Dahcotah - Life and Legends of the Sioux Around Fort Snelling
by Mary Eastman
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About forty years ago, Ahak-tah, "The Male Elk," was taken sick with a sore throat. It was in the winter too, and sickness and cold together are hard to bear. Want was an evil from which they were suffering; though the Dahcotahs were not so poor then as they are now. They had not given so much of their lands to the white people; and they depended more upon their own exertions for support than they do at present.

The medicine men did all they could to cure Ahaktah; they tried to charm away the animal that had entered into his body; they used the sacred rattle. But Ahaktah's throat got worse; he died, and while his wives and children wept for him, he had started on his long journey to the land of spirits.

He was wrapped in scarlet cloth, and laid upon a scaffold. His wives sat weeping in their teepee, when a cry from their young children drew their attention to the door. There stood he for whom they mourned. The dead man again took his place among those who sat beside the household fire. Tears of grief were shed no more—food was given to Ahaktah, and when he was refreshed he thus addressed his wondering family:—

"While you were weeping for me, my spirit was on its way to the great city where our fathers, who have taught us all the wonders of our sacred medicine, of Haokah the giant, and of the Thunder bird, are now living. Twice has the sun ceased to shine since I left you, and in that short time I have seen many strange things. First, I passed through a beautiful country; the forest-trees were larger than any you have ever seen. Birds of all colors filled them, and their music was as loud as when our medicine men play for us to celebrate the scalp dance. The broad river was full of fish, and the loon screamed as she swam across the lakes. I had no difficulty in finding my way, for there was a road through this country. It seemed as if there must have been many travellers there, though I saw no one.

"This great road was made by the spirits of those who were killed in battle. No warrior, however brave he may have been, has ever assisted in making this road, except those who sang their death songs under the tomahawk of their enemies. Neither did any woman ever assist. She is not considered worthy to touch the war implements of a Dahcotah warrior, and she was not permitted to do anything towards completing the path in which the braves of the Dahcotahs would walk, when they joined their forefathers in the land of spirits.

"As I pursued my journey, I saw near the banks of the river a teepee; I entered it, and saw paint and all that a warrior needed to dress himself in order to be fit to enter the city of spirits. I sat down and plaited my hair, I put vermilion on my cheeks, and arranged the war-eagle feathers in my head. Here, I said to myself, did my father rest when he was on the same journey. I was tired, but I could not wait—I longed to see my friends who had travelled this path before me—I longed to tell them that the Dahcotahs were true to the customs of their forefathers—I longed to tell them that we had drunk deep of the blood of the Chippeways, that we had eaten the hearts of our enemies, that we had torn their infants from their mothers' breasts, and dashed them to the earth.

"I continued my journey, looking eagerly around me to see some one, but all was desolate; and beautiful as everything was, I would have been glad to have seen the face of a friend.

"It was evening when a large city burst upon my sight. The houses were built regularly on the shores of the river. As far as I could see, the homes of the spirits of my forefathers were in view.

"But still I saw no one. I descended the hill towards the river, which I must cross to reach the city of spirits. I saw no canoe, but I feared nothing, I was so near my journey's end. The river was wide and deep, and the waves were swiftly following one another, when I plunged among them; soon I reached the opposite shore, and as I again stood on the land, I heard some one cry, 'Here he comes! here he comes!' I approached the nearest house and entered; everything looked awful and mysterious.

"In the corner of the room sat a figure whom I recognized. It was my mother's brother, Flying Wind, the medicine man. I remembered him, for it was he who taught me to use my bow and arrow.

"In a bark dish, in the corner of the room, was some wild rice. I was very hungry, for I had not eaten since I left the earth. I asked my uncle for some rice to eat, but he did not give it to me. Had I eaten of the food for spirits, I never should have returned to earth.

"At last my uncle spoke to me. 'My nephew,' said he, 'why are you travelling without a bow and arrow? how can you provide yourself with food when you have no means of killing game? When my home was on the Mississippi, the warriors of the Dahcotahs were never without their bows and arrows—either to secure their food or to strike to the hearts of their enemies.'

"I then remembered that I had been travelling without my bow and arrows. 'But where,' said I to my uncle, 'where are the spirits of my forefathers? where is my brother who fell under the tomahawk of his enemy? where is my sister who threw herself into the power of Unktahe, rather than to live and see her rival the wife of the Sun? where are the spirits of the Dahcotah braves whose deeds are still told from father to son among us?'

"'The Dahcotah braves are still watching for their enemies—the hunters are bringing in the deer and the buffalo—our women are planting corn and tanning deer-skin. But you will not now see them; your step is firm and your eye is bright; you must return to earth, and when your limbs are feeble, when your eye is dim, then will you return and find your home in the city of spirits.'

"So saying, he arose and gave me a bow and arrow. I took it, and while trying it I left the house; but how I do not know.

"The next thing that I remember was being seated on the top of the cliffs of Eagle's Nest, below Lake Pepin. I heard a sound, and soon distinguished my mother's voice; she was weeping. I knew that she was bending over my body. I could see her as she cut off her hair, and I felt sad when I heard her cry, 'My son! my son!' Then I recollect being on the top of the half-side mountain on Lake Pepin. Afterwards I was on the mountain near Red Wing's village, and again I stood on a rock, on a point of land near where the waters of the Mississippi and St. Peter's meet, on the 'Maiden's Jumping Rock;' [Footnote: Near Fort Snelling is a high rock called the Maiden's Jumping Rock; where formerly the Dahcotah girls used to jump for amusement, a distance of many feet from the top to the ground.] here I recovered my right mind."

The daughter of Ahaktah says that her father retained the "wahkun" bow and arrow that was given him by his uncle, and that he was always successful in hunting or in war; that he enjoyed fine health, and lived to be a very old man; and she is living now to tell the story.



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Chaske was tired of living in the village, where the young men, finding plenty of small game to support life, and yielding to the languor and indolence produced by a summer's sun, played at checker's, or drank, or slept, from morn till night, and seemed to forget that they were the greatest warriors and hunters in the world. This did very well for a time; but, as I said, Chaske got tired of it. So he determined to go on a long journey, where he might meet with some adventures.

Early one morning he shouldered his quiver of arrows, and drawing out one arrow from the quiver, he shot it in the direction he intended to go.

"Now," said he, "I will follow my arrow." But it seemed as if he were destined never to find it, for morning and noon had passed away, and the setting sun warned him, not only of the approach of night, but of musquitoes too. He thought he would build a fire to drive the musquitoes away; besides, he was both hungry and tired, though he had not yet found his arrow, and had nothing to eat.

When he was hesitating as to what he should do, he saw in the bushes a dead elk, and behold! his arrow was sticking in its side. He drew the arrow out, then cut out the tongue, and after making a fire, he put the tongue upon a stick to roast. But while the tongue was roasting, Chaske fell asleep and slept many hours.

At day-break a woman came up to him and shook him, as if to awake him. Chaske started and rubbed his eyes, and the woman pointed to the path which led across the prairies. Was he dreaming? No, he felt sure he was awake. So he got up and followed the woman.

He thought it very strange that the woman did not speak to him. "I will ask her who she is," said he; but as he turned to address her she raised her arms in the air, and changing her form to that of a beautiful bird, blue as the sky that hangs over the morning's mist, she flew away. Chaske was surprised and delighted too. He loved adventures; had he not left home to seek them? so he pursued his journey, quite forgetting his supper, which was cooking when he fell asleep.

He shot his arrow off again and followed it. It was late in the evening when he found it, and then it was in the heart of a moose. "I will not be cheated out of my supper to-night," said he; so he cut the tongue out of the moose and placed it before the fire to roast. Hardly had he seated himself to smoke, when sleep overcame him, and he knew nothing until morning, when a woman approached and shook him as before, pointing to the path.

He arose quickly and followed her; and as he touched her arm, determined to find out who she was, she, turning upon him a brow black as night, was suddenly changed into a crow.

The Dahcotah was completely puzzled. He had never cared for women; on the contrary, had avoided them. He never wasted his time telling them they were beautiful, or playing on the flute to charm their senses. He thought he had left all such things behind him, but already had he been twice baffled by a woman. Still he continued his journey. He had this consolation, the Dahcotah girls did not turn into birds and fly away. At least there was the charm of novelty in the incidents. The next day he killed a bear, but as usual he fell asleep while the tongue was roasting, and this time he was waked by a porcupine. The fourth day he found his arrow in a buffalo. "Now," said he, "I will eat at last, and I will find out, too, who and what it is that wakes me."

But he fell asleep as usual, and was waked in the morning by a female who touched him lightly and pointed to the path. Her back was turned towards him, and instead of rising to follow her, he caught her in his arms, determined to see and talk with her.

Finding herself a prisoner, the girl turned her face to him, and Chaske had never seen anything so beautiful.

Her skin was white as the fairest flower that droops its head over the banks of the "Lac qui parle." Her hair was not plaited, neither was it black like the Dahcotah maidens', but it hung in golden ringlets about her face and neck. The warm blood tinted her cheeks as she met the ardent gaze of the Dahcotah, and Chaske could not ask her who she was. How could he speak when his heart was throbbing, and every pulse beating wildly?

"Let me go," said the girl; "why do you seek to detain me? I am a beaver-woman, [Footnote: According to the wise men of the Dahcotahs, beavers and bears have souls. They have many traditions about bear and beaver-women] and you are a Dahcotah warrior. Turn from me and find a wife among the dark-faced maidens of your tribe."

"I have always despised them," said the Dahcotah, "but you are more beautiful than the Spirits of the water. I love you, and will make you my wife."

"Then you must give up your people," replied the girl, "for I cannot live as the Dahcotah women. Come with me to my white lodge, and we will be happy; for see the bright water as it falls on the rocks. We will sit by its banks during the heat of the day, and when we are tired, the music of its waves will lull us to sleep."

