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4 Red Men and Buffalo Although my Ulysses Grant,His Life and Character absorbed most of my time and the larger part of my energy during two years,I continued to dream (in my hours of leisure), of the “High Country” whose splendors of cloud and peak,combined with the broad-cast doings of the cattleman and miner, had aroused my enthusiasm. The heroic types, both white and red, which the trail has fashioned to its needs continued to allure me, and when in June, ’97, my brother, on his vacation, met me again at West Salem, I outlined a tour which should begin with a study of the Sioux at Standing Rock and end with Seattle and the Pacific Ocean.“I must know the North-west,” I said to him. In order to report properly to any army post,I had in my pocket a letter from General Miles which commended me to all agents and officers, and with this as passport I was in the middle of getting my equipment in orderwhen Ernest Thompson-Seton and his wife surprised me by dropping off the train one morning late in the month.They too,were on their way to the Rockies, and in radiant holiday humor. My first meeting with Seton had been in New York at a luncheon given for James Barrie only a few months before, but we had formed one of those instantaneous friendships which spring from the possession of many identical interests. His skill as an illustrator and his knowledge of wild animals had gained my admiration but I now learned that he knew certain phases of the West better than I, for though of English birth he had lived in Manitoba for several years.We were of the same age also, and this was another bond of sympathy. He asked me to accompany him on his tour of the Yellowstone but as I had already arranged for a study of the Sioux, and as his own plans were equally definite,we reluctantly gave up all idea of 35 Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page 35 camping together,but agreed to meet in NewYork City in October to compare notes. The following week, on the first day of July, my brother and I were in Bismark,North Dakota,on our way to the Standing Rock Reservation to witness the “White Men’s Big Sunday,” as the red people were accustomed to call the Fourth of July. It chanced to be a cool,sweet,jocund morning,and as we drove away,in an open buggy,over the treeless prairie swells toward the agency some sixty miles to the south,I experienced a sense of elation , a joy of life, a thrill of expectancy,which promised well for fiction. I knew the signs. There was little settlement of any kind for twenty miles, but after we crossed the Cannonball River we entered upon the unviolated ,primeval sod of the red hunter.Conical lodges were grouped along the streams. Horsemen with floating feathers and beaded buck-skin shirts over-took us riding like scouts, and when on the second morning we topped the final hill and saw the agency outspread below us on the river bank,with hundreds of canvas tepees set in a wide circle behind it,our satisfaction was complete.Thousands of Sioux, men,women, and children could be seen moving about the teepees,while platoons of mounted warriors swept like scouting war parties across the plain. I congratulated myself on having reached this famous agency while yet its festival held something tribal and primitive. After reporting to the Commander at Fort Yates, and calling upon the Agent in his office,we took lodgings at a little half-breed boarding house near the store,and ate our dinner at a table where full-bloods, half-bloods and squaw men were the other guests. Every waking hour thereafter we spent in observation of the people.With an interpreter to aid me I conversed with the head men and inquired into their history.The sign-talkers,sitting in the shade of a lodge or wagon-top,depicting with silent grace the stirring tales of their youth, were absorbingly interesting. I spent hours watching the play of their expressive hands. The nonchalant cow-boys riding about the camp, the somber squaw-men (attended by their blanketed wives and groups of wistful half-breed children), and the ragged old medicine men all in their several ways made...


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