The Kinsley Graphic
Kinsley Kansas, Jan 1, 1914
Profits in Bones. From the Hutchinson News.
The Santa Fe handled a shipment this week which reminded one of the similar shipments made frequently forty years ago. It was a car of bones picked up on the prairie.
John Seaberg and Peter Neufeld, who live above the hills in McPherson County, gathered the bones and at odd times within a couple of weeks, they succeeded In gathering up a carload of the bones, which had whitened on the prairie, in pastures and on stock farms.
The shipment of fifteen tons of bones was consigned to a concern at Indianapolis, Ind., which will use the bones in manufacturing fertilizer. This is said to be the first time in 25 or 30 years that bones have been gathered up and shipped in this manner. About forty years ago it was a common thing to gather up bones and ship them. The difference is that those bones were the remains of buffalo, while the bones today are from livestock that has died or been slaughtered on the farms.
The Cheney Sentinel
Cheney, Kansas Jan 1, 1914
The buffalo herd on the 101 ranch was depleted when one of the young steers was slaughtered to supply roast for Christmas dinners to Ponca City, Okla., consumers, and friends in other sections of the country where choice pieces were sent.
Asheville, North Carolina, Jan 11, 1914
BUFFALO LEADERS OF BRONX ZOO CUT YOUNGER BUFFALO
Social Leaders of the Herd Quietly Ignore Young Jeams.
NO OPEN HOSTILITY SHOWN TO STRANGER
Simply Put on Black List and is Never Noticed.
NEW YORK, Jan. 10. Charley Snyder, keeper and student of wild animals In the Zoological park in the Bronx, is at present studying the case of Jeams. a young bull buffalo. Through a combination of circumstances, the animal has become the outcast of the herd, shunned by his kind and regarded as a “natural cuss” by most of his keepers. Perhaps the animal Is handicapped by his name, for as Snyder remarked, in telling the story of Jeams and his troubles, “one would as soon expect a buffalo bull to be named Jeams as to expect a six-foot grenadier to answer “here” when Percy was shouted at roll call or to hear an angular spinster answer to the name of Phyllis” Snyder thinks the initial handicap is the name.
Jeams was born in a herd on one of our national parks in the west. He with some half dozen other buffaloes came to the Bronx when quite young. At first, he, with the other youngsters, led the happy-go-lucky life of his kind. But Snyder avers that Jeams was never a “mixer” and this with the additional drawback of an ill-selected name proved too much for what was at one time considered a growing popularity. Jeams is now five years old. It was Old Bill a. keeper, who first noticed that Jeams was being shunned by the herd, and called Snyder’s attention to it. The latter investigated and discovered a strange state of affairs.
The keeper found that unlike other animals who had won the hatred of the leaders of the band, there was not the slightest open hostility to Jeams. He was just quietly ignored. “You and I have seen just such cases in the course of human lives,” explained Snyder. “Mrs. Smith tells her little boy not to play with Willie Brown, or Johnnie Jones’ mother warns her son that he must have nothing to do with Teddy White. Well, there is the same sort of feeling against Jeams, and it is united.”
Snyder’s observations covered months. He noticed the growing feeling of contempt spreading through the herd. In every quarter Jeams was constantly made to feel that he was a social outcast. The keeper has seen Jeams saunter up to a group of buffaloes and noted how the group separated. There seemed to be some word, if the expression can be used, passed around, and each buffalo wandered away. It was not offensively done but was none the less effective. Once the keeper, determined to test the feelings, placed Jeams in a far inclosure.
“It was interesting to note the relief with which the absence of the offensive animal was noted,” said Snyder. “You have seen the same feeling shown in the interest displayed by a group of gossipers when a prospective subject for discussion gets out of hearing.”
After an absence of a week, the young bull was put back in the buffalo inclosure. He seemed positively glad to bet back. At first, he did not appear to notice anything wrong. Snyder avers, but in time he began to take notice of the scornful way in which he was being treated. Then the whole thing got on his nerves, and instead of being a good-natured youngster Jeams became despondent and developed a melancholia that has become chronic.
Many a long week Snyder spent trying to figure out the cause of all this. For days he hung around the buffalo inclosure playing the spy on the herd. He thought that beside the natural failure of Jeams to mix well with his kind there must be some underlying cause that caused the universal dislike to develop and finally to find expression.