So she took Chaske by the hand, and they walked on till they came to an empty white lodge, and there they lived and were very happy. They were still happier when their little boy began to play about the lodge; for although they loved each other very much, still it was lonely where they lived, and the child was company for them both.

There was one thing, however, that troubled the Dahcotah; he could not turn his mind from it, and day after day passed without relieving him from his perplexity. His beautiful wife never ate with him. When he returned in the evening from hunting, she was always glad to see him, and while he rested himself and smoked, she would cook his meat for him, and seem anxious to make him comfortable. But he had never seen her eat; and when he would tell her that he did not like to eat alone, and beg her to sit down and eat with him, she would say she was not hungry; and then employ herself about her wigwam, as if she did not wish him to say any more about it.

Chaske made up his mind that he would find out what his wife lived upon. So the next morning he took his bow and arrows, as if he were going out on a day's hunt. After going a short distance from the lodge, he hid himself in the trees, where he could watch the motions of his wife.

She left the lodge after a while, and with an axe in her hand she approached a grove of poplar trees. After carefully looking round to satisfy herself that there was no one near, she cut down a number of the small and tender poplars, and, carrying them home, ate them as if she enjoyed them very much. Chaske was infinitely relieved when he saw that his wife did eat; for it frightened him to think that she lived on nothing but air. But it was so droll to think she should eat young trees! surely venison was a great deal better.

But, like a good husband, he thought it was his duty to humor his wife's fancies. And then he loved her tenderly—he had given up country and home for her. She was so good and kind, and her beautiful hair! Chaske called her "The Mocassin Flower," for her golden ringlets reminded him of that beautiful flower. "She shall not have to cut the trees down herself," said Chaske, "I will bring her food while she prepares mine." So he went out to hunt, and returned in the evening; and while his wife was cooking his supper, he went to the poplar grove and cut a number of young trees; he then brought them to the lodge, and, laying them down, he said to his wife, "I have found out at last what you like."

No one would suppose but that the beaver-woman would have been grateful to her husband for thinking of her. Instead of that, she was very angry; and, taking her child in her arms, she left the lodge. Chaske was astonished to see his gentle wife angry, but he concluded he would eat his supper, and then follow her, hoping that in the meantime she would recover her good temper.

When he went out, she was nowhere to be seen. He called her—he thought at first that she had hid herself. But, as night came on, and neither she nor the child returned, the deserted husband grew desperate; he could not stay in his lodge, and the only thing that he could do was to start in search of her.

He walked all night, but saw no trace of her. About sunrise he came to a stream, and following it up a little way he came to a beaver dam, and on it sat his wife with her child in her arms. And beautiful she looked, with her long tresses falling into the water.

Chaske was delighted to find her. "Why did you leave me?" called he. "I should have died of grief if I had not found you."

"Did I not tell you that I could not live like the Dahcotah women?" replied Mocassin Flower. "You need not have watched me to find out what I eat. Return to your own people; you will find there women enough who eat venison."

The little boy clapped his hands with delight when he saw his father, and wanted to go to him; but his mother would not let him. She tied a string to his leg and told him to go, and the child would plunge into the water, and when he had nearly reached the shore where his father sat, then would the beaver-woman draw him back.

In the meantime the Dahcotah had been trying to persuade his wife to come to him, and return to the lodge; but she refused to do so, and sat combing her long hair. The child had cried itself to sleep; and the Dahcotah, worn out with fatigue and grief, thought he would go to sleep too.

After a while a woman came and touched him on the shoulder, and awaked him as of old. He started and looked at her, and perceiving it was not his wife, felt inclined to take little notice of her.

"What," said she, "does a Dahcotah warrior still love a woman who hates him?"

"Mocassin Flower loves me well," replied the Dahcotah; "she has been a good wife."

"Yes," replied the woman, "she was for a time; but she sighs to return home—her heart yearns towards the lover of her youth."

Chaske was very angry. "Can this be true?" he said; and he looked towards the beaver dam where his wife still sat. In the meantime the woman who had waked him, brought him some food in bark dishes worked with porcupine.

"Eat," she said to the Dahcotah; "you are hungry."

But who can tell the fury that Mocassin Flower was in when she saw that strange woman bringing her husband food. "Who are you," she cried, "that are troubling yourself about my husband? I know you well; you are the 'Bear-Woman.'"

"And if I am," said the Bear woman, "do not the souls of the bears enjoy forever the heaven of the Dahcotah?"

Poor Chaske! he could not prevent their quarrelling, so, being very hungry, he soon disposed of what the Bear woman had brought him. When he had done eating, she took the bark dishes. "Come with me," she said; "you cannot live in the water, and I will take you to a beautiful lodge, and we will be happy."

The Dahcotah turned to his wife, but she gave him no encouragement to remain. "Well," said he, "I always loved adventures, and I will go and seek some more."

The new wife was not half so pretty as the old one. Then she was so wilful, and ordered him about—as if women were anything but dogs in comparison with a Dahcotah warrior. Yes, he who had scorned the Dahcotah girls, as they smiled upon him, was now the slave of a bear-woman; but there was one comfort—there were no warriors to laugh at him.

For a while they got on well enough. His wife had twin children—one was a fine young Dahcotah, and the other was a smart active little bear, and it was very amusing to see them play together. But in all their fights the young Dahcotah had the advantage; though the little bear would roll and tumble, and stick his claws into the Dahcotah, yet it always ended by the little bear's capering off and roaring after his mother. Perhaps this was the reason, but for some reason or other the mother did not seem contented and happy. One morning she woke up very early, and while telling her husband that she had a bad dream, the dog commenced barking outside the lodge.

"What can be the matter?" said Chaske.

"Oh!" said the woman, "I know; there is a hunter out there who wants to kill me, but I am not afraid."

So saying, she put her head out of the door, which the hunter seeing, shot his arrow; but instead of hurting her, the arrow fell to the ground, and the bear-woman catching up her little child, ran away and was soon out of sight.

"Ha!" said Chaske, "I had better have married a Dahcotah girl, for they do not run away from their husbands except when another wife comes to take their place. But I have been twice deserted." So saying, he took the little Dahcotah in his arms, and followed his wife. Towards evening he came up with her, but she did not seem glad to see him. He asked her why she left him; she replied, "I want to live with my own people." "Well," said the Dahcotah, "I will go with you." The woman consented, though it was plain she did not want him; for she hated her Dahcotah child, and would not look at him.

After travelling a few days, they approached a grove of trees, which grew in a large circle. "Do you see that nest of trees?" said the woman. "There is the great village of the bears. There are many young men there that loved me, and they will hate you because I preferred you to them. Take your boy, then, and return to your people." But the Dahcotah feared not, and they approached the village of the bears.

There was a great commotion among the bears as they discovered them. They were glad to see the young bear-woman back again, but they hated the Dahcotah, and determined on his death. However, they received him hospitably, conducted him and his wife to a large lodge, gave them food, and the tired travellers were soon asleep.

But the Dahcotah soon perceived he was among enemies, and he kept a careful look out upon them. The little Dahcotah was always quarrelling with the young bears; and on one occasion, being pretty hungry, a cub annoying him at the time very much, he deliberately shot the cub with his bow and arrow, and ate him up. This aroused the vengeance of the bears; they had a consultation among themselves, and swore they would kill both father and son.

It would be impossible to tell of the troubles of Chaske. His wife, he could see, loved one of the bears, and was anxious for his own death; but whenever he contended with the bears he came off victor. Whether in running a foot race, or shooting with a bow and arrow, or whatever it might be, he always won the prize, and this made his enemies still more venomous.

Four years had now passed since Chaske left his native village, and nothing had ever been heard of him. But at length the wanderer returned.

But who would have recognized, in the crest-fallen, melancholy-looking Indian, the gay warrior that had left home but a few years before? The little boy that held his hand was cheerful enough, and seemed to recognize acquaintances, instead of looking for the first time on the faces of his father's friends.

How did the young girls laugh when he told of the desertion of his first wife; but when he continued his story, and told them of the faithlessness of the bear woman also, you heard nothing but shouts of derision. Was it not a triumph for the Dahcotah women? How had he scorned them before he went away!—Did he not say that women were only dogs, or worse than dogs?

But there was one among his old acquaintances who would not join in the laughter. As she looked on the care-worn countenance of the warrior, she would fain have offered to put new mocassins upon his feet, and bring him food. But she dared not subject herself to the ridicule of her companions—though as night came on, she sought him when there was no one to heed her.

"Chaske," she called—and the Dahcotah turned hastily towards her, attracted by the kindness of her voice—"there are no women who love as the Dahcotah women. I would have gone to the ends of the earth with you, but you despised me. You have come back, and are laughed at. Care has broken your spirit, or you would not submit to the sneers of your old friends, and the contempt of those who once feared you. I will be your wife, and, mingling again in the feasts and customs of your race, you will soon be the bold and fearless warrior that you were when you left us."

And her words were true; for the Indians soon learned that they were not at liberty to talk to Chaske of his wanderings. He never spoke of his former wives, except to compare them with his present, who was as faithful and obedient as they were false and troublesome. "And he. found," says Chequered Cloud, "that there was no land like the Dahcotah's, no river like the Father of waters, and no happiness like that of following the deer across the open prairies, or of listening, in the long summer days, to the wisdom of the medicine men."

And she who had loved him in his youth, and wept for him in his absence, now lies by his side—for Chaske has taken another long journey. Death has touched him, but not lightly, and pointed to the path which leads to the Land of Spirits—and he did not go alone; for her life closed with and together their spirits watch over the mortal frames that they once tenanted.

