"I have come a long way and intend, while in your village, to walk your streets as a proud man."—Little Crow to Acting Commissioner Charles E. Mix, during an interview with Dakota delegates, March 15, 1858 (Office of Indian Affairs, 1858)
In the winter of 1857-1858, ninety delegates from thirteen tribes traveled to Washington, D.C., through arduous conditions, leaving some of their own as fatal victims of illness, accidents and crime. Although there are no records detailing the delegates' personal experiences while in the capitol, which included meeting President Buchanan, presented here is a list of delegate activities compiled from newspapers and from government accounts.
Monday, January 4, 1858
Yankton delegation met with Commissioner of Indian Affairs, Charles Mix. Twenty Indian delegates toured Smithsonian Institution, including Stanley's Indian Gallery. Many placed tobacco offering on the North tower and prayed. Later, delegates performed a "war" dance in the conference room.
Friday, January 15, 1858
Dakota, Pona, Potowatami, Pawnee, and Winnebago delegates visited the Navy Yard and the U.S. Arsenal. The Secretary of War presented each chief with a gun.
Saturday, January 23, 1858
Delegates attended several public balls.
Wednesday, January 27, 1858
Pawnee, Ponca, Potawatomi, Sioux, Sac, and Fox delegations viewed troop demonstrations at the marine barracks. In the afternoon, they were persuaded to perform a "war" dance, followed by lunch in the mess hall.
Saturday, March 13, 1858
Santee Dakotas arrived from northern Minnesota and over the next week attended the theater, visited the U.S. Penitentiary, and met with J. Thompson, Secretary of the Interior.
Saturday, March 27, 1858
The Dakotas met with Commissioner Mix in the first treaty negotiations.
Monday, March 29, 1858
Dakotas toured the Arsenal and performed a "war" dance. Little Crow spoke about the capture of Inkpaduta during the Spirit Lake Uprising. John Other Day and Iron Shooter were applauded by the ladies present.
Tuesday, March 30, 1858
All tribal delegates attended the funeral for Tuck-a-lix-tah, a Pawnee delegate who died on March 29.
Monday, April 5, 1858
Yankton Dakotas met with Commissioner Mix.
Friday, April 16, 1858
Dakotas posed for Julian Vannerson at McClees Studio.
Monday, April 19, 1858
Yankton Dakota signed a treaty. Little Crow and Commissioner Mix debated this same treaty.
Sunday, May 3, 1858
Dakotas performed dance and music at the Union Hotel.
Friday, May 28, 1858
Dakotas posed for Vannerson at McClees Studio.
Saturday, May 29, 1858
Dakotas visited Arlington Springs resort.
Saturday, June 19, 1858
Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, and Wahpeton Dakotas signed treaties.
Monday, June 21, 1858
Mdewakanton, Wahpekute, Sisseton, and Wahpeton Dakotas visited Commissioner Mix for the last time and received "good conduct" medals.
Lakota Delegation: From left to right, top row: Nathaniel P. Brown, Indian trader and brother of Joseph R. Brown, Indian agent; A-ki-pa (The Meeter), Sissiton warrior; Wa-kam Hi-na-pe (He That Appears Sacred) or Charles Renville, Sissiton; Am-pa-tu-to-ka-cha (John Other Day), Wahpeton warrior; Ma-za-ka-te-mani (Iron Shooter), elective chief of Wahpeton; bottom row: Wa-Mdi Upi-Da-ta (Scarlet Eagle Tail), Sissiton Chief; Ma-za-sha (Sounding Iron), Sissiton chief; Upi I-ya-hde-ya (Tail Feather Joined), Wahpeton chief; Thomas S. Williamson, M.D., of North Carolina, a missionary among the Dakota.
Chief Smutty Bear was part of the large 1857–1858 Dakota delegation to Washington, D.C. Under duress, members of the Yankton Dakota delegation signed a treaty greatly reducing their territory in return for money and provisions. These promises were never fulfilled.
"We are called chiefs but we are only chiefs in name. Our power has departed, we no longer have influence with our tribe. The young men are fools [who] have no ears for they no longer listen to us. . . . We have laid aside our medals as they are no longer of any use to us."—Smutty Bear to an Indian Agent, 1848 (Smithsonian Education Department, n.d.)
Man and Chief
Petalesharo, son of Letalesha (Old Knife), is credited with preventing the sacrifice of a Comanche woman in an 1817 Morning Star fertility ceremony. Petalesharo made many trips to Washington, D.C., and signed numerous treaties, advocating harmony between his community and the U.S. He died shortly after this portrait was taken.
