b. Susette La Fletcher Tibbles
6. "Bright Eyes" in England
67-71
72-80
81-96
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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ILLUSTRATIONS & MAPS
1. Mound Hut
2. Tribal Organization
3. Indian Reservation
4. Presbyterian Board Mission School
5. Omaha Indian Reservation Map
6. Pictures of Indian Chiefs:a. Standing Bear
b. Fontanelle
c. Wa-Ja-Pa
d. Iron Eye
7. Pictures of "Bright Eyes"
8. The Mother of "Bright Eyes"
9. Paintings by "Bright Eyes"
10. Indian Picture Writing
11. Henry Tibbels
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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TREATY WITH THE INDIANS
March 16, 1854
Franklin Pierce, President of the United States of America, to all and
singular to whom these presents shall come, Greeting: [[superscript]] 1
[[/superscript]]
Whereas a Treaty was made and concluded at the City of Washington,
on the sixteenth day of March, one thousand eight hundred and fiftyfour, by George W. Manypenny, Commissioner on the part of the United
States, and the Omaha tribe of Indians, which treaty is in the words
following, to wit:
Articles of Agreement and convention made and concluded at the City of
Washington this sixteenth day of March, one thousand eight hundred
and fifty-four, by George W. Manypenny, as Commissioner on the part
of the United States, and the following named chiefs of the Omaha tribe
of Indians, viz: Shon-ga-ska, or Logan Fontenelle; E-esta-mah-za, or
Joseph Le Flesche; Gra-tha-nah-je, or Standing Hawk; Gah-he-ga-gingah, or Little Chief; Tha-wah-gah-ha-, or Village Maker; Wah-no-ke-ga,
or Noise; So-da-nah-ze, or Yellow Smoke; they being thereto duly
authorized by said tribe.
Article 1. The Omaha Indians cede to the United States
_________________________________________________________
_______
1. OO-Mah-Ha Ta-Wa-Tha (Omaha City)
Fannie Reed Giffen with illustrations by Susette La Flesche Tibbles
(Bright Eyes)
1854-1898 Published by the Authors, Lincoln, Nebraska
1898 Press of F.B.Festner, Omaha
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-2all their lands west of the Missouri river, and south of a line drawn due
west from a point in the center of the main channel of siad Missouri river
due east of where the Ayoway river disembogues out of the bluffs, to the
western boundary of the Omaha country, and forever relinquish all right
and title to the country south of said line. Provided, however, that if the
country north of the siad due west line, which is reserved by the
Omahas for their future home, should not on exploration prove to be a
satisfactory and suitable location for said Indians, the President may,
with the consent of said Indians, set apart and assign to them, within or
outside of the ceded country, a residence suited for and acceptable to
them. And or the purpose of determining at once and definitely, it is
agreed that a delegation of said Indians, in company with their agent,
shall, immediately after the ratification of this instrument, proceed to
examine the country hereby reserved, and if it is please the delegation,
and the Indians in counsel express themselves satisfied, then it shall be
deemed and taken for their future home; but if otherwise, on the fact
being reported to the President, he is authorized to cause a new
location, of suitable extent, to be made for the future home of said
Indians, and which shall not be more in extent than three hundred
thousand acres, and then in that case, all the country belonging to the
said Indians north of said due west line, shall be and hereby ceded to
the United States by
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
Liberty, 1958
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-3the said Indians, they to receive the same rate per acre for it, less the
number of acres assigned in lieu of it for a home, as now paid for the
land south of said line.
Article 2. The Omahas agree, that so soon after the United States shall
make the necessary provision for fulfilling the stipulations of this
instrument, as they can conveniently arrange their affairs, and not to
exceed one year from its ratification, they will vacate the ceded country,
and remove to the lands reserved herein by them, or to the lands
provided for in lieu thereof, in the preceding articles, as the case may
be.
Article 3. The Omahas relinquish to the United States all claims, for
money or other thing, under former treaties, and likewise all claim which
they may have heretofore, at any time, set up, to any land on the east
side of the Missouri river: Provided, The Omahas shall still be entitled to
and receive from the Government, the unpaid balance of the twnety-five
thousand dollars appropriated for their use, by the act of thirtieth of
August, 1851.
Article 4. In consideration of and payment for the country herein ceded,
and the relinquishments herein made, the United States agree to pay
the Omaha Indians the several sums of money following, to wit:
1st. Forty thousand dollars per annum, for the term of three years,
commencing on the first day of January, eighteen hundred and fifty-five.
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-42nd. Thirty thousand dollars per annum, for the term of fifteen years,
next succeeding the ten years.
3rd. Twenty thousand dollar per annum, for the term of twelve years,
next succeeding the fifteen years.
All which sums of money shall be paid to the Omahas, or expended for
their use and benefit, under the direction of the President of the United
States, who may from time to time determine, at his discretion, what
proportion of the annual payments, in this article provided for, if any,
shall be paid to them in money, and what proportion shall be applied to
and expended for their moral improvement and education; for such
beneficial objects as in his judgment will be calculated to advance them
in civilization; for buildings, opening farms, fencing, breaking land,
providing stock, agricultural implements, seeds, etc.,; for clothing,
provisions and merchandise; for iron, steel, arms and ammunition; for
mechanics, and tools; and for medical purposes.
Article 5. In order to enable the said Indians to settle their affairs and to
remove and subsist themselves for one year at their new home, and
which they agree to do without further expense to the United States, and
also to
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-5pay the expenses of the delegation who may be appointed to make the
exploration provided for in article first, and to fence and break up two
hundred acres of land at their new home, they shall receive from the
United States, the further sum of forty-one thousand dollars, to be paid
out and expended under the directions of the President, and in such
manner as he shall approve.
Article 6. The President may, from time to time, at his discretion, cause
the whole or such portion of the land hereby reserved, as he may think
proper, or of such other land as may be selected in lieu thereof, as
provide for in article first, to be surveyed into lots, and to assign to such
Indian or Indians of said tribe as are willing to avail of the privilege, and
who will locate on the same as a permanent home, if a single person
over twenty-one years of age, one eighth of a section; to each family of
two, one quarter section; to each family of three, and not exceeding five,
one half section; to each family of six and not exceeding ten, one
section; and to each family over ten in number, one quarter section for
every additional five members. Ane he may prescribe such rules and
regulations as will insure to the family, in case of death of the head
thereof, the possession and enjoyment thereof, of such a permanent
home and the improvements thereon. And the President may, at any
time in his discretion, after such person or family has made a location on
the land assigned
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-6for a permanent home, issue a patent to such a person or family for
such assigned land, conditioned that the tract shall not be aliened or
leased for a longer term than two years; and shall be exempt from levy,
sale, or forfeiture, which conditions shall continue in force, until a State
constitution, embracing such lands within its boundaries, shall have
been formed, and the legislature of the state shall remove the
restrictions. And if any such person or family shall at any time neglect or
refuse to occupy and till a portion of the lands assigned and on which
they have located, or shall rove from place to place, the President may,
if the patent shall have been issued, cancel the assignment, and may
also withhold from such person or family, their proportion of the
annuities or other moneys due them, until they shall have returned to
such permanent home, and resumed the pursuits of industry; and in
default of their return the tract my be declared abandoned, and
thereafter assigned to some other person or family of such tribe, or
disposed of as provided for the disposition of the excess of siad land.
And the residue of the land hereby reserved, or of that which my be
selected in lieu thereof, after all the Indian persons or families shall have
had assigned to them permanent homes, my be sold for their benefit,
under such laws, rules or regulations, as may hereafter be prescribed by
the Congress or President of the United States. No State Legislature
shall remove the restrictions herein
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
Liberty, 1958
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-7provided for, without the consent of Congress.
Article 7. Should the Omahas determine to make their permanent home
north of the due west line named in the first article, the United States
agree to protect them from the Sioux and all other hostile tribes; as long
as the President may deem such protection necessary; and if other
lands be assigned them, the same protection is guaranteed.
Article 8. The United States agree to erect for the Omahas at their new
home, a grist and saw mill, and keep the same in repair, and provide a
miller for ten years; also to erect a good blacksmith shop, supply the
same with tools, and keep it in repair for ten years; and provide a good
blacksmith for a like period; and to employ an experienced farmer for the
term of ten years, to instruct the Indians in agriculture.
Article 9. The annuities of the Indians shall not be taken to pay the
debts of individuals.
Article 10. The Omahas acknowledge their dependence on the
government of the United States, and promise to be friendly with all the
citizens thereof, and pledge themselves to commit no depredations on
the property of such citizens. And should anyone or more of them
violate this pledge, and the fact be satisfactorily proven before the
agent, the property taken shall be returned, or in default thereof, or if
injured or destroyed, compensation shall be made by the government
out of their annuities. Nor will
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-8they make war on any other tribe, except in self-defence, but will submit
all matters of difference between them and other Indians to the
government of the United States, or its agent, for decision, and abide
thereby. And if any of the said Omahas commit any depredations on
any other Indians, the same rule shall prevail as that prescribed in this
article in case of depredations against citizens.
Article 11. The Omahas acknowledge themselves indebted to Lewis
Sounsoci, a half breed, for services, the sum of one thousand dollars,
which debt t hey have not been able to pay, and the United States agree
to pay the same.
Article 12. The Omahas are desirous to exclude from their country the
use of ardent spirits, and to prevent their people from drinking the same,
and therefor it is provided that any Amaha who is guilty of bringing liquor
into their country or who drinks liquor, may have his or her proportion of
the annuities withheld from him or her for such time as the President
may determine.
Article 13. The board of missions of the Presbyterian Church have on
the lands of the Omahas a manual labor boarding school, for the
education of the Omaha, Ottoe, and other Indian youth, which is now in
successful operation, and as it will be for some time before the
necessary buildings can be erected on the reservation, and (it is)
desirable that the school should not be suspended, it is agreed that the
said board shall have four adjoining quarter sections of land,
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-9so as to include as near as may be all the improvements heretofore
made by them; and the President is authorized to issue to the proper
authority of said board, a patent in fee simple for such quarter sections.
Article 14. The Omahas agree that all the necessary roads, highways
and railroads, which may be constructed as the country improves, and
the lines of which may run through the tract as may be reserved for their
permanent home, shall have a right of way through the reservation, a
just compensation being paid therefor in money.
Article 15. This treaty shall be obligatory on the contracting parties as
soon as the same shall be ratified by the President and Senate of the
United States.
In testimony whereof, the said George W. Mannypenny, Commissioner
as aforesaid, and the undersigned chiefs, of the Omaha tribe of Indians,
have hereinto set their hands and seals at the place and on the day and
year herein before written.
George W. Manypenny
(L.S.) Commissioner
Shon-ga-ska, or Logan Fontenelle, his x mark
E-sta-mah-za, or Joseph LeFlesche, his x mark
Gra-tah-nah-je, or Standing Hawk, his x mark
Gah-he-ga-gin-gah, or Little Chief, his x mark
Tah-wah-gah-ha, or Village Maker, his x mark
Wah-no-ke-ga, or Noise, his x mark
So-da-nah-ze, or Yellow Smoke, his x mark
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
Liberty, 1958
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-10Executed in the presence of us:
James M. Gatewood, Indian Agent
James Gozzler
Charles Calvert
James D. Kerr
Henry Beard
Alfred Chapman
Louis Saunsoci, Interpreter
And whereas the said Treaty having been submitted to the Senate of the
United States for its constitutional action thereon, the Senate did, on the
seventeenth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four,
amend the same by a resolution in the words and figures following, to
wit:
In Executive Session,
Senate of the United States,
April 17th, 1854
Resolved, (two-thirds of the senators present concurring), That the
Senate advise and consent to the ratification of the articles of agreement
and convention made and concluded at the City of Washington this (the)
sixteenth day of March, on thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, by
George W. Manypenny as Commissioner on the part of the United
States, and the following named chiefs of the Omaha tribe of Indians,
viz: (same chiefs as cited above)... They being thereto duly authorized
by said tribe; with the following amendment, - Article 3, line 3, strike out
"1851" and insert 1852.
Attest:
Asbury Dickens, Secretary
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Liberty, 1958
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-11Now, therefore, be it known, that I Franklin Pierce, President of the
United States of America, do, in pursuance of the advice and consent of
the Senate, as expressed in their resolution of the seventeenth of April,
one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, accept, ratify, and confirm the
said treaty as amended.
In testimony thereof, I have caused the seal of the United States to be
hereunto affixed, having signed the same with my hand.
Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-first day of June, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and fifty-four, and of the
independence of the Unites States the seventy-eighth.