"Look at the white woman's life," said Chequered Cloud, as she concluded the story of Chaske, "and then at the Dahcotah's. You sleep on a soft bed, while the Dahcotah woman lays her head upon the ground, with only her blanket for a covering; when you are hungry you eat, but for days has the Dahcotah woman wanted for food, and there was none to give it. Your children are happy, and fear nothing; ours have crouched in the earth at night, when the whoop and yell of the Chippeways sent terror to their young hearts, and trembling to their tender limbs.

"And when the fire-water of the white man has maddened the senses of the Dahcotah, so that the blow of his war club falls upon his wife instead of his enemy, even then the Dahcotah woman must live and suffer on." "But, Chequered Cloud, the spirit of the Dahcotah watches over the body which remains on earth. Did you not say the soul went to the house of spirits?"

"The Dahcotah has four souls," replied the old woman; "one wanders about the earth, and requires food; another protects the body; the third goes to the Land of Spirits, while the fourth forever hovers around his native village."

"I wish," said I, "that you would believe in the God of the white people. You would then learn that there is but one soul, and that that soul will be rewarded for the good it has done in this life, or punished for the evil."

"The Great Spirit," she replied, "is the God of the Dahcotah. He made all things but thunder and wild rice. When we do wrong we are punished in this world. If we do not live up to the laws of our forefathers, the spirits of the dead will punish us. We must keep up the customs of our tribe. If we are afraid that the thunder will strike us, we dance in honor of it, and destroy its power. Our great medicine feasts are given in honor of our sacred medicine, which will not only heal the sick, but will preserve us in danger; and we make feasts for the dead.

"Our children are taught to do right. They are not to injure one who has not harmed them; but where is the Dahcotah who will not rejoice as he takes the life of his enemy?"

"But," said I, "you honor the thunder, and yet it strikes you. What is the thunder, and where does it come from?"

"Thunder is a large bird, flying through the air; its bright tracks are seen in the heavens, before you hear the clapping of its wings. But it is the young ones who do the mischief. The parent bird would not hurt a Dahcotah. Long ago a thunder bird fell dead from the heavens; and our fathers saw it as it lay not far from Little Crow's village.

"It had a face like a Dahcotah warrior, with a nose like an eagle's bill. Its body was long and slender, its wings were large, and on them was painted the lightning. Our warriors were once out hunting in the winter, when a terrible storm came on, and a large thunder bird descended to the earth, wearing snow-shoes; he took but a few steps and then rose up, leaving his tracks in the snow. That winter our hunters killed many bears."



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In February, 1837, a party of Dahcotahs (Warpetonian) fell in with Hole-in-the-Day, and his band. When Chippeways and Dahcotahs meet there is generally bloodshed; and, however highly Hole-in-the-Day may be esteemed as a warrior, it is certain that he showed great treachery towards the Dahcotahs on many occasions.

Now they met for peaceable purposes. Hole-in-the-Day wished permission to hunt on the Dahcotah lands without danger from the tomahawk of his enemies. He proposed to pay them certain articles, which he should receive from the United States Government when he drew his annuities, as a return for the privilege he demanded.

The Dahcotahs and Chippeways were seated together. They had smoked the pipe of peace. The snow had drifted, and lay piled in masses behind them, contrasting its whiteness with their dark countenances and their gay ornaments and clothing. For some years there had been peace between these two tribes; hating each other, as they did, they had managed to live without shedding each other's blood.

Hole-in-the-Day was the master spirit among the Chippeways. He was the greatest hunter and warrior in the nation; he had won the admiration of his people, and they had made him chief. His word was law to them; he stood firmly on the height to which he had elevated himself.

He laid aside his pipe and arose. His iron frame seemed not to feel the keen wind that was shaking the feathers in the heads of the many warriors who fixed their eyes upon him.

He addressed the Dahcotah warriors. "All nations," said he, "as yet continue the practice of war, but as for me, I now abandon it. I hold firmly the hand of the Americans. If you, in future, strike me twice or even three times, I will pass over and not revenge it. If wars should continue, you and I will not take part in them. You shall not fight, neither will I. There shall be no more war in that part of the country lying between Pine Island and the place called Hanoi catnip, (They shot them in the night). Over this extent of country we will hold the pipe firmly. You shall hold it by the bowl, and we will hold it by the stem. The pipe shall be in your keeping." So saying, Hole-in-the-Day advanced and presented the Dahcotahs with a pipe.

After a moment he continued his speech. "On account of your misconduct, we did desire your death, and if you had met us last winter to treat of peace, however great your numbers, we should have killed you all. White men had ordered us to do so, and we should have done it; because the Mendewakantonwans had informed us that you intended by treachery to kill us."

The Dahcotah chief then replied to him saying, that the Dahcotahs were willing that the Chippeways should hunt on their lands to the borders of the prairie, but that they should not enter the prairie. The Chippeways then agreed to pay them a large quantity of sugar, a keg of powder, and a quantity of lead and tobacco.

After their engagement was concluded, Hole-in-the-Day rose again and said, "In the name of the Great Spirit, this peace shall be forever," and, turning to Wandiokiya (the Man that talks to the Eagle), a Dahcotah who had been taught by the missionaries to read and write, requested him to commit to writing the agreement which had just been made.

Wandiokiya did so, and has since forwarded the writing to the Rev. Mr. P——, who resides near Fort Snelling. The Dahcotah adds, "We have now learned that the object of Hole-in-the-Day was to deceive and kill us; and he and his people have done so, showing that they neither fear God nor the chief of the American people.

"In this manner they deceived us, deceived us in the name of the Gods.

"Hole-in-the-Day led the band of murderers.



We shall see how faithfully the Chippeway chief kept the treaty that he had called upon the Great Spirit to witness. There has been great diversity of opinion concerning Hole-in-the-Day, The Chippeways and Dahcotahs all feared him. Some of the white people who knew him admired, while others detested his character.

He was certainly, what all the Chippeways have been, a friend of the white people, and equally an enemy to the Dahcotahs. He encouraged all attempts that were made towards the civilization of his people; he tried to induce them to cultivate the ground; indeed, he sometimes assumed the duties which among savages are supposed to belong exclusively to females, and has been frequently seen to work in his garden. Had it been possible, he would even have forced the Chippeways to civilization.

He had three wives—all sisters. He was fond of them, but if they irritated him, by disputing among themselves, or neglecting any thing which he found necessary to his comfort, he was very violent. Blows were the only arguments he used on such occasions.

The present chief is one of his children; several of them died young, and their father felt their loss most keenly. Grave and stoical as was his deportment, his feelings were very strong, and not easily controlled.

He was a man of deep thought, and of great ambition. The latter passion was gratified to as great a degree as was possible. Loved by his tribe, feared by his enemies, respected and well treated by the white people, what more could a savage ask? Among the Indians he was a great man, but he was truly great in cunning and deceit.

On this occasion, however, the Dahcotahs had perfect confidence in him, and it was on the first day of April, in the same year, that they arrived at the place appointed to meet the Chippeways, near the east branch of the Chippeway river, about thirty miles northeast of Lac qui parle. The women raised the teepees, six in number, and prepared the scanty portion of food for their families. Here they remained, until their patience was almost exhausted, constantly expecting Hole-in-the-Day to appear; but day after day passed, and they were still disappointed. Now and then the reports of fire-arms were heard near them, but still the Chippeways did not visit the camp of the Dahcotahs.

Famine now showed itself among them. They had neither corn nor flour. Had the wild ducks flown over their heads in clouds, there was but little powder and shot to kill them—but there were few to be seen. Some of the Indians proposed moving their camp where game was more plenty—where they might see deer, and use their bows and arrows to some purpose. But others said, if they were not at the appointed place of meeting, they would violate the contract, and lose their claim to the articles that Hole-in-the-day had promised to deliver to them.

It was finally concluded that the party should divide, one half moving off in search of food, the other half remaining where they were, in hopes that Hole-in-the-Day would make his appearance.

Three teepees then remained, and they were occupied by seventeen persons, all women and children excepting four. It was drawing on towards evening, when the Dahcotahs heard the sound of footsteps, and their satisfaction was very great, when they perceived the Chippeway chief approach, accompanied by ten of his men. These men had been present at the council of peace in February.

One of the Dahcotahs, named Red Face, had left his family in the morning, to attend to the traps he had set for beaver. He had not returned when the Chippeways arrived. His two wives were with the Dahcotahs who received the Chippeways. One of these women had two children; the other was quite young, and, according to Indian ideas, beautiful too. She was the favorite wife.

The Dahcotahs received the Chippeways with real pleasure, in full faith and confidence. "Hole-in-the-Day has been long in coming," said one of the Dahcotahs; "his friends have wished to smoke the pipe of peace with him, but some of them have left us to seek for food. We welcome you, and will eat together, and our friendship shall last forever." Hole-in-the-Day met his advances with every appearance of cordiality. One thing, however, the Dahcotahs observed, that the Chippeways did not fire their guns off when they arrived, which is done by Indians when they make a visit of friendship.

The party passed the evening in conversation. All the provisions of the Dahcotahs were called in requisition to feast the Chippeways. After eating, the pipe went round again, and at a late hour they laid down to sleep, the Chippeways dividing their party, several in each teepee.

Hole-in-the-day lay down by the side of his host, so motionless you would have thought that sleep had paralyzed his limbs and senses; his regular breathing intimates a heart at peace with himself and his foes; but that heart was beating fast, for in a moment he raises himself cautiously, gazes and smiles too upon the sleeping Dahcotah beside him. He gives the appointed signal, and instantaneously plunges his knife into the heart of the trusting Dahcotah. It was child's play afterwards to quiet the shrill shrieks of the terrified wife. A moment more, and she and her child lay side by side, never to awake again.

For a short time broken and shrill cries were heard from the other teepees, but they were soon over. The two wives of Red Face had laid down without a fear, though their protector was absent. The elder of the two clasped her children to her heart, consoled, in a measure, while listening to their calm breathing, for the loss of the love of her husband. She knew that the affections of a husband might vary, but the tie between mother and child is indissoluble.

