Ernest Henry Griset









Smithsonian Institution,
Bureau of American Ethnology,
Washington, D. C., January 4, 1921.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit the accompanying manuscript, entitled "Villages of the Algonquian, Siouan, and Caddoan Tribes West of the Mississippi," by David I. Bushnell, jr., and to recommend its publication, subject to your approval, as a bulletin of this Bureau.

        Very respectfully,

J. Walter Fewkes,

Dr. Charles D. Walcott,
       Secretary of the Smithsonian institution.



When Louisiana became a part of the United States the great wilderness to the westward of the Mississippi was the home of many native tribes, or groups of tribes, retaining their primitive manners and customs, little influenced by contact with Europeans. Their villages were scattered along the water courses or skirted the prairies, over which roamed vast herds of buffalo, these serving to attract the Indians and to supply many of their wants—food, raiment, and covering for their shelters. But so great are the changes wrought within a century that now few buffalo remain, the Indian in his primitive state has all but vanished, and even the prairies have been altered in appearance. The early accounts of the region contain references to the native camps and villages, their forms and extent, tell of the manner in which the habitations were constructed, and relate how some were often removed from place to place. Extracts from the various narratives are now brought together, thus to describe the homes and ways of life of the people who once claimed and occupied a large section of the present United States.



The tribes and their habitat1
The buffalo (Bison americanus)3
Villages and forms of structures7
Algonquian tribes8
Blackfoot confederacy25
Sauk and Foxes37
Siouan tribes43
Dakota-Assiniboin group44
Dhegiha group77
Chiwere group112
Hidatsa group140
Caddoan tribes155
Authorities cited186
Explanation of plates194



1. Drying buffalo meat. GrisetFrontispiece.
2. "A buffalo hunt on the southwestern prairies." Stanley4
3. "Buffalo hunt." Wimar4
4. "Buffalo hunting on the frozen snow." Rindisbacher4
5. a, "A buffalo pound." Kane. b, Scene in a Sioux village, about 18704
6. a, Camp of "Sautaux Indians on the Red River." b, Ojibway wigwam
      at Leech Lake, Minnesota10
7. a, "Encampment among the islands of Lake Huron." Kane. b, Ojibway
      camp on bank of Red River10
8. a, Ojibway camp west of Red River. b, Ojibway camp on bank of
      Red River12
9. Ojibway habitations. a, Wigwams covered with elm bark. b, Wigwams
      covered with birch bark12
10. a, Ojibway birch bark canoe. b, Ojibway Indians with birch bark
11. a, Trader's store near Cass Lake. b, Outside an elm bark covered
12. Objects of Ojibway make. a, Hammer, bag, and two skin-dressing
      tools. b, Section of a rush mat16
13. a, Ojibway mortar and pestle. b, Delaware mortar and pestle. c,
      Ojibway birch bark dish16
14. Cheyenne family24
15. Piegan camp. Bodmer24
16. a, Blackfoot camp. Kane. b, Arapaho village34
17. Atsina camp. Bodmer34
18. Sauk and Fox habitations. a, Frames of structures. b, Mat-covered
19. Sauk and Fox habitation covered with elm bark38
20. a, Northwest shore of Mille Lac, 1900. b, The Sacred Island in Mille
21. "Kaposia, June 19th, 1851." Mayer46
22. a, "Dakotah village." Eastman. b, "Dakotah encampment." Eastman50
23. a, Council at the mouth of the Teton. Catlin. b, Fort Pierre, July 4,
      1851. Kurz50
24. a, b, Near Fort Laramie, 1868. c, "A skin lodge of an Assiniboin
      chief." Bodmer76
25. a, Assiniboin lodges formed of pine boughs. Kane. b, "Horse camp
      of the Assiniboins, March 21, 1852." Kurz76
26. a, Tipi of an Omaha chief. b, Page of Kurz's sketchbook76
27. "The village of the Omahas." 187176
28. a, Page of Kurz's sketchbook, showing Omaha village. b, Page of
      Kurz's sketchbook, showing interior of an Omaha lodge80
29. "Punka Indians encamped on the banks of the Missouri." Bodmer80
30. a, Kansa village, 1841. Lehman. b, Dog dance within a Kansa lodge,
      1819. Seymour96
31. Kansa habitation96
32. a, Frame of an Osage habitation. b, An Iowa structure102
33. "Oto encampment, near the Platte, 1819." Seymour102
34. a, Oto pemmican maul. b, Heavy stone maul. c, Mandan implement
      for dressing hides120
35. a, Oto dugout canoe, from Kurz's sketchbook. b, Hidatsa bull-boat
      and paddle120
36. Winnebago habitations, about 1870. a, Structure with arbor. b, Showing
      entrance on side120
37. Winnebago structures120
38. a, Interior of a Mandan lodge. Catlin. b, Scene in a Mandan village.
39. "Mih-tutta-hangkusch," a Mandan village. Bodmer132
40. Interior of a Mandan lodge. Bodmer136
41. a, c, Mandan wooden bowls. b, Mandan earthenware jar136
42. a, Buffalo horn spoon. b, Spoon made of horn of mountain sheep.
43. "Miniatarree village." Catlin136
44. "Winter village of the Minatarres." a, Original pencil sketch. b,
      Finished picture of same. Bodmer142
45. From Kurz's sketchbook. a, Use of a carrying basket. b, The ring-and-pole game. c, Hidatsa with bull-boats142
46. Crow tipis. a, "Crow lodge." Catlin. b, Camp at the old agency,
47. A camp in a cottonwood grove152
48. Trader crossing the prairies. Page of Kurz's sketchbook162
49. Pawnee village, 1871162
50. Pawnee earth lodges, 1871162
51. In a Pawnee village, 1871. a, Children at lodge entrance. b, Showing
      screen near same entrance162
52. a, Arikara carrying basket. b, Wichita mortar168
53. "Riccaree village." Catlin168
54. a, Arikara rake. b, Arikara hoe. c, Crow parfleche box178
55. Wichita habitations. a, Near Anadarko. b, Lodge standing about


 1. The buffalo of Gomara, 15544
 2. Tipis59
 3. Horse travois66
 4. Plan of the large Mandan village, 1833131
 5. "The ark of the first man"132
 6. Typical earth lodges133
 7. Inclosed bed134
 8. Plan of the interior of a Mandan lodge135
 9. Wooden club138
10. Plan of the Mandan village at Fort Clark140
11. Plan of a ceremonial lodge144
12. Plan of the large Hidatsa village145



By David I. Bushnell, Jr.


The country occupied by the tribes belonging to the three linguistic groups whose villages are now to be described extended from south of the Arkansas northward to and beyond the Canadian boundary, and from the Mississippi across the Great Plains to the Rocky Mountains. It thus embraced the western section of the valley of the Mississippi, including the entire course of the Missouri, the hilly regions bordering the rivers, and the vast rolling prairies. The climatic conditions were as varied as were the physiographical features, for, although the winters in the south were comparatively mild, in the north they were long and severe.

The three linguistic families to be considered are the Algonquian, Siouan, and Caddoan. Many Algonquian and Siouan tribes formerly lived east of the Mississippi, and their villages have already been described (Bushnell, (1)),[1] but within historic times all Caddoan tribes appear to have occupied country to the westward of the river, although it is not improbable that during earlier days they may have had villages beyond the eastern bank of the stream, the remains of which exist.

[1] For citation of references throughout this bulletin, see "Authorities cited," p. 186.

The Algonquians included in this account comprise principally the three groups which may be termed the western division of the great linguistic family. These are: (1) The Blackfoot confederacy, composed of three confederated tribes, the Siksika or Blackfeet proper, the Piegan, and the Kainah or Bloods; (2) the Arapaho, including several distinct divisions, of which the Atsina, or Gros Ventres of the Prairie, who were closely allied with the Blackfeet, were often mentioned; (3) the Cheyenne, likewise forming various groups or divisions. Belonging to the same great family were the Cree or Kristinaux, whose habitat was farther north, few living south of the Canadian boundary; also the Ojibway, whose villages were scattered northward from the upper waters of the Mississippi. Some Sauk later lived west of the Mississippi, as did bands of the Foxes and some of the Illinois tribes.

[2]The Siouan tribes were among the most numerous and powerful on the continent, and those to be mentioned on the following pages belonged to several clearly defined groups. As classified in the Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico,[2] these include:

I. Dakota-Assiniboin group: 1, Mdewakanton; 2, Wahpekute (forming, with the Mdewakanton, the Santee); 3, Sisseton; 4, Wahpeton; 5, Yankton; 6, Yanktonai; 7, Teton—(a) Sichangu or Brulés, (b) Itazipcho or Sans Arcs, (c) Sihasapa or Blackfeet, (d) Miniconjou, (e) Oohenonpa or Two Kettles, (f) Oglala, (g) Hunkpapa; 8, Assiniboin.

II. Dhegiha group: 1, Omaha; 2, Ponca; 3, Quapaw; 4, Osage—(a) Pahatsi, (b) Utschta, (c) Santsukhdhi; 5, Kansa.

III. Chiwere group: 1, Iowa; 2, Oto; 3, Missouri.

IV. Winnebago.

V. Mandan.

VI. Hidatsa group: 1, Hidatsa; 2, Crows.

[2] Bull. 30, Bur. Amer. Ethn., part 2, p. 579.

The Caddoan family is less clearly defined than either of the preceding, but evidently consisted of many small tribes grouped, and forming confederacies. Those to be mentioned later include: (1) The Arikara; (2) the Pawnee confederacy, composed of four tribes—(a) Chaui or Grand Pawnee, (b) Kitkehahki or Republican Pawnee, (c) Pitahauerat or Tapage Pawnee, (d) Skidi or Wolf Pawnee; (3) the Wichita confederacy, including the Waco and various small tribes; (4) the Caddo proper.

Although the latter are included in the same linguistic group with the Arikara, Pawnee, and others as mentioned above, they are regarded by some as constituting a distinct linguistic stock.

During the years following the close of the Revolution, the latter part of the eighteenth century, many tribes, or rather the remnants of tribes, then living east of the Mississippi, sought a refuge in the West beyond the river. Many settled on the streams in the southern part of the present State of Missouri and northern Arkansas, and, as stated by Stoddard when writing about the year 1810: "A considerable number of Delawares, Shawanese, and Cherokees, have built some villages on the waters of the St. Francis and White Rivers. Their removal into these quarters was authorized by the Spanish government, and they have generally conducted themselves to the satisfaction of the whites. Some stragglers from the Creeks, Chocktaws, and Chickasaws, who are considered as outlaws by their respective nations, have also established themselves on the same waters; and their disorders and depredations among the white settlers are not unfrequent." (Stoddard, (1), pp. 210-211.) And at about the same time another writer, referring to the same region, said: "Below[3] the Great Osage, on the waters of the Little Osage, Saint Francis, and other streams, are a number of scattered bands of Indians, and two or three considerable villages. These bands were principally Indians, who were formerly outcasts from the tribes east of the Mississippi. Numbers have since joined from the Delawares, Shawanoes, Wayondott, and other tribes towards the lakes. Their warriors are said to be five or six hundred. They have sometimes made excursions and done mischief on the Ohio river, but the settlements on the Mississippi have suffered the most severely by their depredations." (Cutler, (1), p. 120.)

No attempt will be made in the present work to describe the habitations or settlements occupied by the scattered bands just mentioned.

It is quite evident that during the past two or three centuries great changes have taken place in the locations of the tribes which were discovered occupying the region west of the Mississippi by the first Europeans to penetrate the vast wilderness. Thus the general movement of many Siouan tribes has been westward, that of some Algonquian groups southward from their earlier habitats, and the Caddoan appear to have gradually gone northward. It resulted in the converging of the tribes in the direction of the great prairies occupied by the vast herds of buffalo which served to attract the Indian. Until the beginning of this tribal movement it would seem that a great region eastward from the base of the Rocky Mountains, the rolling prairie lands, was not the home of any tribes but was solely the range of the buffalo and other wild beasts, which existed in numbers now difficult to conceive.


(Bison americanus.)

With the practical extermination of the buffalo in recent years, and the rapid changes which have taken place in the general appearance of the country, it is difficult to picture it as it was two or more centuries ago. While the country continued to be the home of the native tribes game was abundant, and the buffalo, in prodigious numbers, roamed over the wide region from the Rocky Mountains to near the Atlantic. It is quite evident, and easily conceivable, that wherever the buffalo was to be found it was hunted by the people of the neighboring villages, principally to serve as food. But the different parts of the animal were made use of for many purposes, and, as related in an early Spanish narrative, one prepared nearly four centuries ago, when referring to "the oxen of Quivira ... Their masters have no other riches nor substance: of them they eat, they drink, they apparel, they shooe themselves: and of their hides they make many things, as houses, shooes, apparell and ropes: of their[4] bones they make bodkins: of their sinews and haire, threed: of their hornes, maws, and bladders, vessels: of their dung, fire: and of their calves-skinnes, budgets, wherein they drawe and keepe water. To bee short, they make so many things of them as they neede of, or as many as suffice them in the use of this life." (Gomara, (1), p. 382.) A crude engraving of a buffalo made at that time is reproduced in figure 1.

Fig. 1.—The buffalo of Gomara, 1554
Fig. 1.—The buffalo of Gomara, 1554

The preceding account describes the customs of the people then living in the southern part of the region treated in the present sketch, either a Caddoan or a neighboring tribe or group, and it suggests another reference to the great importance of the buffalo, but applying to the tribes of the north more than three centuries later.




"BUFFALO HUNT" Carl Wimar, 1860
"BUFFALO HUNT" Carl Wimar, 1860


"BUFFALO HUNTING ON THE FROZEN SNOW" Peter Rindisbacher, about 1825
Peter Rindisbacher, about 1825


a. "A Buffalo Pound." Paul Kane, 1845
a. "A Buffalo Pound." Paul Kane, 1845
b. Scene in a Sioux village, about 1870. Photograph by S. J. Morrow
b. Scene in a Sioux village, about 1870. Photograph by S. J. Morrow

"The animals inhabiting the Dakota country, and hunted more or less by them for clothing, food, or for the purposes of barter, are buffalo, elk, black- and white-tailed deer, big-horn, antelope, wolves of several kinds, red and gray foxes, a few beaver and otter, grizzly bear, badger, skunk, porcupine, rabbits, muskrats, and a few panthers in the mountainous parts. Of all those just mentioned the buffalo is most numerous and most necessary to their support. Every part of this animal is eaten by the Indian except the horns, hoofs, and hair, even the skin being made to sustain life in times of great scarcity. The skin is used to make their lodges and clothes, the sinews for bowstrings, the horns to contain powder, and the bones are wrought into various domestic implements, or pounded up and boiled to extract the fatty matter. In the proper season, from the beginning of October until the 1st of March, the skins are dressed with the hair remaining on them, and are either worn by themselves or exchanged with the traders." (Hayden, (1), p. 371.)

In the early days the tribes who occupied a region frequented by or in the vicinity of the range of the buffalo could and undoubtedly did kill sufficient numbers to satisfy their various wants and requirements, but hunting was made more easy in later times when horses were possessed by the Indian. Then it became possible for the bands[5] of hunters, or even the entire village, to follow the vast herds, to surround and kill as many as they desired, and to carry away great quantities of meat to be "jerked," or dried, for future use. So intimately connected were the buffalo with the life of the tribes of the plains and the circumjacent country that frequent allusions will be made to the former when describing the camps and villages of the latter.

The various ways of hunting the buffalo and other wild beasts of the plains and mountainous country, as practiced by the different tribes, have been described by many writers. The several methods of hunting the buffalo were often forced through natural conditions, but nothing could have exceeded the excitement produced during the chase by well-mounted Indian hunters. This was the usual custom of the tribes of the plains after horses had become plentiful and the buffalo continued numerous. The paintings reproduced in plates 2 and 3 vividly portray this phase of the hunt. In the north the hunters were compelled during the long winters to attack the herds on the frozen, snow-covered prairies, and plate 4 shows a party of hunters, wearing snowshoes, mingled with the buffalo. This sketch, made about the year 1825, bears the legend: "Indian Hunters pursuing the Buffalo early in the spring when the snow is sufficiently frozen to bear the men but the Animal breaks through and cannot run." This graphic sketch may represent a party of Cree or Assiniboin hunters, probably the latter, and it will be noticed that they are using bows and arrows, not firearms, although other drawings by the same artist representing a summer hunt shows them having guns.

Another custom in the North was that of constructing inclosures of logs and branches of trees, leaving one opening through which the buffalo were driven, and when thus secured were killed. Such an inclosure, or pound, is shown in plate 5, a. This is a reproduction of the original painting made by Paul Kane, September, 1845. In describing it he wrote: "These pounds can only be made in the vicinity of forests, as they are composed of logs piled up roughly, five feet high, and enclose about two acres. At one side an entrance is left, about ten feet wide, and from each side of this, to the distance of half a mile, a row of posts or short stumps, called dead men, are planted, at the distance of twenty feet each, gradually widening out into the plain from the entrance. When we arrived at the pound we found a party there anxiously awaiting the arrival of the buffaloes, which their companions were driving in. This is accomplished as follows:—A man, mounted on a fleet horse, usually rides forward till he sees a band of buffaloes. This may be sixteen or eighteen miles distant from the ground, but of course the nearer to it the better. The hunter immediately strikes a light with a flint and steel, and[6] places the lighted spunk in a handful of dried grass, the smoke arising from which the buffaloes soon smell and start away from it at the top of their speed. The man now rides up alongside of the herd, which, from some unaccountable propensity, invariably endeavour to cross in front of his horse. I have had them follow me for miles in order to do so. The hunter thus possesses an unfailing means, wherever the pound may be situated, of conducting them to it by the dexterous management of his horse. Indians are stationed at intervals behind the posts, or dead men, provided with buffalo robes, who, when the herd are once in the avenue, rise up and shake the robes, yelling and urging them on until they get into the enclosure, the spot usually selected for which is one with a tree in the centre. On this they hang offerings to propitiate the Great Spirit to direct the herd towards it. A man is also placed in the tree with a medicine pipestem in his hand, which he waves continually, chaunting a sort of prayer to the Great Spirit, the burden of which is that the buffaloes may be numerous and fat." (Kane, (1), pp. 117-119.) Quite similar to this is the description of a pound constructed by the Cree a few years later. This was some 120 feet across, "constructed of the trunks of trees, laced with withes together, and braced by outside supports," and within "lay tossed in every conceivable position over two hundred dead buffalo." Another pound erected at this time had the "dead men" extending for a distance of 4 miles from the entrance. (Hind, (1), I, pp. 356-359.) Maximilian, Lewis and Clark, and other explorers of the upper Missouri Valley refer to enclosures into which the Indians drove antelope. And that the custom was followed by the tribes far east of the Mississippi is proved by the writings of early explorers. Champlain in 1615 gave an account, accompanied by an interesting drawing, of such a hunt, and Lahontan nearly a century later presented an illustration bearing the legend: "Stags block'd up in a park, after being pursued by ye Savages." Many other references could be quoted, as the ways of hunting followed by the Indians have always been of interest to the many writers who have described the manners and customs of the people.

What was probably a characteristic view in a Sioux village of half a century ago, after a successful hunt, is shown in the old photograph reproduced in plate 5, b. Here, in front of the group of skin tipis, are quantities of meat suspended and being "jerked" or dried in the air. Buffalo skins are stretched on the ground, and in the immediate foreground are two women scraping a skin. This is a picture of the greatest interest and rarity.

The sight of the great herds roaming unmolested over the far-reaching prairies proved of interest to all who saw them, and many accounts are left by the early travelers. One brief description of[7] such a scene may be quoted. It refers to a place in the upper Missouri Valley, not far from a Mandan village, and was written June 22, 1811:

"We arrived on the summit of a ridge more elevated than any we had yet passed. From thence we saw before us a beautiful plain, as we judged, about four miles across, in the direction of our course, and of similar dimensions from east to west. It was bounded on all sides by long ridges, similar to that which we had ascended. The scene exhibited in this valley was sufficiently interesting to excite even in our Canadians a wish to stop a few minutes and contemplate it. The whole of the plain was perfectly level, and, like the rest of the country, without a single shrub. It was covered with the finest verdure, and in every part herds of buffaloes were feeding. I counted seventeen herds, but the aggregate number of the animals it was difficult even to guess at: some thought upwards of 10,000." (Bradbury, (1), pp. 134-135.) And this was but one of innumerable similar scenes to have been witnessed throughout the wide range of the vast herds.

"The Indians say ... that in travelling over a country with which they are unacquainted they always follow the buffalo trail, for this animal always selects the most practicable route for his road." (Warren, (1), p. 74.) This is a well-known fact, and many roads both east and west of the Mississippi which have now developed into important highways owe their origin to this cause.

The story of the buffalo will ever be one of interest, becoming more and more so as the years pass; and so it is gratifying to know that nearly all the available information bearing on the customs of the animal, the migration of the herds, their ancient habitat, and their rapid reduction in numbers was some years ago brought together and preserved in a single volume. (Allen, (1).) This was done while the buffalo were still quite numerous, and many facts recorded were derived from hunters or others acquainted with the customs of the times.


The villages as well as the separate structures reared by the many tribes who formerly occupied the region treated in the present work presented marked characteristics, causing them to be easily identified by the early travelers through the wilderness of a century ago. The mat and bark covered wigwam predominated among the Algonquian tribes of the north, although certain members of this great linguistic family also used the skin tipi so typical of the Siouan tribes of the plains, while some of the latter stock constructed the earth lodge[8] similar to that erected by the Caddoan tribes. Thus, it will be understood no one group occupied habitations of a single form to the exclusion of all others, and again practically all the tribes had two or more types of dwellings which were reared and used under different conditions, some forming their permanent villages, others, being easily removed and transported, serving as their shelters during long journeys in search of the buffalo. The villages of the several groups will now be mentioned in detail.

Algonquian Tribes.

The numerous tribes and the many confederated groups belonging to the great Algonquian linguistic family extended over the continent from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic coast, and from Labrador on the north southward to Carolina. They surrounded the Iroquoian tribes of the north, and, at various places came in contact with members of other stocks. The combined population of the widely scattered Algonquian tribes was greater than that of any other linguistic family in North America.

The native tribes of tidewater Virginia and those who were encountered by the New England colonists, tribes so intimately associated with the early history of the Colonies, belonged to this stock, as did the later occupants of the Ohio Valley and of the "country of Illinois." In the present work the villages of other members of the linguistic group will be considered, including those of the Ojibway and the related Cree, and of the Blackfoot confederacy, Arapaho, and Cheyenne, usually termed the western division of the stock. Several tribes whose villages stood east of the Mississippi in early historic times will also be mentioned.


The Ojibway (the Sauteux of many writers) formed the connecting link between the tribes living east of the Mississippi and those whose homes were across the "Great River." A century ago their lands extended from the shores of Lake Superior westward, beyond the headwaters of the Mississippi to the vicinity of the Turtle Mountains, in the present State of North Dakota. Thus they claimed the magnificent lakes of northern and central Minnesota—Mille Lac, Leech Lake, Cass Lake, and Red Lake—on the shores of which stood many of their camps and villages, serving as barriers against invasions and attacks by their inveterate enemies, the Sioux. The Ojibway are essentially a timber people, whose manners and customs were formed and governed by the environment of lakes and streams, and who were ever surrounded by the vast virgin forests of pine. While game, fish, and wild fowl were abundant and easily obtained,[9] yet during the long winters when the lakes were frozen and the land was covered by several feet of snow there were periods of want when food was scarce.

The habitations and other structures of the Ojibway, which have already been described and figured (Bushnell, (2)), were of various forms, constructed of several materials, and varying in different localities, according to the nature of the available supply of barks or rushes.

In the north, on the shores of Lake Superior and westward along the lakes and streams, as in the valley of Red River and the adjacent region, the majority of structures were covered with sheets of birch bark, secured to frames of small saplings.

About the year 1804 Peter Grant, a member of the old North-West Company, and for a long period at the head of the Red River Department of the company, prepared an account of the Sauteux Indians, and when describing the habitations of the people, wrote: "Their tents are constructed with slender long poles, erected in the form of a cone and covered with the rind of the birch tree. The general diameter of the base is about fifteen feet, the fire place exactly in the middle, and the remainder of the area, with the exception of a small place for the hearth, is carefully covered with the branches of the pine or cedar tree, over which some bear skins and old blankets are spread, for sitting and sleeping. A small aperture is left in which a bear skin is hung in lieu of a door, and a space is left open at the top, which answers the purpose of window and chimney. In stormy weather the smoke would be intolerable, but this inconvenience is easily removed by contracting or shifting the aperture at top according to the point from which the wind blows. It is impossible to walk, or even to stand upright, in their miserable habitations, except directly around the fire place. The men sit generally with their legs stretched before them, but the women have theirs folded backwards, inclined a little to the left side, and can comfortably remain the whole day in those attitudes, when the weather is too bad for remaining out of doors. In fine weather they are very fond of basking in the sun.

"When the family is very large, or when several families live together, the dimensions of their tents are, of course, in proportion and of different forms. Some of these spacious habitations resemble the roof of a barn, with small openings at each end for doors, and the whole length of the ridge is left uncovered at top for the smoke and light." (Grant, (1), pp. 329-330.) And referring briefly to the ways of life of the people: "In the spring, when the hunting season is over, they generally assemble in small villages, either at the trader's establishment, or in places where fish or wild fowl[10] abound; sturgeon and white fish are most common, though they have abundance of pike, trout, suckers, and pickerel. They sometimes have the precaution to preserve some for the summer consumption, this is done by opening and cleaning the fish, and then carefully drying it in the smoke or sun, after which it is tied up very tight in large parcels, wrapped up in bark and kept for use; their meat, in summer, is cured in the same manner.... Their meat is either boiled in a kettle, or roasted by means of a sharp stick, fixed in the ground at a convenient distance from the fire, and on which the meat is fixed and turned occasionally towards the fire, until the whole is thoroughly done; their fish is dressed in the same manner." (Op. cit., pp. 330-331.)

The method of cooking food, as mentioned in the preceding paragraph, is graphically illustrated in the old sketch made a century ago, now reproduced in plate 6, a. This shows a family gathered about a small fire where food is being prepared, and beyond is a bark-covered wigwam. The sketch bears the legend, "A family from the tribe of the wild Sautaux Indians on the Red River. Drawn from nature." It indicates the primitive dress and appearance of the people, and it is of interest to compare this with the photograph which is reproduced in plate 6, b, showing another small group of the people three-quarters of a century later. Such were the changes within that period.

Similar to the preceding were the habitations shown by Kane in a sketch made during the early summer of 1845, the original painting being reproduced as plate 7, a. This was described as "an Indian encampment amongst the islands of Lake Huron; the wigwams are made of birch-bark, stripped from the trees in large pieces and sewed together with long fibrous roots; when the birch tree cannot be conveniently had, they weave rushes into mats ... for covering, which are stretched round in the same manner as the bark, upon eight or ten poles tied together at the top, and stuck in the ground at the required circle of the tent, a hole being left at the top to permit the smoke to go out. The fire is made in the centre of the lodge, and the inmates sleep all round with their feet towards it." (Kane, (1), pp. 6-7.) The interesting painting could well have been made among the Ojibway camps or settlements of northern Minnesota instead of representing a group of wigwams located many miles eastward, but this tends to prove the similarity of the small villages in the region where large sheets of birch bark were to be obtained.


a. "A family from the tribe of the wild Sautaux Indians on the Red River." Drawn from nature, 1821
a. "A family from the tribe of the wild Sautaux Indians on the Red River." Drawn from nature, 1821
b. Ojibway wigwam. Leech Lake, Minnesota, 1896
b. Ojibway wigwam. Leech Lake, Minnesota, 1896


a. "Encampment among the Islands of Lake Huron." Paul Kane, 1845
a. "Encampment among the Islands of Lake Huron." Paul Kane, 1845
b. Ojibway camp on bank of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858
b. Ojibway camp on bank of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858

Between the loosely placed sheets of bark were necessarily many openings through which the wind could enter, and in addition was the open space at the top intentionally left as a vent through which[11] the smoke could escape from the inside. In describing the appearance of the interior of such a structure it was told how—

"Around the fire in the centre, and at a distance of perhaps 2 feet from it, are placed sticks as large as one's arm, in a square form, guarding the fire; and it is a matter of etiquette not to put one's feet nearer the fire than that boundary. One or more pots or kettles are hung over the fire on the crotch of a sapling. In the sides of the wigwam are stowed all clothing, food, cooking utensils, and other property of the family." When referring to the great feeling of relief on arriving at such a shelter in the frozen wilderness the same writer continued:

"When one has been traveling all day through the virgin forest, in a temperature far below zero, and has not seen a house nor a human being and knows not where or how he is to pass the night, it is the most comforting sight in the whole world to see the glowing column of light from the top of the wigwam of some wandering family out hunting, and to look in and see that happy group bathed in the light and warmth of the life-giving fire ... and no one, Ojibway or white, is ever refused admission; on the contrary, they are made heartily welcome, as long as there is an inch of space." (Gilfillan, (1), pp. 68-69.) As a missionary among the Ojibway of northern Minnesota for a quarter of a century, Dr. Gilfillan learned to know and love the forests and lakes in the changing seasons of the year and to know the ways of life of the Ojibway as few have ever known them.

The structures just mentioned were of a circular form, with the ends of the poles which supported the bark describing a circle on the ground. Of quite similar construction were the larger oval wigwams, where two groups of poles were arranged at the ends in the form of semicircles, with a ridgepole extending between the tops of the two groups. Other poles rested against the ridgepole and so formed the sloping supports upon which the strips of bark were placed. One most interesting example of this form of primitive habitation was visited by the writer during the month of October, 1899. It formed one of a small group of wigwams which at that time stood near the Canadian boundary, north of Ely, Minnesota. It was about 18 feet in length and between 8 and 9 feet in width. There were two entrances, one at each end, with hanging blankets to cover the openings. Within, along the median line on the ground, burned four small fires. Beautiful examples of rush mats, made by the women, were spread upon the ground near the sloping walls, these serving as seats during the day and sleeping places at night. Many articles hung from the poles which sustained the bark covering, as small bags and baskets, and many bunches of herbs. In one[12] corner was a large covered mokak, and on the opposite side was a carefully wrapped drum, owned by the old Ojibway, Ahgishkemunsit, the Kingfisher, who was sitting on the ground near by.

Quite similar to the preceding must have been the wigwam visited by Hind in 1858. This stood a short distance from Manitobah House, of the Hudson's Bay Company, and belonged to an Ojibway hunter. As Hind wrote: "His birch-bark tent was roomy and clean. Thirteen persons including children squatted round the fire in the centre. On the floor some excellent matting was laid upon spruce boughs for the strangers; the squaws squatted on the bare ground, the father of the family on an old buffalo robe. Attached to the poles of the tent were a gun, bows and arrows, a spear, and some mink skins. Suspended on cross pieces over the fire were fishing nets and floats, clothes, and a bunch of the bearberry to mix with tobacco for the manufacture of kinni-kinnik." (Hind, (1), II, p. 63.) Hind was accompanied on his second journey, in 1858, by a photographer, Humphrey Lloyd Hime, who made many interesting negatives while in the Indian country. Among the photographs made at this time are three views of bark wigwams of the Ojibway which stood near the banks of Red River. These are now reproduced in plates 7, b, and 8 a, b.


a. Ojibway camp west of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858
a. Ojibway camp west of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858
b. Ojibway camp on bank of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858
b. Ojibway camp on bank of Red River. Photograph by H. L. Hime, 1858


a. Wigwams covered with elm bark
a. Wigwams covered with elm bark
b. Two types of wigwams covered with birch bark OJIBWAY HABITATIONS, ABOUT 1865
b. Two types of wigwams covered with birch bark

While in the vicinity of Red River the year before (1857) Hind encountered several interesting Ojibway structures. At a point not far north of the Minnesota boundary his party crossed the Roseau a few miles east of Red River, and there "on the bank at the crossing place the skeletons of Indian wigwams and sweating-houses were grouped in a prominent position, just above a fishing weir where the Ojibways of this region take large quantities of fish in the spring. The framework of a large medicine wigwam measured twenty-five feet in length by fifteen in breadth; the sweating-houses were large enough to hold one man in a sitting position, and differed in no respect from those frequently seen on the canoe route between Lakes Superior and Winnipeg, and which have been often described by travelers." (Hind, (1), I, p. 163.) During the journey, when camping on an island in Bonnet Lake, the party encountered "an Indian cache elevated on a stage in the centre of the island. The stage was about seven feet above the ground, and nine feet long by four broad. It was covered with birch bark, and the treasures it held consisted of rabbit-skin robes, rolls of birch bark, a ragged blanket, leather leggings, and other articles of winter apparel, probably the greater part of the worldly wealth of an Indian family." (Op. cit., p. 120.)

The canoe route between the lakes mentioned by Hind was often broken by dangerous rapids, around which it was necessary to carry the canoes, as Catlin described the Ojibway party doing at the Falls of St. Anthony.

[13]The ceremonial lodge of the Ojibway, where the Mĭdé rites were enacted, was often 100 feet or more in length and about 12 feet in width. The frame was made of small saplings, bent and fastened by cords, similar to the frames of wigwams which were to be covered with mats or sheets of bark, but the coverings of the ceremonial lodges were usually of a more temporary nature, boughs and branches of the pine and spruce being sometimes used, which would soon fall away, although the rigid frame would stand from year to year, to be covered when required. Somewhat of this form was the "medicine lodge," described by Kane. This stood in the center of a large camp of the "Saulteaux" or Ojibway, not far from Fort Alexander, which was about 3 miles above Lake Winnipeg, on the bank of Winnipeg River. The camp was visited June 11, 1846, and in referring to the lodge: "It was rather an oblong structure, composed of poles bent in the form of an arch, and both ends forced into the ground, so as to form, when completed, a long arched chamber, protected from the weather by a covering of birch bark.... On my first entrance into the medicine lodge ... I found four men, who appeared to be chiefs, sitting upon mats spread upon the ground gesticulating with great violence, and keeping time to the beating of a drum. Something, apparently of a sacred nature was covered up in the centre of the group, which I was not allowed to see.... The interior of their lodge or sanctuary was hung round with mats constructed with rushes, to which were attached various offerings consisting principally of bits of red and blue cloth, calico, &c., strings of beads, scalps of enemies, and sundry other articles beyond my comprehension." (Kane, (1), pp. 68-71.)

It is quite evident the frame of the large lodge encountered by Hind was similar to the structure described by Kane a few years before. Both stood in the northern part of the Ojibway country, a region where birch bark was extensively used as covering for the wigwams, and where it was easily obtained.

The temporary, quickly raised shelters of the Ojibway were described by Tanner, who learned to make them from the people with whom he remained many years. Referring to a journey up the valley of the Assiniboin, he wrote: "In bad weather we used to make a little lodge, and cover it with three or four fresh buffaloe hides, and these being soon frozen, made a strong shelter from wind and snow. In calm weather, we commonly encamped with no other covering than our blankets." (Tanner, (1) p. 55.) On another occasion fire destroyed the wigwam and all the possessions of the family with whom he lived, and then, so he said: "We commenced to repair our loss, by building a small grass lodge, in which to shelter ourselves while we should prepare the pukkwi for a new wigwam. The women[14] were very industrious in making these.... At night, also, when it was too dark to hunt, Wa-me-gon-a-biew and myself assisted at this labour. In a few days our lodge was completed." (Op. cit., p. 85.) And again when near Rainy Lake, "I had no pukkwi, or mats, for a lodge and therefore had to build one of poles and long grass." (p. 214.) It is quite evident the shelters of poles and grass, as mentioned by Tanner, were similar to those erected by the Assiniboin as described on another page, and as indicated in the painting by Paul Kane, which is reproduced as plate 25, a.

Two very interesting old photographs, made more than half a century ago, are shown in plate 9. One, a, represents clearly the elm-bark covering of the wigwams, and in this picture the arbor suggests a Siouan rather than an Ojibway encampment; b is more characteristic of the Ojibway.

The structures encountered in the Ojibway country farther south differed from those already mentioned, the majority of which were covered with sheets of birch bark, a form which must necessarily have been restricted to the northern country. But the type was widely scattered northward, and undoubtedly extended eastward to the Atlantic, especially down the valley of the St. Lawrence into northern Maine and the neighboring Provinces. South of this zone were the dome-shaped mat or bark covered wigwams, varying in different localities according to the available supply of barks, or of rushes to be made into mats, which served to cover the rigid, oval-topped frame. Most interesting examples were standing in the Ojibway settlements on the shore of Mille Lac, Minnesota, during the spring of 1900. One, which may be accepted as a type specimen, was of a quadrilateral rather than oval outline of base, and measured about 14 feet each way, with a maximum height of 6 feet or more. The saplings which formed the frame were seldom more than 2 inches in diameter, one end being set firmly in the ground, the top being bent over and attached to similar pieces coming from the opposite side. Other small saplings or branches were tied firmly to these in a horizontal position about 2 feet apart, thus forming a rigid frame, over which was spread the covering of mats and sheets of bark, the latter serving as the roof. In this particular example the covering was held in place by cords which passed over the top and were attached to poles which hung horizontally about a foot above the ground. A second row of mats was fastened to the inside of the frame and others were spread on the ground near the walls. A small fire burned within near the center of the open space, although the cooking was often done outside, just beyond the single entrance.

Although the Ojibway were numerous, they had few large villages or settlements. They lived for the most part in small, scattered[15] groups, and often moved from place to place. However, there were some long-occupied sites, as at Red Lake, Sandy Lake, on the shores of Leech Lake, where the Pillagers gathered, and the more recently occupied villages at Mille Lac, sites once covered by the settlements of the Mdewakanton. These villages, which should more properly be termed "gathering places," at once suggest the various descriptions and accounts of the great village of the Illinois, which stood on the banks of the upper Illinois during the latter part of the seventeenth century and was many times visited by the French.

When the Ojibway and Sioux gathered at Fort Snelling, at the mouth of the Minnesota River, during the summer of 1835 in the endeavor to establish peace between the two tribes or groups, they were encamped on opposite sides of the fort. Catlin, who was there at the time, wrote of the temporary camp of the Ojibway: "their wigwams made of birch bark, covering the frame work, which was of slight poles stuck in the ground, and bent over at the top, so as to give a rooflike shape to the lodge, best calculated to ward off rain and winds." (Catlin, (1), II, p. 137.) Unfortunately, the original painting of the camp does not exist in the great collection of Catlin paintings now belonging to the National Museum, Washington. In the catalogue of the collection printed in London, 1848, it appears as "334, Chippeway Village and Dog Feast at the Falls of St. Anthony; lodges built with birch-bark; Upper Mississippi."

An outline drawing of the picture was given as plate 238 to illustrate the account quoted above, but how accurate either description or sketch may be is now quite difficult to determine. However, it is doubtful if the structures had flat ends, as indicated, and mats may have formed part of the covering. Catlin continued his narrative and told of the removal of the camp (p. 138): "After the business and amusements of this great Treaty between the Chippeways and Sioux were all over, the Chippeways struck their tents by taking them down and rolling up their bark coverings, which, with their bark canoes seen in the picture, turned up amongst their wigwams, were carried to the water's edge; and all things being packed in, men, women, dogs, and all, were swiftly propelled by paddles to the Falls of St Anthony." They reached "an eddy below the Falls, and as near as they could get by paddling." Here the canoes were unloaded and the canoes and all else carried about one-half mile above the Falls, where they again embarked and continued on their way. It is interesting to contemplate this scene and to realize it was enacted within the limits of the present city of Minneapolis so short a time ago. A beautiful example of the light birch-bark canoe of the Ojibway is shown in plate 10, a, and a photograph of two old Ojibway Indians with similar canoes is reproduced in plate 10, b. The[16] canoes indicated by Kane in his painting (pl. 7, a) were of this form, probably the most graceful and easiest propelled craft ever devised.


a. Ojibway birch bark canoe. Northern Minnesota, 1899
a. Ojibway birch bark canoe. Northern Minnesota, 1899
b. Ojibway Indians with birch bark canoes. North of Ely, Minn., 1899
b. Ojibway Indians with birch bark canoes. North of Ely, Minn., 1899


a. Trader's store at the village of the Pillagers, Cass Lake in the distance on the right.  November 26, 1899
a. Trader's store at the village of the Pillagers, Cass Lake in the distance on the right. November 26, 1899
b. Outside an elm-bark structure. At the Ojibway village of Sagawamick, on south shore of Mille Lac, Minnesota. May 21, 1900
b. Outside an elm-bark structure. At the Ojibway village of Sagawamick, on south shore of Mille Lac, Minnesota. May 21, 1900


a. Hammer, bag, and two skin-dressing tools
a. Hammer, bag, and two skin-dressing tools
b. Section of a rush mat, as used to form covering for a wigwam OBJECTS OF OJIBWAY MAKE
b. Section of a rush mat, as used to form covering for a wigwam


a. Ojibway mortar and pestle
a. Ojibway mortar and pestle
b. Delaware mortar and pestle
b. Delaware mortar and pestle
c. Ojibway birch bark dish
c. Ojibway birch bark dish

The various structures in an Ojibway village do not appear to have been erected or placed with any degree of order. Certainly this is true of conditions in recent times, and whether any accepted or recognized plan was followed in the past is not known. The small wigwams formed an irregular group on the shore of a lake or the bank of a stream surrounded by the primeval forest.

In the month of May, 1900, a council house which had been erected by the Ojibway some years before stood on a high point of land in the midst of dense woods, about 1 mile north of the outlet of Mille Lac—the beginning of Rum River—and about 200 yards from the lake shore. It was oriented with its sides facing the cardinal points, about 20 feet square, with walls 6 feet in height and the peak of the roof twice that distance above the ground. The heavy frame was covered with large sheets of elm bark, which had evidently been renewed from time to time during the preceding years. No traces of seats remained and grass was again growing on the ground which had served as the floor. This was the scene of the treaty of October 5, 1889, between the Ojibway of Mille Lac and the United States Government. Within a short time this very interesting primitive structure had disappeared and two years later no trace of it remained. Whether this represented an ancient type of building could not be ascertained.

The Ojibway villages were supplied with the usual sweat houses, a small frame covered with blankets or other material, so often described. Resembling these were the shelters prepared for the use of certain old men who were believed to possess the power of telling of future events and happenings. Such a lodge was seen standing on the shore of Lake Superior, about 18 miles from Fond du Lac, July 27, 1826. As described by McKenney: "At this place, Burnt river is a place of divination, the seat of a jongleur's incantations. It is a circle, made of eight poles, twelve feet high, and crossing at the top, which being covered in with mats, or bark, he enters, and foretells future events." (McKenney, (1), p. 269.) Interesting, indeed, are the many accounts of the predictions believed to have been made by these old men.

A remarkable performance of this nature was witnessed by Paul Kane. When returning from the far West during the summer of 1848 the small party of which he was one arrived at Lake Winnipeg and on July 28 had advanced about midway down the eastern shore. On that day Kane made this entry in his journal: "July 28th.—About 2 o'clock P.M., we endeavoured to proceed, but got only as far as the Dog's Head, the wind being so strong and unfavourable,[17] that it was thought useless to run any risk for the short distance we would be able to make against it. In the evening our Indians constructed a jonglerie, or medicine lodge, the main object of which was to procure a fair wind for next day. For this purpose they first drive ten or twelve poles, nine or ten feet long, into the ground, enclosing a circular area of about three feet in diameter, with a boat sail open at the top. The medicine-man, one of which is generally found in every brigade, gets inside and commences shaking the poles violently, rattling his medicinal rattle, and singing hoarse incantations to the Great Spirit for a fair wind. Being unable to sleep on account of the discordant noises, I wrapped a blanket round me, and went out into the woods, where they were holding their midnight orgies, and lay down amongst those on the outside of the medicine lodge, to witness the proceedings. I had no sooner done so than the incantations at once ceased, and the performer exclaimed that a white man was present. How he ascertained this fact I am at a loss to surmise ... The Major, [M'Kenzie] ... with many other intelligent persons, is a firm believer in their medicine." (Kane, (1), pp. 439-441.)

In addition to the several forms of structures erected by the Ojibway, as already described, they reared the elm-bark lodge which resembled in form the log cabin of the early settlers. Three of these were standing on the south shore of Mille Lac, Minnesota, during the spring of 1900, and the outside of one, showing the manner in which the bark covering was placed, is indicated in plate 11, b. This was similar in shape to the Sauk and Fox habitation reproduced in plate 19, although the Ojibway structure was more skillfully constructed. Habitations of a like nature were found among the Sioux villages on the banks of the Mississippi in the vicinity of Fort Snelling, and others were erected within a generation by the Menomini in northern Wisconsin, but whether this may be considered a primitive form of structure has not been determined.

A trader's store standing near the Ojibway village on the shore of Cass Lake, Minnesota, during the late autumn of 1899 is shown in plate 11, a. Similar cabins were occupied by some of the Indian families, these having taken the place of the native wigwams.

Various objects of primitive forms, made and used by the Ojibway within a generation, are shown in plates 12 and 13.


The Cree (the Knisteneaux of Mackenzie) were closely related to the Ojibway; they spoke the same language, and had many customs in common. As Hayden wrote: "The Cree nation was originally a portion of the Chippewa, as the similarity of language proves; and[18] even now they are so mingled with the latter people as with difficulty to be considered a distinct tribe, further than a slight difference in language and their local position." (Hayden, (1), p. 235.) Formerly they occupied the forest region to the eastward of the country which they later claimed. There they were probably accustomed to the mat or bark covered structures, similar to those of the neighboring Ojibway, but in more recent times, after having been attracted to the prairies by the buffalo, they followed the customs of the prairie tribes and for the most part made and used the typical conical skin-covered lodge.

After reaching the open country, and becoming more accustomed to the life of roving hunters, they were necessarily less sedentary in their habits than formerly, and their camps probably seldom remained long in any one place. They became scattered over a wide region, and in 1856 it was said: "They number about ten or eleven hundred persons. Like most of the tribes in the Northwest Territory, they are separated into clans or bands, and live in different districts for greater advantages in hunting." Here is given a list of the several bands, with the number of skin lodges claimed by each group, but the "Pis-ka-kau-a-kis, or 'Magpies,' are about thirty lodges; are stationed at Tinder Mountain; live in dirt lodges and log-cabins; cultivate the soil to some extent, and raise considerable quantities of corn and potatoes; hunt buffalo during the winter, and trade also with the Hudson's Bay Company." (Hayden, (1), p. 237.) The same writer continues (p. 238): "Besides the foregoing there are about two hundred lodges more who are not formed into bands, but scattered along Lac de L'Isle Croix, and live by hunting reindeer, moose, fish, and wild fowl. They live in skin tents in the summer, but sometimes build log and bark huts in winter, and seldom more than one cabin is found in the same place. These are the poorest of the Crees."

Thus it will be understood how scattered bands of the same tribe often reared and occupied several forms of habitations, influenced by their natural surroundings and requirements. And here are references to the use of the bark-covered lodge, the skin-covered lodge of probably a different shape, the structure covered with earth or sod, and, lastly, the log cabin, by widely dispersed bands of the Cree.

A simple form of temporary shelter was constructed by the Cree and Ojibway to serve during certain ceremonies. This was described about a century ago when recounting the customs of the "Sauteaux and the Crees." It was told that in public feasts "Several chiefs unite in preparing a suitable place, and in collecting sufficient provisions, for the accommodation of a numerous assemblage. To provide a place, poles are fixed obliquely into the ground, enclosing a sufficient space to hold several hundred, and at times, nearly a thousand[19] people. On these poles, skins are laid, at the height of twelve or fifteen feet, thus forming a spacious court, or tent. The provisions consist both of dried and of fresh meat, as it would not be practicable to prepare a sufficient quantity of fresh meat, for such a multitude, which, however, consists only of men. At these feasts, the guests converse only on elevated topics, such as the public interests of the tribe, and the noble exploits of their progenitors, that they may infuse a publick and an heroic spirit, into their young men. Dancing always forms the concluding ceremony, at these festivals; and the women, who are not permitted to enter the place where they are celebrated, dance and sing around them, often keeping time with the music within." (Harmon, (1), p. 362.) It is to be regretted that these early accounts are often so lacking in detail, and that so much is left to imagination. In this instance the form of the large structure was not mentioned, but it was probably extended, resembling to some degree the Mĭdé lodge of the Ojibway. Among the latter the large ceremonial lodge was covered with mats, sheets of bark, or sometimes with skins or boughs of pine or spruce. Like customs may have prevailed among the Cree.

Proving the wandering, roving disposition of the Cree, and the consequent lack of permanent villages, Maximilian wrote from Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, during the latter part of June, 1833: "The Crees live in the same territory as the Assiniboins, that is, between the Saskatschawan, the Assiniboin, and the Missouri. They ramble about in small bands with the others, are poor, have many dogs, which carry their baggage, but only a few horses. They live, like the Assiniboins, in leather tents, follow the herds of buffaloes, of which they sometimes kill great numbers in their parks. The Crees are reckoned at 600 or 800 tents." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 199-200.)

The dog travois, such as was used by the Cree and mentioned in the preceding account, was of very ancient origin, having been seen and described by the first Spanish explorers to traverse the prairie lands of the Southwest. In Relacion Postrera de Sivola, prepared in the year 1541, appears this interesting note:

"These people have dogs like those in this country, except that they are somewhat larger, and they load these dogs like beasts of burden, and make saddles for them like our pack saddles, and they fasten them with their leather thongs, and these make their backs sore on the withers like pack animals. When they go hunting, they load these with their necessities, and when they move—for these Indians are not settled in one place, since they travel wherever the cows [buffalo] move, to support themselves—these dogs carry their houses, and they have the sticks of their houses dragging along tied on to[20] the pack-saddles, besides the load which they carry on top, and the load may be, according to the dog, from 35 to 50 pounds." (Winship, (1), pp. 510-571.) This description could easily refer to conditions and customs among the tribes three centuries and more later.

A very graphic sketch of a dog travois was made at Fort Union, October 10, 1851, by the Swiss artist, Friedrich Kurz, and is now reproduced in plate 26, b, showing the method of attaching the poles, and how the load was rolled and placed upon the latter. The use of the horse for a similar purpose in later years followed as a natural sequence.

Among the many paintings by Paul Kane, now preserved in the Royal Ontario Museum of Archæology, at Toronto, is one bearing the legend: "Cree Indians Travelling." It represents a small party of Indians, some walking, others mounted on horses, with several horse and dog travois. The latter show long poles attached to the sides of the dogs, one end of the poles dragging on the ground, while about midway of their length is a small pack upon which a child is seated. The broken, rolling land of the north is represented with a few clumps of small trees. The picture is one of much beauty and interest, depicting as it does some of the primitive customs of the Cree.

During the summer of 1858 the Hind expedition into the region far west of the Red River encountered many small groups of Cree hunters and also observed the ancient camp sites of the same tribe. They wrote in part: "Immediately on the banks of the Qu'appelle Valley near the 'Round Hill' opposite Moose Jaws Forks, are the remains of ancient encampments, where the Plain Crees, in the day of their power and pride, had erected large skin tents, and strengthened them with rings of stones placed round the base. These circular remains were twenty-five feet in diameter, the stones or boulders being about one foot in circumference. They wore the aspect of great antiquity, being partially covered with soil and grass. When this camp ground was occupied by the Crees, timber no doubt grew in the valley below, or on the prairie and ravines in detached groves, for their permanent camping grounds are always placed near a supply of fuel.

"Making an early start in search of wood, we came suddenly upon four Cree tents, whose inmates were still fast asleep; about three hundred yards west of them we found ten more tents, with over fifty or sixty Indians in all. They were preparing to cross the valley in the direction of the Grand Coteau, following the buffalo. Their provisions for trade, such as dried meat and pemmican, were drawn by dogs, each bag of pemmican being supported upon two long poles, which are shaft, body, and wheels in one. Buffalo Pound[21] Hill Lake, sixteen miles long, begins near Moose Jaws Forks, and on the opposite or south side of this long sheet of water, we saw eighteen tents and a large number of horses. The women in those we visited on our side of the valley and lake, had collected a great quantity of the mesaskatomina berry which they were drying." And not far beyond we "began to find the fresh bones of buffalo very numerous on the ground, and here and there startled a pack of wolves feeding on a carcas which had been deprived of its tongue and hump only by the careless, thriftless Crees. On the high banks of the valley the remains of ancient encampments in the form of rings of stones to hold down the skin tents are everywhere visible, and testify to the former numbers of the Plain Crees.... The largest ancient encampment we saw lies near a shallow lake in the prairie about a mile from the Qu'appelle valley. It is surrounded by a few low sandy and gravelly hills, and is quite screened from observation. It may have been a camping ground for centuries, as some circles of stones are partially covered with grass and embedded in the soil." (Hind, (1), I, pp. 338-341.)

This is a simple explanation of the origin of small circles of stones now encountered in different parts of the country, but in other localities, where stones were not obtainable, masses of sod were used for the same purpose, and these in turn may have caused the small earth circles which are now discovered in the lower Mississippi Valley and elsewhere.


As has been remarked by the most observant student of this tribe: "Information as to the region occupied by the Cheyenne in early days is limited and for the most part traditional. Some ethnologists declare that Indian tradition has no historical value, but other students of Indians decline to assent to this dictum. If it is to be accepted, we can know little of the Cheyenne until they are found as nomads following the buffalo over the plains. There is, however, a mass of traditionary data which points back to conditions at a much earlier date quite different from these. In primitive times they occupied permanent earth lodges and raised crops of corn, beans, and squashes, on which they largely depended for subsistence." (Grinnell, (1), p. 359.)

According to tradition, which in part is verified by the accounts of early explorations, the Cheyenne at one time lived in the valley of the Minnesota, whence they gradually moved westward. Thus at least a part of the tribe removed from the edge of the timbered region to the plains, a movement which probably took place during the latter part of the eighteenth century.

[22]While living in the vicinity of the Minnesota the villages and camps of the Cheyenne undoubtedly resembled those of the Sioux of later days; the conical skin-covered lodge, or possibly the mat or bark structure of the timber people, as used by the Ojibway and others. But during the same period it is evident other bands of the tribe lived quite a distance westward, probably on the banks of the Missouri, and there the habitations were the permanent earth lodge, similar to those of the Pawnee, Mandan, and other Missouri Valley tribes. Sioux traditions refer to Cheyenne villages on the banks of the Missouri near Fort Yates, Sioux County, North Dakota. These were visited and described by Dr. Grinnell, during the spring of 1918, who wrote: "The Teton Sioux, now allotted and scattered over the Standing Rock Indian reservation, declare that on the west bank of the Missouri river, not far from Fort Yates, there were formerly two Cheyenne villages.... I visited the two sites. The most northerly one is situated on a bluff above the Missouri river on the south side of Porcupine creek, less than five miles north of Ft. Yates. The village has been partly destroyed by the Missouri river, which has undermined the bank and carried away some of the house rings reported to have been well preserved, but a number remain. Of these a few are still seen as the raised borders of considerable earth lodges, the rings about the central hollow being from twelve to fifteen inches above the surrounding soil, and the hollows noticeably deep. In most cases, however, the situation of the house is indicated merely by a slight hollow and especially by the peculiar character of the grass growing on the house site. The eye recognizes the different vegetation, and as soon as the foot is set on the soil within a house site, the difference is felt between that and the ground immediately without the site. The houses nearest both Porcupine creek and the Missouri river stand on the bank immediately above the water, and it is possible that some of those on the Porcupine have been undermined and carried away by that stream when in flood. This settlement must have been large. It stands on a flat, now bisected by a railroad embankment, slightly sloping toward the river, and the houses stood close together." More than 70 large house sites were counted, "one at least being 60 feet in diameter," and in addition to these were a large number of smaller ones. "On the gently rising land to the west of the Porcupine village the Cheyenne are said to have planted their corn, as also on the flats on the north side of the Porcupine river. The village site now stands on the farm of Yellow Lodge, a Yankton Sioux, who stated that he had always been told by the old people that this was a Cheyenne village and that in plowing he had often turned up pottery from the ground." And in reference to the age of this interesting site: "Sioux tradition declares that the village[23] on the Porcupine river was established about 1733 or a little earlier, perhaps 1730; they fix the date as about one hundred years before the stars fell, 1833. It was a large village and was occupied for fifty years or more and then the people abandoned it and moved over to a point on Grand river twenty miles above its mouth. The date of the removal is given as about the time of a great flood at this point, which, it is said, took place about 1784." (Grinnell, Op. cit.) This later village existed until about 1840 and appears to have been composed of skin lodges, not the permanent earth structures. Sioux tradition also places the earlier home of the people who erected the village on the Porcupine at some point in the Valley of the Minnesota.

The second of the two sites mentioned stood some 2 miles below Porcupine Creek, and it is the belief of Dr. Grinnell that these were the villages to which Lewis and Clark referred in their journals as having been passed by the expedition on the 15th and 16th of October, 1804. At that time game was abundant and several hunting parties of the Arikara were encountered, and an entry in the journal dated October 15, 1804, reads: "We stopped at three miles on the north a little above a camp of Ricaras who are hunting, where we were visited by about thirty Indians. They came over in their skin canoes, bringing us meat, for which we returned them beads and fishhooks. About a mile higher we found another encampment of Ricaras on the south, consisting of eight lodges: here we again ate and exchanged a few presents. As we went we discerned numbers of other Indians on both sides of the river; and at about nine miles we came to a creek on the south, where we saw many high hills resembling a house with a slanting roof; and a little below the creek an old village of the Sharha or Cheyenne Indians.... At sunset we halted, after coming ten miles over several sandbars and points, above a camp of ten Ricara lodges on the north side." (Lewis and Clark, (1), pp. 108-109.) Such was the nature of the country a little more than a century ago.

Another ancient village site presenting many interesting features stands on the bank of an old bed of the Sheyenne River, near Lisbon, Ransom County, N. Dak. This would have been about midway between the Minnesota River and the village on the Missouri near Porcupine Creek. A plan of this village made a few years ago is now preserved in the Historical Society of North Dakota and was reproduced by Dr. Grinnell in the article cited. It shows a large number—70 or more—earth-lodge sites, varying in size, but closely grouped, and protected by a ditch except on the river side. There is a remarkable similarity between this site and others east of the Mississippi, where structures of a like form evidently stood in the centuries before the coming of Europeans. The ditch may have[24] been accompanied by an embankment, in turn surmounted by palisades. The river served to protect the settlement on the north, the encircling embankment and ditch reaching the bank of the stream both above and below the occupied area.

Unfortunately no sketch or picture of any sort of a Cheyenne earth lodge is known to exist, but the villages just mentioned must necessarily have resembled in appearance those of the Pawnee of a later generation, remarkable photographs of which have been preserved and which are shown in the present work. And as Dr. Grinnell has said in a recent communication (February 2, 1920) when referring to the places long ago occupied by the camps of the Cheyenne: "I have walked about on the sites of these old villages, and the grandmother of a woman of my acquaintance, and probably the father of that woman, lived in earth-lodge houses, presumably very similar to those occupied in my time by the Pawnees and the Mandans. I have never seen one, however, and do not know anyone who has seen one. Many years ago, I might have procured from old Elk River a description of such houses, though he was even then very old and growing feeble. It is too late to lament that now."