“There is a reason, I thought, and I want to find it,” said Snyder. He had walked down the path from the reptile house to the buffalo park in order, as he said, to take another look at the subject of his day’s story. Over in a far corner in solitary state, except for a little brindle nondescript pup that scrambled about in evident enjoyment, stood Jeams, rubbing one side against the wire fence and watching the other buffaloes on the other side of the inclosure.
“There he is,” said Snyder, pointing toward the discontented Jeams. “They are giving him the absent treatment!”
The buffaloes know Snyder! As If to prove the truth of the strangeness of his story, when the group of animals caught sight of Snyder they began to move toward where he stood against the fence. As they started forward Jeans also noted his appearance and moved toward the same point. Jeams was approaching his companions, all intent upon greeting Snyder when the others caught sight of him. Old Mrs. Long Beard apparently said to the others; “There comes that objectionable young Jeams,” for when Long Beard stopped, with head turned slightly away from the advancing Jeams, the others stopped, and then, apparently with one accord, they all turned and walked away. Jeams alone welcomed the keeper.
May Be Social Leader’s Ban
Snyder believes that among animals things happen just as they do among human beings and in pretty much the same way. Close study of the situation has led him to believe that Jearms in some way offended Mrs. Long Beard who is a sort of social leader of the herd and whose dislike for the young buffalo is more pronounced than others of the family. Perhaps when Jeams first came he had a falling out with one of the younger members of the Long Beard family, and the old cow has never forgiven him. for what she considered an insult. Being of some social standing, she passed the word along that “that young Jeams is not in our set.”
This is the way Snyder, at least, has reasoned it out, and having behind him years of close association with buffaloes and other animals and being not only an animal student but animal lover, Snyder is entitled to his opinion.
The hazing Jeams received would have driven him mad, so Snyder says, had it not been for the friendship that sprung up between him and the yellow dog. This dog, though of some education, totally ignored the notices placed so all the dogs can read it. “Dogs at large not allowed in this park,” and entered the Zoological park. Several times the keepers chased him out, but each time he came back. Jeams and the dog just naturally hit it off together, as Snyder expresses it. They have been fast friends for some time now, and Jeams does not seem to resent as acutely as formerly the silent treatment of his companions. Jeams has also told the dog all about the trouble, for the dog cannot tolerate the other members of the herd. At least that is what keeper Snyder says Jeams has told him. And Snyder is a truthful student of animal life
CITY TO PURCHASE BISON: The Sioux City Real Estate Association’s dream of wild buffalo roaming the sylvan stretches of Stone Park will become a reality. Moreover, the dream will be enhanced to include wild goats, antelope and possibly a hippopotamus, if civic pride is powerful enough to obtain such a menagerie. The City Council will provide the buffalo. Private donors will be depended on to augment the zoological garden. The buffalo will cost about $250 each. Calves only will be purchased.
Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, Wiscon. Feb 28 1914
WANT TO DONATE BUFFALO?
Here’s Your Chance to Start Menagerie in the Oshkosh Parks –
Park Board Proceedings.
……If Oshkosh wants to invest in one of more specimens of the American bison, commonly known as the buffalo, it now has the opportunity. The fact was developed at a meeting of the park board yesterday afternoon, when a communication from John E. Sloats, sales manager of the Scotty Phillips buffalo herd at Gettysburg, S.D., was read. Mr. Sloats stated that the estate of the late Scotty Phillips is being administered and that in the process of settlement it will be necessary to dispose of a herd of 438 had a buffalo within the next three months. He wanted to know if the park board did not wish to purchase one or more of the animals. The board evidently has not the means or desire for acquiring the menagerie, but Mr. Sloats’ letter was ordered placed on file.
The Saturday News
Watertown South Dakota May 21, 1914
Criminal Massacre of American Buffalo
By Max McD in Overland Monthly.
The passing of the buffalo Is one of the greatest scandals of all history. Out of the one-time vast number of bison that roamed and held the great American plans as their own, there remain but few.
For unrecorded ages the bison he all the fertile grazing land of this continent as their own. The greater part of these herds were in the South and West, but when Europeans began to settle in America, small herds of the animate were occasionally seen near the Atlantic coast, though they were generally rare everywhere east of the Appalachian Mountains. From Kentucky across the continent to Nevada, from the great Slave Lake on the north of Georgia on the south, the bison wandered in mighty droves, migrating as snow storms and drought dictated.