The young wife wondered that Red Face was not by her side. But he would return to-morrow, and her welcome would be all the greeting that he would wish for. While her thoughts are assuming the form of dreams, she sees the fatal weapon pointed at the mother and child. The bullet that kills the sleeping infant on its mother's breast, wounds the mother also; but she flies in horror, though not soon enough to escape the sight of her other pleading child, her warrior-son, vainly clasping his hands in entreaty to the savage, who, with another blow from his tomahawk, puts an end to his sufferings. The wretched mother escapes, for Hole-in-the-Day enters the teepee, and takes prisoner the younger wife. She escapes a present death—what will be her future fate?


The elder of the two wives escaped from the murderous Chippeways. Again and again, in the darkness of the night, she turns back to flee from her deadly foe, but far more from the picture of her children, murdered before her eyes. She knew the direction in which the Dahcotahs who had left the party had encamped, and she directed her steps to find them. One would think she would have asked death from her enemies—her husband loved her no more, her children were dead—but she clung to life.

She reached the teepees at last, and hastened to tell of her sorrows, and of the treachery of Hole-in-the-Day. For a moment the utmost consternation prevailed among the Indians, but revenge was the second thought, and rapidly were their preparations made to seek the scene of the murder. The distance was accomplished in a short time, and the desolation lay before their eyes.

The fires in the teepees were not gone out; the smoke was ascending to the heavens; while the voices of the murdered Dahcotahs seemed to call upon their relatives for revenge.. There lay the warriors, who, brave as Hole-in-the-Day, had laid aside their weapons, and reposed on the faith of their enemies, their strong limbs powerless, their faces turned towards the light, which fell upon their glassy eyes. See the mother, as she bends over the bodies of her innocent children!—her boy, who walked so proudly, and said he would kill deer for his mother; her infant, whose life had been taken, as it were, from her very heart. She strains them to her bosom, but the head leans not towards her, and the arms are stiff in death.

Red Face has asked for his young wife. She is alive, but, far worse than death, she is a prisoner to the Chippeways. His children are dead before his eyes, and their mother, always obedient and attentive, does not hear him when he speaks to her. The remains of the feast are scattered on the ground; the pipe of peace lies broken among them.

In the course of the morning the Rev. Mr.——, missionary among the Dahcotahs, with the assistance of an Indian named Round Wind, collected the bodies and buried them.

Of the fourteen persons who were in the three teepees, no more than four escaped; two young men and two women.

The Chippeways fled as quickly as possible from the country of the Dahcotahs, with their prisoner—sad change for her. A favorite wife finds herself in the power of ten warriors, the enemies of her people. The cries of her murdered friends are yet sounding in her ears; and she knows not how soon their fate may be hers. Every step of the weary journey she pursues, takes her farther from her country. She dares not weep, she cannot understand the language of her enemies, but she understands their looks, and knows she must obey them. She wishes they would take her life; she would take it herself, but she is watched, and it is impossible.

She sees by their angry gestures and their occasional looks towards her, that she is the subject of their dispute, until the chief raises his eyes and speaks to the Chippeways—and the difference ceases.

At length her journey is at an end. They arrive at the village, and Hole-in-the-Day and his warriors are received with manifestations of delight. They welcomed him as if he had performed a deed of valor instead of one of cowardice.

The women gaze alternately upon the scalps and upon the prisoner. She, poor girl, is calm now; there is but one thought that makes her tired limbs shake with terror. She sees with a woman's quickness that there is no female among those who are looking at her as beautiful as she is. It may be that she may be required to light the household fires for one of her enemies. She sees the admiring countenance of one of the young Chippeway warriors fixed upon her; worn out with fatigue, she cannot support the wretched thought. For a while she is insensible even to her sorrows.

On recovering, food is given her, and she tries to eat. Nothing but death can relieve her. Where are the spirits of the rocks and rivers of her land? Have they forgotten her too?

Hole-in-the-Bay took her to his teepee. She was his prisoner, he chose to adopt her, and treated her with every kindness. He ordered his men not to take her life; she was to be as safe in his teepee as if she were his wife or child.

For a few days she is allowed to remain quiet; but at length she is brought out to be present at a council where her fate was to be decided.

Hole-in-the-Day took his place in the council, and ordered the prisoner to be placed near him. Her pale and resigned countenance was a contrast to the angry and excited faces that lowered upon her; but the chief looked unconcerned as to the event. However his warriors might contend, the result of the council would depend upon him; his unbounded influence always prevailed.

After several speeches had been made, Stormy Wind rose and addressed the chief. His opinion was that the prisoner should suffer death. The Dahcotahs had always been enemies, and it was the glory of the Chippeways to take the lives of those they hated. His chief had taken the prisoner to his teepee; she was safe; she was a member of his family—who would harm her there? but now they were in council to decide upon her fate. He was an old man, had seen many winters—he had often travelled far and suffered much to take the life of an enemy; and here, where there is one in their power, should they lose the opportunity of revenge? She was but a woman, but the Dahcotah blood flowed in her veins. She was not fit to live. The Eagle spoke next. He was glad that the chief had taken the prisoner to his teepee—it had been always customary occasionally to adopt a prisoner, and the chief did well to keep up the customs of their tribe. The prisoner was young, she could be taught to love the Chippeway nation; the white people did not murder their prisoners; the Chippeways were the friends of the white people; let them do as they did, be kind to the prisoner and spare her life. The Eagle would marry the Dahcotah girl; he would teach her to speak the language of her adopted tribe; she should make his mocassins, and her children would be Chippeways. Let the chief tell the Eagle to take the girl home to his teepee.

The Eagle's speech created an excitement. The Indians rose one after the other, insisting upon the death of their prisoner. One or two seconded the Eagle's motion to keep her among them, but the voices of the others prevailed. The prisoner saw by the faces of the savages what their words portended. When the Eagle rose to speak, she recognized the warrior whose looks had frightened her; she knew he was pleading for her life too; but the memory of her husband took away the fear of death. Death with a thousand terrors, rather than live a wife, a slave to the Chippeways! The angry Chippeways are silenced, for their chief addresses them in a voice of thunder; every voice is hushed, every countenance is respectfully turned towards the leader, whose words are to decide the fate of the unhappy woman before them.

"Where is the warrior that will not listen to the words of his chief? my voice is loud and you shall hear. I have taken a Dahcotah woman prisoner; I have chosen to spare her life; she has lived in my teepee; she is one of my family; you have assembled in council to-day to decide her fate—I have decided it. When I took her to my teepee, she became as my child or as the child of my friend. You shall not take her life, nor shall you marry her. She is my prisoner—she shall remain in my teepee."

Seeing some motion of discontent among those who wished to take her life, he continued, while his eyes shot fire and his broad chest heaved with anger:

"Come then and take her life. Let me see the brave warrior who will take the life of my prisoner? Come! she is here; why do you, not raise your tomahawks? It is easy to take a woman's scalp."

Not a warrior moves. The prisoner looks at the chief and at his warriors. Hole-in-the-Day leads her from the council and points to his teepee, which is again her home, and where she is as safe as she would be in her husband's teepee, by the banks of the Mine So-to.


While the wife of Red Face lived from day to day in suspense as to her fate, her husband made every effort for her recovery. Knowing that she was still alive, he could not give up the hope of seeing her again. Accordingly, the facts were made known at Fort Snelling, and the Chippeway interpreter was sent up to Hole-in-the-Day's village, with an order from the government to bring her down.

She had been expected for some time, when an excitement among a number of old squaws, who were standing outside of the gate of the fort, showed that something unusual was occasioning expressions of pleasure; and as the wife of Red Face advanced towards the house of the interpreter, their gratification was raised to the utmost.

Red Face and some of the Dahcotah warriors were soon there too—and the long separated husband and wife were again united.

But whatever they might have felt on the occasion of meeting again, they showed but little joy. Red Face entered the room where were assembled the Indians and the officers of the garrison. He shook hands with the officers and with the interpreter, and, without looking at his wife, took his seat with the other Dahcotahs.

But her composure soon left her. When she saw him enter, the blood mantled in her pale cheek—pale with long anxiety and recent fatigue. She listened while the Dahcotahs talked with the agent and the commanding officer; and at last, as if her feelings could not longer be restrained, she arose, crossed the room, and took her seat at his feet!

The chief Hole-in-the-Day has been dead some years, and, in one of the public prints, it was stated that he was thrown from his carriage and killed. This was a genteel mode of dying, which cannot, with truth, be attributed to him.

He always deplored the habit of drinking, to which the Indians are so much addicted. In his latter years, however, he could not withstand the temptation; and, on one occasion, being exceedingly drunk, he was put into an ox-cart, and being rather restive, was thrown out, and the cart wheel went over him.

Thus died Hole-in-the-Day-one of the most noted Indians of the present day; and his eldest son reigns in his stead.


1. The giant. 2. A frog that the giant uses for an arrow-point. 3. A large bird that that the giant keeps in his court. 4. Another bird. 5. An ornament over the door leading into the court. 6. An ornament over a door. 7. Part of court ornamented with down. 8. Part of do. do. with red down. 9. A bear; 10. a deer; 11. an elk; 12. a buffalo. 13, 14. Incense-offering. 15. A rattle of deer's claws, used when singing. 16. A long flute or whistle. 17, 18, 19, 20. Are meteors that the giant sends out for his defence, or to protect him from invasion. 21, 22, 23, 24. The giant surrounded with lightnings, with which he kills all kinds of animals that molest him. 25. Red down in small bunches fastened to the railing of the court. 26. The same. One of these bunches of red down disappears every time an animal is found dead inside the court. 27, 28. Touchwood, and a large fungus that grows on trees.—These are eaten by any animal that enters the court, and this food causes their death. 29. A streak of lightning going from the giant's hat. 30. Giant's head and hat. 31. His bow and arrow.



