Title: Rumors of a Battle

Periodical: Idaho Statesman

Date: November 21, 1890

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Between the Indians and U. S. Soldiers.


Indians Killing Cattle and Acting in a Warlike Manner—Troops on Hand.

CHICAGO, Nov. 20.—General Miles this evening received a telegram from Rushville, informing him that General Brooke's command reached Pine Ridge at 7 o'clock this morning. The Indians are coming in in large numbers from Rosebud. There is much excitement and the ghost dance continues. General Miles received a communication from an officer at Poplar River, Montana, dated December 17th, containing considerable matter of interest with reference to the Messiah craze. The officer reports all the Indians in that vicinity affected by the prevailing craze and even the more intelligent half breeds believe in it.

Numbers of young Indians have recently procured new Winchester rifles, where from the officer could not ascertain[.] There has been no excitement up there yet, nor any dances, but there is a deep and universal interest and belief that there will be astonishing supernatural manifestations before very long.

One of Sitting Bull's lieutenants, (White Gut.) with two other Sioux have recently been up there preaching the new doctrine, denouncing the schools and telling the Indians to provide themselves with arms and ammunition and meet the other Indians next spring in the Black Hills' country.

They were ordered off the reservation and went to Woody mountains, north of the British line, to proselyte the remnants of the Ogallalas and Uncapapas. One of the loyal Indians told this officer in case the Sioux should open hostilities, many of the young warriors from that vicinity are likely to go and join them. Some of them were in the Custer affair and some of the older ones were concerned in the Minnesota Massacre of 1860.

The Gros Ventres Indian at the Fort Belknap reservation are in a very turbulent state. An as instance of the stories floating around the officers tell that one in current on the reservation to the effect that several young warriors started from there to visit Sitting Bull and learn about the new Messiah. On the way, one of them, Yellow Hawk, said he had been commanded in a dream to kill himself as a test of fath, with the promise that he should be raised from the dead. He committed suicide accordingly and the party went on without him[.] When they reached Standing Rock, they found Yellow Hawk alive and well, having been resurrected and taken to Standing Rock ahead of his companions. This is the story sent back by the travellers.

General Miles expressed great satisfaction this evening that General Brooke's troops reached the agency this morning, before the Indians had inaugurated hostilities, and the further fact that the latter are not committing any violence. "Now," said he, "they have to attack us in our own position or else break away from the reservation. The danger now is that the turbulent bucks may leave the reservation. The appearance of Gen. Brooke's command, however, will have the effect of sustaining the authority of the government and give protection to the loyal element among the Indians."

Buffalo Bill, who is in the city, told an Associated Press representative this evening that General Miles has received information that a fight occurred this afternoon between General Brooke's troops and the Indians, between Rushville and Pine Ridge. No particulars have yet been received and the casualties are unknown. Buffalo Bill expressed the opinion that General Miles would, if left alone by the government, settle the trouble expeditiously.

General Miles could not be seen tonight, either at his headquarters or hotel. It was stated that he had gone out in company with Colonel Corbin, his assis[missing]ant adjutant general.

OMAHA, Nov 20—Orders have been received at Fort Omaha to have the four remaining companies of the Second infantry ready to go to the front at a moment's notice. The companies immediately began to pack up, and inside of two hours everything necessary for a winter campaign was ready to be placed on board the cars. These companies, so far at least, as commanders are concerned, comprise some of the oldest fighters of this section of the country.

LATER.—General Miles was seen at midnight and assured the reporter that he knew nothing, whatever, about a battle having occurred.

FORT NIOBRARA, Nov. 20.—Troops from Fort Niobrara reached Rosebud agency early this morning and found all quiet and peaceful[.] The Messiah craze has not been as prevalent at the Rosebud agency, and most of those affected by it left several days ago for Pine Ridge to participate in the ghost dances. The presence of large numbers of Indians with a dozen wagons yesterday in Valentine for the purpose of freighting agency goods to Rosebud, was assuring to the people that little trouble was to be apprehended. It is also considered good evidence that there will be no trouble at Pine Ridge. It is thought that most of the present row was caused by the new and inexperienced agent.

PIERRE, S. D., Nov. 20.—Capt. Norville, special Indian agent stationed at this point, returned to day from a trip up Red river, where he had gone on receipt of a report that the Indians, on account of the Messiah dance, were failing to attend to the distribution of rations and killing cattle. He reports he found the Indians much excited and keeping up their famous ghost dances, with a secret perseverance that is alarming. He found Hump Reed with about 300 braves of the Two Kettle band, all painted up and acting in a very suspicious manner.

Cowboys who arrived here to-night stated that the Indians killed a number of cattle and were acting in a strange manner, and the famous Indian, Stepps-The-Cripple, had told them they had better keep on their guard. Some of the chiefs told Forville several of the hostiles had urged them to go and join in the ghost dances, making threats if they did not enough force would be sent against them to kill them all. They claim to stand in great fear of the hostiles.

KANSAS CITY, Nov. 20.—A dispatch from Pine Ridge from James N. Finley, formerly of this city, but now a post trader at Pine Ridge agency, was received here to-night. The dispatch mentions the arrival of the troops and continued as follows: "The Indians are actually crazed with religious fanaticism and the excitement at the ghost dance is of the most intense character. Add to their excitement the reckless consequences induced by the blind fanaticism and you may gain some idea of the situation. It is the general opinion among them that they will be ordered, in a day or two, to stop the ghost dance, then trouble will undoubtedly follow. Two or three of these dances are now in progress. A herder who just reached here reports that several hundred Indians are congregated nine miles from this place. They are all heavily armed and are expecting the Rosebud Sioux to join them shortly.