Monday, December 3, 2018

The Eagle Bone Whistles of the Sioux

I ran across an evocative phrase in a song. "Custer's Ghost" sung by Dave Stamey.

If the link does not work, just type "Dave Stamey Custer's Ghost" into Youtube.

Libby's Gone
Like the Buffalo
Like the Eagle Bone Whistles of the Sioux

I remember running across information that the Sioux blew eagle bone whistles in battle.

When I listen to that song and especially that phrase, I can hear the piercing whistles above the noise and dust of the Little Bighorn.

Below is a picture of an eagle bone whistle.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

The Iowa Front-The Sauk (and Fox) and the Sioux

Contrary to previous posted plans, I have not been wandering the frontiers of New France looking at first contact with the Sioux.

Instead, I have been reading up on Fort Snelling in preparation for an upcoming research visit/family trip to the Fort. I have not been there since 1975, when I was 8 years old.

The main book I am reading on Fort Snelling is a 1966 book called "Citadel in the Wilderness:The Story of Fort Snelling and the Northwest Frontier." I am also looking at a couple of smaller. more recent books.

Fort Snelling is central to Dakota (Eastern Sioux) history in the early 1800's and will appear in various future posts. However, one interesting thing that jumps out at me on first blush is the "War to the Knife" between the Sioux and the Sauk.

-More to be added later-

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Off to the Frontiers of New France for awhile

My plan for the next while going forward is to dig into the early French contacts with the Sioux and related areas. I need to do some research into this area to see how everything fits together as I don't know enough about it.

Don't expect a lot of posts for the next while as spring field work starts soon and I need to learn a lot more about the French era.

I can't do much do much for awhile anyway on things like the Dakota Uprising/Fort Snelling and the campaigns in the Dakotas and points west as I would like to visit those sites for context and pictures and those sites don't really open up till Mid-May or later.

I really think "The Smoke of the Sioux" will be better over time if I get a good handle on the French era first. So off I go, into 17th and 18th Century New France and the frontiers beyond it for awhile.

I have had Francis Parkman's History of New France on my list for awhile and, surprisingly, the index has a large number of entries for "Sioux", so Parkman beckons.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Louis L'amour's Great-Grandfather Killed at the Battle of Big Mound

I was wrong in the previous post when I said I thought that Louis L'amour's Great-Grandfather was killed at the Battle of Whitestone Hill. It turns out that he was killed in a skirmish surrounding the Battle of Big Mound instead.

It is widely reported that during the opening sequences of the Battle of Big Mound that Lieutenent Ambrose Freeman (L'amour's Great-Grandfather) and George Brackett, a civilian contractor, were off hunting antelope and were joined by some friendly Dakota. Subsequently, they were attacked by a war party of other Sioux and Freeman was killed.

We will discuss the Battle of Big Mound in future posts, but this appears to be one of those battles in the1863 campaign that involved the Dakota, Nakota and Lakota tangling with the soldiers.

Interestingly, this battle took place well east of the Missouri River and Sitting Bull is often placed as being at the Battle of Big Mound and other battles in this area.

It is somewhat odd to think of Sitting Bull fighting US soldiers well east of the Missouri River in 1863. These battles are obviously overshadowed by events at places like Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chickamauga.

Monday, March 26, 2018

North Dakota as the "Old West" Heart of Sioux History

One of the paths I plan to explore in "The Smoke of the Sioux" is North Dakota as the "Old West" heart of Sioux history.

Large US Army columns were sent west into present-day North Dakota in 1863 and 1864 to punish the Sioux for the 1862 Dakota Uprising in Minnesota. These army columns tangled with all 3 branches of the Sioux nation. The Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota were all involved in this very confused fighting.

Sitting Bull and his Hunkpapa carried out a long war against Fort Buford which is located near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers in northwest North Dakota. Sitting Bull hated Fort Buford. Ironically, Fort Buford was the site of his surrender in 1881.

The struggles between the Metis, with their screeching Red River carts that could be heard for miles, and the Sioux was largely a North Dakota thing. The April 2018 issue of Wild West magazine mentions the 1848 Battle of O' Brien's Coulee (in North Dakota) "that pitted roughly 800 Metis and 200 Chippewa against 1,000 Sioux."

The Indians called the US/Canada border the "Medicine Line." I have a book called "The Arc of the Medicine Line" about the surveying of this line. I have yet to read this book, but the relationship between the Sioux and the surveying of the Medicine Line would have been, in large part, a North Dakota affair.

Cursory research into Lewis and Clarks' contacts with the Sioux indicate that the Sioux raided the Mandan with whom Lewis and Clark spent the first winter of their trek in central North Dakota. I plan to delve into the Lewis and Clark contacts with the Sioux sooner rather than later.

It is hard to find quick information on this,  but Louis L'amour's great-grandfather was killed by the Sioux and, contrary to most reports which list him as a settler, I think he was a soldier killed in 1863 at Whitestone Hill in North Dakota. Whitestone Hill was one of those tangled 1863/1864 battles referenced above.

To "Wild West Magazine" Re: Lakota-Schmakota

I have never subscribed to any of the "Wild West"/"True West" Magazines, but for the purposes of "The Smoke of the Sioux" I chose to pick up my first copies from the newstand and then subscribed with the enclosed subscription cards.

I was a little surprised to see the following sentences appear in the April 28, 2018 issue of Wild West:The American Frontier in a story titled "Conquering Bear's Short Reign."

The Lakotas passed the pipe and debated among themselves for long awkward minutes about this strange concept. At last a Yankton Chief stood, came forward and placed his stick in Conquering Bear's hand. One by one the others followed until he held all 24 sticks. Americans observing th eproceedings believed a Lakota "Senate" had just appointed a "president." The Lakotas believed they had designated Conquering Bear their temporary spokesman.

I was a little surprised on my first reading of this magazine to see the apparent inclusion of the Yankton into the Lakota grouping. It would be easy for someone upon reading this to assume that the Yankton are Lakota, rather than Nakota, and this can cause years of confusion for the reader.

The first post of "The Smoke of the Sioux" outlined the 7 Council Fires of the Great Sioux Nation and it is interesting that the Yankton , which are one of 2 branches of the Nakota, are considered to be at the same hierarchical level as the much more famous Lakota.

The Yanktonnais are the other branch of the Nakota and are also at the same hierarchical level as the Lakota.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Hard Way to the Little Bighorn

The first post in "The Smoke of the Sioux" outlined as best I can the structure of the Sioux Empire.

One way to illustrate the unity of the Sioux Empire and honor the Eastern Sioux who were at the Little Bighorn after a tough 15 years is to point out their presence at the Little Bighorn.

Everybody knows about the Lakota and Cheyenne at Custer's Last Stand, but few know of the Dakota and Nakota presence there.

Doane Robinson in "A History of the Dakota or Sioux Indians" says:

"and seventh, the Santees and the Yanktonais, being the remnant of the unsubdued hostiles from the War of the Outbreak in Minnesota, under Inkpaduta."

Santee is another name for the Eastern Sioux, or Dakota. Inkpaduta ties things way back to the 1857 Spirit Lake Massacre in Iowa.

There weren't many Santee and Yanktonais there, they had come a hard way to get there, but they were there, riding with their Lakota cousins.

The best information I have seen places the Santee and Yanktonais as camping on the south end of the Indian camp with the Hunkpapa. This was the area Reno attacked in the early stages of the battle.

We will come back to the Little Bighorn later, but it seemed fitting to tie the Dakota and Nakota to the Lakota at their last great moment as free warriors.