Wah-Zee-Yah had a son who was killed by Etokah Wachastah, Man of the South. Wah-zee-yah is the god of the winter, and Etokah Wachastah is the god of the summer. When there is a cold spell early in the warm weather, the Dahcotahs say Wah-zee-yah is looking back. When the son of Wah-zee-yah was killed, there were six on each side; the Beings of the south were too strong for those of the north, and conquered them. When the battle was over, a fox was seen running off with one of the Beings of the north.

These gods of the Dahcotahs are said to be inferior to the Great Spirit; but if an Indian wants to perform a deed of valor, he prays to Haokah the Giant. When they are in trouble, or in fear of anything, they pray to the Great Spirit. You frequently see a pole with a deer-skin, or a blanket hung to it; these are offerings made to the Great Spirit, to propitiate him. White Dog, who lives near Fort Snelling, says he has often prayed to the Great Spirit to keep him from sin, and to enable him and his family to do right. When he wishes to make an offering to the Great Spirit, he takes a scarlet blanket, and paints a circle of blue in the centre, (blue is an emblem of peace,) and puts ten bells, or silver brooches to it. This offering costs him $20. Christians are too apt to give less liberally to the true God. When White Dog goes to war, he makes this offering.

White Dog says he never saw the giant, but that "Iron Members," who died last summer, saw one of the giants several years ago.

Iron Members was going hunting, and when he was near Shah-co-pee's village, he met the Giant. He wore a three-cornered hat, and one side was bright as the sun; so bright one could not look upon it; and he had a crooked thing upon his shoulder.

Iron Members was on a hill; near which was a deep ravine, when suddenly his eye rested upon something so bright that it pained him to look at it. He looked down the ravine and there stood the Giant. Notwithstanding his position, his head reached to the top of the trees. The Giant was going northwards, and did not notice the Indian or stop; he says he watched the Giant; and, as he went forward, the trees and bushes seemed to make way for him. The visit was one of good luck, the Indians say, for there was excellent hunting that season.

The Dahcotahs believe firmly the story of Iron Members. He was one of their wisest men. He was a great warrior and knew how to kill his enemies. White Dog says that at night, when they were on a war party, Iron Members would extinguish all the fires of the Dahcotahs, and then direct his men where to find the Chippeways. He would take a spoonful of sugar, and the same quantity of whiskey, and make an offering to the spirits of their enemies; he would sing to them, and charm them so that they would come up so close to him that he would knock them on the head with his rattle, and kill them. These spirits approach in the form of a bear. After this is done, they soon find their enemies and conquer them.

The Dahcotahs think their medicine possesses supernatural powers; they burn incense,—leaves of the white cedar tree,—in order to destroy the supernatural powers of a person who dislikes them. They consider the burning of incense a preventive of evil, and believe it wards off danger from lightning. They say that the cedar tree is wahkun (spiritual) and on that account they burn its leaves to ward off danger. The temple of Solomon was built of cedar.

Unktahe, the god of the waters, is much reverenced by the Dahcotahs. Morgan's bluff, near Fort Snelling, is called "God's house" by the Dahcotahs; they say it is the residence of Unktahe, and under the hill is a subterranean passage, through which they say the water-god passes when he enters the St. Peter's. He is said to be as large as a white man's house.

Near Lac qui parle is a hill called "the Giant's house." On one occasion the Rev. Mr. —— was walking with a Dahcotah, and as they approached this hill the Dahcotah exclaimed, "Do you not see him, there he is." And although no one else saw the Giant, he persisted in watching him for a few moments as he passed over the hill.

Near Lac qui parle, is living an old Dahcotah woman of a singular appearance. Her face is very black, and her hair singed and faded-looking. She was asked by a stranger to account for her singular appearance. "I dreamed of the Giant," she said; "and I was frightened when I woke; and I told my husband that I would give a dance to the Giant to propitiate him; but my husband said that I was not able to go through the Giant's dance; that I would only fail, and bring disgrace upon him and all my family. The Giant was very angry with me, and punished me by burning my face black, and my hair as you see it." Her husband might well fear that she would not be able to perform this dance.

It would be impossible to give any idea of the number of the gods of the Dahcotahs. All nature is animated with them; every mountain, every tree, is worshipped, as among the Greeks of old, and again, like the Egyptians, the commonest animals are the objects of their adoration.

May the time soon come when they will acknowledge but one God, the Creator of the Earth and Heaven, the Sovereign of the universe!




"Ever," says Checkered Cloud, "will Unktahe, the god of the waters, and Wahkeon, (Thunder,) do battle against each other. Sometimes the thunder birds are conquerors—often the god of the waters chases his enemies back to the distant clouds."

Many times, too, will the daughters of the nation go into the pathless prairies to weep; it is their custom; and while there is sickness, and want, and death, so long will they leave the haunts of men to weep where none but the Great Spirit may witness their tears. It is only, they believe, in the City of spirits, that the sorrows of Dahcotah women will cease—there, will their tears be dried forever.

Many winters have passed away since Harpstenah brought the dead body of her husband to his native village to be buried; my authority is the "medicine woman," whose lodge, for many years, was to be seen on the banks of Lake Calhoun.

This village is now deserted. The remains of a few houses are to be seen, and the broken ground in which were planted the poles of their teepees. Silence reigns where the merry laugh of the villagers often met in chorus. The scene of the feast and dance is now covered with long grass, but "desolation saddens all its green."


Dark and heavy clouds hung over the village of "Sleepy Eyes," one of the chiefs of the Sioux. The thunder birds flapped their wings angrily as they flew along, and where they hovered over the "Father of many waters," the waves rose up, and heaved to and fro. Unktahe was eager to fight against his ancient enemies; for as the storm spirits shrieked wildly, the waters tossed above each other; the large forest trees were uptorn from their roots, and fell over into the turbid waters, where they lay powerless amid the scene of strife; and while the vivid lightning pierced the darkness, peal after peal was echoed by the neighboring hills.

One human figure was seen outside the many teepees that rose side by side in the village. Sleepy Eyes alone dared to stand and gaze upon the tempest which was triumphing over all the powers of nature. As the lightning fell upon the tall form of the chief, he turned his keen glance from the swift-flying clouds to the waters, where dwelt the god whose anger he had ever been taught to fear. He longed, though trembling, to see the countenance of the being whose appearance is the sure warning of calamity. His superstitious fears told him to turn, lest the deity should rise before him; while his native courage, and love of the marvellous, chained him to the spot.

The storm raged wilder and louder—the driving wind scattered the hail around him, and at length the chief raised the door of his teepee, and joined his frightened household. Trembling and crouching to the ground were the mothers and children, as the teepee shook from the force of the wind. The young children hid their faces close against their mothers' breasts. Every head was covered, to avoid the streaked lightning as it glanced over the bent and terrified forms, that seemed to cling to the earth for protection.

At the end of the village, almost on the edge of the high bluff that towered above the river, rose a teepee, smaller than the rest. The open door revealed the wasted form of Harpstenah, an aged woman.

Aged, but not with years! Evil had been the days of her pilgrimage.

The fire that had burned in the wigwam was all gone out, the dead ashes lay in the centre, ever and anon scattered by the wind over the wretched household articles that lay around. Gone out, too, were the flames that once lighted with happiness the heart of Harpstenah.

The sorrows of earth, more pitiless than the winds of heaven, had scattered forever the hopes that had made her a being of light and life. The head that lies on the earth was once pillowed on the breast of the lover of her youth. The arm that is heavily thrown from her once clasped his children to her heart.

What if the rain pours in upon her, or the driving wind and hail scatter her wild locks? She feels it not. Life is there, but the consciousness of life is gone forever.

A heavier cloud hangs about her heart than that which darkens nature. She fears not the thunder, nor sees the angry lightning. She has laid upon the scaffold her youngest son, the last of the many ties that bound her to earth.

One week before, her son entered the wigwam. He was not alone; his comrade, "The Hail that Strikes," accompanied him.

Harpstenah had been tanning deer-skin near her door. She had planted two poles firmly in the ground, and on them she had stretched the deer-skin. With an iron instrument she constantly scraped the skin, throwing water upon it. She had smoked it too, and now it was ready to make into mocassins or leggins. She had determined, while she was tanning the deer-skin, how she would embroider them. They should be richer and handsomer even than those of their chief's son; nay, gayer than those worn by the chief himself. She had beads and stained porcupine quills; all were ready for her to sew.

The venison for the evening meal was cooked and placed in a wooden bowl before the fire, when the two young men entered.

The son hardly noticed his mother's greeting, as he invited his friend to partake of the venison. After eating, he filled his pipe, smoked, and offered it to the other. They seemed inclined to waste but little time in talking, for the pipe was put by, and they were about to leave the teepee, when the son's steps were arrested by his mother's asking him if he were going out again on a hunt. "There is food enough," she added, "and I thought you would remain at home and prepare to join in the dance of the sun, which will be celebrated to-morrow. You promised me to do so, and a Dahcotah values his word."

The young man hesitated, for he loved his mother, and he knew it would grieve her to be told the expedition upon which he was going.

The eyes of his comrade flashed fire, and his lip curled scornfully, as he turned towards the son of Harpstenah. "Are you afraid to tell your mother the truth," he said, "or do you fear the 'long knives' [Footnote: Officers and soldiers are called long knives among the Sioux, from their wearing swords.] will carry you a prisoner to their fort? I will tell you where we are going," he added. "The Dahcotahs have bought us whiskey, and we are going to meet them and help bring it up. And now cry—you are a woman—but it is time for us to be gone."

