Title: High Bear—Holy Blanket | Little Wound's Niece Weds Sioux Who Saved Her Life

Periodical: New York Times

Date: June 1, 1894

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Matowaungata Is His Name—Contracting Parties Members of "Buffalo Bill's" Wild West—Double Ceremony, Indian and Christian—Weird Music, Gaudy Color, and Strange Rites in the Camp of the Sioux in South Brooklyn.

Tasinawakan, otherwise Holy Blanket, a niece of Little Wound, the Sioux Chief who led the hostile Indians against the United States troops in the battle of Wounded Knee, was married yesterday noon at "Buffalo Bill's" Wild West encampment, in South Brooklyn, to Matowaungata, or High Bear, with ceremonies half Indian and half Christian.

Ula Mato, or Rocky Bear, the chief counselor of the camp, and Maza Balaska, or Flat Iron, were masters of ceremony for the Indians, while the Rev. Dr. John E. Lloyd of the Twelfth Street Dutch Reformed Church officiated at the Christian services. It was a strange blending of paganism and barbarity with civilization.

The Indians were busy all the morning making preparations for the ceremony. The braves and squaws smeared their faces with paints of all colors. Even the children were painted in colors appropriate to the occasion. Little Seven-Up looked gay with red and yellow streaks and a yellow suit.

About 11 o'clock Flat Iron, who is the camp crier, began to chant a weird Sioux refrain, calling the tribe to make ready for the wedding. One by one the bucks and squaws emerged from their tepees, wrapped in great blue flannel blankets, and took positions in front of their queer domiciles. They remained silent, reclining against the tepees, until Flat Iron had concluded his chant. They then formed in groups and stood around, apparently discussing the matter very gravely.

Flat Iron's face was painted a deep red, so that he looked at a distance like an angry sunset. But it was wreathed in smiles, as if the part he had to perform gave him genuine pleasure. He hugged himself in a huge blue blanket. At a signal from him the bucks and squaws and the children marched in solemn procession to a space in the rear of the tepees, where they lined up on one side.

High Bear then strode out and took a position some distance from them. His face was painted red and yellow. He struck an attitude, with arms crossed, and waited for his bride.

Holy Blanket was led from her tepee by Rocky Bear, who escorted her to a group of singers and tom-tom players in the centre of the assembled Indians. Then, walking between Rocky Bear and Flat Iron, and followed by the tribe, she advanced toward the bridegroom. At the same time the singers began a weird wedding chant and the tom-tom players beat their tom-toms. When they reached High Bear, they stopped, and Holy Blanket stepped up to him. He received her with apparent indifference.

Holy Blanket presented a strange appearance for a bride. Her face was covered with thick yellow paint, and she wore a bright red dress spotted with white moons. This was partly concealed under a heavy blue blanket similar to those about her.

Rocky Bear then advanced and announced, through George Shaughran, that, in accordance with Indian custom, he would give each of the singers $2. He said that if he was in the West he would give them horses, but he had none with him.

While Rocky Bear was speaking, Dr. Lloyd appeared and walked over to the bridal couple. Col. Cody, who was present, gave the bride away, and Dr. Lloyd then, with uncovered head, read the Episcopal marriage service. During this part of the ceremony the bride stood with her head bowed, and all the Indians kept silent. Dr. Lloyd pronounced the couple man and wife and closed the service with a benediction. He then retired.

Rocky Bear then turned to those assembled and made a speech.

"If you publish this marriage," he said, "it will show our people in the West that we are following the example of the white man and that we are adopting his religion. In the future we will endeavor to have all our marriages performed by Christian ministers. We believe it will put us high in the estimation of the Great Spirit. We have learned a great deal since we left our homes in the West, and we believe that if we follow Christian customs we will be able to have good homes and many ponies."

The Christian ceremony over, the Indians resumed their native rites. The tom-tom players and the singers gathered in a circle and the women sang a Sioux love song, keeping time with their hands and feet. Then the bucks joined in, and in a moment they were dancing the Omaha, or war dance. They danced in circles, in and out, taking short steps and hopping on one foot. Then they would jump up and down and beat the ground viciously with their heels. The children seemed particularly delighted with this exercise. All the while the tom-toms kept up their monotonous beating.

The bridal couple did not participate in this. They had retired to High Bear's tepee.

Suddenly the dance ceased and the bucks and squaws separated and disappeared within their respective tepees. Ten minutes later there was nothing in the camp to indicate that anything unusual had transpired.

"Nate" Salsbury, Col. Cody's partner, says a romantic story is connected with the marriage of Holy Blanket and High Bear. Holy Blanket left the Pine Ridge Reservation with some other Indians on May 3. It was her first experience with railroads. At a way station the party disembarked for dinner. Holy Blanket did not follow her companions, but remained standing on the track directly in the path of an approaching train. She would have been killed had not High Bear sprung to her side and rescued her. The spark of love was kindled then and there in both their bosoms, and when High Bear popped the question a little more than a week ago, Holy Blanket blushed and answered yes.

They informed Col. Cody of their intentions, and he communicated with the Interior Department at Washington. Indian Commissioner Browning consented to the marriage. It was then arranged to have the ceremony performed by Dr. Lloyd. Rocky Bear telegraphed to Holy Blanket's relatives at the Pine Ridge Agency, promising to give them twenty ponies if they would agree to let the marriage be performed with Christian rites. They also consented.

Holy Blanket is a widow, about thirty-two years old. Her husband was killed at Wounded Knee. High Bear is about thirty years old.

Title: High Bear—Holy Blanket | Little Wound's Niece Weds Sioux Who Saved Her Life

Periodical: New York Times

Date: June 1, 1894

Topic: Lakota Performers

Keywords: American Indians Indian blankets Indian children Indian dance Indian men Indian women Indians of North America--Social life and customs Indians of North America Indians, Music Marriage service Music Railroad travel Sioux Nation United States. Department of the Interior United States. Office of Indian Affairs Wedding dances Wounded Knee Massacre, S.D., 1890

People: Rocky Bear Salsbury, Nathan, 1846-1902

Places: Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.) Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (S.D.)

Sponsor: This project is supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Geraldine W. & Robert J. Dellenback Foundation.

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