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The Diaries of John Gregory Bourke Volume 5

May 23, 1881--August 26, 1881

Edited and Annotated by Charles M. Robinson III

Publication Year: 2013

John Gregory Bourke kept a monumental set of diaries as aide-de-camp to Brigadier General George Crook. This fifth volume opens at Fort Wingate as Bourke prepares to visit the Navajos. Next, at the Pine River Agency, he is witness to the Sun Dance, where despite his discomfort at what he saw, he noted that during the Sun Dance piles of food and clothing were contributed by the Indians themselves, to relieve the poor among their people. Bourke continued his travels among the Zunis, the Rio Grande pueblos, and finally, with the Hopis to attend the Hopi Snake dance. The volume concludes at Fort Apache, Arizona, which is stirring with excitement over the activities of the Apache medicine man, Nakai’-dokli’ni, which Bourke spelled Na Kay do Klinni. This would erupt into bloodshed less than a week later. Volume Five is particularly important because it deals almost exclusively with Bourke’s ethnological research. Bourke’s account of the Sun Dance is particularly significant because it was the last one held by the Oglalas. The volume is extensively annotated and contains a biographical appendix on Indians, civilians, and military personnel named.

Published by: University of North Texas Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-8

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Author’s Note and Acknowledgments

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pp. viii-ix

Three years have passed since the publication of Volume 4, and no doubt some have wondered whether I had become overwhelmed and given up. The fact is that this has been the most difficult volume so far, for two reasons. First was the Bourke material itself. In large sections, the ink had faded until it was barely legible. ...


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pp. x-xiv

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Introduction to Volume 5

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pp. 1-8

This volume, fifth in the series of John Gregory Bourke’s monumental diaries, represents his activities during a period of just over three months, beginning May 23, 1881, through August 26, 1881, and from about one-third of the way through Manuscript Volume 40 through the third-from-the-last page of Volume 45. ...

Part 1: Back to the Southwest

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pp. 11-13

In this section, John Gregory Bourke continues the ethnological work among the Navajos and Zunis, the beginning of which was described in Volume 4, Part 3 of this series. That volume concluded on May 22, 1881, after Bourke returned to Fort Wingate, New Mexico.1 ...

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1. Return to Navajo Country

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pp. 14-40

May 23rd 1881. Drove to Fort Defiance, (Navajo Agency.) 50 miles. Saw a dead burro on the road: and in cañon, not far from the “hay stacks” (p. [Vol. 4, page 377 of this series]) noticed outcroppings of coal. Came up with a party of three young Mormons with whom I entered into conversation. ...

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2. Frank Cushing and the Zunis

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pp. 41-54

May 28th 1881. Saturday. Colonel Bennett and I started for [Fort] Wingate. On the road, we met a half dozen Navajoes bringing salt from the Salt Springs, 60 miles South of the Agency, a place of resort for Apaches, Navajoes and Zunis. ...

Part 2: The Great Lakota Sun Dance

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pp. 57-59

As stated in the background to Part 1, popular belief demanded that native customs should ultimately disappear. Heading the list of offending traditions was the Sun Dance of the Lakotas, which Bourke attended in 1881. As Julia McGillycuddy, wife of the Oglala agent Valentine McGillycuddy, later wrote, ...

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3. The Sun Dance

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pp. 60-78

June 17th 1881. Friday. Left Omaha, Neb., on U.P. train for Sidney, Neb. In same car with me were Lt. E. Z. Steever, 3rd Cavalry, on his way to Rock Creek, Wyo. to engage in an exploration of the Big Horn Mtns; and Mr. M. H. Goble, Freight Auditor of the U.P.R.R., who gave me a most interesting account, derived from personal knowledge, ...

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4. “This Is the Way We Have Been Raised”

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pp. 79-102

The Sun Dance enclosure* we found to be of circular form, about sixty yards in Diameter of saplings of cottonwood, fourteen feet high, inside of which was a shed or booth of canvas and branches of ten feet, extending completely around the circle to shelter the singers and spectators. ...

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5. A Brief Trip to New York

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pp. 103-110

June 23rd 1881. It rained with great force for an hour early this morning. Breakfasted and set out for Fort Robinson which we reached at half past one in the afternoon. Lunched at Major J. M. Hamilton’s, took my place in the stage, said good-bye to everybody at the post, and set out at 4 P.M. for Sidney, Nebraska, 125 miles to the South. ...

Part 3: The New Mexico Pueblos

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pp. 113-118

In this section, Bourke recounts a trip to the various pueblos between Santa Fe and Taos, then those to the south along the Rio Grande. Besides his ethnographical observations, he frequently mentions the Taos Revolt against the United States in 1847, and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, which expelled Spaniards from New Mexico for twelve years. ...

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6. Back to New Mexico

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pp. 119-149

July 10th 1881. Left Denver for Santa Fé by the picturesque line of the Denver & Rio Grande R.R., crossing the Rocky Mountains at the Veta Pass. Arrived at the terminus Española, N.M., at the convenient hour of 8 A.M; had a very poor breakfast and then started by stage for Santa Fé. ...

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7. Picuris and Beyond

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pp. 150-165

We left San Juan for the Pueblo of Picuris, ascending the lovely valley of the Rio Grande, at this point green with maturing harvests—half a mile in width & many miles in length. Passed through Plaza Alcalde, Capillito, Villita, and Lucero, small Mexican towns of no importance. Asked the road from a batch of native laborers, mending a ditch; ...