Franklin Pierce
By the President:
W. L. Marcy, Secretary of State.
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-12BIOGRAPHIES OF CHIEFS WHO SIGNED THE TREATY IN 1854
SHON-GA-SKA, or FONTENELLE
Logan Fontenelle was the first chief to sign this treaty. He was the only
among them who could read or write or speak English. He was elected
chief for the express purpose of helping the Indians to make the treaty
with the United States.
Mr. Fontenelle was tall, of courtly bearing, pleasing manners, and
universally respected by the white people as well as by the Indians. He
was a great personal friend of Iron Eye (Joseph LeFlesche) and was a
well educated man, being one-half French.
In Washington...he made his speeches to the President and
Commissioner in the Omaha language...
After his return from Washington, and the Omahas were ordered to
move to their new reservation...he made a virorous protest against the
removal until the government fulfilled its part of the agreement.
...When the Indians were ordered to go to the reservation, Fontenelle is
said to have made a speech at Bellevue, before they stared. Some
fragments of this speech have been preserved by the State Historical
Society.
He declared it was murder ... to place the unarmed and defenceless
Omahas right in the path of their hereditary enemies. He finally placed
his hand on his revolver and said, "This is good for six Sioux anyhow;
we will go and
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-13meet our fate."
It was but a short time after, when on a hunt, that an overwhelming
number of the Sioux made onslaught on the Omaha hunting party.
Logan Fontenelle fought as long as he could raise a hand. He did not
quite make his assertion good, but three dead Sioux were found near
his body.
Some days after the fight, his body was recovered and brought back to
the camp of the Omahas. The whole tribe went into mourning....
Col. Sarpy sent to St. Joseph, Missouri, and hired a Protestant
Episcopal minister to come to Bellevue and read the Episcopal service
over the remains. The white people in all the region of the country,
being mostly French traders, assembled the day he was buried.
Logan Fontenelle's name, among the classes of the Omahas, is to this
day held in great reverence.
E-STA-MAH-ZA, or IRON EYE
Iron Eye, the second signer, is known to the whites as Joseph
LeFlesche. He was a man of very great natural ability. He had no
education, could not read, write, or speak English, but he always
impressed one as a man of thought and good judgment. He was a
unlearned, natural philosopher. ...When the great Indian habeas corpus
case was first stated to him, he instantly replied with a clear statement of
the fundamental and underlying principles upon which the case should
be fought
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-14in the courts....
Early in life the abilities of Iron Eye were recognized by the wise and
statesman-like old head chief, Big Elk...Big Elk had a son who,
according to Indian custom, would inherit the head chieftanship, but he
was a child and of a weak physical constitution. The old chief knew that
the great transformation which was before his boy would arrive at
mature years, and he resolved that Iron Eye should take the head
chieftainship and pilot the tribe through that dangerous period....He
therefore sent by the officer, whose duty it was to carry it, the tobacco
bag to Iron Eye, who received it with all the formalities prescribed on
such occasions.
Then Big Elk "pipe danced" Iron Eye's wife (this occurred two years after
her marriage). By this ceremony, Big Elk adopted Iron Eye as his son,
and announced by the public crier that he had done so. Then in public,
in the presence of Iron Eye, Big Elk further declared...that Iron Eye was
his "oldest" son and that he wished Iron Eye to inherit the chieftanship
from him.
After this he caused Iron Eye to give four ceremonial feasts, which the
Indian customs required when one was declared the inheritor of the
chieftanship.
At these foasts all the chiefs and all the members of the tribe assented,
for they all loved Iron Eye for his generosity and kindness to the tribe,
respected his ability
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-15and feared his power. Four times these ceremonies were repeated. (to
give validity)
Several years later the Indians were having a feast. One afternoon Big
Elk went out hunting and killed a deer with a tomahawk. A few hours
later he was stricken with a fever then epidemic among the Indians. Big
Elk called for Iron Eye and said: "My son, give me some medicine." He
sent an Indian runner to Bellevue for medicine, but it was a three day's
journey, and when the carrier returned it was too late. Just before the
old chief died he sent for Iron Eye and said: "My son, I give you all my
papers from Washington, and I make you head chief. You will occupy
my place. When your brother is of age (meaning his own young son)
you can do for him as is best. I leave him in your charge.
When dying, seeing Louis, the young son of Iron Eye, he raised his
hand and said; "My grandchild--" attempted to speak further, but could
not.
Iron Eye then assumed the chieftanship of the tribe...Iron Eye's papers
were sent to him, bearing the great seal, from Washington. They are
now in possession of his son, Frank Le Flesche, who is employed in the
Indian Department at Washington, D.C.
It was impossible that a man of Iron Eye's character, determined as he
was that the tribe should be brought as soon as possible to abandon the
Indian mode of life...should meet with fierce opposition among his own
people. The
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Liberty, 1958
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-16consequence was, that the tribe was divided into two parties. The one
called the "Chief's party", being opposed to the education of their
children and to farming, and the other called the "Young Men's Party",
who favored education, desired to adopt the customs of the whites, and
go to farming.
Of the latter party, Iron Eye was the head, and a political war of the
greatest bitterness was waged. Iron Eye found that he had not only half
of the tribe arrayed against him, but often the agent, the agent's
employees and the authorities at Washington. He often said to them: "It
is either civilization or extermination."...
Iron Eye always gave the missionaries among the Omahas his
sympathy and earnest understanding. He was among the first to unite
with the church after Father Hamilton came to the tribe....
The next Sunday after Iron Eye united with the church, the room in
which public services were held would not hold one fifth of the Indians
that attended. ...Finally Father Hamilton asked Iron Eye what made the
Indians all at once take a notion to go to church in such large numbers.
Said Iron Eye...I ordered them to go.
Father Hamilton undertook to explain to him that the Christian religion
could not be propagated that way. (several days later) The next
Sunday, Iron Eye made an address to the Indians...the order was
revoked, and from that time on the little Indian church built up its
membership, who of their
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Liberty, 1958
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-17own free will, chose to attend. As soon as the Indians obtained title to
lands in severalty, Iron Eye selected a location on the Logan River, near
the town of Bancroft, Nebraska. He built a good two-story house and
barn, bought a supply of the latest improved farm machinery, and
opened up a large farm.
There were many sides to Iron Eye's character. He was a great hunter,
and in defence of his tribe, he was a fierce warrior. Many a
Sioux...started on his long journey to the happy hunting ground at the
crack of Iron Eye's riffle. He was a trader, and at one time had
accumulated a large fortune, several thousand dollars of which he lent
to a white man, who refused to pay, and then Iron Eye felt the full force
of the old Indian system, when he learned that an Indian could not sue
or be sued in the white man's courts of law. So his creditor could not be
made to pay and Iron Eye lost all his money.
Still another side of his character is illustrated by an incident related by
his daughter, Ishta Theamba. (Bright Eyes).
"We were out on a buffalo hunt. I was a little bit of a thing when it
happened...I was playing near my father, when a little Indian boy...came
up and give me a little bird he had found....my father said to me...Take it
carefully in your hand, out yonder where there are not tents, where the
high grass is, put it
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-18softly on the ground and say as you put it down: God, I give back your
little bird. Have pity on me as I have pity on your bird."
After a hard day's labor he took a severe cold, and died very suddenly,
September 23, 1888.
The shite people came from miles around to attend his funeral. It is said
to have been the largest funeral procession in that part of the state. He
is buried I the cemetery just south of Bancroft, where a modest marble
shaft marks the last resting-place of this most remarkable man.
GRA-TAH-NAH-JA, or STANDING HAWK
Standing Hawk was one of the hereditary chiefs of the Omaha tribe. He
lived for many years after the treaty was made, near the Omaha
Mission, in a two-story frame house, which had been built by Iron eye, in
the early years of his residence there, and used partly for a trading post.
Standing Hawk was a thorough Indian, and believed in all the Indian
superstitions, and practised them until the day of his death. He was a
man of good character, and farmed so far as he was able to do so.
He believed in owning lands in severalty, and often said that while he
was too old to learn the white people's ways, his children should learn
them.
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-19AH-HE-GA-GINOGAH. or LITTLE CHIEF
Little Chief died shortly after the treaty was made. He was a man highly
respected by all who knew him. He made one variation from the Indian
customs. He treated his wife as if she were a queen. He never allowed
her to work more than was absolutely necessary. She was a woman of
the highest character herself....
His wife is still living and preserves all the dignity of her former years.
Among the forms which she adheres to, is the practise of making a
formal visit once a year, to all the members of the tribe who were of
equal rank with herself. She is always treated with the greatest
consideration by all members of the tribe.
At Little Chief's funeral a large concourse of people, including
missionaries, agents and employers, assembled. The Indian burial
ceremonies were observed in full, for the last time, among the Omaha
tribe. His horse, led to the grave, covered with blankets and other
personal belongings of the chief, was strangled; also his favorite dog
was killed, that they might accompany him on his long journey to the
happy hunting grounds.
AH-WAH-GAH-HA, or VILLAGE MAKER
Village Maker was a very old man at the time the treaty was made, and
died a short time afterwards.
But few traditions concerning him are preserved by the
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-20Indians, but among them is one which declares that Village Maker was a
great hunter, always providing plenty for his family and the
entertainment of visiting chiefs. It is also said by all that he was a very
good man, and that very early in life he told the Indians that the white
people would finally fill the land, and that the Indians must turn from
hunting to farming.
His descendants are quite numerous in the tribe today; and they always
speak with the greatest reverence of old Village Maker.
WAH-NO-KE-GA, or NOISE
Noise was one of the signers of the treaty, but like Village Maker, he
was an old man at the time, and died soon afterwards. But little is
known about him...He never came much in contact with white people.
All he ever saw of them was a few French traders. He was a thorough
believer in all the Indian customs, and lived in accordance with them
until his death.
SO-DA-NAH-ZE, or YELLOW SMOKE
Yellow Smoke, the last signer of the treaty, lived to a good old age. He
was one of the first Indians who made a profession of the Christian
religion, and for years was an elder in the Presbyterian church,
established by Father Hamilton.
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-21Yellow Smoke was what would be called, among the white people, :a
pillar of the church". He never failed to be present at any public service,
and every prayer meeting, when it was at all possible for him to do so.
When he was in Washington, someone made him a present of a silk hat.
Yellow Smoke preserved this to the day of his death, and always, when
attending church, when the weather was fair, would wear the hat. He
had another silk hat he wore on other occasions...
To see Yellow Smoke walk into the church with his silk hat and blanket
on, to one who did not know him, would cause a smile, but if one waited
until it came his turn to speak, he would always hear something worth
remembering....
Being a thorough Christian, he abandoned all the Indian customs...
He and Big Elk, who is descendant of the old chief Big Elk, were, for
years, the leaders of the Indian Presbyterian church on the reservation,
and have had the confidence and respect of all the missionaries and
ministers who knew them.
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-22STANDING BEAR
When Standing Bear1 went east after his arrest at Omaha in 1878 he
was a "wild Indian" of the plains. All that he had ever seen of civilization,
was the "dugouts", sod houses and little pine "shacks" of the white
settlers, except what he had seen in Omaha while a prisoner there
under Gen. Crook....Of the customs of the whites, he knew nothing, yet
he never made any mistakes in behavior. When his friend asked him
how he so quickly comprehended the white ways he said:
"When I sat down at the table for the first time, I watched what the
others did and kept just a little behind, so I would make no mistake
about the white ways."
We went to the Palmer House on our arrival in Chicago, and at the table
prepared for the party, were Bishop Clarkson and Rev. W. J. Harsha of
Omaha, Rev. Robert Collyer and two or three other distinguished
citizens of the city. When Standing Bear sat down, I gave the waiter a
quarter and said to him:
"The old chief can't speak a work of English. You see to it that he has
plenty to eat, including a liberal supply of roast beef, well done. Indians
_________________________________________________________
_________
1. By Tomas Henry Tibbles
Nebraska History Magazine, Nebraska State Historical Society
Vol. XIII October-December, 1932 No. 4 pp. 271-276.
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-23detest raw meat."
The conversation that followed was exciting and I forgot all about
Standing Bear. Toward the close of the meal he touched my arm and
said:
"What am I to do. I can't possible eat any more and i have no way to
take it away."
There was a look of distress on his face that showed he was in serious
trouble. I instantly comprehended the difficulty. Among Indians it is
compulsory, either to eat all that is given you or take it away when you
retire. Not to do so is a rank insult to your host. That colored waiter had
been watching the old chief and as fast as on slice of roast beef
disappeared another was placed on his plate, and Standing Bear had
come to the end of his endurance test. ...