The conical skin lodge of the Cheyenne resembled that of other plains tribes, and they must in earlier times, when buffalo were so numerous and easily secured, have been rather large and commodious structures. When Lewis and Clark descended the Missouri, on their return from the far west, they reached on August 21, 1806, an encampment of the Cheyenne on the bank of the Missouri, opposite the upper village of the Arikara, not far below the old Cheyenne village mentioned in the journal of the expedition on October 15, 1804. To quote from the entry made August 21, 1806: "... arrived opposite to the upper Ricara villages. We saluted them with the discharge of four guns, which they answered in the same manner; and on our landing we were met by the greater part of the inhabitants of each village, and also by a band of Chayennes, who were encamped on a hill in the neighbourhood...." After conversing with all concerning the Mandans, "The sun being now very hot, the chief of the Chayennes invited us to his lodge, which was at no great distance from the river. We followed him, and found a very large lodge, made of twenty buffaloe skins, surrounded by eighteen or twenty lodges, nearly equal in size. The rest of the nation are expected to-morrow, and will make the number of one hundred and thirty or fifty lodges, containing from three hundred and fifty to four hundred men, at which the men of the nation may be computed. These Chayennes are a fine looking people, of a large stature, straight limbs, high cheek-bones and noses, and of a complexion similar to that of the Ricaras." (Lewis and Clark, (1), II, pp. 413-414.)




Karl Bodmer, 1833


The photograph reproduced in plate 14 shows a Cheyenne family group, an interesting example of a travois, and part of a lodge. The latter differs from all described on the preceding pages and evidently resembles those erected by the Pawnee in their temporary camps. This form may have been used in later times in the place of the conical skin lodge, although the latter was not abandoned, but, as among other tribes, the Cheyenne appear to have erected several types of shelters or habitations, governed by the available supply of materials necessary for their construction.

Large lodges, evidently tipis, set up for special purposes by the Cheyenne, are mentioned by Grinnell. In the spring of 1853 the main village of that tribe, so he wrote, stood "at the mouth of Beaver Creek on the South Platte. There a large lodge was set up as a meeting-place for each of the soldier bands. To each such place came the relations of those killed the year before to implore the soldier bands to take pity on them and to help to revenge their injuries." And at this time many presents were given the warriors. (Grinnell, (2), p. 80.)

This was before many of the primitive customs of the tribe had been changed through contact with the whites.

blackfoot confederacy.

The tribes forming this group are the Siksika, or Blackfeet proper, the Piegan, and the Kainah, or Bloods. Closely allied and associated with these were the Atsina, a branch of the Arapaho, but who later became incorporated with the Assiniboin. These tribes roamed over a wide territory of mountains, plains, and valleys.

Early accounts of the manners and ways of life of the Blackfeet are to be found in the journals kept by traders belonging to the Hudson's Bay Company, who penetrated the vast, unknown wilderness southwestward from York Factory during the eighteenth century. Although the records are all too brief and leave much to be desired, nevertheless they are of the greatest interest, referring as they do to the people while yet in a primitive state, with no knowledge of the customs of Europeans.

The first of the journals to be mentioned is that of Anthony Hendry, who left York Factory June 26, 1754. He ascended Hayes River many miles, thence, after crossing numerous lakes and streams and traversing forests and plains, arrived on Monday, October 14, 1754, at a point not far northeastward from the present city of Calgary, Alberta. This was in the country of the Blackfeet, mentioned in the journal as the Archithinue Natives. That same day, so the narrative continues: "Came to 200 tents of Archithinue Natives,[26] pitched in two rows, and an opening in the middle; where we were conducted to the Leader's tent; which was at one end, large enough to contain fifty persons; where he received us seated on a clear [white] Buffalo skin, attended by 20 elderly men. He made signs for me to sit down on his right hand: which I did. Our Leader set on several grand-pipes, and smoked all round, according to their usual custom: not a word was yet spoke on either side. Smoking being over, Buffalo flesh boiled was served round in baskets of a species of bent, and I was presented with 10 Buffalo tongues." The following day he again visited the lodge of the chief, where he received as a gift "a handsome Bow & Arrows," and the journal continues: "I departed and took a view of the camp. Their tents were pitched close to one another in two regular lines, which formed a broad street open at both ends. Their horses are turned out to grass, their legs being fettered: and when wanted, are fastened to lines cut of Buffalo skin, that stretches along & is fastened to stakes drove in the ground. They have hair halters, Buffalo skin pads, & stirrups of the same."

Although Hendry mentioned the encampment to consist of 200 lodges it is quite evident others were in the vicinity, or came soon after his arrival, for three days later, on October 17, he noted in his journal "322 tents of Archithinue Natives unpitched and moved Westward." (Hendry, (1), pp. 337-340.) They did not have permanent villages, and "never wanted food, as they followed the Buffalo & killed them with the Bows and Arrows. They were unacquainted with the canoe, would not eat fish, and their garments were finely painted with red paint." Such were the Blackfeet about the middle of the eighteenth century.

On June 27, 1772, Matthew Cocking, second factor at York Factory, started on a journey quite similar to that performed by Hendry just eighteen years earlier. He ascended Hayes River, passed north of Lake Winnipeg, and continued in a southwestwardly direction to some point not far north of the South Saskatchewan River in the extreme western part of the present Province of Saskatchewan. When near this position on December 1, 1772, they encamped not far from a "Beast pound," which had probably stood from year to year. That day, so he entered in his journal, "our Archithinue friends came to us and pitched a small distance from us; on one side the pound 21 tents of them, the other seven are pitched another way." And the following day, "the Archithinue Natives repairing the pound, the repair we gave it on our arrival not being sufficient." Two days later "the Archithinue Natives drove into the pound 3 male & one female Buffalo, & brought several considerable droves very near. They set off in the Evening; & drive the Cattle all night.[27] Indeed not only at this Game, but in all their actions they far excell the other Natives. They are all well mounted.... Their Weapons, Bows & Arrows. Several have on Jackets of Moose leather six fold, quilted, & without sleeves." Cocking evidently visited many of the tents, and on December 5 wrote: "Our Archithinue Friends are very Hospitable, continually inviting us to partake of their best fare; generally berries infused in water with fat, very agreeable eating. Their manner of showing respect to strangers is, in holding the pipe while they smoke: this is done three times. Afterwards every person smokes in common; the Women excepted.... The tobacco they use is of their own planting.... These people are much more cleanly in their cloathing, & food, than my companions: Their Victuals are dressed in earthen pots, of their own Manufacturing; much in the same form as Newcastle pots, but without feet: their fire tackling a black stone used as flint, & a kind of Ore as a steel, using tuss balls as tinder, (i. e.) a kind of moss." December 6, 1772: "No success in pounding: the Strangers say the season is past." On December 21 "we were joined by ten tents of Asinepoet Indians," and the following day "by five tents of Nehetheway Indians." The former were Assiniboin and the latter Cree. (Cocking, (1), pp. 110-112.)

One of the reasons which inspired Cocking to undertake the long journey into the wilderness was the desire to win the Blackfeet away from the French interests, and to persuade them to carry their furs to the posts of the Hudson's Bay Company. Soon the English were successful in their endeavors, and for several generations secured the furs and robes collected by the people of the ever-shifting camps, who followed the buffalo as the vast herds moved from place to place with the changing seasons of the year. Later, traders from another people penetrated the country to the upper waters of the Missouri, and certain of the Blackfeet began trading at the posts erected by these newcomers. The various tribes wandered over a wide region, and 60 years ago it was said:

"The Blood Indians range through the district along Maria, Teton, and Belly Rivers, inclining west and northwest far into the interior. In this section, wood is more abundant, pasturage excellent, and, consequently, buffalo almost always abound there. The Blackfeet inhabit a portion of country farther north than the Bloods, extending to the banks of the Saskatchewan, along which they often reside. They have never altogether abandoned their English friends, and more frequently dispose of their furs to them than to the American traders on the head branches of the Missouri. The Piegans roam through the Rocky Mountains on the south side of Maria River, on both banks of the Missouri.... They also hunt as far down the[28] Missouri as the Mussel-shell River, and up that stream to the borders of the Crow country. The three divisions ... constitute the Blackfoot nation proper, whose name has become notorious for their fierce and deadly struggles with all the neighboring tribes, and in former times struck terror to all white men who travelled in any district from the Saskatchewan to the Yellowstone, and from the Yellowstone to the Columbia.... These bands all live in skin tents, like the rest of the prairie tribes, follow the chase for a subsistence, and in former years were famous for their war excursions against neighboring tribes." (Hayden, (1), pp. 249-250.)

The region mentioned would have included the central portion of the present State of Montana and northward. Marias River flows into the Missouri just below Fort Benton.

Maximilian, who visited the Blackfeet during the summer of 1833, has left a very concise and interesting account of the appearance of their camps:

"The leather tents of the Blackfeet, their internal arrangement, and the manner of loading their dogs and horses, agree, in every respect, with those of the Sioux and Assiniboins, and all the wandering tribes of hunters of the upper Missouri. The tents, made of tanned buffalo skin, last only for one year; they are, at first, neat and white, afterwards brownish, and at the top, where the smoke issues, black, and, at last, transparent, like parchment, and very light inside. Painted tents, adorned with figures, are very seldom seen, and only a few chiefs possess them. When these tents are taken down, they leave a circle of sods, exactly as in the dwellings of the Esquimaux. They are often surrounded by fifteen or twenty dogs, which serve, not for food, but only for drawing and carrying their baggage. Some Blackfeet, who have visited the Sioux, have imitated them in eating dogs, but this is rare. Near the tents they keep their dog sledges, with which they form conical piles resembling the tents themselves, but differing from them in not being covered with leather. On these they hang their shields, travelling bags, saddles and bridles; and at some height, out of the reach of the hungry dogs, they hang the meat, which is cut into long strips, their skins, &c. The medicine bag or bundle, the conjuring apparatus, is often hung and fastened to a separate pole, or over the door of the tent. Their household goods consist of buffalo robes and blankets, many kinds of painted parchment bags, some of them in a semicircular form, with leather strings and fringes; wooden dishes, large spoons made of the horn of the mountain sheep, which are very wide and deep.... In the center of the tent there is a small fire in a circle composed of stones, over which the kettle for cooking is suspended." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 250-251.)

[29]A painting of a Piegan camp was made at that time by Bodmer, who accompanied Maximilian, and served as an illustration in the latter's work. It is here reproduced as plate 15. It shows clearly the many skin lodges forming the encampment, the numerous dogs and horses, with some of the Indians wrapped in highly decorated buffalo robes. Some of the lodges are decorated, but the great majority are plain, thus conforming with the description.

Maximilian again wrote while at Fort McKenzie, in August, 1833:

"Having made our arrangements on the first day of our arrival, and viewed the Indian camp, with its many dogs, and old dirty leather tents, we were invited, on the following day, together with Mr Mitchell, to a feast, given by the Blackfoot chief, Mehkskehme-Sukahs (the iron shirt). We proceeded to a large circle in the middle of the camp, enclosed with a kind of fence of boughs of trees, which contained part of the tents, and was designed to confine the horses during the night, for the Indians are so addicted to horse stealing that they do not trust each other. The hut of the chief was spacious; we had never before seen so handsome a one; it was full fifteen paces in diameter, and was very clean and tastefully decorated. We took our seats, without ceremony, on buffalo skins, spread out on the left hand of the chief, round the fire, in the centre of the tent, which was enclosed in a circle of stones, and a dead silence prevailed. Our host was a tall, robust man, who at this time had no other clothes than his breechcloth; neither women nor children were visible. A tin dish was set before us, which contained dry grated meat, mixed with sweet berries, which we ate with our fingers, and found very palatable. After we had finished, the chief ate what was left in the dish, and took out of a bag a chief's scarlet uniform, with blue facings and yellow lace, which he had received from the English, six red and black plumes of feathers, a dagger with its sheath, a coloured pocket-handkerchief, and two beaver skins, all of which he laid before Mr Mitchell as a present, who was obliged to accept these things whether he liked or not, thereby laying himself under the obligation of making presents in return, and especially a new uniform. When the chief began to fill his pipe, made of green talc, we rose and retired (quite in Indian fashion) in silence, and without making any salutations." (Op. cit., pp. 261-262.)

As Maximilian had already visited and seen many skin lodges as he ascended the Missouri, his remarks concerning this one which belonged to the Blackfeet chief are most interesting. It was between 40 and 50 feet in diameter, very clean and well decorated, probably a remarkable example.

[30]The circles of earth which indicated the former positions of lodges were noticed by Maximilian, and he again mentioned them while at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, October 16, 1833. He said (p. 305): "The little prairie fox was so hungry, and, therefore so tame, that it often visited the environs of the fort, and we found these pretty little animals among the circles of turf which were left on the removal of the Indian tents."

Another visit to the Piegan, in the same region, was made just 20 years later, during the month of September, 1853. J. M. Stanley, who accompanied Gov. Stevens as the artist of the expedition, left camp on the banks of Marias River and three days later, September 14, 1853, reached the divide between Milk and Bow Rivers: "From this divide I had a view of the Bull's Head, forming the base of Cypress mountain.... At 1 o'clock I descended to a deep valley, in which flows an affluent of Beaver river. Here was the Piegan camp, of ninety lodges, under their chief Low Horn, one hundred and sixty-three miles north, 20° west, of Fort Benton.

"Little Dog conducted me, with my party, to his lodge, and immediately the chief and braves collected in the 'council Lodge,' to receive my message...." This was conducted with customary formality, and the next day, September 15, "At an early hour a town crier announced the intention of the chief to move camp. The horses were immediately brought in and secured around their respective lodges, and in less than one hour the whole encampment was drawn out in two parallel lines on the plains, forming one of the most picturesque scenes I have ever witnessed.

"Preparation for their transportation is made in the following manner: The poles of the lodges, which are from twenty to thirty-five feet in length, are divided, the small ends being lashed together and secured to the shoulders of the horse, allowing the butt-ends to drag upon the ground on either side; just behind the horse are secured to cross-pieces, to keep the poles in their respective places, and upon which are placed the lodge and domestic furniture. This also serves for the safe transportation of the children and infirm unable to ride on horseback—the lodge being folded so as to allow two or more to ride securely. The horses dragging this burden—often of three hundred pounds are also ridden by the squaws, with a child astride behind, and one in her arms, embracing a favorite young pup.

"Their dogs (of which they have a large number) are also used in transporting their effects in the same manner as the horses, making, with ease, twenty miles a day, dragging forty pounds. In this way this heterogeneous caravan, comprising of a thousand souls, fell into line and trotted quietly until night, while the chiefs and braves rode[31] in front, flank, or rear, ever ready for the chase or defence against a foe.... Like other tribes in this region, the Piegans retain all their primitive customs, adhering with faithful pertinacity to the ceremonies of their forefathers." (Stanley, (1), pp. 448-449.) At that time the Piegan were estimated to have had 430 lodges, the average number of persons occupying each being 10.

During this brief but interesting journey Stanley made many sketches of the Indians with whom he came in contact, but not one of the drawings is known to exist at the present time. His beautiful painting of a buffalo hunt, shown in plate 2, is one of his five pictures now in the National Museum at Washington.

The Blackfeet allies often moved in great numbers from place to place when searching for the herds of buffalo or tracking some enemy tribe. Such a war party was encountered on the banks of the River Saskatchewan, two days' journey below Fort Pitt, about the present town of Battleford, Saskatchewan, on June 1, 1848. Among the party then going from Fort Pitt to Norway House, the Hudson's Bay Company's post on the northeast shore of Lake Winnipeg, was the Canadian artist Kane, who entered in his journal: "We saw a large party of mounted Indians, riding furiously towards us. On their nearer approach they proved to be a large war party, consisting of Blackfoot Indians, Blood Indians, Sur-cees, Gros Ventres, and Paygans.... We instantly put ashore to meet them.... They told us they were a party of 1,500 warriors, from 1,200 lodges, who were then 'pitching on' towards Fort Edmonton; that is, they were making short journeys, and pitching their tents on towards Edmonton, leaving few behind capable of bearing arms. They were in pursuit of the Crees and Assiniboines, whom they threatened totally to annihilate, boasting that they themselves were as numerous as the grass on the plains. They were the best mounted, the best looking, the most warlike in appearance, and the best accoutred of any tribe I had ever seen on the continent during my route.... After our smoke several of the young Braves engaged in a horse race, to which sport they are very partial, and at which they bet heavily; they generally ride on those occasions stark naked, without a saddle, and with only a lasso fastened to the lower jaw of the horse as represented in Sketch No. 16." (Kane, (1), pp. 417-420.) The "sketch No. 16" is here reproduced in plate 16, a. It shows, in addition to the horses, several conical skin-covered lodges, the one on the right being highly decorated.

The valley of the Saskatchewan and southward to the waters of the Missouri was a region frequented by many tribes, rich in game, and one from which the Hudson's Bay Company derived quantities of furs. The Blackfeet, who, as already mentioned, occupied in recent[32] years the country about the headwaters of the Missouri, formerly lived farther north, and about the close of the eighteenth century were encountered near the Saskatchewan, neighbors of the Assiniboin and Cree. About the year 1790 Mackenzie traversed the country, and wrote, regarding the number and distribution of the tribes then claiming that northern region: "At Nepawi, and South-Branch House, about thirty tents of Knisteneaux, or ninety warriors; and sixty tents of Stone-Indians, or Assiniboins, who are their neighbors, and are equal to two hundred men; their hunting ground extends upwards to about Eagle Hills. Next to them are those who trade at Forts George and Augustus, and are about eighty tents or upwards of Knisteneaux: on either side of the river, their number may be two hundred. In the same country are one hundred and forty tents of Stone-Indians; not quite half of them inhabit the West woody country; the others never leave the plains, and their numbers cannot be less than four hundred and fifty men. At the Southern headwaters of the North branch dwells a tribe called Sarsees, consisting of about thirty-five tents, or one hundred and twenty men. Opposite to those Eastward, on the head-waters of the South Branch, are the Picaneaux, to the number of from twelve to fifteen hundred men. Next to them, on the same water, are the Blood-Indians, of the same nation as the last, to the number of about fifty tents, or two hundred and fifty men. From them downwards extend the Black-Feet Indians, of the same nation as the two last tribes; their number may be eight hundred men. Next to them, and who extend to the confluence of the South and North branch, are the Fall, or Big-bellied Indians, who may amount to about six hundred warriors." (Mackenzie, (1), p. lxx.) "South-Branch House" of this narrative stood between the north and south branches of the Saskatchewan, near the present town of Dalmeny, in the Province of Saskatchewan. The Picaneaux, who probably possessed from 200 to 300 skin-covered lodges, were the Piegan, the Piekann Indians of Maximilian, whose village as it appeared in 1833 was painted by Bodmer. Likewise the Fall or Big-bellied Indians, whose habitat about the year 1790 was near the junction of the two branches of the Saskatchewan, were the Atsina, the Gros Ventres of the Prairie, and their village or camp in 1790 was probably quite similar to the one visited by Maximilian 43 years later, when it was sketched by Bodmer.

By reason of the roving disposition of the northern tribes, those mentioned in the preceding quotations and their neighbors, it was not possible for them to erect and maintain permanent villages. The skin-covered lodge served as a shelter easily and quickly raised and readily transported from place to place as requirements and desires made necessary. But many bark-covered structures were probably to have been found scattered throughout the wooded sections.

[33]Something of the manners and ways of life of these people may be gathered from another passage in Mackenzie's narrative: "In the fall of the year the natives meet the traders at the forts, where they barter the furs or provisions which they may have procured; then they obtain credit, and proceed to hunt the beavers, and do not return till the beginning of the year; when they are again fitted out in the same manner and come back the latter end of March, or the beginning of April. They are now unwilling to repair to the beaver hunt until the waters are clear of ice, that they may kill them with fire-arms, which the Chepewyans are averse to employ. The major part of the latter return to the barren grounds, and live during the summer with their relations and friends in the enjoyment of that plenty which is derived from numerous herds of deer. But those of that tribe who are most partial to these desarts, cannot remain there in winter, and they are obliged, with the deer, to take shelter in the woods during that rigorous season, when they contrive to kill a few beavers, and send them by young men, to exchange for iron utensils and ammunition." (Mackenzie, (1), pp. xc-xci.)

The large ceremonial lodges erected by the Blackfeet were among the most interesting structures reared by the tribes of the Northwest. A remarkable example was encountered by the Fisk party September 1, 1862, near the banks of Milk River, a short distance from Fort Benton. As described in the journal: "We passed this afternoon an abandoned camp of some three thousand or four thousand Blackfeet Indians. A large 'medicine lodge,' in which they had celebrated their superstitious rites, was left standing, although its covering had been mostly stripped from its frame-work. It was circular, and about one hundred feet in diameter and forty feet high in the centre, the roof poles running from the top down to and around a tree, which was erected for a centre pole. This, in time of occupancy, is covered with dressed buffalo skins, and constitutes the Indian's highest achievement in the architectural line." (Fisk, (1), p. 24.) The entire ceremony attending the selection of a site for the structure, the cutting of the poles, the erection of the associated sweat lodges, and the final raising of the medicine lodge, has been recorded by Grinnell, (3), pages 263-267, and is one of the most complete accounts of a native ceremony ever prepared.


The ancient habitat of the Arapaho, according to tradition, was once far northeast of the country which they later occupied. It may have been among the forests of the region about the headwaters of the Mississippi, the present State of Minnesota, where their villages would have stood on the shores of lakes and streams. But[34] later, like the related Cheyenne, with whom they have been closely allied during recent generations and probably for a long period, they reached the prairies, through what causes may never be known, and there, with different environments, their manners and ways of life changed. While a people of the timbered country, they undoubtedly reared and occupied the forms of habitations so characteristic of the forests, as exemplified by the wigwams of the Ojibway and other tribes in recent times, but after reaching the prairie country, where buffalo were obtained in such vast numbers, their villages or camps assumed the appearance of those of the Siouan tribes, conical skin lodges taking the place of the mat or bark covered structures.

The Atsina, a detached division of the Arapaho, closely associated with the Blackfeet, were often mentioned by the early writers as the Gros Ventres of the Prairie, and in certain English narratives as the Fall or Rapid Indians. In other journals they were mentioned under the name Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie. Thus they were called by the early American explorers.

On May 29, 1805, just two weeks before arriving at the Great Falls of the Missouri, the Lewis and Clark party reached Judith River, and a short distance above its junction with the Missouri "We saw the fires of one hundred and twenty-six lodges, which appeared to have been deserted about twelve or fifteen days, and on the other side of the Missouri a large encampment, apparently made by the same nation. On examining some moccasins which we found there, our Indian woman said that they did not belong to her own nation the Snake Indians, but she thought that they indicated a tribe on this side of the Rocky mountains, and to the north of the Missouri; indeed it is probable that these are the Minnetarees of fort de Prairie." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, p. 234.) The following year, when the expedition was returning from the west, the tribe was again mentioned. On July 15, 1806, the expedition passed Shields River, and two days later reached Brattons River (now Bridger Creek), a tributary of the Yellowstone in the present Sweetgrass County, Montana. Here, "In one of the low bottoms of the river was an Indian fort, which seems to have been built during the last summer. It was built in the form of a circle, about fifty feet in diameter, five feet high, and formed of logs, lapping over each other, and covered on the outside with bark set up on end, the entrance also was guarded by a work on each side of it, facing the river. These intrenchments, the squaw informs us, are frequently made by the Minnetarees and other Indians at war with the Shoshonees, when pursued by their enemies on horseback." Another similar work was encountered the next day. (Lewis and Clark, (1), II, pp. 379-380.)


a. Blackfoot camp. Paul Kane, 1848
a. Blackfoot camp. Paul Kane, 1848
b. Arapaho village, Whitewood Canyon, Wyoming, about 1870
b. Arapaho village, Whitewood Canyon, Wyoming, about 1870




The preceding references to fortified camps are of great interest, but similar works were mentioned by other explorers of the upper Missouri Valley. During the summer of 1833 several were encountered by Maximilian, and on July 18 of that year he wrote: "On this day at noon, we reached, on the south bank, an Indian fort ... it is a kind of breastwork, which Indian war-parties construct in haste of dry trunks of trees.... This fort consisted of a fence, and several angles, enclosing a rather small space, with the open side towards the river. In the center of the space there was a conical hut, composed of wood. Near this fort, on the same bank of the river, there was a beaver's den made of a heap of brushwood." (Maximilian, (1), p. 216.) Six days before, on July 12, they had encountered several huts probably similar to that which stood within the "fort." In the narrative it is said: "Just at the place where our vessel lay, were four old Indian huts, of some war or hunting party, composed of trunks and boughs of trees piled together in a square, in which some of our party made a fire to cook their meat. Scarcely 100 paces above these huts, was the Indian Fort Creek of Lewis and Clark." (Op. cit., p. 212.)

Elsewhere in this sketch other native "forts" will be mentioned. The erection of such works appears to have been quite common among the widely scattered tribes.

Fortunately, a very interesting picture of a skin lodge village or camp of the Atsina has been preserved, a painting made by Bodmer during the summer of 1833, when it was visited by Maximilian. It stood on the bank of the Yellowstone, at the mouth of the Big Horn, near the dividing line between Rosebud and Yellowstone Counties, Montana. Describing the settlement as it appeared on the evening of August 3, 1833. Maximilian wrote: "On the left was the mouth of Bighorn River, between considerable hills, on which numbers of Indians had collected. In the front of the eminence the prairie declined gently towards the river, where above 260 leather tents of the Indians were set up; the tent of the principal chief was in the foreground, and, near it, a high pole, with the American flag. The whole prairie was covered with Indians, in various groups, and with numerous dogs; horses of every colour were grazing round, and horsemen galloping backwards and forwards, among whom was a celebrated chief, who made a good figure on his light bay horse." These were the Gros Ventres, "called by the English, Fall Indians." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 231-232.) Bodmer's painting, or more correctly, an engraving made from the painting, is reproduced in plate 17.

On July 8, 1842, Fremont, while on his journey to the Rocky Mountains, reached a village of the Arapaho and Cheyenne. But before arriving at the village the party came in contact with a large number[36] of Indians belonging to the two tribes, who were chasing a herd of buffalo. Of the exciting scene presented by these many mounted Indians and the rushing buffalo, he left a vivid account: "We were too far to hear the report of the guns, or any sound; and at every instant, through the clouds of dust, which the sun made luminous, we could see for a moment two or three buffalo dashing along, and close behind them an Indian with his long spear, or other weapon, and instantly again they disappeared. The apparent silence, and the dimly seen figures flitting by with such rapidity, gave it a kind of dreamy effect, and seemed more like a picture than a scene of real life. It had been a large herd when the cerne commenced, probably three or four hundred in number; but, though I watched them closely, I did not see one emerge from the fatal cloud where the work of destruction was going on. After remaining here about an hour, we resumed our journey in the direction of the village.

"Gradually, as we rode on, Indian after Indian came dropping along, laden with meat; and by the time we had neared the lodges, the backward road was covered with the returning horsemen. It was a pleasant contrast with the desert road we had been traveling. Several had joined company with us, and one of the chiefs invited us to his lodge. The village consisted of about one hundred and twenty-five lodges, of which twenty were Cheyennes; the latter pitched a little apart from the Arapahoes. They were disposed in a scattering manner on both sides of a broad, irregular street, about one hundred and fifty feet wide, and running along the river. As we rode along, I remarked near some of the lodges a kind of tripod frame, formed of three slender poles of birch, scraped very clean, to which were affixed the shield and spear, with some other weapons of a chief. All were scrupulously clean, the spear-head was burnished bright, and the shield white and stainless. It reminded me of the days of feudal chivalry; and when, as I rode by, I yielded to the passing impulse, and touched one of the spotless shields with the muzzle of my gun, I almost expected a grim warrior to start from the lodge and resent my challenge. The master of the lodge spread out a robe for me to sit upon, and the squaws set before us a large wooden dish of buffalo meat. He had lit his pipe in the mean while, and when it had been passed around, we commenced our dinner while he continued to smoke. Gradually, five or six other chiefs came in, and took their seats in silence. When we had finished, our host asked a number of questions.... A storm had been gathering for the past hour, and some pattering drops on the lodge warned us that we had some miles to our camp.... We found our companions under some densely foliaged old trees, about three miles up the river.... Nearly opposite was the mouth of one of the most considerable[37] affluents of the South fork, la Fourche aux Castors, (Beaver fork,) heading off in the ridge to the southeast." (Fremont, (1), pp. 29-30.) This would have been near the eastern boundary of the present Morgan County, Colorado, a region approaching the western edge of the great prairie, in the midst of the range of vast herds of buffalo. The entire description of the events of the day as prepared by Fremont reads more like fiction than fact and is one of the clearest and most concise accounts extant of a buffalo hunt by native tribes under such conditions. The paintings by Stanley and Wimar, as reproduced in plates 2 and 3, would serve to illustrate Fremont's narrative.

The following year (1843) Fremont, on his second expedition, reached St. Vrain's Fort; thence continuing up the South Fork of the Platte he soon arrived in the vicinity of the present city of Denver, and at some point not far below the mouth of Cherry Creek discovered a large Arapaho village. This was on July 7, 1843, and to quote from his journal: "We made this morning an early start, continuing to travel up the Platte; and in a few miles frequent bands of horses and mules, scattered for several miles round about, indicated our approach to the Arapaho village, which we found encamped in a beautiful bottom, and consisting of about 160 lodges. It appeared extremely populous, with a great number of children; a circumstance which indicated a regular supply of the means of subsistence. The chiefs, who were gathered together at the farther end of the village, received us (as probably strangers are always received to whom they desire to show respect or regard) by throwing their arms around our necks and embracing us.... I saw here, as I had remarked in an Arapaho village the preceding year, near the lodges of the chiefs, tall tripods of white poles supporting their spears and shields, which showed it to be a regular custom.... Though disappointed in obtaining the presents which had been evidently expected, they behaved very courteously, and after a little conversation, I left them, and, continuing up the river, halted to noon on the bluff, as the bottoms are almost inundated; continuing in the afternoon our route along the mountains, which are dark, misty, and shrouded." (Fremont, (1), pp. 111-112.)

A photograph of a small Arapaho village, standing in Whitewood Canyon, Wyoming, about the year 1870, is reproduced in plate 16, b. The skin-covered lodges shown in this photograph were probably similar to those sketched by Bodmer a generation before.

sauk and foxes.

It is not the purpose of the present sketch to trace the early migrations of the two related tribes, or to refer to their connection,[38] linguistically or socially. However, it is evident their villages were similar in appearance, and both had two distinct forms of habitations which were occupied during different seasons of the year. The summer villages of both tribes consisted of bark houses, and near by were gardens in which they raised corn, squashes, beans, and some tobacco, but with the coming of autumn the families scattered and sought the more protected localities where game was to be secured, and there erected the dome-shaped, mat-covered lodge, resembling the structures of other tribes of the region.

The middle of the eighteenth century found the two tribes established in villages near the mouth of Rock River, on the left bank of the Mississippi, in the present Rock Island County, Illinois. Here they were visited by Long and his small party August 1, 1817, at which time the Fox settlement "containing about thirty cabins, with two fires each," stood on the left bank of Rock River, at its junction with the Mississippi. The Sauk village was 2 miles up Rock River and consisted "of about one hundred cabins, of two, three, and in some instances, four fires each," and it was, so Long wrote, "by far the largest Indian village situated in the neighborhood of the Mississippi between St. Louis and the Falls of St. Anthony." (Long, (1), pp. 68-69.) This was the birthplace, in the year 1767, of the great Sauk leader Black Hawk. At the time of Long's visit the people of the two villages had several hundred acres of corn, "partly in the low ground and extended up the slopes of the bluffs," and were in a very prosperous condition.

The village was destroyed by the militia June 15, 1831, and those who escaped soon after crossed the Mississippi. In 1837, having ceded their hunting grounds in Iowa to the Government, they removed to a tract in Kansas beyond the Missouri, where they continued to reside for some 20 years as practically one tribe. Later the majority of the Foxes returned to Iowa and secured a small tract of land near Tama, in Tama County, on the left bank of Iowa River, where a mixed group continues to dwell. In 1867 the remaining Sauk ceded their lands in Kansas and removed to the Indian Territory.

As already mentioned, the tribes erected two distinct types of habitations. The mat-covered lodge is shown in plate 18. The bare frames, ready for the mat coverings, are indicated in a, while the completed structure is represented in b of the same plate. Both photographs were made near Tama within the past few years.


a. Frames of structures ready to be covered with mats or sheets of bark
a. Frames of structures ready to be covered with mats or sheets of bark
b. Mat-covered lodges SAUK AND FOX HABITATIONS
b. Mat-covered lodges



During the summer of 1820 Schoolcraft was on the upper Mississippi and stopped at the village of the Sioux chief "La Petit Corbeau," which stood on the bank of the river a few miles below the present city of St. Paul. He was conducted to the lodge of the chief, [39]which, so he wrote, "is spacious, being about sixty feet in length by thirty in width—built in a permanent manner of logs, and covered with bark." (Schoolcraft, (2), p. 318.) A few days later, on August 6, 1820, he left the mouth of the Wisconsin, passed the mouth of Turkey River, which joins the Mississippi from the west, and 1 mile below the mouth of Turkey River arrived at a Fox village which stood on the left bank of the Mississippi. This would have been near the present village of Cassville, Grant County, Wisconsin. Here were twelve lodges, "large, and built of logs, in the same substantial manner practised among the Narcotah bands." This refers to the village of La Petit Corbeau and others which he had recently visited. And continuing the narrative, "The cause of their being now deserted, is the fear entertained of an attack from the Sioux, in retaliation for the massacre lately perpetrated upon the banks of the St. Peter's. The desertion appears to have taken place after they had planted their corn, and from the order in which the village is left, it may be concluded that its re-occupation is kept in view. I found several small gardens and corn fields adjoining the village, in which squashes, beans, and pumpkins were abundant, but the corn had been nearly all destroyed, probably by wild animals. Walking back from the river half a mile ... I was surprised to find an extensive field of water- and musk-melons, situated in the midst of a grove of small, scattering trees, but without any inclosure. Some of the fruit had been destroyed by animals, but a great abundance still remained." (Op. cit., pp. 340-341.)

The preceding references would seem to apply to summer habitations, as distinguished from the mat-covered structures already mentioned. The descriptions are rather vague, and the lodges encountered by Schoolcraft may have been similar in form to that shown in plate 19. This most interesting and valuable photograph was made in the Indian Territory probably 40 years or more ago, and represents a rather large dwelling. It shows clearly the manner in which sheets of bark were placed and secured to serve as roof and sides, and in this instance the bark appears to be that of the elm.

Interesting notes on the manners and ways of life of the Sauk and Foxes just a century ago are to be found in a communication from Maj. M. Marston, of the Fifth Infantry, to Morse. Marston was commanding officer at Fort Armstrong, from which place the letter was written during the month of November, 1820. At that time the Fox village standing on the bank of the Mississippi, opposite Fort Armstrong, consisted of "thirty-five permanent lodges," and this may refer to the type of structures shown in plate 19. As Marston then wrote: "There is also a small Sauk village of five or six lodges on the west bank of the Mississippi, near the mouth of Des[40] Moin river, and below Fort Edwards; and a Fox village near the lead mines (about a hundred miles above this place,) of about twenty lodges; and another near the mouth of the Wapsipinica of about ten lodges." Thus the villages and camps of the two tribes were to have been seen on both banks of the Mississippi, but undoubtedly the greater part of their hunting was done westward from the river, within the present State of Iowa. A century ago the people of the village would leave "as soon as their corn, beans, &c., are ripe and taken care of, and their traders arrive and give out their credit, (or their outfits on credit,) and go to their wintering grounds; it being previously determined in council, on what particular ground each party shall hunt. The old men, women, and children, embark in canoes; the young men go by land with their horses; on their arrival, they immediately commence their winter's hunt, which lasts about three months." The traders would follow and remain in convenient places. During the winter most of the Indians would pay their debts, get many necessary articles, and at the same time reserve the more valuable skins. These, "such as beaver, otter, &c., they take home with them to their villages, and dispose of for such articles as they may afterwards find necessary." The winter of 1819-20 was evidently a very prosperous one for the two tribes as well as for the traders, and Marston wrote: "These traders, including the peltries received at the United States Factory, near Fort Edwards, collected of the Sauk and Fox Indians during this season, nine hundred and eighty packs. They consisted of 2,760 beaver skins; 922 Otter; 13,440 Raccoon; 12,900 Musk Rat; 500 Mink; 200 Wild Cat; 680 Bear Skins; 28,600 Deer. Whole number, 60,082."

At the close of the winter hunt "they return to their villages, in the month of April, and after putting their lodges in order, commence preparing the ground to receive the seed. The number of acres cultivated by that part of the two nations, who reside at their villages in this vicinity, is supposed to be upwards of three hundred. They usually raise from seven to eight thousand bushels of corn, besides beans, pumpkins, melons, &c. About one thousand bushels of the corn they annually sell to traders and others; the remainder (except about five bushels for each family, which is taken with them,) they put into bags, and bury in holes dug in the ground, for their use in the spring and summer. The labor of agriculture is confined principally to the women, and this is done altogether with a hoe. In June, the greatest part of the young men go out on a summer hunt, and return in August. While they are absent the old men and women are collecting rushes for mats, and bark to make into bags for their corn, &c.

"The women usually make about three hundred floor mats every summer.... The twine which connects the rushes together, is made[41] either of basswood bark, after being boiled and hammered, or the bark of the nettle; the women twist or spin it by rolling it on the knee with the hand." (Morse, (1), App., pp. 124-127.) Some men, as well as women, of these tribes are often employed in and about the lead mines on the Mississippi, not far from their villages.

The customs of the tribes, as related in the preceding notes, their hunts away from the villages during certain seasons of the year, their return to plant and care for their fields and gardens, and the placing of the surplus grain in caches, had probably been followed by native tribes of the Mississippi Valley and adjacent regions for generations before the coming of the Europeans.


Although the tribes of the loosely constituted Illinois confederacy claimed and occupied a wide region east of the Mississippi, in later years centering in the valley of the Illinois River, nevertheless certain villages are known to have crossed and recrossed the great river. Thus, in the early summer of 1673, Père Marquette arrived at a village of the Peoria then standing on the right or west bank of the Mississippi, at or near the mouth of the Des Moines. Two months later it had removed to the upper Illinois. A few weeks after passing the Peoria Marquette discovered another of the Illinois tribes, the Michigamea, living near the northeastern corner of the present State of Arkansas, and consequently west of the Mississippi. On the map of Pierre van der Aa, circa 1720, two small streams are shown flowing into the Mississippi from the west, a short distance south of the Missouri. The more northerly of the two is probably intended to represent the Meramec and a dot at the north side of the mouth of the stream bears the legend: "Village des Ilinois et des Caskoukia," probably the Cahokia. This stream forms the boundary between Jefferson and St. Louis Counties, Missouri, and a short distance above its junction with the Mississippi are traces of a large village, with many stone-lined graves, probably indicating the position of the Illinois village of two centuries ago. Also, on the d'Anville map, issued in the year 1755, an "Ancien Village Cahokias" is shown at a point corresponding with the mouth of the small Rivière des Pères, a stream which joins the Mississippi and there forms the southern boundary of the city of St. Louis. Until covered by railroad embankments many small mounds were visible near the mouth of the Rivière des Pères, indications of the old settlement were numerous, and graves were encountered on the neighboring hills. These were evidently the remains of the "Ancien Village Cahokias." The many salt springs found on the Missouri side of the Mississippi served to attract the Indians from the eastern shore.[42] Establishing their camps in the vicinity of the springs, they would evaporate the waters and so obtain a supply of salt, a process which continued long after the French had settled in this part of upper Louisiana.

The villages of the Illinois tribes have been described in a former publication (Bushnell, (1)).

About the close of the eighteenth century many scattered bands of various tribes whose habitat was east of the Mississippi sought new homes to the westward. Especially was this true after the signing of the treaty of Greenville, Ohio, August 3, 1795. But two years before the signing of this important treaty small groups of Shawnee and Delaware crossed the river, and by the year 1793 had established a village on Apple Creek, near the Mississippi and some 40 miles south of the French settlement of Ste. Genevieve. A few years later these, or others of the same tribes, had small towns not far west of St. Louis and only a short distance south of the Missouri. Within another generation many of the remaining tribes were removed from east of the Mississippi by the Government to lands set apart for them just west of the western boundary of Missouri. But for many years after the beginning of the nineteenth century the western part of the Ozarks was occupied, or frequented, by bands of several tribes.

It seems quite evident that with the removal of the tribes from the east came certain changes in their customs and ways of life. And it is doubtful whether all attempted to erect their native form of habitations. Again, before leaving the east they had seen and constructed the log cabin of the pioneers, and it is evident similar structures were reared by them in their new homes, or at least by some of the tribes, among them the Delaware. An interesting account of one of these later settlements has been preserved, but it is very brief. It was mentioned in the journal of a dragoon, one of the command then crossing the wilderness from St. Louis to the valley of the Arkansas, and was prepared about the beginning of December, in the year 1833: "It was drawing towards the close of the day, when at a little distance we descried a cluster of huts that we imagined might be a squatter settlement, but upon a nearer approach, found it to be the remains of a log-town long since evacuated, that had formerly been the settlement of a tribe of the Delawares.... The site was a beautiful one; and the associations that were connected with it, as well as the many vestiges of rude art that remained about it, invested this spot with many pleasing sources of reflection. As we entered the town, our regiment slackened their pace, and slowly rode through this now silent ruin. A small space of cleared land encompassed the settlement, but scarce large enough to relieve it from the deep gloom[43] of the lofty and surrounding forest of aged oaks.... The huts were small, containing but one apartment, built of logs, many of which had become so decayed as to have fallen to the ground, and the whole was covered with a rich coat of moss." (Hildreth, (1), pp. 70-71.) Scattered throughout the settlement, near and between the ruined houses, stood many large oaks. On the trunks of some of these had been cut various figures and symbols by the Indians.

This Delaware village evidently stood not far from the present town of Springfield, Green County, Missouri. Just beyond it began the "Kickapoo prairie, which is the commencement of that immense chain of prairie land that extends in broken patches to the Rocky Mountains." (Op. cit., p. 70.)

The preceding reference to various figures cut on the trees near the deserted village tends to recall a somewhat similar allusion by Irving. On November 2, 1832, during his "Tour on the Prairies," so he wrote: "We came out upon an extensive prairie, and about six miles to our left beheld a long line of green forest, marking the course of the north fork of the Arkansas. On the edge of the prairie, and in a spacious grove of noble trees which overshadowed a small brook, were traces of an old Creek hunting camp. On the bark of the trees were rude delineations of hunters and squaws, scrawled with charcoal; together with various signs and hieroglyphics, which our half-breeds interpreted as indicating that from this encampment the hunters had returned home." (Irving, Washington. (1), p. 187.)

It is to be regretted that all such figures should so soon have disappeared, as did the frail structures of the native villages, leaving only fragments of pottery and bits of stone, ashes, and occasional animal bones to indicate where they had once stood.

Siouan Tribes.

The numerous and widely scattered tribes belonging to the Siouan linguistic family formerly had a combined population which caused this to rank as the second largest stock north of Mexico, being exceeded only by the Algonquian.

All evidence tends to prove that during past centuries the many tribes who were found living west of the Mississippi when the great central valley of the continent first became known to Europeans had, within a few generations, migrated from the eastward. This is likewise indicated by certain tribal traditions. Many had undoubtedly occupied the upper parts of the Ohio Valley, and were probably the builders of the great earthworks discovered in that region. What impelled the westward movement of the tribes may never be determined. Whether they were forced to abandon their early habitat by stronger forces, by the lack of food which made it necessary for[44] them to seek a more plentiful supply, or by reason of causes distinct from either of these can never be definitely known.

But some remained in the east; all did not join in the migration, and the native tribes encountered by the colonists living in the piedmont region of Virginia and extending southward into Carolina belonged to this linguistic family. Their villages have been mentioned in a former publication. (Bushnell, (1), pp. 92-94.)

It is more than probable that while living east of the Mississippi all reared and occupied structures similar to those of the Algonquian tribes of later generations, mat and bark covered lodges, such as continued in use by the Osage, Quapaw, and others even after they had reached their new homes, but some through necessity were compelled to adopt other forms of dwellings. Thus many were found occupying the conical skin tipi, while some had learned the art of building the large earth-covered lodges, an art which had evidently been derived from the Caddoan tribes coming from the Southwest.

dakota-assiniboin group.

The Dakota constitute the largest division of the great Siouan linguistic family. To quote from the Handbook, this group includes the following tribes, a classification which is recognized by the people themselves: "1. Mdewakanton; 2. Wahpeton; 3. Wahpekute; 4. Sisseton; 5. Yankton; 6. Yanktonai; 7. Teton, each of which is again subdivided into bands and subbands." These seven principal divisions are often referred to as the Seven Council Fires of the Dakota. The first four groups as given in this classification formed the eastern division, and their home, when first encountered by Europeans, was in the densely forested region about the headwaters of the Mississippi. The others lived westward, reaching far into the plains. The Assiniboin, in historic times a separate tribe, was originally a part of the Yanktonai, from whom they separated and became closely allied with the Algonquian Cree. Thus some of the Dakota as first known to history were a timber people, others lived where the forest and prairie joined, with a mingling of the fauna and flora of the two regions, and in later years the Oglala, the principal division of the Teton, extended their wanderings to and beyond the Black Hills, crossing the great buffalo range.

As will be shown in the sketches of the dwellings and other structures of the Dakota tribes, those who lived in the timbered region, occupying much of the present State of Minnesota, erected the type of habitation characteristic of the region, but in the villages along the Minnesota both bark and skin covered lodges were in use, and the more western villages were formed exclusively of the latter type, the[45] conical skin tipi of the plains. There appears to have been very little variation in the form of structure as erected by the widely scattered bands.


When preparing a sketch of the villages and village sites of the Mdewakanton, it is quite natural to begin with a brief description of the site of the village to which Father Hennepin was led captive, during the early spring of the year 1680. On the afternoon of April 11 of that year, while ascending the Mississippi with two companions, he was taken by a war party of the Sioux, and after much anxiety and suffering reached the Falls of St. Anthony, which he so named. Thence, going overland through the endless forests, they arrived at the village of their captors. Soon Indians were seen running from the village to meet them, and then it was that "One of the principal Issati chiefs gave us his peace-calumet to smoke, and accepted the one we had brought. He then gave us some wild rice to eat, presenting it to us in large bark dishes." From this place they were later taken in bark canoes "a short league ... to an island where their cabins were." (Shea, (1), pp. 224-225.)

The Mdewakanton "mystery lake village," of the Santee or eastern division of the Dakota, were considered by some as "the only Dakota entitled to the name Isanyati (`Santee'), given them from their old home on Mille Lac, Minnesota, called by them Isantamde, 'Knife Lake.'" There is no doubt of the Mdewakanton being the Issati of Hennepin, to whose principal village he was taken, and where he remained for some weeks during the year 1680. It has always been acknowledged that the village stood on or near the shore of Mille Lac, but not until 1900 was a site discovered which appears without doubt to indicate the position of that ancient settlement. The outlet of Mille Lac is Rum River, which enters the Mississippi at Anoka. The stream soon after leaving the lake expands into a series of small lakes, usually designated as the First, Second, and Third Lake, from the outlet at Mille Lac. Rum River leaves Mille Lac near the southwest corner, but soon turns eastward, therefore the three lakes are rather parallel with the south shore of the great lake. At the upper end of Third Lake is an isolated mass, rising some feet above the highest stage of water, and having a superficial area of several acres. On May 29, 1900, this spot was surrounded by a marsh, in places overgrown with rushes, with pools of water, more numerous on the north side. But a short time has elapsed since all the lakes were somewhat deeper and more water flowed in Rum River. And at that time the waters surrounded this elevated mass and it stood as an island at the head of Third Lake. When the surface[46] of this island was examined it was found to be strewn with innumerable fragments of pottery, some fractured stones, and a few stone implements. The amount of pottery was greater than is often found on any site, in any part of the country, and it was quite evident this island was once occupied by a large, permanent native settlement. Without doubt this was the site of the village to which Hennepin was taken in a bark canoe, "an island where their cabins were." At present this is in Sec. 25, T. 42, R. 27, Mille Lacs County, Minnesota.

No description of the ancient village has been preserved, but it undoubtedly resembled the settlements of other tribes living in the midst of the great forests. The structures were probably bark or mat covered, many of an oval form quite similar to those of the Ojibway, who later occupied the near-by sites on the shores of Mille Lac. And like the Ojibway, the Mdewakanton may have had more than one type of dwelling in the same village, or structures of different forms may have served different purposes.

The shores of Mille Lac, one of the most beautiful sheets of water in Minnesota, abound in traces of the ancient settlements which stood generations or centuries ago. Near several of the sites are groups of a hundred or more burial mounds, all of which may be attributed to the Siouan tribes. One village, the site of which is marked by a large number of mounds, stood on the shore of the bay in the northwestern part of the lake, shown in the photograph reproduced in plate 20, a.

The sacred or mysterious island, known as such to the Sioux and later to the Ojibway, is in the southern part of the lake, several miles from the south shore. It is a remarkable spot, one to be looked upon by the Indian as a place of mystery. So small that often it is not visible from the shore, it consists of a great quantity of blocks of granitic formation which are piled to a height of 20 feet or more upon a ledge which comes to within a foot or less of the surface of the lake. The island is about 250 feet in length from east to west, the width from north to south being about one-half the length. Some of the great blocks are 10 or 12 feet in length, 4 or 5 feet in thickness and width, and would weigh many tons. The ledge extends for a distance of about 150 feet to the north and east of the island, covered by a foot or more of water. There is no soil on the island, no vegetation, and its only occupants are numbers of gulls. A photograph of this most interesting spot, made by the writer May 20, 1900, is reproduced as plate 20, b.


a. Northwest shore of Mille Lac, 1900. Site of an ancient Sioux settlement
a. Northwest shore of Mille Lac, 1900. Site of an ancient Sioux settlement
b. The Sacred Island in the southern part of Mille Lac. May, 1900
b. The Sacred Island in the southern part of Mille Lac. May, 1900


"KAPOSIA, JUNE 19TH, 1851" F. B. Mayer
"KAPOSIA, JUNE 19TH, 1851" F. B. Mayer

According to the stories of the old Ojibway who were still living on the shore of Mille Lac during the spring of 1900, the Mdewakanton were driven from that region about the middle of the eighteenth[47] century, and moving southward settled along the banks of the Mississippi. Descendants of these were occupying well-known villages on the Mississippi and Minnesota during the summer of 1823, when Major Long and his party ascended the rivers from Prairie du Chien.

Before leaving Prairie du Chien to discover the course of the Minnesota, or St. Peters, as it was then designated, the members of the expedition were divided into two groups, one to go overland to the mouth of the St. Peters, the other to convey the supplies by boat to that point. Both parties visited the principal villages on the way. First following the route of those who went overland, on June 26, 1823, they encountered a village of five lodges, evidently on the Iowa River, in the present Winneshiek County, Iowa. Two days later, June 28, they arrived at the more important village of Wapasha, in the present Wabasha County, Minnesota, and as told in the narrative: "Whatever might be the reveries in which the party were indulging, they were soon recalled to the dull realities of travelling, by the howling and barking of a band of dogs, that announced their approach to an Indian village consisting of twenty fixed lodges and cabins. It is controlled by Wa-pa-sha, an Indian chief of considerable distinction. In his language, (Dacota,) his name signifies the red leaf. A number of young men fantastically decorated with many and variously coloured feathers, and their faces as oddly painted, advanced to greet the party. One of them, the son of the chief, was remarkable for the gaudiness and display of his dress, which from its showy appearance imparted to his character foppishness.... The chief is about fifty years of age, but appears older.... His disposition to the Americans has generally been a friendly one." (Keating, (1), I, pp. 249-250.) Hennepin's reception by the ancestors of the same people, in their ancient village near Mille Lac, about a century and a half earlier, may have been quite similar to this accorded the members of the Long expedition in 1823.

On the evening of June 30 the party going by land arrived "at an Indian village, which is under the direction of Shakea, (the man that paints himself red;) the village has retained the appellation of Redwing, (aile rouge,) by which the chief was formerly distinguished." This was on the site of the present Red Wing, Goodhue County, Minnesota. There the party remained overnight, and on the following morning, July 1, 1823, the boat bearing the supplies belonging to the expedition, on its way from Prairie du Chien to Fort St. Anthony, reached the village, and "The whole party being again united, the chief invited them to his lodge, with a view to have a formal conversation with them.... As a compliment to the party,[48] the United States' flag was hoisted over his cabin, and a deputation of some of his warriors waited at our encampment to invite us to his lodge. We were received in due ceremony; the chief and his son, Tatunkamane, (the walking buffalo,) were seated next to the entrance. We took our stations near them, on the same bed-frame, while his warriors seated themselves on the frame opposite to us." This was followed by handshaking, and the smoking of the pipe of peace. (Op. cit., pp. 251-252.) The two parties again separated and those passing overland arrived at the fort the following evening.

The boat party, ascending the Mississippi, arrived at "Wapasha's village" on June 29, soon after the departure of the others who were going overland. They left Redwing early in the afternoon of July 1, and on the following day passed the St. Croix. Continuing, they "passed an Indian village consisting of ten or twelve huts, situated at a handsome turn on the river, about ten miles below the mouth of the St. Peter; the village is generally known by the name of the Petit Corbeau, or Little Raven, which was the appellation of the father and grandfather of the present chief.... As the village was abandoned for the season, we proceeded without stopping. The houses which we saw here were differently constructed from those which we had previously observed. They are formed by upright flattened posts, implanted in the ground, without any interval except here and there some small loopholes for defence; these posts support the roof, which presents a surface of bark. Before and behind each hut, there is a scaffold used for the purpose of drying maize, pumpkins, &c." Late in the same day they arrived at the fort. (Keating, (1), I, pp. 288-289.) Whether the method of constructing lodges by forming the walls of upright posts or logs was of native conception or was derived from the French is now difficult to determine. In referring to the customs prevailing in the Mississippi Valley, particularly the French portions, about the year 1810, Brackenridge said: "In building their houses, the logs, instead of being laid horizontally, as ours, are placed in a perpendicular position, the interstices closed with earth or stone, as with us." (Brackenridge, (1), p. 119.) The old courthouse at St. Louis was built after this method. Again, among some tribes along the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, as will be told on another page, were to have been found small, well-protected lodges formed of upright poles, and in this instance there is no reason to suspect European influence. Therefore it is not possible to say definitely whether the structures standing on the banks of the Mississippi during the summer of 1823 were of a primitive, native form, or if they represented the influence of the early French who had penetrated the region many years before.

[49]Just three years before the Long expedition passed up the Mississippi and prepared the preceding descriptions of the Sioux settlements Schoolcraft went down the river, and in his journal are to be found brief references to the same villages. To quote from the journal, August 2, 1820: "Four miles below Carver's cave, we landed at the village of Le Petit Corbeau, or the Little Raven. Here is a Sioux band of twelve lodges, and consisting of about two hundred souls, who plant corn upon the adjoining plain, and cultivate the cucumber, and pumpkin. They sallied from their lodges on seeing us approach, and gathering upon the bank of the river fired a kind of feu-de-joie, and manifested the utmost satisfaction on our landing.... We were conducted into his cabin which is spacious, being about sixty feet in length by thirty in width—built in a permanent manner of logs, and covered with bark." (Schoolcraft, (2), pp. 317-318.) The following day at noon the party arrived "at the Sioux village of Talangamane, or the Red wing, which is handsomely situated on the west banks of the river, six miles above Lake Pepin. It consists of four large, and several small lodges, built of logs in the manner of the little Raven's village. Talangamane is now considered the first chief of his nation.... Very few of his people were at home, being engaged in hunting or fishing. We observed several fine corn fields near the village, but they subsist chiefly by taking sturgeon in the neighbouring lake, and by hunting the deer. The buffalo is also occasionally killed, but they are obliged to go two days journey west of the Mississippi, before this animal is found in plenty. We observed several buffalo skins which were undergoing the Indian process of tanning." (Op. cit., p. 323.) The third settlement was reached during the afternoon of August 4, 1820, at which time, to quote from the journal, "we made a short halt at the Sioux village of Wabashaw, which is eligibly situated on the west bank of the Mississippi, sixty miles below Lake Pepin. It consists of four large lodges, with a population of, probably, sixty souls. A present of tobacco and whiskey was given, and we again embarked at twenty minutes before five o'clock." (Op, cit., p. 334.) The question now arises, Were the various structures seen by Schoolcraft, those "built in a permanent manner of logs," constructed of "upright flattened posts," as mentioned in the Long narrative? If so, it is evident similar habitations were reared by the Foxes and were encountered by Schoolcraft at the Fox village standing on the left bank of the Mississippi, below the mouth of the Wisconsin, August 6, 1820. However, the statements are rather vague, and the various dwellings may have been quite similar to the bark houses more clearly described in later narratives. But it is beyond question that some of the structures were strongly built, and[50] Long on July 16, 1817, wrote: "Passed a Sioux village on our right containing fourteen cabins. The name of the chief is the Petit Corbeau, or Little Raven.... One of their cabins is furnished with loop holes, and is situated so near the water that the opposite side of the river is within musket-shot range from the building.... The cabins are a kind of stockade buildings, and of a better appearance than any Indian dwellings I have before met with." (Long, (1), p. 31.)

One of the most interesting accounts of the villages just mentioned is contained in the journal of a traveler who visited them in 1849, the year the Territory of Minnesota was created. On May 16 of that year he "passed Wapasha's Prairie ... a beautiful prairie in Minnesota, about nine miles long and three miles wide, occupied by the chief Wapasha (or Red-Leaf) and his band of Sioux, whose bark lodges are seen at the upper end of the prairie." (Seymour, (1), p. 75.) And later in the day, after leaving Lake Pepin, "an Indian village, called Red Wing, inhabited by a tribe of Sioux is seen on the Minnesota shore. It appears to contain about one dozen bark lodges, and half as many conical lodges, covered with buffalo skins; also, a log or frame house, occupied by a missionary. Indian children were seen running, in frolicsome mood, over the green prairie, and Indian females were paddling their canoes along the shore. This village is near the mouth of Cannon River." On the following day, May 17, 1849, Seymour passed the village of Kaposia, occupied by the chief Little Crow, or Little Raven. It stood on the west bank of the river about 5 miles below the then small town of St. Paul. The Indian village at that time consisted of about 40 lodges, having a population of some 300. A few days later he went to the village, and regarding the visit wrote: "During the time I visited them, the Indians were living in skin lodges, such as they use during the winter, and when traveling. These are formed of long, slender poles, stuck in the ground, in a circle of about eight feet in diameter, and united at the top, and covered with the raw hide of the buffalo, having the hair scraped off. They are in the form of a cone, and can be distinguished from those of the Winnebagos and other Indians as far as they can be seen. During the summer they live in bark houses, which are more spacious, and when seen from a distance, resemble, in form and appearance, the log cabins of the whites. When passing in sight of the village, a few days afterward, I noticed that they had removed their skin lodges, and erected their bark houses. The population of this village, as I before remarked, is from 250 to 300 souls." He entered one of the small skin-covered lodges. "An iron kettle, suspended in the center, over a fire, forms the principal cooking utensil. Blankets spread around on the ground, were used as seats and beds." (Op. cit., pp. 137-138.) A cemetery, with its scaffold burials, stood on the bluffs in the rear of the village. There is reason to believe these were the first skin-covered tipis encountered by Seymour while ascending the Mississippi.


a. "Dakotah Village." Seth Eastman
a. "Dakotah Village." Seth Eastman
b. "Dakotah Encampment." Seth Eastman
b. "Dakotah Encampment." Seth Eastman


a. Council at the mouth of the Teton. George Catlin
a. Council at the mouth of the Teton. George Catlin
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook, showing Fort Pierre and the Indian encampment, July 4, 1851
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook, showing Fort Pierre and the Indian encampment, July 4, 1851


It will be noticed that in the preceding description of Kaposia no mention is made of log structures, such as were alluded to by Long and Schoolcraft. Only the typical bark house and the conical skin-covered tipi were seen by Seymour. Fortunately a most valuable and interesting picture of the village, as it appeared on June 19, 1851, is preserved and is now reproduced in plate 21. Both forms of habitations are shown, and in the distance, on the left, are indicated the scaffold burials standing on the bluffs in the rear of the settlement. On the extreme right is the prow of a canoe, evidently on the immediate bank of the Mississippi. Having this remarkable sketch, it is gratifying to find a brief description of the two forms of lodges, and also to know that the notes may have referred to Kaposia in particular. It tells that "the lodges are from eight to fifteen feet in diameter, about ten to fifteen feet high and made of buffalo-skins tanned. Elk skins are used for this purpose also. The summer house is built of wood, or perches set upright, twenty or thirty feet long, by fifteen or twenty wide. The perches are set in the ground about one foot, and are about six feet out of the ground. Over this is put a roof of elm bark. They are very comfortable for summer use. The lodge of skin lasts three or four years; the lodge of wood seven or eight years." (Prescott, (1), p. 67.)