“Wide, rolling plains, blackened as far as the sharp eyes of the settler could reach with huge, shaggy, humped backed beasts, bellowing, fighting and pawing the earth until it trembled as though an earthquake approached.
It is almost impossible for the average person of today to realize what the numbers of these herds amounted to, though an idea may be formed from the statement of Colonel Dodge in a report to the United States national museum. In making a journey through Arkansas, he passed through a continuous herd of buffalo for twenty-five miles.
“The whole country, “says Colonel Dodge, “appeared to be one mass of buffalo moving slowly to the north, and it was only when actually among them that it could be ascertained that the apparently solid mass was an agglomeration of innumerable small herds of from fifty to two hundred animals, separated from the surrounding herds by greater or less space, but still separated. When I reached the point where the hills were no longer than a mile from the road, the buffalo on the hills, seeing an unusual object in their rear, turned, stared an Instant, then started after me at full speed, stampeding and bringing with them the numberless herds through which they passed, and pouring down on me, all the herds, no longer separated, but one immense, compact mass of plunging animals mad with fright and as irresistible .as an avalanche. Reining in my horse, I waited until the front of the mass was within fifty rods, when a few well directed shots split the herd and sent It pouring oft in two streams to the right and left. When they had passed they stopped, apparently satisfied, many within less than one hundred yards. From the top of Pawnee Rock, I could see from six to ten miles in almost every direction. This whole space was covered with buffalo, looking at a distance like a compact mass.”
From careful information, it has been estimated that such a herd would comprise at least four million animals. It is difficult now to realize that these animals were often a menace to wagon travel on the plains, besides stopping railway trains, and at times throwing them from the tracks
Henry Kellsey, a factor of the Hudson Bay Company, in a report of his explorations in the far west of Canada, in 1691, tells of his party sighting buffalo in large numbers. A few years later this explorer became the first white buffalo hunter on the plains of western Canada. He tells that everywhere the Indians were slaughtering, taking only the choice pieces and leaving the greater portion of each slain body to the wolves which followed in large bands.
The buffalo means everything to the Indians. He was their house, their food, their clothing, their implements of war—-hide, flesh and bone, he belonged to them. Their horses were picketed with buffalo thongs and buffalo hair halters; their saddles were of buffalo skin pads, while the stirrups were of the same material. The Indian used his stomach as a cooking utensil. Making a hole in the ground, this organ was set in and filled with hot stones. No other animal of the plains served the Indian so well. He entered so vitally Info their daily routine that a buffalo dance was devised to perpetuate his memory and show what the Indians have gone through in the chase. Instead of bragging with their tongues, as does the white man, they use pantomimes; In the dance they imitate the sneaking process of stalking game and dragging it home. Today on every reserve in the west, buffalo skulls and bones adorn the tepees and lodes of the red men.
One of the most interesting legends of the Blackfeet tribe of Indians centers on the passing of the buffalo. When they had gone, there was nothing but starvation for the red men of the plains, and they retired to Two Medicine Valley under the shadow of Chief Mountain, where the Great Spirit directed them to send men of the tribe to the top of the mountain to intercede with the Wind God on behalf of their hunger. Spreading out his wing over the plains, he told them to return and they would find the buffalo. They did, and the plains were covered with bison, and the famine was broken.
The buffalo is an animal of rather a low order of intelligence, and his dullness was one of the prime factors in his phenomenally swift; extermination. Being exceptionally slow to realize the existence and nature of dangers which threatened his life, he would often stand quietly, and see scores and even hundreds of his fellows killed with seeming indifference.
Regularly as winter came on, these animals moved to the southern part of their range, much the same as do certain species of birds. Upon reaching their winter pasturage they scattered, and at the end of the season returned north in less conspicuous herds. They traveled much faster than one would suppose from their ungainly appearance, and rarely followed any but their own well beaten path. When free from, ice, rivers as wide as a mile were crossed without hesitation. In winter the combined weight of the herds often broke the ice, drowning many. Soft, muddy places and shallow pools were sought by these animals, .where they rolled and wallowed until they had completely covered themselves with mud which, when baked in the sun formed an effective armor against attacks of annoying insects.