Standing Bear was the most noted Ponca Chief. Born about 1829, died
in 1908. Hero of a dramatic and romantic story - the return of part of the
Ponca Tribe to Nebraska from Indian Territory in 1879. The celebrated
legal case of the United States versus Standing Bear, decided by Judge
Dundy of the Federal District Court of Omaha established a new
doctrine in the history of Indians - the right of an Indian to become a
citizen of the United States. In 1879-'80 Standing Bear, accompanied
by Susette La Flesche, Francis Las Flesche (Suzette's brother), and
Thomas H. Tibbels lectured in the principal cities in the United States in
be-half of Indian rights. ...
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-24STANDING BEAR'S SPEECH TO LABOR
The accuracy with which he would take in all conditions of any situation
as well as his correct judgment concerning the characters of men, was
almost miraculous. Henry Mason, of the old Mason & Hamlin Organ
concern, was greatly interested in Standing Bear and invited the party to
make a visit to his manufacturing establishment. At the close of the
inspection, Mr. Mason said:
"There are two or three hundred working men in the different
departments who would be delighted to hear the old chief say a few
words. I don't wish to impose upon you, but if he would make a few
remarks, they would remember it as long as they live."
I asked Standing Bear if he would make a speech to the men and he
said that he would. Now it must be remembered that all that this Indian
chief knew of civilization was what he had seen from the car windows
and one or two days spent in Chicago and Pittsburg. We went into a
large hall where the men were assembled. They had on their aprons,
and the paper caps they wore at their work. Standing Bear glanced at
the men and then stepped upon a small box and looked over the
assemblage for a full minute before he said a word. Then he began his
speech. He said:
^(Had an interpreter) "Your face is white and mine is red, but one God
made us both. Why should we not always have been friends and helped
each other instead of killing one
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-25another? My tribe never killed a white man. There is not one drop of
white blood on the hand of any Ponca. The bones of several hundred of
my young men lie bleaching on the plains of South Dakota, who lost
their lives in defending the poor white men of Nebraska who live near
the Sioux. I come from that far away country to ask justice for my
people. I knew nothing of your ways, but I see that you are a great
people. I have been thinking what made you great.
"My friend and I got on the cars at Omaha and we rode all night and
nearly all day faster than any horse could run. We came to a great city.
My friend took me to the top of a very high house. On one side there
was water, but on all the other sides there were houses and houses as
far as I could see. Then we rode a day and a night more and he took
me to the top of a hill and as far as I could see in every direction there
were houses and houses. Then we rode a day more and we came to a
great river, we went across it in a boat. It was night. We rode a long
way in a carriage, and on wither side there were houses and houses.
The we came here and the Governor took me to the top of a big council
house, where your own chiefs meet to
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-26make your laws, and, as far as I could see, there were houses and
houses. Then I began to understand why the white people were so
great. They work. Every brick in all those houses were made by
someone's hands. The white people are rich and great, and men like
you are the ones who make them great. I have seen your great chief,
but it is you who make your country great."
Did any labor leader ever make a more appropriate speech to a band of
working men?
STANDING BEAR IN BOSTON
There was a great meeting in the Music Hall, Boston...every seat was
taken long before the hour for the addresses. The aisles were crowded,
the corridors were crowded...the street for a block each way was a mass
of surging people vainly trying to get in when the old chief arrived. On
the platform were the Governor of the state, the mayor of the city, Dr.
Edward Everett Hale, Wendell Phillips, Dr. Alcott, and many more of the
distinguished citizens of Boston.
Standing Bear always closed his speech with the following words:
"When the white people came to this country, the Indians were turned
over to the army. For years
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-27the army did what it liked with us and we had war and bloodshed. Then
the Indians were turned over to the politicians and they appointed our
agents and rulers. That was a hundred times worse and we had
continual war. then your great General who never talked, (U.S.Grant)
turned us over to the churches and divided us up among them. We still
had war and bloodshed. Then they turned us over to some man in
Washington. He came from a country beyond the great water where
there never were any Indians (Secretary of Interior) and we have had
war and bloodshed ever since. Now I ask you to turn us over once
more. Turn us over to the ladies, and they will not murder us or drive us
from our lands."
The cheering that followed lasted many minutes and Boston's most
distinguished ladies pressed forward toward the platform to shake the
old chief's hand.
After three months before an investigating committee in Washington,
Standing Bear took the next train for his home far away in Nebraska on
the Running Water, and never saw any more civilization, except as the
country around him developed. Thirty years afterward, he died in
poverty among his people.
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-28TO THE DRIVING CLOUD
By H. W. Longfellow
Gloomy and dark art thou, O chief of the mighty Omawhaws;
[[superscript]] 1 [[/superscript]]
Gloomy and dark, as the driving cloud, whose name thou hast taken.
Wrapped in thy scarlet blanket, I see thee stalk through the city's
Narrow and populous streets, as once by the margin of rivers,
Stalked those birds unknown, that have left us only their footprints,
What, in a few short years, will remain of thy race but the footprints?
How canst thou walk in these streets, who has trod the green turf of the
prarries?
How canst thou breathe in this air, who hast breathed the sweet air of
the mountains?
Ah! 'Tis vain that with lordly looks of disdain thou dost challenge
Looks of dislike in return, and question these walls and these
pavements,
Claiming the soil for thy hunting-grounds, while down-trodden millions
Starve in the garrets of Europe, and cry from its caverns
_________________________________________________________
_________
1. Giffen...op.cit.
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-29that they, too,
Have been created heirs of the earth, and claim its division!
Back, then; back to thy woods in the regions west of the Wabash!
There, as a monarch thou reignest. In autumn the leaves of the maple
Pave the floors of thy palace-hall with gold, and in the summer
Pine trees waft through its chambers the odorous breath of their
branches.
There thou art strong and great, a hero, a tamer of horses!
There thou chasest the stately stag on the banks of the Elkhorn,
Or by the roar of the Running water, or where the Omawhaw
Calls thee, and leaps through the wild ravine like a brave of the
Blackfeet!
Lo! the big thunder canoe, that steadily breasts the Missouri's
Merciless current! And yonder, afar on the prairies, the camp-fires
Gleam through the night; and the cloud of dust in the gray of the
daybreak
Marks not the buffalo's track, nor the Mandan's dexterous horse race;
It is a caravan, whitening the desert where dwell the Comanches:
Ha! How the breath of these Saxons and Celts, like the blast of the east
wind,
Drifts evermore to the west the scanty smokes of the wigwams!
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-30BIG ELK
After Black Bird, (by reputation a cruel & very unjust ruler of his people)
who was given a national reputation, and very unfairly so, by
Washington Irving, the next most noted chief in the history of the
Omahas was Big Elk...
Big Elk was noted for the kindness of heart and general good
judgement.
Some twenty years ago, an old Omaha Indian told a white friend that the
memory of Big Elk in his family would never die. He said that all the
members of his father's family were poor, that they had never owned a
horse, and when they were out on long buffalo hunts, they had to travel
on foot and carry their baggage on their backs, and when returning,
whatever robes, furs, or meat they procured, had to be carried in the
same way.
One day his father, almost worn out from carrying a heavy pack, sat
down by the way to rest, when Big Elk came by, and seeing the old man
was nearly exhausted, he took pity on him and gave him his own horse.
"That," said the old Omaha, "was the only horse my father ever owned.
And he was no relation Big Elk."
He succeeded Black Bird as head chief of the tribe, but he only lived a
little past middle age, and died of an epidemic fever...He was buried on
one of the hills south of where the Omaha agency building now stands...
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-31DREAM WOMAN
^[[handwritten insertion]][["Bright eyes"]][[/handwritten]]
"It was over sixty years ago, when I was a little girl, that we camped near
the Nishnabotna, at a place the Indians called Wa-a-hi-da O-thu-cumppi (Beautiful in the Distance), opposite where Bellevue now stands. The
place was thickly wooded, and in the beautiful grove, the tents were set
up.
"There were the tents of my brothers, Long Wing and Walking in the
Rain; my uncle, Wi-thu-gun, as well as my father and mother, who had a
tent of their own. The little girls with whom I dearly loved to play all day
long, were Hin-va-gi (The Chief Woman), Gun-tha-i (The Wanted One)
and Ha-sa-gii.
"One evening I cried for some deer marrow, and my uncle said, 'Do not
cry any more, (relative) Hin-us-sun, tomorrow you shall have what you
want.
"It was always a treat for us children, when the hunter brought home the
venison, to have our mothers break the leg-bones of the deer and give
us the marrow.
"After we had our breakfast, Hin-na-gi, Gun-tha-i and Ha-sa-gii came
running from the tents, and said 'Come on, Hin-ua-sun, bring your little
pail, and we will go and look for wild beans, so we can cook them. Be
sure and bring your knife, too, so we can make some dishes.
"Holding my little short, red-handled knife in one hand, and my little pail
in the other, I ran into the woods with my companions.
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-32"The great cottonwood trees that lay decaying on the ground were our
especial delight, for out of their thick bark, which we pulled off, we made
dishes, pails and tents, which we used in our play.
"We went to the larger logs which lay here and there, and putting in our
hands we scraped out great handfuls of wild beans, which the little mice
had stored away for their winter's living. After we had washed the wild
beans clean and white, we put them in our little pail. Hin-na-gii planted
a thick, round stick in the ground, and taking a stick with a notch in it,
she tied it to the upright one, and then put the little pail on the notches
stick, and our beans were ready to be cooked.
"We built our fire and then sat down to make our bark dishes. We
hollowed out the thick cottonwood bark and trimmed them into round
shapes, like dishes of wood our mothers had. My dish was crooked,
and I could not get it round like the other girls, which made me feel bad.
"The beans are not boiling yet, so let us make a tent", said Hin-na-gii,
who was the oldest. "We can go in and lie down while we are waiting for
them."
"We selected the tent-poles we wanted, and tying four together at the
top, we set them on the ground so they would form a pyramid. We
place the rest of the poles in place, and then took great sheets of the
cottonwood bark for our tent-cloth, and our bark house was ready.
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-33"I put my little dish at my head, near my pillow of bark, and we all laid
down, I went sound asleep, but the other girls did not go to sleep. They
ate the beans, when they were done, and then without waking me, they
went home and left me alone in the tent.
"If I had dreamed it when I slept, I should have said it was a dream; but I
awoke very suddenly, and looking around found the tent empty.
Sleeping opposite the tent door, I raised my eyes, and there stood a
most beautiful Indian woman, in a magnificant Indian dress. Looking at
me, she gave me a beautiful smile that I can never forget it. I turned
around, and taking my little pail in one hand, and grasping my shawl in
the other, I looked again towards the door, but the beautiful woman with
the lovely smile had gone.
"As I ran home to the tents, I looked everywhere, but I saw nothing on
the way. Raising the door-flap, I knelt down to enter the tent, where my
uncle, who had the leg-bones of the deer ready for me, threw them
toward me.
"Uncle!" I said, and laughed in delight; but my uncle said, 'Sister, see;
her mouth is crooked' and mother said, 'My poor child.'
"Then we heard the voice of my brother from his tent, as he said,
sternly: "It must be their work" (meaning ghosts). 'Treat your niece with
the medicines that you know how to make, and do your best for her.'
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-34"So my uncle went out, and brought in two roots, one of which he used
as a wash, and the other I had to hold pieces of in my mouth all the
time.
"Four is the magic number of the Indians, so for four days he treated
me, and my mouth was straight again, although I do not remember the
exact number of days it took.
"When my uncle went out to hunt, he examined the place where our
bark tent stood, and there he found a great many very old graves of
Indians, that had been buried many many years before.
"They all said it was a ghost I saw, but I never thought so. My uncle,
who was much gifted, was an interpreter of dreams, and this was the
interpretation of my vision:
"'That women of all ranks or stations, and of all races, would smile on
me.'
"I never used to tell this, because I thought it was a vision sent to me,
and I was gifted to see visions, and so should not tell it, for it was the
custom of my people, but since I have become a believer in the true
God, and know there is nothing the world beside Him, I have told this to
show that I have put all such things away as not fitting a believer in the
true Son of God."
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-35LOUIS
"My mother must be over seventy years of age... and yet to this day she
cannot speak of my brother Louis' death without her eyes filling with
tears. He was older than myself... My father had placed him in the
Omaha Mission School, as he placed all of his children... His desire to
educate them... as the white people were educated, was very strong.
"At the time of Louis's death, he was probably nine or ten years old.
...The most vivid impression that remains in my memory of that sad time
is... as I looked out on a reach of prairie, at about the distance of a mile
away, some men emerged from the hillsides.... They were singing a
dirge.... Each of them was dragging an unstripped willow-branch, which
trailed on the ground.
"When they came close enough to be recognized, I saw the blood
streaming from the left arm of each of them. The broken end of the
willow-branch was thrust through the thick flesh of the upper arm of
each one, while the tops and the boughs leaves and all, trailed on the
ground. They had walked the distance of a mile, singing the death-dirge,
in honor of my dead brother.
