Title: An Indian Fighter's Views | The Experience of a Man Who Has Spent Thirteen Years Among the Sioux

Periodical: New York Journal

Date: January 15, 1891

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The Experience of a Man Who Has Spent Thirteen Years Among the Sioux.

George C. Crager, who has spent thirteen years among the Sioux as soldier, interpreter and courier, and who is now on his way to the Pine Ridge Agency, kindly contributes the following about the Sioux.

A Picturesque Sight.

Tall, straight as an arrow, with big, heaving chest and muscles of iron, the Indian in paint or without is a picturesque sight.

I have known him well, having lived for thirteen years in the Indian country and watched him in time of peace and in time of war. His life in time of peace is one long monotonous dream in which his pipe and cards play prominent parts, and dances, feasts and games are indulged in.

A Band of Professional Dancers.

It is not generally known that among the Sioux there is a band of professional dancers. These dancers perform for the amusement of their fellows and also for the whites.

They are invited by the Government people and the traders to their posts and they dance and dance, and in return the traders and others give them a spread. This dance is called the feast dance and is one of the most fantastic imaginable. To describe it would be simply impossible as the dancers go through the various evolutions. Their faces are painted red as a sign of joy and they wear their best dressing on such occasions, which are quite frequent.

The Indian's Passion for Gambling.

The propensity for gambling in the Indian is something remarkable. He will sit down outside his tepee and gamble away his ponies and even his moccasins. He does not lose much in this manner, however, for it is an even game in the end.

On ration day, or the day on which the beef is distributed, the Indians, who, by the way, live in tepees which are occupied by some fifteen or twenty families, all relations, assemble at the agency, where the beef is distributed on the hoof. They take great delight in shooting arrows into the animals, and then, when they get wild, killing them.

Always Looking for War.

The Indian, by the way, in speaking on this, in time of peace are always looking for war, and keep on hand what they called jerked beef, which they put up on poles and dry, and in this way it lasts for years.

The young Indian children amuse themselves by throwing arrows and running and jumping. The elders take great delight in watching the youngsters at play, and frequently the squaws take part in the games.

The Squaws Are Workers.

The squaws are the workers among the Indians. They, in fact, do all the dirty work, cook, arrange the settees and usually slaughter the beeves, and in times of war are the most malicious and brutal.

The Indian is a good friend, but a bad foe. Polygamy is unknown among the Sioux, and the women are moral.

Black paint is the sign of war, and when the Indian dons it he means business.

The war bonnets are put on and the ponies herded together, and the start for the field of battle is made.

How They Travel and Fight.

They travel in bands, and the squaws prepare the travoys and place the children in them, while the tepees are taken up and also carried away. It takes about ten minutes to undo an Indian village.

The Indians never force the fighting, and upon arriving at the scene of the battle the women and the children are put in the rear.

If a retreat is necessary they fly to the hills. Usually after a battle the squaws go over the battleground and disfigure the wounded.

The coon dance is danced in the Springtime, and is a scene of joy. The other dances are wild and weird.

I have found this, that if you treat the Indian well he will treat you well, and that so long as the peace policy is in effect the Indians are robbed and plundered by the whites.

Geo C Crager

Title: An Indian Fighter's Views | The Experience of a Man Who Has Spent Thirteen Years Among the Sioux

Periodical: New York Journal

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West , MS6.3772.010.03 (Crager scrapbook)

Date: January 15, 1891

Topic: Lakota Performers

Keywords: American Indians Beef cattle Gambling Games Horses Indian children Indian dance Indian dancers Indian weapons Indian women Indians of North America--Clothing Indians of North America--Social life and customs Lakota dialect Lakota Military Moccasins Oglala Sioux Tribe of the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota Sioux Nation Tipis Translators United States. Office of Indian Affairs. United States. Office of Indian Affairs. Pine Ridge Agency

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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