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8. Taos and Taos Pueblo

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pp. 166-185

During his stay in Taos, Bourke visited Charles Bent’s widow, who gave him a vivid, eyewitness account of the attack on her home and her husband’s death. During the interview it was that Mrs. Bent told Bourke, who duly noted it down, that the great explorer and scout, Christopher (Kit) Carson had been her son-in-law. ...

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9. The Rio Grande Pueblos

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pp. 186-207

After breakfast, started for San Juan by the “river” road, 45 miles. We could not have selected a finer day; it was lovely, cool and bright—and as for our mules, two days’ rest and plenty of forage had freshened them up wonderfully. ...

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10. Ceremony in Santo Domingo

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pp. 208-225

July 25th 1881–July 27th 1881. (inclusive.) Weather-bound at Santa Fé. For more than a week, as may be gathered from my notes above, the storms have been extremely severe and almost continuous, flooding the cañons and carrying away rails and even bridges upon the Denver and Rio Grande, [Atchison] Topeka & Santa Fé, and Atlantic and Pacific Rail Roads. ...

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11. The Dance

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pp. 226-240

While the procession was forming, we had plenty of time to hunt up Padre Ribera and sample his breakfast. We were welcomed with cordiality and introduced to all the cooks and attendants. To frame an opinion from what I saw that morning, Father Ribera must be held in high repute by his flock. ...

Part 4: The Hopi Snake Dance

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pp. 243-244

In his transcriptions of Bourke’s Southwestern experiences in New Mexico Historical Review, Lansing Bloom skips this section entirely, instead referring the reader to Snake-Dance of the Moquis. There is no question that many parts of the published book are verbatim from these entries, but here Bourke goes into substantially more detail about Hopi life, ...

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12. Keam’s Ranch

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pp. 245-265

August 7th 1881. Keam, Moran and myself left at 8 o’clock for Moqui Agency, and villages, viâ old Ft. Defiance. An exhilarating, lovely morning greeted us as a harbinger of success. Passed a Navajo Indian, on horseback, carrying the U.S. mail. The country, in many gentle little hollows, is full of wild potatoes, a favorite article of food among the Utes and Navajoes. ...

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13. The Hopi Pueblos

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pp. 266-276

August 11th 1881. My long 5 mile walk, with Garryowen last night induced a refreshing sleep. Towards morning, the flies became a little troublesome, but not enough to do much harm. The cook surprised us at breakfast with a “punkah”,1 rigged up from a window sash, covered with newspapers, suspended from the rafters and operated by a pulley and a cord, ...

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14. The Festivities Begin

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pp. 277-304

August 12th 1881. Roused out of bed at 4 a.m., before daylight, at which early hour, the Moquis were already astir, most of them dressed for the festivities of the day. Squaws were actively at work getting out from underground [illegible] earthen pots of fragrant mush, covered with corn-husks [illegible], dust.1 ...

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15. The Snake Dance

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pp. 305-334

Our party took station on the 2nd story of a Moqui house near the Sacred Rock, about ten yards in one direction from the Sacred Lodge of cottonwood boughs, covered with [a] buffalo robe. (The only buffalo robe, by the way, to be seen in these three villages) and about same distance in another from the brink of the precipice. ...

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16. Bad Trails and Bad Weather

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pp. 335-360

August 15th 1881. The sun is struggling through clouds. We have some hopes of better weather, and if we can secure a guide will start to complete the tour of the remaining pueblos of the Moquis and possibly make a trip to the Cohoninos and returning, will move down, by way of Sunset Crossing, to Camp Apache.1 ...

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17. The Last of Hopi Land

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pp. 361-378

August 18th 1881. Nahi-vehina and Gordon were out long before daylight, hunting for the mules and pony. They found them on the grassy ramp by which we had climbed the depression in the face of the mesa yesterday; this must have been 5 or 6 miles back. No trouble was had in driving them back to the ambulance. ...

Part 5: Journey’s End

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pp. 381-383

As noted in earlier volumes of this series, Bourke held many prejudices. He was contemptuous of blacks, and his comments on Jews sound chillingly like the dire predictions of Joseph Goebbels in the twentieth century.1 In short, despite his Irish heritage and Roman Catholicism, he was typical of mainstream white, Anglo-Saxon prejudices of his era. ...

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18. The Arizona Mormons

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pp. 384-409

August 20th 1881. (Saturday) Awakened long before dawn, harnessed mules and were on the trail before daybreak. Did not have any breakfast, as Smallwood was such a slow cook, he would surely delay our departure for several hours. Moved three miles or more, halted in a little arroyo full of tiny, trickling springs, dammed up by the Navajoes; ...

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19. Cooley’s Ranch and Fort Apache

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pp. 410-426

August 25th 1881. The tinkling of bells and the moo-oo-ooing of kine broke our slumbers long before dawn. Gordon, as usual, was first up, and employed his time in looking after his team and greasing the wagon. Smallwood was then called and began preparing breakfast, consisting, as did last night’s supper of mock-turtle soup, milk and eggs, green corn and onions, ...

Appendix: Persons Mentioned in the Diary

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pp. 427-457


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pp. 458-463


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pp. 464-482

E-ISBN-13: 9781574414813
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574414684

Page Count: 560
Illustrations: 71 b&w illus. 4 maps.
Publication Year: 2013