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-36The Ponca Chiefs
T.H.Tibbles (ZYLYFF)
With an introduction by Inshta Theamba (Bright Eyes) and Dedication by
Wendell Phillips
J.S.Lockwood, Boston 1887
Dedication
to
The People of the United States
Those who love liberty and intend that their Government shall protect
every man on its soil and execute justice between man and man,
This Narrative,
With an Introduction, written by an Indian Girl, of the wrongs suffered at
the hands of the Government of the Poncas, in consequence of which
one-third of the tribe died within the last eighteen months, and the rest
have endured and still endure cruel and wasting oppressions,
Is Respectfully Dedicated,
as a fair specimen of the system of injustice, oppression, and robbery
which the Government calls "its Indian Policy" Which [line through W]
has covered it with disgrace as incompetent, cruel, faithless, never
keeping its treaties, and systematically and shamelessly violating its
most solemn promises: has earned the contempt and detestation of all
honest men and the distrust and hate of the Indian tribes.
Wendell Phillips
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-37Introduction
This little book is only a simple narration of facts concerning some of my
people. Many of the transactions recorded in it came under my own
observation, my uncle, White Swan, being one of the chiefs who
underwent so much suffering after being left in the Indian Territory.
Wrongs more terrible than those related here have been practised on
others of my people, but they have had no writer to make them known.
I wish for the sake of my race, that I could introduce this little book into
every home in the land, because in these homes lies the power to
remedy the evil shown forth in these pages. The people are the power
which move the magistrates who administer the laws.
It is a little thing, a simple thing, which my people ask of a nation whose
watchword is liberty... They ask for liberty, and law is liberty...
May those who read this story, when they think of the countless happy
homes which cover this continent, give help to a homeless race, who
have no spot on earth they can call their own.
Inshtatheamba (Bright Eyes)
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-38THE PONCA CHIEFS
Chapter I
Standing Bear's First Encounter with The Indian Ring
In the autumn of 1876, the Indians on the Ponca reservation in Southern
Dakota were at work on their farms as usual. ..Most of the children were
attending school, and their church was in a flourishing condition. How
these people were robbed of their wealth and a large portion of them
sent to their graves, through the tools of the Indian Ring, it is the object
of these pages to relate.
On Sunday the Indians went to their church as usual, to hear the words
of their minister... He told them that he had heard that they were to be
driven from their homes and sent far to the south, never to come back
again... he advised them to do that which was right, and trust in God,
that in the end he would protect them from their oppressors.
...Runners were dispatched, and in a few hours... every member of the
Ponca tribe had heard the news. The one universal sentiment was: "We
will not leave the home of our fathers to go to a strange land, never to
return."
,..Somebody had ordered them to be taken to the Indian Territory. Soon
after a great council was called, and some men puporting to come from
Washington appeared, and said an order had been issued to take the
tribe to the Indian Territory. Standing Bear, White Eagle and other chiefs
absolutely refused to go. Standing Bear Said:
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-39"This land on the Niobrara (Swift Running Water) is ours, we have never
sold it. We have our houses and our homes here. Our fathers and some
of our children are buried here. Here we wish to live and die. We have
harmed no man. We have kept our treaty. We have learned to work. We
can make a good living here. We do not wish to sell our land, and we
think no man has a right to take it from us. Here we will live, and here we
will die."
Then these men told them that the Indian Territory was a much better
country. ...Finally they proposed that the chief should go down to the
Indian Territory and look at the country. Then, if they did not like it, and
did not wish to go, they might stay where they were. They told them that
if they went down there, the Great Father would buy their land in Dakota
and pay them for it, and give them all the land they needed in the Indian
Territory. ...it was agreed that ten of the leading men should go down
there and look at the country.
These men took them to the territory... The chief's replied they did not
like it at all... Standing Bear's account of what occurred at this time is as
follows:
"These men then talked entirely different from what they did in Dakota.
They said you [[underlined]] shall [[/underlined]] trade your land in
Dakota for land here. You can go out there and choose was you want,
but you [[underlined]] shall trade [[/underlined]]. Your tribe will be
brought down here, ...I had seen that
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-40a great many people down there were sick. The land they showed us
was stony, and I did not believe we could make a living on it.
"Then the men grew very angry, and said if we did not agree to come
they would go off and leave us there to starve... We said it would be
better for ten of us to die that that the whole tribe,... should be brought
there to die....
"Then they went off and said we might stay there and die..... I sent the
interpreter to them, and told them that they had brought us far... on the
cars... they should at least give us some money to pay our way. They
said they would not give me one cent of money. ...
"Now, there were two very old men with us, who could not travel on foot
at all. ...They took these two old men and went off and left us.
"None of us had a cent of money, and we had no interpreter, so we
could not speak a word to any man.
The next morning we started on our long journey. It was in the winter.
White men were suspicious of us.... We got a few pieces of bread. What
we lived on was corn. We would take it and pound it between stones.
We slept out on the prairie without shelter. A few times we found
haystacks to sleep in. It took us just fifty days to reach the Otoe Agency
in Southern Nebraska. The last few days we were very weak and
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-41could walk only a few miles.... we found that these men had sent word to
the Agent...that we were bad Indians, and if we came there we should
be driven off. But when the Agent saw how nearly starved we were, and
looked at our bleeding feet, for our moccasins wore out the first ten
days, he... gave us something to eat, and then asked us what bad things
we had been doing. When we told him what had happened... he said he
would write a letter to Washington, and tell all how we had been treated.
"The Otoes gave us horses and provisions, and we made thejourney to
the Omaha agency in five days....From there we sent a telegram to the
President. ...Mr. Hamilton, the missionary to the Omahas, sent John
Springer, an educated Omaha, with me to Sioux City to send the
telegram. ...It cost $6.25....
"John Springer went on with me to Sioux City, and we went to see the
editor of the paper there (Sioux City Journal). We told him all about it,
and he printed it in his paper. ...I went to the Ponca Agency and these
same men (who took us to the Territory) came there. I said... You are all
liars...You have no authority from the Great Father....When I want to sell
this land I will let you Know.
"When I said this he was very angry, and the next morning he had Big
Snake and me arrested. They took
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-42us down to Yanktown, and brought us before eight officers. The head
officer said: 'We have heard many complaints about you. We have had
four letters making complaints... I have read in the papers you have
been badly treated...'
"Then we told the soldiers all about it and the soldiers were angry at
what had been done, and the head officer said: ' I will send a telegram to
Washington, but you will stay here until I hear from it. ... I have known
your tribe a long time, and you have all done well, and learned how to
work...Some rascals are trying to swindle you out of your land and
stock....' After a little while we went back on the reservation....Then
these men got up another council. The half-breeds who belong to the
tribe are most all bad men...and go with the agents and traders....They
all wanted to go to the Indian territory. But not one of the Poncas would
agree to go. At this council there was a white man who came to talk for
us. He was a lawyer....He got very angry at last, and said they were
thieves and scoundrels...they would not let him talk any more. "...We
must all go the Indian Territory...Soon after this the half-breeds
belonging to the tribe, numbering ten men and their families, packed up
and started. This white lawyer...said, 'If the soldiers come and
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-43give you orders, then you will have to obey.' "After a little while some
soldiers came to the Agency, and the Interpreter said they had come to
go to war with us, if we did not go. We could not fight. We were all
farming and had but few guns....It was in the spring. Many had sowed
their spring wheat, some had planted corn, and made gardens. The
children were going to school. One day about noon, I had just come in
from the field...my wife was getting dinner, and a man rode up. He said
the officer had given the order that we were to load up everything we
had and bring it to the Agency building...I loaded in all I had (left
threshing machines, reapers, mowers, and the mill)....These were the
things which were mine and which they took away:
"One house ( I built it with my own hands. It took me a long time...It was
twenty feet by forty, with two rooms); four cows, three steers, eight
horses, four hogs, five wagon loads of corn (about 130 bu.) one hundred
sacks of wheat (about 275 bu.), 21 chickens, 2 turkeys, one prairie
breaking plow, two corn plows, a good stable and cattle shed, 3 axes, 2
hatchets, 1 saw, 3 lamps, 4 chairs, 1 table, 2 new bedsteads, 3
pitchforks, 2 washtubs and washboard, 1 cross-cut saw, 1 cant hook, 2
log chains, 2 ox-yokes, 2 ladders, 2 garden rakes, 3 hoes, 1 new
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-44cooking stove, 1 heating stove, 20 joints of pipe, 2 trunks, crockery,
knives & forks and a great many other things. These things were
mine....I have never seen any of them since. Our wagons and ponies
they did not take away.
"A few days after this we started for the Indian Territory....For months we
had to beg of the otherr tribes. We were all half starved....we were
informed that we were prisoners, and if we attempted to go away from
the Agency we would be punished. Sickness commenced, several died.
All my people were heart-broken....I went to see the Great Father and
told him what had been done....He would order it investigated....He told
me to go back and hunt for some good land, and he would have our
things sent to us...
"Then I went back to Indian Territory....there were dead in every
family....I lost all my children but one little girl....I said I will take a small
party and start back to my old home....I brought away thirty persons,
seven of whom were very sick when we started. We slipped away on
the night of the second of January. We had a small quantity of rations
when we started. I had ten dollars in money, and Buffalo Chip had ten.
We were ten weeks making the journey to the Omaha Agency.
...
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-45"We had three covered wagons and one light spring wagon. I subsisted
this party of thirty persons for twenty days on less than a dollar a day. ...
For two days we were without food... Then I went to a white man's
house... and he brought hay and a big bag full of corn. We took some
of the corn, shelled and parched it... He went to the house and brought
us some flour, some meat and coffee. After that the white people treated
us very kindly...
About this middle of March we arrived at the Omaha Agency. The
Omahas and Poncas speak the same language and have many
relatives among them. The Omahas said...'We will lend you seed and
tools to work with'... They gave us land ... I was at work when the runner
came and told us that the soldiers had come to take us back... My
efforts to save their lives had failed.
Chapter II
Standing Bear Finds a Friend in the Editor of a Western Paper
On the twenty-ninth day of March, 1879, at about eleven o'clock at
night, there sat in the editorial room of the Omaha Daily Herald the
assistant editor, who at the time was editor-in-chief.
The city editor came in and informed him that he had just returned from
Fort Omaha, four miles distant, where there
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-46was a band of Ponca Indians under arrest for running away from the
Indian Territory.
This assistant editor of the Herald (T.H. Tibbles) had a strange
history. He said he had been born on the frontier, never had had any
raising, and did not pretend to be civilized. He was a thorough
newspaper man, and had held positions as an editorial writer on several
leading papers. He had the medical, legal, theological, turf, stage and
musical terms at his tongue's end. He carried perhaps the marks of
more gunshot and other wounds on his person than any other man in a
thousand miles from him. He was one of the best shots with a revolver
in the west. He commenced life by enlisting in Jim Lane's company in
Kansas in 1856, and was in every prominent fight during the bloody
wars which lasted for two years in that Territory. Part of the time he was
in old John Brown's company. Such was the individual who sat at the
Herald table on that night. When informed of what had occurred at the
barracks, he brought his fist down on the table and said, "Those Indians
shall not be taken back to die in Indian Territory."
...his duties kept him at the office until the paper went to press at four
o'clock in the morning. That morning he retired at 4:30 a.m., and rose at
seven a.m., and immediately started on foot to Fort Omaha, four miles
distant. It was on Sunday, and ...he found an interpreter,
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-47and informed Standing Bear that he wanted to hold a council and print
what he said. But Standing Bear would not talk. ...before he held his
council with General Crook....The editor...at last remembered that
several years before he had joined a secret society among the Indians,
and concluded to try the signs on the old chief. Standing Bear
recognized them in an instant, and the two gave the grip of friendship. A
council was called immediately, and the editor and warriors were soon
seated in a tepee around the council fire smoking the pipe of peace.
Ta-zha-but (Buffalo Chip) was the first to speak. ..slowly, making
graceful but emphatic gestures, as follows:
Ta-Zha-But's Speech
"I sometimes think that the white people forget that we are human, that
we love our wives and children, that we require food and clothing. ...But
one Father made us all....Am I not a man? I am poor. These clothes are
ragged...But I am a man....We agreed that we would learn to plow, we
would build houses out of wood, we would learn to do like the white
people. ...We kept our word. Now... we are prisoners in this camp, and
we have never committed any crime....Does your law do that?...Have
you a law for white men, and a different law for those who are not
white?"
Ta-zha-but paused and waited for a reply. The editor
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-48found himself cornered. The Declaration of Independence says "all men
are created equal." The constitution says there shall be no distinction on
account of race or color, but here was a man who had committed no
crime, held as a prisoner.