The son lingered—he could not bear to see his mother's tears. He knew the sorrows she had endured, he knew too (for she had often assured him) that should harm come to him she would not survive it. The knife she carried in her belt was ready to do its deadly work. She implored him to stay, calling to his mind the deaths of his father and of his murdered brothers; she bade him remember the tears they had shed together, and the promises he had often made, never to add to the trials she had endured.

It was all in vain; for his friend, impatient to be gone, laughed at him for listening to the words of his mother. "Is not a woman a dog?" he said. "Do you intend to stay all night to hear your mother talk? If so, tell me, that I may seek another comrade—one who fears neither a white man nor a woman."

This appeal had its effect, for the young men left the teepee together. They were soon out of sight, while Harpstenah sat weeping, and swaying her body to and fro, lamenting the hour she was born. "There is no sorrow in the land of spirits," she cried; "oh! that I were dead!"

The party left the village that night to procure the whiskey. They were careful to keep watch for the Chippeways, so easy would it be for their enemies to spring up from behind a tree, or to be concealed among the bushes and long grass that skirted the open prairies. Day and night they were on their guard; the chirping of the small bird by day, as well as the hooting of an owl by night—either might be the feigned voice of a tomahawked enemy. And as they approached St. Anthony's Falls, they had still another cause for caution. Here their friends were to meet them with the fire water. Here, too, they might see the soldiers from Fort Snelling, who would snatch the untasted prize from their lips, and carry them prisoners to the fort—a disgrace that would cling to them forever.

Concealed under a rock, they found the kegs of liquor, and, while placing them in their canoes, they were joined by the Indians who had been keeping guard over it, and at the same time watching for the soldiers.

In a few hours they were relieved of their fears. The flag that waved from the tower at Fort Snelling, had been long out of sight. They kept their canoes side by side, passing away the time in conversation.

The women who were paddling felt no fatigue. They knew that at night they were to have a feast. Already the fires of the maddening drink had made the blood in their dull veins course quickly. They anticipated the excitement that would make them forget they had ever been cold or hungry; and bring to them bright dreams of that world where sorrow is unknown.

"We must be far on our journey to-night," said the Rattler; "the long knives are ever on the watch for Dahcotahs with whiskey."

"The laws of the white people are very just," said an old man of the party; "they let their people live near us and sell us whiskey, they take our furs from us, and get much money. They have the right to bring their liquor near us, and sell it, but if we buy it we are punished. When I was young," he added, bitterly, "the Dahcotahs were free; they went and came as they chose. There were no soldiers sent to our villages to frighten our women and children, and to take our young men prisoners. The Dahcotahs are all women now—there are no warriors among them, or they would not submit to the power of the long knives."

"We must submit to them," said the Rattler; "it would be in vain to attempt to contend with them. We have learned that the long knives can work in the night. A few nights ago, some young men belonging to the village of Marpuah Wechastah, had been drinking. They knew that the Chippeway interpreter was away, and that his wife was alone. They went, like cowards as they were, to frighten a woman. They yelled and sung, they beat against her door, shouting and laughing when they found she was afraid to come out. When they returned home it was just day; they drank and slept till night, and then they assembled, four young men in one teepee, to pass the night in drinking.

"The father of White Deer came to the teepee. 'My son,' said he, 'it is better for you to stop drinking and go away. You have an uncle among the Tetons, go and visit him. You brought the fire water here, you frightened the wife of the Interpreter, and for this trouble you will be punished. Your father is old, save him the disgrace of seeing his son a prisoner at the Fort.'

"'Fear not, my father,' said the young man, 'your Son will never be a prisoner. I wear a charm over my heart, which will ever make me free as the wind. The white men cannot work in the night; they are sleeping even now. We will have a merry night, and when the sun is high, and the long knives come to seek me, you may laugh at them, and tell them to follow me to the country of the Tetons.' The father left the teepee, and White Deer struck the keg with his tomahawk. The fire water dulled their senses, for they heard not their enemies until they were upon them.

"It was in the dead of night—all but the revellers slept—when the soldiers from the fort surrounded the village.

"The mother of White Deer heard the barking of her dog. She looked out of the door of her teepee. She saw nothing, for it was dark; but she knew there was danger near.

"Our warriors, roused from their sleep, determined to find out the cause of the alarm; they were thrust back into their teepees by the bayonets of the long knives, and the voice of the Interpreter was heard, crying, 'The first Dahcotah that leaves his lodge shall be shot.'

"The soldiers found out from the old chief the teepee of the revellers. The young men did not hear them as they approached; they were drinking and shouting. White Deer had raised the cup to his lips, when the soldier's grasp was upon him. It was too late for him to fly.

"There was an unopened keg of liquor in the teepee. The soldiers struck it to pieces, and the fire water covered the ground.

"The hands of White Deer were bound with an iron chain; he threw from him his clothes and his blanket. He was a prisoner, and needed not the clothing of a Dahcotah, born free.

"The grey morning dawned as they entered the large door of the fort. His old father soon followed him; he offered to stay, himself, as a prisoner, if his young son could be set free.

"It is in vain, then, that we would contend with the white man; they keep a watch over all our actions. They work in the night."

"The long knives will ever triumph, when the medicine men of our nation speak as you do," said Two Stars. "I have lived near them always, and have never been their prisoner. I have suffered from cold in the winter, and have never asked clothing, and from hunger, and have never asked food. My wife has never stood at the gate to ask bread, nor have my daughters adorned themselves to attract the eyes of their young men. I will live and die on the land of my forefathers, without asking a favor of an enemy. They call themselves the friends of the Dahcotahs. They are our friends when they want our lands or our furs.

"They are our worst enemies; they have trampled us under foot. We do not chase the deer on the prairies as eagerly as they have hunted us down. They steal from us our rights, and then gain us over by fair words. I hate them; and had not our warriors turned women, and learned to fear them, I would gladly climb their walls, and shout the war-cry in their ears. The Great Spirit has indeed forsaken his children, when their warriors and wise men talk of submission to their foes."


Well might Harpstenah sit in her lodge and weep. The sorrows of her life passed in review before her. Yet she was once the belle of an Indian village; no step so light, no laugh so merry as hers. She possessed too, a spirit and a firmness not often found among women.

She was by birth the third daughter, who is always called Harpstenah among the Sioux. Her sisters were married, and she had seen but fourteen summers when old Cloudy Sky, the medicine man, came to her parents to buy her for his wife.

They dared not refuse him, for they were afraid to offend a medicine man, and a war chief besides. Cloudy Sky was willing to pay them well for their child. So she was told that her fate for life was determined upon. Her promised bridegroom had seen the snows of eighty winters.

It was a bright night in the "moon for strawberries." [Footnote: The month of June.] Harpstenah had wept herself to sleep, and she had reason too, for her young companions had laughed at her, and told her that she was to have for a husband an old man without a nose. And it was true, though Cloudy Sky could once have boasted of a fine aquiline. He had been drinking freely, and picked a quarrel with one of his sworn friends. After some preliminary blows, Cloudy Sky seized his antagonist and cut his ear sadly, but in return he had his nose bitten off.

She had wept the more when her mother told her that in four days she was to go to the teepee of her husband. It was in vain to contend. She lay down beside the fire; deep sleep came upon her; she forgot the events of the past day; for a time she ceased to think of the young man she loved, and the old one she hated. In her dreams she had travelled a long journey, and was seated on the river shore, to rest her tired limbs. The red light of the dying sun illumined the prairies, she could not have endured its scorching rays, were it not for the sheltering branches of the tree under which she had found a resting-place.

The waters of the river beat against her feet. She would fain move, but something chained her to the spot. She tried to call her mother, but her lips were sealed, and her voice powerless. She would have turned her face from the waters, but even this was impossible. Stronger and stronger beat the waves, and then parted, revealing the dreaded form of the fairy of the waters.

Harpstenah looked upon death as inevitable; she had ever feared that terrible race of beings whose home was in the waters. And now the fairy stood before her!

"Why do you tremble maiden? Only the wicked need fear the anger of the gods You have never offended us, nor the spirits of the dead. You have danced in the scalp-dance, and have reverenced the customs of the Sioux. You have shed many tears. You love Red Deer, and your father has sold you to Cloudy Sky, the medicine man. It is with you to marry the man you love, or the one you hate."

"If you know everything," sighed the girl, "then you must know that in four days I am to take my seat beside Cloudy Sky in his wigwam. He has twice brought calico and cloth, and laid them at the door of my father's teepee."

"You shall not marry Cloudy Sky, if you have a strong heart, and fear nothing," replied the fairy. The spirits of the water have determined on the death of Cloudy Sky. He has already lived three times on earth. For many years he wandered through the air with the sons of the thunder bird; like them he was ever fighting against the friends of Unktahe.

"With his own hand he killed the son of that god, and for that was he sent to earth to be a medicine man. But long ago we have said that the time should come, when we would destroy him from the earth. It is for you to take his life when he sleeps. Can a Dahcotah woman want courage when she is to be forced to marry a man she hates?"

The waters closed over the fairy as he disappeared, and the waves beat harder against Harpstenah's feet. She awoke with the words echoing in her heart, "Can a Sioux woman want courage when she is to be forced to marry a man she hates?" "The words of the fairy were wise and true," thought the maiden. "Our medicine-men say that the fairies of the water are all wicked; that they are ever seeking to do harm to the Dahcotahs. My dream has made my heart light. I will take the life of the war chief. At the worst they can but take mine."

As she looked round the teepee, her eye rested upon the faces of her parents. The bright moonlight had found its way into the teepee. There lay her father, his haughty countenance calm and subdued, for the "image of death" had chased away the impression left on his features of a fierce struggle with a hard life. How often had he warned her of the danger of offending Cloudy Sky, that sickness, famine, death itself, might be the result. Her mother too, had wearied her with warnings. But she remembered her dream, and with all a Sioux woman's faith in revelations, she determined to let it influence her course.

