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“ June 7th. Quite a heavy rain during the afternoon. The storm, most disastrous of any that occurred during the removal of the Poncas under my charge, came suddenly upon us while in camp on the evening of this day. It was a storm such as I never before experienced, and of which I am unable to give an adequate description. The wind blew a fearful tornado, demolishing every tent in camp, and rending many of them into shreds, overturning wagons, and hurling wagon-boxes, campequipages, etc., through the air in every direction like straws. Some of the people were taken up by the wind and carried as much as three hundred yards. Several of the Indians were quite seriously hurt, and one child died the next day from injuries received, and was given Christian burial. The storm caused a delay until the 8th for repairs, and for medical attendance upon the injured.
“ June 8th. Broke camp at Milford and marched seven miles. Roads very bad. Child died during the day.
“ June 9th. Put the child that died yesterday in the coffin and sent it back to Milford, to be buried in the same grave with its aunt, Prairie Flower. Broke camp at seven o'clock and marched to within three miles of Crete.
“ June 10th. Broke camp at seven o'clock and marched one mile beyond De Witt, where I employed a physician to visit camp and prescribe for the sick. A woman had a thumb accidentally cut off, which caused further commotion in the camp.
“ June 12th. Broke camp at seven o'clock and marched to within two miles of Otoe Agency. Crossed Wolf Creek with a part of the train, the crossing being very difficult; but the Indians worked splendidly."
“ The Indians worked splendidly!” Is not this a well-nigh incredible record of patience and long-suffering ? These poor creatures, marching from ten to twenty-five miles a day, for twenty-two days, through muddy sloughs, swollen rivers, in tempests and floods and dreary cold, leaving their wives and
their children dead by the way_dead of the sufferings of the march—are yet docile, obedient, and “work splendidly!”
“ June 13th. After considerable time we succeeded in building a bridge over Wolf Creek out of drift-timber, and succeeded in crossing the balance of the train. Broke camp
and marched three miles, and went into camp again near Otoe Agency.
“June 14th. Water-bound, and had to remain in camp all day waiting for creek to run down. The Otoe Indians came out to see the Poncas, and gave them ten ponies.
“ June 15th. Still water-bound. Remained in camp all day.
" June 16th. Broke camp at seven o'clock and reached Marysville, Kansas, where we went into camp. During the march a wagon tipped over, injuring a woman quite severely. Indians out of rations, and feeling hostile."
What wonder that the Indians felt hostile ? Hunger added to all the rest of their direful misery !
“ June 18th. Broke camp at seven o'clock. Marched nine miles and went into camp at Elm Creek. Little Cottonwood died. Four families determined to return to Dakota. I was obliged to ride nine miles on horseback to overtake them, to restore harmony, and settle difficulty in camp. Had coffin made for dead Indian, which was brought to camp at twelve o'clock at night from Blue Rapids. A fearful thunder-storm during the night, flooding the camp-equipage.”
This is a “highly-colored" story, indeed! The darkness; the camp flooded by the driving rain ; thunder and lightning ; a messenger arriving at midnight with a coffin ; the four families of desperate fugitives setting out to flee back to their homes ! What “sensational fabrication ” could compete with this ?
“ June 19th. The storm of last night left the roads in an impassable condition, and, in consequence, was obliged to remain in camp all day. Buried Little Cottonwood in a ceme tery about five miles from camp.
“June 25th. Broke camp at six o'clock. Marched to a point about fifteen miles farther up Deep Creek. Two old women died during the day. ***
“ June 30th. Broke camp at six o'clock. Passed through Hartford, and camped about six miles above Burlington. A child of Buffalo Chief died during the day. * * *
“ July 2d. Broke camp at six o'clock. Made a long march of fifteen miles for Noon Camp, for reason that no water could be got nearer.
An Indian became hostile, and made a desperate attempt to kill White Eagle, head chief of the tribe. For a time
every male in camp was on the war-path, and for about two hours the most intense excitement prevailed, heightened by continued loud crying by all the women and children.”
This Indian, who is reported here as having “ become hostile," no doubt, tried to kill White Eagle for having allowed the tribe to be brought into all this trouble. It is the general feeling among the less intelligent members of a tribe that their chiefs are bound, under all circumstances, to see that they come to no harm.
“July 9th. Broke camp at six o'clock, passing through Baxter Springs at about one o'clock. Just after passing Baxter Springs a terrible thunder-storm struck us. The wind blew a heavy gale and the rain fell in torrents, so that it was impossible to see more than four or five rods distant, thoroughly drenching every person and every article in the train, making a fitting end to a journey commenced by wading a river and thereafter encountering innumerable storms.
“During the last few days of the journey the weather was exceedingly hot, and the teams terribly annoyed and bitten by green-head flies, which attacked them in great numbers. Many of the teams were nearly exhausted, and, had the distance been but little farther, they must have given out. The people were all nearly worn out from the fatigue of the march, and were heartily glad that the long, tedious journey was at an end, that
they might take that rest so much required for the recuperation of their physical natures.” Now let us see what provision the Government had made for that “rest” and “recuperation,” surely“ much required" and fairly earned. Not one dollar had been appropriated for establishing them in their new home; not one building had been put up. This people was set down in a wilderness without one provision of any kind for their shelter.
“It is a matter of astonishment to me,” says Agent Howard (p. 100 of this “Report”), “ that the Government should have ordered the removal of the Ponca Indians from Dakota to the Indian Territory without having first made some provision for their settlement and comfort. Before their removal was carried into effect an appropriation should have been made by Con gress sufficient to have located them in their new home, by building a comfortable home for the occupancy of every family of the tribe. As the case now is, no appropriation has been made by Congress except of a sum little more than sufficient to remove them; and the result is that these people have been, placed on an uncultivated reservation, to live in their tents as best they may, and await further legislative action.”
This journal of Mr. Howard's is the best record that can ever be written of the sufferings of the Poncas in their removal from their homes. It is “highly colored ;' but no one, however much it may be for his interest to do so, can call it " a sensational fabrication," or can discredit it in the smallest particular, for it is an “official record,” authorized and endorsed by being published in the “Annual Report” of the Secretary of the Interior.
The remainder of the Ponca tribe is still in Indian Territory, awaiting anxiously the result of the efforts to restore to them their old homes, and to establish the fact of their indisputable legal right to them.*
* See Appendix, Art. 11., for later facts in the history of the Poncas.
The Winnebagoes belonged to the Dakota family, but, so far as can be known, were naturally a peace-loving people, and had no sympathy with the more warlike tribes of their race. The Algonquins gave them the name of Winnebagoes, or people of the salt-water;" and as the Algonquin word for saltwater and stinking-water was the same, the French called them “Les Puants,” or “Stinkards.” The Sioux gave them a more melodious and pleasing name, “O-ton-kah," which signified “The large, strong people."
Bancroft, in his account of the North American tribes, says : “One little community of the Dakota (Sioux) family had penetrated the territories of the Algonquins : the Winnebagoes dwelling between Green Bay and the lake that bears their name preferred to be environed by Algonquins than to stay in the dangerous vicinity of their own kindred."
One of the earliest mentions that is found of this tribe, in the diplomatic history of our country, is in the reports given of a council held in July, 1815, at “Portage des Sioux,” in Missouri, after the treaty of Ghent. To this council the Winnebagoes refused to send delegates ; and their refusal was evidently considered a matter of some moment. The commissioners " appointed to treat with the North-western Indians' at this time reported that they found “the Indians much divided among themselves in regard to peace with the United States.". Some of them "spoke without disguise of their opposition to military establishments on the Mississippi," and