The bark houses, which resembled "the log cabins of the whites," were shown by Capt. Eastman in one of his paintings. It was used as an illustration by Schoolcraft, and is here reproduced as plate 22, a. It is less interesting than the sketch of Kaposia, but in many respects the two are quite similar.

Several bark houses of the form just mentioned stood on the shore of Mille Lac, forming part of the Ojibway village visited in 1900, and similar to these were the "winter habitations," occasionally erected by the Menominee, as mentioned and figured by Hoffman as plate xviii in his work on that tribe. (Hoffman, (1), p. 255.) It is rather curious that these should be described as "winter habitations" among that Algonquian tribe, and as being occupied during the summer by the Siouan people. As a matter of fact this strong distinction may not have existed. The use of this type of house by the Foxes has already been mentioned. Whether these may be regarded as representing a purely aboriginal form of structure is not easily determined, but they will at once recall the unit of the long communal dwellings of the Iroquois. The slanting roof, the flat front and back, and the upright walls, all covered with large sheets of bark, were the same.

[52]Again returning to the narrative of the Long expedition. Early in July, 1823, the party having rested at the mouth of the Minnesota, or St. Peters River, began ascending that stream. Having advanced a short distance they arrived at the village of Taoapa, better known as "Shakopee's Village," from the name of the chief of this band of the Mdewakanton. It stood in the present Scott County, Minnesota, and in the summer of 1823 "consisted of fifteen large bark lodges, in good order; they were arranged along the river. Some of them were large enough to hold from thirty to fifty persons, accommodated as the Indians usually are in their lodges. The ground near it is neatly laid out, and some fine corn-fields were observed in the vicinity. There were scaffolds annexed to the houses, for the purpose of drying maize, etc.; upon these we were told that the Indians sleep during very hot nights." Near the village were seen various scaffold burials, while "In the midst of the corn-fields a dog was suspended, his head decorated with feathers, and with horse-hair stained red; it was probably a sacrifice for the protection of the corn-fields during the absence of the Indians." Six miles above the village was Little Prairie. (Keating, (1), pp. 329-330.) Quite likely the structures at this village were similar to those described above, which resembled in outline the log cabins of the white settlers.


The Wahpeton, "dwellers among leaves," constitute one of the seven great divisions of the Dakota, and to quote from the Handbook: "Historic and linguistic evidence proves the affinity of this tribe with the Sisseton, Wahpekute, and Mdewakanton. Hennepin (1680) mentions them as living in the vicinity of Mille Lac, Minn., near the Mdewakanton, Sisseton, and Teton. On his map they are placed a little to the N. E. of the lake." While living in the seclusion of the vast forests which surrounded the great lakes of central Minnesota, the villages of the Wahpeton were probably formed of groups of bark or mat covered structures so typical of the region at a later day. Gradually they left the timbered regions, and about the first years of the last century were living near the mouth of the Minnesota River. Thence they appear to have moved up the stream, and during the summer of 1823 were encountered by the Long expedition in the vicinity of Big Stone Lake, in the present Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota. The account of the meeting with the Indians on the prairie, and later of their visit to the village, by the members of the expedition, is most interesting. On July 21, 1823, "While traveling over the prairie which borders upon this part of the St. Peter, that connects Lake qui Parle with Big Stone Lake, our attention was aroused by the sight of what appeared to be buffaloes[53] chased across the prairie. They, however, soon proved to be Indians; their number, at first limited to two, gradually increased to near one hundred; they were seen rising from every part of the prairie, and after those in advance had reconnoitered us, and made signals that we were friends, by discharging their guns, they all came running towards us, and in a few minutes we found ourselves surrounded by a numerous band.... Some of them were mounted on horseback, and were constantly drumming upon the sides of their horses with their heels, being destitute both of whip and spur. Many of them came and shook hands with us, while the rest were riding all round us in different directions. They belonged, as we were told, to the Wahkpatoan, [Wahpeton] one of the tribes of the Dacotas.... As we rode towards their lodges, we were met by a large party of squaws and children, who formed a very motly group.... The village, to which they directed us, consisted of thirty skin lodges, situated on a fine meadow on the bank of the lake. Their permanent residence, or at least that which they have occupied as such for the last five years, is on a rocky island, (Big Island), in the lake, nearly opposite to, and within a quarter of a mile of, their present encampment. Upon the island they cultivate their cornfields, secure against the aggressions of their enemies. They had been lately engaged in hunting buffalo, apparently with much success. The principal man led us to his lodge, wherein a number of the influential men were admitted, the women being excluded; but we observed that they, with the children, went about the lodge, peeping through all the crevices, and not unfrequently raising the skins to observe our motion. They soon brought in a couple of large wooden dishes, filled with pounded buffalo meat boiled, and covered with the marrow of the same animal; of this we partook with great delight." This was followed by another feast, in a near-by tent, and still a third where a dog had been killed and prepared, "which is considered not only as the greatest delicacy, but also as a sacred animal, of which they eat only on great occasions." The party did not remain long at the village, but continued on up the lake shore, and soon encountered on a bluff "two Indian lodges, in one of which was Tatanka Wechacheta, (the buffalo man,) an Indian who claims the command of the Wahkpatoans." Later in the day the party returned to these lodges, where "the chief, and his principal men, were in waiting. We entered the skin lodge, and were seated on fine buffalo robes, spread all round; on the fire, which was in the centre of the lodge, two large iron kettles, filled with choicest pieces of buffalo, were placed.... Our hosts were gratified and flattered at the quantity which we ate; the residue of the feast was sent to our soldiers. In this, and every other instance where we have been invited to a feast by Indians, we observed that they never eat with their guests." (Keating, (1), I, pp. 367-373.)

[54]The village of skin-covered tipis standing on the shore of the lake, as seen by members of the expedition on that July day nearly a century ago, must have resembled the painting later made by Capt. Eastman, which is reproduced in plate 22, b, taken from Schoolcraft. In the painting the tipis are undoubtedly too closely placed, but otherwise they are quite accurately shown. This illustration as used in Schoolcraft bears the legend "Dakotah Encampment."


Like other divisions of the Dakota, the Yanktonai formerly lived in the thickly timbered region surrounding the headwaters of the Mississippi, in the central portion of the present State of Minnesota, and, like them, moved southward and westward until they reached the plains and the habitat of the buffalo. Although in their earlier home they undoubtedly reared the mat-covered structures, nevertheless when they reached the open country they constructed the conical skin lodge.

During the latter part of July, 1823, the Long expedition reached a village of this tribe then standing in the vicinity of Lake Traverse, in the present Traverse County, Minnesota. In the narrative of the expedition very little is said regarding the appearance of the encampment, which may not have offered any peculiar features, but much was said concerning the dress and ways of the inhabitants. In part the narrative states: "The principal interest which we experienced in the neighbourhood of Lake Traverse, was from an acquaintance with Wanotan, (the Charger,) the most distinguished chief of the Yanktoanan tribe, which, as we were informed, is subdivided into six bands. He is one of the greatest men of the Dacota nation, and although but twenty-eight years of age, he has already acquired great renown as a warrior." As the party neared the establishment of the Columbia Fur Company, on the border of the lake, "a salute was fired from a number of Indian tents which were pitched in the vicinity, from the largest of which the American colours were flying. And as soon as we had dismounted from our horses, we received an invitation to a feast which Wanotan had prepared for us." Three dogs had been killed and prepared for the great occasion. "We repaired to a sort of pavilion which they had erected by the union of several large skin lodges. Fine Buffalo robes were spread all around, and the air was perfumed by the odour of sweet scenting grass which had been burned in it. On entering the lodge we saw the chief seated near the further end of it, and one of his principal men pointed out to us the place which was destined for our accommodation; it was at the upper end of the lodge." (Keating, (1), I, pp. 429-432.)

[55]Arranging the skin covers of several large tipis in such a way as to form a single shelter, to serve as a ceremonial "lodge," was the custom of many tribes, and other instances will be mentioned. But another and more elaborate form of structure was used by the tribes just mentioned. In 1858, when describing certain customs of the people then living along the course of the Minnesota and in the vicinity of Lake Traverse, Riggs referred to the sacred dance and said: "Among the Dakotas a most remarkable society exists which is called Wakan wachepe, or Sacred Dance, of which the medicine sack is the badge. It may be regarded as the depository and guardian of whatever they esteem as wakan, or sacred." He then related the contents of the bag and the meaning of the ceremony, and continues: "A large skin lodge is usually occupied as the center of operations, the door of which is made wide by throwing up the corners. From this, on each hand, extends a kind of railing, some thirty or forty feet, on which skins are thrown. The entrance is at the farther end. All around the inside of this sanctum sanctorum and along the extended sides sit those who are called to the dance. Beyond this and near the place of entrance is a fire, with great kettles hanging over it, which are filled with dried buffalo meat or other food; and near by lay several packs or bags of the same, which are consecrated to the feast. The whole village are gathered around and are looking over or peeping through the holes in the barricades." Much was then told about the strange and curious ceremonies enacted within the lodge. (Riggs, (1), pp. 505-506.)

Leaving the encampment in the vicinity of the post of the Columbia Fur Company, the Long expedition moved northward, and when just beyond Lake Traverse, while traversing the prairies on July 27, 1823, "passed a party of squaws engaged in conveying to their camp some slices of fresh meat to jerk; their fellow labourers were dogs. Each of the dogs had the ends of two poles crossed and fastened over the shoulders, with a piece of hide underneath to prevent chafing. The other extremities dragged on the ground. This sort of vehicle was secured to the animal by a string passing round the breast, and another under the abdomen; transverse sticks, the ends of which were fastened in the poles, kept these at a proper distance, and supported the meat. This seems to be the only mode of harnessing dogs, practised among the Sioux; we believe, they never use them in teams, as is customary with the traders." (Keating, (1), II, pp. 9-10.)

The expedition soon arrived at Pembina, near the international boundary, where it would appear they found the two characteristic forms of native habitations in use by the Indians. A drawing was at that time made by Seymour and used as an illustration in the[56] narrative, showing the "two different kind of lodges used by the northwest Indians," the first being the skin lodge of the prairie tribes, and "of this nature are all the lodges used by the Dacotas;" the second were the bark-covered structures of the Ojibway, "who for the most part live to the north-east of the buffalo regions." To this latter class must have belonged the habitations of the Siouan tribes before they were forced from their early homes among the forests and lakes to the eastward.

When referring to the two characteristic forms of habitations it will be of interest to quote from the writings of one who traversed the country more than a century and a half ago, when all was in its primitive condition, but, like many writers of that period, he failed to give details which at the present time would prove of the greatest value. He wrote: "The Indians, in general, pay a greater attention to their dress and to the ornaments with which they decorate their persons, than to the accommodation of their huts or tents. They construct the latter in the following simple and expeditious manner.

"Being provided with poles of a proper length, they fasten two of them across, near their ends, with bands made of bark. Having done this, they raise them up, and extend the bottom of each as wide as they purpose to make the area of the tent: they then erect others of an equal height, and fix them so as to support the two principal ones. On the whole they lay skins of the elk or deer, sewed together, in quantity sufficient to cover the poles, and by lapping over to form the door. A great number of skins are sometimes required for this purpose, as some of their tents are very capacious. That of the chief warrior of the Naudowessies was at least forty feet in circumference, and very commodious.

"They observe no regularity in fixing their tents when they encamp, but place them just as it suits their conveniency.

"The huts also, which those who use no tents erect when they travel, for very few tribes have fixed abodes or regular towns or villages, are equally simple, and almost as soon constructed.

"They fix small pliable poles in the ground, by bending them till they meet at the top and form a semi-circle, then lash them together. These they cover with mats made of rushes platted, or with birch bark, which they carry with them in their canoes for this purpose.

"These cabins have neither chimnies nor windows; there is only a small aperture left in the middle of the roofs through which the smoke is discharged, but as this is obliged to be stopped up when it rains or snows violently, the smoke then proves exceedingly troublesome.

"They lie on skins, generally those of the bear, which are placed in rows on the ground; and if the floor is not large enough to contain[57] beds sufficient for the accommodation of the whole family, a frame is erected about four or five feet from the ground, in which the younger part of it sleep." (Carver, (1), pp. 152-154.) Though lacking much in detail, nevertheless the preceding notes are of historical interest and value, describing as they do the primitive habitations which were reared and occupied by the native tribes living in the upper Mississippi Valley about the middle of the eighteenth century. Skins of the elk and deer were evidently used as coverings for the conical tipi, which seems to prove the lack of a sufficient number of buffalo skins to serve the purpose, although farther west, beyond the timbered country, where buffalo were more easily obtained, their skins were made use of and covered the shelters of tribes by whom they were hunted.


When the expedition under the leadership of General Atkinson ascended the Missouri, during the summer of 1825, he wrote regarding the Yankton: "The Yanctons are a band of the Sioux, and rove in the plains north of the Missouri, from near the Great Bend, down as far as the Sioux river. They do not cultivate, but live by the chase alone, subsisting principally upon buffalo. They cover themselves with leather tents, or lodges, which they move about from place to place, as the buffalo may chance to range. They are pretty well supplied with fusees, and with horses, and a few mules. They are estimated at 3,000 souls, of which 600 are warriors. They are comfortably habited in frocks, or shirts of dressed skins, and leggings, reaching to the waist, of the same; they use besides, robes of buffalo skins, which are frequently beautifully wrought with porcupine quills, or painted tastefully; are friendly to the whites, but make war upon almost all other tribes, except those of their own nation. Their trading ground is on the river Jaques." (Atkinson, (1), pp. 8-9.) On June 17 the party arrived at Fort Lookout, a post of the American Fur Company, and four days later, "on the 21st, the Tetons, Yanctons, and Yanctonies, three distinct bands of the Sioux Nation, having arrived, a council was opened, and, on the 22d, a treaty concluded with them." This great gathering of the tribes, with their numerous skin-covered tipis, would have presented a sight similar to that witnessed and described by Catlin just seven years later, in the vicinity of Fort Pierre.

An excellent description of the skin-covered tipi of the Sioux, but of the structures of the Yankton in particular, is contained in Maximilian's narrative. Writing on May 25, 1833, he said the "Sioux Agency, or, as it is now usually called, Fort Lookout, is a square, of about sixty paces, surrounded by pickets, twenty or thirty feet[58] high, made of squared trunks of trees placed close to each other, within which the dwellings are built close to the palisades.... About ten leather tents or huts of the Sioux, of the branch of the Yanktons or Yanktoans, were set up near the fort.... All these Dacotas of the Missouri, as well as most of those of the Mississippi, are only hunters, and, in their excursions, always live in portable leather tents.... The tents of the Sioux are high pointed cones, made of strong poles, covered with buffalo skins, closely sewed together. These skins are scraped on both sides, so that they become as transparent as parchment, and give free admission to the light. At the top, where the poles meet, or cross each other, there is an opening, to let out the smoke, which they endeavor to close by a piece of the skin covering of the tent, fixed to a separate pole standing upright, and fastened to the upper part of the covering on the side from which the wind blows. The door is a slit, in the front of the tent, which is generally closed by another piece of buffalo hide, stretched upon a frame. A small fire is kept up in the centre of the tent. Poles are stuck in the ground, near the tent, and utensils of various kinds are suspended from them. There are, likewise, stages, on which to hang the newly-tanned hides; others, with gaily-painted parchment pouches and bags, on some of which they hang their bows, arrows, quivers, leather shields, spears, and war clubs.

"We paid a visit to Wahktageli in his tent, and had some difficulty in creeping into the narrow, low entrance, after pulling aside the skin that covered it. The inside of this tent was light, and it was about ten paces in diameter. Buffalo skins were spread on the ground, upon which we sat down. Between us and the side of the tent were a variety of articles, such as pouches, boxes, saddles, arms, &c. A relation of the chief was employed in making arrows, which were finished very neatly, and with great care. Wahktageli immediately, with much gravity, handed the tobacco-pipe round, and seemed to inhale the precious smoke with great delight.... The conversation was carried on by Cephier, the interpreter kept by the Agency, who accompanied us on this visit.... The owner of a neighbouring tent had killed a large elk, the skin of which the women were then busily employed in dressing. They had stretched it out, by means of leather straps, on the ground near the tent, and the women were scraping off the particles of flesh and fat with a very well-contrived instrument. It is made of bone, sharpened at one end, and furnished with little teeth like a saw, and, at the other end, a strap, which is fastened round the wrist." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 148-152.) A drawing by Bodmer, reproduced by Maximilian on page 151 of the work cited, is here shown as figure 2. It represents a small group of tipis, of the type mentioned in the narrative, and[59] on the right, in the rear, is a tripod with what appears to be a shield suspended from it. The bone implement mentioned as being used by the women to remove particles of flesh from the skin of the recently killed elk belonged to a well-known type which was extensively used throughout the region. It was formed of the large bones of the leg of the buffalo, elk, or moose. Many old examples are preserved in the National Museum, Washington.

Fig. 2.—Tipis.
Fig. 2.—Tipis.

When dealing with the agents of the Government the Yankton would gather on the plains around Fort Pierre. Just 20 years after Maximilian's visit to the upper Missouri a small party passed down the river, and on October 18, 1853, entered in their journal: "We reached Fort Pierre about 12 o'clock m.... Two days before our arrival at this place, the main body of the Yankton Sioux, in number some twenty-five hundred, had left for the buffalo country. They have been here to receive their presents from the government. Two more bands are expected in a few days." (Saxton, (1), p. 267.) And some days later, while continuing down the Missouri: "The prairies are burning in every direction, and the smoke is almost stifling."


The Teton, moving westward from their early habitat to the east and north of the Minnesota, were encountered on the banks of the Missouri by Captains Lewis and Clark when they ascended the river, during the early autumn of 1804. On September 26 of that year[60] the expedition reached the mouth of Teton River (the present Bad River), which enters the Missouri from the west at Pierre, Stanley County, South Dakota. Here stood the great village of the Teton, concerning which Sergeant Gass gave a very interesting account in his journal: "We remained here all day. Capt. Lewis, myself and some of the men, went over to the Indian camp. Their lodges are about eighty in number, and contain about ten persons each; the greater part women and children. The women were employed in dressing buffaloe skins, for clothing for themselves and for covering their lodges. They are the most friendly people I ever saw; but will pilfer if they have an opportunity. They are also very dirty: the water they make use of, is carried in the paunches of the animals they kill, just as they are emptied, without being cleaned.... About 3 o'clock we went aboard the boat accompanied with the old chief and his little son. In the evening captain Clarke and some of the men went over, and the Indians made preparations for a dance. At dark it commenced. Captain Lewis, myself and some of our party went up to see them perform. Their band of music, or orchestra, was composed of about twelve persons beating on a buffalo hide, and shaking small bags that made a rattling noise. They had a large fire in the centre of their camp; on one side the women, about 80 in number, formed a solid column round the fire, with sticks in their hands, and the scalps of the Mahas they had killed, tied on them. They kept moving, or jumping round the fire, rising and falling on both feet at once; keeping a continual noise, singing and yelling. In this manner they continued till 1 o'clock at night, when we returned to the boat with two of the chiefs." (Gass, (1), pp. 45-46.)

In the journal of the expedition is a very full account of the events which transpired during the two days spent at the Teton camp, but only part will now be quoted, sufficient to describe the place of meeting: "Captain Lewis went on shore and remained several hours, and observing that their disposition was friendly we resolved to remain during the night to a dance, which they were preparing for us. Captains Lewis and Clark, who went on shore one after the other, were met on landing by ten well dressed young men, who took them up in a robe highly decorated and carried them to a large council house, where they were placed on a dressed buffaloe skin by the side of the grand chief. The hall or council-room was in the shape of three quarters of a circle, covered at the top and sides with skins well dressed and sewed together. Under this shelter sat about seventy men, forming a circle round the chief, before whom were placed a Spanish flag and the one we had given them yesterday. This left a vacant circle of about six feet diameter, in which the pipe of peace was raised on two forked sticks, about six or eight[61] inches from the ground, and under it the down of the swan was scattered: a large fire, in which they were cooking provisions, stood near, and in the centre about four hundred pounds of excellent buffaloe meat as a present for us." Then followed several addresses by the chiefs; offerings of dog meat to the flag "by way of sacrifice," and the smoking of the pipe of peace. (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 84-86.) The entire ceremony proved of the greatest interest. Then followed an account of the habitations standing in the village: "Their lodges are very neatly constructed, in the same form as those of the Yanktons; they consist of about one hundred cabins, made of white buffaloe hide dressed, with a larger one in the centre for holding councils and dances. They are built round with poles about fifteen or twenty feet high, covered with white skins; these lodges may be taken to pieces, packed up, and carried with the nation wherever they go, by dogs which bear great burdens. The women are chiefly employed in dressing buffaloe skins: they seem perfectly well disposed, but are addicted to stealing any thing which they can take without being observed." (Op. cit., pp. 88-89.)

During the year 1832 George Catlin remained for some time at and near the mouth of the Teton, where a few years before had been erected a station of the American Fur Company, which was soon given the name Fort Pierre. "The country about this Fort is almost entirely prairie, producing along the banks of the river and streams only, slight skirtings of timber.... On my way up the river I made a painting of this lovely spot, taken from the summit of the bluffs, a mile or two distant, showing an encampment of Sioux, of six hundred tents of skin lodges, around the Fort, where they had concentrated to make their spring trade; exchanging their furs and peltries for articles and luxuries of civilized manufactures." (Catlin, (1), I, p. 209.) And he continued (p. 211): "I mentioned that this is the nucleus or place of concentration of the numerous tribe of the Sioux, who often congregate here in great masses to make their trades with the American Fur Company; and that on my way up the river, some months since, I found here encamped, six hundred families of Sioux, living in tents covered with buffalo hides. Amongst these there were twenty or more of the different bands, each one with their chief at their head, over whom was a superior chief and leader, a middle-aged man, of middling stature, with a noble countenance.... The name of this chief is Ha-won-je-tah (the one horn) of the Mee-ne-cow-e-gee band, who has risen rapidly to the highest honours in the tribe."

About this time a "grand feast" was prepared by the Indians in honor of the Indian agent and the several Americans who were then at Fort Pierre, including Catlin. A sketch of the gathering is[62] shown in plate 23, a, after the illustration in Catlin's narrative, but it may be of interest to know that the original painting is now in the National Museum, Washington. Describing this scene, Catlin wrote:

"The two chiefs, Ha-wan-je-tah and Tchan-dee ... brought their two tents together, forming the two into a semi-circle, enclosing a space sufficiently large to accommodate 150 men; and sat down with that number of the principal chiefs and warriors of the Sioux nation." The several Americans were "placed on elevated seats in the centre of the crescent; while the rest of the company all sat upon the ground, and mostly cross-legged, preparatory to the feast being dealt out. In the centre of the semi-circle was erected a flag-staff, on which was waving a white flag, and to which also was tied the calumet, both expressive of their friendly feelings towards us. Near the foot of the flag-staff were placed in a row on the ground, six or eight kettles, with iron covers on them, shutting them tight, in which were prepared the viands for our voluptuous feast. Near the kettles, and on the ground also, bottomside upwards, were a number of wooden bowls, in which the meat was to be served out. And in front, two or three men, who were there placed as waiters, to light the pipes for smoking, and also to deal out the food." (Op. cit., p. 228.) The account of the ceremony which soon followed proves the gathering to have been one of much interest, and to the Indians one of great moment. The arrangement of the two large tipis so as to form a single shelter recalls the site of the gathering near the shore of Lake Traverse only a few years before. It is to be regretted that Catlin did not leave a more detailed description of the appearance of the great encampment as it was at the time of his visit, but he devoted much of his time to painting portraits of the Indians, of which he prepared a large number.

Although Catlin found representatives of many bands of Sioux gathered about on the plain surrounding Fort Pierre, nevertheless the comparatively permanent village of the Teton was near the mouth of the stream of that name. Maximilian, who ascended the Missouri during the spring of 1833, arrived at Fort Pierre late in May, and in his journal said: "The Sioux, who live on Teton River, near Fort Pierre, are mostly of the branch of the Tetons; though there are some Yanktons here." (Maximilian, (1), p. 150.) He elsewhere mentioned that "the tents are generally composed of fourteen skins," therefore consider the great number of buffalo required to furnish coverings for the lodges mentioned by Catlin. Maximilian wrote on May 30, 1833, near Fort Pierre: "Round an isolated tree in the prairie I observed a circle of holes in the ground, in which thick poles had stood. A number of buffalo skulls were piled up there;[63] and we were told that this was a medicine, or charm, contrived by the Indians in order to entice the herds of buffaloes. Everywhere in the plain we saw circles of clods of earth, with a small circular ditch, where the tents of many Indians had stood." (Op. cit., p. 157.) These were evidently the remains of the encampment seen by Catlin the preceding year.

A sketch of Fort Pierre as it appeared July 4, 1851, is given in plate 23, b. This was the work of the young Swiss artist, Friedrich Kurz, and is now reproduced for the first time. The small groups of Indians, the tipis standing near the fort, and the rolling prairie in the distance are all graphically shown.

The several divisions of the Teton performed the sun dance, at which time a large ceremonial lodge would be erected, which stood alone in the camp circle, formed of the numerous skin tipis. The lodge as reared at different times and by the various tribes varied in form and method of construction, but it seems to have been the custom of all the tribes to abandon the structure at the termination of the ceremonies. It was regarded as a sacred place and one not to be destroyed by man. Large structures of this sort were often encountered by parties traversing the plains and adjacent regions, and one, probably erected by a tribe of the Teton, was discovered by the Raynolds party, July 16, 1859, in the extreme eastern part of the present Crook County, Wyoming. In the journal of the expedition it was written on that day, "We have not yet met any Indians, nor any indications of their recent presence. The site of our camp is, however, marked by the remains of an immense Indian lodge, the frame of which consists of large poles, over thirty feet in length. Close by is also a high post, around which a perfect circle of buffalo skulls has been arranged." (Raynolds, (1), p. 31.) This may have been used during the preceding year, at which time the skin tipis of the people enacting the sacred ceremonies were pitched in the form of a circle with the great lodge standing in the center. But with the completion of the annual dance the participants removed, with their skin tipis, to other localities, allowing the sacred structure to be destroyed by the elements.


Of the early history of this, the principal division of the Teton, nothing is known. During the first years of the last century they were discovered by Lewis and Clark on the banks of the upper Missouri, south of the Cheyenne River, in the present Stanley County, South Dakota. They hunted and roamed over a wide region, and by the middle of the century occupied the country between the Forks of the Platte and beyond to the Black Hills. While living on the banks[64] of the Missouri their villages undoubtedly resembled the skin-covered tipi settlements of the other kindred tribes, and later, when they had pushed farther into the prairie country, there was probably no change in the appearance of their structures. A very interesting account of the villages of this tribe, with reference to their ways of life, after they had arrived on the banks of the Platte, is to be found in the narrative of Stansbury's expedition, during the years 1849 and 1850.

July 2, 1849, the expedition crossed the South Fork of the Platte, evidently at some point in the western part of the present Keith County, Nebraska, and on the following day "crossed the ridge between the North and South Forks of the Platte, a distance of eighteen and a half miles." On July 5 the expedition began moving up the right bank of the North Fork, and after advancing 23 miles encamped on the bank of the river. They had arrived in the region dominated by the Oglala. "Just above us, was a village of Sioux, consisting of ten lodges. They were accompanied by Mr. Badeau, a trader; and having been driven from the South Fork by the cholera, had fled to the emigrant-road, in the hope of obtaining medical aid from the whites. As soon as it was dark, the chief and a dozen of the braves of the village came and sat down in a semicircle around the front of my tent, and, by means of an interpreter, informed me that they would be very glad of a little coffee, sugar, or biscuit. I gave them what we could spare." This particular band had not suffered very severely from the ailment, but were greatly heartened to receive medicines from the doctor, or "medicine-man," of the expedition, and when they returned to their village "the sound of the drum and the song, expressive of the revival of hope, which had almost departed, resounded from the 'medicine lodge,' and continued until a late hour of the night." (Stansbury, (1), pp. 44-45.) During this visit some of the Indians told of a larger camp about 2 miles distant, where many were ill with the dreaded malady.

The following morning, July 6, 1849, the expedition resumed its advance up the valley, and soon reached the "upper village," of which an interesting account is given in the journal. It "contained about two hundred and fifty souls. They were in the act of breaking up their encampment, being obliged to move farther up the river to obtain fresh grass for their animals. A more curious, animated, and novel scene I never witnessed. Squaws, papooses, dogs, puppies, mules, and ponies, all in busy motion, while the lordly, lazy men lounged about with an air of listless indifference, too proud to render the slightest aid to their faithful drudges. Before the lodge of each brave was erected a tripod of thin slender poles about ten feet in length, upon which was suspended his round white shield, with some device painted upon it, his spear, and a buckskin sack containing his 'medicine' bag.... We continued our journey, accompanied for[65] several miles by the people of both villages. The whole scene was unique in the highest degree. The road was strewn for miles with the most motley assemblage I ever beheld, each lodge moving off from the village as soon as its inhabitants were ready, without waiting for the others. The means of transportation were horses, mules, and dogs. Four or five lodge-poles are fastened on each side of the animal, the ends of which trail on the ground behind, like the shafts of a truck or dray. On these, behind the horse, is fastened a light framework, the outside of which consists of a strong hoop bent into an oval form, and interlaced with a sort of network of rawhide. Most of these are surmounted by a light wicker canopy, very like our covers for children's wagons, except that it extends the whole length and is open only at one side. Over the canopy is spread a blanket, shawl, or buffalo-robe, so as to form a protection from the sun or rain. Upon this light but strong trellice-work, they place the lighter articles, such as clothing, robes, &c., and then pack away among these their puppies and papooses, (of both which they seem to have a goodly number;) the women, when tired of walking, get upon them to rest and take care of their babies.... The dogs also are made to perform an important part in this shifting of quarters. Two short, light lodge-poles are fastened together at the small end, and made to rest at the angle upon the animal's back, the other end of course, trailing upon the ground. Over his shoulders is placed a sort of pad, or small saddle, the girth of which fastens the poles to his sides, and connects with a little collar or breast-strap. Behind the dog, a small platform or frame is fastened to the poles, similar to that used for the horses, upon which are placed lighter articles, generally puppies, which are considered quite valuable, being raised for beasts of burden as well as for food and the chase.... The whole duty of taking down and putting up the lodges, packing up, loading the horses, arranging the lodge-poles, and leading or driving the animals, devolves upon the squaws, while the men stalk along at their leisure; even the boys of larger growth deeming it beneath their dignity to lighten the toils of their own mothers." (Op. cit., pp. 45-47.)

From the preceding account of the movement of a village of the Oglala it is quite apparent they did not advance in the orderly manner followed by the Pawnee, as described by Murray in 1835, but the dreaded illness from which many were then suffering may have caused the rather demoralized condition of the band. The travois as used at that time was similar to the example shown in plate 14, although the latter was in use by the Cheyenne a generation later. But the frame was not always utilized, and often the tipi, folded and rolled, with other possessions of the family, rested upon the poles or upon the back of the horse.

[66]Horses thus laden, and with trailing poles on either side, left a very distinctive trail as they crossed the prairie, and as described: "The trail of the Plain Indians consists usually of three paths, close together, yet at fixed distances apart. They are produced as follows: The framework of their lodges or tents are made of long poles which, on a journey, are tied to each side of a pony, and allowed to trail upon the ground. The result is that a long string of ponies, thus laden and following each other, will wear a triple path—the central one being caused by the tread of the ponies, the two outer by the trailing of the lodge-poles." (Bell, (1), pp. 25-26.) An illustration of a horse so loaded is given on page 26 and is here reproduced as figure 3. It bears the legend "Sioux Indian Lodges or Tents; one packed for a journey, the other standing," and, although crude, conveys a clear conception of the subject.

Fig. 3.—Horse travois.
Fig. 3.—Horse travois.

To continue the narrative of the Stansbury expedition. The party advanced up the river and pursued their journey to the Great Salt Lake and there wintered. The following year they returned to the east and on September 21, 1850, reached the left bank of the North Fork of the Platte, at a point near the center of the present Carbon County, Wyoming. Describing the site of their encampment that night, near the bank of the Platte: "The place we now occupy has long been a favorite camp-ground for the numerous war-parties[67] which annually meet in this region to hunt buffalo and one another. Remains of old Indian stockades are met with scattered about among the thickets; and the guide informed us, that four years since there were at one and the same time, upon this one bottom, fifteen or twenty of these forts, constructed by different tribes. Most of them have since been destroyed by fire. As this was the season of the year when we might expect to find them upon their expeditions, we were on the qui vive, lest we should be surprised." They remained in camp the following day, Sunday, and that evening entered in the journal: "Several herds of buffalo were seen during the day."

The morning of the 23d was warm and cloudy, and the party soon after leaving their camp forded the river "on a ripple, with a depth of eighteen inches." The water was clear, with a pebbly bottom. That this location was frequented by Indians was again indicated by the discovery of another great group of "forts," as told in the narrative: "Immediately above where we crossed, were about twenty Indian forts, or lodges constructed of logs set up endwise, somewhat in the form of an ordinary skin lodge, which had been erected among the timber by different war-parties: they appeared to be very strong, and were ball-proof." (Stansbury, (1), pp. 243-246.) These strongly constructed lodges will at once recall the rather similar structures which stood at some of the Siouan villages, on the Mississippi below the mouth of the Minnesota, during the early years of the last century.

On September 27, when about midway across the present Albany County, Wyoming, the expedition encountered a large number of Indians belonging to a village a short distance beyond. These proved to be the Oglala, and during the following day the village was visited by Stansbury, who wrote in the journal: "This village was the largest and by far the best-looking of any I had ever seen. It consisted of nearly one hundred lodges, most of which were entirely new, pitched upon the level prairie which borders on the verdant banks of the Laramie. No regular order seemed to be observed in their position, but each builder appeared to have selected the site for his habitation according to his own fancy.

"We rode at once to the lodge of the chief, which was painted in broad horizontal stripes of alternate black and white, and, on the side opposite to the entrance, was ornamented with large black crosses on a white ground. We found the old fellow sitting on the floor of his lodge, and his squaw busily engaged over a few coals, endeavouring to fry, or rather boil, in a pan nearly filled with grease, some very suspicious-looking lumps of dough, made doubtless from the flour they had received from us yesterday.... After some further conversation, another chief, named the 'Iron Heart,' rose up and invited[68] us to a feast at his lodge: we accordingly accompanied him, and found him occupying the largest and most complete structure in the village, although I was assured that the Sioux frequently make them much larger. It was intended to be used whenever required, for the accommodation of any casual trader that might come among them for the purpose of traffic, and was accordingly called 'The Trader's Lodge.' It was made of twenty-six buffalo-hides, perfectly new, and white as snow, which, being sewed together without a wrinkle, were stretched over twenty-four new poles, and formed a conical tent of thirty feet diameter upon the ground, and thirty-five feet in height." This must have been a magnificent example of the tipi of the plains tribes, and is one of the largest of which any record has been preserved.

Moving in a southeastwardly direction from the great village, they passed many mounted Indians killing buffalo, and later in the day passed another Oglala village of some 50 lodges, moving southward. The surface of the prairie for many miles was strewn with the remains of buffalo, which had been killed by the Indians and from which only choice pieces had been removed. (Op. cit., pp. 254-257.) They were now ascending the western slopes of the Black Hills, and approaching the region dominated by the Cheyenne, and two days later, September 29, 1850, were a short distance south of a village of the latter tribe.

The region just mentioned, the southeastern part of Wyoming, was traversed by a missionary who, July 24, 1835, encountered a party of 30 or 40 mounted Indians. "They were Ogallallahs, headed by eight of their chiefs, clad in their war habiliments, and presenting somewhat of a terrific appearance.... They told us their whole village was only a few hours' travel ahead of us, going to the Black Hills for the purpose of trading." Late the following day the party overtook the Indians, "consisting of more than two thousand persons. These villages are not stationary, but move from place to place, as inclination or convenience may dictate. Their lodges are comfortable, and easily transported. They are constructed of eight or ten poles about eighteen feet long, set up in a circular form, the small ends fastened together, making an apex, and the large ends are spread out so as to enclose an area of about twenty feet in diameter. The whole is covered with their coarse skins, which are elk, or buffalo, taken when they are not good for robes. A fire is made in the centre, a hole being left in the top of the lodge for the smoke to pass out. All that they have for household furniture, clothing, and skins for beds, is deposited around according to their ideas of propriety and convenience. Generally not more than one family occupies a lodge." (Parker, (1), pp. 66-67.)

[69]Fort Laramie was reached by the Stansbury expedition on July 12, 1849, after advancing about 100 miles beyond the Oglala villages passed six days before. The fort stood on the emigrant road, and was likewise a great gathering place of the neighboring Indians. An interesting account of the visit of a party of emigrants just four years before is preserved: "Our camp is stationary to-day; part of the emigrants are shoeing their horses and oxen; others are trading at the fort and with the Indians.... In the afternoon we gave the Indians a feast, and held a long talk with them. Each family, as they could best spare it, contributed a portion of bread, meat, coffee or sugar, which being cooked, a table was set by spreading buffalo skins upon the ground, and arranging the provisions upon them. Around this attractive board, the Indian chiefs and their principal men seated themselves, occupying one fourth of the circle; the remainder of the male Indians made out the semi-circle; the rest of the circle was completed by the whites. The squaws and younger Indians formed an outer semi-circular row immediately behind their dusky lords and fathers." (Palmer, (1), pp. 25-26.) This was June 25, 1845, and the account of the gathering of emigrants and Indians is followed by a brief description of the fort itself which is of equal interest; "Here are two forts. Fort Laramie, situated upon the west side of Laramie's fork, two miles from Platte river, belongs to the North American Fur Company. The fort is built of adobes. The walls are about two feet thick, and twelve or fourteen feet high, the tops being picketed or spiked. Posts are planted in these walls, and support the timber for the roof. They are then covered with mud. In the centre is an open square, perhaps twenty-five yards each way, along the sides of which are ranged the dwellings, store rooms, smith shop, carpenter's shop, offices, &c., all fronting upon the inner area. There are two principal entrances; one at the north, the other at the south." (Op. cit., pp. 27-28.) Outside the fort proper, on the eastern side, stood the stables, and a short distance away was a field of about 4 acres where corn was planted, "by way of experiment." About 1 mile distant was a similar though smaller structure called Fort John. It was then owned and occupied by a company from St. Louis, but a few months later it was purchased by the North American Fur Company and destroyed. Such were the typical "forts," on and beyond the frontier during the past century.

The Indians would gather about the fort, their skin tipis standing in clusters over the surrounding prairie. Such groups are shown in plate 24, a, b. These two very interesting photographs were made during the visit of the Indian Peace Commission to Fort Laramie in 1868, and it is highly probable the tipis shown in the pictures were[70] occupied by some of the Indians with whom the commissioners treated.

The Black Hills lay north and west of the region then occupied by the Oglala, and although it is known that the broken country was often visited and frequented by parties of Indians in quest of poles for their tipis, yet it seems doubtful if any permanent settlements ever stood within the region. Dodge, in discussing this question, said:

"My opinion is, that the Black Hills have never been a permanent home for any Indians. Even now small parties go a little way into the Hills to cut spruce lodge-poles, but all the signs indicate that these are mere sojourns of the most temporary character.

"The 'teepe,' or lodge, may be regarded as the Indian's house, the wickup as his tent. One is his permanent residence, the other the make-shift shelter for a night. Except in one single spot, near the head of Castle Creek, I saw nowhere any evidence whatever of a lodge having been set up, while old wickups were not unfrequent in the edge of the Hills. There is not one single teepe or lodge-pole trail, from side to side of the Hills, in any direction, and these poles, when dragged in the usual way by ponies, soon make a trail as difficult to obliterate as a wagon road, visible for many years, even though not used." (Dodge, (1), pp. 136-137.)

Col. R. I. Dodge, from whose work the preceding quotation has been made, was in command of the military escort which formed part of the expedition into the Black Hills during the summer of 1875. The traces of the lodges which had stood near the head of Castle Creek, as mentioned in 1875, undoubtedly marked the position of the small encampment encountered by the Ludlow party the previous year. In the journal of that expedition, dated July 26, 1874, is to be found this brief mention: "In the afternoon occurred the first rencontre with Indians. A village of seven lodges, containing twenty-seven souls, was found in the valley. The men were away peacefully engaged in hunting; the squaws in camp drying meat, cooking, and other camp avocations. Red Cloud's daughter was the wife of the head-man, whose name was One Stab. General Custer was desirous they should remain and introduce us to the hills, but the presence among our scouts of a party of Rees, with whom the Sioux wage constant war, rendered them very uneasy, and toward night-fall, abandoning their camp, they made the escape. Old One Stab was at headquarters when the flight was discovered, and retained both as guide and hostage.... The high limestone ridges surrounding the camp had weathered into castellated forms of considerable grandeur and beauty and suggested the name of Castle Valley." (Ludlow, (1), p. 13.) Red Cloud, whose daughter is mentioned above,[71] was one of the greatest chiefs and warriors of the Oglala; born in 1822 near the forks of the Platte, and lived until December, 1909.

Although there may never have been any large permanent camps within the Black Hills district, nevertheless it is quite evident the region was frequented and traversed by bands of Indians, who left well-defined trails. Such were discovered by an expedition in 1875, and after referring to small trees which had been bent down by the weight of snow the narrative continued: "The snow must be sometimes deep enough to hide trails and landmarks, as the main Indian trails leading through the Hills were marked by stones placed in the forks of the trees or by one or more sets of blazes, the oldest almost overgrown by the bark." (Newton and Jenney, (1), p. 302.) And in the same work (p. 323), when treating of the timber of the Hills, it was said: "The small slender spruce-trees are much sought after by the Indians, who visit the Hills in the spring for the purpose of procuring them for lodge-poles."

In another work Dodge described the customs of the tribes with whom he had been in close contact for many years. The book is illustrated with engravings made from original drawings by the French artist Griset, and one sketch shows a few Indians, several tipis, and frames from which are hanging quantities of buffalo meat in the process of being dried. (Dodge, (2), p. 353.) This suggests the scene at Red Cloud's camp. The original drawing is now reproduced as plate 1, the frontispiece.


The Assiniboin were, until comparatively recent times, a part of the Yanktonai, from whom they may have separated while living in the forest region of the northern section of the present State of Minnesota. Leaving the parent stock, they joined the Cree, then living to the northward, with whom they remained in close alliance. Gradually they moved to the valleys of the Saskatchewan and Assiniboin Rivers and here were encountered by Alexander Henry in 1775. Interesting though brief notes on the structures of the Assiniboin as they appeared in 1775 and 1776 are contained in the narrative of Henry's travels through the great northern country. In 1775, when west of Lake Winnipeg, Henry wrote: "At eighty leagues above Fort de Bourbon, at the head of a stream which falls into the Sascatchiwaine, and into which we had turned, we found the Pasquayah village. It consisted of thirty families, lodged in tents of a circular form, and composed of dressed ox-skins, stretched upon poles twelve feet in length, and leaning against a stake driven into the ground in the centre. On our arrival, the chief, named Chatique, or the Pelican, came down upon the beach, attended by thirty followers, all[72] armed with bows and arrows and with spears." (Henry, (1), pp. 256-257.) Fort de Bourbon stood at the northwest corner of Lake Winnipeg, and the Assiniboin village of Pasquayah was on the present Carrot River, which flows parallel with the Saskatchewan before joining the larger stream. This was in the eastern part of the province of Saskatchewan.

Early the following year Henry made a visit to an Assiniboin village, to reach which he crossed many miles of the frozen wilderness. He was accompanied by a party of Indians and the short account of the journey contains much of interest. They left Fort des Prairies, "built on the margin of the Pasquayah, or Sascatchiwaine," February 5, 1776, and, as is recorded in the journal, "At noon, we crossed a small river, called Moose-river, flowing at the feet of very lofty banks. Moose-river is said to fall into Lake Dauphin. Beyond this stream, the wood grows still more scanty, and the land more and more level. Our course was southerly. The snow lay four feet deep. The Indians travelled swiftly; and, in keeping pace with them, my companions and myself had too much exercise, to suffer from the coldness of the atmosphere; but, our snow-shoes being of a broader make than those of the Indians, we had much fatigue in following their track. The women led, and we marched till sunset, when we reached a small coppice of wood, under the protection of which we encamped. The baggage of the Indians was drawn by dogs, who kept pace with the women, and appeared to be under their command. As soon as we halted, the women set up the tents, which were constructed, and covered, like those of the Cristinaux.

"The tent, in which I slept, contained fourteen persons, each of whom lay with his feet to the fire, which was in the middle; but, the night was so cold, that even this precaution, with the assistance of our buffalo-robes was insufficient to keep us warm. Our supper was made on the tongues of the wild ox, or buffalo, boiled in my kettle, which was the only one in the camp."

On the morning of February 7, "I was still asleep, when the women began their noisy preparations for our march. The striking of the tents, the tongues of the women, and the cries of the dogs, were all heard at once. At the first dawn of day, we commenced our journey. Nothing was visible but the snow and sky; and the snow was drifted into ridges, resembling waves.

"Soon after sunrise, we descried a herd of oxen, extending a mile and a half in length, and too numerous to be counted. They travelled, not one after another, as, in the snow, other animals usually do, but, in a broad phalanx, slowly, and sometimes stopping to feed."

One week was required to reach their destination, and during the morning of the 12th of February the party arrived at a small wood,[73] in which the Assiniboin village stood. And "at the entrance of the wood, we were met by a large band of Indians, having the appearance of a guard; each man being armed with his bow and spear, and having his quiver filled with arrows.... Forming themselves in regular file, on either side of us, they escorted us to the lodge, or tent, which was assigned us. It was of a circular form, covered with leather, and not less than twenty feet in diameter. On the ground within, ox-skins were spread, for beds and seats."

Later, the same day of their arrival, they were invited to a feast in the tent of the chief. An Indian appeared. "We followed him accordingly, and he carried us to the tent of the great chief, which we found neither more ornamented, nor better furnished, than the rest." And another feast followed in the evening, "Every thing was nearly as before, except that in the morning all the guests were men, and now half were women. All the women were seated on one side of the floor of the tent, and all the men on the other, with a fire placed between them."

The village consisted of about 200 tents, "each tent containing from two to four families." And here "I saw, for the first time, one of those herds of horses which the Osinipoilles possess in numbers. It was feeding on the skirts of the plain." (Henry, (1), pp. 275-289.) Such was a great Assiniboin village nearly a century and a half ago.

The entire village was to return to Fort des Prairies, and so, on the morning of February 20, 1776, the tents were struck, and "Soon after sunrise, the march began. In the van were twenty-five soldiers, who were to beat the path, so that the dogs might walk. They were followed by about twenty men, apparently in readiness for contingent services; and after these went the women, each driving one or two, and some, five loaded dogs. The number of these animals, actually drawing loads, exceeded five hundred. After the baggage, marched the main body of men, carrying only their arms. The rear was guarded by about forty soldiers. The line of march certainly exceeded three miles in length." (Op. cit., p. 309.)

It is easy to visualize this great body of Indians passing over the frozen plain, camping at night under the scant protection of a small cluster of trees. The hundreds of dogs carrying the skin lodges of the villages, the men and women moving forward on snowshoes, undoubtedly stopping to kill buffalo and thus to obtain food for all. An exciting and animated scene it must have been, but only typical and characteristic, not unusual.

The preceding description of the movement of an entire village suggests a passage in the journal of La Verendrye, treating of the same people a generation earlier. Late in the autumn of 1738 a small party of French, accompanied by a numerous band of Assiniboin,[74] set out from the village of the latter to visit the Mandan, who lived many leagues distant. La Verendrye, the leader of the expedition, wrote: "I observed to M. de la Marque the good order in which the Assiniboins march to prevent surprise, marching always on the prairies, the hillsides and valleys from the first mountain, which did not make them fatigued by mounting and descending often in their march during the day. There are magnificent plains of three or four leagues. The march of the Assiniboins, especially when they are numerous, is in three columns, having skirmishers in front, with a good rear guard, the old and lame march in the middle, forming the central column.... If the skirmishers discovered herds of cattle on the road, as often happens, they raise a cry which is soon returned by the rear guard, and all the most active men in the columns join the vanguard to hem in the cattle, of which they secure a number, and each takes what flesh he wants. Since that stops the march, the vanguard marks out the encampment which is not to be passed; the women and dogs carry all the baggage, the men are burdened only with their arms; they make the dogs even carry wood to make the fires, being often obliged to encamp in the open prairie, from which the clumps of wood may be at a great distance." (La Verendrye, (1), p. 13.)

The Assiniboin appear to have possessed a great fondness for visiting other tribes, and many narratives of journeys in the upper Missouri Valley contain references to meeting with such parties.

The size of the Assiniboin camps was often mentioned by the early writers. Thus Tanner wrote: "When we came from the Little Saskawjawun into the Assinneboin river, we came to the rapids, where was a village of one hundred and fifty lodges of Assinneboins, and some Crees." (James, (2), p. 57.) This was a century ago, when the villages retained their primitive appearance, and so it is to be regretted that no detailed description was prepared of this large group of skin-covered tipis.

The two associated tribes extended their wanderings to the southward, reaching the Missouri, a large gathering of the allies being encountered by Lewis and Clark at the Mandan towns in November, 1804. In their journal, on November 14, appears this entry: "The river rose last night half an inch, and is now filled with floating ice. This morning was cloudy with some snow: about seventy lodges of Assiniboins and some Knistenaux are at the Mandan village, and this being the day of adoption and exchange of property between them all, it is accompanied by a dance, which prevents our seeing more than two Indians to-day: these Knistenaux are a band of Chippeways whose language they speak; they live on the Assiniboin and Saskashawan rivers, and are about two hundred and forty men...."[75] And on the following day: "The ceremony of yesterday seem to continue still, for we were not visited by a single Indian. The swan are still passing to the south." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, p. 127.)

As will be recalled, the expedition under command of Lewis and Clark wintered near the Mandan towns, and on April 7, 1805, proceeded on their journey up the Missouri. On the 13th of April they arrived at a small creek which entered the Missouri about 20 miles above the mouth of the Little Missouri. They ascended the creek and at a distance of about 1½ miles reached a pond "which seemed to have been once the bed of the Missouri: near this lake were the remains of forty-three temporary lodges which seem to belong to the Assiniboins, who are now on the river of the same name." The following day, April 14, 1805, after advancing about 15 miles beyond the creek entered on the 13th, "we passed timbered low grounds and a small creek: in these low grounds are several uninhabited lodges built with the boughs of the elm, and the remains of two recent encampments, which from the hoops of small kegs found in them we judged could belong to Assiniboins only, as they are the only Missouri Indians who use spirituous liquors: of these they are so passionately fond that it forms their chief inducement to visit the British on the Assiniboin." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 185-186.)

During the days following many Assiniboin camps were discovered.

From these brief statements recorded in 1804 and 1805 it will be understood that when a large party of the Assiniboin moved, or when on a visit to another tribe, they carried with them their skin lodges, but when on a hunting trip they raised temporary shelters of brush and boughs, and the same custom was undoubtedly followed by war parties.

Evidently the establishment in after years of posts of the American Fur Company at certain points along the course of the upper Missouri served to attract bands of the Assiniboin as well as representatives of other tribes. Several interesting accounts of the arrival of such parties at Fort Union, near the mouth of the Yellowstone, are preserved. Thus Maximilian wrote when at the fort, June 29, 1833: "The expected arrival of more Assiniboins was delayed; they do not willingly travel with their leather tents in wet weather, because their baggage then becomes very heavy.... On the 30th of June, at noon, a band of Indians had arrived, and twenty-five tents were set up near the fort. The women, who were short, and mostly stout, with faces painted red, soon finished this work, and dug up with their instruments the clods of turf, which they lay round the lower part of the hut. One of these tents, the dwelling of a chief, was distinguished from the rest. It was painted of the colour of yellow ochre, had a[76] broad reddish-brown border below, and on each of its sides a large black bear was painted (something of a caricature it must be confessed), to the head of which, just above the nose, a piece of red cloth, that fluttered in the wind, was fastened, doubtless a medicine." Continuing, the narrative recorded the arrival of others. "Another band of Assiniboins appeared at a distance. To the west, along the wood by the river-side, the prairie was suddenly covered with red men, most of whom went singly, with their dogs drawing the loaded sledges. The warriors, about sixty in number, formed a close column.... The whole column entered the fort, where they smoked, ate, and drank: and, meantime, forty-two tents were set up. The new camp had a very pretty appearance; the tents stood in a semicircle, and all the fires were smoking, while all around was life and activity." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 202-204.)

A painting of the dwelling of the chief, with a broad border at the bottom, "and on each of its sides a large black bear," was made by Bodmer and reproduced by Maximilian. It is here shown in plate 24, c. Several interesting details are represented in this graphic sketch. The dog travois is well shown, both the manner in which a dog appeared when the frame was attached, and the several pairs of poles with the small net-covered frames, standing together to the left of the principal tipi.

The preceding quotation from Maximilian is suggestive of an entry in the journal of the Swiss artist Friedrich Kurz, made some years later. Kurz wrote while at Fort Union: "October 13, 1851. As we were weighing and hanging up dried meat, a lot of Assiniboins came to the fort with squaws and many horse and dog travois. As a whole these trading parties do not show much of interest, but there are always many details to be picked up, of great value to a painter." (Bushnell, (3), p. 15.) Kurz remained at Fort Union until April 19, 1852, when he descended the Missouri to St. Louis, and thence returned to his native city of Bern. While still at Fort Union on March 21, 1852, he made the sketch now reproduced in plate 25, b, which bears the legend, "Horse camp of the Assiniboins." It shows a group of skin-covered lodges in the midst of a grove of cottonwoods, and evidently the Missouri is in the distance on the right. At that time (1851-52), according to Kurz, the Assiniboin then living in the vicinity of Fort Union numbered 420 lodges, with 1,050 men, but "from 2-3000 Assiniboins live far above, near lake Winnibeg."


a. Near Fort Laramie, 1868
a. Near Fort Laramie, 1868
b. Near Fort Laramie, 1868
b. Near Fort Laramie, 1868
c. "A skin lodge of an Assiniboin chief." Karl Bodmer
c. "A skin lodge of an Assiniboin chief." Karl Bodmer


a. Assiniboin lodges "formed entirely of pine branches." Paul Kane, 1848
a. Assiniboin lodges "formed entirely of pine branches." Paul Kane, 1848
b. "Horse camp of the Assiniboins, March 21, 1852." Friedrich Kurz
b. "Horse camp of the Assiniboins, March 21, 1852." Friedrich Kurz


a. Tipi of Gi-he-ga, an Omaha chief. Photograph by W. H. Jackson, 1871
a. Tipi of Gi-he-ga, an Omaha chief. Photograph by W. H. Jackson, 1871
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook


"THE VILLAGE OF THE OMAHAS" Photograph by W. H. Jackson, 1871
"THE VILLAGE OF THE OMAHAS" Photograph by W. H. Jackson, 1871

The Assiniboin living in the far northwest had another and simpler form of temporary structure, as mentioned by Kane. He wrote, when arriving at Rocky Mountain Fort, a post of the Hudson's Bay Company, April 21, 1848: "This fort is beautifully situated on [77]the banks of the Saskatchewan, in a small prairie, backed by the Rocky Mountains in the distance. In the vicinity was a camp of Assiniboine lodges, formed entirely of pine branches." (Kane, (1), p. 408.) The painting made by him showing the fort and lodges is reproduced in plate 25, a.

dhegiha group.

Five tribes are considered as belonging to this group of the Siouan linguistic family: Omaha, Ponca, Quapaw, Osage, and Kansa. Distinct from the Dakota-Assiniboin tribes already mentioned, these undoubtedly some centuries ago lived in the central and upper Ohio valleys, whence they moved westward to and beyond the Mississippi. To these tribes may be attributed the great earthworks of the southern portion of Ohio and the adjacent regions bordering the Ohio River. To quote from the Handbook: "Hale and Dorsey concluded from a study of the languages and traditions that, in the westward migration of the Dhegiha from their seat on Ohio and Wabash rivers, after the separation, at least as early as 1500, of the Quapaw, who went down the Mississippi from the mouth of the Ohio, the Omaha branch moved up the great river, remaining awhile near the mouth of the Missouri while war and hunting parties explored the country to the northwest. The Osage remained on Osage River, and the Kansa continued up the Missouri, while the Omaha, still including the Ponca, crossed the latter stream and remained for a period in Iowa, ranging as far as the Pipestone quarry at the present Pipestone, Minnesota."

While living in the heavily timbered valleys reaching to the Ohio the several tribes now being considered unquestionably occupied villages consisting of groups of mat-covered lodges of the type erected by the Osage and Quapaw until the present time. But with the Omaha, Ponca, and Kansa, it was different, and when they reached the intermediate region, where forest and prairie joined, they were compelled to adopt a new form of structure, one suited to the natural environments, and thus they began to make use of the earth-covered lodge, and the conical skin tipi, with certain variations in form. The characteristic structures of the five tribes will now be briefly described, beginning with those of the Omaha.


When Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri in 1804 they found the Omaha village not far from the Missouri, in the present Dakota County, Nebraska. On the 13th of August the expedition reached the mouth of a creek entering the right bank of the Missouri. Just beyond they encamped on a sandbar, "opposite the lower point of a[78] large island." From here Sergeant Ordway and four men were sent to the Omaha village and returned the following day. "After crossing a prairie covered with high grass, they reached the Maha creek, along which they proceeded to its three forks, which join near the village: they crossed the north branch and went along the south; the walk was very fatiguing, as they were forced to break their way through grass, sunflowers, and thistles, all above ten feet high, and interspersed with wild pea. Five miles from our camp they reached the position of the ancient Maha village: it had once consisted of three hundred cabins, but was burnt about four years ago, soon after the smallpox had destroyed four hundred men, and a proportion of women and children. On a hill, in the rear of the village, are the graves of the nation." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 44-45.)