Red Deer had often vowed to take the life of his rival, though he knew it would have assuredly cost him his own. The family of Cloudy Sky was a large one; there were many who would esteem it a sacred duty to avenge his death. Besides he would gain nothing by it, for the parents of Harpstenah would never consent to her marriage with the murderer of the war chief.

How often had Red Deer tried to induce the young girl to leave the village, and return with him as his wife. "Have we not always loved each other," he said. "When we were children, you made me mocassins, and paddled the canoe for me, and I brought the wild duck, which I shot while it was flying, to you. You promised me to be my wife, when I should be a great hunter, and had brought to you the scalp of an enemy. I have kept my promise, but you have broken yours."

"I know it," she replied; "but I fear to keep my word. They would kill you, and the spirits of my dead brothers would haunt me for disobeying my parents. Cloudy Sky says that if I do not marry him he will cast a spell upon me; he says that the brightness would leave my eye, and the color my cheek; that my step should be slow and weary, and soon would I be laid in the earth beside my brothers. The spirit that should watch beside my body would be offended for my sin in disobeying the counsel of the aged. You, too, should die, he says, not by the tomahawk, as a warrior should die, but by a lingering disease—fever should enter your veins, your strength would soon be gone, you would no longer be able to defend yourself from your enemies. Let me die, rather than bring such trouble upon you."

Red Deer could not reply, for he believed that Cloudy Sky could do all that he threatened. Nerved, then, by her devotion to her lover, her hatred of Cloudy Sky, and her faith in her dream, Harpstenah determined her heart should not fail her; she would obey the mandate of the water god; she would bury her knife in the heart of the medicine man.


In their hours for eating, the Sioux accommodate themselves to circumstances. If food be plenty, they eat three or four times a day; if scarce, they eat but once. Sometimes they go without food for several days, and often they are obliged to live for weeks on the bark of trees, skins, or anything that will save them from dying of famine.

When game and corn are plenty, the kettle is always boiling, and they are invariably hospitable and generous, always offering to a visitor such as they have it in their power to give.

The stars were still keeping watch, when Harpstenah was called by her mother to assist her. The father's morning meal was prepared early, for he was going out to hunt. Wild duck, pigeons, and snipe, could be had in abundance; the timid grouse, too, could be roused up on the prairies. Larger game was there, too, for the deer flew swiftly past, and had even stopped to drink on the opposite shore of the "Spirit Lake."

When they assembled to eat, the old man lifted up his hands—"May the Great Spirit have mercy upon us, and give me good luck in hunting."

Meat and boiled corn were eaten from wooden bowls, and the father went his way, leaving his wife and daughter to attend to their domestic cares.

Harpstenah was cutting wood near the lodge, when Cloudy Sky presented himself. He went into the teepee and lighted his pipe, and then, seating himself outside, began to smoke. He was, in truth, a sorry figure for a bridegroom. Always repulsive in his looks, his present dress was not calculated to improve him. He wore mourning for his enemy, whom he had killed.

His face was painted perfectly black; nothing but the whites of his eyes relieved the universal darkness. His blanket was torn and old—his hair unbraided, and on the top of his head he wore a knot of swan's down.

Every mark of grief or respect he could have shown a dead brother, he now assumed in honor of the man whom he had hated—whose life he had destroyed—who had belonged to the hateful tribe which had ever been the enemy of his nation.

He looked very important as he puffed away, now watching Harpstenah, who appeared to be unconscious of his presence, now fixing his eyes on her mother, who was busily employed mending mocassins.

Having finished smoking; he used a fan which was attached to the other end of his pipe-stem. It was a very warm day, and the perspiration that was bursting from his forehead mingled with the black paint and slowly found its way down his face.

"Where is your husband?" at length he asked of the mother.

"He saw a deer fly past this morning," she replied, "and he has gone to seek it, that I may dry it."

"Does he come back to-night?"

"He does; he said you were to give a medicine feast to-morrow, and that he would be here."

Harpstenah knew well why the medicine feast was to be given. Cloudy Sky could not, according to the laws of the Sioux, throw off his mourning, until he had killed an enemy or given a medicine dance. She knew that he wanted to wear a new blanket, and plait his hair, and paint his face a more becoming color. But she knew his looks could not be improved, and she went on cutting wood, as unconcernedly as if the old war chief were her grandfather, instead of her affianced husband. He might gain the good will of her parents, he might even propitiate the spirits of the dead: She would take his life, surely as the senseless wood yielded to the strength of the arm that was cleaving it.

"You will be at the feast too," said Cloudy Sky to the mother; "you have always foretold truly. There is not a woman in the band who can tell what is going to happen as well as you. There is no nation so great as the Dahcotah," continued the medicine man, as he saw several idlers approach, and stretch themselves on the grass to listen to him. "There is no nation so great as the Dahcotah—but our people are not so great now as they were formerly. When our forefathers killed buffaloes on these prairies, that the white people now ride across as if they were their own, mighty giants lived among them; they strode over the widest rivers, and the tallest trees; they could lay their hands upon the highest hills, as they walked the earth. But they were not men of war. They did not fight great battles, as do the Thunder Bird and his warriors."

There were large animals, too, in those days; so large that the stoutest of our warriors were but as children beside them. Their bones have been preserved through many generations. They are sacred to us, and we keep them because they will cure us when we are sick, and will save us from danger.

I have lived three times on earth. When my body was first laid upon the scaffold, my spirit wandered through the air. I followed the Thunder Birds as they darted among the clouds. When the heavens were black, and the rain fell in big drops, and the streaked lightning frightened our women and children, I was a warrior, fighting beside the sons of the Thunder Bird.

Unktahe rose up before us; sixty of his friends were with him: the waters heaved and pitched, as the spirits left them to seek vengeance against the Thunder Birds. They showed us their terrible horns, but they tried to frighten us in vain. We were but forty; we flew towards them, holding our shields before our breasts; the wind tore up the trees, and threw down the teepees, as we passed along.

All day we fought; when we were tired we rested awhile, and then the winds were still, and the sun showed himself from behind the dark clouds. But soon our anger rose. The winds flew along swifter than the eagle, as the Thunder Birds clapped their wings, and again we fought against our foes.

The son of Unktahe came towards me; his eyes shone like fire, but I was not afraid. I remembered I had been a Sioux warrior. He held his shield before him, as he tried to strike me with his spear. I turned his shield aside, and struck him to the heart.

He fell, and the waters whirled round as they received his body. The sons of Unktahe shouted fearful cries of rage, but our yells of triumph drowned them.

The water spirits shrank to their home, while we returned to the clouds. The large rain drops fell slowly, and the bow of bright colors rested between the heavens and the earth. The strife was over, and we were conquerors. I know that Unktahe hates me—that he would kill me if he could—but the Thunder bird has greater power than he; the friend of the 'Man of the West' [Footnote: Thunder is sometimes called the Man of the West.] is safe from harm.

Harpstenah had ceased her work, and was listening to the boaster. "It was all true," she said to herself; "the fairy of the water told me that he had offended her race. I will do their bidding. Cloudy Sky may boast of his power, but ere two nights have passed away, he will find he cannot despise the anger of the water spirits, nor the courage of a Dahcotah woman."


The approach of night brought with it but little inclination to sleep to the excited girl. Her father slept, tired with the day's hunt; and her mother dreamed of seeing her daughter the wife of a war chief and a medicine man.

The village was built on the shores of the lake now known as Lake Calhoun. By the light of the moon the teepees were reflected in its waters. It was bright as day; so clear was the lake, that the agates near the shore sparkled in its waters. The cry of the whippoorwill alone disturbed the repose of nature, except when the wild scream of the loon was heard as she gracefully swept the waters.

Seated on the shore, Harpstenah waited to hear the low whistle of her lover. The villagers were almost all asleep, now and then the laugh of some rioters was heard breaking in upon the stillness of night. She had not seen her lover for many days; from the time that her marriage was determined upon, the young warrior had kept aloof from her. She had seized her opportunity to tell him that he must meet her where they had often met, where none should know of their meeting. She told him to come when the moon rose, as her father would be tired, and her mother wished to sleep well before the medicine feast.

Many fears oppressed her heart, for he had not answered her when she spoke to him, and he might not intend to come. Long she waited in vain, and she now arose to return to the teepee, when the low signal met her ear.

She did not wait to hear it a second time, but made her way along the shore: now her steps were printed in the wet sand, now planted on the rocks near the shore; not a sound followed her movements until she stood on the appointed place. The bright moonlight fell upon her features, and her rich dress, as she waited with folded arms for her lover to address her. Her okendokenda of bright colors was slightly open at the neck, and revealed brooches of brass and silver that covered her bosom; a heavy necklace of crimson beads hung around her throat; bracelets of brass clasped her wrists, and her long plaited hair was ornamented at the end of the braids with trinkets of silver.

Her cloth petticoat was richly decorated with ribbons, and her leggins and mocassins proved that she had spent much time and labor on the adorning of a person naturally well formed, and graceful.

"Why have you wished to meet me, Harpstenah?" said the young man, gloomily. "Have you come to tell me of the presents Cloudy Sky has made you, or do you wish to say that you are ashamed to break the promise you made me to be my wife?"

"I have come to say again that I will be your wife," she replied: "and for the presents Cloudy Sky left for me, I have trampled them under my feet. See, I wear near my heart the brooches you have given me."

"Women are ever dogs and liars," said Red Deer, "but why do you speak such words to me, when you know you have agreed to marry Cloudy Sky? Your cousin told me your father had chosen him to carry you into the teepee of the old man. Your father beat you, and you agreed to marry him. You are a coward to mind a little pain. Go, marry the old medicine man; he will beat you as he has his other wives; he may strike you with his tomahawk and kill you, as he did his first wife; or he will sell you to the traders, as he did the other; he will tell you to steal pork and whiskey for him, and then when it is found out, he will take you and say you are a thief, and that he has beaten you for it. Go, the young should ever mate with the young, but you will soon lie on the scaffold, and by his hand too."