While there were many individual or small firm traders in the foothills of the Rockies, the firm of T. C. Power and I. G. Baker, of Fort Benton, were the most prominent, and maintained a steady trade in buffalo hides and other furs. They had their own hunters, who made tri-weekly raids upon the shaggy bison. But they obtained most of their hides from the Indians, who quickly learned the advantages to be derived from exchanging a buffalo pelt for an ancient musket, a gaudy trinket, or a jug of firewater. The price of a hide was anything from a jug of whiskey to six or seven dollars in money, dependent upon the character of the hide and the shrewdness of him who sold.
Fifty years ago when the great herds of buffalo roamed the range lands of the West, there was little chance for cattle to survive. The buffalo held the range by right of might and lorded over it with arrogance and unreasoning petulance. The range was theirs, and they wanted it. But as time went by, as hunters slew them in thousands, the buffalo faded away, and the range cattle came. In 1870 there were hundreds of thousands of buffalo on Western ranges In 1874 the I. G. Baker company shipped from their post at Fort Benton, Montana, a total of 250,000 buffalo hides, in order to secure which the hunters had slain and left to rot or to the wolves, tens of thousands of young stock and aged bulls. White men slaughtered them for sheer lust of slaughter. Parties of European hunters used to go out and attack the buffalo, just to see how many they could shoot in a day, leaving their unused carcasses to rot on the plains. Others have been known to kill them by the dozens simply to get their tongues for table delicacies.
Some time in the late seventies, the buffalo disappeared; they were exterminated. They were slaughtered ruthlessly for their hides, and the Western plains no longer were profitable to the traders. It is related that traders in the South sent men to the North to burn the grass so that the buffalo would not return northward to breed. It is known that in consequence of prairie fires, incendiary or natural, the buffalo did not return during their last years, but roamed the prairies of the Yellowstone country, where they were finally wiped out except in widely segregated bands, few in number.
The buffalo, or anything pertaining to them, stand out boldly against the most picturesque background that the West affords, being associated with the Indians, the famous early explorers and settlers, and historic spots, with such poetic and dramatic scenes as may never again be witnessed. The buffalo will always be the leading animal character in the portraying of the early days in this country, and for this one thing, the remnant of his mighty race should be carefully preserved. There are still a few wood bison running wild in the far North, but the Indians in this region are responsible for the death of thousands that have never been used for food. It is reported by travelers in the North that when these Indians come across a herd of buffalo they try to exterminate them by driving the whole herd into a bog and killing them at their leisure. When in 1907 Ernest Seton Thompson and Inspector A. M. Jarvis of the Northwest Mounted Police visited the region near Fort Smith, they put the blame for the extermination of the herds there on the Indians.
In the United States, the buffalo are increasing. Professor Hooper, president of the American Bison Society, at a recent meeting of the organization, said that renewed interest among the people of the United States and Canada assured the future of the buffalo. Census statistics presented showed that there were 3,453 buffalo in the United States In 1913, an increase of 19 per cent over 1912. There were 649 buffalo calves born last year. This society during 1914 plans to add fifteen buffalo to Wind Cave National Game Preserve in South Dakota, and establish herds in the national park of North Dakota and in either Highland Park or the Adirondacks in New York.
In Canada, all the buffalo are east of the Rockies in the province of Alberta. Most of these are confined in the three government parks, Rocky Mountain, Buffalo and Elk Island. During the year 1913, eight head were shipped from Montana by M. Pablo and placed in Buffalo Park. These, with the possible increase of 250 for 1913, brings the total number of buffalo in Buffalo Park up to 1,300. At Banff, there are approximately 25, and at Elk Island 75. Scattered at different points throughout the Dominion there will be probably 50 more, make a total for the whole dominion of buffalo in enclosures of 1,400. This is a very excellent showing for Canada, considering that ten years ago there were less than 100 buffalo in captivity in the whole dominion. The government is doing all in its power to purchase every available animal, and it is hoped that the few remaining of the Pablo herd now in Montana will be rounded up and shipped to Buffalo Park this year. Mr. Pablo asked for an extension of time that he might be able to track the outlaws after a snowfall this winter.
