Title: Christening the Papoose

Periodical: Sunday Chronicle

Date: February 19, 1888

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To the ordinary Briton the manners and customs of the Red Indian, as he is familiarly termed, are an unknown quantity. The uninitiated no doubt picture him as a fierce and untamable savage—one of those bloodthirsty creatures which the pen of Fenimore Cooper loved to depict with such a vivid realism. The visit of the Wild West Show to these shores, however, has done much to remove ideas at once exaggerated and fallacious, and those who have seen the denizens of the Far West "at home," as it were, within their camp, must be filled with wonderment at the marvellous changes which the march of civilisation has brought about in the social and mental condition of the Indian people. The race is gradually being shorn of all its old associations, and ere long it is not drawing too much upon the imagination to assume the "noble savage" contesting with the white man for the prizes or otherwise, which fall to the share of those who enter the lottery of a commercial or agricultural career. True it is that, outwardly, the Indian retains much of his old originality, and the figure cut by a full-blown chief, in all the glory of his war-paint and feathers, is both striking and unique. Those who live amongst the Indians, however, tell us that the red man is gifted with an extraordinary intelligence and sagacity, and so heartily has he entered into the various phases of civilised life that he is now a devout and sympathetic worshipper of the Deity. It was not surprising, therefore, that when "Little Chief," of the Ugawalla [1] band of Sioux Indians became the happy father of a bouncing "papoose" the other week, he should be prevailed upon to have it baptised according to the rites of the English Church. Such, however, was the case, and no sooner was the suggestion mooted than preparations were made to carry it out. As "Little Chief's" daughter was the first Sioux Indian babe born in this country the occurrence was made the occasion of a general rejoicing, and as no performance of the Wild West Show was given on Ash Wednesday, an excellent opportunity was afforded of bringing the affair to an issue, as well as giving the Cowboys and others a much needed rest. St. Clement's Church, Salford, was the scene of the ceremony, and here, at the hour of six p.m., were assembled a crowd of anxious and curious persons, principally of the feminine persuasion, desirious of participating in proceedings the like of which they may be destined to never see again. The affair consequently was surrounded with a dash of romance as well as novelty, and the sight when all the Indian warriors, attired in their best blankets and other paraphernalia, were assembled in the various pews was a most remarkable and impressive one. The red men, straight as an arrow, and with the characteristic stolidity of their race, sat with immobile features and an apparently stoic indifference to the curious stare of the assembled congregation. Not even when the ceremony was taking place at the font behind them did they turn their heads or show that they were in the least interested. They, however, fully entered into the devotional proceedings, and the sight of all these strange people, with bowed heads and bended knees, paying tribute to the grace of the white man's God was a very striking one. "Nearer My God to Thee" was chanted by the young "braves" in a low, but not unmusical, tone of voice, which greatly added to the romantic nature of the proceedings. Miss "Frances Victoria Alexandra" Little Chief will no doubt be considered a very fortunate young lady by the members of her tribe, and when she grows old enough to understand the meaning of the remarkable necklace presented to her by Mr. A. H. Gardener, her godfather, she will, perhaps, reflect with wonderment upon the singularity of her birth and baptism. At the close the "papoose" was duly handed round for inspection by those present amidst many expressions of "Oh, the little dear," and certain attempts at osculatory exercise by the ladies present. In the evening the Indians kept up the celebration in camp in right royal fashion, and a privileged few, under the command of the genial Major Burke, assembled at "Alec" Mills's hostelry, the Trafford Arms, where a most enjoyable time was spent. After a substantial tea had been done full justice to, the "sparkling vintage" was passed round, and conviviality and good fellowship reigned supreme.


On Sunday last Mrs. Whittaker, the "Mother of the Camp" at Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, was presented on behalf of a few friends with a silver-mounted horse-shoe as a token of esteem and as a slight memento of her visit to the city. The presentation was made by Mr. John Allen (engineer, of Manchester), and Mrs. Whittaker replied in a few well chosen words. Prior to leaving Mrs. Whittaker gave each of the ladies and gentlemen present an autograph copy of her photo.

Note 1: "Ugawalla" is "Oglala" or Oglala Sioux Tribe. [back]

Title: Christening the Papoose

Periodical: Sunday Chronicle

Source: McCracken Research Library, Buffalo Bill Center of the West , MS6.3679.15.01 (Stroebel scrapbook)

Date: February 19, 1888

Topics: Lakota Performers

Keywords: American Indians Ash Wednesday Baptism Cowboys Episcopal Church Hymns Indian children Indians of North America--Social life and customs Infant baptism Oglala Indians Sioux Nation

People: Burke, John M., 1842-1917 Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 Little Chief, b. 1851

Place: Salford (Greater Manchester, England)

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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