Seven years after Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri the traveler Bradbury visited the Omaha village standing on or near the site of the one mentioned in the earlier narrative. May 12, 1811, while away from the boat and traversing the country in search of botanical specimens, he arrived on the summit of the bluffs, and, to quote from his journal: "I had a fine view of the town below. It had a singular appearance; the framework of the lodges consists of ten or twelve long poles, placed in the periphery of a circle of about sixteen feet in diameter, and are inclined towards each other, so as to cross at a little more than half their length from the bottom; and the tops diverging with the same angle, exhibit the appearance of one cone inverted on the apex of another. The lower cone is covered with dressed buffalo skins, sewed together, and fancifully painted; some with an undulating red or yellow band of ten or twelve inches in breadth, surrounding the lodge at half its height; on others, rude figures of horses, buffaloes, or deer were painted; others again with attempts at the human face, in a circle, as the moon is sometimes painted; these were not less than four feet in diameter. I judged there were not fewer than eighty lodges. I did not remain long on the summit of the bluffs, as I perceived, from the heaps of earth, some of these recent, that it was a burial ground, and I knew the veneration they have for the graves of their ancestors." (Bradbury, (1), pp. 65-67.)

It is interesting to read of the number of decorated lodges then standing in an Omaha village, but in later years fewer structures were so ornamented. A typical example of a tipi of half a century ago is shown in plate 26, a, from a photograph made by Jackson in 1871.

According to the best authorities on the Omaha, from whose monographs much of the following information has been gleaned, the earth lodge and the skin tipi are the only forms of habitations made[79] use of by the Omaha in recent generations. The earth lodge resembled those of other tribes of the upper Missouri, and among the Omaha the work of erecting such a structure was shared in by both man and woman.

"The marking out of the site and the cutting of the heavy logs were done by the men. When the location was chosen, a stick was thrust in the spot where the fireplace was to be, one end of a rawhide rope was fastened to the stick and a circle 20 to 60 feet in diameter was drawn on the earth to mark where the wall was to be erected. The sod within the circle was removed, the ground excavated about a foot in depth, and the earth thrown around the circle like an embankment. Small crotched posts about 10 feet high were set 8 or 10 feet apart and 1½ feet within the circle, and on these were laid beams. Outside this frame split posts were set close together, having one end braced against the bottom of the bank and the other end leaning against the beams, thus forming a wall of timber. The opening generally, though not always, faced the east. Midway between the central fireplace and the wall were planted 4 to 8 large crotched posts about 10 feet in height, on which heavy beams rested, these serving to support the roof. This was made of long, slender, tapering trees stripped of their bark. These were tied at their large ends with cords (made from the inner bark of the linden) to the beams at the top of the stockade and at the middle to those resting in the crotches of the large posts forming the inner circle about the fireplace. The slender ends were cut so as to form the circular opening for the smoke, the edges being woven together with elm twine, so as to be firm. Outside the woodwork of the walls and roof, branches of willow were laid crosswise and bound tight to each slab and pole. Over the willows a heavy thatch of coarse grass was arranged so as to shed water. On the grass was placed a thick coating of sod. The sods were cut to lap and be laid like shingles. Finally they were tamped with earth and made impervious to rain. The entrance way, 6 to 10 feet long, projected from the door and was built in the same manner as the lodge and formed a part of it. A curtain of skin hung at the inner and one at the outer door of this entrance way. Much labor was expended on the floor of the lodge. The loose earth was carefully removed and the ground then tamped. It was next flooded with water, after which dried grass was spread over it and set on fire. Then the ground was tamped once again. This wetting and heating was repeated two or three times, until the floor became hard and level and could be easily swept and kept clean. Brooms were made of brush or twigs tied together. Couches were arranged around the wall in the spaces between the posts of the framework. These were provided with skins[80] and pillows, and served as seats by day and as beds by night. In the building of an earth lodge the cutting and putting on of the sods was always done by women, and as this part of the task had to be accomplished rapidly to prevent the drying out of the sods, which must hold well together, kindred helped one another. The erection of this class of dwelling required considerable labor, hence only the industrious and thrifty possessed these lodges." (Fletcher and La Flesche, (1), pp. 97-98.)

Although the earth-covered lodge, as just described, was used in the permanent villages, nevertheless in the same villages were to have been seen many of the conical skin tipis. Both types of habitation were standing at the Omaha village in 1871 when the photograph, now reproduced in plate 27, was made by W. H. Jackson.

Near each earth lodge, "generally to the left of the entrance, the cache was built. This consisted of a hole in the ground about 8 feet deep, rounded at the bottom and sides, provided with a neck just large enough to admit the body of a person. The whole was lined with split posts, to which was tied an inner lining of bunches of dried grass. The opening was protected by grass, over which sod was placed. In these caches the winter supply of food was stored; the shelled corn was put into skin bags, long strings of corn on the cob were made by braiding the outer husks, while the jerked meat was packed in parfleche cases. Pelts, regalia, and extra clothing were generally kept in the cache; but these were laid in ornamented parfleche cases, never used but for this purpose." (Op. cit., p. 98.)


a. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook showing Omaha village, May 20, 1851
a. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook showing Omaha village, May 20, 1851
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook showing interior of an Omaha lodge, May 16, 1851
b. Page of Kurz's Sketchbook showing interior of an Omaha lodge, May 16, 1851



On pages 95 and 96 of the work just cited appears a very interesting description of the making and raising of a skin tipi. "Formerly the cover was made of 9 to 12 buffalo skins tanned on both sides. To cut and sew this cover so that it would fit well and be shapely when stretched over the circular framework of poles required skilful workmanship, the result of training and of accurate measurements.... The tent poles were 14 to 16 feet long. Straight young cedar poles were preferred. The bark was removed and the poles were rubbed smooth. The setting up of a tent was always a woman's task. She first took four poles, laid them together on the ground, and then tied them firmly with a thong about 3 feet from one end. She then raised the poles and spread their free ends apart and thrust them firmly into the ground. These four tied poles formed the true framework of the tent. Other poles—10 to 20 in number, according to the size of the tent—were arranged in a circle, one end pressed well into the ground, the other end laid in the forks made by the tied ends of the four poles. There was a definite order in setting up the poles so that they would lock one another, and when they were all in place they constituted an elastic but firm frame,[81] which could resist a fairly heavy wind." There was probably very little variation in the ways and customs of the different members of the tribe, and the tents of an entire village would have been raised after the same, long-established manner. But the structures in an Omaha village did not surround an open space, "nor were they set so the people could live in the order of their gentes, an order observed when they were on the hunt and during their tribal ceremonies. Yet each family knew to what gens it belonged, observed its rites, and obeyed strictly the rule of exogamy. To the outward appearance a village presented a motley group of tribesmen. The dwellings and their different corrals were huddled together; the passageways between the lodges were narrow and tortuous. There was little of the picturesque. The grass and weeds that grew over the earth lodges while the people were off on their summer buffalo hunt were all cut away when the tribe returned. So, except for the decorations on the skin tents, there was nothing to relieve the dun-colored aspect." (Op. cit., p. 99.) Such was the appearance of an Omaha village in the valley of the Missouri.

In 1847 the Omaha erected a village on the banks of Papillon Creek, near the line between Sarpy and Douglas Counties, Nebraska. Four years later it was visited by Kurz during his journey up the Missouri. Kurz was camped near Council Bluffs, on the left bank of the Missouri. Opposite was Bellevue, the trading post of Peter A. Sarpy, and while at the latter place, May 16, 1851, Kurz entered in his journal: "In Bellevue I have drawn an Indian winter house made of earth, and also a Pawnee girl." And on May 20 he wrote: "Again crossed the river to Bellevue in order to visit the Omaha village some six miles distant; went over the bluffs, as being the shortest way, then crossed the high prairie ... to the Papillon creek which partly surrounds the village of the Omahas. The village itself is built on a hill.... The camp or village is composed of leather tents and earth-covered lodges. Between the tents and lodges are scaffolds for drying meat and also an enclosure for the horses.... I walked into the village and watched a group of young men endeavoring to throw lances through rolling rings, the others being gathered on top the earth lodges, [pl. 26 b] as spectators." (Bushnell, (3), p. 11.) Sketches made by Kurz at that time are reproduced in plate 28. The interior of an earth lodge, drawn at Bellevue May 16, 1851, is shown in b; the couches extending along the wall are clearly indicated, also the fireplace in the center of the lodge, over which is hanging a hook for the suspension of a kettle. The village, which stood on the banks of Papillion Creek, is shown in the lower part of a, of the same plate. Both forms of dwellings are represented in the sketch; also the scaffolds for drying meat and other purposes, and several inclosures in which their horses were confined.

[82]On June 12 Kurz attended a sacred dance performed for the benefit of a wounded man. He referred to it in his journal as being given by the Buffalo Society, where all wore buffalo masks. It was held in a large earth lodge, and he was accompanied by the chief, Joseph La Flesche.

The site of the small village mentioned by Kurz was identified a few years ago by Gilder, and some of the ruins were examined. It stood in the forks of the Papillion, about 4 miles in a direct line west of the Missouri. To quote from the brief narrative: "It was here the Omaha lived last before going on a reservation, and where they were visited by the Swiss artist, Kurz.... It was found that the ruins were quite shallow and had left but slight depressions, while others left small circular mounds above the surrounding level. The Rock Island Railroad has cut through the village, and at least one cache was exposed from top to bottom—about fifteen feet. In all instances the caches were outside the lodge sites.

"The surface yielded fractured iron pots, delft or figured china of white man's manufacture, and rusty iron objects, besides flint scrapers and chips, potsherds, and the usual accumulations of a village prior to contact with white people. The writer cannot attribute the flint implements to the Omaha, but considers the favorable site on a plateau at the junction of two streams to have been used by another people long before the Omaha erected their lodges there." (Gilder, (1), p. 75.)

Innumerable ruins of earth lodges were to have been found in the vicinity of the present city of Omaha, the great majority of which stood in early days before the arrival of Europeans in the valley of the Missouri, and it is not possible to say by which tribe the villages were erected. Many large ruins were discovered on Childs Point, in the extreme northeastern corner of Sarpy County, just south of Omaha, and some 4 miles northeast of the small village visited by Kurz. Some of the ruins were carefully examined by Gilder. One, which appears to have been considered as possessing the typical characteristics of the group, was described by Gilder, who wrote: "In all house ruins similar to the one here described, the main fireplace, four or five feet in diameter, is situated near the exact center. From this fireplace the floor extends, nearly flat, to within ten feet of the extreme outer edge or periphery of the ruin. Here a platform, or step, twelve to fourteen inches high and almost vertical, rose from the floor and sloped rather sharply to the outer rim.... Around the line of the inner circumference of the platform, at distances of approximately five feet, the remains of posts six or seven inches in diameter were discovered. These were either in the form of charcoal[83] or of wood dust. Sometimes bowlders lay about the remains of the posts, as if designed to aid in holding them in position. The grain of the charcoal posts indicated the wood to have been oak. About the posts, under the floor, and also under the platform, objects were more numerous than at other points in the ruin. The charred remains of four posts about eight feet apart surrounded the central fireplace. There were two features of house construction that stand out conspicuously: (1) the floor was approximately six to eight feet lower than the level of the surrounding ridge; (2) the angle at which the slabs, logs, or paling probably leaned inward from the periphery seems to indicate the highest part of the roof at about the same distance above the surrounding level as the floor was below, making the highest part of the roof about fifteen feet above the fireplace in the center of the dwelling.... Little besides broken flint instruments, flint chips, shells, potsherds, and fractured drift bowlders were found upon the floor itself; the major number of objects was beneath the floor surface, very often covered with bowlders, as if the latter had been placed to mark the spot. Small fireplaces were of frequent occurrence on all parts of the floor.

"Three caches were found in the first ruin.... In one, fifteen feet west of the center of the dwelling were found flint blades, a score of Unio shells, a mano or muller made from a rounded drift bowlder ... and a pottery pipe in form of a soaring bird.... The bottom of this cache was six feet from the surface. The second cache lay at the southeastern side of the ruin. Its bottom was eight feet from the surface of the ground. It contained thirty shells, several large flint blades, other large flint implements of unknown use ... animal bones, projectile points, and a small piece of galena. The third cache, in the northeastern part of the ruin, was the largest and deepest of the three, its bottom being nine feet and a half from the surface. On a small shelf, or niche, at its eastern side, two feet from the bottom, lay, a small image of a human face carved from pink soapstone, a number of animal bones and skulls, fish bones and scales, and Unio shells.

"So many and varied were the objects found in the ruin, so abundant the charred sticks and grasses, that the impression is conveyed that the dwelling had been abandoned in haste and that it had burned to the ground." (Gilder, (1), pp. 58-61.) The objects discovered in this ancient ruin were truly varied, as the discoverer remarked, and likewise of the greatest interest, including specimens of stone, bone, and pottery, with bones of animals which had probably served as food. But how interesting it would be to know the date of the construction of this large lodge, and the tribe to which its occupants belonged—questions which may never be determined.[84] However, it unquestionably belonged to people of a tribe who reared and occupied similar structures in the valley of the Missouri as late as the latter half of the nineteenth century.

Other quite similar ruins a short distance north of the city of Omaha were examined by Gilder. Many objects of bone, stone, and pottery were discovered. Caches were encountered, and to quote from his account of the work: "The caches within the house sites are smaller in diameter near the top than at the bottom, the latter part flaring out somewhat in the manner of a large earthen pot. The bottom of the caches are rounded, and the walls are almost as hard as fired clay. In the very bottom of each cache was a quantity of dust, or earth as fine as dust (not compact as at other points), in which were found small arrowpoints, flint blades, shell beads, and flint flakes. In each case where the cache was found within the house circle it occurred close under the western wall, back of the fireplace and exactly opposite the entrance to the lodge, the latter in every instance facing the east." (Gilder, (2), p. 716.)

Before closing this brief sketch of the Omaha villages and forms of structures, it will be of interest to quote from the writings of one who was intimately acquainted with the people of whom he wrote. Referring to their various types of habitations, he says:

"The primitive domiciles of the Omaha were chiefly (1) lodges of earth or, more rarely, of bark or mats, and (2) skin lodges or tents. It may be observed that there were no sacred rites connected with the earth lodge-building or tent-making among the Omaha and Ponka. When earth lodges were built, the people did not make them in a tribal circle, each man erecting his lodge where he wished; yet kindred commonly built near one another. The earth lodges were made by the women, and were intended principally for summer use, when the people were not migrating or going on the hunt.... Earth lodges were generally used for large gatherings, such as feasts, councils, or dances.... On a bluff near the Omaha agency I found the remains of several ancient earth lodges, with entrances on the southern sides. Two of these were 75 feet and one was 100 feet in diameter. In the center of the largest there was a hollow about 3 feet deep and nearly 4 feet below the surface outside the lodge.

"The Omaha sometimes make bark lodges for summer occupancy, as did the Iowa and Sak." (Dorsey, (1), pp. 269-271.)

Referring to the more temporary structure, the skin tipi: "The tent was used when the people were migrating, and also when they were traveling in search of the buffalo. It was also the favorite abode of a household during the winter season, as the earth lodge was generally erected in an exposed situation, selected on account of[85] comfort in the summer. The tent could be pitched in the timber or brush, or down in wooded ravines, where the cold winds never had full sweep. Hence, many Indians abandoned their houses in winter and went into their tents, even when they were of canvas.

"The tent was commonly made of ten or a dozen dressed or tanned buffalo skins. It was in the shape of a sugar loaf, and was from 10 to 12 feet high, 10 or 15 feet in diameter at the bottom, and about a foot and a half in diameter at the top, which served as a smoke-hole.... No totem posts were in use among the Omaha. The tent of the principal man of each gens was decorated on the outside with his gentile badge, which was painted on each side of the entrance as well as on the back of the tent." (Op. cit., pp. 271-274.)

In an earlier work, "A Study of Siouan Cults," Dr. Dorsey showed the varied designs on ceremonial tipis of the different Siouan tribes. Among other interesting illustrations are pictures of lodges erected at the time of the Sun dance, with the great camp circle as formed at that time. (Dorsey, (2).)

A clear insight into the ways of life of the primitive Omaha of a century ago, before their native manners and customs had been changed through influence with the whites, may be obtained from the narrative of the Long expedition. A great part of the recorded information was imparted by John Dougherty, at that time deputy Indian agent for the tribes of the Missouri.

In 1819 and 1820, the period of the narrative, the permanent village of the tribe stood on the banks of Omaha Creek, about 2½ miles from the right bank of the Missouri, in the present Dakota County, Nebraska. As told on preceding pages, this was the large, permanent village of the tribe, but nevertheless it was occupied for less than half the year, and as related by Dougherty: "The inhabitants occupy their village not longer than five months in the year. In April they arrive from their hunting excursions, and in the month of May they attend to their horticultural interests, and plant maize, beans, pumpkins, and watermelons, besides which they cultivate no other vegetable. They also, at this season, dress the bison skins, which have been procured during the winter hunt, for the traders, who generally appear for the purpose of obtaining them. The young men, in the mean time, are employed in hunting within the distance of seventy or eighty miles around, for beaver, otter, deer, muskrat, elk, &c.

"When the trading and planting occupations of the people are terminated, and provisions begin to fail them, which occurs generally in June, the chiefs assemble a council for the purpose of deliberating upon the further arrangements necessary to be made...." A feast is prepared, and all gather to determine where and when the next[86] hunt shall take place. These important questions being settled, all are in readiness, and "The day assigned for their departure having arrived, the squaws load their horses and dogs, and take as great a weight upon their own backs, as they can conveniently transport, and, after having closed the entrances to their several habitations, by placing a considerable quantity of brushwood before them, the whole nation departs from the village." And thus they continue to move until word is brought that herds of buffalo are near, then they encamp at the nearest watercourse. The skin lodges, having been conveyed by means of the travois, are soon set up, to be occupied during the period of the hunt. These "are often fancifully ornamented on the exterior, with figures, in blue and red paint, rudely executed, though sometimes depicted with no small degree of taste." The buffalo skins obtained during the summer hunt were known as summer skins, and were used especially for the covering of their lodges and also for their garments. After a successful hunt all parts of the buffalo were carried to the camp and the vertebrae were crushed "by means of stone axes, similar to those which are not unfrequently ploughed up out of the earth in the Atlantic states."

After the summer hunt "The nation return towards their village in the month of August, having visited for a short time the Pawnee villages for the purpose of trading their guns for horses. They are sometimes so successful, in their expedition, in the accumulation of meat, as to be obliged to make double trips, returning about mid-day for half the whole quantity, which was left in the morning. When within two or three days journey of their own village, runners are dispatched to it, charged with the duty of ascertaining the safety of it, and the state of the maize.

"On the return of the nation, which is generally early in September, a different kind of employment awaits the ever industrious squaws. The property buried in the earth is to be taken up and arranged in the lodges, which are cleaned out, and put in order. The weeds which during their absence had grown up, in every direction through the village, are cut down and removed. A sufficient quantity of sweet corn is next to be prepared, for present and future use."

Being now plentifully supplied with food, unless for some unforeseen cause having an ample quantity of buffalo meat and corn, together with the other products of the gardens, they would "content themselves in their village until the latter part of October, when, without the formality of a council, or other ceremony, they again depart from the village, and move in separate parties to various situations on both sides of the Missouri, and its tributaries, as far down as the Platte. Their primary object at this time, is to obtain, on credit from the traders, various articles, indispensably necessary[87] to their fall, winter, and spring hunts; such as guns, particularly those of Mackinaw, powder, ball, and flints, beaver traps, brass, tin, and camp-kettles, knives, hoes, squaw-axes and tomahawks.

"Having obtained these implements, they go in pursuit of deer, or apply themselves to trapping for beaver and otter. Elk was some time since an object of pursuit, but these animals are now rather rare, in the Omawhaw territories.

"This hunt continues until towards the close of December, and during the rigours of the season they experience an alternation of abundance and scarcity of food."

The skins secured during the late autumn hunt would be carried to the traders and left as payment for the goods previously obtained on credit, and also given in exchange for blankets, wampum, and various other articles. Thence they would return to their permanent village "in order to procure a supply of maize from their places of concealment, after which they continue their journey, in pursuit of bisons.... This expedition continues until the month of April, when they return to their village as before stated, loaded with provisions. It is during this expedition that they procure all the skins, of which the bison robes of commerce are made; the animals at this season having their perfect winter dress, the hair and wool of which are long and dense." (James, (1), I, pp. 200-221.)

Such was the life of the Omaha a hundred years ago, and it may have been quite the same for many generations, omitting, of course, the visits made to the traders. But their systematic hunts had probably been performed ever since the Omaha reached the valley of the Missouri, and possibly long before.


That the Ponca and Omaha were formerly a single tribe is accepted without question, and that the separation took place long after they crossed the Mississippi from their ancient habitat is established by the traditions of the two tribes. Probably the two tribes in later years, after the separation, continued to resemble one another to such a degree that the villages of one could not have been distinguished from those of the other.

A deserted village of the Ponca was discovered by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804, and according to the narrative of the expedition on September 5 they arrived at the "river Poncara," which entered the Missouri from the south, and at its mouth was 30 yards in width. "Two men whom we despatched to the village of the same name, returned with information that they had found it on the lower side of the creek; but as this is the hunting season, the town was so completely deserted that they had killed a[88] buffaloe in the village itself." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 66-67.) The "river Poncara," later to be known as Ponca Creek, enters the right bank of the Missouri in the western part of the present Knox County, Nebraska. Here they continued to live for some years, and during the spring of 1833 Maximilian said they "dwell on both sides of Running-water River, and on Ponca Creek, which Lewis and Clark call Poncara." Running-water River was the earlier name of the Niobrara. "The band of them, which we met with here, has set up eight or nine leather tents, at the mouth of Basil Creek, on a fine forest." On May 12, 1833, appears this note in the narrative: Arrived "opposite the huts of the Punca Indians. They lay in the shade of a forest, like white cones, and, in front of them, a sand bank extended into the river, which was separated from the land by a narrow channel. The whole troop was assembled on the edge of the bank, and it was amusing to see how the motley group crowded together, wrapped in brown buffalo skins, white and red blankets—some naked, of a deep brown colour." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 137-139.) A sketch made at that time by Bodmer and reproduced by Maximilian is here shown in plate 29. It bears the legend "Punka Indians Encamped on the Banks of the Missouri."

Although at that time living in the typical skin tipi, Maximilian stated (p. 137), "They formerly lived, like the Omahas, in clay huts at the mouth of the river, but their powerful enemies, the Sioux and the Pawnees, destroyed their villages, and they have since adopted the mode of life of the former, living more generally in tents made of skins, and changing their place from time to time." The village visited by members of the Lewis and Clark expedition, September 5, 1804, when they "killed a buffaloe in the village itself," was probably composed of earth-covered lodges.

When discovering a trail, or rather tracks made by a number of Indians crossing the prairie, it was often possible to determine the nature of the party. The Ponca, who often moved from place to place, setting up their tipis in various localities during the course of the year, could have been held in mind by Gregg when he wrote: "These lodges are always pitched or set up by the squaws, and with such expedition, that, upon the stopping of an itinerant band, a town springs up in a desert valley in a few minutes, as if by enchantment. The lodge-poles are often neatly prepared, and carried along from camp to camp. In conveying them one end frequently drags on the ground, whereby the trail is known to be that of a band with families, as war parties never carry lodge-poles." (Gregg, (1), II, pp. 286-288.) The rapidity and skill with which the squaws set up and arranged the tipis, when the site of the camp had been selected, was commented on by many writers, and what an interesting and animated scene it must have been.



To quote from the Handbook: "Their linguistic relations are closest with the Osage, and are close with the Quapaw. In the traditional migration of the group, after the Quapaw had first separated therefrom, the main body divided at the mouth of Osage River, the Osage moving up that stream and the Omaha and Ponca crossing Missouri River and proceeding northward, while the Kansa ascended the Missouri on the south side to the mouth of Kansa River. Here a brief halt was made, after which they ascended the Missouri on the south side until they reached the present north boundary of Kansas, where they were attacked by the Cheyenne and compelled to retrace their steps. They settled again at the mouth of Kansas River, where the Big Knives, as they called the whites, came with gifts and induced them to go farther west. The native narrators of this tradition give an account of about 20 villages occupied successively along Kansas River before the settlement at Council Grove, Kansas, whence they were finally removed to their reservation in Indian Ter. Marquette's autograph map, drawn probably as early as 1674, places the Kansas a considerable distance directly west of the Osage and some distance south of the Omaha, indicating that they were then on Kansas River.... It is known that the Kansa moved up Kansas River in historic times as far as Big Blue River, and thence went to Council Grove in 1847. The move to the Big Blue must have taken place after 1723."

Thus it would appear that for many generations the villages of the Kansa had stood near the eastern boundary of the great plains, a region where buffalo were plentiful, one suited to the wants and requirements of the native tribes.

On June 26, 1804, the Lewis and Clark expedition reached the mouth of the Kansas and encamped on the north side, where they remained two days. In the journal of those days they referred to the Kansa, and said: "On the banks of the Kanzas reside the Indians of the same name, consisting of two villages, one at about twenty, the other forty leagues from its mouth, and amounting to about three hundred men. They once lived twenty-four leagues higher than the Kanzas [river], on the south bank of the Missouri.... This nation is now hunting in the plains for the buffaloe which our hunters have seen for the first time." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 18-19.) A few days later, July 2, after advancing a short distance up the Missouri, above the mouth of the Kansas, they arrived at the site of an ancient village of the tribe. In the journal (p. 20) is this account: "Opposite our camp is a valley, in which was situated an old village of the Kansas, between two high points of land, and on the bank of the river. About a mile in the rear of the village was a[90] small fort, built by the French on an elevation. There are now no traces of the village, but the situation of the fort may be recognized by some remains of chimnies, and the general outline of the fortification, as well as by the fine spring which supplied it with water." Three days later, July 5, 1804, while on the right bank of the Missouri, they "came along the bank of an extensive and beautiful prairie, interspersed with copses of timber, and watered by Independence creek. On this bank formerly stood the second village of the Kanzas; from the remains it must have been once a large town." (Op. cit., pp. 21-22.)

The village mentioned by Lewis and Clark as standing on the banks of the Kansas River some 40 league above its confluence with the Missouri may have been the one visited and described by Maj. George C. Sibley during the summer of 1811. Sibley wrote in his journal: "The Konsee town is seated immediately on the north bank of the Konsee River, about one hundred miles by its course above its junction with the Missouri; in a beautiful prairie of moderate extent, which is nearly encircled by the River; one of its Northern branches (commonly called the Republican fork, which falls in a few hundred paces above the village) and a small creek that flows into the north branch. On the north and southwest it is overhung by a chain of high prairie hills which give a very pleasing effect to the whole scene.

"The town contains one hundred and twenty-eight houses or lodges which are generally about 60 feet long and 25 feet wide, constructed of stout poles and saplings arranged in form of an arbour and covered with skins, bark and mats; they are commodious and quite comfortable. The place for fire is simply a hole in the earth, under the ridge pole of the roof, where an opening is left for the smoke to pass off. All the larger lodges have two, sometimes three, fire places; one for each family dwelling in it. The town is built without much regard to order; there are no regular streets or avenues. The lodges are erected pretty compactly together in crooked rows, allowing barely space sufficient to admit a man to pass between them. The avenues between these crooked rows are kept in tolerable decent order and the village is on the whole rather neat and cleanly than otherwise. Their little fields or patches of corn, beans and pumpkins, which they had just finished planting, and which constitute their whole variety, are seen in various directions, at convenient distances around the village. The prairie was covered with their horses and mules (they have no other domestic animals except dogs)."

The manuscript journal from which the preceding quotation is made is now in the possession of Lindenwood College, St. Charles, Mo., the copy having been made by Mrs. N. H. Beauregard.

[91]The preceding is a clear though all too brief account of a native village, prepared at a time when it continued in a primitive condition. The site, on the left bank of Kansas River just below the mouth of the Republican, would have been about the present Fort Riley, near the northern line of Geary County. In some respects this is the most interesting description of a Kansa village given in the present work. The habitations—long mat-covered lodges—were of the type erected by the Osage and Quapaw, kindred tribes of the Kansa, and it is highly probable they represented the form of dwellings reared by the same tribes many generations before in their ancient villages which then stood in the valley of the Ohio, far east of the Mississippi.

Just 15 years elapsed between the time of the Lewis and Clark expedition and the arrival of the Long party in the country of the Kansa. In August, 1819, to those aboard the steamboat Western Engineer, "The site of an old village of the Konzas, and the remains of a fortification erected by the French, were pointed out a few miles below Isle au Vache. This island, which lies about one hundred miles above Fort Osage, was the wintering post of Capt. Martin's detachment, destined to proceed in advance of the troops ordered to the Missouri." And nothing shows more clearly the changed conditions in that region during the past century than the continuation of this narrative: "Captain Martin, with three companies of the rifle regiment, left Bellefontain in September 1818, and arrived at Isle au Vache in October, with the expectation of resuming his march, as early in the following spring as the weather would permit. But not having received the necessary supplies of provisions as anticipated, they had been compelled to remain till the time of our arrival, subsisting themselves principally by hunting.... Between two and three thousand deer, besides great numbers of bears, turkies, &c. had been taken." On August 23, 1819, a large number of Kansa Indians, from their villages on the river bearing their tribal name, gathered at Isle au Vache to meet members of the Long party in council. "There were present at this council, one hundred and sixty-one Konzas, including chiefs and warriors, and thirteen Osages." (James, (1), I, pp. 110-112.)

While at Fort Osage members of the Long expedition left for an overland journey to the Kansa towns. The party was led by Say, and left the fort August 6, arriving at the villages just two weeks later. The Kansa town then stood in the extreme southwestern corner of the present Pottawatomie County, Kansas, at the mouth of the Big Blue. And "as they approached the village, they perceived the tops of the lodges red with the crowds of natives; the chiefs and warriors came rushing out on horseback, painted and decorated, and[92] followed by great numbers on foot ... the village was in confusion, the hunters having lately returned; and being then engaged in preparations for the journey to Isle au Vache." The journey was that mentioned above, when the Indians arrived at Isle au Vache to hold council with Long. Continuing the narrative: "The approach to the village is over a fine level prairie of considerable extent; passing which, you ascend an abrupt bank of the height of ten feet, to a second level, on which the village is situate in the distance, within about ¼ of a mile of the river. It consists of about 120 lodges, placed as closely together as convenient, and destitute of any regularity of arrangement. The ground area of each lodge is circular, and is excavated to the depth of from one to three feet, and the general form of the exterior may be denominated hemispheric.

"The lodge, in which we reside, is larger than any other in the town, and being that of the grand chief, it serves as a council house for the nation. The roof is supported by two series of pillars, or rough vertical posts, forked at top for the reception of the transverse connecting pieces of each series; twelve of these pillars form the outer series, placed in a circle; and eight longer ones, the inner series, also describing a circle; the outer wall, of rude frame work, placed at a proper distance from the exterior series of pillars, is five or six feet high. Poles, as thick as the leg at base, rest with their butts upon the wall, extending on the cross pieces, which are upheld by the pillars of the two series, and are of sufficient length to reach nearly to the summit. These poles are very numerous, and, agreeable to the position which we have indicated, they are placed all around in a radiating manner, and support the roof like rafters. Across these are laid long and slender sticks or twigs, attached parallel to each other by means of bark cord; these are covered by mats made of long grass, or reeds, or with the bark of trees; the whole is then covered completely over with earth, which, near the ground, is banked up to the eaves. A hole is permitted to remain in the middle of the roof to give exit to the smoke. Around the walls of the interior, a continuous series of mats are suspended; these are of neat workmanship, composed of a soft reed, united by bark cord, in straight or undulated lines, between which, lines of black paint sometimes occur. The bedsteads are elevated to the height of a common seat from the ground, and are about six feet wide; they extend in an uninterrupted line around three-fourths of the circumference of the apartment, and are formed in the simplest manner of numerous sticks, or slender pieces of wood resting at their ends on cross pieces, which are supported by short notched or forked posts, driven into the ground; bison skins supply them with a comfortable bedding. Several medicine or mystic bags are carefully attached to the mats of the wall, these are cylindrical, and neatly bound up; several reeds are usually placed upon them, and a[93] human scalp serves for the fringe and tassels. Of their contents we know nothing. The fireplace is a simple shallow cavity, in the center of the apartment, with an upright and a projecting arm for the support of the culinary apparatus." (Op. cit., pp. 120-121.)

Say and his associates left the Kansa village to rejoin the main party aboard the steamboat Western Engineer, then waiting near Isle au Vache, but soon after starting on the journey were attacked by some wandering Pawnee and forced to return to seek refuge among those whom they had just left. And as told in the narrative, they were, as a consequence, able to witness an interesting ceremony in one of the large earth lodges. This was August 23, 1819. "Mr. Say's party were kindly received at the village they had left on the preceding day. In the evening they had retired to rest in the lodge set apart for their accommodation, when they were alarmed by a party of savages, rushing in armed with bows, arrows and lances, shouting and yelling in a most frightful manner. The gentlemen of the party had immediate recourse to their arms, but observing that some squaws, who were in the lodge, appeared unmoved, they began to suspect that no molestation to them was intended. The Indians collected around the fire in the centre of the lodge, yelling incessantly; at length their howlings assumed something of a measured tone, and they began to accompany their voices with a sort of drum and rattles. After singing for some time, one who appeared to be their leader, struck the post over the fire with his lance, and they all began to dance, keeping very exact time with the music. Each warrior had, besides his arms, and rattles made of strings of deer's hoof, some part of the intestines of an animal inflated, and inclosing a few small stones, which produced a sound like pebbles in a gourd shell. After dancing round the fire for some time, without appearing to notice the strangers, they departed, raising the same wolfish howl, with which they had entered; but their music and their yelling continued to be heard about the village during the night.

"This ceremony, called the dog dance, was performed by the Konzas for the entertainment of their guests. Mr. Seymour took an opportunity to sketch the attitudes and dresses of the principal figures." (Op. cit., p. 135.) The sketch made by Seymour was engraved and served as an illustration in the narrative of the expedition prepared by James. It is here reproduced as plate 30, b. The interior of the large earth lodge is clearly shown. The "continuous series of mats" are suspended around the wall, and the "bedsteads," as described, serve as seats for the guests. Mats are also represented as spread over the floor in the foreground.

On August 25, 1819, the steamboat Western Engineer steamed away from Isle au Vache, and that night, after having advanced about 23 miles up the Missouri, stopped at the mouth of Independence[94] Creek, and a little above the creek, on the right bank of the Missouri, was "the site of an old Konza town, called formerly the village of the Twenty Four." This was evidently the same site as mentioned by Lewis and Clark, July 5, 1804. Ruins of the earth lodges had undoubtedly remained quite distinct, being overgrown with the grass of the prairie.

Isle au Vache, in the Missouri, faces Oak Mills, Atchison County, Kansas, and Iatan, Platte County, Missouri. A brief history of the island was prepared a few years ago. (Remsburg, (1), pp. 436-443.)

Interesting notes on the habitations of the Kansa Indians are contained in a narrative prepared by one who passed through their country during the month of May, 1834.

On the night of May 1 the party encamped on a small branch of the Kansas River, where they were joined by some members of the Kansa tribe who occupied six lodges in a near-by woods. "This party is a small division of a portion of this tribe, who are constantly wandering; but although their journeys are sometimes pretty extensive, they seldom approach nearer to the settlements than they are at present." Later they arrived at the banks of the Kansas River, and as it was approached, so the narrative continues, "we saw a number of Indian lodges, made of saplings driven into the ground, bent over and tied at top, and covered with bark and buffalo skins. These lodges, or wigwams, are numerous on both sides of the river. As we passed them, the inhabitants, men, women, and children, flocked out to see us, and almost prevented our progress by their eager greetings. Our party stopped on the bank of the river, and the horses were unloaded and driven into the water." They crossed the river by means of a large flat-bottomed boat, and reaching the opposite bank saw many Indian lodges with some frame houses occupied by whites. "The canoes used by the Indians are mostly made of buffalo skins, stretched, while recent, over a light frame work of wood, the seams sewed with sinews, and so closely, as to be wholly impervious to water. These light vessels are remarkably buoyant, and capable of sustaining very heavy burthens." That evening they were visited by the Kansa chief who lived near by, a "young man about twenty-five years of age, straight as a poplar, and with a noble countenance and bearing.... The Kaws living here appear to be much more wealthy than those who joined our camp on the prairie below.... Their dress consists, universally of deer skin leggings, belted around the loins, and over the upper part of the body a buffalo robe or blanket." (Townsend, (1), pp. 30-33.)

During the morning of May 20, 1834, the party departed from the Kansa settlement on or near the banks of the Kansas River, "leaving the river immediately, and making a N. W. by W. course—and[95] the next day came to another village of the same tribe, consisting of about thirty lodges, and situated in the midst of a beautiful level prairie.... The lodges here are constructed very differently from those of the lower village. They are made of large and strong timbers, a ridge Pole runs along the top, and the different pieces are fastened together by leathern thongs. The roofs, which are single, make but one angle, are of stout poplar bark, and forms an excellent defence, both against rain and the rays of the sun, which must be intense during midsummer in this region. These prairies are often visited by heavy gales of wind, which would probably demolish the huts, were they built of frail materials like those below. We encamped in the evening on a small stream called Little Vermillion creek...." (Op. cit., pp. 33-34.)

The sketch by Seymour conveys a very good idea of the general appearance of the interior of a Kansa lodge, and an equally interesting picture of the village, as it was just 22 years later, is to be found in one of Father de Smet's works. He arrived at the first of the villages May 19, 1841, and in describing it said: "At the first sight of their wigwams, we were struck at the resemblance they bore to the large stacks of wheat which cover our fields in harvest-time. There were of these in all no more than about twenty, grouped together without order, but each covering a space about one hundred and twenty feet in circumference, and sufficient to shelter from thirty to forty persons. The entire village appeared to us to consist of from seven to eight hundred souls,—an approximation which is justified by the fact that the total population of the tribe is confined to two villages, together numbering 1900 inhabitants. These cabins, however humble they may appear, are solidly built and convenient. From the top of the wall, which is about six feet in height, rise inclined poles, which terminate round an opening above, serving at once for a chimney and window. The door of the edifice consists of an undressed hide on the most sheltered side, the hearth occupies the centre and is in the midst of four upright posts destined to support the rotunda; the beds are ranged round the wall and the space between the beds and the hearth is occupied by the members of the family, some standing, others sitting or lying on skins, or yellow colored mats. It would seem that this last named article is regarded as a piece of extra finery, for the lodge assigned to us had one of them." (De Smet, (1), pp. 65-66.) Following this description of a lodge is an account of its occupants. He refers to the women busily engaged at various occupations, and the men, some eating or smoking, and others plucking the hair from their brows and beard. The brief description of the interior of the lodge conforms with those of the earlier writers, but it is to be regretted that more was not said about[96] the outside of the structure. Were they covered with earth or thatch? The village visited by Say in 1819 was composed of earth-covered lodges, clearly described, but the drawing made by one of Father de Smet's associates (it is marked Geo. Lehman, del.) represents the large circular houses with overhanging roofs, more closely resembling thatch than the usual covering of earth and sod. This drawing, which was reproduced in the work cited, is here shown in plate 30, a. The structures standing in the village visited by Father de Smet may have resembled the bark-covered house illustrated in plate 31. This most interesting photograph was probably made about 40 years ago, and at once suggests the frame, covered with bark, and ready for the final covering of earth; in other words, an unfinished earth lodge. However, it was probably a complete and finished structure.

Regarding the large village visited by De Smet as mentioned above, one historian of the tribe has written: "An important village, and the largest of the tribe at that time, was that of old Kah-he-gah-wa-ti-an-gah, known as Fool Chief, which from about 1830 to 1846 was located on the north side of the Kansas river, just north of the present Union Pacific station of Menoken.... Until recent years the lodge-circle marks were visible and its exact location easy to be found." (Morehouse, (1), p. 348.)

A year passed between the visit of Father de Smet to the Kansa towns and the arrival of Fremont in the same locality, but it had been a period of trouble for the tribe and they had suffered greatly. On June 18, 1842, Fremont wrote in his journal: "We left our camp seven, journeying along the foot of the hills which border the Kansas valley.... I rode off some miles to the left, attracted by the appearance of a cluster of huts near the mouth of the Vermillion. It was a large but deserted Kansas village, scattered in an open wood, along the margin of the stream, chosen with the customary Indian fondness for beauty of scenery. The Pawnees had attacked it in the early spring. Some of the houses were burnt, and others blackened with smoke, and weeds were already getting possession of the cleared places." (Fremont, (1), pp. 12-13.)


a. Kansa village, 1841. George Lehman
a. Kansa village, 1841. George Lehman
b. Dog dance within a Kansa lodge, August 23, 1819. Samuel Seymour
b. Dog dance within a Kansa lodge, August 23, 1819. Samuel Seymour



It is quite probable that during their journeys away from the permanent villages the Kansa, like other tribes of the Missouri Valley, made use of skin tipis as being easily transported from one place to another. It would also appear that in later years the earth and bark covered lodge ceased to be used, and that skin tipis were constructed to the exclusion of other forms of dwellings. A missionary who resided at the Kansa agency from 1865 to 1868 wrote: "The tribe at that time was divided into three bands, or villages, as they were generally called. Ish-tal-a-sa's village occupied the northern part of [97]the reserve. He was not only village chief, but head chief of the whole tribe also. Fool Chief's village occupied the central part of the reserve, and Al-le-ga-wa-ho's the southern portion. The latter became head chief after Ish-tal-a-sa's death. There were probably about 300 in each band. Their custom was for the entire band to camp together in some desirable locality, where wood, water and grass for their ponies were accessible, and remain until the pasture was eaten down, and then move to another site. Another reason for moving was to get away from the filth that always accumulated in an Indian village. Their tents, or tepees, were made of buffalo skins.... The lodge, as they usually designated their tepees, was easily taken down and removed to another place." (Spencer, (1), p. 373.)

Of the numerous tribes mentioned at the present time no one appears to have erected a greater variety of dwellings than did the Kansa, whose habitations were of several distinct forms and were constructed of various materials.

The long mat-covered lodges described by Sibley in 1811, as at that time standing in the village at the mouth of the Republican, on the left bank of the Kansas River, may be accepted as being the typical or primitive form of structure erected by the tribe. Eight years later Say and his companions reached another village, a few miles eastward from the one preceding, and there found the circular earth lodges. Evidently the ruined towns mentioned by Lewis and Clark as being visible from the Missouri River were once groups of similar earth lodges. But all circular lodges were not covered with earth and sod; in some instances the walls and roofs were formed of sheets of bark.

During the month of May, 1834, many small dwellings were standing on both banks of the Kansas River which were formed by covering a frame composed "of saplings driven into the ground, bent over and tied at top," with sheets of bark and buffalo skins. And not far away was another village of the same tribe but presenting a very different appearance. The structures were described as being "made of large and strong timbers, a ridge pole runs along the top, and the different pieces are fastened together by leathern thongs. The roofs, which are single, make but one angle, are of stout poplar bark." Whether this was of circular or quadrangular base is difficult to determine, but probably the latter, resembling the example shown in plate 19. And in addition to the various structures already noted, the conical skin tipis were extensively used by the Kansa, probably serving in early days when the people were away from their more permanent villages, but later they were more generally utilized.



From the earliest historical times the habitat of the Osage was among the hills and valleys of the Ozarks, south of the Missouri, in the present State of Missouri, and here they continued to dwell until their removal during the early part of the last century.

When Père Marquette passed down the Mississippi, late in the month of June, 1673, he learned of the Osage, and on his map, prepared soon afterwards, indicated the villages of that tribe near a stream which was evidently the river bearing their tribal name. They continued to occupy rather permanent villages until the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The tribe included three bands, two of which may be rather old; the third more recently created. These are: (1) Pahatsi or Great Osage, (2) Utsehta or Little Osage, (3) Santsukhdhi or Arkansas band. The latter dates from the year 1802 or thereabouts, when a large part of the Great Osage, under the leadership of the chief Big Track, removed to the vicinity of the Arkansas.

The Osage, unlike certain other members of the Siouan group to which they belong, continued to erect and occupy the mat or bark covered habitations so characteristic of the forest tribes. Their villages which stood among the Ozarks were probably similar in appearance to the ancient settlements of their ancestors which once occupied a part of the upper valley of the Ohio, whence they migrated to the region beyond the Mississippi. But the country which served as their new home was one well suited to the wants and requirements of the tribe. Game was plentiful, the streams teemed with fish, and wild fruits were to be had in vast quantities. Thus food was easily obtained.

The expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark began ascending the Missouri May 14, 1804, and just one month later, on June 15, arrived at the site of an earlier settlement of the Little Osage. In the journal the entry for that day states that: "We passed several islands and one creek on the south side, and encamped on the north opposite a beautiful plain, which extends as far back as the Osage river, and some miles up the Missouri. In front of our encampment are the remains of an old village of the Little Osage, situated at some distance from the river, and at the foot of a small hill. About three miles above them, in view of our camp is the situation of the old village of the Missouris after they fled from the Sauks. The inroads of the same tribe compelled the Little Osage to retire from the Missouri a few years ago, and establish themselves near the Great Osages." And two days later, at a place about 20 miles above their camp, on the 15th, they reached "the crossing place for the Sauks, Ayauways, and Sioux, in their excursions against the Osage." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, p. 15.)

[99]The ruined or deserted village of the Little Osage seen by the party stood on the right or south bank of the Missouri, in the western part of the present Saline County, Missouri, not far from the village of Malta. The structures which had stood at this old site were probably similar to those later erected by the people in their new village near the town of the Great Osage, both of which were visited two years later. They were situated far south of the Missouri, in the northern part of the present Vernon County, in the valley of the Little Osage River.

During the latter part of August, 1806, Pike arrived at the two villages of the Osage, having departed from Fort Bellefontain a short time before on his journey to the far west. But, unfortunately, his accounts of the native tribes and their villages which he encountered during his travels are neither full nor clear, and so it is with the description of the habitations of the Osage. To quote from the narrative: "The Osage lodges are generally constructed with upright posts, put firmly in the ground, of about 20 feet in height, with a crotch at the top; they are generally about 12 feet distant from each other; in the crotch of those posts, are put the ridge poles, over which are bent small poles, the ends of which are brought down and fastened to a row of stakes of about 5 feet in height; these stakes are fastened together with three horizontal bars, and form the flank walls of the lodge. The gable ends are generally broad slabs and rounded off to the ridge pole. The whole of the building and sides are covered with matting made of rushes, of two or three feet in length, and four feet in width, which are joined together, and entirely exclude the rain. The doors are in the side of the building, and generally are one on each side. The fires are made in holes in the centre of the lodge; the smoke ascending through apertures left in the roof for the purpose; at one end of the dwelling is a raised platform, about three feet from the ground, which is covered with bear skins, and generally holds all the little choice furniture of the master, and on which repose his honorable guests.... They vary in length from 36 to 100 feet." (Pike, (1), App., pp. 11-12.)

Fort Osage, soon to be named Fort Clark, stood on the right bank of the Missouri, a short distance northeast of Independence, in Jackson County, Missouri. During the early years of the last century it was a gathering place for the Osage and neighboring tribes, and several interesting accounts are preserved of the appearance of the Indian lodges clustered about the post. Both Bradbury and Brackenridge made mention of the fort in their journals. The former wrote on April 8, 1811, and told of his arrival: "About ten o'clock we came in sight of the fort, about six miles distant. We had not been long in sight before we saw the flag was hoisted, and at noon[100] we arrived, saluting with a volley as we passed on to the landing place, where we met Mr. Crooks, who had come down from the wintering station at the mouth of the river Naduet to meet us. There were also collected at the landing place about 200 Indians, men, women, and children, of the Petit Osage nation, whose village was then about 300 yards from the fort." And continuing: "At evening Dr. Murray proposed that we should walk into the village, and I found it to consist of about one hundred lodges of an oblong form, the frame of timber, and the covering mats, made of the leaves of flag, or Typha palustris. On our return through the town, we called at the lodge belonging to a chief named Waubuschon, with whom Dr. Murray was particularly acquainted. The floor was covered with mats, on which they sat; but as I was a stranger, I was offered a cushion. A wooden bowl was now handed round, containing square pieces of cake, in taste resembling ginger-bread. On enquiry I found it was made of the pulp of the persimon, mixed with pounded corn. This bread they called staninca." (Bradbury, (1), pp. 35-37.)

Less than three weeks elapsed before Brackenridge reached the fort in the company of Manuel Lisa. April 25, 1811, "About eleven, came in sight of Fort Osage, situate on a bluff, three miles off, on a commanding eminence.... A number of Indians of the Osage nation, of all ages, and sexes, were scattered along the bank, attracted by curiosity, some with old buffalo robes thrown over their shoulders, others dressed out in the gayest manner.... On landing at the fort, on a very rocky shore, a soldier under arms, who waited for us at the water's side, escorted Mr. Lisa and myself to the fort, where we were politely received by the commanding officer. While Mr. Lisa was transacting some business, accompanied by Mr. Sibley, the factor, and an interpreter, I went to deliver a pipe to Sans Oreille, (a warrior, and head man of this tribe) sent to him by gen. Clark....

"The lodges of the Little Osage, are sixty in number, and within gun shot of the fort; but they are about to remove their village to a prairie, three miles off. Their lodges are of a circular form, not more than ten or fifteen feet in diameter, constructed by placing mats, made of coarse rushes, over forks and poles.

"All three of the Osage bands, together with some Kansas, were lately encamped here for the purpose of trading, to the number of fifteen hundred warriors." (Brackenridge, (1), pp. 216-217.)

It is more than probable the Little Osage were then returning to their distant villages. Within less than three weeks the group of dwellings in the vicinity of the post had been reduced in number from about 100 to 60, and undoubtedly before the lapse of many[101] days all would have begun their homeward journey. But the structures as described would have resembled the dwellings in their permanent villages, differing from the more temporary lodges discovered by Schoolcraft a few years later.

When Schoolcraft traversed the southern part of the State of Missouri a century ago, crossing the Ozarks and following the deep valleys which separated the ridges, he encountered many deserted camps of the Osages and frames of one or more habitations, the mat or bark covers often having been removed, thus allowing the bare frames to remain. These had been the temporary shelters occupied by small parties hunting away from their home villages. On November 27, 1818, so he wrote, "night overtook us, and we encamped in an Indian bark tent on the bank of the river, which had not been occupied for one or two years." (Schoolcraft, (1), p. 28.) The river mentioned was the Great North Fork of White River, and the latter was soon reached. Continuing their journey over the rough and rugged hills, through tangled masses of vegetation, often advancing only a few miles each day, and that with the greatest exertion, they arrived December 30, 1818, in the region a short distance east of James River, possibly in the present Christian County, Missouri. Here they encountered several deserted camps, of which, fortunately, interesting accounts are preserved in the narrative: "In pursuing up the valley of Swan Creek, about nine miles, we fell into the Osage trace, a horse-path beaten by the Osages in their hunting excursions along this river, and passing successively three of their camps, now deserted, all very large, arranged with much order and neatness, and capable of quartering probably 100 men each. Both the method of building camps, and the order of encampment observed by this singular nation of savages, are different from any thing of the kind I have noticed among the various tribes of aboriginal Americans, through whose territories I have had occasion to travel. The form of the tent or camp may be compared to an inverted bird's nest, or hemisphere, with a small aperture left in the top, for the escape of smoke; and a similar, but larger one, at one side, for passing in and out. It is formed by cutting a number of slender flexible green-poles of equal length, sharpened at each end, stuck in the ground like a bow, and, crossing at right angles at the top, the points of entrance into the ground forming a circle. Small twigs are then wove in, mixed with the leaves of cane, moss, and grass, until it is perfectly tight and warm. These tents are arranged in large circles, one within another, according to the number of men intended to be accommodated. In the centre is a scaffolding for meat, from which all are supplied every morning, under the inspection of a chief, whose tent is conspicuously situated at the head of the encampment, and[102] differs from all the rest, resembling a half cylinder inverted. Their women and children generally accompany them on these excursions, which often occupy three months." Schoolcraft soon crossed the ridge separating Swan Creek from Findley's River, the latter "running from the north-east, and tributary to James' river, the main north-western branch of White River." (Op. cit., pp. 52-53.)

It must be understood that this description applies to a temporary encampment of the Osage, not to a permanent village, although they would probably not have differed greatly in appearance. The structures in a camp were rather smaller than those in the villages, and the latter were covered with mats or sheets of bark instead of the walls being composed of the crude wattlework, as mentioned in the preceding account.

Throughout the region traversed by Schoolcraft are to be found traces of ancient camps, some quite large, others small. The innumerable caves and caverns occurring in the limestone formations through which the many streams have cut deep valleys show evidence of long occupancy by the natives. Great masses of wood ashes, intermingled with broken and lost implements of bone and stone, fragments of pottery vessels, and charred or broken bones of animals which had served as food, are to be found accumulated near the opening, beneath the overhanging strata. The great majority of such material should undoubtedly be attributed to the Osage, whose hunters penetrated all parts of the Ozarks.

A beautiful example of a frame for an Osage habitation is shown in plate 32, a, a reproduction of a photograph made near Hominy, Oklahoma, in 1911. This was probably the form of structure seen by the early travelers, which is more clearly described on the following pages. It is interesting, showing as it does the manner in which the uprights were placed in the ground, then bent over and bound in place. As the Osage undoubtedly lived, generations ago, in the Ohio Valley, it is possible the ancient village sites discovered in Ross County, Ohio, belonged either to this or a related tribe, and the ground plan of the structures revealed during the exploration of a certain site would agree with the typical Osage habitation of recent years. A ground plan was prepared by the discoverer of the ancient village site (Mills, (1)) and was reproduced on page 139, Bulletin 71, of this Bureau.


a. Frame of an Osage habitation, near Hominy, Okla., 1911
a. Frame of an Osage habitation, near Hominy, Okla., 1911
b. An Iowa structure
b. An Iowa structure



On the plan of the ancient settlement which stood many generations ago are several interesting features in addition to the outline of the oval habitation. North of the space once occupied by the dwelling are many comparatively large caches, with fireplaces between. On the opposite side of the structure were encountered 30 burials, representing children and adults. It would be of the greatest [103]interest at the present time to discover the exact location of one of the Osage villages of a century ago, and to determine the position of the caches and burials, if any exist, in relation to the sites of the habitations.

About the time of Schoolcraft's journey through the Ozarks another traveler went up the valley of the Arkansas, and when far west of the Mississippi came in contact with the Osage. Nuttall, on July 15, 1819, wrote: "The first village of the Osages lies about 60 miles from the mouth of the Verdigris, and is said to contain 7 or 800 men and their families. About 60 miles further, on the Osage River, is situated the village of the chief called White Hair. The whole of the Osages are now, by governor Clark, enumerated at about 8000 souls. At this time nearly the whole town, men, and women, were engaged in their summer hunt, collecting bison tallow and meat. The principal chief is called by the French Clarmont, although his proper name is the Iron bird, a species of Eagle." (Nuttall, (1), p. 173.) Under date of August 5, 1819, he referred to the women of the tribe, saying: "It is to their industry and ingenuity, that the men owe every manufactured article of their dress, as well as every utensil in their huts. The Osage women appear to excel in these employments. Before the Cherokees burnt down their town on the Verdigris, their houses were chiefly covered with hand-wove matts of bulrushes. Their baskets and bed matts of this material were parti-coloured and very handsome. This manufacture, I am told, is done with the assistance of three sticks, arranged in some way so as to answer the purpose of a loom, and the strands are inlaid diagonally. They, as well as the Cherokees and others, frequently take the pains to unravel old blankets and cloths, and reweave the yarn into belts and garters." (Op. cit., pp. 192-193.)

Evidently it was not the custom of the Osage to entirely abandon their villages when they went on their periodical hunts. Some remained, either through choice or necessity. In the above quotation Nuttall spoke of "nearly the whole town" being absent on their summer hunt, and one very familiar with the habits of the tribe said: "The Osages and Kansas live in villages, which, even during the hunting seasons, are never wholly abandoned, as in the case with several tribes settled on the Missouri." (Hunter, (1), p. 334.) Regarding the general appearance of the villages: "Their lodges are built promiscuously, in situations to please their respective proprietors: they are arranged to neither streets nor alleys, and are sometimes so crowded, as to render the passage between them difficult."

That some of the Osage constructed very long structures is told by Morse, but if the dimensions given in his account are accurate[104] they refer to the unusual rather than to the usual form of habitation erected by members of that tribe. He said: "The Osages of the Arkansaw occupy several villages. The principal village contains about three hundred lodges or huts, and about three thousand souls. The lodges are generally from fifty to a hundred feet in length; and irregularly arranged, they cover a surface of about half a mile square. They are constructed of posts, matting, bark and skins. They have neither floors nor chimneys. The fire is built on the ground, in the centre of the lodge, and the family, and the guests, sit around in a circle, upon skins or mats." (Morse, (1), p. 219.) These various statements appear grossly exaggerated, and on page 225 of the same work appears the statement that "Their villages are nothing more than what they can remove on the shortest notice, one horse being capable of carrying house, household furniture, and children all at one load." Morse included in his notes on the Osage several letters written by missionaries then working among the tribe. One communication from Dr. Palmer, dated at Union, March 18, 1820, contained a note on their habitations: "Their houses are made of poles, arched from fifteen to twenty feet, covered by matting made of flags. At the sides they set up rived planks, lining the inside with neatly made flagg matting. They build several fires in the lodge, according to its size, or the number of wives the owner has. For a fire-place, they dig a hole about as big as a bushel-basket, leaving the smoke to ascend through a hole in the roof. Around the fire they spread their mats to sit or eat." And when visiting the settlement, "Having entered the lodge, and had our horses turned out, we took a humble seat around the fire. Presently there was brought to us a wooden bowl, filled with food made of corn. In a short time we were invited to eat at another lodge, and before we had finished, at another, and another." And another letter, from W. C. Requa, dated February 3, 1822, told of the native dwellings. He wrote at that time: "I live at present among the Osages, at one of their villages about fifty miles from Union. This unhappy people live in low huts, covered with long grass or flag, but so badly put together that they leak considerably in a storm of rain. They have very little furniture, merely a few pots or kettles in which they boil their provisions. The art of cooking their meat in any other way than boiling is unknown among them, except roasting it on a stick before the fire. They have very little variety in their food. Wild game, corn, dried pumpkins, and beans constitute about all on which they subsist. With this, however, they are contented. They have wooden bowls, out of which they eat, drink, wash themselves." (Op. cit., pp. 227-233.) Union, where the two communications were written, was probably Union Agency,[105] which stood on the right bank of the Arkansas River, just southwest of Fort Gibson, in the present Muskogee County, Oklahoma. The settlement "about fifty miles from Union" may have been on the Verdigris, near the center of the present Rogers County, Oklahoma.