The Washington Post
Washington, District of Columbia May 23, 1914
UNDER BUFFALO’S HOOFS
Susie, at Bronx Zoo, Tramples on McEnroe
From the New York Herald
Susie a big buffalo in the Bronx zoo yesterday attacked Keeper Bernard McEnroe when he entered her corral to clean it. Susie evidently thought the keeper s visit boded ill tor her calf in some way and when McEnroe entered she made for him immediately knocking him down. His cries attracted the attention of other keepers and several of them entered with pitchforks and other implements and held off the animal while they got the injured man out at the gate. He had been trampled on severely. His face was cut and the marks of the hoofs were on his body.
Dr Reed Blair treated him in a near by keepers room and he was sent home. He has internal injuries, but no fears for his life are held.
The Daily Deadwood Pioneer-Times
Deadwood, South Dakota Jun 9, 1914
HERD OF BUFFALO FOR CUSTER RESERVE
The Deadwood Business club and other prominent men of the city yesterday sent messages to Governor Byrne, urging him to exert his influence for the purpose of bringing about the purchase by the state of the herd of buffalo which belonged to the late Scotty Phillips of Pierre, and which, it is announced, will soon be sold by the executor of the estate. The idea is to secure the herd, which consist of upwards of 100 animals and transfer it to the state game reserve near Custer, where a herd of elk, brought from the Yellowstone national park, has already been established.
It is pointed out that the state has an ideal place for the preservation and propagation of buffalo in the Custer reserve and that it was for the maintaining there of just such animals that the reserve was established. The funds for the purchase are available in the game fund, which is said to contain about $18,000 and it is not likely that there will occur in a long time to come, so favorable an opportunity to secure a bunch of these former denizens of the prairie, now almost extinct. It is believed the herd can be secured at a reasonable price, or if it is not thought advisable to deplete the fund to the extent of taking over the entire herd, a portion of it might be bought and added to later.
The Daily Deadwood Pioneer Times
Deadwood South Dakota June 10, 1914
GAME FUND AMPLE TO PURCHASE BUFFALO
Although there has been no public statement issued lately regarding the condition of the state game fund, it is stated on competent local authority that there is close to $50,000 in the fund. This matter is of interest in view of the fact that an effort is being made to induce the state authorities to devote part of it to the purchase of the whole or part of the Scotty Phillips herd of buffalo, which will soon be disposed of at Pierre by the executor of his estate.
It is stated that during his lifetime, lifetime, Phillips demanded not less than $250 a head for his buffalo, and declared he would take no less even If the entire herd were sold. It is thought, however, that this price will not be insisted on at the sale which is soon to take place, but In any event, the state game fund is large enough to permit of a considerable purchase. At the price of $250 a head, $10,000 would buy forty, which is enough to form the nucleus of a herd at the state game preserve near Custer. The federal government started its herd at the Wind Cave reserve with fourteen head and considered that number sufficient.
The Arizona Republic June 14, 1914
The American Bison
By GEORGE FITCH
Author of “At Good Old Siwash”
The American bison is a great and noble animal whose history is closed. He was elbowed into oblivion by the American settler and the American hunter about forty years ago.
When the first Americans began to venture timidly into the howling interior of Nebraska, they had to push aside vast quantities of buffalo which is the informal name for “bison” before they could proceed. The buffalo was a large ox with an automobile robe for a skin. He had an imposing head with a long chin beard, a huge and shaggy hump and a body which sloped down rapidly and dwindled off into an insignificant and foolish tail, hardly large enough to break the leg of a stout horse fly.
The buffalo roamed the plains in herds of countless thousands, ate grass for a living and was as harmless as a Woodman parade. He had two great misfortunes.
“Men shot buffalo as they do clay pigeons today”
He was good to eat and he was easy to shoot. After the Union Pacific railroad was begun, hunting buffalo became a western pastime and the man who couldn’t go out and get enough buffalo for a mess in a single morning was considered to be a very poor shot, indeed.
Nature had spent many centuries developing and perfecting the buffalo, but man with his bumptious contempt for Nature usually managed to exterminate a specimen in about ten minutes after he had sighted him. Men shot buffalo as they do clay pigeons today and left them to rot on the plains, coats and all. When we consider how many automobiles are freezing each winter nowadays for the want of a fine buffalo robe to throw over the hood, we cannot but feel shocked at the criminal wastefulness of the hunters of the 70’s.
The buffalo endured being hunted in his proud but patient manner for a few years and then startled the nation by disappearing. An investigation developed the fact that there weren’t any of him left to speak of. A few hundred buffalo now eke out an existence under protection in the west, but they are dejected and pensive and seem to take a positive pleasure in dying.