Ta-zha-but spoke again:
"We would go right back and make our own living if they would only let
us....If we go back to the reservation in the Indian Territory, we shall
have nothing to do. We must live on the government and will soon all
die."
This was said in a very solemn tone...and every one present signified
his assent....A squaw who held a young baby, sitting behind the men,
pressed the little thing to her bosom and rocked herself back and forth,
with the tears running down over her face. Not a muscle moved on the
face of any of the men. They looked steadily toward the fire in the center
of the lodge. The first thing that was said was by Charles Morgan, an
Omaha, who reads and writes, and speaks English as fluently as
anyone. He turned to the reporter and said; "This is awful. These men
are my friends. They are of my blood."
The editor... asked Ta-zha-but what he thought ought to be done in
reference to the Indians...He continued:
..."We want land which shall be our own, and we want a court...If the
Indian has land which he knows
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-49is his own forever, he will build a good house. He will soon be like the
white man."
Standing Bear's Speech
Standing Bear spoke as follows:
"The Poncas and the Omahas are one tribe, and speak the same
languare....Our Agency was in the edge of Dakota. We had many good
farms, some good houses, a school and a church. But the Sioux made
raids on us, stole some of our ponies, and killed some of our
people....Both the Omahas and Poncas signed a paper to go to the
Omaha Agency. That is all the paper we ever signed.
"We were taken to the Indian Territory. My son died, my sister died...My
boy's bones are in that trunk."
At this point Standing Bear's wife, who is a very intelligent looking wife,
asked permission to speak to the editor. Her eyes were full of tears. She
said:
"My mother is buried there, my grandmother and another child...Won't
you go to Gen. Crook and ask him, if we must go back south, to let us
have time to take him back to the Agency and bury him?"
A promise was made to the weeping mother that such a request would
be made.
...The editor...resolved he would lay the matter before as many of the
churches as he could reach that night, and get them to pass a resolution
requesting the Secretary of Interior
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-50to rescind the order, and then send a telegram to Washington. ...Two
churches passed the resolution requesting the Secretary of Interior to
rescind the order under which this band of Poncas were being returned
to Indian Territory.... telegraph March 31, 1879.
...At eleven o'clock that night the weary editor reached his home. ...good
square meal...wrote ...history of the affair...twenty minutes past five
retired.
At seven o'clock he was up. Gen. Crook was to hold his council with
Standing Bear at ten o'clock...There were present General Crook,
Colonel Royall, General Williams, Lieutenants Bourke and Carpenter,
and the editor, who was somewhat astonished to see Standing Bear
dressed in a magnificent full costume of an Indian chief. He had a red
blanket, trimmed with broad blue stripes, a wide beaded belt around his
waist, and wore a necklace of bears' claws. The other Indians were
dressed in citizen's clothes.
Standing Bear spoke first as follows:
"Friends and Brothers, - The Almighty created us Indians...The Indian
has no book. He cannot read. ...I want my children to learn to read. A
great while ago we came from the great water to the east. We kept
coming, coming, coming west until we got to Dakota. I made a good
living there....They took our plows and all our farming utensils and
locked them up....I want to go back to my old place north....I need
help....
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-51Ta-zhz-but's Speech:
"...I desire to stay here where I can work and raise plenty to eat for my
family....
Gen. Crook - "All we can do is to give you what rations you will require
on the way down. You will be permitted to take all your stock with you,
and you can go slowly. It is a very disagreeable duty to send you down
there, but I must obey orders."
...It was nearly three o'clock when the editor reached the office. He first
wrote the speeches and Gen. Crook's reply, and then made
arrangements to have them telegraphed to different papers in New York,
Chicago and other cities. At 3:30 a.m. he stretched himself out on his
bed for a sleep, remarking that he had made some hard campaigns for
the liberty of black men with pistol fire and sabre, but this campaign for
the liberty of the Indian, in which the pen was the only weapon, required
just as much physical endurance. Consoling himself that the whole
country would know all about it in the morning, he was soon sound
asleep.
Chapter III
A Flank Movement on The Indian Ring
...For the next four or five days he watched his eastern exchanges to
see what effect the telegram sent out would have on the country. The
first...were Chicago Tribune and Missouri Republican. Both took strong
ground for the Poncas
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-52and denounced the cruelties practiced upon them, and following after
came the New York Herald, Tribune, Sun, and many others.No word
came from the Secretary of the Interior... He, (Mr. Tibbles) would find out
whether the courts regarded the Indian as a man, or simply a brute,
whether he "had any rights which a white man was bound to respect."
...There was a lawyer in Omaha who had graduated at the same college
that he did and with whom he was on intimate terms of friendship. This
lawyer had been president of the Nebraska constitutional convention...a
man whose opinions commanded respect in the courts and outside. He
laid the case before him, and told him he belived a writ of habeas corpus
would hold. The lawyer, Hon. John L. Webster, took the matter under
advisement.
Mr. Webster said:
"My services are at your disposal...if Hon. A. J. Poppleton will assist
me...The editor started to find Mr. Poppleton...an orator...Mr. Poppleton
was given a printed account of the treatment of the Poncas....He said: "I
believe you have a good case. I think we can make the writ
hold....Judge Dundy, before whom the case had to be brought, lived a
hundred and fifty miles away. ...He decided he would hear it in Lincoln.
The Indian petitioners were:
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-53-
Ma-chu-nah-zha - Standing Bear Ta-zha-but - Buffalo Chip
Ahan-gu-e-he-zhe - Yellow Horse
Nu-don-ah-gaz - Cries for War
Wan-chu-dun - Crazy Bear
wa-the-ha-cuh-she - Long Runner
Ta-the-ga-da - Buffalo Track
Me-tha-zhin-ga - Little Duck
Min-i-chuck - Walk-in-the-mud Ka-wig-i-sha - Turtle Grease
Me-gah-sin-de - Coon's tail
Ta-do-mon-e - Walk-in-the-Wind
Wah-thi-ga - Swift
E-tun-kah - Big Mouth
Ma-shud-da-de - Feather Crazy Ta-wau-oo - Buffalo Cow
OO-moo-ah - Good Provision
Ze-mon-a - Walking Yellow
Laura Primo
Susette Primo
Ta-nigh-ing-ah - Little Buffalo Woman
Kre-ah-du-wah - Midst of the Eagles
Me-he-da-wah - Midst of the Sun Za-zi-zi - Yellow Spotted Buffalo
No-zha-wah - Grown Hair
Witnesses: T. H. Tibbles, W. L. Carpenter, U.S.A. 4th day April 1879
(The petition bearing the above named signers was mailed April 4,
1879.)
(Return)
(To the Hon. Elmer S. Dundy, U.S. District Judge, for the District of
Nebraska)
"As directed by your writ of habeas corpus, dated April 8, 1879...
"That the cause of the detention of afore named Indians is the request of
the Secretary of the Interior, and the orders of my commanding officers,
General Sherman
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-54and Lieutenant-General Sheridan, based thereon.... "Wherefore the
undersigned asks to be released from said writ, and that said Indians
may be returned to him or the fulfillment of his orders concerning them."
George Crook, Brigadier-General,
Commanding Department of the Platte.
...
(Copy Telegram)
Omaha, Neb., March 4th, 1879
"The Poncas have just arrived, thirty in number, had them arrested: they
promise to remain for orders; have no place to confine them. I await
instructions.
Jacob Vore, Indian Agent.
"A true copy.
H. B. Burnham, Judge Advocate, U.S.A.
Chapter IV
Mr. Hayt's Assault on Standing Bear, and The Reply The Old Chief
Made
During the ten days intervening before the trial, several things happened
worthy of record. Commissioner Hayt published the following letter:
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-55Washington, D.C., April 10th, 1879
The Honorable the Secretary of the Interior:"Sir, - I have the honor to forward here with a brief statement of facts
regarding the Ponca Indians, who recently went from the Indian Territory
to Nebraska. By the treaty of 1868 the Sioux were given lands in
Dakota...which included the Ponca reservation. As the Poncas and
Sioux had been at feud for many years previous, it became necessary to
remove the Poncas from their reservation...By the Indian Appropriation
Acts of August 15, 1876, and March 3, 1877, Congress provided for the
removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory... and (they) were located
on the Quapaw reservation.... I ascertained that Standing Bear was
dissatisfied, but that he was the only one among the chiefs who showed
a bad spirit....Soon afterward he made his escape... The removal of
Northern Indians to Indian Territory was probably not good policy..."
This letter was shown to Standing Bear, and he made the following
reply:
"The Commissioner says that our lands were given to the Sioux.... The
land belonged to us, and not to the Commissioner or General
Sherman...The Ponca tribe was never informed of any such transaction,
and never agreed to anything of the kind."
He (Standing Bear) then showed the following document:
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-56"To Whom it may concern:
This is to certify that Standing Bear, the bearer hereof, is an Indian, full
blood, of the Ponca tribe, and a chief of said tribe. He is a reliable and
trustworthy man, of industrious habits, and rare zeal in setting a good
example to the Indians ...
A.J. Carrier, U.S. Indian Agent
Ponca Agency, D.T.
March 30, 1876
CHAPTER V
The Omahas Come to Standing Bear's Aid
The next day after this conversation, the following petition from the
Omaha tribe was received. The petition was drawn up and forwarded by
Chas. P. Morgan, who is a full-blood Omaha.
Omaha Agency, April 21, 1879
"To the friends of the Poncas now held as prisoners at Omaha barracks:
"We, the undersigned, Omaha Indians,,, are anxious for their return to
our reservation, and are willing to share with them our lands, and to
assist them until they can, by their industry, support themselves....
(signed by 20 chiefs)
The New York Herald made the following comment upon this petition:
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-57"The appeal of the Omaha Indians in favor of their kindred, the Poncas,
is one of the most extraordinary statements ever published in
America....white men did not do it...It was reserved for a band of
heathen redskins...to emphasize that sympathy which civilization and
religion have talked about and only talked. The world moves, but
civilization seems to stand still, while savages pass to the front and into
the position of honor."
Footnote page 66 - Col. Meacham afterward visited the Poncas in the
Indian Territory and made reports which greatly injured their cause.
CHAPTER VI
The Omahas Frightened at the Claims of the Commissioner ...When the
letter of Commissioner Hayt was published, the educated Omahas were
frightened, because it claimed absolute power over their bodies... an
Indian girl prepared a statement concerning the Poncas, which she
proposed to publish:
..."My uncle (White Swan) says they never signed any paper, petition, or
treaty to be taken down to Indian Territory, although it is said a petition
signed with their names was seen in Washington...
Yours respectfully,
"Bright Eyes"
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-58CHAPTER VII
Standing Bear's Religion - What Army Officers Think Of Him
As much had been said about the Poncas being savages, Standing
Bear was asked to state his religious belife. Without a moment's
reflection, he spoke as follows:
"There is one God, and He made both Indians and white man....I once
thought differently. I believed there were happy hunting grounds, where
there were plenty of game, and plenty to eat, no sickness, no death, and
no pain. The best of the Indians would go to these happy-hunting
grounds. I thought that those who were bad would never live any more;
that when they died that was the end of them. But I have learned...that
God wishes us to love Him and obey His commandments, follow the
narrow road, work for Him on earth, and we shall have happiness after
we die. I am told His Son died for us, died that we might live. I want to
try to do something for Him, to be like Him, follow in His footsteps as
nearly as I can. I think there is but one God...."
He was asked how long he had held these views, and he replied, "Since
the Missionary came up from Omaha Agency, about eight years ago,
and he told me the right way." "How many of the tribe think the same
way on this subject that you do?" "Only a few."....
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-59CHAPTER VIII
Standing Bear's Appeal to the Courts
The case came to trial on the 30th of April the year 1879, and lasted two
days .... (direct testimony quoted)
CHAPTER IX
What The Attorneys Had To Say To The Court
At the conclusion of the testimony of Standing Bear, the government
having no evidence to offer, the argument for the Indians was opened by
Hon. J. L. Webster. He first inquired, after a brief recital of the wrongs
and cruelties which had so long been practiced upon the Indians, how
the government of the United States got titles to the land...
He maintained that the government could not claim title to this land by
discovery....A title by discovery did not give a fee simple to the soil, if it
was occupied, but only political control.
The government of the United States could never acquire title by
conquest, or it had never been at war with the Ponca tribe...The
government had never purchased the land, and, therefore, the title to it
still remained in the Poncas. Mr. Webster...claimed that there was no
law for the removal of the Poncas to the Indian Territory, or for keeping
them there by force, or for returning those who had escaped, and asked
the absolute discharge of Standing Bear and his party.
...the Government Attorney, Hon. G. M. Lambertson...