An interesting description of a deserted camp of the Osage was prepared by Irving, as it appeared, standing near the banks of the Arkansas, October 11, 1832. On that day, so he wrote: "We came in sight of the Arkansas. It presented a broad and rapid stream, bordered by a beach of fine sand, overgrown with willows and cotton-wood trees. Beyond the river, the eye wandered over a beautiful champaign country, of flowery plains and sloping uplands.... Not far from the river, on an open eminence, we passed through the recently deserted camping place of an Osage war party. The frames of their tents or wigwams remained, consisting of poles bent into an arch, with each end stuck into the ground; these are intertwined with twigs and branches, and covered with bark and skins. Those experienced in Indian lore, can ascertain the tribe, and whether on a hunting or warlike expedition, by the shape and disposition of the wigwams. Beatte pointed out to us, in the present skeleton camp, the wigwam in which the chiefs had held their consultations round the council fire; and an open area, well trampled down, on which the grand war-dance had been performed." (Irving, W., (1), pp. 38-39.) The frames probably resembled the example shown in plate 32, a.

This mention of a dance by Irving suggests the description of a ceremony witnessed at the village of the Little Osage during the same year. The account of a "war-dance" was prepared July 25, 1832: "Much of the ceremony consisted in a sort of dancing march round the streets of the village between their lodges.... In their marching round the settlement, the warriors were followed by a band of musicians, some drumming on a piece of deer skin, stretched over the head of a keg, and others singing their wild songs. Among the retinue I observed a great many youths, who appeared to be young disciples, catching the spirit of their seniors and fathers. Another group followed, who appeared to be mourners, crying for vengeance on their enemies, to reward them for the death of some relative." (Colton, (1), pp. 299-300.)

A brief but interesting sketch of the manners and ways of life of the Osage of a century ago is to be found in Morse's work already quoted. Although the notes were prepared to apply to several neighboring tribes, they referred primarily to the tribe now being discussed. First speaking of their gardens: "They raise annually small crops of corn, beans, and pumpkins, these they cultivate entirely with the hoe, in the simplest manner. Their crops are usually[106] planted in April, and receive one dressing before they leave their villages for the summer hunt, in May. About the first week in August they return to their villages and gather their crops, which have been left unhoed and unfenced all the season. Each family, if lucky, can save from ten to twenty bags of corn and beans, of a bushel and a half each; besides a quantity of dried pumpkins. On this they feast, with the dried meat saved in the summer, till September, when what remains is cashed, and they set out on the fall hunt, from which they return about Christmas. From that time, till some time in February or March, as the season happens to be mild or severe, they stay pretty much in their villages, making only short hunting excursions occasionally, and during that time they consume the greater part of their cashes. In February or March the spring hunt commences; first the bear, and then the beaver hunt. This they pursue till planting time, when they again return to their village, pitch their crops, and in May set out for the summer hunt, taking with them their residue, if any, of their corn, &c. This is the circle of an Osage life, here and there indented with war and trading expeditions; and thus it has been, with very little variation, these twelve years past." (Morse, (1), pp. 203-205.)

The cornfields were left without watchers and were probably often destroyed by roving parties of the enemy or by wild beasts. On August 18, 1820, a hunter belonging to a division of the Long expedition "returned with the information of his having discovered a small field of maize, occupying a fertile spot at no great distance from the camp, it exhibited proofs of having been lately visited by the cultivators; a circumstance which leads us to believe that an ascending column of smoke seen at a distance this afternoon, proceeded from an encampment of Indians, whom, if not a war party, we should now rejoice to meet. We took the liberty, agreeable to the custom of the Indians, of procuring a mess of corn, and some small but nearly ripe watermelons, that were also found growing there, intending to recompense the Osages for them, to whom we supposed them to belong." The following morning, August 19, they encountered several small cornfields near a creek along which they were passing, and that day discovered "an Indian camp, that had a more permanent aspect than any we had before seen near this river. The boweries were more completely covered, and a greater proportion of bark was used in the construction of them. They are between sixty and seventy in number. Well worn traces or paths lead in various directions from this spot, and the vicinity of the cornfields induce the belief that it is occasionally occupied by a tribe of Indians, for the purpose of cultivation as well as of hunting." (James, (1), II, pp. 220-221.)

[107]The encampment just mentioned may have resembled the one described by Schoolcraft the preceding year, though many miles away in the heart of the Ozarks.

Although it is quite probable that hunting parties of the Osage, during their wanderings, reached all parts of the Ozarks, and occupied camps on banks of many streams in distant regions far away from their more permanent villages, nevertheless all sites do not present the same characteristic features. Thus in the central and eastern sections of the hill country, as in the valleys of the Gasconade and its tributary, the Piney, and along the courses of the streams farther eastward quantities of fragmentary pottery are to be found scattered over the surface of the many village and camp sites, and here it may be remarked that seldom are traces of a settlement not to be discovered at the junction of two streams, however small or large they may be.

A great many caves, some rather large, occur in the limestone formation, often in the cliffs facing or near the streams. As previously mentioned, these show evidence of long or frequent occupancy by the Indians. At the openings are masses of wood ashes and charcoal, filling the space between the sides to a depth of several feet, and in the caves encountered in the vicinity of the Gasconade quantities of broken pottery are found, with bones of animals which served as food, various implements, shells, etc., all intermingled with the accumulated ashes. A short distance from the bank of the Piney, several miles above its junction with the Gasconade, a cave of more than usual interest is met with in the high cliff. This is in Pulaski County. Flowing from the cave is a small stream of clear, very cold water. It enters the main chamber through an opening not more than 4 feet in height and about the same in width, the stream, when the cave was visited some years ago, being 3 or 4 inches in depth. A few yards up the watercourse the channel widens several feet and so continues for a short distance. This widening was caused by pieces of chert having been removed from the mass, this evidently having been one of the sources whence the Indians secured material for the making of their implements. The bed of the stream was strewn with flakes and roughly formed rejected pieces of stone.

Thus, as has been shown, vessels of earthenware were made and used by the people who occupied or frequented this part of the Ozark country, but conditions appear to have been different in the western sections. Bits of pottery do not occur on the surface of the camp sites, and it is evident it was neither made nor used by the occupants of certain settlements. Fragments of pottery are not encountered on these particular sites, but large stone mortars are often found, objects which do not seem to have been very frequently used farther east.

[108]The valleys of the James and White Rivers, in Stone and Taney Counties, Missouri, were visited some years ago and many interesting sites were discovered. Traces of a comparatively extensive village were encountered on the E. ½ of lot 1, S. W. ¼ of Sec. 9, T. 22, R. 23, Stone County, on the left bank of White River. Within a radius of a few feet, on a level spot near the center of the once occupied area, were found four large sandstone mortars, the concavity of the largest being about 15 inches in diameter and 6 inches in depth, while the entire block of stone was more than 2 feet in thickness. When discovered, June 11, 1901, the mortars gave the impression of not having been touched since they were last used by some of the inhabitants of the ancient village, and from the surrounding surface, an acre or more in extent, were collected several hundred stone implements, but not a fragment of pottery was encountered. This site, although rather larger and more extensive than the majority, was, nevertheless, typical of the 20 or more which were discovered during that interesting journey through the valleys mentioned. Quantities of stone implements were gathered from the surface of the sites, and many mortars were found, but no pottery.

While the material recovered from the sites in the valley of the Gasconade is similar to that found to the eastward, the finding of mortars and the lack of pottery on the James and White River Valley sites suggests a different culture, and it is possible the latter owe their origin to parties of the Wichita or neighboring tribes who entered the western valleys of the Ozarks from the prairie lands.


This, the southernmost tribe of the Dhegiha group, occupied several villages west of the Mississippi, near the mouth of the Arkansas. When the closely allied tribes had removed from their ancient habitat in the upper valley of the Ohio, and had arrived at the mouth of that stream, the Quapaw are believed to have turned southward while the others went northward. The name of the tribe, Quapaw, signifies "downstream people;" Omaha being translated "those going against the wind or current." As a people they seem to have been known to the members of the De Soto expedition about 1541, probably occupying villages on or near the sites of the settlements visited by the French during the latter part of the next century.

Père Marquette, while on his memorable journey down the Mississippi, in the year 1673, went as far as the mouth of the Arkansas, where he lingered a few days before returning northward on July 17. The villages of the Quapaw, designated the Arkansa, were reached, but the habitations were only briefly described: "Their[109] cabins, which are long and wide, are made of bark; they sleep at the two extremities, which are raised about two feet from the ground. They keep their corn in large baskets, made of cane, or in gourds, as large as half barrels." They used both wooden dishes and "plates of baked earth. Their cooking was done in large earthen pots, of their own make." (Shea, (2), p. 48.) But the most interesting early account of the villages is contained in Joutel's narrative of La Salle's last expedition, when he attempted to reach the Illinois country overland from the Gulf coast. Through jealousy and intrigue of members of the expedition he was murdered by one of their number, March 20, 1687; but others continued eastward, and on July 24, 1687, arrived at the four villages of the Quapaw, and to quote from the narrative of the expedition: "The Nation of the Accancea's consists of four Villages. The first is call'd Otsotchove, near which we were; the second Toriman, both of them seated on the River; the third Tonginga; and the fourth Cappa, on the Bank of the Missisipi. These Villages are built after a different Manner from the others we had seen before, in this Point, that the Cottages, which are alike as to their Materials and Rounding at the Top, are long, and cover'd with the Bark of Trees, and so very large, that several of them can hold two hundred Persons, belonging to several Families. The People are not so neat as the Cenis [Caddo], or the Assonis [Caddo], in their Houses, for some of them lie on the Ground, without any Thing under them but some Mats, or dress'd Hide. How ever, some of them have more Conveniencies, but the Generality has not. All their Movables consist in some Earthen Vessels and oval wooden Platters, which are neatly made, and with which they drive a Trade."

The expedition was then resting at the village standing on the banks of the Arkansas, not far above its junction with the Mississippi. Here they remained three days, departing on July 27. On that day "We imbark'd on a Canoe belonging to one of the Chiefs, being at least twenty Persons, as well Women as Men, and arriv'd safe, without any Trouble, at a Village call'd Toriman, for we were going down the River." The river was the Arkansas. Later in the day they reached the "fatal River, so much sought after by us, called Colbert, when first discover'd, and Missisipi, or Mechassipi by the Natives that were near us." The party lingered at Toriman during the twenty-eighth, and on the following day arrived at "the next Village call'd Tonningua, seated on the Bank of that River [the Mississippi], where we were receiv'd in the Chief's Cottage, as we had been in the others." On July 30, "We set out for Cappa, the last Village of the Accancea's, eight Leagues distant from the Place we had left." (Joutel, (1), pp. 155-161.) Passing up the Mississippi[110] from the Quapaw towns, they encamped during the night of August 2 on an island, "for our greater Safety, for we were then come into an Enemy's Nation, call'd Machigamea, which put our Indians into great Frights."

Père Anastasius Douay, also a member of the party, had very little to say about their stop among the Quapaw, only that "We visited three of these villages, the Torimans, the Doginga, and the Kappa; everywhere we had feasts, harangues, calumet-dances, with every mark of joy." (Shea, (2), p. 220.) Evidently his notes were faulty, as no mention was made of the fourth town.

When La Harpe made his journey into the region bordering the Mississippi some distance above New Orleans he encountered the Quapaw, and in his journal referred to them as the Alkansa, and said: "La nation Alkansa, ainsi nommée parce qu'elle sort des Canzés [Kansa] etablis sur le Missouri, est situé sur le bord du Mississipi dans un terrein isolé par les ruisseaux qui l'environnent; elle se divise en trois villages, Ougapa, Torisna et Tonginga, éloignés d'une lieue les uns les autres, et renfermant ensemble quatre cents habitans; leur principal chef est celui des Ougapas; les Sotoüis le reconnaissent aussi pour le leur; ils Sotoüis le reconnaissent aussi pour le leur; ils sont tous sortis de la même nation et parlent le même langue." (La Harpe, (1), p. 317.) Elsewhere he referred to reaching the "rivière Blanche, qui court dans le nord-ouest du coté des Osages," which entered the "rivière des Sotoüis," or Arkansas, 4 leagues from the Mississippi. Here stood a village of the Sotoüis, consisting of 40 habitations and having a population of 330.

Nearly a century elapsed between the time of La Harpe's visit to the country occupied by the Quapaw and the journey performed by Nuttall. On February 27, 1819, when the latter was ascending the Arkansas River, he wrote: "In the course of the day we passed the outlet of the bayou, or rather river, Meta, which diagonally traverses the Great Prairie, also two Indian villages on the south bank [of the Arkansas].... The first was the periodical residence of a handful of Choctaws, the other was occupied by the Quapaws." (Nuttall, (1), p. 91.) This was near the line between Lincoln and Desha Counties, Arkansas. Some distance beyond, apparently at some point in the present Jefferson County, on March 11, 1819, he saw other native villages, but whether occupied by Quapaw or some other tribe was not told. However, they were probably Quapaw settlements. On that day: "Passed Mr. Embree's, and arrived at Mr. Lewismore's. Six miles above, we also saw two Indian villages, opposite each of those settlements.... The Indians, unfortunately, are here, as usual, both poor and indolent, and alive to wants which they have not the power of gratifying. The younger ones are extremely foppish in[111] their dress; covered with feathers, blazing calicoes, scarlet blankets, and silver pendants. Their houses, sufficiently convenient with their habits, are oblong square, and without any other furniture than baskets and benches, spread with skins for the purpose of rest and repose. The fire, as usual, is in the middle of the hut, which is constructed of strips of bark and cane, with doors also of the latter split and plaited together." (Op. cit., pp. 97-98.)

When returning down the Arkansas, on January 18, 1820, Nuttall evidently reached the Quapaw village which he had passed when ascending the stream during the preceding February. He wrote: "About noon we landed at one of the Quapaw or Osark villages, but found only three houses constructed of bark, and those unoccupied. In the largest of them, apparently appropriated to amusement and superstition, we found two gigantic painted wooden masks of Indians, and a considerable number of conic pelt caps, also painted. These, as we learnt from an Indian who came up to us from some houses below, were employed at festivals, and worn by the dancers.... At the entrance of the cabin, and suspended from the wall, there was a female figure, with a rudely carved head of wood painted with vermillion. Being hollow, and made of leather, we supposed it to be employed as a mask for one of the musicians, having in one hand a pendent ferule, as if for the purpose of beating a drum. In the spring and autumn the Quapaws have a custom of making a contribution dance, in which they visit also the whites, who live in the vicinity, and the chief alms which they crave is salt or articles of diet." The following day the party reached Arkansas Post. (Nuttall, (1), p. 223.)

This account of the ceremonial lodge, for such it undoubtedly was, of the Quapaw of a century ago, is most interesting, as it proves how the rapidly diminishing tribe held to their old customs. The tribe gradually disappeared from the lower Arkansas. The remnants of this once large body moved westward, and on August 11, 1853, some were encountered by the Whipple expedition in the extreme north west corner of the Choctaw Nation, on the right bank of the Canadian, where the Shawnee Hills reach to the river bank. There, on the "high bank of the Canadian, stand still some wigwams or rather log-houses of Quappa Indians, who may boast of not having yet quitted the land of their forefathers. But they have shrunk to a small band that cannot furnish above twenty-five warriors, and it would scarcely be supposed that they are all who are left of the once powerful tribe of the Arkansas, whose hunting grounds extended from the Canadian to the Mississippi." (Möllhausen, (1), I, p. 74.)

Probably no section of the country has revealed more traces of the period of aboriginal occupancy than has that part of the Mississippi[112] Valley which extends southward from the Ohio to the Arkansas. This was the region traversed by the Quapaw during the latter part of their migration from their earlier habitat east of the Mississippi, and may have been occupied by them since the fifteenth century, or before. Many of the mound groups, village sites, and burial places occurring within this area may undoubtedly be justly attributed to the Quapaw. Vast quantities of earthenware vessels, of great variety of forms and sizes, have been recovered from the sites north of the Arkansas, and these often present marked characteristics differing from the ware found farther south. The Quapaw are known to have been skilled pottery makers. As already mentioned, Marquette, in 1673, referred to their "plates of baked earth," and also to the large earthen cooking vessels "of their own make." And in 1687 Joutel wrote of their earthen vessels "with which they drive a Trade." Therefore it is more than probable that much of the ancient pottery encountered in this part of the Mississippi Valley was made by this southern Siouan tribe. Many of the village sites discovered near the Mississippi, north of the Arkansas, were probably once occupied by the Quapaw who, by the latter part of the seventeenth century, had moved as far south as the mouth of the Arkansas River, in the present Desha County. The earlier references to the tribe, those contained in the narratives of the De Soto expedition, 1541, mention the towns being protected by encircling embankments and ditches. The former were probably surmounted by palisades. The village or villages of this period probably stood on the bank of the Mississippi, and one may have occupied the interesting site at Avenue, in Phillips County, where some remarkable pottery vessels have been discovered. Other ancient sites in Lee and Crittenden Counties, north of Phillips, were possibly occupied by the same people at different times.

The position of the village of the Algonquian Michigamea, who lived north of the Quapaw, has not been determined.

chiwere group.

This group, so designated by the late Dr. J. O. Dorsey, includes three tribes, the Iowa, Oto, and Missouri, who spoke slightly different dialects of the same language. According to tribal traditions, they were, generations ago, allied and associated with the Winnebago, from whom they separated and scattered while living in the vicinity of the Great Lakes east of the Mississippi, where the Winnebago continued to dwell. It is not the purpose of the present sketch to trace the movements of the three tribes from their ancient habitat to the banks of the Mississippi, thence westward to the Missouri and beyond, but the routes followed in their migrations can be fairly[113] accurately determined by comparing their own statements and traditions with early historical records, and it is quite probable that many village sites now discovered within this region were once occupied by some members of these tribes.

While living east of the Mississippi in a region of lakes and streams surrounded by vast forests, their habitations were undoubtedly the bark or mat covered structures, but when some moved far west and came in contact with tribes beyond the Missouri they evidently learned the art of constructing the earth-covered lodge which they soon began to occupy. Likewise when and where the skin tipi first became known to them is not possible to determine, but probably not until they had reached the valley of the Missouri and were nearing the banks of that stream north of the Kansas.


On September 15, 1819, the expedition under command of Maj. Stephen H. Long arrived at the mouth of Papillion Creek, on the right bank of the Missouri a few miles above the Platte, a site now covered by the city of Omaha, Nebraska. In the narrative of the expedition it is said that at the mouth of the Papillion "we found two boats belonging to the Indian traders at St Louis. They had passed us some days before, and were to remain for the winter at the mouth of the Papillion, to trade with the Otoes, Missouries, and other Indians.

"The banks of the Missouri above the Platte, have long been frequented by the Indians, either as places of permanent or occasional residence. Deserted encampments are often seen. On the northeast side, near the mouth of Mosquito river, are the remains of an old Ioway village. Four miles above, on the opposite side, was formerly a village of the Otoes." (James, (1), I, pp. 144-145.)

As mentioned elsewhere, the Iowa and their kindred tribes had migrated from their ancient habitat in the vicinity of the Great Lakes to the Missouri Valley, and in 1848 a map was prepared by an Iowa Indian showing the route of the tribe from the mouth of Rock River, Illinois, to the banks of the Missouri, across the State which perpetuates the tribal name. The map was reproduced by Schoolcraft. (Schoolcraft, (3), III, pp. 256-257.)

Unfortunately very little is to be found in the early writings regarding the appearance of the Iowa villages, but they probably did not differ from those of the tribes with whom they were so closely associated, and the primitive village, composed of a group of mat or bark covered structures, must have resembled the towns of the Osage. But in addition to the usual habitation the Iowa evidently erected a larger, longer structure. Maximilian on April 25, 1833,[114] when in the region then occupied by the Iowa, wrote: "The canal between Nadaway Island and the cantonment is called Nadaway Slew, at the end of which we saw the remains of some Indian huts. In a dark glen in the forest, we observed a long Indian hut, which occupied almost its whole breadth, and must have served for a great number of persons." (Maximilian, (1), p. 124.) It is to be regretted that a full description of this "long Indian hut" was not preserved. It may have been a ceremonial lodge rather than a large dwelling.

An interesting though brief account of the Iowa as they were at this time is preserved. It was related by a missionary, Samuel M. Irvin, who arrived among the Iowa April 10, 1837. They were living in the northwestern part of Missouri, the "Platte purchase," but were soon to be removed to lands west of the Missouri. At that time, the spring of 1837, so the narrative continues: "They numbered in all 830. They were a wild, warlike, roving people, and in a most wretched condition, depending mainly on the chase for a subsistence. Their habitations were of the most frail and temporary kind. They were shelters in the form of huts or houses made of the bark of trees stretched over slender poles and tied together with bark strings, or they were tents or lodges made of the skins of the buffalo or elk, and sewed together with the sinews of these animals. These bark houses were mainly for summer shelter, and would in a few years yield to the wear of time, when they would be abandoned and a new location sought. The skin tents were carried with them, and made their habitations wherever they chanced to stop. They were strictly a migratory and unsettled people." (Plank, (1), p. 312.) And "domestic animals, excepting ponies and dogs, were not among them. Indeed, to some of them, such things as cattle, hogs, sheep and poultry were almost unknown, and did such animals happen their way they would pounce upon them for present food as quickly as upon a buffalo or wild turkey."

An excellent picture of an Iowa habitation accompanied the article from which the preceding quotations have been made and is now reproduced in plate 32, b.


When Lewis and Clark ascended the Missouri during the summer of 1804 they reached the mouth of the Platte July 21. At that time, so they entered in their journal, the Oto were living on the south side of the Platte 10 leagues above its junction with the Missouri, and 5 leagues beyond, on the same bank, were the Pawnee. Living with the Oto were the remnants of the Missouri who had, a few years before, joined them. On August 3, 1804, the expedition having ascended the Missouri to about the location of the present city of[115] Council Bluffs, Iowa, held a council with representatives of the two tribes, Oto and Missouri, an event which has been perpetuated in the name of the city. A majority of the two tribes were then absent from their village on their summer buffalo hunt, consequently few were present at the council.

On May 3, 1811, Bradbury arrived at the Oto village, but it was deserted. All were probably some miles away hunting the buffalo. However, a very interesting description of the habitations in the deserted village is preserved. First referring to the Platte: "The southern bank is wholly divested of timber, and as the village is situated on a declivity near the river, we could see the lodges very distinctly, but there was no appearance of Indians." (p. 54.) On the following day, May 4, 1811, he visited the village and found it "to consist of about fifty-four lodges, of a circular form, and about forty feet in diameter, with a projecting part at the entrance, of ten or twelve feet in length, in the form of a porch. At almost every lodge, the door or entrance was closed after the manner which is customary with Indians when they go on hunting parties and take their squaws and children with them. It consists in putting a few sticks across, in a particular manner, which they so exactly note and remember, as to be able to discover the least change in their position. Although anxious to examine the internal structure of the lodges, I did not violate the injunction conveyed by this slight obstruction, and after searching some time found a few that were left entirely open. On entering one, I found the length of the porch to be an inclined plane to the level of the floor, about two and a half or three feet below the surface of the ground; round the area of the lodge are placed from fifteen to eighteen posts, forked at the top, and about seven feet high from the floor. In the centre, a circular space of about eight feet in diameter is dug, to the depth of two feet; four strong posts are placed in the form of a square, about twelve feet asunder, and at equal distances from this space these posts are about twenty feet high, and cross pieces are laid on the tops. The rafters are laid from the forked tops of the outside posts over these cross pieces, and reach nearly to the centre, where a small hole is left for the smoke to escape; across the rafters small pieces of timber are laid; over these, sticks and a covering of sods, and lastly earth. The fire is made in the middle of the central space, round the edges of which they sit, and the beds are fixed between the outer posts. The door is placed at the immediate entrance into the lodge; it is made of a buffalo skin, stretched in a frame of wood, and is suspended from the top. On entering, it swings forward, and when let go, it falls to its former position." (Bradbury, (1), pp. 56-57.)

It is to be regretted that Bradbury did not give a more detailed account of the general appearance of the village; that he did not tell of the placing of the lodges, and of the other structures, if any stood[116] within the village. But this large group of earth-covered lodges undoubtedly resembled the village of the Republican Pawnee, as shown in the photograph made by Jackson more than half a century later.

In the narrative of the Long expedition, during the spring of 1820, more than a century ago, is a brief note on the Oto. It reads: "The Oto nation of Indians is distinguished by the name of Wah-toh-ta-na. The permanent village of this nation is composed of large dirt lodges, similar to those of the Konzas and Omawhaws, and is situate on the left bank of the river Platte, or Nebreska, about forty miles above it confluence with the Missouri." (James, (1), I, p. 338.) On the map which accompanies the narrative the village is indicated on the south or right bank of the Platte, in the eastern part of the present Saunders County, Nebraska. Continuing, the journal states (p. 342): "The hunting grounds of the Oto nation, extend from the Little Platte up to the Boyer creek, on the north side of the Missouri, and from Independence creek to about forty miles above the Platte, on the south side of that river. They hunt the bison, between the Platte and the sources of the Konzas rivers." Thus their hunting grounds included one of the richest and most fertile sections of the valley of the Missouri, now occupied by many towns and villages.

Much of interest respecting the manners and ways of life of the Oto when they occupied their village near the mouth of the Platte is to be found in Irving's narrative of the expedition of which he was a member. During the summer of 1833 the small party under the leadership of Commissioner H. L. Ellsworth left St. Louis and, with several teams, proceeded up the Valley of the Missouri. They traversed the vast rolling prairie: "Hour after hour passed on; the prospect was still the same. At last a loud cry from our guide announced that we had come in sight of the cantonment. There was a snowy speck resting upon the distant green; behind it rose a forest of lofty timber which shadowed the Missouri. This was Leavenworth.... It was mid day when we first caught sight of Leavenworth, but it was near sunset before we arrived there. About a dozen white-washed cottage-looking houses, composed the barracks and the abodes of the officers. They are so arranged as to form the three sides of a hollow square; the fourth is open, and looks out into a wide but broken prairie. It is a rural looking spot—a speck of civilization dropped in the heart of a wilderness." (Irving, J. T., (1), I, pp. 46-47.) From Fort Leavenworth they continued up the valley, soon reaching the village of the Oto, near the banks of the Platte. After describing the reception accorded the party by the people of the town Irving wrote: "The village of the Otoe Indians is situated upon a ridge of swelling hills overlooking the darkly wooded banks of the Platte river, about a quarter of a mile distant. There is but[117] little beauty or neatness about an Indian town. The lodges are built in the shape of a half egg. They frequently are twenty feet in height, and sometimes sixty in diameter. The roofs are formed of long poles, which diverge like the radii of a circle, from one common centre. The ring of the circle is formed of upright posts, driven closely together in the ground, and projecting upward about five feet. These are interwoven with brushwood and the smaller branches of trees, and form the support of the outer end of the poles composing the roof, the interstices of which are also interwoven with twigs and brushwood. The whole is then covered with earth, and when finished resembles a large hillock. The town contained about seventy of these lodges, standing singly or in groups, without any attention to order or regularity. Within, they are capacious, but dark, being lighted merely by a small aperture at the top, which serves both as window and chimney. The fire is built in a cavity in the centre, directly under the hole in the roof, by which the smoke escapes after floating in easy wreaths about the interior.

"As the lodges are very spacious, a little back from the fire there is a circular range of tree trunks standing like columns, and connected by timber laid in their forks, forming a support for the roof, which otherwise, from the great length of the poles that form it, and the heavy mass of superincumbent earth, might fall in, and bury the inhabitants. Around the wall of the building, are ranged cribs or berths for sleeping, screened from view by heavy mats of grass and rushes. Over the fire is inclined a forked stake, in the hook of which hangs a large kettle, generally filled with buffalo flesh and corn. This, to judge from its looks, is never removed from the fire, even for the purpose of cleaning it." (Op. cit., pp. 158-160.)

A week or more passed after the arrival of the party at the Oto village before a council was held with the chief men of the tribe, "for the purpose of forming a treaty, with respect to the lands lying in the neighbourhood of the Nemahaw river." The time for holding the council having arrived, the commissioner and his party proceeded from their camp to the earth-covered lodge in which the ceremony was to be enacted. They entered and "found nearly the whole tribe assembled, and seated in circles, in the large lodge of the Iotan chief. At the far end of the building was the Iotan; and by his side were stationed those two worthies, the Big Kaw and the Thief. Next them were the stern forms of the older warriors and braves.... The lodge was excessively crowded. One ring was formed beyond another; one dark head rose behind another; until the dim, dusk outlines of the more distant were lost in shadow, and their glistening eyes alone could be seen. The passage which led to the air was completely crowded with women and children; and half a dozen curious faces were peering down through the round hole in the roof.

[118]"The most of them had adorned themselves for the occasion. Plumes were floating from their scalp-locks; their heads and breasts were painted with vermilion, and long strings of wampum hung from their necks and mutilated ears. But at the present moment there appeared to be no thought of their appearance. Every sense was wrapped up in an intense interest in the approaching council; every breath was held; and every eye fixed with eagerness upon the face of the Commissioner, as he arose to address the meeting." (Op. cit., pp. 233-235.) This vivid description of the gathering of the Oto in a great earth-covered structure near the banks of the Missouri during the summer of 1833 tends to recall Lieut. Timberlake's meeting with the head men of the Cherokee, when they came together in the townhouse at Chote late in the year 1761. The two structures were of similar appearance and probably did not differ greatly in size, although at Chote there were several tiers of seats surrounding the central space within the house which were lacking in the Oto lodge, but the two gatherings were evidently quite similar, although belonging to different generations and being in regions separated by many hundreds of miles of forest and plain. The great rotundas, or townhouses of the Cherokee, were the most interesting of the various native structures which formerly stood east of the Mississippi. (Bushnell, (1), pp. 59-63.)

The preceding notes on the Oto refer to their permanent earth-lodge villages, which were occupied only part of each year. When away from the village they would make use of the skin-covered tipi, although the temporary shelter of the Pawnee may have been copied by some members of the tribe. Fortunately a very good description of the appearance of a winter encampment of several families, at some point far west of the Missouri on the prairie of Nebraska, during the winter of 1851-52, has been preserved. The account was prepared by a traveler who became separated from his companions and reached the camp unexpectedly while traversing the snow-covered wilderness. The "little camp consisted of two large tents, which stood in a deep ravine, overgrown with stunted oaks, and on the banks of a deep stream, whose waters were hidden beneath a thick covering of ice." One tent belonged to the chief Wa-ki-ta-mo-nee, the other to a half-breed named Louis Farfar. Arriving at the camp, so the narrative continues, I "crawled into the tent of the medicine-man, and took my place by his blazing fire, while the other occupants lay or crouched around. The old mother was busy in the preparation of the meat, and by her side, next the opening, were two daughters; the older about eighteen, the younger about two years old. The father of the family, his son, and Schin-ges-in-ki-nee had, according to Indian custom, kept the best[119] places for themselves, which was so much the better for me as I was placed between them. The medicine pipe, with a bowl cut out of some red stone, went round briskly, and the time that was employed in distributing the meat intended for the meal I spent in taking a good view of the Indian dwelling. Sixteen long poles, made of slender pine trees, were so placed as to form a circle of sixteen or eighteen feet in diameter, their tops being bent over and fastened together. Around this framework was thrown, like a mantle, the tent leather, consisting of a great number of buffalo-hides, tanned white, and neatly sewed together for the purpose with sinews. The leather did not reach quite to the top, but left an opening, by which the smoke could escape; but there were two prolongations of the tent leather, something like flags, which were supported by particular poles, so as, in stormy weather or contrary winds, to form a very tolerable chimney. The tent was fixed so firmly to the ground with pegs that the tightly stretched sides would admit neither the rain nor the snow, when it melted from the heat of the fire; and the inhabitants had not only a secure refuge, but a tolerably comfortable dwelling. The various possessions of the Indians were hung round on the tent poles, where they only took up room that could easily be dispensed with, and kept out the cold that could have most readily found an entrance at those places. On the space round the fire, buffalo-hides were spread for beds at night, and when rolled up in the day made convenient seats; the fire, in a kind of pit half a foot deep, and two and a half in diameter, was a mass of glowing embers, with a number of logs blazing on the top, and diffused a most pleasant warmth over the small space. Near the fire a branch of a tree was stuck into the ground, and another placed horizontally across it, and running the whole breadth of the tent, from which hung the most indispensable of household utensils in the form of a great kettle, whilst the rest of the pole was covered with wet and torn mocassins and gaiters, in a manner that was certainly more convenient than ornamental.... Besides the wild half-naked forms of the Indians, a number of dogs, young and old, made part of the company assembled in Wa-ki-ta-mo-nee's tent. The attention of the mistress of the family, a very dirty old squaw, was exclusively devoted to the vast kettle and its bubbling contents; a row of roughly-cut wooden platters stood before her, and by means of a pointed stick she fished up from the cauldron large joints of bear and half turkeys, and loaded each of the platters with a huge portion of the savoury smelling food." (Möllhausen, (1), I, pp. 171-175.) The second tent, so he wrote, "was more spacious" than the one which he had entered, and described. This is an interesting description of a small winter camp of the Oto as it stood in the midst[120] of the snow-covered prairie, near a stream "whose waters were hidden beneath a thick covering of ice." The scene could undoubtedly have been repeated in many localities in the vast region west of the Missouri. The identity of the stream near which the two tents stood during the winter of 1851-52 is suggested by a note in Fremont's journal, written 10 years earlier. On June 22, 1842, when traversing the prairies, soon to reach the right bank of the Platte, he wrote: "Made our bivouac in the midst of some well-timbered ravines near the Little Blue.... Crossing the next morning a number of handsome creeks, with clear water and sandy beds, we reached at 10 A. M., a very beautiful wooded stream, about thirty-five feet wide, called Sandy creek, and sometimes, as the Ottoes frequently winter there, Otto fork." (Fremont, (1), p. 14.) The greater part of the course of Sandy Creek is through the present Clay and Thayer Counties, Nebraska, a hundred miles or more south of west from the Oto village then situated near the mouth of the Platte.

Möllhausen remained with the Oto until the temporary camp was abandoned, then returned with them to their permanent village. The journey required several weeks but in time they approached the Missouri, and as they neared their destination: "We passed the burial place of the Ottoes just before we descended into the valley, and shortly afterwards came to the village. The first consisted of a number of hillocks inclosed by rough palings, and decorated with sticks with little bits of coloured stuff and feathers fluttering from them. The village, which lay not many hundred yards farther was a group of about sixty huts of various construction, some of clay, shaped like haycocks or baking ovens, others like small houses, built of thick oak bark. These dwellings stood mostly empty, as the inhabitants had pitched their tents just now in the angle formed by the Nebrasca and Missouri, on account of the rich grass to be found in these bottom lands under the protecting snow, and because they and their cattle were in that situation more sheltered from the violent gales of wind." (Möllhausen, (1), I, pp. 210-211.) Here is a reference to a third form of habitation known to the Oto. In addition to the earth-covered lodge and the skin tipi, both of which were characteristic of the time and place, they appear to have reared structures similar to the habitation of the Sauk and Fox, as shown in plate 19, a type of dwelling known to several neighboring tribes in the upper Mississippi Valley.


a. "Pemmican maul, Oto Agency, Nebrasca, J. W. Griest." Formed of one piece of wood.  Extreme length, 39 inches. (U.S.N.M. 22437)
a. "Pemmican maul, Oto Agency, Nebrasca, J. W. Griest." Formed of one piece of wood. Extreme length, 39 inches. (U.S.N.M. 22437)
b. Heavy stone maul with handle attached. "Yankton Sioux. Fort Berthold. Drs. Gray and Matthews, U. S. A." Extreme length about 2 feet 2 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6325)
b. Heavy stone maul with handle attached. "Yankton Sioux. Fort Berthold. Drs. Gray and Matthews, U. S. A." Extreme length about 2 feet 2 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6325)
c. "Tools of the Mandans for dressing leather, Dakota. Drs. Gray and Matthews, U. S. A." Handle of antler, with flint blade attached. Extreme length of handle about 11 inches. (U.S.N.M. 8409)
c. "Tools of the Mandans for dressing leather, Dakota. Drs. Gray and Matthews, U. S. A." Handle of antler, with flint blade attached. Extreme length of handle about 11 inches. (U.S.N.M. 8409)


a. Oto dugout canoe, from Kurz's Sketchbook, May 15, 1851
a. Oto dugout canoe, from Kurz's Sketchbook, May 15, 1851
b. Bull-boat and paddle, obtained from the Hidatsa. Marked "Fort Buford, Dak. Ter. Grosventres Tribe. Drs. Gray and Matthews." (U.S.N.M. 9785)
b. Bull-boat and paddle, obtained from the Hidatsa. Marked "Fort Buford, Dak. Ter. Grosventres Tribe. Drs. Gray and Matthews." (U.S.N.M. 9785)


a. Structure showing arbor over entrance
a. Structure showing arbor over entrance
b. Long structure with entrance on one side WINNEBAGO HABITATIONS, ABOUT 1870
b. Long structure with entrance on one side WINNEBAGO HABITATIONS, ABOUT 1870



It is quite evident that after leaving the permanent earth-lodge village of the Oto the Long party just a century ago passed one of the temporary camps of the same people. This, fortunately, was sketched by the artist of the expedition and reproduced in the narrative of the journey, and is now shown in plate 33. To quote from [121]the narrative: "For the elucidation of what we have said respecting the form and arrangement of the skin, or travelling lodges of the Indians, we subjoin an engraving, representing an encampment of Oto Indians, which Mr. Seymour sketched near the Platte river. In this plate, the group of Indians on the left is intended to represent a party of Konza Indians approaching to perform the calumet dance in the Oto village. It may be proper to remark, that this party when still distant from the Otoes, had sent forward a messenger, with the offer of a prize to the first Oto that should meet them. This circumstance was productive of much bustle and activity among the warriors and young men, who eagerly mounted their horses, and exerted their utmost speed." (James. (1), II, pp. 188-189.)

Various ethnological specimens collected among the Oto a generation or more ago are in the collections of the National Museum. One quite rare object, a "pemmican maul," formed of a single piece of wood, is figured in plate 34, a.

An original sketch by Kurz in May, 1851, representing a group of Oto with a dugout canoe, is reproduced in plate 35, a.


In the narrative of the Lewis and Clark expedition appears this record: "June 13, 1804. We passed ... a bend of the river, Missouri and two creeks on the north, called the Round Bend creeks. Between these two creeks is the prairie, in which once stood the ancient village of the Missouris. Of this village there remains no vestige, nor is there any thing to recall this great and numerous nation, except a feeble remnant of about thirty families. They were driven from their original seats by the invasions of the Sauks and other Indians from the Mississippi, who destroyed at this village two hundred of them in one contest." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, p. 13.) About 5 miles beyond they reached the mouth of Grand River which flows from the northwest, serves as the boundary between Carroll and Chariton Counties, Missouri, and enters the left bank of the Missouri River. Therefore the old village of the Missouri evidently stood at some point in the latter county. It was probably composed of a number of mat and bark covered lodges resembling the village of the Osage which stood a few miles farther up the river. Two days later, June 15, the party identified the site or remains of the former village of the Little Osage, and, so the narrative continues: "About three miles above them, in view of our camp is the situation of the old village of the Missouris after they fled from the Sauks." (Op. cit., p. 15.) From this village the few Missouri Indians appear to have sought refuge among the Oto, then living on the banks of the Platte.



When first known to Europeans the Winnebago occupied the region west of Green Bay, west of Lake Michigan, where, according to the Jesuit missionaries, they had resided for many generations. There they were living in the year 1634 when visited by Nicollet, and just 35 years later, during the winter of 1669-70, a mission on the shore of the same bay was conducted by Père Allouez, which proved a gathering place for various tribes, including the Winnebago, Sauk and Foxes, Menominee, and Potawatomi. These, with the exception of the Winnebago, were Algonquian tribes.

As already mentioned, the Oto, Iowa, and Missouri appear to have been closely connected with the Winnebago, all speaking dialects understood by one another. And it is also evident that when the Oto, Iowa, and Missouri began their movement westward to the Mississippi and beyond the Winnebago remained behind. However, about the beginning of the last century they reached the banks of the Mississippi, and by successive moves during the next 50 years some arrived in western Minnesota, soon to be removed to lands beyond the Missouri, adjoining the Omaha, in the northeastern part of Nebraska.

While living in the vicinity of Green Bay their villages were groups of mat and bark-covered lodges, typical of the tribes of the wooded country which abounded in lakes and streams. And it is quite evident that during their migration westward, when they made long stops before finally reaching the banks of the Missouri, they continued to erect and occupy structures similar to those which had stood in their old villages generations before.

Typical examples of Winnebago dwellings are shown in plates 36 and 37. The arbor over the entrance is an interesting feature, seldom appearing in the Algonquian villages, although often shown in front of Siouan lodges.

In a forthcoming publication Radin has given a list of the various forms of structures erected by the Winnebago, some of which existed until very recent years. (Radin, (1).)


As mentioned in the sketch of the Assiniboin, a small party of French accompanied by members of that tribe during the autumn of 1738 went southward from the Assiniboin country to the Mandan towns, where the French remained several weeks. The leader of the expedition, La Verendrye, prepared an account of the journey, this being the earliest record of a visit by Europeans to the Mandans known to exist, although it is easily conceived that French trappers may have been among the tribe earlier in the century.

[123]The expedition arrived among the Mandan November 28, 1738, after a journey of 46 days, but soon pushed forward to a larger village. Fortunately the journal contains references to the ways of life of the Mandan and a brief description of their fortified or protected settlements. At that time the tribe was said to have had six villages, and evidently all were protected by encircling palisades. The village in which the French then rested consisted of 130 lodges, and "all the streets, squares and huts resembled each other." The French were particularly interested in the manner in which the town was protected, but the account in the journal must exaggerate the strength, or rather the size, of the ditch. The palisade was described as being 15 feet in height, and "At fifteen points doubled are green skins which are put for sheathing when required, fastened only above in the places needed, as in the bastion there are four at each curtain well flanked. The fort is built on a height in the open prairie with a ditch upwards of fifteen feet deep by fifteen to eighteen feet wide. Their fort can only be gained by steps or posts which can be removed when threatened by an enemy. If all their forts are alike, they may be called impregnable to Indians.... Both men and women of this nation are very laborious; their huts are large and spacious, separated into several apartments by thick planks; nothing is left lying about; all their baggage is in large bags hung on posts; their beds made like tombs surrounded by skins.... Their fort is full of caves, in which are stored such articles as grain, food, fat, dressed robes, bear skins. They are well supplied with these; it is the money of the country.... They make wicker work very neatly, flat and in baskets. They make use of earthen pots, which they use like many other nations for cooking their food." (La Verendrye, (1), p. 21.) In addition to the six more important villages there appear to have been others, similar but smaller. Referring to these La Verendrye wrote (p. 23): "We noticed that in the plain there were several small forts, of forty or fifty huts, built like the large ones, but no one was there at the time. They made us understand that they came inside for the summer to work their fields and that there was a large reserve of grain in their cellars." Evidently these were nearer their cornfields, away from the river banks, and were occupied only parts of each year.

From this all too brief account of the Mandan it is quite evident that when they were first encountered by the French, living in their earth lodges, their villages strongly palisaded, their caches filled with corn and other food supplies, buffalo robes and bear skins, they were in their most powerful and prosperous state. But what great changes they were destined to undergo during the next hundred years!

[124]On October 19, 1804, the Lewis and Clark party discovered the first of the ruined villages of the Mandan, evidently standing on the left bank of the Missouri, in the southern part of the present Burleigh County, North Dakota. It proved an interesting day. "In walking along the shore we counted fifty-two herds of buffaloe and three of elk, at a single view. Besides these we also observed elk, deer, pelicans, and wolves." The ruined village had been protected by palisades and, according to the Arikara chief, who accompanied them, had been occupied by the Mandan. These, so they wrote, "are the first ruins which we have seen of that nation in ascending the Missouri." During the night of October 19 the expedition encamped on the south, i. e., right, bank of the Missouri, evidently about 2 miles below the mouth of Little Heart River, which flows from the westward and joins the Missouri in the present Morton County, North Dakota. The following day they advanced 12 miles up the Missouri.

October 21, 1804, was cold and bleak. Snow and ice covered the ground, and the wind blew strong from the northeast. That day the expedition advanced only 7 miles. They passed the mouth of Big Heart River and the site of Bismarck, the present capital of the State. Two miles above their camp of the night previous, about opposite the mouth of the Big Heart, they reached "the ruins of a second Mandan village, which was in existence at the same time with that just mentioned. It is situated on the north at the foot of a hill in a beautiful and extensive plain, which is now covered with herds of buffaloes; nearly opposite are remains of a third village on the south of the Missouri, and there is another also about two miles further on the north, a little off the river. At the distance of seven miles we encamped on the south, and spent a cold night." The next day, October 22, they discovered other ruined towns of the Mandan. "In the morning we passed an old Mandan village on the south, near our camp; at four miles another on the same side.... At six we reached an island about one mile in length, at the head of which is a Mandan village on the north in ruins, and two miles beyond a bad sandbar. At eight miles are remains of another Mandan village on the south; and at twelve miles encamped on the south.... These villages, which are nine in number, are scattered along each side of the river within a space of twenty miles; almost all that remains of them is the wall which surrounds them, the fallen heaps of earth which covered the houses, and occasionally human skulls and the teeth and bones of men, and different animals, which are scattered on the surface of the ground." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 112-114.) Other deserted villages were passed as they continued ascending the Missouri, to arrive late on the 26th of October, at an old field of the Mandan, about one-half mile below the first of their then occupied villages.

[125]The winter encampment of the expedition, Fort Mandan, was situated on the left bank of the Missouri, about opposite the future Fort Clark, and some 7 or 8 miles below the mouth of Knife River, and consequently several miles from the first Mandan village. Here the expedition remained until April 7, 1805. The lower of the Mandan villages was "Matootonha," the second and smaller was "Rooptahee." The list continues and refers to "the third village which is called Mahawha, and where the Arwacahwas reside." "The fourth village where the Minnetarees live, and which is called Metaharta." A fifth village is mentioned but its name is not given. (Op. cit., pp. 120-121.) Referring to these more in detail the narrative tells something of their origin: November 21, 1804, "The villages near which we are established are five in number, and are the residence of three distinct nations: the Mandans, the Ahnahaways, and the Minnetarees. The history of the Mandans, as we received it from our interpreters and from the chiefs themselves, and as it is attested by existing monuments, illustrates more than that of any other nation the unsteady movements and the tottering fortunes of the American nations. Within the recollection of living witnesses, the Mandans were settled forty years ago in nine villages, the ruins of which we passed about eighty miles below, and situated seven on the west and two on the east side of the Missouri. The two finding themselves wasting away before the small-pox and the Sioux, united into one village, and moved up the river opposite to the Ricaras. The same causes reduced the remaining seven to five villages, till at length they emigrated in a body to the Ricara nation, where they formed themselves into two villages, and joined those of their countrymen who had gone before them. In their new residence they were still insecure, and at length the three villages ascended the Missouri to their present position. The two who had emigrated together still settled in the two villages on the northwest side of the Missouri, while the single village took a position on the southeast side. In this situation they were found by those who visited them in 1796; since which the two villages have united into one. They are now in two villages, one on the southeast of the Missouri, the other on the opposite side, and at the distance of three miles across. The first, in an open plain, contains about forty or fifty lodges, built in the same way as those of the Ricaras: the second, the same number, and both may raise about three hundred and fifty men.

"On the same side of the river, and at the distance of four miles from the lower Mandan village, is another called Mahaha. It is situated in a high plain at the mouth of the Knife river, and is the residence of the Ahnahaways. This nation, whose name indicated that they were 'people whose village is on a hill,' formerly resided[126] on the Missouri, about thirty miles below where they now live. The Assiniboins and Sioux forced them to a spot five miles higher, where the greatest part of them were put to death, and the rest emigrated to their present situation, in order to obtain an asylum near the Minnetarees. They are called by the French, Soulier Noir or Shoe Indians; by the Mandans, Wattasoons, and their whole force is about fifty men.

"On the south side of the same Knife river, half a mile above the Mahaha and in the same open plain with it, is a village of the Minnetarees surnamed Metaharta, who are about one hundred and fifty men in number. On the opposite side of Knife river, and one and a half mile above this village is a second of Minnetarees, who may be considered as the proper Minnetaree nation. It is situated in a beautiful low plain, and contains four hundred and fifty warriors." (Op. cit., pp. 129-131.)

In their journal, kept while in winter quarters at Fort Mandan, are to be found many interesting references to the Mandan. To quote several of these will tend to shed light on the ways of life in the native village. On November 22, 1804, the Mandan sold to the members of the expedition "a quantity of corn of a mixed colour, which they dug up in ears from the holes made near the front of their lodges, in which it is buried during the winter." This had probably been gathered only a few weeks before the arrival of the party at the village, then deposited in the caches for future use. December 19 the weather had moderated, and the Indians were seen playing a game on the level space between the lodges of the first and second chiefs, a distance of about 50 yards. The entry for January 13, 1805, contains an interesting note: "We have a continuation of clear weather, and the cold has increased, the mercury having sunk to 34 below 0. Nearly one half of the Mandan nation passed down the river to hunt for several days; in these excursions men, women and children, with their dogs, all leave the village together, and after discovering a spot convenient for the game, fix their tents; all the family bear their part in the labour, and the game is equally divided among the families of the tribe." And on February 12, it was told how "The horses of the Mandans are so often stolen by the Sioux, Ricaras, and Assiniboins, that the invariable rule now is to put the horses every night in the same lodge with the family. In the summer they ramble in the plains in the vicinity of the camp, and feed on the grass, but during cold weather the squaws cut down the cottonwood trees as they are wanted, and the horses feed on the boughs and bark of the tender branches, which are also brought into the lodges at night and placed near them."

About the year 1797, and consequently a few years before the arrival of the Lewis and Clark expedition at the Mandan villages, John[127] McDonnell, a partner of the North-West Company, made brief mention of the Mandan in his journal. He wrote: "These Indians live in settled villages, fortified with palisades, which they seldom ever abandon, and they are the best husbandman in the whole Northwest. They raise indian corn or maize, beans, pumpkins, squashes in considerable quantity, not only sufficient to supply their own wants, with the help of the buffalo, but also to sell and give away to all strangers that enter their villages." (McDonnell, (1), pp. 272-273.) And in 1804 another representative of the old North-West Company referred to the gardens of the Mandans and said in part:

"In the spring, as soon as the weather and the state of the ground will permit, the women repair to the fields, when they cut the stalks of the Indian corn of the preceding year and drop new seed into the socket of the remaining roots. A small kind of pumpkins which are very productive they plant with a dibble, and raise the ground into hillocks the same as those about Indian corn. Their kidney beans they plant in the same manner. They cultivate a tall kind of sunflower, the seed of which is reckoned good eating dry and pounded with fat and made into balls of three or four ounces; they are found excellent for long journeys." (Mackenzie, Charles, (1), pp. 338-339.) And the narrative continued: "The only implement used among the Mandanes for the purpose of agriculture is a hoe made from the shoulder blade of a buffalo and which is ingrafted upon a short crooked handle. With this crooked instrument they work very expeditiously, and soon do all that is required for their supplies."

As already mentioned, the Lewis and Clark party departed from their winter quarters April 7, 1805, to pursue their journey westward. The next year, on August 14, 1806, when returning, they again arrived at the Mandan villages. They reached Rooptahee, where they were kindly received by the people, but it is interesting to know that during the 16 months which had intervened between the departure and return of the Lewis and Clark party a great change had taken place in the appearance of the native village. As mentioned in the journal, "This village has been rebuilt since our departure, and was now much smaller; a quarrel having arisen among the Indians, in consequence of which a number of families had removed to the opposite side of the river." Such were the changes ever occurring among the people of the upper Missouri. Old villages were abandoned and new ones built, some to be divided and others united, consequently very few of the ruined sites discovered along the course of the river represent towns which were occupied at the same time.

Although the work just quoted contains much of interest pertaining to the Mandan and neighboring tribes, subsequent writers described the appearance of the villages and separate structures more[128] in detail, and from the narratives of Catlin and Maximilian, supplemented by many sketches, it is possible to visualize the primitive earth-lodge villages with their many peculiar features.

Catlin remained among the Mandan for some weeks during the year 1832 and wrote at that time: "They have two villages only, which are about two miles distant from each other.... Their present villages are beautifully located, and judiciously also, for defence against the assaults of their enemies. The site of the lower (or principal) town, in particular is one of the most beautiful and pleasing that can be seen in the world, and even more beautiful than imagination could ever create. In the very midst of an extensive valley (embraced within a thousand graceful swells and parapets or mounds of interminable green, changing to blue, as they vanish in distance) is built the city, or principal town of the Mandans." This was evidently the lower village, the first encountered when ascending the Missouri, the Matootonha of Lewis and Clark, and Mihtutta-hangusch of Maximilian. Describing the position of this town, Catlin continued: "The ground on which the Mandan village is at present built, was admirably selected for defence; being on a bank forty or fifty feet above the bed of the river. The greater part of this bank is nearly perpendicular and of solid rock. The river, suddenly changing its course to a right-angle, protects two sides of the village, which is built upon this promontory or angle; they have therefore but one side to protect, which is effectually done by a strong piquet, and a ditch inside of it, of three or four feet in depth. The piquet is composed of timbers of a foot or more in diameter, and eighteen feet high, set firmly in the ground at sufficient distances from each other to admit of guns and other missiles to be fired between them. The ditch ... is inside of the piquet, in which their warriors screen their bodies from the view and weapons of their enemies." (Catlin, (1), I, pp. 80-81.) This is followed by a description of the earth-covered lodges, "closely grouped together, leaving but just room enough for walking and riding between them." Outside they appeared to be made entirely of earth, but entering he was surprised "to see the neatness, comfort, and spacious dimensions of these earth-covered dwellings." The structures varied in size, some being 40, others 60 feet in diameter. All were of a circular form with the floors 2 feet or more below the original surface. "In the centre, and immediately under the sky-light is the fire-place, a hole of four or five feet in diameter, of a circular form, sunk a foot or more below the surface, and curbed around with stone. Over the fire-place, and suspended from the apex of diverging props or poles, is generally seen the pot or kettle, filled with buffalo meat; and around it are the family, reclining in all the most picturesque attitudes[129] and groups, resting on their buffalo-robes and beautiful mats of rushes." Their beds, or sleeping places, stood against the wall and were formed of poles lashed together and covered with buffalo skins. Each such bed was screened by skins of the buffalo or elk, arranged as curtains, with a hole in front to serve as an entrance. "Some of these coverings or curtains are exceedingly beautiful, being cut tastefully into fringe, and handsomely ornamented with porcupine's quills and picture writings or hieroglyphics." Catlin's sketch of the interior of a lodge, as just described, is reproduced in plate 38, a. In this picture the beds resting against the wall are clearly shown, the sunken fireplace is surrounded by the occupants of the lodge, and on the extreme right are two pottery vessels and a bull-boat, so characteristic of the upper Missouri.

Near the center of the large village, surrounded by the lodges, was the open space where games were played and their various ceremonies enacted. Referring to this, Catlin wrote (Op. cit., p. 88): "In the centre of the village is an open space, or public area, of 150 feet in diameter, and circular in form, which is used for all public games and festivals, shows and exhibitions and also for their 'annual religious ceremonies.'... The lodges around this open space front in, with their doors towards the centre; and in the middle of this circle stands an object of great religious veneration.... This object is in form of a large hogshead, some eight or ten feet high, made of planks and hoops.... One of the lodges fronting on this circular area, and facing this strange object of their superstition, is called the 'Medicine Lodge,' or council house. It is in this sacred building that these wonderful ceremonies, in commemoration of the flood, take place." Later Catlin witnessed the remarkable ceremony, as enacted by the Mandan in the midst of their large village, and prepared a series of paintings showing the various phases. The original pictures are in the collection belonging to the United States National Museum, and one, the last, showing what they termed the "last race," is now reproduced as plate 38, b. In the center of the open space stands the sacred object, "in form of a large hogshead." An outline drawing of this painting was reproduced as plate 69 in Catlin's work.

One of the most interesting and vivid passages in Catlin's writings is his description of this village as it impressed him. To quote (Op. cit., pp. 88-89): "In ranging the eye over the village from where I am writing, there is presented to the view the strangest mixture and medley of unintelligible trash (independent of the living beings that are in motion), that can possibly be imagined. On the roofs of the lodges, besides the groups of living, are buffaloes' skulls, skin canoes, pots and pottery; sleds and sledges—and suspended on poles, erected[130] some twenty feet above the doors of their wigwams, are displayed in a pleasant day, the scalps of warriors, preserved as trophies; and thus proudly exposed as evidence of their warlike deeds. In other parts are raised on poles the warriors' pure and whitened shields and quivers, with medicine-bags attached; and here and there a sacrifice of red cloth, or other costly stuff, offered up to the Great Spirit, over the door of some benignant chief, in humble gratitude for the blessings which he is enjoying. Such is a part of the strange medley that is before and around me; and amidst them ... can be seen in distance, the green and boundless, treeless, bushless prairie; and on it, and contiguous to the piquet which encloses the village, a hundred scaffolds on which their 'dead live,' as they term it." Such was the appearance of the great Mandan town in the year 1832, and this description would probably have applied to many of the ruined villages which stood on the banks of the Missouri farther down the river, which were occupied during past generations by the ancestors of those whom Catlin met and whose portraits have been preserved.

Maximilian, accompanied by the artist Karl Bodmer, left St. Louis April 10, 1833, on board the steamboat Yellow Stone, bound for the upper Missouri. Arriving at Fort Pierre they boarded the Assiniboin. The Yellow Stone being loaded with "7,000 buffalo skins and other furs," was to return to St. Louis. Starting from Fort Pierre June 5, they arrived at Fort Clark, among the Mandan, just two weeks later. Maximilian wrote on June 18: "At half-past seven we passed a roundish island covered with willows, and reached then the wood on the western bank, in which the winter dwellings of part of the Mandan Indian are situated; and saw, at a distance, the largest village of this tribe, Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kush, in the vicinity of which the whole prairie was covered with riders and pedestrians. As we drew nearer the huts of that village, Fort Clarke, lying before it, relieved by the background of the blue prairie hills, came in sight, with the gay American banner waving from the flag-staff.... The Assiniboin soon lay to before the fort, against the gently sloping shore, where above 600 Indians were waiting for us." (Maximilian, (1), p. 171.) They departed from Fort Clark the following day and on June 24, "the seventy-fifth day since our departure from St. Louis," arrived at Fort Union, near the mouth of the Yellowstone. Returning to Fort Clark November 8, they remained throughout the winter, departing April 18, 1834.

During the long winter months Maximilian learned much of the manners and ways of life of the Mandan, and his records are, in many respects, to be preferred to those of Catlin. To quote his description of the Mandan towns: "Their villages are assemblages of clay huts, of greater or less extent, placed close to each other,[131] without regard to order. Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kush, the largest of the Mandan villages, was about 150 or 200 paces in diameter, the second was much smaller. The circumference forms an irregular circle, and was anciently surrounded with strong posts, or palisades, which have, however, gradually disappeared as the natives used them for fuel in the cold winters. At four places, at nearly equal distances from each other, is a bastion built of clay, furnished with loop-holes, and lined both within and without with basket-work of willow branches. They form an angle, and are open towards the village; the earth is filled in between the basket-work and it is said that these bulwarks, which are now in a state of decay, were erected for the Indians by the Whites." It is curious and interesting that a similar observation should have been made by La Verendrye nearly a century before, and so the question arises, If made by Europeans, who were they? No protection or fortification of this sort was at the second and smaller village. A plan of the larger village, indicating its position on the right bank of the Missouri a short distance above Fort Clark, is given by Maximilian on page 394 and is here reproduced in figure 4. This would probably have been near the southern line of the present Mercer County, North Dakota.