"The proud eagle seeks to frighten the timid bird that follows it," said the maiden; "but Red Deer should not speak such angry words to the woman that will venture her life for him. Cloudy Sky boasts that he is the friend of the thunder bird; in my dreams, I have seen the fairy of the waters, and he told me that Cloudy Sky should die by my hand. My words are true. Cloudy Sky was once with the sons of the thunder birds when they fought against Unktahe. He killed a son of the water god, and the spirits of the water have determined on his death.

"Red Deer, my heart is strong. I do not fear the medicine man, for the power of Unktahe is greater than his. But you must go far away and visit the Tetons; if you are here, they will accuse you of his death, and will kill you. But as I have promised to marry him, no one will think that I have murdered him. It will be long ere I see you again, but in the moon that we gather wild rice, [Footnote: September] return, and I will be your wife. Go, now," she added, "say to your mother that you are going to visit your friends, and before the day comes be far away. To-morrow Cloudy Sky gives a medicine feast, and to-morrow night Haokah will make my heart strong, and I will kill the medicine man. His soul will travel a long journey to the land of spirits. There let him drink, and boast, and frighten women."

Red Deer heard her, mute with astonishment. The color mantled in her cheek, and her determined countenance assured him that she was in earnest. He charged her to remember the secret spells of the medicine man. If she loved him it was far better to go with him now; they would soon be out of the reach of her family. To this she would not listen, and repeating to him her intention of executing all she had told him of, she left him.

He watched her as she returned to her teepee; sometimes her form was lost in the thick bushes, he could see her again as she made her way along the pebbled shore, and when she had entered her teepee he returned home.

He collected his implements of war and hunting, and, telling his mother he was going on a long journey, he left the village.


The feast given in honor of their medicine was celebrated the next day, and Cloudy Sky was thus relieved of the necessity of wearing mourning for his enemy.

His face was carefully washed of the black paint that disfigured it; his hair, plentifully greased, was braided and ornamented. His leggins were new, and his white blanket was marked according to Indian custom. On it was painted a black hand, that all might know that he had killed his enemy. But for all he did not look either young or handsome, and Harpstenah's young friends were astonished that she witnessed the preparations for her marriage with so much indifference.

But she was unconscious alike of their sympathy and ridicule; her soul was occupied with the reflection that upon her energy depended her future fate. Never did her spirit shrink from its appointed task. Nor was she entirely governed by selfish motives; she believed herself an instrument in the hand of the gods.

Mechanically she performed her ordinary duties. The wood was cut and the evening meal was, cooked; afterwards she cut down branches of trees, and swept the wigwam. In the evening, the villagers had assembled on the shores of the lake to enjoy the cool air after the heat of the day.

Hours passed away as gossipping and amusement engaged them all. At length they entered their teepees to seek rest, and Harpstenah and her mother were the last at the door of their teepee, where a group had been seated on the ground, discussing their own and others' affairs. "No harm can come to you, my daughter, when you are the wife of so great a medicine man. If any one hate you and wish to do you an injury, Cloudy Sky will destroy their power. Has he not lived with the Thunder Birds, did he not learn from them to cure the sick, and to destroy his enemies? He is a great warrior too."

"I know it, my mother," replied the girl, "but we have sat long in the moonlight, the wind that stirred the waters of the spirit lake is gone. I must sleep, that I may be ready to dress myself when you call me. My hair must be braided in many braids, and the strings are not yet sewed to my mocassins. You too are tired; let us go in and sleep."

Sleep came to the mother—to the daughter courage and energy. Not in vain had she prayed to Haokah the Giant, to give her power to perform a great deed. Assured that her parents were sleeping heavily, she rose and sought the lodge of the medicine man.

When she reached the teepee, she stopped involuntarily before the door, near which hung, on a pole, the medicine bag of the old man. The medicine known only to the clan had been preserved for ages. Sacred had it ever been from the touch of woman. It was placed there to guard the medicine man from evil, and to bring punishment on those who sought to do him harm. Harpstenah's strength failed her. What was she about to do?

Could she provoke with impunity the anger of the spirits of the dead? Would not the Great Spirit bring terrible vengeance upon her head. Ready to sink to the earth with terror, the words of the fairy of the waters reassured her. "Can a Dahcotah woman want courage when she is to be forced to marry a man she hates?"

The tumult within is stilled—the strong beating of her heart has ceased—her hand is upon the handle of her knife, as the moonlight falls upon its glittering blade.

Too glorious a night for so dark a deed! See! they are confronted, the old man and the maiden! The tyrant and his victim; the slave dealer and the noble soul he had trafficked for!

Pale, but firm with high resolve, the girl looked for one moment at the man she had feared—whose looks had checked her childish mirth, whose anger she had been taught to dread, even to the sacrificing of her heart's best hopes.

Restlessly the old man slept; perchance he saw the piercing eyes that were, fixed upon him, for he muttered of the road to the land of spirits. Listen to him, as he boasts of the warrior's work.

"Many brave men have made this road. The friend of the Thunder Birds was worthy. Strike the woman who would dare assist a warrior. Strike—"

"Deep in his heart she plunged the ready steel," and she drew it out, the life blood came quickly. She alone heard his dying groan.

She left the teepee—her work was done. It was easy to wash the stains on her knife in the waters of the lake.

When her mother arose, she looked at the pale countenance of her daughter. In vain she sought to understand her muttered words. Harpstenah, as she tried to sleep, fancied she heard the wild laugh of the water spirits. Clouds had obscured the moon, and distant thunder rolled along the sky; and, roused by the clamorous grief of the many women assembled in the lodge, she heard from them of the dark tragedy in which she had been the principal actor.

The murderer was not to be found. Red Deer was known to be far away. It only remained to bury Cloudy Sky, with all the honors due to a medicine man.

Harpstenah joined in the weeping of the mourners—the fountains of a Sioux woman's tears are easily unlocked. She threw her blanket upon the dead body.

Many were the rich presents made to the inanimate clay which yesterday influenced those who still trembled lest the spirit of the dead war-chief would haunt them. The richest cloth enrobed his body, and, a short distance from the village, he was placed upon a scaffold.

Food was placed beside him; it would be long before his soul would reach the city of spirits; his strength would fail him, were it not for the refreshment of the tender flesh of the wild deer he had loved to chase, and the cooling waters he had drank on earth, for many, many winters.

But after the death of Cloudy Sky, the heart of Harpstenah grew light. She joined again in the ball plays on the prairies. It needed no vermilion on her cheek to show the brightness of her eye, for the flush of hope and happiness was there.

The dark deed was forgotten; and when, in the time that the leaves began to fall, they prepared the wild rice for winter's use, Red Deer was at her side.

He was a good hunter, and the parents were old. Red Deer ever kept them supplied with game—and winter found her a wife, and a happy one too; for Red Deer loved her in very truth—and the secret of the death of the medicine man was buried in their hearts.


Ten years had passed away since their marriage, and Red Deer had never brought another wife to his teepee. Harpstenah was without a rival in his affections, if we except the three strong boys who were growing up beside them.

Chaske (the oldest son) could hunt for his mother, and it was well that he could, for his father's strength was gone. Consumption wasted his limbs, and the once powerful arm could not now support his drooping head.

The father and mother had followed Cloudy Sky to the world of spirits; they were both anxious to depart from earth, for age had made them feeble, and the hardships of ninety years made them eager to have their strength renewed, in the country where their ancestors were still in the vigor of early youth. The band at Lake Calhoun were going on a hunt for porcupines; a long hunt, and Harpstenah tried to deter her husband from attempting the journey; but he thought the animating exercise of the chase would be a restorative to his feeble frame, and they set out with the rest.

When the hunters had obtained a large number of those valued animals, the women struck their teepees and prepared for their return. Harpstenah's lodge alone remained, for in it lay the dying man—by his side his patient wife. The play of the children had ceased—they watched with silent awe the pale face and bright eye of their father—they heard him charge their mother to place food that his soul might be refreshed on its long journey. Not a tear dimmed her eye as she promised all he asked.

"There is one thing, my wife," he said, "which still keeps my spirit on earth. My soul cannot travel the road to the city of spirits—that long road made by the bravest of our warriors—while it remembers the body which it has so long inhabited shall be buried far from its native village. Your words were wise when you told me I had not strength to travel so far, and now my body must lie far from my home—far from the place of my birth—from the village where I have danced the dog feast, and from the shores of the 'spirit lakes' where my father taught me to use my bow and arrow."

"Your body shall lie on the scaffold near your native village," his wife replied. "When I turn from this place, I will take with me my husband; and my young children shall walk by my side. My heart is as brave now as it was when I took the life of the medicine man. The love that gave me courage then, will give me strength now. Fear not for me; my limbs will not be weary, and when the Great Spirit calls me, I will hear his voice, and follow you to the land of spirits, where there will be no more sickness nor trouble."

Many stars shone out that night; they assisted in the solemn and the sacred watch. The mother looked at the faces of her sleeping sons, and listened to their heavy breathing; they had but started on the journey of life.

She turned to her husband: it was but the wreck of a deserted house, the tenant had departed.

The warrior was already far on his journey; ere this, he had reached the lodge where the freed spirit adorns itself ere entering upon its new abode.

Some days after, Harpstenah entered her native village, bearing a precious burden. Strapped to her back was the body of her husband. By day, she had borne it all the weary way; at night, she had stopped to rest and to weep. Nor did her strength fail her, until she reached her home; then, insensible to sorrow and fatigue, she sunk to the earth.

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