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-60claimed that Standing Bear was not entitled to the protection of the writ
of habeas corpus, not being a person or citizen under the law....
Hon. A. J. Poppleton...traced the history of the writ of habeas corpus
from its origin, and claimed that it applied to every [[underlined]] human
being. [[/underlined]] He appealed on the behalf of these Indians as
[[underlined]] men, [[/underlined]] and showed that the position taken by
the government counsel undermined the very foundations of human
liberty.
Judge Dundy then allowed Standing Bear to address the court on his
own behalf. ...Standing Bear's speech made a profound impression on
all who heard it. He claimed that, although his skin was a different hue,
yet he was a man, and that God had made him. He said he was not a
savage....
Standing Bear Released - Decision of Judge Elmer S. Dundy
"United States ex rel. Standing Bear, vs. George Crook, a BrigadierGeneral of the U.S. Before Elmer S. Dundy, U.S. District Judge for
Nebraska.
Habeas Corpus.
"An Indian is a [[underlined]] person [[/underlined]] within the meaning of
the habeas corpus act, and as such is entitled to sue out a writ of
habeas corpus in the federal courts, when it is shown that the petitioner
is deprived of liberty under color of authority of the United States, or is in
custody of an officer in violation of the constitution, or a law of the United
States, or in violation of a treaty made in pursuance thereof.
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-61"The right of expatriation is a natural inherent, and inalienable right, and
extends to the Indian as well as to the more fortunate white race.
"The Commissioner of Indian Affairs has ample authority for removing
from an Indian reservation all persons fund thereon without authority of
law, or whose presence may be detrimental to the peace and welfare of
the Indians.
"The military power of the government may be employed to effect such
removal. But when the removal is effected, it is the duty of the troops to
convey the persons so removed by the most convenient and safe route,
to the civil authorities of the judicial district in which the offense may be
committed, to be proceeded agianst in due course of law.
"In time of peace no authority, civil or military, exist^[[s]] for transporting
Indians from one section of the country to another, without the consent
of the Indians, nor to confine them to any particular reservation against
their will, and where officers of the government attempt to do this, and
arrest and hold Indians who are at peace with the government, for the
purpose of removing them to, and confining them on, a reservation in
the Indian territory, they will be released on habeas corpus.
A. J. Poppleton
Jno. L. Webster
For the Relators
G. M. Lambertson, U.S. Att'y
For the Government
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-62The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.
Dundy, Judge.
"During the fifteen years in which I have been engaged in administrating
the laws of my country, I have never been called upon to hear or decide
a case that appealed so strongly to my sympathy as the one under
consideration. On the one side we have a few of the remnants of a once
numerous and powerful, but now weak, insignificant, unlettered and
generally despised race. On the other, we have the representatives of
one of the most powerful, most enlightened, and most christi^[[a]]nized
nations of modern times. On the one side we have representatives of
this wasted race coming into this national tribunal of ours asking for
justice and liberty to enable them to adapt our boasted civilization...On
the other side we have this magnificent, if not magnanimous,
government, resisting this application.
..The reasoning advanced in support of my views, leads me to conclude:
"First: That an [[underlined]]Indian[[/underlined]] is a Person within the
meaning of the laws of the United States, and has therefore the right to
sue out a writ of habeas corpus in federal court or before a federal
judge, in all cases where he may be confined, or in custody under color
of authority of the United States, or where he is restrained of liberty in
violation of the constitution or laws of
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-63the United States.
"Second: That General Crook, the respondent, being the commander of
the military department of the Platte, has the custody of the relators
under color of the authority of the United States, and in violation of the
laws thereof.
"Third: That no rightful authority exists for removing by force any of the
relators to the Indian Territory, as the respondent has been directed to
do so.
"Fourth: That the Indians possess the inherent right of expatriation as
well as the more fortunate white race, and have the inalienable right to
"life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", so long as they obey the laws
and do not trespass on forbidden ground.
"Fifth: Being restrained of liberty under color of authority of the United
States, and in violation of the laws thereof, the relators must be
discharged from custody, and it is so ordered."
CHAPTER XI
The Order of Release - Standing Bear's Farewell Addresses
A few days after the decision, Gen. Crook received an order from the
Secretary of War ordering the discharge of Standing Bear and his
companions. The day before he was to leave, the editor went out to bid
him good-bye. The old chief said he had something to say that he did
not wish
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-64anybody to hear. The editor (T. H. Tibbles), Standing Bear and the
interpreter went out on a little hill to one side. Then he spoke as follows:
..."I know if it had not been for what you have done for me I would now
be a prisoner in the Indian Territory... I can never pay you for it...If you
ever want a home come to me or my tribe. You shall never want as long
as we have anything...While there is one Ponca alive you will never be
without a friend.. Mr. Poppleton and Mr. Webster are my friends. You
are my brother."
The old chief then led the way to his lodge, and opening a trunk, he took
out a war-bonnet, a tomahawk, and a pair of beaded buckskin leggings.
He said, "These leggings are for you, the tomahawk for Mr. Webster,
and the war-bonnet for Mr. Poppleton. I wish you to take them and tell
them I sent them to them."
The editor suggested that he should go down to the city and present
them himself, which he consented to do. The following is the account...
Published in the daily papers: 12
The decision of Judge Dundy, releasing Standing Bear and his band to
civilization went into effect Monday, May 19th, 1789, and they forthwith
took their departure for the locality which they have selected on United
States territory. On Sunday, the now liberated chief visited
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-65the city, and called at the residences of Hon. J. L. Webster, and Hon. A.
J. Poppleton, to whose vindication in the courts he owed his
enfranchisement, to express his gratitude by word and deed...(Standing
Bear said) "Now I have no more use for the tomahawk. I want to lay it
down forever...he placed it in Mr. webster's hands....Standing Bear
visited Mr. Poppleton's rooms... I have here a relic (said the chief) which
has come down to my people through a great many generation... it may
be two or three hundred years old. I desire to present it to you for what
you have done for me."
Boston Indian Citizenship Committee
(inside back cover)
Hon. F. O. Prince, Pres. Hon. J. F. C. Hyde
Joshua W. Davis, V. Pres. Hon Rufus S. Frost
wm. H. Lincoln, Secy.
Rev. C. L. Woodworth, D.D.
H. O. Houghton, Treas.
Gen. J. F. B. Marshall
Rev. Edw. E. Hale
Rev. Geo. M. Boynton
Hon. John D. Long
Louis D. Brandeis
Frank Wood
Mrs. Stephen H. Bullard
J. S. Lockwood
Mrs. Mary Hemenway
Walter Allen
Mrs. D. A. Goddard
J. Evarts Greene
Mrs. W. W. Goodwin
Prof. James B. Thayer
Mrs. S. T. Hooper
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-66A. L. Coolidge
Hon. E. I. Thomas
Edwin M. Bacon
S. B. Capen
Miss M. E. Dewey
Miss Alice M. Longfellow
Miss Alice M. Jones
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-67HISTORICAL SKETCH
of the
OMAHA TRIBE OF INDIANS IN NEBRASKA
Alice C. Fletcher in 1885 prepared a short history of the Omaha tribe of
Indians and their life in Nebraska, as follows: [[superscript]] 1
[[/superscript]]
The Omaha tribe of Indians live in the state of Nebraska, about 80 miles
north of the city of Omaha, on a reservation 12 miles in length north and
south and bounded on the east by the Missouri River and the west by
the Sioux City and Omaha Railroad. Omaha traditions point to an earlier
home in the Ohio valley, whence they were driven by wars.
The Omaha belong to the same linguistic family as the Poncas, Osages,
Kansas, Otoes, Dakotas, Mandans, Winnebagos, and many other tribes.
The Omaha, so far as is known, formerly dwelt in villages composed of
dwellings made of sod and timber. From 50 to 100 of these structures
would be grouped together in the village.
Corn, beans, pumpkins and melons were raised in large quantities. The
corn and beans were dried and stored in caches outside the lodges, and
the pumpkins were cut as an apple is peeled and hung in festoons to dry
and then kept for winter use. All work and property was individual,
nothing was raised in common.
_________________________________________________________
_____
1. Alice C. Fletcher -- Historical Sketch of the Omaha Tribe of Indiana in
Nebraska, Judd & Detweiler, Washington, D. C. 1885.
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-68The Omahas are divided into bands or gentes. Each band or gens has a
distinct name, mythical origin, sacred symbols, and a fixed place in the
tribal circle. There are ten gentes in the Omaha tribe.
The names of the gentes are as follows; the figures refer t those below
upon the groups of tents on the illustration:-
In-sta-sun-da
side of
tribal circle
1. In-sta-sun-da
2. In-gri-zhe-da
3. Ta-pa
4. Tae-sin-da
5. Ma-thin-ka-ga-he
Hun-ga-chey-nu
aide of
tribal circle
South half
6. Kan-se
7. Tha-ta-da
8. Hun-ga
9. In-kae-sab-ba
10. Wae-jin-ste
11. Sacred tent of war ceremonies, under charge of the Wae-jin-ste
gens.
12. Two sacred tents dedicated to sustaining of life, containing sacred
pole and sacred white buffalo cow's hide, in charge of the Hunga gens.
On the homeward journey from the annual hunt, when the tribe was four
day's march of the village, they halted, and a great ceremony of
thanksgiving for safety, food, clothing,
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-69took place, lasting four days....Each family, on arriving at their dwelling,
held a private ceremony of thanksgiving. The annual hunt and its
attendant ceremonies have been abandoned since 1873.
The Indian Commissioner in 1861 states: "Much of the progress
observable in the condition of this tribe is attributable to their intelligent
and exemplary chief, La Flesche" (the adopted son and successor of
Um-pa-tun-ga), and to the excellent school in their midst."
...The Omahas have about 8000 acres under cultivation. The results of
Omaha farming for the year 1884 amounts to 100,000 bushels of corn,
50,000 bushels of wheat, 30,000 bushels of vegetables, and over
30,000 tons of hay put up.
...As early as 1846 the Presbyterian Board undertook the establishment
of a mission school for the benefit of the Omahas and Otoes.
In 1879 the agencies for the Omahas and the Winnebagos were
Consolidated and the Government opened an industrial boarding school
in a building that a few years before had been erected as an infirmary,
which proved a failure, the Indians being unwilling to part with their old
and sick.
It was largely the result of the energetic rule of Head Chief La Flesche
and his corps of soldiers and police, that twenty years ago intemperance
was so severely punished that no man dared to risk the terrible flogging
given the drunkard.
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-70Over seventy of the Omaha youth are at schools outside of the
reservation.; at the Government Industrial School at Genoa, Nebraska;
at a similar school at Houghton, Lee Co., Iowa; at Lincoln Institute,
Philadelphia, Pa.; at Carlisle Training School, Carlisle, Pa,; others are at
Hampton.
The Omaha Indians, for the sake of clearness, have been taken for this
exhibit - here is a tribe which works, is educated, passed from the Indian
mode of life to farming upon their lands in severalty, independent of
Government support.
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-71(explanation for illustration 9 of Fletcher account):1. Um-pa's house
2. The-me-ka-the's house
3. Wa-tha-bae-zin-ga's house
4. Me-ha-ta's house
5. Bron-tee's house
6. Um-pa-ska's house
7. Joseph La Flesche's house
8. Wa-na-shae-zin-ga's house
9. Tae-on-ka-ha's house
10. Ca-hae-num-ba's house
11. Num-ba-tae-wa-thae's house
12. Ta-hae-zin-gae's house
13. Ne-ma-ha's house
14. Du-ba-mon-ne's house
15. Wa-jae-pa's house
16. Wa-zin-ga's house
17. Ne-ou-ga-shu-dae's house
18. Wa-ne-ta-wa-ha's house
19. Ma-he-nin-gae's house
20. Sin-dae-ha-ha's house
21. Wa-ha-nin-gae's house
22. Ma-wa-da-ne's house
23. Grae-dun-nuz-ze's house
24. Bridge over stream
25. Vegetable garden, La Flesche's
Nos. 12 & 13 are sod houses. Nos. 7 & 23 are frame houses. The four
structures not numbered are barns. All the material to build these
houses was furnished by the Indians themselves. Each man chose his
own place to put his house on. The planks were of oak and the flooring
was cottonwood. The bridge was built and the material was also
furnished by the Indians.
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-72(Original manuscript owned by Mrs. Chester Barris)
THE OMAHAS
by
Susette LaFlesche Tibbles
"Bright Eyes"
At the time I was born we were all savages, that is my tribe, the
Omahas. I suppose if you were to see us on our reserve now, you would
think we were savages yet, for only a few can speak or write the English
language and most of us dress in our own costume. I have sometimes
had the question asked me, is your tribe civilized? And I have really not
known what to answer. I have known men and women all my life who
are brave, generous, truthful, honest, industrious, patriotic and lovely in
all the relations of life and yet if you were too see them you would call
them savages because they can neither speak or read or write the
English language or dress as you do.