Fig. 4.—Plan of the large Mandan village, 1833.
Fig. 4.—Plan of the large Mandan village, 1833.

Continuing the description of the large village, Maximilian wrote: "The huts, as I have before remarked, stand close to each other, leaving, in the centre, an open circular space, about sixty[132] paces in diameter, in the centre of which (among the Mandans) the ark of the first man is set up, of which we shall speak in the sequel. It is a small cylinder, open above, made of planks, about four or five feet high, fixed in the ground, and bound with climbing plants, or pliable boughs, to hold them together (see the woodcut, p. 342 [fig. 5]).

Fig. 5.—"The ark of the first man."
Fig. 5.—"The ark of the first man."

"At the north end of this circular space is the medicine lodge, in which festivals are celebrated, and certain customs practised, which are connected with the religious notions of this people.... At the top of a high pole, a figure is here placed, made of skins, with a wooden head, the face painted black, and wearing a fur cap and feathers, which is intended to represent the evil spirit Ochkih-Hadda.... Other grotesque figures, made of skins and bundles of twigs, we saw hanging on high poles, most of them being offerings to the deity. Among the huts are many stages of several stories, supported by poles, on which they dry the maize. The huts themselves are of a circular form, slightly vaulted, having a sort of portico entrance. When the inmates are absent the entrance is shut up with twigs and thorns; and if they wish merely to close the door they put up a skin stretched out on a frame, which is shoved aside on entering. In the centre of the roof is a square opening for the smoke to find vent, over which is a circular sort of screen made of twigs, as a protection against the wind and rain, and which, when necessary, is covered with skins (see woodcut [fig. 6]).


a. Interior of a Mandan lodge. George Catlin
a. Interior of a Mandan lodge. George Catlin
b. Scene in a Mandan village. George Catlin
b. Scene in a Mandan village. George Catlin



"The interior of the hut is spacious, tolerably light, and cleanly. Four strong pillars towards the middle, with several cross beams, support the roof. The inner circumference of the hut is formed by eleven or fifteen thick posts, four or five feet in height, between which other rather shorter ones are placed close to each other. On these shorter posts, which are all of an equal height, are long rafters, inclining to the centre; they are placed near each other, and bear the roof. On the outside the huts are covered with a kind of mat, made of osiers, joined together with bark, and now the skeleton of the hut is finished. Over this hay is spread, and the outer covering is of earth. The men and women work together in erecting these huts, and the relations, neighbours, and friends, assist them in the work.... In the centre of the hut a circular place is dug for the fire, over which the kettle is suspended. This fire-place, or hearth, [133]is often enclosed with a ledge of stones. The fuel is laid, in moderately thick pieces, on the external edge of the hearth, crossing each other in the middle, when it is kindled, and the pieces gradually pushed in as they burn away. The Indians are not fond of large fires. The inmates sit round it, on low seats, made of peeled osiers, covered with buffalo or bear skin. Round the inner circumference of the hut lie or hang the baggage, the furniture, and other property, in leather bags, the painted parchment travelling bags, and the harness of the horses; and on separate stages there are arms, sledges, and snow-shoes, while meat and maize, piled up, complete the motley assemblage." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 342-344.)

Fig. 6.—Typical earth lodges.
Fig. 6.—Typical earth lodges.

Among the many interesting paintings made by Bodmer during his journey with Maximilian is one of the large Mandan village, plate 39, looking down the Missouri, showing the cluster of earth lodges on the summit of the cliff which terminates abruptly at the river. A structure rather lower than the others, on the immediate edge of the level area, is probably the "bastion," as represented in the plan, figure 4, pointing out over the cliff. Beyond the village, but evidently screened from view by the high cliff upon which the latter stood, was Fort Clark, near the mouth of a small stream which flowed into the Missouri.

In these large circular structures the beds stood against the wall and the single opening faced inward. These were described by Catlin and clearly indicated in his drawing of an interior of a lodge, plate 38, a. In Maximilian's work (p. 344) is a sketch of such a bed which shows it as a unit, not attached to the wall, and capable of being moved about. The sketch is reproduced in figure 7. These were so formed and inclosed in skins as to protect the occupants from the cold blasts of air which must have circulated about in the interior of the lodge during certain seasons of the year. And as additional[134] protection "In the winter huts they place, at the inside of the door, a high screen of willow boughs, covered with hides, which keeps off the draught of air from without, and especially protects the fire." And Maximilian related how, about the middle of November or before, the Indians removed to their winter huts which were in a timbered area, and thus more protected from the winds and storms of winter. There they remained until the latter part of February, or the beginning of March, being governed by the climatic conditions. Thus about four months of the year would be spent in their winter village. As the greater part of their possessions would be deposited in underground caches they made frequent trips between their villages to get what was desired—food, clothing, skins, and other supplies. In the winter, when the frozen prairie was covered with ice and snow, they made use of sledges drawn by dogs to transport their goods from place to place. The sledges were "made of a couple of thin, narrow boards, nine or ten feet in length, fastened together with leather straps, and with four cross-pieces, by way of giving them firmness."

Fig. 7.—Inclosed bed.
Fig. 7.—Inclosed bed.

On the evening of November 30, 1833, Maximilian returned to Fort Clark from a visit of a few days to the villages a short distance above. They passed through "the forest-village belonging to the inhabitants of Ruhptare," referring to the winter village of the people of the smaller Mandan town. They entered one of the winter lodges, and "there was an abundance of meat hanging up in this hut, as they had had a very successful buffalo hunt." After returning to Fort Clark Maximilian wrote: "The Mandan village near the fort was now entirely forsaken by the inhabitants. The entrances to the huts were blocked with bundles of thorns; a couple of families only still remained, one of which was that of Dipauch, whom Mr Bodmer visited every day, in order to make a drawing of the interior of the hut. Instead of the numerous inhabitants, magpies were flying about, and flocks of snow buntings were seen in the neighbourhood about the dry plants of the prairie, where the Indian children set long rows of snares, made of horsehair, to catch them alive." (Op. cit., p. 425.) The drawing made by Bodmer of the interior of the lodge proves to be one of his most interesting pictures. It was reproduced as plate xix, and is here shown in plate 40.

[135]The people of Mih-tutta-hang-kusch having removed to their winter settlement, prepared to have "a great medicine feast," and Maximilian was invited to be present, and so, as he recorded in his narrative, "we proceeded thither, on the 3rd of December, in the afternoon. Mr. Kipp took his family with him, and Mato-Topé and several other Indians accompanied us. We were all well armed, because it was asserted that a band of hostile Indians had been seen among the prairie hills on the preceding day. Our beds, blankets, and buffalo skins were laid on a horse, on which Mr Kipp's wife, a Mandan Indian, rode. Thus we passed, at a rapid pace, through the prairie, along the Missouri, then below the hills, which are pretty high.... After proceeding about an hour and a half we reached the village in the wood, which is the winter residence of the inhabitants of Mih-Tutta-Hang-Kush. We stopped at the hut of Mr. Kipp's father-in-law, Mandeek-Suck-Choppenik (the medicine bird), who accommodated us with a night's lodging. The description of this hut may serve for all the winter huts of these Indians. It was about twenty paces in diameter, and circular; h is the fence or wall of the hut, supported inside by strong, low posts, on which rests the vaulted roof, which has a square hole to let the smoke escape; g is the entrance, protected by two projecting walls covered above. At f is the door, consisting of a piece of leather stretched on a frame. At d d there is a cross wall of considerable height, made of reeds and osier twigs woven together, to keep off the draught of air. At e e e there is another cross wall, only three feet high, behind which the horses stand; a is the fireplace, round which, at c c c c, are the seats of the inmates, consisting of benches formed of basket-work, covered with skins; b b b b are four strong pillars which bear the roof, and are very well united above by cross beams. At i there was a large leather case for the beds in which the family slept. A chain, with a large kettle, was suspended from the roof over the fire, to cook our supper, consisting of very pleasant flavoured sweet maize."[136] (Op. cit., pp. 425-426.) A plan of the lodge is given on page 426, here reproduced as figure 8.

Fig. 8.—Plan of the interior of a Mandan lodge.
Fig. 8.—Plan of the interior of a Mandan lodge.

The "great medicine feast" was to begin the evening of their arrival at the winter village and to last 40 nights. That evening "after seven o'clock we repaired to the medicine lodge; it was entirely cleared, except that some women sat along the walls; the fire burned in the centre, before which we took our seats, near the partition d d, with several distinguished men of the band of soldiers. At our left hand, the other soldiers, about twenty-five in number, were seated in a row; some of them were handsomely dressed, though the majority were in plain clothes. They had their arms in their hands, and in the centre were three men who beat the drum." (Op. cit., pp. 426-427.) The lengthy detailed account of what followed during the course of the "feast" is most interesting, but will not be mentioned in this sketch.

As among the many neighboring tribes of the Missouri Valley, the buffalo served as the principal source of food for the Mandan. Often sufficient meat could be secured very near the towns; again it would be necessary to undertake long journeys in search of the moving herds. It will be recalled that on January 13, 1805, when the mercury stood 34° below zero, Lewis and Clark saw "nearly one half of the Mandan nation" pass down the frozen Missouri on a hunt to last several days. And a few years later, just at the beginning of summer, June 25, 1811, Brackenridge wrote: "At ten, passed an old Mandan village; and at some distance above, saw a great number of Mandan Indians on their march along the prairie. They sometimes go on hunting parties by whole villages, which is the case at present; they are about five hundred in number, some on horseback, some on foot, their tents and baggage drawn by dogs. On these great hunting parties, the women are employed in preserving the hides, drying the meat, and making a provision to keep. Very little of the buffalo is lost, for after taking the marrow, they pound the bones, boil them, and preserve the oil." (Brackenridge, (1), p. 260.) On such trips away from their permanent earth-lodge villages the Mandan made use of the skin-covered tipi.

In addition to the food supplied by the chase the people of the permanent villages had large gardens in which they raised quantities of corn and beans of various sorts, gourds and sunflowers of several varieties, and of the seeds of the latter "very nice cakes are made." Many animals in addition to the buffalo, and various plants besides those cultivated in the gardens, served the Mandan for food.




a. Mandan wooden bowl. Marked "Ft. Berthold, Dacotah Ter.  Drs. Gray and Matthews." Diameter 7¼ ¼ inches, depth 2 inches.  (U.S.N.M. 6341)
a. Mandan wooden bowl. Marked "Ft. Berthold, Dacotah Ter. Drs. Gray and Matthews." Diameter 7¼ ¼ inches, depth 2 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6341)
b. Mandan earthenware jar, collected by Drs. Gray and Matthews. (U.S.N.M. 8407)
b. Mandan earthenware jar, collected by Drs. Gray and Matthews. (U.S.N.M. 8407)
c. Wooden bowl. Marked "Bowl of Mandan Indians, Dakota T. Drs. Gray and Matthews—U. S. A." Diameters 10¾ and 9¼ inches, depth 3½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 8406)
c. Wooden bowl. Marked "Bowl of Mandan Indians, Dakota T. Drs. Gray and Matthews—U. S. A." Diameters 10¾ and 9¼ inches, depth 3½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 8406)


a. Spoon, marked "Buffalo horn spoon, presented by Gen. T. Duncan." Length about 10 inches.  (U.S.N.M. 12259)
a. Spoon, marked "Buffalo horn spoon, presented by Gen. T. Duncan." Length about 10 inches. (U.S.N.M. 12259)
b. Spoon made of horn of mountain sheep. "Mandan Indians, Dacotah Ter. Drs. Gray and Matthews." Extreme length 16½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 6333)
b. Spoon made of horn of mountain sheep. "Mandan Indians, Dacotah Ter. Drs. Gray and Matthews." Extreme length 16½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 6333)



At the time of Catlin's and Maximilian's visits to the Mandan the latter were making and using their primitive forms of utensils such as had been in use for generations. Wooden mortars, bowls[137] hollowed out of hard knots, spoons made of the horn of buffalo and mountain sheep, and, most interesting of all, dishes and vessels made of pottery—all these were used in the preparation or serving of food. Some remarkable examples of wooden bowls made by the Mandan are now preserved in the collection of the United States National Museum, Washington. One of the most interesting is shown in plate 41, c (U.S.N.M. 8406), and another, of simpler form but equally well made, in plate 41, a (U.S.N.M. 6341). Both examples were evidently quite old even when collected. They are fashioned out of maple knots, worked thin and smooth, and are beautiful specimens. Large spoons, often termed "drinking cups," were, as already mentioned, made of the horns of buffalo and mountain sheep. The former were extensively used by many tribes, and usually resembled the one shown in plate 42, a. The spoons made of mountain-sheep horns were often much larger and thinner, of a yellowish hue, and the handles were frequently bent into form or decorated. A very beautiful spoon of this sort is shown in plate 42, b. (U.S.N.M. 6333.)

Pottery dishes and vessels, so Catlin wrote, "are a familiar part of the culinary furniture of every Mandan lodge, and are manufactured by the women of this tribe in great quantities, and modelled into a thousand forms and tastes. They are made by the hands of the women, from a tough black clay, and baked in kilns which are made for the purpose, and are nearly equal in hardness to our own manufacture of pottery; though they have not yet got the art of glazing, which would be to them a most valuable secret. They make them so strong and serviceable, however, that they hang them over the fire as we do our iron pots, and boil their meat in them with perfect success." (Op. cit., p. 116.) Maximilian described the art of pottery making among the Mandan as exactly like that of the two associated tribes, the Hidatsa and Arikara. He wrote regarding the three tribes that they "understand the manufacture of earthen pots and vessels, of various forms and sizes. The clay is of a dark slate colour, and burns a yellowish-red, very similar to what is seen in the burnt tops of the Missouri hills. This clay is mixed with flint or granite reduced to powder by the action of fire. The workwoman forms the hollow inside of the vessel by means of a round stone which she holds in her hand while she works and smooths the outside with a piece of poplar bark. When the pot is made, it is filled and surrounded with dry shavings, and then burnt, when it is ready for use. They know nothing of glazing." (Op. cit., p. 348.) This was probably the simple process of manufacture followed by the widely scattered tribes, and the apparent ease with which the vessels were made accounts for the great quantities of[138] fragments now discovered scattered over ancient village sites. Two small vessels made by the Mandan, and collected by Dr. Matthews half a century ago, are in the National Museum collection, and one is shown in plate 41, b. Very few perfect specimens exist, several being in the collection of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The specimens in the National Museum are rather small, but some very large vessels were made and used in boiling their food.

Bows and arrows were the principal weapons of the Mandan. The heads of the arrows, at the time of Maximilian's stay among the people, were made of thin bits of iron, although persons then living remembered the use of stone. Lances and clubs were likewise made and used, and when mentioning the latter Maximilian said, "a simple, knotty, wooden club is called mauna-panischa," and gives, on page 390, a woodcut of such a weapon. It is of interest to know that an example of this peculiar form of weapon, which at once suggests the traditional club of Hercules, is preserved in the Museo Kircheriana, in Rome. It is one of four specimens now belonging to the museum which were collected by Maximilian, the other three being a knife sheath, a horse bridle, and a saddle blanket, all being beautifully decorated with colored quillwork. The club is shown in figure 9, after a drawing made for the writer in 1905 by Dr. Paribeni, of the museum. The smaller end is bound or braided with tanned skin, to serve as a handle, and around the upper end of the wrapping is a band of quillwork similar in workmanship to that on the other objects. All are remarkably well preserved, and several specimens in the Ethnological Museum in Florence may have belonged to the Maximilian collection.

Fig. 9.—Wooden club.
Fig. 9.—Wooden club.

The Mandans, like other tribes of the upper Missouri Valley, were very expert in the art of dressing skins, especially those of the buffalo. They used two forms of implements, one of which is similar to those shown in plate 12, a; the second, rather more complicated, is represented in plate 34, c. This is a beautiful old specimen now in the National Museum. The handle is formed of a piece of elk antler; the blade is of clear, brownish flint, well chipped. Other similar objects are preserved in the collection.

[139]How fortunate it was that Catlin and Maximilian chose to spend much time among the Mandan during the years 1832, 1833, and 1834. A few years later, in the spring of 1837, the dreaded smallpox swept away the greater part of this most interesting nation, and "when the disease had abated, and when the remnant of this once powerful nation had recovered sufficiently to remove the decaying bodies from their cabins, the total number of grown men was twenty-three, of women forty, and of young persons sixty or seventy. These were all that were left of the eighteen hundred souls that composed the nation prior to the advent of that terrific disease, and even those that recovered were so disfigured as scarcely to be recognized." (Hayden, (1), p. 433.) Soon those who survived deserted their old village near Fort Clark and removed a few miles above, and the town was, about this time, occupied by the Arikara. It is interesting to know that the small remnant of the Mandan continued to follow their own peculiar customs and to maintain their tribal unity although so reduced in numbers. It will not be necessary in the present sketch to trace the later history of the tribe.

In recent years the State Historical Society of North Dakota has caused surveys to be made of the more important village sites in that State. In addition to the plans of the sites, showing the position of the earth lodges, they have been fortunate in obtaining drawings of the Mandan and Hidatsa villages, made by a Mandan living on the Fort Berthold Reservation. In writing of the picture and plan of the "most important historical site of the Mandan tribe in the state, the one visited and described by Lewis and Clark, Catlin, and Maximilian," Libby said: "The Indian chart and the map of the village as it appears to-day are here shown. It is seen that the two representations are not essentially unlike. The grouping of the houses about a common center, at one side of which is the holy tepee, is the predominating characteristic of each." The Indian drawing, although crude, shows some details omitted by Catlin in his many sketches; but the map (fig. 10) is of the greatest interest. It shows the site near Fort Clark as it appeared about the year 1908, and to quote from the description: "In the center of the tepees, on the space devoted by the old Mandans to the 'big canoe' and cedar post of the 'elder man,' stands now a large tepee (shown in dotted outline) which was placed there by the Arikara who occupied the village after the small-pox scourge of 1837 had killed or driven away the original inhabitants." The structures surrounding the open space were occupied by the principal men of the village, and the names as given by Libby were secured by him from "Bad Gun, Rushing War Eagle, son of the Ma-ta-to-pe or Four Bears, whose portrait Catlin painted." In the list of names "Tepee No. 1 was the holy tepee and was also[140] used by Lance Shoulder," and "No. 2 was occupied by Four Bears." The list includes fifteen names. At the time the survey was made the entire ditch could not be traced, but its general course could be followed, thus indicating the approximate boundary of the town, "beyond which only a few tepees are located." (Libby, (1), pp. 498-499.)

Fig. 10.—Plan of the Mandan village at Fort Clark.
Fig. 10.—Plan of the Mandan village at Fort Clark.

When it is realized how little is known regarding the arrangement of the many ancient villages which once stood in the country east of the Mississippi, villages which in their time were probably as large and important as those of the Mandan of the last century, it is not possible to overestimate the value of the work of the Historical Society in causing to be made an accurate survey of the sites and in securing descriptions of the villages from some who remember them. A generation later this would not have been possible.

hidatsa group.

Two tribes are regarded as constituting this group: The Hidatsa proper, known to the earlier writers as the Minnetarees, and to others as the Gros Ventres of the Missouri; and the Crows. The Hidatsa and the Crows were, until a few generations ago, one people, but trouble developed and the latter moved farther up the Missouri to the Rocky Mountains, and there they were discovered by the early explorers of the region.

The Amahami may have been a distinct tribe, and as such were recognized by Lewis and Clark, but according to their own traditions they, together with the Hidatsa and Crows, once formed a single[141] tribe. Their language differs only slightly from that of the Hidatsa. During the early years of the last century their one village stood at the mouth of Knife River. Already greatly reduced in numbers, they suffered during the epidemic of 1837, and later the majority of those who had survived became more closely associated with the Hidatsa.


The Hidatsa, also known as the Minnetarees and designated by some writers the Gros Ventres of the Missouri, a name which must not be confused with Gros Ventres of the Prairie often applied to the Atsina, lived when first known to Europeans near the junction of the Knife and Missouri Rivers, in the eastern part of the present Mercer County, North Dakota. Some are of the belief that it was the Hidatsa and not the Mandan whom the French, under La Verendrye, visited during the autumn and winter of 1738, but in the present sketch the Mandan are accepted as undoubtedly being the tribe at whose villages the French remained.

The Hidatsa villages as seen by Catlin and Maximilian during the years 1832, 1833, and 1834 had probably changed little since the winter of 1804-05, when Lewis and Clark occupied Fort Mandan, their winter quarters, some 8 miles below the mouth of Knife River. Describing the villages, Catlin said the principal one stood on the bank of Knife River and consisted of 40 or 50 earth-covered lodges, each from 40 to 50 feet in diameter, and this town being on an elevated bank overlooked the other two which were on lower ground "and almost lost amidst their numerous corn fields and other profuse vegetation which cover the earth with their luxuriant growth.

"The scenery along the banks of this little river, from village to village, is quite peculiar and curious; rendered extremely so by the continual wild and garrulous groups of men, women, and children, who are wending their way along its winding shores, or dashing and plunging through its blue waves, enjoying the luxury of swimming, of which both sexes seem to be passionately fond. Others are paddling about in their tub-like canoes, made of the skins of buffaloes." (Catlin, (1), I, p. 186.) Among the great collection of Catlin's paintings belonging to the United States National Museum, in Washington, is one of the large village. The original painting is reproduced in plate 43. A drawing of the same was shown as plate in Catlin's work cited above. The work is crude but interesting historically, and conveys some idea of the appearance of the town, although in this, as in other paintings by the same artist, the earth lodges are very poorly drawn, failing to show the projection which served as the entrance and having the roofs too rounded and dome-shaped. Bodmer's sketches are far superior.

[142]On June 19, 1833, Maximilian, aboard the steamboat Assiniboin, left Fort Clark bound for Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone. Soon after passing the Mandan village of Ruhptare, so Maximilian wrote: "We saw before us the fine broad mirror of the river, and, at a distance on the southern bank, the red mass of the clay huts of the lower village of the Manitaries, which we reached in half an hour. The Missouri is joined by the Knife River, on which the three villages of the Manitaries are built. The largest, which is the furthest from the Missouri, is called Elah-Sa (the village of the great willows); the middle one, Awatichay (the little village), where Charbonneau, the interpreter, lives; and the third, Awachawi (le village des souliers), which is the smallest, consisting of only eighteen huts, situated at the mouth of Knife River.... The south bank of the river was now animated by a crowd of Indians, both on foot and on horseback; they were the Manitaries, who had flocked from their villages to see the steamer and to welcome us. The appearance of this vessel of the Company, which comes up, once in two years, to the Yellow Stone River, is an event of the greatest importance to the Indians.... The sight of the red brown crowd collected on the river side, for even their buffalo skins were mostly of this colour, was, in the highest degree, striking. We already saw above a hundred of them, with many dogs, some of which drew sledges, and others, wooden boards fastened to their backs, and the ends trailing on the ground, to which the baggage was attached with leather straps." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 178-179.)


a. Original pencil sketch
a. Original pencil sketch
b. Finished picture of the same "WINTER PICTURE OF THE MINATARRES Karl Bodmer, 1833
b. Finished picture of the same "WINTER PICTURE OF THE MINATARRES Karl Bodmer, 1833


a. Manner of carrying basket similar to that shown in plate 52, a
a. Manner of carrying basket similar to that shown in plate 52, a
The ring-and-pole game.
The ring-and-pole game.
c. Hidatsa group with bull-boats. At Fort Berthold, July 13, 1851 FROM KURZ'S SKETCHBOOK
c. Hidatsa group with bull-boats. At Fort Berthold, July 13, 1851 FROM KURZ'S SKETCHBOOK

As told in the preceding section, Maximilian returned from Fort Union to Fort Clark, where, with the artist Bodmer, he spent the long winter. While near the Mandan towns he made several visits to the Hidatsa villages a few miles above, and learned much of the manners and ways of life of the people. He again spoke of the three villages on the banks of Knife River, "two on the left bank, and the third, which is much the largest, on the right bank." He continued: "At present the Manitaries live constantly in their villages, and do not roam about as they formerly did, when, like the Pawnees and other nations, they went in pursuit of the herds of buffaloes as soon as their fields were sown, returned in the autumn for the harvest, after which they again went into the prairie. In these wanderings they made use of leather tents, some of which are still standing by the side of their permanent dwellings" (p. 395). He then described the dress and general appearance of the people and continued: "The Manitari villages are similarly arranged as those of the Mandans, except that they have no ark placed in the central space, and the figure of Ochkih-Hadda is not there. In the principal village, however, is the figure of a woman placed on a long pole, doubtless representing the grandmother, who presented them with[143] the pots, of which I shall speak more hereafter. A bundle of brushwood is hung on this pole, to which are attached the leathern dress and leggins of a woman. The head is made of wormwood, and has a cap with feathers. The interior of their huts is arranged as among the Mandans: like them the Manitaries go, in winter, into the forests on both banks of the Missouri, where they find fuel, and, at the same time, protection against the inclement weather. Their winter villages are in the thickest of the forest, and the huts are built near to each other, promiscuously, and without any attempt at order or regularity. They have about 250 or 300 horses in their three villages, and a considerable number of dogs" (pp. 396-397). Bodmer's picture of the "Winter Village of the Minatarres," made during the winter of 1833, is probably the most accurate drawing of an earth-lodge village in existence. It was given as plate xxvi by Maximilian, which is here reproduced as plate 44, b. A pencil sketch which may be considered as the original sketch made by Bodmer, and from which the finished picture was made, is now in the E. E. Ayer collection preserved in the Newberry Library. Unfortunately the drawing is unfinished but is very interesting historically. It is shown in plate 44, a.

Maximilian then referred briefly to the creation myth of the people with whom he was then resting. The entire surface was once covered with water. There were two beings: one a man who lived in the far Rocky Mountains who made all; the other was the old woman called grandmother by the members of the tribe. "She gave the Manitaries a couple of pots, which they still preserve as a sacred treasure," and "When their fields are threatened with a great drought they are to celebrate a medicine feast with the old grandmother's pots, in order to beg for rain: this is, properly, the destination of the pots. The medicine men are still paid, on such occasions, to sing for four days together in the huts, while the pots remain filled with water." Such were the superstitious beliefs of these strange people.

November 26, 1833, Maximilian, Bodmer, and several others went from Fort Clark to the winter village to attend "a great medicine feast among the Manitaries." They passed the two Mandan towns and during the journey saw a large stone, "undoubtedly one of those isolated blocks of granite which are scattered over the whole prairie, and which the Indians, from some superstitious notion, paint with vermilion, and surround with little sticks, or rods, to which were attached some feathers." The little party had seen much of interest on the way, and it was late in the day when they arrived at the village, "the large huts of which were built so close to each other that it was sometimes difficult to pass between them." Herds of buffalo having been reported in the vicinity of the village, a party of Indians had decided to start after them the following day, and planned "to implore the blessings of heaven upon their undertaking by a great[144] medicine feast." This appears to have been a ceremony arranged by the women of the village. The structure in which the dance took place was not one of the earth-covered lodges of the town, but a rather temporary shelter of unusual shape. As described by Maximilian: "Between the huts, in the centre of the village, an elliptical space, forty paces or more in length, was enclosed in a fence, ten or twelve feet high, consisting of reeds and willow twigs inclining inwards. (See the woodcut.) [Fig. 11.] An entrance was left at a; b represents the fence; d are the four fires, burning in the medicine lodge, which were kept up the whole time. At e the elder and principal men had taken their seats; to the right sat the old chief, Lachpitzi-Sihrisch (the yellow bear); some parts of his face were painted red, and a bandage of yellow skin encircled his head. Places were assigned to us on the right hand of the yellow bear. At f, close to the fence, the spectators, especially the women, were seated: the men walked about, some of them handsomely dressed, others quite simply; children were seated round the fires, which they kept alive by throwing twigs of willow trees into them." Here follows a description of the ceremony, and it is related how six elderly men who had been chosen by the younger ones to represent buffalo bulls, entered the inclosure. They came from the hut opposite and when they were within, and after certain formalities, were seated at c. The ceremony was attended by smoking, the pipes were "brought first to the old men and the visitors; they presented the mouth-piece of the pipe to us in succession, going from right to left: we each took a few whiffs, uttered, as before, a wish or prayer, and passed the pipe to our next neighbours.... The six buffalo bulls, meantime, sitting behind the fire, sang, and rattled the medicine sticks, while one of them constantly beat the badger skin. After a while they all stood up, bent forward, and danced; that is, they leaped as high as they could with both their feet together, continuing to sing and rattle their sticks, one of them beating time on the badger. Their song was invariably the same, consisting of loud, broken notes and exclamations. When they had danced for some time, they resumed their seats.

Fig. 11.—Plan of a ceremonial lodge.
Fig. 11.—Plan of a ceremonial lodge.

[145]"The whole was extremely interesting. The great number of red men, in a variety of costumes, the singing, dancing, beating the drum, &c., while the lofty trees of the forest, illumed by the fires, spread their branches against the dark sky, formed a tout ensemble so striking and original, that I regretted the impracticability of taking a sketch of it on the spot."

Fig. 12.—Plan of the large Hidatsa village.
Fig. 12.—Plan of the large Hidatsa village.

Two days after the dance, on November 28, 1833, Maximilian visited the chief Yellow Bear in his lodge. The interior presents an interesting appearance: "The beds, consisting of square leathern cases, were placed along the sides of the spacious hut, and the inmates sat round the fire variously occupied. The Yellow Bear, wearing only his breech-cloth, sat upon a bench made of willow boughs, covered with skins, and was painting a new buffalo robe with figures in vermillion and black, having his colours standing by him, ready mixed, in old potsherds. In lieu of a pencil he was using the more inartificial substitute of a sharp-pointed piece of wood. The robe was ornamented with the symbols of valuable presents which he had made, and which had gained the Yellow Bear much reputation, and made him a man of distinction." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 419-423.)

Among the historic village sites which have been studied and surveyed by the State Historical Society of North Dakota, as mentioned in the preceding sketch of the Mandan, was that "of the largest Hidatsa village on Knife river." The map made for the society is here reproduced in figure 12. This, to quote Libby, "shows the present appearance of the ... largest Hidatsa village site, located just north of the mouth of Knife river. From the position and direction of the doorways, it is seen that these villages show no such large grouping as is characteristic of the Mandan village...." It was observed that the circles marking the positions of[146] the earth lodges were much deeper in the Hidatsa villages than in the two Mandan sites. In the former the extreme depth below the "highest part of the rim was often three feet and very commonly over two feet," but on the Mandan sites the depressions were quite shallow. And "in many cases it was observed that in and near the Hidatsa villages were mounds of debris of varying heights, while nothing of the kind was seen on or near Mandan sites." (Libby, (1), p. 500.) Noting these characteristic features of the two groups of villages, or rather of the villages of the two tribes, should reduce the difficulty of identifying other ancient sites in the upper Missouri Valley.

The several quotations already made refer to the earth-covered lodges of the Hidatsa, but the same people also made use of the typical skin tipi, although less often mentioned by the early writers. They probably resembled the structures used by the Crow. On November 8, 1833, when Maximilian was returning to Fort Clark from the mouth of the Yellowstone, he wrote: "At twelve o'clock we were opposite the first Manitari summer village, and saw, on the other side, many Indians.... The invitations to land became more vociferous and numerous." Going ashore "we were immediately conducted, by a distinguished man, Ita-Widahki-Hisha (the red shield), to his tent, which stood apart on the prairie, on the summit of the bank. The white leather tent was new, spacious, and handsomely ornamented with tufts of hair of various colours, and at each side of the entrance, finished with a stripe and rosettes of dyed porcupine quills, very neatly executed. It had been well warmed by a good fire, a most refreshing sight to us. We took our seats around it, with the numerous family, the brother and uncle of the chief, young men, women, and children. The chief had rather a long beard, like the Punca chief, Shudegacheh, and his right breast was tattooed with black stripes.... A large dish of boiled maize and beans was immediately set before us; it was very tender and well dressed, and three of us eat out of the dish with spoons made of the horn of buffalo, or bighorn; after which the red Dacota pipe went round." (Maximilian; (1), p. 316.) This must have been a beautiful example of the buffalo-skin tipi, new and white, decorated with quillwork and tufts of hair.

Continuing down the Missouri to Fort Clark they passed women in their "round leather boats," and saw others, "proceeding towards the river, with their boats hanging on their heads and down their backs."

An example of a "bull-boat" and paddle is shown in plate 35, b. It was collected among the Hidatsa and is now preserved in the collection of the National Museum. It is a specimen of great interest and rarity, though once so extensively used by the tribes of the Missouri[147] Valley. Several boats of this sort are shown by Bodmer in his picture of the Mandan village (pl. 39), and Kurz likewise left many drawings of these peculiar craft (pl. 45, c).

In addition to the several forms of structures already mentioned, the Hidatsa evidently erected a very secure temporary lodge when away from their villages on hunting trips. On November 7, 1833, when descending the Missouri, and just before arriving at Fort Clark, Maximilian wrote: "Our breakfast was prepared at nine o'clock, when we lay to on the north bank, in a narrow strip of forest, where we found some old Indian hunting lodges, built, in a conical form, of dry timber. They had, doubtless, been left by the Manitaries, who had come thus far on their hunting excursions. The lower part of the huts, or lodges, was covered with the bark of trees; the entrance was square, and bones were scattered in all directions. We proceeded with a bleak, high wind, saw the singular clay tops of the hills, and, in the forest, the stages made of poles, where the Indian hunters dry the flesh of the animals they have taken in the chase. About twelve o'clock we came to the spot where some stakes indicated the former site of a Mandan village.... We are now in the centre of the territory of the Manitaries." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 314-315.) Probably the danger of attack by their enemies made necessary the erection of these comparatively secure shelters.

About the year 1845 many Hidatsa removed from the vicinity of Knife River and reared a new village not far from Fort Berthold, some 60 miles up the Missouri from old Fort Clark. They were joined from time to time by other members of their tribe, and also by many of the remaining Mandan. In 1862 the Arikara became the third tribe to settle near Fort Berthold. But in 1850 the Arikara continued to occupy the old Mandan town just below Fort Clark, the large village of earth lodges so often visited and mentioned by the explorers and traders during the early years of the last century. It is quite evident the new settlement of the Hidatsa did not differ in appearance from the old Mandan town, the later home of the Arikara, and on June 13, 1850, Culbertson wrote from Fort Berthold: "The village, with its mud lodges, differs nothing in looks from the Ree village described yesterday, except in one particular, that is, the inhabitants are now engaged in surrounding it with pickets. The logs are well prepared and are all up except on the west side; a bastion with loop holes is placed in the middle of each side. This picket is of course to protect the inmates against enemies by whom they are frequently attacked." (Culbertson, (1), pp. 118-119.) This is a most interesting reference. Could this palisade have been the one to which Matthews alluded as having stood until 1865? The manner of constructing the palisade, with "a bastion ... in[148] the middle of each side," will tend to recall the similar arrangement as indicated on the drawing of the ancient Mahican village about two centuries before. (Bushnell, (1), p. 26.)

In the autumn of 1853, just 20 years after Maximilian was among the Hidatsa, an officer passed down the Missouri from Fort Benton to St. Louis, thence to continue to Washington, where he arrived November 21. In his journal are several brief references to the Hidatsa, or, as he designated the tribe, the Gros Ventres. To quote from the journal: "October 8 ... a fine region, full of game, and occasionally speaking a hunting party of Gros Ventres out after buffalo." The next day the small party arrived at Fort Berthold, late in the afternoon. Then, so the journal continues: "We received many visits from the Gros Ventres, and gave them a few presents. The Gros Ventres have a large village of mud houses—very unsightly outside, but within warm and comfortable." The following morning, October 10, 1853, "I visited some of the lodges of the Gros Ventres, and found them exceedingly comfortable and capable of accommodating comfortably a hundred persons. One part of the lodge is appropriated to the horses, dogs, cattle, and chickens, and another to their own sleeping apartments. They all seemed to live sociably and comfortable together during the long cold winters of this cold latitude.... We left Fort Berthold early; but, before we had advanced far, were driven ashore by a strong wind, which continued throughout the day. The smoke from the burning prairies is so dense as to almost hide the sun. The fires, burning in every direction, present at night a beautiful and magnificent, though terrible appearance." (Saxton, (1), pp. 264-265.) What a vivid, though brief, description of conditions in the Upper Missouri Valley when all was in a primitive state.

During the years following the visits of Catlin and Maximilian many changes took place in the native villages standing on the banks of the upper Missouri and its tributaries. Writing of a period about 40 years after Maximilian's stay among the Mandan and Hidatsa, the winter of 1833-34, Dr. Matthews said: "The Hidatsa, Minnetaree, or Grosventre Indians, are one of the three tribes which at present inhabit the permanent village at Fort Berthold, Dakota Territory, and hunt on the waters of the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers, in Northwestern Dakota and Eastern Montana." Describing the village, he continued: "The village consists of a number of houses built very closely together, without any attempt at regularity of position. The doors face in every possible direction; and there is great uniformity in the appearance of the lodges; so it is a very difficult matter to find one's way among them." In a footnote to this paragraph is given the number of structures standing there[149] in the year 1872. The note reads: In the fall of 1872, Dr. C. E. McChesney, then physician at the Berthold agency, counted, with great care, the buildings in the village and, in a letter, gave me the following results:

Old-style (round) lodges of Rees43
Log-cabins of Rees28
Total number of houses of Rees71
Old-style lodges of Grosventres and Mandans35
Log-cabins of Grosventres and Mandans69
Total number of houses of Grosventres and Mandans 104
Total of houses in village175

The note states that "owing to the stupidity of the interpreter" it was not possible to separate the Grosventres from the Mandans, which was to be regretted.

The "old-style lodges" were the earth-covered lodges, and Matthews follows with an excellent description of how they were constructed. He tells of the building of the frame, "covered with willows, hay, and earth," and over the opening in the center of the top "of many of the lodges are placed frames of wicker-work, on which skins are spread to the windward in stormy weather to keep the lodges from getting smoky. Sometimes bull-boats are used for this purpose." (Matthews, (1), pp. 3-6.) A comment on the work of the early artists is worthy of being mentioned at this time: "Prince Maximilian's artist [Karl Bodmer] usually sketches the lodge very correctly; but Mr. Catlin invariably gives an incorrect representation of its exterior. Whenever he depicts a Mandan, Arickaree, or Minnetaree lodge, he makes it appear as an almost exact hemisphere, and always omits the entry." (Op. cit., p. 6.)

Game, especially the buffalo, was becoming less plentiful in the vicinity of the villages, and Matthews told how, "Every winter, until 1866, the Indians left their permanent village, and, moving some distance up the Missouri Valley, built temporary quarters, usually in the center of heavy forests and in the neighborhood of buffalo.... The houses of the winter-villages resembled much the log-cabins of our own western pioneers. They were neatly built, very warm, had regular fire-places and chimneys built of sticks and mud, and square holes in the roofs for the admission of light." About that time some cabins of this sort were erected "in the permanent village at Fort Berthold; every year since, they are becoming gradually more numerous and threaten to eventually supplant the original earth-covered lodges." And in 1877 "game has recently become very scarce in their country, they are obliged to travel immense distances, and almost[150] constantly, when they go out on their winter-hunts. Requiring, therefore, movable habitations, they take with them, on their journeys, the ordinary skin-lodges, or 'tepees,' such as are used by the Dakotas, Assiniboines, and other nomadic tribes of the region." (Op. cit., pp. 6-7.)

Matthews's description of the caches prepared by the tribes with whom he was so closely associated is most interesting, and it tends to explain the origin and use of the numerous pits often discovered in the vicinity of ancient village sites east of the Mississippi. He wrote: "The numerous caches, or pits, for storing grain, are noteworthy objects in the village. In summer, when they are not in use, they are often left open, or are carelessly covered, and may entrap the unwary stroller. When these Indians have harvested their crops, and before they start on their winter-hunt, they dig their caches, or clear out those dug in previous years. A cache is a cellar, usually round, with a small opening above, barely large enough to allow a person to descend; when finished, it looks much like an ordinary round cistern. Reserving a small portion of corn, dried squash, etc., for winter use, they deposit the remainder in these subterranean store-houses, along with household-utensils, and other articles of value which they wish to leave behind. They then fill up the orifices with earth, which they trample down and rake over; thus obliterating every trace of the excavation. Some caches are made under the floors of the houses, others outside, in various parts of the village-grounds; in each case, the distance and direction from some door, post, bedstead, fire-place, or other object is noted, so that the stores may be found on the return of the owners in the spring. Should an enemy enter the village while it is temporarily deserted, the goods are safe from fire and theft. This method of secreting property has been in use among many tribes, has been adopted by whites living on the plains, and is referred to in the works of many travelers." (Op. cit., pp. 8-9.)

Such were the characteristic features of the Hidatsa villages.


Before the separation of the Crows from the Hidatsa they may have occupied permanent villages of earth-covered lodges, such as the latter continued to erect and use until very recent years. But after the separation the Crows moved into the mountains, the region drained by the upper tributaries of the Missouri, and there no longer built permanent structures but adopted the skin tipi, so easily erected and transported from place to place. Many of their tipis were very large, beautifully made and decorated, and were evidently not surpassed in any manner by the similar structures constructed by other tribes of the Upper Missouri Valley.

[151]During the summer of 1805 François Antoine Larocque, a clerk attached to the Upper Red River Department of the Compagnie du Nord-Ouest, visited the Crows and in his journal recorded much of interest respecting the manners of the people. Larocque had, during the winter of 1804-05, remained near the Mandan and Hidatsa villages, and thus met Captains Lewis and Clark in their winter encampment. A large party of the Crows, the Rocky Mountain Indians of the journal, came to the Hidatsa villages on Knife River. There they were met by Larocque, with whom they departed for their distant country, on Saturday, June 29, 1805. His narrative contains a brief reference to the people. He wrote: "This nation known among the Sioux by the name of Crow Indians inhabit the eastern part of the Rocky Mountains at the head of the River aux Roches Jaunes (which is Known by the Kinistinaux and Assiniboines by the name of River a la Biche, from the great number of elks with which all the Country along it abounds) and its Branches and Close to the head of the Missouri.

"There are three principal tribes of them whose names in their own language are Apsarechas, Keetheresas and Ashcabcaber, and these tribes are again divided into many other small ones which at present consist but of a few people each, as they are the remainder of a numerous people who were reduced to their present number by the ravage of the Small Pox, which raged among them for many years successively and as late as three years ago. They told me they counted 2000 Lodges or tents in their Camp when all together before the Small Pox had infected them. At present their whole number consist of about 2400 persons dwelling in 300 tents and are able to raise 600 Wariors like the Sioux and Assiniboines. They wander about in Leather tents and remain where there are Buffaloes and Elks. After having remained a few days in one place so that game is not more so plentiful as it was they flit to another place where there are Buffaloes or deers and so on all the year around. Since the great decrease of their numbers they generally dwell all together and flit at the same time and as long as it is possible for them to live when together they seldom part." (Larocque, (1), pp. 55-56.) The narrative continues: "They live upon Buffaloes & Deer, a very few of them eat Bears or Beaver flesh, but when compelled by hunger; they eat no fish." The Crows were at that time in their primitive condition. "They have never had any traders with them, they get their battle Guns, ammunitions etc. from the Mandans & Big Bellys in exchange for horses, Robes, Leggings & shirts, they likewise purchase corn, Pumpkins & tobacco from the Big Bellys as they do not cultivate the ground."

[152]Unfortunately, Larocque did not describe the appearance of the tipis, but such information was supplied by later writers.

Catlin visited the Crows during the summer of 1832 and saw many who frequented Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone, during his stay at that post. He wrote at that time: "The Crows who live on the head waters of Yellow Stone, and extend from this neighborhood also to the base of the Rocky Mountains, are similar ... to the Blackfeet: roaming about a great part of the year." And describing their habitations, he said: "The Crows, of all the tribes in this region, or on the Continent, make the most beautiful lodge ... they construct them as the Sioux do, and make them of the same material; yet they oftentimes dress the skins of which they are composed almost as white as linen, and beautifully garnish them with porcupine quills, and paint and ornament them in such a variety of ways, as renders them exceedingly picturesque and agreeable to the eye. I have procured a very beautiful one of this description, highly ornamented, and fringed with scalp-locks and sufficiently large for forty men to dine under. The poles which support it are about thirty in number, of pine, and all cut in the Rocky Mountains.... This tent, when erected, is about twenty-five feet high." (Catlin, (1), I, pp. 43-44.) Catlin's original painting of this most interesting tipi is in the National Museum, Washington, and is here reproduced in plate 46, a. The same was drawn and given by Catlin as plate 20 in his work.


a. "Crow lodge." George Catlin
a. "Crow lodge." George Catlin
b. Crow camp at the old agency on the Yellowstone, near Shields River. Photograph by W. H.  Jackson, 1871 CROW TIPIS
b. Crow camp at the old agency on the Yellowstone, near Shields River. Photograph by W. H. Jackson, 1871


A CAMP IN A COTTONWOOD GROVE Photograph not identified, but probably made by J. D. Hutton
A CAMP IN A COTTONWOOD GROVE Photograph not identified, but probably made by J. D. Hutton

As told elsewhere in this work, Maximilian, on June 18, 1833, arrived at Fort Clark. At that time representatives of several tribes were gathered in the vicinity of the fort. These included Crows, "of which tribe there were now seventy tents about the fort." Referring to these in particular, he remarked: "The tents of the Crows are exactly like those of the Sioux, and are set up without any regular order. On the poles, instead of scalps, there were small pieces of coloured cloth, chiefly red, floating like streamers in the wind." (Maximilian, (1), p. 172.) Later in the day Maximilian accompanied the Indian agent to the tipi occupied by the Crow chief Eripuass. This he found to be of much interest. "The interior of the tent itself had a striking effect. A small fire in the centre gave sufficient light; the chief sat opposite the entrance, and round him many fine tall men, placed according to their rank, all with no other covering than a breech-cloth. Places were assigned to us on buffalo hides near the chief, who then lighted his Sioux pipe, which had a long flat tube, ornamented with bright yellow nails, made each of us take a few puffs, holding the pipe in his hand, and then passed it round to the left hand." And speaking of the tribe as a whole he wrote: "The territory in which they move about is bounded, to the north or north-west, by the Yellow Stone River, and extends round Bighorn[153] River, towards the sources of Chayenne River and the Rocky Mountains. These Indians are a wandering tribe of hunters, who neither dwell in fixed villages, like the Mandans, Manitaries, and Arikkaras, nor make any plantations except of tobacco, which, however, are very small.... They roam about with their leather tents, hunt the buffalo, and other wild animals, and have many horses and dogs, which, however, they never use for food.... The Crow women are very skilful in various kinds of work, and their shirts and dresses of bighorn leather, embroidered and ornamented with dyed porcupine quills, are particularly handsome, as well as their buffalo robes, which are painted and embroidered in the same manner." (Op. cit., pp. 174-175.)

During the spring of 1863 a peculiar type of log house was discovered in the Crow country which had probably been erected by members of that tribe. They may have resembled the cabins mentioned by Matthews as standing at the Fort Berthold Reservation nine years later. On May 2, 1863, a member of the Yellowstone expedition entered in his journal: "In the timber along the river, we saw many houses built of dry logs and bark; some are built like lodges, but the most of them are either square or oblong, and among them were many large and strong corrals of dry logs. The Crows evidently winter along here, and, from the sign, they are very numerous." The following day, "We camped three miles below Pompey's Pillar, on which we found the names of Captain Clark and two of his men cut in the rock, with the date July 25, 1806.... Buffalo to be seen in every direction, and very tame.... No wonder the Crows like their country; it is a perfect paradise for a hunter.... About sundown a large band of buffalo came in to drink at a water-hole about two hundred yards in front of our camp." (Stuart, (1), pp. 176-178.) This may have represented a winter camp ground, with permanent huts to which the Crows returned from year to year. It was in the northeastern part of the present Yellowstone County, Montana.

A very interesting description of a Crow camp is to be found in Lord Dunraven's narrative of his hunting trip to the Yellowstone region performed during the year 1874. The particular camp stood not far from the present Livingston, Montana. In describing the camp he wrote: "The lodges are tall, circular dwellings, composed of long fir-poles planted on a circle in the ground. These slope inwards and form a cone, meeting and leaning against each other at the apex; and upon them is stretched a covering of buffalo hides. They make very comfortable, clean and airy houses, and are far preferable to any tent, being much warmer in winter and cooler in summer. A tepee will hold from twelve to fifteen or even twenty individuals; several families, therefore, generally occupy one in common. The[154] earth is beaten down hard, forming a smooth floor, and in the middle burns the fire, the smoke finding an exit through an aperture at the top. The portions of the tepee assigned to each family or couple are divided by a kind of wicker-work screen at the head and foot, separating a segment of a circle of about eight or ten feet in length and five or six in breadth, closed by the screen at either end, and at the outer side by the wall of the lodge, but being open towards the interior. The fire is common property, and has a certain amount of reverence paid to it. It is considered very bad manners, for instance, to step between the fire and the place where the head man sits. All round, on the lodge poles and on the screens, are suspended the arms, clothing, finery, and equipment of the men and their horses. Each lodge forms a little community in itself.

"The tepees are pitched with all the regularity of an organized camp, in a large circle, inside which the stock is driven at night or on an alarm or occasion of danger. Outside the door is struck a spear or pole, on which is suspended the shield of the chief and a mysterious something tied up in a bundle, which is great medicine." (Dunraven, (1), pp. 94-95.)

A white shield supported outside a tipi is visible in the photograph reproduced as plate 47. This remarkable picture has not, unfortunately, been identified, but it was undoubtedly made in the Upper Missouri Valley, and from the nature of the tipis, many appearing to be quite small, it may be assumed that it was a party of Indians who had come on a trading trip, rather than that it represented a regular village.

Several accounts are preserved of large structures discovered in the region frequented by the Crows which, although not positively identified, were possibly erected by members of that tribe. Thus Lewis and Clark on July 24, 1806, arrived at an island in the Yellowstone River between 5 and 6 miles below the mouth of Clark's Fork, and wrote: "It is a beautiful spot with a rich soil, covered with wild rye, and a species of grass like the blue-grass, and some of another kind, which the Indians wear in plaits round the neck, on account of a strong scent resembling that of vanilla. There is also a thin growth of cottonwood scattered over the island. In the centre is a large Indian lodge which seems to have been built during the last summer. It is in the form of a cone, sixty feet in diameter at the base, composed of twenty poles, each forty-five feet long, and two and a half in circumference, and the whole structure covered with bushes. The interior was curiously ornamented. On the tops of the poles were feathers of eagles, and circular pieces of wood, with sticks across them in the form of a girdle: from the centre was suspended a stuffed buffaloe skin; on the side fronting the door was hung a[155] cedar bush: on one side of the lodge a buffaloe's head; on the other several pieces of wood stuck in the ground. From its whole appearance, it was more like a lodge for holding councils, than an ordinary dwelling house." (Lewis and Clark, (1), II, p. 386.) This was undoubtedly a ceremonial lodge, and it was probably quite similar to another observed a few years later. To quote the description of the second example: "In the country of the Crow Indians, (Up-sa-ro-ka,) Mr. Dougherty saw a singular arrangement of the magi. The upper portion of a cotton-wood tree was implanted, with its base in the earth, and around it was a sweat house, the upper part of the top of the tree arising through the roof. A gray bison skin, extended with oziers on the inside so as to exhibit a natural appearance, was suspended above the house, and on the branches were attached several pairs of children's mockasins and leggings, and from one of the limbs of the tree, a very large fan made of war eagle's feathers was dependent." (James, (1), I, p. 272.)

Caddoan tribes.

The ancient habitat of the many small tribes which evidently later became confederated, thus forming the principal groups of this linguistic stock, was in the southwest, whence the Pawnee and Arikara, and those gathered under the name of the Wichita, moved northward.

The Caddo proper, the name of a tribe later applied to the confederated group of which they formed the principal member, formerly occupied the valley of the Red River of Louisiana, the many villages of the several tribes being scattered along the banks of that stream and of its tributaries in northern Louisiana, southwestern Arkansas, and eastern Texas. Although usually included in the same linguistic group with the Pawnee, Arikara, Wichita, and others, several notable authorities are inclined to regard the Caddo as constituting a separate and distinct linguistic group. This may be established and recognized in the future.


Soon after the transfer of Louisiana to the United States Government several expeditions were sent out to explore the newly acquired domains and to discover the native tribes who claimed and occupied parts of the vast territory. Of these parties, that led by Capts. Lewis and Clark was the most important, but of great interest was the second expedition under command of Lieut. Z. M. Pike, which traversed the country extending from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains, and reached the Pawnee villages near the North Platte during the month of September, 1806. How long the Pawnee[156] had occupied that region may never be determined, but they had evidently migrated from the southwest, probably moving slowly, making long stops on the way. As a tribe they were known to the Spaniards as early as the first half of the sixteenth century, and appear to have been among the first of the plains tribes to be visited by French and Spanish traders.

Unfortunately Pike did not prepare a very extensive account of the Pawnee as they appeared during the autumn of 1806, but wrote in part: "Their houses are a perfect circle, (except where the door enters) from whence there is a projection of about 15 feet; the whole being constructed after the following manner, Viz: 1st. there is an excavation of a circular form, made in the ground, of about 4 feet deep and 60 diameter, where there is a row of posts about 5 feet high, with crotches at the top, set firmly in all round, and horizontal poles from one to the other. There is then a row of posts, forming a circle of about 10 feet width in the diameter of the others, and 10 feet in height; the crotches of those are so directed, that horizontal poles are also laid from one to the other; long poles are then laid slanting, perpendicularly from the lower poles over the upper, and meeting nearly at the top, leaving only a small aperture for the smoke of the fire to pass out, which is made on the ground in the middle of the lodge. There is then a number of small poles put up round the circle, so as to form the wall, and wicker work run through the whole. The roof is then thatched with grass, and earth thrown up against the wall until a bank is made to the eves of the thatch; and that is also covered with earth one or two feet thick, and rendered so tight, as entirely to exclude any storm whatsoever, and make them extremely warm. The entrance is about 6 feet wide, with walls on each side, and roofed like our houses in shape, but of the same materials as the main building. Inside there are numerous little apartments constructed of wicker work against the wall with small doors; they have a great appearance of neatness and in them the members of the family sleep and have their little deposits. Their towns are by no means so much crowded as the Osage, giving much more space, but they have the same mode of introducing all their horses into the village at night, which makes it extremely crowded. They keep guards with the horses during the day. They are extremely addicted to gaming, and have for that purpose a smooth piece of ground cleared out on each side of the village for about 150 yards in length." (Pike, (1), Appendix, p. 15.)

Although Pike's account of this interesting tribe is very brief and unsatisfactory, it was soon to be followed by a more complete and comprehensive description. This refers to the notes prepared by members of the Long expedition, 14 years later.

[157]The expedition under command of Maj. Stephen H. Long arrived at Council Bluff, "so called by Lewis and Clark, from a council with the Otoes and Missouries held there, on the 3rd of August, 1804," during the early autumn of 1819. Winter quarters were established at a point about 5 miles lower down the Missouri and at a short distance north of the present city of Omaha, Nebr. This was called Engineer Cantonment, and during the ensuing months many Indians visited the encampment to treat with Maj. O'Fallon, the commissioner.

Leaving the majority of the party in quarters at the cantonment, Maj. Long and others of the expedition, on October 11, "began to descend the Missouri in a canoe, on their way towards Washington and Philadelphia." Returning from the east they reached Engineer Cantonment May 28, 1820, having arrived at St. Louis April 24, "from Philadelphia to Council Bluff, to rejoin the party."

During the absence of the commanding officers some members of the expedition made a short trip to the Pawnee villages, and the following brief account appears in the narrative on May 1, 1820:

"At each of the villages, we observed small sticks of the length of eighteen inches or two feet, painted red, stuck in the earth in various situations, but chiefly on the roofs of the houses, each bearing the fragment of a human scalp, the hair of which streamed in the wind. Before the entrance to some of the lodges were small frames, like painter's easels, supporting each a shield, and generally a large painted cylindrical case of skin, prepared like parchment, in which a war dress is deposited. The shield is circular, made of bison skin, and thick enough to ward off an arrow, but not to arrest the flight of a rifle ball at close quarters.... The lodges, or houses, of these three villages, are similar in structure, but differ in size. The description of those of the Konzas will apply to them, excepting that the beds are all concealed by a mat partition, which extends parallel to the walls of the lodge, and from the floor to the roof. Small apertures, or doors, at intervals in this partition, are left for the different families, that inhabit a lodge, to enter their respective bed chambers." (James, (1), pp. 367-368.)

After the return of Maj. Long the reunited party left Engineer Cantonment, June 6, 1820, and soon reached the Pawnee villages, situated about 100 miles westward, on the Loup River, a branch of the Platte. The narrative of this part of the journey is most interesting: "The path leading to the Pawnee villages runs in a direction a little south of west from the cantonment, and lies across a tract of high and barren prairie for the first ten miles. At this distance it crosses the Papillon, or Butterfly creek, a small stream discharging into the Missouri, three miles above the confluence of the Platte."

[158]After advancing for several days over the prairie, on June 10, "At sunset we arrived at a small creek, eleven miles distant from the village of the Grand Pawnees, where we encamped. On the following morning, having arranged the party according to rank, and given the necessary instructions for the preservation of order, we proceeded forward and in a short time came in sight of the first of the Pawnee villages. The trace on which we had travelled since we left the Missouri, had the appearance of being more and more frequented as we approached the Pawnee towns; and here, instead of a single footway, it consisted of more than twenty parallel paths, of similar size and appearance.... After a ride of about three hours, we arrived before the village, and despatched a messenger to inform the chief of our approach. Answer was returned that he was engaged with his chiefs and warriors at a medicine feast, and could not, therefore, come out to meet us.... The party which accompanied Major Long, after groping about some time, and traversing a considerable part of the village, arrived at the lodge of the principal chief. Here we were again informed that Tarrarecawaho, with all the principal men of the village, were engaged at a medicine feast.

"Notwithstanding his absence, some mats were spread for us upon the ground, in the back part of the lodge. Upon these we sat down, and after waiting some time, were presented with a large wooden dish of hominy, or boiled maize. In this was a single spoon of the horn of a bison, large enough to hold half a pint, which, being used alternately by each of the party, soon emptied the dish of its contents."

An excellent example of an old spoon similar to the one mentioned in the preceding paragraph is shown in plate 42, a (U.S.N.M. 12259). It is about 10 inches in length and much worn from long use. Unfortunately it is not known when or where it was collected, but without doubt it came from the Upper Missouri Valley.

Continuing the narrative: "The interior of this capacious dwelling was dimly lighted from a hole at the top, through which the sun's rays, in a defined column, fell upon the earthen floor. Immediately under this hole, which is both window and chimney, is a small depression in the centre of the floor, where the fire is made; but the upper parts of the lodge are constantly filled with smoke; adding much to the air of gloominess and obscurity, which prevail within. The furniture of Long-hair's lodge consisted of mats, ingeniously woven of grass or rushes, bison robes, wooden dishes, and one or two small brass kettles. In the part of the lodge immediately opposite the entrance, we observed a rude niche in the wall, which was occupied by a bison skull. It appeared to have been exposed to the weather, until the flesh and periosteum had decayed, and the bones had become white....