The disappearance of the buffalo was tragic in its suddenness, but we should not get too indignant over it. If we had ten million of buffalo today we would not know where to put them. There is no room in Nebraska, and Kansas would pass a law against them because they would spoil the wheat crop. So long as there are enough of them left to supply our circuses and decorate the landscape of our national parks, we should not repine. The buffalo had to move on because he was blocking traffic.
The Wilkes-Barre Record
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Jul 22, 1914
Newspaper Men to Take Trip
Twenty-five newspaper men of Scranton. accompanied by Mayor Jermyn and a number of officials of that city will journey to Allentown Saturday afternoon and will be entertained by the newspaper men of the latter city. An automobile tour of Lehigh County, visit to Col. Trexler’s buffalo and cattle ranches, a base ball game, and a banquet will be the chief features of the visit.
The Wilkes-Barre Record
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Jul 27, 1914
Prominent Figure in Democratic Politics Dies at Briar Creek
G. F. Kshinka, aged 77, of Briar Creek, a prominent figure in Democratic politics in Columbia County for many years, died yesterday afternoon in Berwick Hospital of general debility. He was widely known in this and adjacent counties and had an interesting history. He came to this country in 1850 and settled first in Dushore, Sullivan County, leaving there several years later for the West. Together with Col. Cawker, whose deeds are closely woven with the history of Kansas, Mr. Kshinka laid out and settled what is now Cawker City, that State, and hunted buffalo on the plains. He had resided at Briar Creek for over a quarter of a century and served in the State treasurer’s office under Treasurer Berry. He is survived by his wife, one daughter, Marie, a teacher in the Scranton schools, and one son, Fred, at home.
The Daily Journal
New Bern, North Carolina Sep 17, 1914
NEVER WENT ON WARPATH
SO SAYS IRON TAIL, SIOUX CHIEF WITH 101 RANCH SHOW
“Sitting Bull” was a statesman and not a warrior. He never went on the war path, and he wasn’t in the Big Horn battle, except at the very edge of it.
These are the statements made by Iron Tail a Sioux chief himself, and who as a boy,’ participated in the Big Horn massacre. If you do not believe that the tales of Sitting Bull’s ravages are largely myths, Iron Tail, through his interpreter. will tell you himself on Monday, Oct. 5 afternoon or evening for he will be here then with his tribe of one hundred and one red men with the 101 Ranch Real Wild West Show for two performances.
Iron Tail is one of the best known “blanket” Indians of the present day. His features are so typical of the Red race that the Government selected him as the model for the Indian head on the new buffalo nickel. He is an old man, but he describes his healthy condition to the ways of living of his fore fathers. The Indian chief says he can recall his grandmother strapping him to her back and carrying him across the Missouri river, when she was sixty years old, and he challenges women of today who are not half that age to do the same with their own children.
White men, according to Iron Tail, often ask him, after he has walked through the snow and fighting the wind and blizzards of the Sioux reservation in North Dakota with his arms and chest bare, “How do you stand it! Aren’t you cold in the chest!” and his reply is always, “Are you cold in the face?” It is all in getting used to it.
Iron Tail’s little granddaughter “Little Sunshine’ plunged into White Bear Lake when she was two years old strapped to her father’s back. At first she screamed and choked, but soon she got to like it. Now she delights in going in swimming on the reservation in winter, and the winter is cold in North Dakota.
“What we must do is bring ourselves closer to nature if we want a healthy race,” is Little Sunshine’s advice to Indians and Americans, “and live like Indians,”
The Charlotte News
Charlotte, North Carolina Oct 4, 1914
SACRED FESTIVAL OF THE INDIANS
Picture for yourself a vast treeless plain with high snow-capped mountains in the distance. On this level I stretch of ground Indian tepees are arranged in a semi-circle, some are white, others are red or brown. At one side two tall trees are stripped of their branches. This is for the ceremonies of the medicine lodge. There is a motley crowd of Indians on foot and on horseback. Mingling with them are white men and women from the adjacent country, for the Sioux, the Ogallala Sioux, the Crows and the Blackfeet are holding their sacred dances.