My own father and mother are examples of that, I think. My father is
rather stern and strict in his ideas of right and wrong, and people - both
whites and Indians - are apt to be a little afraid of him, not physically but
morally. But my mother's gentleness makes up for that, and even my
father's political enemies come to him for help when they get into
trouble, and strangers from other tribes come long distances to ask his
advice about their tribal affairs. As for us children, although my father
was strict and stern..., yet we never doubted his love for us.
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-73I can't tell in words what my mother has been to us all. My father can
never bear to have her away from his side even for one day, and we
four sisters ...have learned by experience...the beauty and nobility of my
mother's whole life. ...four daughters educated in the religion and
accomplishments of a foreign people, one of whom has just graduated
in a school in the east, another who is studying medicine in Philadelphia
and who will be a physician, and another married to an American and
mother of a lovely family of growing children - all these clinging to the
love of one uneducated woman....I believe that everyone on our
reserve... values my mother's good opinion above that of everyone else.
So you see it puzzles me when people ask me, is your tribe civilized?
Perhaps you will understand a little more about us if I tell you a little
about our tribal government before the United States government
interfered with us. A tribe is divided into bands. Our tribe has nine
bands. Each band is divided into families, and the genealogies are kept
so exactly in some bands there are a great many families...Each band
has its own chief, then there is a head chief over all. When a council is
to be held, the men of a band are summoned together, usually at a
feast, and they consult together what the chief is to say in the council.
...Then all the chiefs in a tribe hold a council ...and decide what they
shall do or say when the final council with the United States Govern-
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-74ment or another tribe is held. It is really a representative
government....From the very form of their government, the whole people
have pledged themselves,...to keep the treaty.
The executive power is vested in the Soldiers Lodge... and the head
soldier has the power of life and death in his hands. The Soldiers Lodge
executes all the orders of the council. The members are elected and
they elect the headsoldier, who is usually a man of energy and
character, and who often has more influence than the chief. When the
headsoldier leads a war party he is treated with the greatest honor that
can possible be shown him. The members of the party vie with each
other in waiting on him, - his campfire is made first, his food is cooked
first, and his comfort is to be considered above everything else. On the
other hand the headsoldier must be at the front in battle and he must be
the last in a retreat, and he must be ready to sacrifice his life for the
safety of the party any moment it may be required of him.
There are rules governing the conduct of a war party... an eye for an
eye, a tooth for a tooth. A tribe occupies a piece of land which is the
permanent home of the tribe. The tribe lives in villages, in mudlodges....and in tents. Some of the bigger lodges are capable of holding
two or three hundred people at a council or feast. Each one also claims
a ...hunting ground and it was while encroaching on others
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-75hunting grounds that battles took place between different tribes, and war
was kept up for generations... The most sacred things which the Indians
possess are the Peace Pipes, of which there are always two. When the
Peacemaker of a tribe goes forth in the midst of a battle with the Peace
Pipes held before him, the battle instantly stops... The pipes are four or
five feet long and beautifully decorated. They are never allowed to touch
the ground and are kept wrapped in furs. When the pipe of peace is
smoked with an enemy...his life is sacred in your hands.
There were also rules for conducting the annual buffalo hunt. The
Indians made most of their living from the buffalo. Every summer after
the crop was put in, the whole tribe started for the buffalo hunt to be
gone about three months. The tribe camped at night in one great circle,
in the order of bands and families. Each band had its place in the great
circle, each family its place in the band and each member of a family his
or her place in the tent. Father and mother usually occupied the right
hand side of the tent. The middle place of the tent at the back (or the fire
was in the center) was usually cleared for honored guests. In the
summer the fire was built out of doors and sides of the tent would be
tuned up halfway to let the wind blow through, and the fresh green grass
with buffalo robes or straw mats thrown over it made as soft a lounging
place as one could wish. The life we lived while on these hunts seems
like one long
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-76joy to look back on, and we children were happy all day long. There was
such a sense of utter freedom, but to get back to my subject.
When we got to the country where the buffaloes were, all the men of the
tribe got together to give chase while the women hurried on to the next
camping place to put up the tents and get ready for the men to return
with the meat. There were two men of the tribe who violated the hunting
laws. They were flogged so severely that one of them died from the
effects of it, and the other lost his mind and became paralyzed for life.
They had discovered a herd of buffalo and instead of going back to tell
the proper authorities so that all men of the tribe might join in chase,
they scared the whole herd away just to get a few. A tribe might be
starving and their lives might depend on getting a herd.
...A man would kill a buffalo with his bows and arrows and leaving the
buffalo where it fell would run along by the herd to kill others. Then after
the chase was over he would ride back over the ground to look for the
buffalo he had killed. Each man knew his own by his arrows. The
women took the meat when it was brought home, excepting what was
reserved for immediate use, they sliced it in broad thin slices and hung it
up in the air to dry for winter use. The atmosphere on the prairies is so
dry and bracing and there is such a constant breeze that it took a very
short time for
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-77the meat to dry. It was taken in at night if there was a dew...
The buffalo skins were tanned in a good many different ways for
different uses. They were tanned in such a way with the hair left on they
could be used as rugs or robes or wraps and could also be used as
moccasins in the winter with the hair inside. Another way was to take the
hair off and tan them till they were as soft and pliable as cloth and then
they were used for clothing and the finer sorts of moccasins and also for
tent cloth. Still another way was to tan them leaving the skin so hard that
they could be used for packing cases. These packing cases were
usually painted on the outside. I remember once when we came to a
stream which was too deep to be waded and there was no time to build
canoes, and they took these packing cases and put two or three of us
children in each and towed us across. It used to be a fine sight to see
hundreds of horses swimming a river. The sinew was used as thread
and the bone for the handles of tools and implements.
Hunting was a business with the Indians. Besides the buffalo they
hunted deer, elk, antelope and wild turkeys. ...I believe the white people
think that the Indian men look down on their wives and make them do all
the hard work. It is not true. The men had to provide all the meat for the
family including ...the clothing, take care of the horses and be on alert
for the enemy. The women put up the tent,
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-78took care of the children and got the wood and water. The tribe always
camped near a stream. The young girls usually carried the water and
looked on it as fun. The women also did the tanning of the hides. At
home the women usually put in the small crop of Indian corn, beans and
pumpkins, and the produce of the fields was considered theirs. They
dried the corn and pumpkins for winter use. A man would not think of
giving away any of the field produce without asking his wife. Neither
would she give away any of the meat without asking him. ...When a
woman marries, her property (an Indian's wealth is usually reckoned by
the number of horses he has) is her own and her husband cannot
dispose of it without her consent. If there is any trouble and they
separate, she takes her own property with her. Of course there are men
among us who tyrannize over their wives just as there are among
you...and we have also among us what you call henpecked husbands.
...
The men are beginning now to do most of the work in the fields.
In the domestic government of the tribe ...the punishment for stealing
was that a man had to restore twice the value of what he stole to the
one he stole from. The penalty for murder was usually banishment. It
was a severe punishment. The rules with regard to young girls were
very strict. A girl was not allowed to go anywhere without an older
woman with her and a girl could not speak to any man excepting her
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-79own immediate relatives. Laughing or talking aloud in public was
frowned on as being unmaidenly. At home we children were not allowed
to speak unless we were spoken to when visitors were present and
never to pass in front of anyone. The Indians are very courteous to
visitors, but all their forms are so opposite to your own that it would be
hard for you to understand them. For instance it is considered very rude
to ask a man his name. When food is set before you, you are expected
to eat it all or carry away with you what you do not eat, and that also
arose from courtesy. .... A guest is supposed to look on the whole house
as belonging to him and the whole household at his service....The
hostess herself waits personally on her guests in everything relating to
their comfort.
The generosity of the Indians is almost a vice. It prevents them from
being thrifty and from accumulating. A man is considered great
according to what he has given away and not according to what he has.
Every year we had a harvest feast lasting three days. Whoever chose to
do so gave a horse or as many horses as he wished to give, and these
horses were given too the poorest man in the tribe. When a calamity
occurs to a family, all the members of his band make up to them what
they have lost. A family on our reserve was burnt out by a prairie fire
and a house and barn were lost and the value of them was made up to
him by
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-80his band. Another family camped in a valley and was struck by a
waterspout and the tent was swept away and the grandmother was
drowned. His band gave him seven horses where he had had none
beofre. Sometimes I think you white people do not know how to love
each other as we Indians do, but then you see we have nothing in the
world but each other....(Mss incomplete)
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-81BRIGHT EYES IN ENGLAND
After a final meeting of the Boston Indian Citizenship committee was
held at No. 1 Beacon St., we started west stopping over a few days in
New York. Major Pond was at that time at the height of his prosperity as
a lecture bureau manager and he made a proposition to us to lecture in
England for a year under his management. A contract was finally made
and we sailed for England in May 1886. Major Pond sent along with us
as an agent an old theatrical manager. (Major Pond took a job in London
theatre). Finally an Englishman made a proposition to us and we
lectured in England five times a week for a whole year. ...I had letters
from... James Russell Lowell and one from Rev. Dr. Hitchcock of New
York. The letters were written in very much the same tone, saying that
Bright Eyes and I had been lecturing for several years in this country
upon the North American Indians, and commended us to their English
friends.
In looking over my letters I picked these two...they were both addressed
to Rev. Frazier who was the head of the Presbyterian Church in
England. I took a cab and went to the church over which he presided. At
the first glance I saw that it was one of great importance. After a little, I
was admitted...to Dr. Frazier's presence, having previously sent in my
card. I found a very distinguished and courtly gentleman who spoke in
the Scotch dialect. He greeted me
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-82very cordially...He was standing in the middle of the room which was
apparently his office. He began to read the letter from Mr. Lowell. It
contained but a few lines and when he reached the end, he dropped his
hands to his sides and said in most despairing tones: "I cannot
understand how Mr. Lowell ever came to write such a letter as this."
I was, as it were, thunderstruck. I said please let me see that letter...I
said, "What is wrong with the letter?" "I cannot imagine why you are so
surprised to receive it."
"Why", he said, "We are Presbyterians, we believe in the command that
women should keep silence in the churches." ...both of us being greatly
embarrassed, I left and went to the city...Bright Eyes sprang up the
moment she saw me and said: "There has been the nicest old
gentleman here today I ever saw. He was cultured and refined. He
stayed nearly two hours and talked to me and he wants us to lecture in
his church next Sunday night. He left his card and said that we never
had received a heartier welcome in America than we would receive from
his people."
She handed me a card and on it was the name of Dr. Frazier. I did not
tell her what had happened at the doctor's office. I knew if she knew
what had occurred there, nothing would induce her to go within a mile of
the church, ...while I insisted she must be mistaken, had got the cards
mixed. She declared that she had not, for only two persons had called
during the day and the other was the American
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-83minister, Dr. Phelps....When I again insisted that there [[underlined]]
must [[/underlined]] be some mistake she said: "He wrote on the back of
the card. Look at it." I turned the card over and there was the address of
the church, the hour of the service, and a request that I come fifteen
minutes before that time for consultation.
When Sunday came, I took a cab arriving there a little ahead of time and
we walked up and down the street and then entered. We found Dr.
Frazier in a private room, walking back and forth, dressed in clerical
robes and evidently under considerable excitement. I said that this
request had evidently caused him some inconvenience and
embarrassment and begged that he would excuse us from speaking in
his church, adding that I would never have presented the letter if I had
been acquainted with the English customs. He replied that he had had a
long conversation with the "Indian Princess", and she should speak in
his church if it turned the whole kingdom upside down. Then he added
that the law required him to hold two services on each Sabbath day, and
that the courts had decided that a religious service consisted of a hymn,
reading of the scripture, a text, a sermon and a prayer.
He said: "That Indian Princess shall speak in my church. It will not taken
more than ten minutes to go through with the legal services, and after
that the church shall be yours, whatever happens."
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-84We went into the church and he seated us on the platform. He
announced a hymn and one stanza was sung. Then he read a scripture
lesson consisting of two verses, the choir sang one more stanza of a
hymn, he selected a text and preached less than three minutes, after
which he offered prayer, the whole service occupying eight minutes.
He then came down from the high pulpit and introduced me, and after
my address introduced the "Princess Bright Eyes from America."
When Bright Eyes was speaking, I said to him: "In America, after Bright
Eyes had spoken, there are always a great many who come forward to
shake hands. Will you be kind enough to make the introduction?"
"That is an American custom," he replied. "You will never be annoyed
that way in England. No Englishman would do that."