[159]"Our visit to this village seemed to excite no great degree of attention. Among the crowd, who surrounded us before we entered the village, we observed several young squaws rather gaily dressed, being wrapped in clean and new blankets, and having their heads ornamented with wreaths of gnaphalium and the silvery leaves of the prosalea canescens. On the tops of the lodges we also saw some display of finery, which we supposed to have been made on account of our visit. Flags were hoisted, shields, and bows, and quivers, were suspended in conspicuous places, scalps were hung out; in short, the people appeared to have exposed whatever they possessed, in the exhibition of which, they could find any gratification of the vanity. Aside from this, we received no distinguished marks of attention from the Grand Pawnees." (James, (1), I, pp. 427-437.)

The camp of the expedition was a little more than a mile from the village of the Grand Pawnee, and the intervening prairie must have presented an animated sight, being "covered with great numbers of horses, intermixed with men, women, and children." Nearer the village were groups of squaws "busily engaged in dressing the skins of the bison for robes." During the afternoon many Indians arrived at the camp, men wishing to trade horses, the women endeavoring to trade various articles. And on the following morning, June 11, 1820, many groups of women were seen leaving the village, accompanied by their dogs, bound for their fields of corn situated a few miles away.

The expedition next arrived at the village of the Republican Pawnee, 4 miles from that of the Grand Pawnee. Both villages stood on the immediate bank of the stream. Remaining there but a short time, they continued on to the Loup village. Here they encamped during the night of June 12, leaving early on the following morning. On the morning of the 13th many squaws were again observed making their way to the cornfields, with their small children. Some stopped to admire the "novel appearance" of the members of the expedition, many brought various vegetables, jerked buffalo meat and tallow to exchange for whatever they could obtain.

"The three Pawnee villages, with their pasture grounds, and insignificant enclosures, occupy about ten miles in length of the fertile valley of the Wolf river. The surface is wholly naked of timber, rising gradually to the river hills, which are broad and low, and from a mile to a mile and a half distant." (James, (1), I, p. 447.)

During the latter part of the summer of 1833 the small party under the leadership of Commissioner Henry L. Ellsworth reached the Pawnee towns, and in the narrative of the expedition are to be found many references to the customs of the people whose habitations were the primitive earth-covered lodges. The second morning after arriving at the village of the Grand Pawnee several members[160] of the party walked about among the lodges, and at that time, so wrote Irving: "The warriors were collected in small knots of five or six, and by their vehement gestures, were apparently engaged in earnest conversation. The children were rolling and tumbling in the dirt; the squaws were busily engaged. Some were bringing from their lodges large leather sacks of shelled corn; others were spreading it out to dry, upon the leather of their buffalo-skin tents, which had been stretched out upon the ground. Others were cleansing from it the decayed kernels and packing it up in small sacks of whitish undressed leather, resembling parchment. These were then deposited in cache-holes for a winter's store.

"At a distance from the village, a band of females were slowly wending along the top of the low prairie ridges, to their daily labour in the small plantations of corn. These are scattered in every direction round the village, wherever a spot of rich, black soil, gives promise of a bountiful harvest. Some of them are as much as eight miles distant from the town." (Irving, J. T., (1), II, pp. 44-45.)

Later the same day a council was held at the lodge of the chief, attended by the principal men of the village, and it is interesting to read the description of the gathering of those who were to participate: "The lodge had been swept clean; a large cheery fire was crackling in the centre. The rabble crowd of loungers and hangers-on had been routed; and besides the family of the chief, we were the only occupants of the spacious building.

"At mid-day the chiefs and braves began to assemble. They were full dressed; many of the young warriors had spent the whole morning in preparation, and now presented themselves, fully ornamented for the meeting.

"As the hour for the opening of the council grew nearer, the tall, muffled warriors poured in, in one continuous stream. They moved quietly to the places allotted them, and seating themselves in silence round the chief, according to their rank.... The crowd continued flowing in until the lodge was filled almost to suffocation. As they came in, they seated themselves, until five or six circles were formed, one beyond the other, the last ranging against the wall of the building. In the ring nearest the chiefs, sat the principal braves, or those warriors whose deeds of blood entitled them to a high rank in the councils of the nation. The more distant circles were filled by such young men of the village as were admitted to its councils. The passage leading to the open air, was completely blocked up with a tight wedged mass of women and children, who dared venture no nearer to the deliberations of the tribe." (Op. cit., pp. 48-50.) When all had gathered the chief filled a large stone pipe, took a few puffs, then handed it to the members of the commissioner's party, who in[161] turn passed it to the other Indians. The addresses were then made and the council deliberated on the several questions presented.

The expedition moved on from the Grand Pawnee to the village of the Republican Pawnee, which stood on the bank of the Loup Fork of the Platte, some 20 miles distant from the former, with the rolling prairie between. Approaching the river they could see, on the far side, "a high bluff, on which was situated the dingy lodges of the Republican village." They were welcomed by the people of the village, and soon reached the lodge of the principal chief, Blue Coat, which they entered. Then "it was not long before the lodge became crowded. The old warriors moved with a hushed step across the building, and listened to our conversation." Soon an invitation was received to attend a feast at the lodge of the second chief. Entering that lodge, he was seen seated upon "a small leather mat.... Around him were lounging about a dozen Indians. Some, reclining with their backs against the pillars supporting the roof, with their eyes half closed, were smoking their stone pipes. Some were lying half asleep upon the clay floor, with their feet within a few inches of the fire; and others were keeping up a sleepy song.

"At a short distance from the fire, half a dozen squaws were pounding corn, in large mortars, and chattering vociferously at the same time. In the farther part of the building, about a dozen naked children, with faces almost hid by their bushy, tangled hair, were rolling and wrestling upon the floor, occasionally causing the lodge to echo to their childish glee. In the back ground, we could perceive some half dozen shaggy, thievish-looking wolf dogs, skulking among the hides and bundles, in search of food, and gliding about with the air of dogs, who knew that they had no business there." (Op. cit., pp. 96-99.) Such was a domestic scene within a Pawnee lodge.

A very clear and concise description of the interior arrangement and fittings of an earth lodge, one standing in the village of the Grand Pawnee during the autumn of 1835, has been preserved in Dunbar's journal. On October 22, after referring to the construction of the lodge itself, he wrote: "Within these buildings the earth is beat down hard, and forms the floor. In the center a circular place is dug about 8 inches deep, and 3 feet in diameter. This is the fireplace. The earth that is taken from this place is spatted down around it, and forms the hearth. Near the fireplace a stake is firmly fixed in the earth in an inclined position, and serves all the purposes of a crane. Mats made of rushes are spread down round the fire on which they sit. Back next the walls are the sleeping apartments. A frame work is raised about two feet from the floor, on this are placed small rods, interwoven with slips of elm bark. On these rods a rush mat is spread. At proper distances partitions are set[162] up, composed of small willow rods interwoven with slips of bark. In front of these apartments, either a partition of willow rods is erected, or rush mats are hung up as curtains. But this is not always the case. In some lodges the simple platform alone is to be seen, without either partitions, or curtains. In others there is not even the platform, and the inmates sleep on the ground.

"In these lodges several families frequently live together. I believe there are as many as three different families in the lodge where I stop. Each family has its particular portion of the dwelling, and the furniture of each is kept separate." (Dunbar, (2), p. 600.) Comparing the two preceding accounts it is easy to visualize the interior of Pawnee earth lodges as they were nearly a century ago.

The preceding references to the women of the villages going early in the morning to their fields of corn recall a note in Fremont's journal a few years later. He wrote when returning from the mountains, on September 22, 1842, "We arrived at the village of the Grand Pawnees, on the right bank of the river [the Platte] about thirty miles above the mouth of the Loup fork. They were gathering in their corn, and we obtained from them a very welcome supply of vegetables." (Fremont, (1), p. 78.)

The villages described in the accounts already quoted were the permanent settlements of the tribe, groups of earth-covered lodges quite similar to those erected by other tribes in the Upper Missouri Valley. Fortunately several remarkable photographs of the villages and of the separate structures are in existence, having been made by W. H. Jackson in 1871. The most valuable of the early pictures is reproduced as plate 49. And here it may be remarked that this is a different photograph from the one which was presented as plate 12 in Bulletin 69 of this bureau's publications, and although both were made at the same time, nevertheless they differ in minor details. It is therefore of interest to know two negatives were made at that time. This was the village of the Republican Pawnee. In plate 50 are two of the large earth-covered lodges, showing the tunnel-like entrances, and with many persons sitting on the tops of the structures. The entrance is more clearly shown in plate 51, where a brush mat protects the side. This may be part of a small inclosure.


TRADER CROSSING THE PRAIRIES Page of Kurz's Sketchbook, August 28, 1851
TRADER CROSSING THE PRAIRIES Page of Kurz's Sketchbook, August 28, 1851






a. Children at lodge entrance
a. Children at lodge entrance
b. Showing screen near same entrance IN A PAWNEE VILLAGE Photographs by W. H. Jackson, 1871
b. Showing screen near same entrance
IN A PAWNEE VILLAGE Photographs by W. H. Jackson, 1871

In addition to the permanent earth-covered lodges the Pawnee made extensive use of temporary skin-covered shelters, unlike the conical lodge of the plains tribes. These served as their habitations during the hunting season, when away from their villages. A most valuable and interesting description of the ways and customs of the Pawnee while occupying their movable villages was prepared by one who, during the summer and autumn of 1835, lived among the people,[163] sharing their primitive ways of life and thereby learning many of their peculiar traits. The English traveler, Charles A. Murray, whose narrative is quoted in part on the following pages, left Fort Leavenworth July 7, 1835, and two weeks later reached the summer camp of the Pawnee: "and a more interesting or picturesque scene I never beheld. Upon an extensive prairie gently sloping down to a creek, the winding course of which marked a broken line of wood here and there interspersed with a fine clump of trees, were about five thousand savages, inclusive of women and children; some were sitting under their buffalo-skin lodges lazily smoking their pipes; while the women were stooping over their fires busily employed in preparing meat and maize for these indolent lords of the creation. Far as the eye could reach, were scattered herds of horses, watched (or as we should say in Scotland, 'tented') by urchins, whose whole dress and equipment was the slight bow and arrow, with which they exercised their infant archery upon the heads of the taller flowers, or upon the luckless blackbird perched near them. Here and there might be seen some gay young warrior ambling along the heights, his painted form partially exposed to view as his bright scarlet blanket waved in the breeze." (Murray, (1), I, pp. 277-278.) Later he described the manner of moving and pitching their large temporary camps: "On reaching the camping-place, which is selected by the grand chief (or, in his absence, by the next in rank), the senior squaw chooses the spot most agreeable to her fancy, and orders the younger women and children, who lead the pack-horses and mules (generally from five to ten in number, according to the size or wealth of the family), to halt; but in making this choice of ground, she is restricted within certain limits, and those of no great extent, as the Pawnees observe great regularity both in their line of march and encampment. I could not ascertain whether these regulations were invariable, or made at the pleasure of the chief; but I believe the latter; and that on leaving their winter, or stationary, villages, he issues the general orders on this subject, which are observed during the season or the expedition; at any rate, they never varied during my stay among them.

"They move in three parallel bodies; the left wing consisting of part of the Grand Pawnees and the Tapages; the centre of the remaining Grand Pawnees; and the right of the Republicans.... All these bodies move in 'Indian file,' though of course in the mingled mass of men, women, children, and pack-horses, it was not very regularly observed; nevertheless, on arriving at the halting-place, the party to which I belonged invariably camped at the eastern extremity of the village, the great chief in the centre, and the Républiques on the western side; and this arrangement was kept so[164] well, that, after I had been a few days with them, I could generally find our lodge in a new encampment with very little trouble, although the village consisted of about six hundred of them, all nearly similar in appearance.

"They first unpack and unsaddle the horses, which are given to a boy to drive off to their grass and water; they then arrange all their bales, saddles, &c. in a semi-circular form, and pile them from two to three feet high. Around the exterior of these they drive into the ground eight or ten curved willow rods, from two to three feet distant from each other, but all firmly bound by leather thongs to four large upright poles, that form the front of the lodge, and along which run transverse willow rods, to which the extremities of the curved ones are fastened. When the frame, or skeleton, is thus finished, they stretch the cover (made of buffalo hides, sewed together) tight over the whole, leaving an aperture for entrance and egress in the centre of the front; and in fine weather, the whole front open.

"This is an accurate description of a Pawnee summer-lodge; but, of course, the dimensions vary according to the number and wealth of the families residing therein; in some tents I have observed the front consisting of six or eight upright poles, to which were fixed more skins, for additional shelter or shade. On the grass, in the interior, are spread mats, made by the squaws from reeds, and skins of buffalo or bear.

"From the foregoing it will be easily understood that the bales of cloth, maize, skins, and whatever other property they possess, form the back of the tent. Each occupant, from the chief to the lowest in rank, has his assigned place; sleeps upon his own blanket, or buffalo robe; has his bow and quiver suspended over his head; his saddle, bridle, and laryettes, &c. behind his back: and thus little confusion prevails, although each individual has only just room to sit or lie at full length.

"Before the tent a kind of shield is raised, upon three poles pyramidically placed, on which is the device of the chief, by which his tent is to be recognised.... In the interior of the tent, and generally about the centre of its concave, is suspended the 'medicine,' which is most carefully and religiously preserved.... Under the head of 'medicine,' the Indians comprise not only its own healing department, but everything connected with religion of superstition; all omens, all relics, and everything extraordinary or supernatural." (Murray (1), I, pp. 282-286.)

Late in the year 1835 Murray left the Pawnee encampment to return to Fort Leavenworth, but, meeting with an accident, was not able to proceed on his way. The Pawnee were likewise moving, and in moving over the prairie made a well-defined trail. Retracing his[165] way, and seeking the Pawnee, he wrote: "About ten o'clock on the following day we found the great Pawnee trail, and, following it, came at mid-day to the place where they had camped the night before, and a most hideous spectacle did it present; the grass was all trodden into mud—hundreds of circular heaps of charred wood attested the number of fires that had been used; and the whole plain was strewed with split heads, bare skeletons, and scattered entrails of buffalo; while some hundreds of the half-starved Pawnee dogs who had lingered behind the village were endeavoring to dispute some morsels of the carcasses with the gaunt snarling wolves, who were stripping the scanty relics of skin and sinew which are left by Indian butchery attached to the bone." (Op. cit., p. 438.) This vivid description of the appearance of an abandoned camp site quite agrees with a reference made by Dr. Grinnell a few years ago. Writing of events during the year 1853, and alluding to an abandoned camp of the Pawnee that year discovered by the Cheyenne, he said: "It was a big camp; and there were many fires. It seemed as if the Pawnees had been camped there killing buffalo for a long time. There were still many dogs in the camp. On one side was a well-beaten trail which led to another camp two hundred yards off where a number of people had been camped, not in lodges but in shelters made of willows bent over, after the fashion of a sweat-house." (Grinnell, (2), p. 86.)

These temporary and easily erected structures of the Pawnee were probably quite similar in form and appearance to that of the Cheyenne, part of which is shown in plate 14. But in the latter instance the cover is not formed of the primitive buffalo skin, but of canvas, or some other material obtained from the trader.

The Pawnee had a strange method of dealing with their sick or wounded during the movement of a village from place to place, and, so wrote Father De Smet, "if, in the long journeys which they undertake in search of game, any should be impeded, either by age or sickness, their children or relations make a small hut of dried grass to shelter them from the heat of the sun or from the weather, leaving as much provision as they are able to spare, and thus abandon them to their destiny.... If, some days after, they are successful in the chase, they return as quickly as possible to render assistance and consolation. These practices are common to all the nomadic tribes of the mountains." (De Smet, (2), pp. 356-357.) It is more than probable that similar grass shelters were constructed and used by small parties when away from the villages, but such structures would necessarily have been of only temporary use.

In addition to the semicircular skin-covered lodge mentioned by Murray, the Pawnee evidently made use of the conical tipi. This was described by Dunbar when he wrote: "Their movable dwellings[166] consist of from 12 to 20 poles (the number varying with the size) about 16 feet long, and a covering. Three of these poles are tied together near the top and set up. The string, with which these poles are tied together, is so long that one end of it reaches to the ground, when the poles are set up. The other poles are now successively set up save one, the top of each leaning against the three, first set up, and forming with them a circle. The string is then wound round them all at the top several times and fastened. The cover is tied to the top of the remaining pole by which it is raised up, then is spread round them all and tied together on the opposite side, where is the entrance formed by leaving the cover untied about three feet from the ground. Over the entrance the skin of a bear or some other animal is suspended. The tents are always set up with their entrances toward the east. At the top the smoke passes out among the poles, a place being left for that purpose. The fire place, crane and hearth are similar to those in their fixed habitations. The furniture is placed back next the cover. Rush mats are then spread down forming a sort of floor. On these they sit, eat and sleep. The large tents are about 18 feet in diameter at the base. The tent covers are made of buffalo skins, scraped so thin as to transmit light, and sewed together. These when new are quite white, and a village of them presents a beautiful appearance. Some of them are painted according to Pawnee fancy. They carry their tent poles with them during their whole journey. From three to six of them, as the case may be, are tied together at the larger end, and made fast to the saddle, an equal number on each side, the other end drags on the ground." (Dunbar, (2), pp. 602-603.)

From these various records it will be understood the Pawnee made use of several forms of temporary and comparatively easily transported and erected structures when away from their permanent villages of earth-covered lodges. And what is true of the Pawnee would probably apply to other tribes of the upper Missouri Valley.

The Pawnee, as did other tribes of the region, made long journeys away from their villages in quest of the buffalo, and an interesting account of their annual hunts, as conducted about the year 1835, has been preserved. Then it was told how "The Pawnees make two hunts each year, the summer and winter hunt. To perform the winter hunt they leave their villages usually in the last week of October, and do not return to them again till about the first of April. They now prepare their cornfields for the ensuing season. The ground is dug up with the hoe, the corn is planted and well tended. When it has attained to a certain height they leave it, and go out to their summer hunt. This is done near the last of June. About the first of September they return to their villages. Formerly the buffalo came[167] down to and far below their villages. Now they are obliged to travel out from ten to twenty days to reach them. The buffalo are rapidly diminishing and will in time become extinct.

"When they leave their villages to hunt the buffalo, they take every man and beast with them, and the place of their habitations is as desolate and solitary during their absence as any other spot on the prairie. When the time of departure arrives all the furniture and provisions they wish to carry with them are packed on the horses. The residue of their scant furniture and provisions are concealed in the earth till their return. As each family gets ready they fall into the train, which frequently extends some miles." (Dunbar, (1), pp. 329-330.) The narrative continues and relates many of the mannerisms of the people, and tells of their peculiar traits. And it is difficult to realize the great distance traveled during the hunting trips away from the permanent earth-lodge villages. Dunbar accompanied them on several of their hunts and wrote (Op. cit., p. 331): "The first hunting tour I performed with them they traveled, from the time they left their village till they returned to it again in the spring, about 400 miles. During the first summer hunt I was with them they traveled 700 miles before returning to their village. During my second winter hunt they traveled 900 miles, second summer hunt 800 miles."

The moving about over the vast rolling prairies of the people of an entire village, while on their distant hunts, covering many hundreds of miles, and carrying with them practically all of their belongings, with innumerable dogs and horses, stopping now to kill the buffalo and again pushing on in quest of more, constituted one of the most interesting and characteristic phases of primitive life on the prairies. But within a few decades all has changed, and now many towns and villages occupy the region once traversed by the roving bands.


When or where the Arikara separated from their kindred tribe, the Pawnee, may never be determined, but during the years which followed the separation they continued moving northward, leaving ruined villages to mark the line of their migration. Sixty years ago it was said: "That they migrated upward, along the Missouri, from their friends below is established by the remains of their dirt villages, which are yet seen along that river, though at this time mostly overgrown with grass. At what time they separated from the parent stock is not now correctly known, though some of their locations appear to have been of very ancient date, at least previous to the commencement of the fur trade on the Upper Missouri. At the time when the old French and Spanish traders began their dealings with[168] the Indians of the Upper Missouri, the Arikara village was situated a little above the mouth of Grand River, since which time they have made several removals and are now located at Fort Clark, the former village of the Mandans." (Hayden, (1), pp. 351-352.)

The beginning of the last century found the Arikara living in three villages, all on the right bank of the Missouri. In the journal of the French trader Le Raye are brief references to the villages, together with some notes on the manners and customs of the inhabitants. April 22, 1802, he wrote: "The Ricaras or Rus have three villages, situated on the south bank of the Missouri, in the great bend of the river. The lower village is on a large bottom covered with cotton wood, and contains about fifty huts." He then describes the manner in which the earth-covered lodges were built and refers to the structures being "placed with great regularity," a statement which does not seem to have been borne out by later writers. Continuing, he said: "The town is picketed with pickets twelve feet high and set very close, to prevent firing between them. There is one gate way, which is shut at night." On May 27, 1802, he left the lower village, "crossed Missouri, and arrived the same evening at the upper village. This village is situated on an Island in the Missouri, and is fortified in the same manner as the lower village, containing about sixty huts.... The next morning we proceeded, and soon left the Missouri, travelling a northwest course, in a well beaten path." (Le Raye, (1), pp. 171-180.)

Although the preceding notes may not be very accurate, nevertheless they are of interest on account of the period they cover, just before the transfer of Louisiana to the United States, and two years before the most important expedition ascended the Missouri.

To trace the sites of early Arikara villages as mentioned by Lewis and Clark, and as seen by them when the expedition under their command passed up the Missouri during the early autumn of 1804, is most interesting. On September 29 of that year they reached the mouth of a small creek which entered the Missouri from the south, "which we called Notimber creek from its bare appearance. Above the mouth of this stream, a Ricara band of Pawnees had a village five years ago: but there are no remains of it except the mound which encircled the town." This would have been in the present Stanley County, South Dakota. Two days later, on October 1, they "passed a large island in the middle of the river, opposite the lower end of which the Ricaras once had a village on the south side of the river: there are, however, no remnants of it now, except a circular wall three or four feet in height, which encompassed the town." Two miles beyond was the mouth of the Cheyenne River.


a. Arikara carrying basket. (U.S.N.M. 8430)
a. Arikara carrying basket. (U.S.N.M. 8430)
b. Wooden mortar. "Witchata Inds. Dr. E. Palmer." Height of body 13½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 6899)
b. Wooden mortar. "Witchata Inds. Dr. E. Palmer." Height of body 13½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 6899)



[169]On the third day after passing the mouth of the Cheyenne they reached "Teal creek," and "A little above this is an island on the north side of the current, about one and a half mile in length and three quarters of a mile in breadth. In the centre of this island is an old village of the Ricaras, called Lahoocat; it was surrounded by a circular wall, containing seventeen lodges. The Ricaras are known to have lived there in 1797, and the village seems to have been deserted about five years since: it does not contain much timber."

On October 6, two days' travel beyond Teal Creek, and at a distance of about 32 miles above it, "We halted for dinner at a village which we suppose to have belonged to the Ricaras: it is situated in a low plain on the river, and consists of about eighty lodges, of an octagonal form, neatly covered with earth, and placed as close to each other as possible, and picketed round. The skin canoes, mats, buckets, and articles of furniture found in the lodges, induce us to suppose that it had been left in the spring. We found three different sorts of squashes growing in the village; we also killed an elk near it, and saw two wolves." On the following day, after advancing about 4 or 5 miles, they encountered "another village or wintering camp of the Ricaras, composed of about sixty lodges, built in the same form as those passed yesterday, with willow and straw mats, baskets, buffalo-skin canoes, remaining entire in the camp."

The baskets may have included many similar to two rare examples now in the National Museum, Washington, one of which is shown in plate 52, a (U.S.N.M. 8430).

On October 9, 1804, after passing the mouth of the river called by them the Wetawhoo or Wetarko, soon to be known as Grand River, which flows into the Missouri from the west in the present Corson County, South Dakota, the expedition stopped and held a council with the Indians. There they remained until October 11, when "At one o'clock we left our camp with the grand chief and his nephew on board, and at about two miles anchored below a creek on the south, separating the second and third village of the Ricaras, which are about half a mile distant from each other.... These two villages are placed near each other in a high smooth prairie; a fine situation, except that having no wood the inhabitants are obliged to go for it across the river to a timbered lowland opposite to them."

The expedition left the Arikara during the afternoon of October 12, and on that date in the narrative appears an interesting account of the then recent migrations of the tribe: "They were originally colonies of Pawnees, who established themselves on the Missouri, below Chayenne, where the traders still remember that twenty years ago they occupied a number of villages. From that situation a part[170] of the Ricaras emigrated to the neighborhood of the Mandans, with whom they were then in alliance. The rest of the nation continued near the Chayenne till the year 1797, in the course of which, distressed by their wars with the Sioux, they joined their countrymen near the Mandans. Soon after a new war arose between the Ricaras and the Mandans, in consequence of which the former came down the river to their present position. In this migration those who had first gone to the Mandans kept together, and now live in the two lower villages, which may be considered as the Ricaras proper. The third village was composed of such remnants of the villages as had survived the wars, and as these were nine in number a difference of pronunciation and some difference of language may be observed between them and the Ricaras proper, who do not understand all the words of these wanderers. The villages are within the distance of four miles of each other, the two lower ones consist of between one hundred and fifty and two hundred men each, the third of three hundred." (Lewis and Clark, (1), I, pp. 92-104.) Following this, on page 106, is a brief description of the earth-covered lodges of the Arikara, which were of "a circular or octagonal form, and generally about thirty or forty feet in diameter," but a rather better description was prepared by one of the members of the expedition, Patrick Gass, who wrote on October 10: "This day I went with some of the men to the lodges, about 60 in number. The following is a description of the form of these lodges and the manner of building them.

"In a circle of a size suited to the dimensions of the intended lodge they set up 16 forked posts five or six feet high, and lay poles from one fork to another. Against these poles they lean other poles, slanting from the ground, and extending about four inches above the cross poles; these are to receive the ends of the upper poles that support the roof. They next set up four large forks, fifteen feet high, and about ten feet apart, in the middle of the area; and poles or beams between these. The roof poles are then laid on extending from the lower poles across the beams which rest on the middle forks, of such a length as to leave a hole at the top for a chimney. The whole is then covered with willow branches, except the chimney and a hole below to pass through. On the willow branches they lay grass and lastly clay. At the hole below they build a pen about four feet wide and projecting ten feet from the hut; and hang a buffalo skin at the entrance of the hut for a door. This labour like every other kind is chiefly performed by the squaws. They raise corn, beans and tobacco." (Gass, (1), p. 52.) And five days later Gass entered in his journal: "At 7 we saw a hunting party of the Rickarees, on their way down to the villages. They had 12[171] buffalo-skin canoes or boats laden with meat and skins; beside some horses that were going down the bank by land. They gave us a part of their meat. The party consisted of men, women, and children." (Op. cit., p. 54.)

Two years later, on the return of the expedition, they again passed the villages of the Arikara, arriving opposite the upper village August 21, 1806, at which time there was an exchange of salutes of four guns each.

In 1812 Cutler wrote regarding the Arikara: "They live in fortified villages, claim no land, except that on which their villages stand, and the fields they improve." (Cutler, (1), p. 125.)

It is quite evident, from the preceding references as well as from the observations of later travelers, that the Arikara villages were usually, if not always, surrounded by palisades. But to have surrounded the area occupied by the lodges by stout posts placed close together would have required some time and, with the primitive implements and methods of collecting the necessary number of timbers, would have been a laborious undertaking. However, they appear to have had another way of protecting their towns. This was told by a French trader who was at the Arikara village in 1795. During the early part of June of that year several Indians arrived among the Arikara and told that three Sioux villages "had assembled and formed an army of five hundred warriors, intending to attack the village of the Ricaras." Fearing this attack, the narrative continues: "The Ricaras have fortified their village by placing palisades five feet high which they have reinforced with earth. The fort is constructed in the following manner: All around their village they drive into the ground heavy forked stakes, standing from four to five feet high and from fifteen to twenty feet apart. Upon these are placed cross-pieces as thick as one's thigh; next they place poles of willow or cottonwood, as thick as one's leg, resting on the cross-pieces and very close together. Against these poles which are five feet high they pile fascines of brush which they cover with an embankment of earth two feet thick; in this way, the height of the poles would prevent the scaling of the fort by the enemy, while the well-packed earth protects those within from their balls and arrows." (Trudeau, (1), pp. 454-455.) Undoubtedly many embankments found east of the Mississippi owe their origin to this method of protecting the villages which they once surrounded.

The most interesting and comprehensible accounts of the Arikara villages were prepared during the month of June, 1811. Two travelers that spring ascended the Missouri with rival parties of traders, but they were acquainted and again met on the upper Missouri on June 3. Brackenridge arrived at the village on June 12, and wrote:

[172]"The village appeared to occupy about three quarters of a mile along the river bank, on a level plain, the country behind it rising into hills of considerable height. There are little or no woods anywhere to be seen. The lodges are of a conical shape, and look like heaps of earth. A great number of horses are seen feeding in the plains around, and on the sides of the hills. I espied a number of squaws, in canoes, descending the river and landing at the village. The interpreter informed me, that they were returning home with wood. These canoes are made of a single buffalo hide, stretched over osiers, and are of a circular form. There was but one woman in each canoe, who kneeled down, and instead of paddling sideways, placed the paddle before; the load is fastened to the canoe.... About two o'clock fourteen of us crossed over, and accompanied the chief to his lodge. Mats were laid around for us to sit on, while he placed himself on a kind of stool or bench. The pipe was handed around, and smoked; after which, the herald, (every chief or great man, has one of them) ascended the top of the lodge and seated himself near an open place, and began to bawl out like one of our town criers; the chief every now and then addressing something to him through the aperture before mentioned. We soon discovered the object of this, by the arrival of the other chiefs, who seemed to drop in, one after the other, as their names were called.

"When all were seated, the pipe was handed to the chief, who began as is usual on solemn occasions, by blowing a whiff upwards as it were to the sky, then to the earth, and after to the east and west, after which the pipe was sent round. A mark of respect in handing the pipe to another, is to hold it until the person has taken several whiffs." (Brackenridge, (1), pp. 245-246.)

Bradbury, who was also present at the gathering on June 12, entered in his journal:

"I quitted the feast, in order to examine the town, which I found to be fortified all round with a ditch, and with pickets or pallisadoes, of about nine feet high. The lodges are placed without any regard to regularity, which renders it difficult to count them, but there appears to be from 150 to 160, and they are constructed in the same manner as those of the Ottoes, with the additional convenience of a railing on the eaves: behind this railing they sit at their ease and smoke. There is scarcely any declivity in the scite of the town, and as little regard is paid to cleanliness, it is very dirty in wet weather." (Bradbury, (1), pp. 114-115.) Later he wrote (pp. 165-166): "I am not acquainted with any customs peculiar to this nation, save that of having a sacred lodge in the centre of the largest village. This is called the Medicine lodge, and in one particular, corresponds with the sanctuary of the Jews, as no blood is on any account whatsoever to be spilled within it, not even that of an enemy; nor is any one,[173] having taken refuge there, to be forced from it. This lodge is also the general place of deposit for such things as they devote to the Father of Life."

On the following day, June 13, 1811, Brackenridge "rambled through the village," which he found "excessively filthy," with innumerable dogs running about. Then he proceeded to describe the habitations: "The lodges are constructed in the following manner: Four large forks of about fifteen feet in height, are placed in the ground, usually about twenty feet from each other, with hewn logs, or beams across; from these beams, other pieces of wood are placed slanting; smaller pieces are placed above, leaving an aperture at the top, to admit the light, and to give vent to the smoke. These upright pieces are interwoven with osiers, after which, the whole is covered with earth, though not sodded. An opening is left at one side, for a door, which is secured by a kind of projection of ten or twelve feet, enclosed on all sides, and forming a narrow entrance, which might be easily defended. A buffalo robe suspended at the entrance, answers as a door. The fire is made in a hole in the ground, directly under the aperture at the top. Their beds elevated a few feet, are placed around the lodge, and enclosed with curtains of dressed elk skins. At the upper end of the lodge, there is a kind of trophy erected; two buffalo heads, fantastically painted, are placed on a little elevation; over them are placed, a variety of consecrated things, such as shields, skins of a rare or valuable kind, and quivers of arrows. The lodges seem placed at random, without any regularity or design, and are so much alike, that it was for some time before I could learn to return to the same one. The village is surrounded by a palisade of cedar poles, but in a very bad state. Around the village, there are little plats enclosed by stakes, intwined with osiers, in which they cultivate maize, tobacco, and beans; but their principal field is at the distance of a mile from the village, to which, such of the females whose duty it is to attend to their culture, go and return morning and evening. Around the village they have buffalo robes stuck up on high poles. I saw one so arranged as to bear a resemblance to the human figure, the hip bone of the buffaloe represented the head, the sockets of the thigh bones looked like eyes." (Op. cit., pp. 247-248.)

On June 14 they walked together to the upper of the two villages, which were separated by a narrow stream. They entered several lodges and were always pleasantly received by the occupants and offered food, which included fresh buffalo meat served in wooden dishes or bowls, and "homony made of corn dried in the milk, mixed with beans, which was prepared with buffalo marrow." This latter, according to Bradbury, was "warmed on the fire in an earthen vessel[174] of their own manufacture." Later, when he returned to the same village, he wrote (p. 158): "I noticed over their fires much larger vessels of earthenware than any I had before seen, and was permitted to examine them. They were sufficiently hardened by the fire to cause them to emit a sonorous tone on being struck, and in all I observed impressions on the outside seemingly made by wicker work. This led me to enquire of them by signs how they were made? when a squaw brought a basket, and taking some clay, she began to spread it very evenly within it, shewing me at the same time that they were made in that way. From the shape of these vessels, they must be under the necessity of burning the basket to disengage them, as they are wider at the bottom than at the top. I must here remark, that at the Great Salt Lick, or Saline, about twenty miles from the mouth of the Wabash, vast quantities of Indian earthenware are found, on which I have observed impressions exactly similar to those here mentioned. From the situation of these heaps of fragments, and their proximity to the salt works, I am decidedly of opinion that the Indians practised the art of evaporating the brine, to make salt, before the discovery of America."

It was the custom of the people of the village to gather in the evenings on the tops of their lodges, there to sit and converse, and "every now and then the attention of all was attracted by some old men who rose up and declaimed aloud, so as to be heard over the whole village." Within the village women were often seen busily engaged in dressing buffalo robes, stretched on frames near the lodges. Men, playing at various games, or sitting in groups smoking and talking; children and dogs innumerable. Such was the appearance of an Arikara village a little more than a century ago.

On the 18th of June Bradbury visited the bluffs southwest of the village and on one discovered 14 buffalo skulls placed in a row, and in describing them said: "The cavities of the eyes and the nostrils were filled with a species of artemisia common on the prairies, which appears to be a non-descript. On my return I caused our interpreter to enquire into the reason for this, and found that it was an honour conferred on the buffaloes which they had killed, in order to appease their spirits, and prevent them from apprising the living buffaloes of the danger they run in approaching the neighbourhood." (Op. cit., p. 125.)

An interesting observation was made at this time by Brackenridge concerning a temporary encampment of a small party of Arikara when away from their permanent, well-protected villages. He said (Op. cit., pp. 254-255): "To avoid surprise, they always encamp at the edge of a wood; and when the party is small, they construct a kind of fortress, with wonderful expedition, of billets of wood, apparently[175] piled up in a careless manner, but so arranged as to be very strong, and are able to withstand an assault from a much superior force." Many such inclosures were discovered and mentioned by the early explorers of the Upper Missouri Valley, and several instances have been cited on the preceding pages when treating of the Siouan tribes.

In 1832 Catlin went up the Missouri, and when he arrived at the Arikara village he made a sketch of the town as it appeared from the deck of the steamboat. The original painting is now in the National Museum, Washington, and is reproduced in plate 53. This was engraved and presented as plate 80 in his narrative. Writing of this sketch he remarked: "Plate 80, gives a view of the Riccaree village, which is beautifully situated on the west bank of the river, 200 miles below the Mandans; and built very much in the same manner; being constituted of 150 earth-covered lodges, which are in part surrounded by an imperfect and open barrier of piquets set firmly in the ground, and of ten or twelve feet in height. This village is built upon an open prairie, and the gracefully undulating hills that rise in distance behind it are everywhere covered with a verdant green turf, without a tree or a bush anywhere to be seen. This view was taken from the deck of the steamer when I was on my way up the river." (Catlin, (1), I, p. 204.) At this time the Arikara were very hostile to all the traders who passed and repassed along the Missouri. They had attacked many canoes and caused the death of their occupants. Fearing the outcome of their actions they soon left the banks of the Missouri and moved westward. One year after Catlin passed the villages Maximilian arrived there while on his way to the far upper waters of the Missouri. On June 12, 1833, Maximilian wrote: "Moreau's River ... is called the southern boundary of the territory of the Arikkaras, though they often make excursions far beyond it.... On the morning of the 12th our cannon, muskets and rifles were loaded with ball, because we were approaching the village of the hostile Arikkaras. We came to Grand River, called in Lewis and Clarke's map Wetarko River. As we here touched the bottom, we crossed to the east bank, and in half an hour reached Rampart River, which issues from a narrow chain of hills, called Les Remparts; and soon afterwards an island covered with willows, which, on the large special map of Lewis and Clarke, has an Arikkara village, of which there are now no traces. From the hills we had a fine prospect over the bend of the river, on which the villages of the Arikkaras are situated, and which we reached after a short run of only two miles. The two villages of this tribe are on the west bank, very near each other, but separated by a small stream. They consist of a great number of clay huts, round at the top, with a square entrance in front,[176] and the whole surrounded with a fence of stakes, which were much decayed, and in many places thrown down. It was not quite a year since these villages had been wholly abandoned, because their inhabitants, who were extremely hostile to the Whites, killed so many Americans, that they themselves foresaw that they would be severely chastised by the United States, and therefore preferred to emigrate. To this cause was added, a dry, unproductive season, when the crops entirely failed; as well as the absence of the herds of buffaloes, which hastened their removal.... The principal chief of the Arikkaras, when they retired from the Missouri, was called Starapat (the little hawk, with bloody claws)." (Maximilian, (1), pp. 166-167.) The Arikara at this time appear to have left the banks of the Missouri and removed to the vicinity of the Pawnee.

Fort Clark, on the upper Missouri, at the villages of the Mandan and Hidatsa, was erected by the American Fur Company during the year 1829.

In 1837 the Mandans suffered from the dreaded smallpox, losing more than 90 per cent of their number, and the few who survived abandoned their large village below Fort Clark and settled a short distance above. And, so wrote Hayden in 1855, "About the time that the Mandans left the lower village, the Arikaras came and took possession, the former readily consenting to this arrangement, because it placed a large body of strangers between them and the Dakotas, with whom, in their now feeble state, they were unable to contend." (Hayden, (1), p. 434.)

A brief description of the Arikara village as it appeared early in June, 1850, is to be found in Culbertson's journal. On the 12th of that month the steamboat, ascending the Missouri, reached Fort Clark, "a small fort, about one hundred feet in length on each side." Just above the fort was the village of the Arikara. "The village is composed of two hundred lodges, as near as I could learn from the interpreter, and is built upon the top of a bluff bank rising about seventy-five feet perpendicular from the water. The huts are placed very irregularly, sometimes with very narrow, and sometimes with quite broad spaces between them. A number of platforms of poles, as high as the lodges themselves, are interspersed among them for the convenience of drying meat and dressing robes. I noticed a number of squaws busily employed in dressing robes." (Culbertson, (1), p. 117.) The typical earth lodge is described, one similar to those mentioned on other pages of this sketch, but his account of the interior of a habitation is most interesting. He, with others, stopped at a large lodge, when, so he wrote: "We were conducted to the place of honor, opposite to and facing the door. To our right, along the wall, were arranged several bedsteads, rudely made, while to the[177] left, a part was cut off by a couple of poles, for the accommodation of the horses; the chickens had a coop in one corner, but roam at large on most occasions, and the centre is used for a fireplace. The lodge was clean, airy, light and comfortable, and there was plenty of room for more than those, who I suppose, inhabit it. Behind us were hung bows with spears on the ends, and two rude instruments of music, made of a number of pumpkins.... Near the fireplace a small wooden mortar was sunk in the ground, for pounding corn. The large and high room appeared rather scarce of furniture." Many burials were encountered when passing between the village and Fort Clark, and there "were little patches of corn and pumpkins, generally enclosed by a slight bush fence," these probably being the gardens belonging to the people of the near-by town. The mortar, "sunk in the ground," as mentioned by Culbertson, was evidently similar to the example shown in plate 52, b, a form which was indicated by Bodmer in his sketch of the interior of a Mandan lodge, plate 40.

It will be recalled that the village mentioned in the preceding notes was the home of the Mandan during the memorable winter of 1804-05, when the expedition of Lewis and Clark encamped a few miles below, and there the Mandan continued to dwell until after the epidemic of 1837.

In later years the three tribes, Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan, were closely associated, living in the vicinity of Fort Berthold, on the left bank of the Missouri and about 60 miles above Fort Clark, the Arikara having arrived at Fort Berthold, during the month of August, 1862. Evidently their ways of life and customs were quite similar, and Matthews, in his work on the Hidatsa in particular, but in which he treats of the three tribes in general, said: "For cleaning the village-grounds, they had rakes made of a few osiers tied together, the ends curved and spreading. Their most important agricultural implement was the hoe. Before they obtained iron utensils of the white traders, their only hoes were made of the shoulder-blades of elk or buffalo, attached to wooden handles of suitable length ... as late as 1867, I saw a great number in use at Fort Berthold, and purchased two or three, one of which was sent to Washington, and, I presume, is now on exhibition in the museum of the Smithsonian Institution." (Matthews, (1), p. 19.) Several rakes of this description are in the collection of the National Museum, Washington. One, bearing the legend "Arickaree," which was obtained at Fort Berthold, is shown in plate 54, a (U.S.N.M. 6353). It measures 4 feet 10 inches in length and is formed of six pieces bound together. It is also of great interest to know that the hoe which was sent by Dr. Matthews to the museum is perfectly preserved. It is here reproduced[178] in plate 54, b (U.S.N.M. 6326). Written on it is this legend: "Ree Indians. Ft Berthold Dacotah Ter. Drs Gray and Matthews." The length of the scapula, that of a buffalo, is about 14 inches. Both handle and blade are worn smooth from use. The specimen is one of much importance.

It will be recalled that Bradbury in 1811 referred to the "medicine lodge," then standing in the center of the large Arikara village. Matthews, more than 60 years later, mentioned a similar structure then standing at the village near Fort Berthold, and said concerning it: "The medicine-lodge of the Arickarees is larger than that of the Mandans, and is used for a greater variety of ceremonies. Some of these performances, consisting of ingenious tricks of jugglery and dances, representative of various hunts, we might be inclined to call theatrical rather than religious. Probably these Indians consider them both worshipful and entertaining. It is often hard to tell how much of a religious ceremony is intended to propitiate the unknown powers, and how much to please the spectators." (Matthews, (1), p. 10.)

From the various quotations given on the preceding pages it is possible to form a good idea of the appearance of an ancient Arikara village. A large number of earth-covered lodges, of varying sizes, were placed without order but rather close together, often with a "medicine lodge" in the center of the group. All were surrounded by a palisade, often reared in connection with a ditch and embankment. The village at Fort Berthold was thus protected until the winter of 1865, at which time the stockade was cut down and used as fuel, and it was never replaced.

As late as 1872 there were 43 earth-covered lodges standing at the Arikara village near Fort Berthold, together with 28 log cabins.


a. Rake marked "Arickaree." Collected at Fort Berthold. Length 4 feet 10 inches.  (U.S.N.M. 6353)
a. Rake marked "Arickaree." Collected at Fort Berthold. Length 4 feet 10 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6353)
b. Agricultural implement formed of a scapula of a buffalo attached to a wooden handle. Marked "Ree Indians. Ft. Berthold, Dacotah Ter. Drs. Gray and Matthews." Length of scapula about 14 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6326)
b. Agricultural implement formed of a scapula of a buffalo attached to a wooden handle. Marked "Ree Indians. Ft. Berthold, Dacotah Ter. Drs. Gray and Matthews." Length of scapula about 14 inches. (U.S.N.M. 6326)
c. Parfleche box. "Crows, Montana Ter. J. I. Allen." Length 28 inches, width 13½ inches.  (U.S.N.M. 130574)
c. Parfleche box. "Crows, Montana Ter. J. I. Allen." Length 28 inches, width 13½ inches. (U.S.N.M. 130574)


a. Grass-covered structures near Anadarko
a. Grass-covered structures near Anadarko
b. Grass-covered lodge, about 1880 WICHITA HABITATIONS
b. Grass-covered lodge, about 1880 WICHITA HABITATIONS

In addition to the earth-covered lodges found in the permanent villages, they had skin tents which were occupied when away from their towns on war or hunting expeditions. Like the great majority of the native tribes, the Arikara would move about during certain seasons of the year. Hayden, writing about the year 1855, referred to this custom: "At the commencement of the winter the Arikaras leave their village in quest of buffalo, which seldom approach near enough to be killed in the vicinity of their cabins. They then encamp in skin tents, in various directions from the Missouri or along its banks, wherever the buffalo may chance to range. They pass the winter in hunting, and return to their permanent village early in the spring, bringing with them their skins in an unprepared state, with a great supply of meat." (Hayden, (1), p. 354.) Such were the hunting parties often met by the traders and explorers, as that mentioned by Sergeant Gass on October 15, 1804. That they were[179] skilled agriculturists is attested by a note referring to the time they were still living in the old Mandan village below Fort Clark, October 11, 1853. In the journal of a party at that time descending the Missouri from Fort Benton to St. Louis appears this entry:

"Arrived at Fort Clark, or Aricaree's village. It is situated on the top of a very high bluff on the bank of the river.... The Rees are not friendly to the whites, and are kept from open hostilities only by fear. They are a large tribe, and on the fertile meadows they occupy, raise a great amount of corn and pumpkins, which they exchange with the Crows and Dacotahs for dried buffalo meat and robes. They exported five thousand bushels of excellent corn this year...." (Saxton, (1), p. 265.) And it must be remembered that the principal implement was the primitive hoe, formed of a scapula of a buffalo attached to a wooden handle.


Like the other members of this linguistic family, whose villages have already been described, the Wichita had two forms of dwellings, which they occupied under different conditions. One served as the structure in their permanent villages, the other being of a more temporary nature. But, instead of the earth-covered lodges used farther north, their fixed villages were composed of groups of high circular structures, entirely thatched from bottom to top. Their movable camps, when away from home on war or hunting expeditions, consisted of the skin-covered tents of the plains.

The peculiar thatched structures were first seen and described by Europeans in the year 1541, when Coronado crossed the vast rolling prairies and reached the Quivira (the Wichita) about the northeastern part of the present State of Kansas. Here extensive village sites, with innumerable traces of occupancy, undoubtedly indicate the positions of the ancient settlements.

In the narrative of the expedition led by Coronado, prepared by one of the Spanish officers, Juan Jaramillo, appears an interesting though very brief description of the thatched dwellings of the people of Quivira:

"The houses which these Indians have were of straw, and most of them round, and the straw reached down to the ground like a wall, so that they did not have the symmetry or the style of these here [referring to pueblos]; they have something like a chapel or sentry box outside and around these, with an entry, where the Indians appear seated or reclining." (Winship, (1), p. 591.) Castañeda, writing of the same villages, said: "The houses are round, without a wall, and they have one story like a loft, under the roof, where they sleep and keep their belongings. The roofs are of straw."[180] (Winship, (1), pp. 528-529.) This evidently referred to structures similar to that shown on the right of the lodge in plate 55, a.

A photograph of a large Wichita dwelling, of the form mentioned, is reproduced in plate 55, b. The picture was probably made about the year 1880. The door in front is open, and there appears to be another on the extreme left, which would be 90° from the former; therefore there were evidently four entrances. This is explained in the following account of the construction and arrangement of such a dwelling:

"Its construction was begun by drawing a circle on the ground, and on the outline setting a number of crotched posts, in which beams were laid. Against these, poles were set very closely in a row so as to lean inward; these in turn were laced with willow rods and their tops brought together and securely-fastened so as to form a peak. Over this frame a heavy thatch of grass was laid and bound down by slender rods, and at each point where the rods joined an ornamental tuft of grass was tied. Two poles, laid at right angles, jutting out in four projecting points, were fastened to the apex of the roof, and over the center, where they crossed, rose a spire, 2 ft. high or more, made of bunches of grass. Four doors, opening to each point of the compass, were formerly made, but now, except when the house is to be used for ceremonial purposes, only two are provided, one on the east to serve for the morning, and one on the west to go in and out of when the sun is in that quarter. The fireplace was a circular excavation in the center of the floor, and the smoke found egress through a hole left high up in the roof toward the E. The four projecting beams at the peak pointed toward and were symbolic of the four points of the compass, where were the paths down which the powers descended to help man. The spire typified the abode in the zenith of the mysterious permeating force that animates all nature. The fireplace was accounted sacred; it was never treated lightly even in the daily life of the family. The couches of the occupants were placed against the wall. They consisted of a framework on which was fitted a woven covering of reeds. Upon this robes or rush mats were spread. The grass house is a comely structure. Skill is required to build it, and it has an attractive appearance both within and without." (Fletcher, (1).)

An interesting photograph made some 30 or 40 years ago, near Anadarko, Caddo County, Oklahoma, is reproduced in plate 55, a. This shows a grass lodge of the usual form, and to the right of it appears to be an arbor or shelter, having a thatched roof but open on the sides. This second structure may be of the form which was seen by the Spaniards nearly four centuries ago, a place "where the[181] Indians appear seated or reclining." It undoubtedly served as a gathering place, out of doors, and gave protection from the rays of the sun.


On August 23, 1853, the expedition under command of Lieut. A. W. Whipple camped at some point in the southwestern portion of the present McClain County, Oklahoma, and that evening were visited by two Indians, "the one tall and straight, the other ill-looking. Their dress consisted of a blue cotton blanket wrapped around the waist, a head-dress of eagles' feathers, brass wire bracelets, and moccasins. The outer cartilages of their ears were cut through in various places, and short sticks inserted in place of rings. They were painted with vermilion, and carried bows of bois d'arc three feet long, and cow-skin quivers filled with arrows. The latter were about twenty-six inches in length, with very sharp steel heads, tastefully and skillfully made. The feathers with which they were tipped, and the sinews which bound them, were prettily tinted with red, blue, and green. The shafts were colored red, and said to be poisoned." (Whipple, (1), p. 22.) Unable to converse with the two strangers, the interpreter proceeded to interview them by signs. "The graceful motions of the hands seemed to convey ideas faster than words could have done, and with the whole operation we were highly amused and interested. Our visitors now said that they were not Kichais, but Huécos, and that they were upon a hunting expedition." Referring to the same two Indians another member of the expedition wrote:

"The newcomers belonged to the tribe of Wakos, or Waekos, neighbours of the Witchita Indians, who live to the east of the Witchita Mountains, in a village situated on the bank of a small river rising in that direction. They were now on a journey to the Canadian, to meet a barter-trader there, but having heard of our expedition, had turned out of their way to pay us a visit. The Wakos and Witchitas differ only in name, and in some slight varieties of dialect; their villages are built in the same style, and are only about a thousand yards from one another. Their wigwams, of which the Witchitas count forty-two, and the Wakos only twenty, look a good deal like haycocks, and are constructed with pliable poles, eighteen or twenty feet long, driven into the ground in a circle of twenty-five feet diameter; the poles are then bent together and fastened to one another at the top, and the spaces between filled with plaited willow twigs and turf, a low aperture being left for a door, and one above for a chimney. A place is hollowed out in the centre for a fireplace, and around this, and a little raised, are placed the beds of the inhabitants of the hut; which, when covered[182] with good buffalo skins, make tolerable resting-places. Each of these wigwams is generally occupied by two families; and the Wako tribe is reckoned at about two hundred, that of the Witchitas at not less than eight hundred members. These Indians practise agriculture; and beans, peas, maize, gourds, and melons are seen prospering very well round their villages." (Möllhausen, (1), I, pp. 115-116.)


The "Caddo proper," or Cenis as they were called by Joutel, early occupied the southwestern part of the present State of Arkansas, the Red River Valley, and adjacent region to the south and west.

La Salle was murdered near the banks of the Trinity, in eastern Texas, March 20, 1687. Joutel and several others of the party pushed on, and nine days later, when traversing the valley of the Red River, arrived at a village of the Cenis. Fortunately a very good account of the people and their homes is preserved in Joutel's narrative, and from it the following quotations are made:

"The Indian that was with us conducted us to their Chief's Cottage. By the Way, we saw many other Cottages, and the Elders coming to meet us in their Formalities, which consisted in some Goat Skins dress'd and painted of several Colours, which they wore on their Shoulders like Belts, and Plumes of Feathers of several Colours, on their Heads, like Coronets.... All their Faces were daub'd with black or red. There were twelve Elders, who walk'd in the Middle, and the Youth and Warriors in Ranks, on the Sides of those old Men." After remaining a short time with the chief "They led us to a larger Cottage, a Quarter of a League from thence, being the Hut in which they have their public Rejoycings, and the great Assemblies. We found it furnish'd with Mats for us to sit on. The Elders seated themselves round about us, and they brought us to eat, some Sagamite, which is their Pottage, little Beans, Bread made of Indian Corn, and another Sort they make with boil'd Flower, and at last they made us smoke."

They proceeded to another village not far away, and, so the narrative continues: "By the Way, we saw several Cottages at certain Distances, stragling up and down, as the Ground happens to be fit for Tillage. The Field lies about the Cottage, and at other Distances there are other large Huts, not inhabited, but only serving for publick Assemblies, either upon Occasion of Rejoycing, or to consult about Peace and War.

"The Cottages that are inhabited, are not each of them for a private Family, for in some of them are fifteen or twenty, each of which has its Nook or Corner, Bed and other Utensils to its self: but[183] without any Partition to separate it from the rest: However, they have Nothing in Common besides the Fire, which is in the Midst of the Hut, and never goes out. It is made of great Trees, the Ends whereof are laid together, so that when once lighted, it lasts a long Time, and the first Comer takes Care to keep it up." Here follows a brief description of the appearance of the structures of the village, the dwellings resembling those later mentioned as being typical of the Wichita. "The Cottages are round at the Top, after the manner of a Bee-Hive, or a Reek of Hay. Some of them are sixty Foot Diameter." There follows a brief account of the method of constructing such a house. "In order to build them, they plant Trees as thick as a Man's thigh, tall and strait, and placing them in a Circle, and joyning the Tops together, from the Dome, or round Top, then they lash and cover them with Weeds. When they remove their Dwellings, they generally burn the Cottages they leave, and build new on the Ground they design to inhabit. Their Moveables are some Bullocks Hides and Goats Skins well cur'd, some Mats close wove, wherewith they adorn their Huts, and some Earthen Vessels, which they are very skilful at making, and wherein they boil their Flesh or Roots, or Sagamise, which, as has been said, is their Pottage. They have also some small Baskets made of Canes, serving to put in their Fruit and other Provisions. Their Beds are made of Canes, rais'd two or three Foot above the Ground, handsomely fitted with Mats and Bullocks Hides, or Goats Skins well cur'd, which serve them for Feather Beds, or Quilts and Blankets; and those Beds are parted one from another by Mats hung up." (Joutel, (1), pp. 106-109.)

The preceding is probably the clearest description of the furnishings of a native structure standing beyond the Mississippi during the last quarter of the seventeenth century that has been preserved. The large circular structures served as the dwelling place of many individuals. The beds were placed, so it may be assumed, in a line around the wall, each separated from its neighbor by a mat. A large fire burned in the center of the space. In many respects the large dwellings of the Caddo must have closely resembled the great round structures which stood north of St. Augustine, Florida, about the year 1700. (Bushnell, (1), pp. 84-86.)

Brief accounts of the many small tribes living south of the Arkansas River soon after the transfer of Louisiana contain references to the numerous villages, but fail, unfortunately, to describe the structures in detail. (Sibley, (1), pp. 721-725.) The dwellings probably resembled those already mentioned as standing a century and more before.



The references brought together and presented on the preceding pages will reveal the nature of the dwellings and the appearance of the camps and villages which stood, so short a time ago, in the region between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains. First encountered in the southern part of the country by the Spanish expeditions led by De Soto and Coronado before the middle of the sixteenth century, and by the French who entered the upper and central portions of the Mississippi Valley during the latter part of the seventeenth century, all types of structures continued to be reared and occupied until the latter half of the nineteenth century, while some forms are even now in use, although it is highly probable that within another generation these, too, will have disappeared.

Various writers during the eighteenth century mentioned the tribes of the Upper Missouri Valley, but all accounts prepared at that time are rather vague, as was their knowledge of conditions on and in the region bordering the Great Plains. And not until after the transfer of Louisiana to the United States, and as a result of the several expeditions sent out by the Government to explore the newly acquired territories, did the various groups of tribes, with their peculiar characteristics, become known with a degree of certainty. But with the transfer of Louisiana conditions rapidly changed. Hunters and traders soon penetrated the wilderness where few had gone before. Fort Crawford, at the mouth of the Wisconsin; Fort Snelling, just below the Falls of St. Anthony; and Leavenworth, on the Missouri, were established before the close of the first quarter of the century. Towns were built farther and farther beyond the old frontier, and on April 18, 1851, Kurz wrote in his journal:

"St Joseph, formerly the trading post of Joseph Robidoux, is at the foot of the Blacksnake hills, on the left bank of the Missouri.... The streets are crowded with traders and emigrants on their way to California and Oregon. Many Indians of the tribes of the Pottowatomis, Foxes (Musquakees), Kikapoos, Iowas, and Otoes are continually in the town.... In summer the Bourgeois, or Chiefs, the clerks and Engagés of the fur companies enliven the streets.... St. Joseph is now what St Louis was formerly—their gathering place." Thus the Indian in his primitive state was doomed, as were the vast herds of buffalo which then roamed, unopposed, over the far-reaching prairies.

In studying the various types of structures it is interesting to learn how the natural environments influenced the form of dwellings erected by the tribes of a particular section. Thus in the densely timbered country of the north, about the headwaters of the Mississippi[185] and far beyond, the mat and bark covered wigwams were developed and employed practically to the exclusion of all other forms of habitations. But on the plains, and in the regions bordering the great buffalo ranges, the skin-covered conical tipis predominated, although other forms were sometimes constructed by the same people. The earth lodges as erected by certain tribes of the Missouri Valley were the most interesting native structures east of the Rocky Mountains, and these at once suggest the Rotundas, or great council houses once built by the Cherokees and Creeks east of the Mississippi.

In treating of the habitations and villages of the several tribes references have been made, incidentally, to the manners and ways of life of the people who once claimed and occupied so great a part of the present United States.



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(1) History of the Expedition under the command of Captains Lewis and Clark.... Prepared for the press by Paul Allen. Philadelphia, 1814. 2 vols.

Libby, O. G.

(1) Typical Villages of the Mandans, Arikara, and Hidatsa in the Missouri Valley, North Dakota. In Collections of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. Vol. II. Bismarck, 1908.

Long, Stephen H.

(1) Voyage in a Six-Oared skiff to the Falls of Saint Anthony in 1817. In Collections Minnesota Historical Society, Vol. II, pt. 1. 1860.

First Expedition. See James, Edwin. (1).

Second Expedition. See Keating, W. H. (1).

Ludlow, William.

(1) Report of a Reconnaissance of the Black Hills of Dakota, made in the Summer of 1874. Washington, 1875.