"He [the Great Spirit] made my skin red and yours white; he placed us on this earth and intended that we should live differently than each other. He made the whites to cultivate the earth, and feed on domestic animals; but he made us, red skins, to rove through the uncultivated woods and plains, to feed on wild animals, to dress in their skins,"—Petalesharo to President James Monroe, 1822 (Buchanan 1824)
Scarlet Night disappeared during an 1867 delegation trip soon after meeting President Andrew Johnson. The disappearance was publicized and an award offered. Two weeks later, Scarlet Night was found murdered in Alexandria, Virginia. No motive was ever discovered, and his captors were never found. He was buried in Washington, D.C. In 1912, his son Sam Crow petitioned for a headstone to mark his grave.
"$100 REWARD—ON SUNDAY NIGHT, February 24, one of the Indians belonging to the Sisseton and Wahpeton Sioux delegation disappeared from the Barracks, corner of New York Avenue and Nineteenth Street, and has not since been heard from. . . . The above reward will be paid to any person returning said Indian to the aforesaid Barracks, or giving such information as will lead to his recovery, by applying to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs or to Benjamin Thompson, Special Agent, no. 63, Kirkwood House."—Ad run in lost-and-found section of the Washington Chronicle, placed by the Office of Indian Affairs (Viola 1995:163)
Hole-in-the-Day was born at the Anishinaabe village of Sandy Lake, Minnesota, to war leader, Hole-in-the-Day the Elder, and to the daughter of Broken Tooth, a Sandy Lake civil leader. Chief Hole-in-the-Day often noted that U.S. federal Indian policy sabotaged rather than supported the Anishinaabe efforts for self-sufficiency. Among his four wives was Ellen McCarty, a hotel chambermaid, whom he met during his 1867 visit. He was later assassinated by Leech Lake Pillager warriors.
Passing Hail traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1851, 1858, and 1867. Several authors including Herman Viola (1995:160-161) state that he signed treaties under protest. During the 1867 visit, Passing Hail became ill with dropsy (edema) but vowed not to die in Washington, D.C. He died the day after returning home to the Mdewakanton reservation.
"The President gave us some laws, and we have changed ourselves to white men, put on white man's clothes and adopted the white man's ways, and we supposed we would have a piece of ground somewhere we could live on; but no one can live here [on the reservation] and live like a white man."—Passing Hail, on behalf of Mdewakanton, to A.W. Hubbard, member of the Congressional Indian Commission, Crow Creek Agency, September 5, 1865 (Report of the Joint Special Committee 1867:407)
Feathers in the Ear
Feathers in the Ear was one of the Yankton chiefs who traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1867 for treaty negotiations.
"I went off on a dancing trip every summer and brought home lots of ponies, and had a good time dancing all winter. But . . . you told me to stay home, and I have done so. You told me to quit dancing, and now I have quit."—Letter written to J.F. Kinney, Indian Agent, by J.P. Williamson for Feathers in the Ear (Office of Indian Affairs, Annual Report, 1888:76)
Fish Rising Above Water
With the treaties of 1854 and 1867, the allied but independent Asakiwaki (Sac) and Mesquaki (Fox) nations were seen as a single entity and were required to move from their Kansas homelands to reservations in Oklahoma. Although they were traditional leaders, Fish Rising Above Water and Bear in the Fork of the Tree were not recognized as such by the U.S. government because of their resistance. Nevertheless, they were received by President Buchanan in 1857. Later, Fish Rising Above Water refused to sign the 1867 treaty. He again traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1874 and 1875 to request that the Asakiwaki be allowed to keep Kansas land despite local settler hostility. Even after Fish Rising Above Water's death, the band resisted repeated removal by military force. Eventually, the band moved to Oklahoma in 1886.
"Now my dear people, our noble Keokuk has been persuaded to put his hand to a 'paleface' paper; and they say it gives away our Kansas home. . . . We cannot give up this happy home we have loved for so long. I'll never, never, never put my hand to the paper that says we must leave here!"—Fish Rising Above Water to the council held at the Sac and Fox Agency, Quenemo, Kansas, summer 1869 (Green 1914:11)
Bear in the Fork of the Tree
Born to Chief Chemakasee (the Lance), Bear in the Fork of the Tree was known for trying to protect his community from alcohol by keeping whiskey traders off the reservation. In 1854, he signed a treaty with the U.S. government, but refused to move to the new reservation as the treaty stipulated. In 1857, at 61, he ventured to Washington, D.C., with Fish Rising Above Water to protest the proposed relocation site and the preferential treatment of certain chiefs.
"We have been treated as wards, as children by the government, in fact too much so."—Bear in the Fork of the Tree in an interview with Charles Mix, Acting Commissioner of Indian Affairs, January 20, 1858 (Herring 1990:93)