I supposed that settled the matter and expected to retire by the private
door through which we had entered, but the moment that Bright Eyes
had spoken her last word, Lady Ellen, the sister of the Duke of Argyle,
who ranks next to royalty, came forward and kissed Bright Eyes upon
both cheeks. As Lady Ellen was the ranking person in the room, the
proper thing for all the congregation, according to English custom was to
do likewise. In a few minutes there was as great a crown pressing
around Bright Eyes as I ever saw in America. I made my way through
the throng to the side of the Doctor who was making introductions as
fast as possible...
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-85I said to him, "I thought you said that Englishmen never did such a thing
as this," and he replied in his broad Scottish dialect..."You are upsetting
us all at once. You are upsetting us all at once."
All the Scotch nobility attended that church during the season, while
they were in London, and I was amazed at the titles as the Reverend
Doctor rolled them off his tongue. There were Dukes, Lords,
Baronets...by the score. As it is the custom in England to follow the lead
of royalty and nobility, the consequence was that there were long
articles in the Times, Pall Mall Gazette, Telegraph and other great
papers of London the next morning which fixed our status in society and
made lecture engagements easy. Bright Eyes and Lady Ellen became
fast friends, and she insisted that we should become her guests on her
estate in Scotland, but when we got to Scotland, Lady Ellen was in the
south of France on account of her health. She had, however, ordered
those in charge of her estate to entertain us as long as we could be
induced to stay. When Bright Eyes heard that Lady Ellen was away she
declined to go. Under the urgent request of the gentleman in charge of
the estate, we took lunch there one day and rode over the estate in a
carriage.
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-86ENTERTAINED BY THE NOBILITY
Bright Eyes was a thorough democrat in her political belief, and she was
somewhat offended at her introduction as a "Princess". She had read all
of the Puritan literature, and association with the literary class of Britain,
familiarity with the works of Lowell, Emerson, Whittier, Harriet Beecher
Stowe and others of that school, as well as her attempt to bring self
government to her own race made it very repulsive to be addressed as a
"Princess". When the lecture agent took advantage of the situation in
London and got alot of printed matter in which she was called "Princess
Bright Eyes", she rebelled. She declared she would never appear on the
platform again if she had to be given that title, and all that printed matter
had to be destroyed. All that she would agree to was that she was to be
called the daughter of a head chief in an Indian tribe. I told her she must
conform to the customs of the country in which we happened to be, just
as I conformed to the Indian customs when I went among them, while
other white men ridiculed them. That argument had a good deal of
influence with her. She was frequently entertained by the nobility in
London and conformed as nearly as she could to their usages.
Whenever she went into a room of that class, all would rise and not one
would be seated until Bright Eyes was seated, for she was considered to
be of royal blood. The English customs have endured unchanged for
centuries and the
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-87nobility treated Bright Eyes just as they did Pocahontas when she went
to England, according to the deference paid to royalty.
I found that among the nobility of England there were many most
pronounced radicals, two or three with whom I became acquainted,
were really socialists.
Besides the entertainments given to Bright Eyes and myself together, I
was invited to two other gatherings where only men were present. I am
pretty sure that I was indebted to the radicals for these invitations. At
one of these gatherings the Duke of Argyle, besides two or three other
Dukes, and Lords, Earls and Baronets, to the number of about sixty
were present. I was somewhat embarrassed by their titles, there were
so may of them, and I had little to say after the dinner, which was of
many courses. There were no formal speeches...but a general
conversation followed.... Finally the question of universal education of
the common people became a topic, and one of the radicals said that he
was sure I had some opinions which they would be delighted to hear.
I replied that I was under some embarrassment on account of the titles
of so many distinguished men who were present. I knew nothing about
titles, or where to place in a sentence the words, "your grace", or "your
lordship",...but if I could be permitted to speak the language of the great
plains west of Mississippi where I had so long followed the
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-88hunting trails and the war path with the American Indian... I would be
pleased to tell them what I thought about the subject under discussion....
I then requested the Duke of Argyle to repeat the substance of his
argument. The Duke was a man of great learning and force of character,
but he was opposed to the education of the common people. He said
they were born in a certain station of life and that it was impossible,
except in rare instances, to ever get out of it. To educate such persons
was only to make them miserable and unhappy. I replied:
"Now, Mr. Argyle, that will not do at all. Such a theory if applied in this
age of the world in England would be the ruin of every man here. The
economists say that one American is equal to one and a half
Englishman, two Germans or three Frenchmen in the production of
wealth. Why? Because the American workman is educated in the
common schools and free universities. If your theory is applied in
England, we will take your trade away. We have already taken away the
profits of your agriculture and your agricultural land is being turned into
hunting parks and sheep pastures, for the skilled American farmer with
his machines, which are the result of free education, can produce the
cereals, beef, and pork cheaper than you can. We, with our educated
workmen also take away your manufacturing trade, while the sodden
mass of brute ignorance in England, mainly composed of men not over
five feet high, because starvation in
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
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-89youth, will become a burden upon your poor rates, which means that
you gentlemen who are here, will have to feed them. That is what your
theories will lead to, Mr. Argyle, if put into practice in England."
The radicals and there seemed to be more than half of them radicals,
were wild with delight and broke out in cries of "Hear! Hear!" ...
The Duke leaned across the table and shook hands with me saying "It is
a good thing to hear a man speak out what he believes, no matter how
much one may differ from him."
Another dinner party was given by Lady Ellen and there were a large
number of titled persons present. At the time "home rule for Ireland",
was the all absorbing topic all over the kingdom. One of the gentlemen,
someone complained, tried to monopolize Bright Eyes. He was a fierce
conservative. For quite a while he was impressing upon her the
disasters that would follow the re-election of a hime rule parliament and
the continuing power of Mr. Gladstone. He gave her a fearful picture of
the degredation and crime of the Irish people. He described them as the
most depraved people on earth. Then she replied: "I think that you tell
the truth about the horrible conditions in Ireland, but Ireland has been
governed by England since Cromwell conquered it in 1650, and
whatever the conditions are there, England is responsible for and not
Ireland."
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-90Afterwards the same brilliant Englishman came to me and asked: "How
did the Princess know when Cromwell conquered Ireland?"
That and other remarks by Bright Eyes that evening furnished the
substance of many speeches made by home rule candidates for
parliament....
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-91LADY HENRY SOMERSET AND JOHN BURNS
The effect of the liquor upon the Indians had made Bright Eyes a
thorough prohibitionist. Francis Willard and she were great friends. After
we had been in England nearly a year, Miss Willard wrote to Bright Eyes
requesting us to go around the world and deliver temperance
lectures...At first she was inclined to comply with the request as the
World's Christian Temperance Union would take charge of and arrange
the whole matter, but finally it was decided not to accept the invitation. I
suppose that out of that correspondence grew the interest that Lady
Henry Somerset took in Bright Eyes. She frequently requested Bright
Eyes to lecture on temperance. At first she refused but at last she
accepted. Lady Somerset thereupon hired one of the large London
theaters and Bright Eyes...delivered one lecture. The audience was
almost wholly, so I was told, composed of titled persons. They did just
what was done in Dr. Frazier's church. They came from the stalls and
boxes...to the stage, they got there in large numbers, and Bright Eyes
held a reception on that stage for nearly an hour.
During the whole year we were in England and Scotland we spent but
few days at hotels, we were nearly all the time entertained at private
houses, which gave us perhaps as good an opportunity to study the real
English life as any American ever had. Sometimes we were with the
nobility, sometimes
Thomas Henry Tibbles papers - Bright Eyes, Susette La Flesche: Law is
Liberty, 1958
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-92with the middle class, and four or five times we were much pleased to
be entertained by the working class people.
That came about in the following way. I became acquainted through Mr.
Chesson, President of the Society for the Protection of Aboriginal
People, with several members of Parliament and we became quite
intimate. I stood up for my country and they stood up for theirs, but that
only increased our friendship. One day while I was doing some boasting
about our free institutions, especially free speech and a free press, one
of these members of parliament declared that we did not have free
speech in America at all, as free speech is known in England. He said:
"Come with me next Sunday and I will show you what free speech really
is."
I agreed to go and the next Sunday he came for me in a carriage. He
first drove to Kensall Green. In the little park were many speakers
talking to small crowds. We did not stay there long, but drove to Hyde
Park. There must have been three hundred thousand people in the park
and there were men making speeches everywhere. We left the carriage
outside the park and walked in. The first speaker we came across was a
Church Army man. The Episcopal Church had gone into competition
with the Salvation Army and this was one of the Curates who was
carrying on the war. A little distance from him was a woman speaking.
All of the speakers brought a stool about eighteen inches high along
with them on which they stood -- that woman was preaching the most
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-93crass atheism I have ever heard.
A little further along was a man...talking pure and unadulterated
anarchy. I turned to my parliamentary friend and said: "Is this not
dangerous?" "No, he replied with a good deal of contempt in his voice.
"Let him talk. Let him blow off. If we shut him up he might become
dangerous."
...Pressing into a crowd until we were near enough to hear the speaker,
we stopped an hour and listened to a discourse that would have been a
credit to any orator. The speaker had the accent of the working man,
and it was a crowd of working men that were listening to him. Aside from
one or two passages, it was sound political economy, as well as
genuinely patriotic. ...As soon as the speaker ceased some men in the
crowd began to pass around taking a collection. The collectors said the
money to "support the agitation", and those who believed in the
principles advocated were asked to contribute a penny...when the hat
was passed ...I threw in a half crown piece. ...in a few minutes the
collector came back and said: "You gave us a very liberal donation.
Would you like an introduction to the speaker?"
I replied that I would be very much pleased to be introduced to him.
..and I was introduced to John Burns.
It was some time after that I was standing in the second story front of the
Hotel Metropole, looking out on Trafalgar Square. One or two thousand
working men of the reades unions were marching on the Square to hear
John Burns make a speech.
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-94...Fifty brass bands filled the air with their music. ...In every direction as
far as the vision extended the streets and sidewalks were packed with
the marching toilers. John Burns and J. Cunningham Graham were
standing on the steps of the Metropole Hotel. Graham took hold of
Burns' hand and they started across the street to the Square. When
about in the middle they were attacked by the police. Graham was
seized by his long hair and Burns was beaten over the head with a
policeman's club. The next instant the Horse Guards were turned out,
for the first time in many years, and came dashing up the street. The
vast mass of working men melted away before them....Bot Burns and
Graham were tried, convicted and sentenced to terms in jail (the courts
construed that Trafalgar Square was the property of the queen).
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-95AN EVENING WITH GLADSTONE
One day while we were in London, Mr. Chesson, who was the head of
the Society for the Protection of Aboriginal Peoples, sent for me and
said that Mr. Gladstone had expressed a desire to meet me, and if
agreeable to me, a member of Parliament would arrange for a dinner at
the Liberal Club, at which about a dozen gentlemen would be present
and Mr. Gladstone would preside. ...
I had never been at the Liberal Club which was the headquarters of the
Liberal party. I was greatly astonished at the magnificence of the rooms.
The alabaster staircase, as it flashed upon me made an impression that
lingers with me yet....Toward the close of the dinner, Mr. Gladstone
asked me some questions concerning the American Indians and
expressed surprise at the wars which were constant ever since the
whites came in contact with them, while in Canada... the race existed in
even larger numbers and there had never been a war.
I explained the difference in the systems adopted, beginning with the
first settlements. The French in Canada always treated the Indians as
equals and intermarried with them. The English made them equal before
the law, and in Canada an Indian could always come into court and
have rights tried there, while in the United States the Indians were made
"wards" of the government, could not make a contract,
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-96could not sue or be sued, and that placed them in such a position, that
their only means of redress was war. Mr. Gladstone seemed much
interested and asked many questions about the part I had taken to
change the system, and expressed a firm belief that the United States
Supreme Court would decide that Indians were citizens under the
American Constitution. When I told him of the appeal that Bright Eyes
had made to the people and the character of the legislation that had
been secured, he said: "You have been engaged in an effort that must
command the respect of all good men, and in the end it will be greater
blessing to the white people than to the Indians."
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-97Standing Bear, without any hesitation, stated his religious beliefs as
follows:
"I pray to God every day for Him to help me to regain my rights, if I am
worthy of it. For His Son's sake I have asked it. He made me and the
whites, and although we are of a different color, I think mens' hearts are
all alike. If I were to go back to my land today, the first thing I would do
would be to fall down on my knees and thank God for it. I think in the
future, as I grow in years, I will try to love Him more and more every day,
do that which is right, and be afraid to do that which is wrong."
Judge Dundy's decision about a month later gave Standing Bea the
freedom to do that. As Bright Eyes had said:
"Law is Liberty"
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