Mackenzie, Alexander.

(1) Voyages from Montreal, on the River St. Laurence, through the Continent of North America, to the Frozen and Pacific Oceans, in the years 1789 and 1793. London, 1801.

Mackenzie, Charles.

(1) The Mississouri Indians, a narrative of four trading expeditions to the Mississouri, 1804-1805-1806. In Masson (1).

Marquette, Père Jacques.

(1) Journey of 1673. In Shea (2).

Masson, L. R.

(1) Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. Premiere serie. Quebec, 1889.

(2) Les Bourgeois de la Compagnie du Nord-Ouest. Deuxieme serie. Quebec, 1890.

Matthews, Washington.

(1) Ethnography and Philology of the Hidatsa Indians. In Miscellaneous Publications, No. 7, United States Geological and Geographical Survey. Washington, 1877.

Maximilian, Prince of Wied.

(1) Travels in the Interior of North America. London, 1843.

McDonnell, John.

(1) The Red River. In Masson (1).

McKenney, Thomas L.

(1) Sketches of a Tour to the Lakes. Baltimore, 1827.

Mills, William C.

(1) Explorations of the Baum Prehistoric Village Site. In Ohio Archaeological and Historical Quarterly, Vol. XV, No. 1. Columbus, 1906.

[190]Möllhausen, Baldwin.

(1) Diary of a Journey from the Mississippi to the Coasts of the Pacific. London, 1858. 2 vols.

Morehouse, George P.

(1) History of the Kansa or Kaw Indians. In Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1907-1908. Vol X. Topeka, 1908.

Morse, Jedidiah.

(1) A Report to the Secretary of War of the United States, on Indian Affairs. New Haven, 1822.

Murray, Charles Augustus.

(1) Travels in North America during the years 1834, 1835, and 1836. London, 1839. 2 vols.

Newton, Henry, and Jenney, Walter P.

(1) Report on the Geology and Resources of the Black Hills of Dakota. Washington, 1880.

Nuttall, Thomas.

(1) A Journal of Travels into the Arkansa Territory during the year 1819. Philadelphia, 1821.

Palmer, Joel.

(1) Journal of Travels over the Rocky Mountains to the Mouth of the Columbia River ... 1845 and 1846. Cincinnati, 1847.

Parker, Samuel.

(1) Journal of an Exploring Tour Beyond the Rocky Mountains ... in the years 1835, 36, and 37. Ithaca, N. Y., 1842.

Pike, Z. M.

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Plank, Pryor.

(1) The Iowa, Sac and Fox Indian Mission. In Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1907-1908. Vol. X. Topeka, 1908.

Prescott, P.

(1) Manners, Customs and Opinions of the Dacotahs. In Schoolcraft, (3), IV.

Radin, Paul.

(1) The Winnebago Tribe. In Thirty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington.

Raynolds, W. F.

(1) Report on the Exploration of the Yellowstone River. Washington, 1868.

Remsburg, G. J.

(1) Isle au Vache. In Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1903-1904. Vol. VIII. Topeka, 1904.

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(1) Dakota Portraits. In Minnesota Historical Society Bulletin, Vol. II, No. 8, Nov., 1918.

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[191]Schoolcraft, Henry R.

(1) Journal of a Tour into the Interior of Missouri and Arkansaw ... in the years 1818-1819. London, 1821.

(2) Narrative Journal of Travels ... in the year 1820. Albany, 1821.

(3) Information Respecting the History, Conditions and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States. Philadelphia, 1851-1857. 6 vols.

Seymour, E. S.

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Shea, John Gilmary.

(1) A Description of Louisiana, by Father Louis Hennepin. New York, 1880.

(2) Discovery and Exploration of the Mississippi Valley. New York, 1852.

Sibley, John.

(1) Historical Sketches of the Several Indian Tribes in Louisiana, south of the Arkansa River, and Between the Mississippi and River Grand. In American State Papers. Vol. IV. Washington, 1832.

Smet, P. J. de.

(1) Letters and Sketches with a Narrative of a Year's Residence Among the Indian Tribes of the Rocky Mountains. Philadelphia, 1843.

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Spencer, Joab.

(1) The Kaw or Kansas Indians: Their Customs, Manners, and Folk-Lore. In Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1907-1908. Vol. X. Topeka, 1908.

Stanley, J. M.

(1) Visit to the Piegan Camp. In Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean ... 1853-1854. Vol. 1. Washington, 1855.

Stansbury, Howard.

(1) An Expedition to the Valley of the Great Salt Lake of Utah. Philadelphia, 1855.

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(1) Sketches ... of Louisiana. Philadelphia, 1812.

Stuart, James.

(1) The Yellowstone Expedition of 1863. In Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana. Vol. I. Helena, 1876.

Tanner, John.

(1) Narrative of the Captivity of. See James, Edwin. (2).

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(1) Narrative of a Journey Across the Rocky Mountains. Philadelphia, 1839.


(1) Journal of ... 1794-1795. In South Dakota Historical Collections. Vol. VII, 1914. Pierre, S. D.

Warren, G. K.

(1) Explorations in the Dacota Country, in the Year 1855. Washington, 1856.

[192]Whipple, A. W.

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Winship, George P.

(1) The Coronado Expedition, 1540-1542. In Fourteenth Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology. Pt. 1. Washington, 1896.



Aricaree, Arickarees, Arikkaras=Arikara.
Asinepoet, Assinneboins=Assiniboin.
Big-bellied Indians=Atsina.
Big Bellys=Hidatsa.
Fall Indians=Atsina.
Grosventre Indians, Grosventres, Gros Ventres of the Missouri=Hidatsa.
Gros Ventres of the Prairie=Atsina.
Kansas, Kanzas, Kaws=Kansa.
Knistenaux, Knisteneaux=Cree.
Konsee, Konza, Konzas=Kansa.
Manitaries, Minatarres, Minnetarees=Hidatsa.
Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie=Atsina.
Otoes, Ottoes=Oto.
Pay-gans, Picaneaux, Piekann=Piegan.
Poncara, Punca, Punka=Ponca.
Rapid Indians=Atsina.
Ree, Ricaras, Riccaree, Rickarees, Rus=Arikara.
Saulteaux, Sautaux, Sauteaux, Sauteux=Chippewa.
Shoe Indians=Amahami.
Soulier Noir=Amahami.
Stone Indians=Assiniboin.
Waekoes, Wakos=Waco.



The art of photography has made it possible to preserve a pictorial record of the dwellings and other structures of native tribes beyond the Mississippi, and many early photographs, together with drawings and paintings by various artists, have been selected to illustrate the present work.

Plate 1

One of the original drawings by Griset reproduced by woodcuts in Col. R. I. Dodge's work The Plains of the Great West, 1877. The reproduction is now made exact size of the original. Collection of David I. Bushnell, jr.

Ernest Henry Griset, born in France, 1844; died March 22, 1907. Lived in England, where he did much of his work. In 1871 he exhibited at Suffolk Street. Some of his paintings are hung in the Victoria and Albert Museum. More than 30 examples of his work belong to the Smithsonian Institution, Washington. "His reputation rests on his water-color studies of animals, for which he was awarded prizes in London. Two of his best-known works are Cache-cache, and Travailleurs de la fôret."

Plate 2

Reproduction of one of the five paintings by Stanley now in the United States National Museum, Washington, D. C.

James M. Stanley, born in Canandaigua, New York, January 17, 1814; died April 10, 1872. He moved to Michigan in 1835 and became a portrait painter in Detroit; two years later removed to Chicago. About this time he visited the "Indian Country" in the vicinity of Fort Snelling, and there made many sketches. Returned to the eastern cities, where he spent several years, but in 1842 again went west and began his wanderings over the prairies far beyond the Mississippi, reaching Texas and New Mexico. His Buffalo Hunt on the Southwestern Prairies was made in 1845. From 1851 to 1863 Stanley lived in Washington, D. C., during which time he endeavored to have the Government purchase the many paintings which he had made of Indians and of scenes in the Indian country, but unfortunately he was not successful. His pictures were hanging in the Smithsonian Building, and on January 24, 1865, when a large part of the building was ruined by fire, only five of his pictures escaped destruction, they being in a different part of the structure. The five are now in the National Museum, including the large canvas shown in this plate.

Plate 3

This is considered to be one of Wimar's best works. The original is owned by the City Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri. Size of canvas, 36 inches high, 60 inches long.

Charles Ferdinand Wimar, usually known as Carl Wimar, was born in Germany, 1828; died in St. Louis, November, 1862. Came to America and settled in St. Louis during the year 1843. A few years later he met the French artist Leon de Pomarede, with whom he later studied and made several journeys up the Missouri for the purpose of sketching. Went to Europe and returned to St. Louis about 1857. His Buffalo Hunt, now reproduced, was[195] painted in 1860, exhibited at the St. Louis Fair during the autumn of that year, when it was seen by the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, for whom a replica was made.

Plate 4

One of four water-color sketches by Peter Rindisbacher secured in London some years ago. Size of original 914 inches high, 1718 inches long. Collection of David I. Bushnell, jr. Twenty or more similar sketches are in the library of the Military Academy, West Point. One of these was used as an illustration by McKenney and Hall in their great work; the second used by them is in a private collection in Washington. Another of the pictures now at West Point was reproduced by wood cut and appeared on page 181 of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine, Philadelphia, April, 1840. Rindisbacher may have come to America with the Swiss colonists who settled in the Red River Valley in 1821, and in the Public Archives of Canada are six small sketches which were probably made by him at that time. (See pl. 6, a.)

Plate 5

a. A scene near Fort Carlton, 1846, showing buffalo approaching a pound. Reproduction of a photograph of the painting by Kane, now in the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, Toronto, Canada. Size of painting, 18 inches high, 29 inches long.

Paul Kane, born at York, the present city of Toronto, 1810; died 1871. After spending several years in the United States he went to Europe, where he studied in various art centers. Returned to Canada, and from early in 1845 until the autumn of 1848 traveled among the native tribes of the far west, making a large number of paintings of Indians and scenes in the Indian country. One hundred or more of his paintings are in the Museum at Toronto; others are in the Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa. Some of the sketches and paintings were reproduced in his work Wanderings of an Artist, London, 1859.

b. Reproduction of a photograph, probably made in the upper Missouri Valley about 1870.

Plate 6

a. Reproduction of a water-color sketch now in the collection in Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa. It is one of six small sketches "by an artist, probably Swiss, who accompanied the European emigrants brought by Lord Selkirk's agents to the Red River Settlement in 1821." Size of original, 558 inches high, 758 inches long. Although not signed it suggests and resembles the work of Peter Rindisbacher. (See note, pl. 4.)

b. Reproduced from an original photograph furnished by the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul.

Plate 7

a. Reproduction of a photograph of a painting by Kane, now in the Museum at Toronto. Size of original, 18 inches high, 29 inches long. (See note, pl. 5, a.) This was engraved and shown on page 7 of his work Wanderings of an Artist.

b. Reproduced from an original photograph made near the Red River during the summer of 1858 by Humphrey Lloyd Hime, who was photographer with the expedition led by Henry Youle Hind.

Plate 8

a and b. Same as b, plate 7. Original photographs are in the Bureau of American Ethnology.


Plate 9

Both a and b are from original photographs belonging to the Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul. The two small prints are mounted on similar cards, that of b bearing the name of C. A. Zimmerman, photographer. The name has been cut from a. Both are attributed to Zimmerman, who, in 1869, purchased the studio of Whitney, which had been established some years. The negatives may have been made by Whitney, and although the prints are catalogued as Ojibway habitations, nevertheless a resembles more closely the Siouan type, with an arbor over the entrance, and the photograph may have been made in a Sioux village. The dwellings are quite similar to the Winnebago structure shown in plate 36, a.

Charles Alfred Zimmerman was born in Strassburg, Alsace, June 21, 1844; died in St. Paul, Minnesota, September 23, 1909.

Plate 10

Reproductions of original photographs by David I. Bushnell, jr. October, 1899.

Plate 11

a. This small log structure stood near the southeastern shore of Cass Lake, Minnesota. Several Ojibway Indians are in the picture. Original photograph by David I. Bushnell, jr. November, 1899.

b. The old Ojibway medicine man, Nagwanabe, a name well known in Ojibway annals, is shown holding a club of unusual design which he said he took from a Sioux warrior many years ago, during a fight between some of his people and members of that tribe. Original photograph by David I. Bushnell, jr. 1900.

Plate 12

a. Objects collected among the Ojibway. At top, a hammer formed of a section of a small tree with part of a branch cut to serve as a handle. Used in driving plugs in maple trees during the season of sugar making. Mille Lac, May, 1900. Bag braided of narrow strips of cedar bark. Size about 9½ inches square. From the Ojibway settlement on shore of Basswood Lake, north of Ely, Lake County, Minnesota, October, 1899. Two tools used in dressing skins. Formed of leg bones of moose, beveled and serrated. Length of example on right, 15 inches. Cass Lake, Minnesota, 1898.

b. Section of rush mat.

Plate 13

a. Wooden mortar and pestle collected among the Ojibway. Length of pestle about 37½ inches. Reproduced from Fourteenth Annual Report Bureau of Ethnology, part 1, p. 257.

b. Mortar and pestle collected among the Delaware by Dr. E. Palmer and acquired by the National Museum November 11, 1868. Length of pestle 33½ inches. Diameter of mortar 7½ inches, height 15 inches. (U. S. N. M. 6900.)

c. Birch-bark dish, type used extensively by the Ojibway and other northern tribes. Reproduced from Nineteenth Annual Report Bureau of American Ethnology, part 2, Pl. LXXIX.


Plate 14

Reproduced from an original negative now in the Bureau of American Ethnology.

Plate 15

Reproduced from the engraving of the painting by Bodmer, as used by Maximilian.

Karl Bodmer, born in Zurich, Switzerland, 1805; died 1894. Studied under Cornu. He accompanied Maximilian, Prince of Wied, on several journeys, including that up the Valley of the Missouri. Many of his original sketches made during that memorable trip are now in the Edward E. Ayer collection, Newberry Library, Chicago. His later works are chiefly of wooded landscapes, some being scenes in the valleys of the Missouri and Mississippi. Bodmer was a very close friend of the great artist Jean François Millet. De Cost Smith, in Century Magazine, May, 1910, discussing the close association of the two artists, and referring especially to their joint work, wrote: "The two men must have worked together from the pure joy of friendship, for it must be confessed that the work of neither was very greatly improved by the other's additions. Bodmer would put a horse into one of Millet's Indian pictures and add some vegetation in the foreground, Millet would return the favor by introducing figures into Bodmer's landscapes." But this does not refer to the sketches made by Bodmer during his journey up the Missouri in 1833.

Plate 16

a. Reproduction of a wood cut on page 420 of Wanderings of an Artist. The original painting by Kane is now in the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, Toronto, being No. 51 in the catalogue. Size of painting, 18 inches high, 29 inches long. (See note, pl. 5, a.)

b. The original photograph from which this illustration is made is in the collection of the United States National Museum, Washington, D. C. It is not known by whom the negative was made.

Plate 17

Reproduced from the engraving of the original painting by Bodmer, as used by Maximilian. (See note, pl. 15.)

Plate 18

Both a and b are reproductions of photographs furnished by the State Historical Society of Iowa.

Plate 19

Reproduction of an original photograph in a scrapbook, which contains many manuscript notes, news clippings, etc., prepared by Newton H. Chittenden. The book is now in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C.

Plate 20

From original photographs by David I. Bushnell, jr. 1900.

Plate 21

Reproduction of an original pencil sketch of the Sioux village of Kaposia, made June 19, 1851, by F. B. Mayer. The drawing is now in the Edward E. Ayer collection, Newberry Library, Chicago.

[198]Frank Blackwell Mayer, born in Baltimore, Maryland, December 27, 1827; died in 1908. Many of his paintings represented scenes in Indian life, and in 1886 he completed a canvas entitled The Treaty of Traverse des Sioux, the treaty having been signed during the summer of 1851, about the time the sketch of Kaposia was made.

Plate 22

Both a and b are reproduced from engravings of paintings by Eastman, used by Schoolcraft in Information respecting the History, Conditions, and Prospects of the Indian Tribes of the United States, 1851-1857.

Seth Eastman, born in Brunswick, Maine, January 24, 1808; died in Washington, D. C., August 31, 1875. Was appointed to the Military Academy, West Point, at the age of 16, and was graduated June, 1829. Served at Fort Crawford and Fort Snelling, where he had ample opportunities for studying the Indians who frequented the posts. In November, 1831, he was detailed for duty at the Academy and retired from active service December, 1863. From 1850 to 1855 he was engaged in the preparation of the illustrations used in the work mentioned above, evidently under the supervision of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs.

Plate 23

a. Reproduction of a drawing made by Catlin of one of his oil sketches. The original painting is now in the United States National Museum, Washington, D. C.

George Catlin, born in Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, 1796; died in Jersey City, New Jersey, December 23, 1872. In the year 1832 he went to the then far west, and during the succeeding eight years traveled among numerous native tribes, making many paintings portraying the life and customs of the people. He went to Europe, taking with him his great collection of pictures and objects obtained from the Indians among whom he had been for so long a time. One hundred and twenty-six of his pictures were shown at the Centennial Exposition, Philadelphia, 1876, and now more than 500 of his works, portraits and scenes are preserved in the National Museum, forming a collection of inestimable value and interest.

b. Fort Pierre, after sketch by Kurz, July 4, 1851.

Friedrich Kurz, born in Bern, Switzerland, 1818; died 1871. At the suggestion of his friend Karl Bodmer, he came to America in 1846, for the purpose of studying the native tribes, intending to prepare a well-illustrated account of his travels. He landed at New Orleans and reached St. Louis by way of the Mississippi. The trouble with Mexico had developed, and for that reason instead of going to the Southwest, to endeavor to accomplish among the tribes of that region what Bodmer had already done among the people of the Upper Missouri Valley, he decided to follow the route of the latter and ascend the Missouri to the Rocky Mountains. But although his plans were changed he did not become discouraged, and on October 28, 1851, entered in his journal: "My plan is still for the gallery.... I shall have lots of correct drawings." Cholera raged along the upper Missouri in 1851, and for that reason Kurz was unable to remain at Fort Pierre. However, he reached Fort Berthold July 9, 1851. Later he continued to Fort Union at the mouth of the Yellowstone, where he remained until April 19, 1852. Returning, he reached St. Louis May 25, thus covering the distance from the mouth of the Yellowstone in five weeks and one day. He arrived in Bern during September of that year and was soon appointed drawing master in the schools of his native city, a position which he held until his death.

[199]During the winter of 1851-52, while Kurz was at Fort Union, a German artist of some ability was with the Oto and Omaha near the banks of the Missouri. H. Baldwin Möllhausen, late in the autumn of 1851, became lost on the frozen, snow-covered prairies south of the Platte, and was rescued by a family of Oto encamped on the bank of a small stream. He remained with the Oto and later returned with them to their village near the mouth of the Platte. From the Oto village he went up the Missouri to the Omaha, with whom he stayed some weeks. While with the two tribes he made many sketches of the Indians and scenes depicting the ways of life of the people. When he returned to his home in Berlin he carried with him the collection of drawings, and these, if found at the present time, would probably prove of much interest.

Plate 24

Both a and b are reproductions of photographs made in the vicinity of Fort Laramie in 1868, during the visit of the Indian Peace Commission. The commission was composed of a number of Army officers who went among many of the Plains tribes for the purpose of gaining their friendship for the Government. From original prints in the possession of Mrs. N. H. Beauregard, St. Louis. The name of the photographer is not known.

c. From the engraving of the original picture by Bodmer, as used by Maximilian. (See note, pl. 15.)

Plate 25

a. Reproduced from a photograph of the original painting by Kane, now in the Royal Ontario Museum of Archaeology, Toronto. Rocky Mountain Fort in the distance on the right. No. 57 in the catalogue. Size of picture, 18 inches high, 29 inches long. (See note, pl. 5, a.)

b. From a photograph of a water-color sketch by Kurz. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

Plate 26

a. From an original negative now in the Bureau of American Ethnology, made by Jackson in 1871. It was probably made at the Omaha village shown in plate 27.

b. A page of Kurz's sketchbook. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

Plate 27

Omaha village, from an original negative made by Jackson in 1871 and now in the Bureau of American Ethnology. According to La Flesche, "The location of the Omaha village can best be described as in the southwest quarter of Section 30, Township 25, Range 10, in the extreme eastern border of Thurston County, Nebraska. The land was allotted in 1883 to Pe-de-ga-hi, one of the Omaha chiefs. It is about three-quarters of a mile west of the historic site known as Blackbird Hill, on which the great medicine man Blackbird was buried."

Plate 28

Both a and b represent pages in Kurz's sketchbook. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

Plate 29

Reproduced from the engraving of Bodmer's painting, as illustrated by Maximilian. (See note, pl. 15.)


Plate 30

a. Reproduction of the illustration in De Smet's work, where the picture is signed Geo. Lehman, del.

b. Reproduced from the engraving after a drawing by Samuel Seymour.

In the instructions issued to members of the expedition, dated "Pittsburgh, March 31, 1819," Major Long stated: "Mr. Seymour, as painter for the expedition, will furnish sketches of landscapes, whenever we meet with any distinguished for their beauty and grandeur. He will also paint miniature likenesses, or portraits if required, of distinguished Indians, and exhibit groups of savages engaged in celebrating their festivals or sitting in council, and in general illustrate any subject, that may be deemed appropriate in his art."

Plate 31

Reproduced from a photograph in the Chittenden scrapbook. (See note, pl. 19.)

Plate 32

a. From an original photograph furnished by Francis La Flesche.

b. Reproduced from an illustration in Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, 1907-1908, Vol. X. Topeka, 1908.

Plate 33

Reproduced from an engraving of the original drawing by Samuel Seymour. (See note, pl. 30, b.)

Plate 34

Specimens in the United States National Museum.

Plate 35

a. After original drawing by Friedrich Kurz. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

b. Photograph of specimen now in the United States National Museum.

Plate 36

Both a and b are reproduced from original photographs in the United States National Museum, Washington. It is not known by whom the negatives were made.

Plate 37

From a photograph made about the year 1900, furnished by Miss Alice C. Fletcher. The structures stood near the bank of the Missouri, north of the Omahas. The photograph was reproduced as plate 18 in the Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology.

Plate 38

a. From the drawing by Catlin of the original painting. This is No. 503 in Catlin's Catalogue (London, 1848), where it is described as "The Interior of a Mandan Lodge, showing the manner in which it is constructed of poles and covered with dirt. The chief is seen smoking his pipe, and his family grouped around him."

b. After the original painting in the National Museum, Washington. This is the fourth and last of Catlin's paintings representing different scenes during the remarkable ceremony by the Mandan. No. 507 in the Catalogue, where it is referred to as "The Last Race."

George Catlin. (See note, pl. 23, a.)


Plate 39

From the engraving of Bodmer's painting used by Maximilian. (See note, pl. 15.)

Plate 40

Reproduced from the engraving of Bodmer's painting as used by Maximilian. (See note, pl. 15.)

Plate 41

Two wooden bowls and a pottery vessel collected among the Mandan. Specimens in the United States National Museum.

Plate 42

Examples of spoons, one made of a buffalo horn, the other formed from a horn of a mountain sheep, now in the United States National Museum.

Plate 43

Reproduction of the original painting by Catlin, now in the United States National Museum, Washington. It is No. 383 in Catlin's Catalogue, described as "Minatarree Village, earth-covered lodges, on Knife River, 1,810 miles above St. Louis."

George Catlin. (See note, pl. 23, a.)

Plate 44

a. Original pencil sketch by Bodmer of the finished picture shown in b. The sketch is now in the Edward E. Ayer collection, Newberry Library, Chicago.

b. Reproduction of a photograph of the engraving as used by Maximilian.

Plate 45

After original sketches by Friedrich Kurz. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

Plate 46

a. Reproduction of the original painting by Catlin, now in the United States National Museum, Washington. It is mentioned as No. 491 in Catlin's Catalogue and described as a "Crow Lodge, of twenty-five buffalo-skins." A drawing made from the painting appeared as plate 20 in Vol. I of Catlin's work.

b. From the original negative by Jackson now in the Bureau of American Ethnology.

Plate 47

A rather crude woodcut, made from this photograph, was used in Dunraven's book, The Great Divide. Unfortunately it is not known when or by whom this most interesting negative was made, but it was probably the work of J. D. Hutton, a member of the Raynolds party during the exploration of the Yellowstone Valley, 1859-1860. Although the Raynolds journal is in the War Department in Washington, there is no record or list of the photographs, many of which are known to have been made during the journey. A number of Hutton's photographs were reproduced by Hayden in his work Contributions to the Ethnography and Philology of the Indian Tribes of the Missouri Valley, Philadelphia, 1862.


Plate 48

A page from Kurz's sketchbook, carried by him during his travels through the Upper Missouri Valley. This shows several traders approaching Fort Union and a herd of buffalo in the distance on the right. (See note, pl. 23, b.)

Plate 49

Two negatives were made by Jackson, evidently without moving the camera. One was reproduced in Bulletin 69 of this Bureau's publications; the second is now shown. The first negative now belongs to the Bureau, but the present plate is a reproduction of a photograph furnished by the Peabody Museum, Harvard University.

Concerning the photographs now reproduced in plates 49, 50, and 51, Mr. W. H. Jackson, now of Detroit, wrote to the Bureau, April 28, 1921, and said in part: "Negatives to which you refer, viz, of Pawnee village scenes, were made by myself in 1871 on my return from the first Yellowstone expedition of the Survey, this trip also including a visit to the Omaha Agency."

Plate 50

Earth lodges standing in the Pawnee village. From original negative by W. H. Jackson, 1871. Negative now in the Bureau of American Ethnology.

Plate 51

Views in the Pawnee village, after photographs by Jackson, 1871. Original photographs belonging to the Bureau of American Ethnology.

Plate 52

Specimens in the United States National Museum.

Plate 53

Reproduction of a photograph of the original painting by Catlin, now in the United States National Museum. It is No. 386 in Catlin's Catalogue, described as "Riccaree Village, with earth-covered lodges, 1,600 miles above St. Louis."

George Catlin. (See note, pl. 23, a.)

Plate 54

Specimens in the United States National Museum.

Plate 55

a. From a photograph in the Chittenden scrapbook. (See note, pl. 19.)

b. After a photograph in the collection of the United States National Museum.



Accancea. See Quapaw.

among Sauk and Foxes, 40
of the Arikara, 179
of the Mandan, 127
of the Osage, 106

Algonquian family
characteristics of villages of, 7
general movement of groups of, 3
groups comprising western division of, 1
largest north of Mexico, 43
villages of, described, 1

Al-le-ga-wa-ho's village, 97

Allen, J.A., book by, on the buffalo, 7

Allouez, Père, mission conducted by, 122

once united with the Hidatsa and Crow, 140
village of, on Knife River, 125, 141

American Fur Company
post of, 75
trade of, with Sioux, 61

domestic, lack of, among the Iowa, 114
domestic, of the Kansa, 90
of the Dakota country, 4
See Buffalo, Dogs, Game.

an Algonquian group, 1
country occupied by, 33-34
habitations of, 34

Arapaho village
described by Fremont, 36-37
photograph of, 37

Arbor entrance, a Siouan feature, 122

Archithinue natives, name applied to Blackfeet, 25, 26

a Caddoan group, 2
encampments of, visited by Lewis and Clark, 23
hostility of, to whites, 176, 179
Mandan village occupied by, 139
migration of, 167, 169-170
pottery of, 174
settlement of, near Fort Berthold, 147
skilled agriculturists, 179
warfare of, with Sioux, 70

Akikara villages
described by Brackenridge, 172, 173
described by Bradbury, 172
described by Maximilian, 175-176
on the Missouri, 168
sites of, 168-169
sketched by Catlin, 175

Ark of the first man, 129, 132

Arkansa. See Quapaw.

Arkansas band, a division of the Osage, 98

Assiniboin, a Missouri River steamboat, 130
trip of, to the Yellowstone River, 142

Assiniboin tribe
alliance of, with Cree, 71
camp of, described by Maximilian, 75-76
country occupied by, 71
location and number of, 32
of the Dakota-Assiniboin group, 2
on the march, 73, 74
relation of, to other tribes, 44
separated from Yanktonai, 71
structures of, 71, 72, 73, 76-77
with Cree, at Mandan village, 74

Assiniboin village
size of, 73, 74
movement of, 73, 74

Atsina, a division of the Arapaho, 1, 25
allied with tribes of the Blackfeet confederacy, 25, 34
fortified camps of, 34
incorporated with the Assiniboin, 25
various names for, 34

Atsina village, described by Maximilian, 35

Avenue, pottery on site of, 112

Awachawi, an Hidatsa village, 142

Awatichay, an Hidatsa village, 142

Ayauways, excursions of, against the Osage, 98

Bark-covered lodges
as summer habitations, 38, 51, 84
as winter habitations, 51
employed in timber country, 184-185
erected by the Dakota, 44
of the Kansa, 95
of the Mdewakanton, 50
of the Ojibway, 9-13, 16, 17, 56
of the Osage, 98
of the Oto, 120
of the Quapaw, 109
of the Sauk and Foxes, 39

of the Arikara, 169
of the Osage, 103

Beauregard, Mrs. N.H., copy by, of manuscript, 90

of the Caddo, 183
of the Kansa, 92
of the Mandan, 133, 134

Bellevue, a trading post on the Missouri, 81

Big-bellied Indians. See Atsina.

Big Kaw, an Oto Indian, 117

Big Knives, Kansa name for the whites, 89

Big Track, an Osage chief, 98

Birch bark structures, 9-13
See Bark-covered lodges.

Blackfeet confederacy, tribes composing, 1, 25

Blackfeet Indians
camps of, described by Maximilian, 28
ceremonial lodges of, 33
country inhabited by, 27, 32
descriptions of, 25-28
[204]manner of living, 33
number of, 32
warlike nature of, 28
war party of, 31
See Siksika.

Black Hawk, birthplace of, 38

Black Hills, no permanent Indian settlement in, 70

Blood Indians
country occupied by, 27, 32
number of, 32
See Kainah.

painting by, of Atsina village, 35
painting by, of chief's lodge, 76
painting by, of Mandan village, 133
drawing by, of tipis, 58
sketch by, in Newberry Library, 143

Bowls, wooden, of the Mandan, 137

Bradbury, visit of, to Omaha village, 78

Brulés, a Teton band, 2

Brush shelters of the Assiniboin, 75

Arikara offering to, 174
hunting of, 4-7
importance of, to the Indian, 3-4
manner of traveling, 72

Buffalo Hunt
described by Fremont, 35-36
of the Oglala, 68

Buffalo pounds, 5-6
use of, by Blackfeet, 26

Buffalo skulls, a charm to entice buffaloes, 62-63

Buffalo Society, Omaha, dance given by, 82

Buffalo trails, followed by Indians, 7

characteristic of upper Missouri, 129
of the Hidatsa, 146-147

Omaha, 78
Oto, 120
scaffold, mention of, 50-51

described by Fletcher and La Flesche, 80
described by Matthews, 150
exposed by railroad cut, 82
for storage of corn, 126
Omaha, described by Gilden, 83, 84
on elevated stage, 12

a tribe of the Caddoan family, 2
country occupied by, 155, 182
described by Joutel, 182-183

Caddoan family
confederacies of, 2
country occupied by, 1
earth lodge characteristic of, 7-8
general movement of, 3
tribes composing, 2

Cahokia tribe, village of, 41

Cannon River, village near mouth of, 50

birch-bark, 15-16
made of buffalo skins, 94
of the Arikara, 172
of the Hidatsa, 141
Oto, 121
See Bull-boat.

Cappa, a Quapaw village, 109

Castañeda, thatched houses mentioned by, 179

Catlin, George
among the Mandan, 128
among the Teton, 61
Arikara village sketched by, 175
collection of paintings by, in National Museum, 15, 129, 141, 175
incorrect drawings by, of earth lodges, 149
Indian portraits painted by, 62
Ojibway camp described by, 15

Caves, in the Ozarks, occupied by Indians, 107

Ceremonial lodge
of the Crows, 155
of the Hidatsa, 144
of the Ojibway, 13
of the Quapaw, 111
of the Sun dance, 63
See Medicine lodge.

Ceremonial shelter, temporary, of the Cree and Ojibway, 18-19

Ceremonies, Arikara, in medicine lodge, 178

Chatique, an Assiniboin chief, 71

Chaui, a tribe of the Pawnee confederacy, 2

Cherokees, migration of remnant of, 2

Cheyenne Indians
an Algonquian group, 1
described by Lewis and Clark, 24
in Arapaho village, 36
lodges of, for special purposes, 25
lodges of, like Pawnee, 24, 25
territory occupied by, 21
various habitations of, 22

Cheyenne village sites
described by Grinnell, 22-23
mentioned by Lewis and Clark, 23

Chiefs, decorations on lodges of, 67, 76

Childs Point, ruins on, 82

treaty of, with Sioux, 15
See Ojibway.

Chiwere group of Siouan tribes, 2
habitations of, 113
tribes composing, 112

Choctaw, temporary village of, 110

Cholera among the Oglala, 64

Chote, town house at, 118

of earth, 21, 28, 30
of stone, 20, 21

Clarmont, French name of Osage chief, 103

made of buffalo hides, 3, 4
of the Kansa, 94

Club, wooden, of the Mandan, 138

Cocking, Matthew, journey of, 26-27

Colbert, first name of Mississippi River, 109

Corn, cultivation of, 39, 40, 106, 127, 179

Coronado expedition, thatched houses seen by, 179

Council Bluffs, origin of the name, 115, 157

Council house
of the Kansa, 92-93
of the Ojibway, 16
of the Oto, 117
of the Teton, 60
Cree Indians
habitations of, 17-21
language of, 17
population of, 18, 19
related to Ojibway, 17
loving disposition of, 19
territory inhabited by, 1, 18, 19
with Assiniboin at Mandan village, 74
See Knistenaux.

Crow Indians
a tribe of the Hidatsa group, 2
arrangement of camps of, 154
ceremonial lodge of, 154-155
country inhabited by, 151, 152-153
described by Larocque, 151
lodges of, described, 152-154
separation of, from the Hidatsa, 150
wandering habits of, 153

Custer, General, mention of, 70

of the Blackfeet, 26-27
of the Cree, 18-19
of the Ojibway, 8-11, 13, 17
of the Omaha, 85-87
of the Osage, 105-106
of the Pawnee, 163-165
of the Sauk and Foxes, 39-41
of the Teton, 60-61
of the Wahpeton, 53
of the Yanktonai, 54-57

Dakota-Assiniboin group, 2
country occupied by, 44
habitations of, 44-45
tribes composing, 44

of the Teton, 60
See Dog dance, Sacred dance, Sun dance, War dance.

De Smet, Father, at the Kansa villages, 95-96

Decoration of lodges, 28, 67, 75-76, 78, 85

Delaware Indians
abandoned settlement of, 42-43
log cabins built by, 42
migration of remnant of, 2, 3

Dhegiha group, 2
migration of, 77

Dodge, Col. R. I., with expedition into Black Hills, 70

Dog dance of the Kansa, 93

Dog feast, painting of, 15

Dog travois, 19-20, 55, 65, 76

as a sacrifice, 52, 61
as beasts of burden, 28
as food, 28, 53, 54
as sacred animals, 53
use of, for transportation, 72, 73
See Dog travois.

Dorsey, J. O., Omaha structures described by, 85

Douay, Père Anastasius, Quapaw villages mentioned by, 110

Dwellings. See Lodges, Tipi, Wigwam.

Earth circles
explanations of, 21
noticed by Maximilian, 28, 30

Earth lodge
Arikara, 170, 173, 176
characteristic of Missouri River tribes, 185
Cheyenne, no pictures of, 24
erected by Caddoan tribes, 8
Gros Ventres, 148
Hidatsa, 142
interior of, 81, 161-162
Mandan, 128, 130, 132, 133
most accurate drawing of, 143
not in tribal circle, 84
Omaha, 79-80, 82-83
Oto, 115, 116, 117
Pawnee, 156, 161-162
suggestive of Creek and Cherokee council house, 185
used by Dhegiha group, 77

in the Ozark country, 107
See Pottery.

Earthworks, attributed to Dhegiha group, 77

Eastman, Capt., painting by, 51, 54

Elah-Sa, an Hidatsa village, 142

Ellsworth, H. L., expedition led by, 116, 159-161

Elm bark, structures of, 16, 17, 39
See Bark-covered lodges.

Engineer Cantonment, winter quarters of Long expedition, 157

to earth lodge, 149
to Winnebago dwelling, 122

Environment, influence of—
on form of dwelling, 184
on manners and customs, 8

Fall Indians, location and number of, 32
See Atsina.

Fall of the Rapid Indians, a name for the Atsina, 34

Falls of St. Anthony
Indian camp at, 15
named by Father Hennepin, 45

given by Blackfoot chief, 29
of the Cree, 18-19
of the Teton Sioux, 61-62

Fish, method of curing, 10

Floor mats, method of making, 41

method of cooking illustrated, 10
of the Mandan, 127, 136
of the Ojibway, 8-9
of the Osage, 104, 105-106
See Agriculture, Buffalo, Corn, Dogs, Fish, Game.

Fool Chief, a Kansa chief, 96
village of, 97

Fort Berthold, tribes near, 147

Fort Clark
erection of, 176
Mandan village near, 130, 139, 140
See Fort Osage.

Fort Crawford, establishment of, 184

Fort de Bourbon
location of, 72
mention of, 71
Fort des Prairies, mention of, 72

Fort John, destroyed by North American Fur Company, 69

Fort Laramie, description of, 69

Fort Leavenworth, early description of, 116

Fort Lookout, treaty concluded at, 57

Fort Osage
later named Fort Clark, 99
village near, 100

Fort Pierre
gathering of Yankton near, 57, 59
sketch of, 63

Fort Snelling
encampment at, 15
establishment of, 184

Fort Union
Assiniboin camp at, 75
stay at, of Friedrich Kurz, 76
visit at, of Maximilian, 142

Fort Yates, villages near, 22

Fortified Villages
Arikara, 168, 171, 172
Hidatsa, 147
Mandan, 123, 131

Forts built by Indians, 34, 35

Fox Indians
habitat of, 1
present location of, 38
visited by Long, 38
See Sauk and Foxes.

Fremont, arrival of, at Kansa towns, 96

Fur trade of the Teton, 61

Furs, huge quantities of, collected by Sauk and Foxes, 40

abundance of, at Isle au Vache, 91
See Animals, Buffalo, Hunting.

played by the Omaha, 81
space for playing, 129

Gilder, R. F., village site identified by, 82

Gilfillan, Dr. J. A., missionary among the Ojibway, 11

Grand Pawnee
visit to, of Long expedition, 158
See Chaui.

Grant, Peter, Ojibway dwellings described by, 9-10

Grass lodge
as temporary shelter, 13-14
of the Caddo, 183
of the Wichita, 179-180
photograph of, 180

Great Osage, an Osage band, 98

Grinnell, George B., erection of medicine lodge described by, 33

Gros Ventres. See Hidatsa.

Gros Ventres of the Missouri, a name applied to the Hidatsa, 141

Gros Ventres of the Prairie, a name applied to the Atsina, 34, 141
See Atsina.

Habitations. See Lodges, Tipi, Wigwam.

Ha-won-je-tah, a Teton Sioux chief, 61, 62

Hendry, Anthony, Journal of, 25

Henry, Alexander, travels of, through Assiniboin country, 71-73

Hidatsa group, tribes composing, 2, 140

Hidatsa tribe
ceremonial lodge of, 144
creation myth of, 143
temporary lodge of, 147
winter village of, 143, 149
See Minnetarees.

Hidatsa villages
descriptions of, 142-143, 145-146, 148-150
Indian drawings of, 139
location of, 141
near Fort Berthold, 147
painting of, by Catlin, 141
plan of, 145
sites of, compared with Mandan, 146
temporary, for winter use, 149

Hime, Humphrey Lloyd, photographs made by, 12

Hind Expedition
camp sites observed by, 20-21
Ojibway structures encountered by, 12

Hoe, made by Arikara, 177

Horse travois, 30, 65, 66

Horseracing of the Blackfeet, 31

Horses, housed in lodges of the Mandan, 126

House Rings, 20, 21, 22, 28, 30

Hudson's Bay Company
journals of traders of, 25
trade of, with the Blackfeet, 27
trading post of, 76

Hunkpapa, a Teton band, 2

customs of the Osage, 103, 106
customs of the Sauk and Foxes, 40
excursions of the Mandan, 126
excursions of the Omaha, 85-87
grounds used for, by Oto, 116
of antelope, a method of, 6
of buffalo, 4-7
parties of the Mandan, 136
trips of the Pawnee, 166-167

Illinois confederacy, villages of, 41-43

Illinois Indians
village of, 41
west of the Mississippi, 1

agricultural, of the Arikara, 177
flint, on Omaha village site, 82, 83
for skin dressing, 138
stone, found on White River, 108

Indian Peace Commission, visit of, to Fort Laramie, 69

Iotan, an Oto chief, 117

Iowa tribe
appearance of villages of, 113
belonging to Chiwere group, 2
brief description of, 114
closely connected with Winnebago, 122
habitations of, 114
migration of, 113

Iron Bird, an Osage chief, 103

Irvin, Samuel M., missionary among the Iowa, 114

Irving, Washington
deserted village described by, 105
Indian symbols mentioned by, 43

Ish-tal-a-sa's village, 97
Isle au Vache
brief history of, by Remsburg, 94
council at, between Kansa and Long party, 91
location of, 94
remains near, 91

Issati village, site of, 45

Itazipcho, a Teton band, 2
See Sans Arcs.

Jackson, W. H., photographs made by, 162

Jaramillo, Juan, an officer of the Coronado expedition, 179

Jonglerie, or medicine lodge, 16-17

Journals of traders, Blackfeet described in, 25

account by, of Quapaw villages, 109
Caddo tribe described by, 182-183

Kainah, a tribe of the Blackfeet confederacy, 1, 25

Kane, Paul
Ojibway wigwam described by, 10
paintings by, 20, 77

Kansa Indians
a tribe of the Dhegiha group, 2, 77
attack on, by Pawnee, 96
dress of, 94
migration of, 89
population of, 89, 95
variety of dwellings of, 97
villages of, described, 90, 92, 95-96, 97
visit of, to the Oto, 121

Kaposia, village of, 50, 51

Kingfisher, an old Ojibway, 12

Kitkehahki, a tribe of the Pawnee confederacy, 2

at Mandan village, 74
language spoken by, 74
location and number of, 32
See Cree.

Kurz, Friedrich
among the Omaha, 81
at Fort Union, 76
sketches by, 20, 63, 121

La Flesche, Joseph, an Omaha chief, 82

La Harpe, meeting of, with the Quapaw, 110

La Petit Corbeau, a Sioux chief, village of, 38

La Salle expedition, 109, 182

La Verendrye expedition, 73-74, 122

Lac de L'Isle Croix, Cree bands along, 18

Lahcocat, an Arikara village, 169

Lake Huron, encampment on islands of, 10

Lake Superior, structures on shores of, 9

Larocque, Antoine, visit of, among the Crows, 151

Le Raye, references in journal of, to the Arikara, 168

Leavenworth, establishment of, 184

Lewis and Clark expedition, villages visited by, 23, 34, 60, 74, 75, 78, 89, 90, 114-115, 124-126

Lindenwood College, manuscript journal in possession of, 90

Liquor, use of, among Indians, 75

Little Dog, a Piegan Indian, 30

Little Osage, an Osage band, 98

Little Osage River, Osage villages in valley of, 99

Little Raven, village of, 48, 49, 50

Lodges. See Bark-covered lodges, Ceremonial lodge, Earth lodge, Grass lodge, Log houses, Mat-covered lodge, Skin lodge, Thatched lodge, Tipi, Traders lodge, Wigwam.

Log Cabins
built by Cree, 18
of the Delaware, 42
See Log houses.

Log Houses
construction of, 48
of Fox Indians, 38
of Sioux chief, 39
of upright posts, 48, 49, 50

Long, Maj. Stephen H., expedition under command of, 47, 157

Louisiana Purchase, change of conditions due to, 184

Low Horn, a Piegan chief, 30

Ludlow exploring party, 70

Mahawha, village of the Amahami, 125

Malta, Mo., former Osage village near, 99

a Siouan tribe, 2
history of, 125
settled near Fort Berthold, 147
village sites of, compared with Hidatsa, 146

Mandan villages
described by Catlin, 128, 129-130
described by Maximilian, 130-132
deserted, 124
French expedition to, 122-123
Indian drawings of, 139
occupied by Arikaras, 176
plan of, 131

Manitobah House, wigwam near, 12

Manners and customs. See Customs.

Marquette, Père
Illinois tribes visited by, 41
Osage villages listed by, 98
Quapaw villages reached by, 108

Marston, Major M., life of Sauk and Foxes described by, 39-41

Martin, Captain, stay of detachment of, at Isle au Vache, 91

Mat-covered lodge
as winter habitation, 38
of the Kansa, 91, 92
of the Osage, 98, 99, 100
used by Dhegiha group, 77

Matootonha, a Mandan village, 125

Mats, rush, method of making, 41

Matthews, description by, of Hidatsa villages, 148-150

Maximilian, villages visited by, 19, 28, 29, 35, 88, 130-136, 175-176

Mdewakanton tribe
a division of the Dakota, 2, 44
sites of settlements of, 15
villages of, 45-52

Medicine, meaning of the term, 164

Medicine bag of the Dakotas, 55

Medicine feast
of the Hidatsa, 143-145
of the Mandan, 135, 136
Medicine lodge
Arikara, 172-173, 178
ceremony of erecting, 33
of the Blackfeet, 33
of the Mandan, 129
Ojibway, 12, 13, 16-17

Metaharta, a Minnetaree village, 125, 126

an Illinois tribe, 41
position of village of, not determined, 112
visited by Marquette, 41

Mĭdé lodge of the Ojibway, 13, 19

Mih-tutta-hangusch, a Mandan village, 128, 130, 131

Mille Lac, village sites on, 45-46

Miniconjou, a Teton band, 2

intrenchments made by, 34
population of village of, 126
winter village of, 143
See Hidatsa.

Minnetarees of Fort de Prairie, a name for the Atsina, 34

Mississippi River, first name of, 109

Missouri tribe
ancient village of, 121
connected with Winnebago, 122
of the Chiwere group, 2
remnants of, with the Oto, 114

stone, in the Ozark country, 107, 108
wooden, of the Arikara, 177

National Museum
bone scrapers in, 59
collection in, of paintings by Catlin, 15, 129, 141, 175
Oto specimens in, 121

Newberry Library, sketch in, by Bodmer, 143

Nicollet, visit of, to the Winnebago, 122

Niobrara River, early name of, 88

Nuttall, Thomas, journey of, 103, 110, 111

Ochkih-Hadda, the evil spirit of the Mandan, 132, 142

O'Fallon, Maj., commissioner with Long expedition, 157

a Teton band, 2
country occupied by, 63
epidemic of cholera among, 64
log lodges of, 67
moving of village of, 64-65
skin lodges of, 68
wanderings of, 44

Ohio Valley, ancient village sites of, 102

ceremonial structures of, 18-19
habitations of, 8-17
location of villages of, 1
meeting of, with Sioux, to establish peace, 15
territory claimed by, 8
village sites of, 15
See Chippeway.

Omaha tribe
manners and customs of, 85-87
meaning of the name, 108
migration of, 77
of the Dhegiha group, 2, 77

Omaha villages, 77-87
destroyed by fire, 78

One Stab, an Oglala head-man, 70

Oohenonpa, a Teton band, 2

Osage Indians
a tribe of the Dhegiha group, 2, 77
habitat of, 98
industry of women, 103
life of, described by Morse, 106
structures of, 99, 101-104
villages of, described, 100, 103-104
villages of, listed by Père Marquette, 98

Oto tribe
a tribe of the Chiwere group, 2
closely connected with Winnebago, 122
councils with, 115, 117-118
country occupied by, 114
habitation of, described by Bradbury, 115
temporary camp of, described by James, 120
winter camp of, described by Mölhausen, 118

Otsotchove, a Quapaw village, 109

caves of, 107
habitat of the Osage, 98
hunting ground of the Osage, 107

Pahatsi, an Osage band, 2, 98

Palisades. See Fortified villages.

Palmer, Dr., missionary to the Osage, 104

Papillion Creek, Omaha village on, 81

Pasquayah village, 71

Pawnee confederacy, tribes composing, 2

Pawnee Indians
abandoned camp of, 165
attack by, on Kansa village, 96
council held with, 160-161
country occupied by, 159
customs of, 163-165
habitations of, 156, 158, 161-162
manner of moving, 163
migration of, 156
temporary camp of, 164

Pawnee villages
description of, 157, 162
orderly removal of, 65
photographs of, 162

Pelican, The, an Assiniboin chief, 71

Pembina, native habitations at, 55

Pemmican maul, of the Oto, 121

Peoria, village of, visited by Marquette, 41

Persimmon pulp, bread made of, 100

Petit Corbeau, village of, 48, 49, 50

Picaneaux, location and number of, 32
See Piegan.

Piegan Indians
a tribe of the Blackfeet confederacy, 1, 25
camp of, described, 30-31
camp of, painted by Bodmer, 29
country occupied by, 27
population of, 31, 32
See Picaneaux.

Pike, Lieut. Z. M., exploring expedition of, 99, 155

Pillagers, gathering place of, 15

ceremonial use of, 172
from Omaha cache, 83
of peace, smoking of, 61

Pipestone quarry, tribes ranging near, 77
Pis-ka-kau-a-kis, a band of Cree, 18

Pitahauerat, a tribe of the Pawnee confederacy, 2

"Platte purchase," Iowa living in, 114

Platte River, Oto village on, 116

Ponca Indians
a tribe of the Dhegiha group, 2, 77
habitations of, 87-88
migration of, 77
separation of, from the Omaha, 87

of Arikara villages, 170
of Assiniboin, 76
of Atsina or Fall Indians, 32
of Cheyenne, 24
of Cree, 19
of Crow, 19
of Kansa, 89, 93
of Mandan, 139
of Minnetaree villages, 126
of Osage, 104
of Piegan, 31
of Sarsees, 32
of village of Sotoüis, 110
of Waco, 182
of Wichita, 182
of Yankton, 56

Porcupine Creek, village on, 22

Arikara, 174
fragments of, in Ozark caves, 107
fragments of, on village site, 46
of the Mandan, 137-138
of the Quapaw, 112
See Earthenware.

Pounds, buffalo, 5-6, 26

a tribe of the Dhegiha group, 2, 77
country occupied by, 108
decrease in population of, 111
meaning of the name, 108
migration of, 77, 112
remnants of, 111

Quivira, reached by Coronado, 179

Radin, Paul, list of Winnebago structures given by, 122

Rakes, made by Arikara, 177

Raynolds exploring party, sacred structure discovered by, 63

Red Cloud, an Oglala chief, 70, 71

Red River, structures in valley of, 9, 12

Red Wing, Minn., origin of the name, 47

Red Wing, village of—
described by Schoolcraft, 49
described by Seymour, 50

Rees, warfare of, with Sioux, 70

Republican Pawnee
described by Irving, 161
visited by Long expedition, 159
See Kitkehahki.

Requa, W. C., Osage described by, 104

of earth, 21, 28, 30
of stone, 20, 21

Rocky Mountain Fort, Assiniboin camp near, 77

Rooptahee, a Mandan winter village, 125, 134

Rotundas of the Cherokee, 118

Running-water River, early name of the Niobrara, 88

Rush mats
for seats and sleeping places, 11
method of making, 41
used for covering dwellings, 10

Sacred dance
for benefit of sick, 82
of the Dakotas, 55

Sacred island in Mille Lac, described, 46

St. Joseph, a trading post, 184

St. Paul, former Indian village near, 38

St. Peters River, exploration of, 47

Salt, making of, by Indians, 42, 174

Sandy Creek, Oto encampment on, 120

Sans Arcs, a Teton band, 2
See Itazipcho.

Sans Oreille, an Osage chief, 100

eastern division of the Dakota, 45
tribes forming, 2
use of the name, 45

Santsukhdhi an Osage band, 2, 98

Sarsees, number and location of, 32

Saskatchewan Valley, tribes inhabiting, 32

Sauk and Foxes
agriculture of, 40
living as one tribe, 38
manners and ways of life, 39-41
summer and winter habitations of, 38
villages of, similar in appearance, 38
See Fox Indians, Sauk Indians.

Sauk Indians
excursions of, against the Osage and Missouris, 98
Missouri driven out by, 121
removal of, to Indian Territory, 38
territory of, 1
village of, visited by Long, 38
See Sauk and Foxes.

Sauteux. See Ojibway.

Schoolcraft, H. R.
deserted Osage villages encountered by, 101
journey of, down the Mississippi, 49
Sioux settlements described by, 49

Seven Council Fires of the Dakota, 44

Seymour, E. S.
Kaposia described by, 50
sketches by, 55, 93, 95, 121

Shakopee's village, described by Keating, 52

Shawanese, migration of remnant of, 2, 3

Shawnee, villages of, west of the Mississippi, 42

Arapaho, affixed to tripods, 36, 37
of the Pawnee, 157

Sibley, George C., Kansa village described by, 90

Sichangu, a Teton band, 2

Sick and aged
dance for benefit of, 82
treatment of, 165

Sihasapa, a Teton band, 2

Siksika, a tribe of the Blackfeet confederacy, 1, 25
Siouan tribes
classification of, 2
general movement of, 3
in the East, 44
second largest stock north of Mexico, 43
skin tipi typical of, 7
various habitations of, 44
villages of, described, 1
westward migration of, 43

excursions of, against the Osage, 98
gathering of, with Ojibway, to establish peace, 15

Sisseton, a division of the Dakota, 2, 44

Skidi, a tribe of the Pawnee Confederacy, 2

Skin Dressing, implements for, 58, 59, 138

Skin Lodge
Arapaho, 37
Assiniboin, 71, 76
Blackfoot, 28
Cheyenne, 24
construction of, 56
Cree, 18, 20
Crow, 150, 152, 153
decorations on, 28, 67, 76, 78, 85
descriptions of, 50, 51
drawings of, 56
erected by the Dakota, 45
Hidatsa, 146
Kansa, 94
Omaha, construction of, 80-81, 85
Pawnee, 162, 164, 165-166
predominance of, on the plains, 185
sketched by Kurz, 76
Teton, 61
used by roving tribes, 32
used by the Dhegiha, 77
used by the Oto, 118

Skin scraper, bone, described, 58, 59

Skin tipi
when used by Omaha, 84-85
Yankton, described by Maximilian, 57-58

Sledges of the Mandan, 134

Smallpox epidemic
among the Mandan, 139
among the Omaha, 78

Smoking custom of the Blackfeet, 26, 27
See Pipes.

Sotoüis, population of village of, 110

Soulier Noir, French name for the Amahami, 126

Spears, Arapaho, affixed to tripods, 36, 37

Spoons, horn
of the Mandan, 137
of the Pawnee, 158

Stanley, paintings by, in National Museum, 31

Stansbury Expedition, narrative of, 64, 66-68

Starapat, an Arikara chief, 176

State Historical Society of North Dakota, surveys made by, 139, 145

Stockade buildings, mentioned by Long, 50

Stockades, remains of, 67
See Fortified villages.

Stone circles, explanation of, 20, 21

Stone Indians. See Assiniboins.

Sun dance, lodges erected for, 63, 85

Sunflower seed, cakes made of, 136

Sweat house
of the Crows, 155
of the Ojibway, 12, 16

Symbols, cut on trees by Indians, 43

Talangamane, a Sioux chief, 49

Taoapa, description of village of, 52

Tapage Pawnee. See Pitahauerat.

Tatanka Wechacheta, a Wahpeton chief, 53

Tatunkamane, son of a Dakota chief, 48

Tchan-dee, a Teton Sioux chief, 62

a division of the Dakota, 2, 44
bands composing, 2
customs of, 60
great village of, visited by Lewis and Clark, 59-60

Teton River, village near mouth of, 62

Thatched lodges, of the Wichita, 179-180

Thief, The, an Oto Indian, 117

Tinder Mountain, Cree band at, 18

drawing of, by Bodmer, 58, 59
of the plains tribes, fine example of, 68
typical of Siouan tribes, 7
See Skin lodges.

Tonginga, a Quapaw village, 109

Toriman, a Quapaw village, 109

Totem posts, not used by Omaha, 85

Traders lodge, of the Oglala, 68

across the prairie, 88
buffalo, 7
in the Black Hills, 70, 71
made by travois, 66

among the Oglala, 65
among the Piegan, 30
See Dog travois, Horse travois.

Travois. See Dog travois, Horse travois.

of Greenville, westward migration following, 42
of peace between Sioux and Chippewas, 15
place of, between Ojibway and U. S. Government, 16
with Tetons, Yankton and Yanktonai, 57

Twenty-Four, village of the, a former Kansa town, 94

Two Kettles. See Oohenonpa.

Typha palustris, mats made of leaves of, 100

Union Agency, location of, 104-105

Utensils of the Mandan, 136-137

Utsehta, an Osage band, 2, 98

Village of the Twenty-Four, 94

Village sites, not contemporaneous, 127

Wabashaw, a Sioux village visited by Schoolcraft, 49

Waco Indians
a tribe of the Wichita confederacy, 2
appearance of, 181
grass lodge of, 181
population of, 182

Wahktageli, a Yankton chief, 58

Wahpekute, a division of the Dakota, 2, 44

Wahpeton tribe
a division of the Dakota, 2, 44, 52
country occupied by, 52
village of, described, 53
Wah-toh-ta-na, name for the Oto, 116

Wakan wachepe, a Dakota society, 55

Wa-ki-ta-mo-nee, an Oto chief, 118

Wanotan, a Yanktonai chief, 54

Wapasha, a Dakota chief, 47

Wapasha's Prairie, mentioned by Seymour, 50

Wapasha village, description of, 47, 48

War dance, Osage, account of, 105

Warriors, special lodges for use of, 25

Wattasoons, Mandan name for the Amahami, 126

Wattlework structures of the Osage, 101-102, 105

Waubuschon, an Osage chief, 100

Wayondott, migration of band of, 3

Weapons of the Mandan, 138

Western Engineer, a steamboat of 1819 on Missouri River, 91-93

Wetarko, Indian name for Grand River, 169

White Hair, an Osage chief, 103

White River, village site on, 108

Wichita confederacy
a Caddoan group, 2
thatched dwellings of, 179-180

Wickiup, a temporary shelter, 70

construction of, 11
dome-shaped, of the Ojibway, 14
mat and bark covered, 7
See Lodges.

a Siouan tribe, 2
country occupied by, 122
villages of, 122

Wolf Pawnee. See Skidi.

custom concerning, 19
industry of, 103
labor of, 65

Yankton tribe
a division of the Dakota, 2, 44
described by General Atkinson, 57
population of, 57
structures of, 57-58

a division of the Dakota, 2, 44
country inhabited by, 54
described by Keating, 54, 55
habitations of, 56-57
village of, near Lake Traverse, 54

Yellow Bear, an Hidatsa chief, 145

Yellow Stone, a Missouri River steamboat, 130

Transcriber's note:

Some illustrations were originally located in the middle of paragraphs. These have been adjusted to not interrupt the flow of reading.

Inconsistent spelling is maintained in this document, for example "Chayenne" and "Cheyenne".

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