If you were in Montana last June this is what you would have witnessed for 3,000 Indians were at Browning, the Indian reservation outside the Glacier National Park, for this remarkable festival. The writer was there, too, and as a result the scene this year has been transferred from Montana to the arena of the 101 Ranch Real Wild West, where every American can witness one of the most original and quaintly sordid religious revivals of the country’s aborigines.
The dances the Indians gave in Montana, and which they repeat for the edification of the “palefaces” this year, are old, so old indeed, that the Indians cannot tell when they started. The beaded jackets, the strange feathered headpieces, medicine bags, deerskin suits which the Indians wear during this peculiar performance cannot be purchased for money, and the chants are handed down from father to son.
Chief Eagle Shirt, one of the principal participants and leaders at Browning, rounds up the Indian village with the 101 Ranch just as he did that hot June day last year. With Chief Iron Tail, whose profile is on the new nickel, riding with him they chant a peculiar Indian tune, then finally stop, while several other leaders push into a circle formed with the chiefs as a center, and a rhythmic song begins. Tom-toms are beaten, the Indian braves shout and leap, coming down always on the ground on a certain beat of music. The Indian women, leaping to their feet, join in a circle that revolves and revolves, producing a hypnotic influence that in some cases seizes the white on-lookers.
These Indians, there are a hundred and one of them, with their love songs, their wolf songs, celebration airs and tribal hymns, fascinate you. Their dances which, include the sun dance, the grain dance, the war dance, and the grass dance, are among the most interesting given by Indians. They look upon these ceremonies as having religious character expressive of their beliefs. The sun dance as given by them always has its beginning in a woman’s prayer for the recovery of the sick and the whole tribe dance and sing together to fulfill vows as well as to pray and seek what diversion their dancing affords.
The chief dancer of the Indians at Montana was Chief Fish Wold Robe. He also leads the dancers that residents of Charlotte will see on October 19. He has many handsome costumes. Some of them are of buckskin with necklaces of many strands of beads with moccasins and leggins ornamented with eagle quills. Another chief prides himself on his war-bonnet made of feathers tipped with stained horsehair given to him by Chief Crazy Horse, an Indian of history. Otter and mink skins are woven in and out and the animal’s tails hang down, while bracelets of tanned deerskin ornamented with porcupine quills are common. Among the women the teeth of animals sewed on their long loose robes are the prevailing styles in Indian fashions.
One of the medicine lodges used in the scene depicting the revival of the Sacred Festival is from the valley of Two Medicine within view of the Two Medicine Lake in Glacier National Park. It has been the property of the Blackfeet tribe with the exhibition and this season is loaned to the Miller Brothers and Edward Arlington by the government agents of the reservation. Around it is woven a legend that has been handed down from word of mouth to Chief Yellow Bird, head of the Blackfeet with the 101 Ranch.
“Many years ago there was a famine in the land of the Blackfeet, which was set down by my grandfather from 1835 to 1837. At that time my tribe owned everything from Hudson Bay to the Rockies, and in all that land there was no green spot except in the valley of the Two Medicine. Even the buffalo left the country because there was no food for them, and the Indians who sought refuge in the mountains found no game or anything to eat except berries.
“The old men of the tribe withdrew to the valley and built two medicine lodges, so great was their need. They worshipped the Great Spirit and asked to be told what to do to save the tribe from the famine. The Great Spirit heard them and directed them to send seven patriarchs to the Chief Mountain where the wind god resided.
“They followed these directions, but when they saw the wind god with his wings extended from his shoulders wide over the valley they became afraid and went back. Seven braves took their places, and the wind god heard them. Then gradually clouds settled over the plains, and a deluge of rain came down, and the wind god sent them back telling them that in the valley they would find buffalo.
“The braves returned, told their people of the wind god’s promise, and the buffalo, appearing on all sides, the famine was broken. Thereafter the valley was called the valley of the Two Medicine in memory of the medicine lodges that were erected to the Great Spirit in the time of the famine. They were repaired as time wore on, and we now have one of them with us as a reward for what we have done for the Great White Father at Washington.”
The Scranton Republican
Scranton, Pennsylvania Oct 22, 1914
Work Among Indians
Miss Isabel Crawford, an Indian missionary, missionary, then spoke on a recent visit to Indian stations, and the keynote of her address was that the Indian problem was not the Indian problem ‘ but the problem of the white people. She spoke interestingly of the visits and recounted an experience with Iron Tall, the Indian chieftain whose picture is on the new Buffalo nickel.