Another IAGenWeb Project
TREATY OF 1851—MINNESOTA RESERVATION—UPPER AND LOWER AGENCIES—THE WAHPEKUTAH SIOUX—WAMDISAPPI AND THE OUTLAW BAND LEAVE THE MAIN TRIBE—AT WAMDISAPPI'S DEATH SIDOMINADOTAH BECOMES CHIEF—HAS TROUBLE WITH LOTT NEAR MOUTH OF BOONE RIVER—LOTT MURDERS THE CHIEFS ENTIRE FAMILY—SOME EXTRACTS FROM HARVEY INGHAM'S "SCRAPS OF EARLY HISTORY"—INKPADUTAH BECOMES CHIEF—STRAINED RELATIONS BETWEEN HIS BAND AND THE SETTLERS.
IN 1851 another treaty was made with the Sioux by the provisions of which they agreed to relinquish to the United States their remaining title to all land in the state of Iowa, and also their title to all lands in Minnesota, except what constituted their reservation. A careful examination of the terms of this treaty and the preceding ones would seem to justify the conclusion that, so far as Iowa is concerned, this treaty was intended to be somewhat of the nature of a quit-claim deed given for the purpose of healing defects in a former conveyance. As before stated, there were four bands of these Sioux and they had their reservation on the Minnesota River. It was composed of a strip of land ten miles wide on each side of the river and extending from a short distance below Fort Ridgley to the source of that river. There were two agencies known as the Upper and Lower Agencies. The Lower Agency was located on the Minnesota River about five miles below the Redwood River and thirteen miles above Fort Ridgley, and the Upper Agency on the Yellow Medicine River, about three miles from its mouth. Two bands received their annuities at the Lower and two at the Upper Agency.
The Wahpekutahs, the band with which the history of this county is most closely identified, had their headquarters at the Lower Agency and were therefore known as Lower Sioux. Prominent among their chiefs was one Wamdisappi, or Black Eagle. He and his immediate followers were savages of such ferocity and were so quarrelsome and revengeful that they could not live at peace even with the members of their own tribe. It was largely through their intrigues and restlessness that the war with the Sacs and Foxes was kept up as long as it was, and after their removal these turbulent savages turned their attention to working up quarrels and dissensions in their own band. These quarrels finally culminated in Wamdisappi and the more turbulent of his followers leaving the main body and striking westward across the Big Sioux and establishing themselves on the Vermilion River, in what is now South Dakota, from which point they roamed over the country far and wide, often going as far south as the mouth of the Boone River and as far east as the Cedar and beyond. In writing of this band, Judge Flandrau has this to say of them: "So thoroughly were they separated from the rest of the Wahpekutahs that when the last named Indians, together with the M'daywakautons, made their treaty at Mendota in 1851, by which they ceded the lands in Minnesota owned by them, the remnant of Wamdisappi's people were not regarded as being a part of the Wahpekutahs at all and took no part in the treaty." The numerical strength of Wamdisappi's band has been variously estimated, some placing it as high as five hundred and others as low as one hundred and fifty. Doubtless the reason for this discrepancy is that there were a large number of Indians who would at times associate themselves with the outlaws in their predatory excursions, and then as the time for the payment of the annuities approached would unite themselves with the Agency Indians for the purpose of sharing in the annuities.
Among the followers of Wamdisappi was a chief known as Sidominadotah, or "Two Fingers," who eventually became leader of the band. While his headquarters were on the Vermilion, his favorite haunts were in the neighborhood of the lakes and along the Des Moines and Little Sioux Rivers. They were known as far east as Prairie du Chien and as far south and southwest as Council Bluffs, and were universally regarded as a bad lot. Many and varied were the difficulties with the early settlers all along the frontier line. These difficulties were the source of a vast deal of annoyance, anxiety and apprehension on the part of the settlers.
Among others who had received indignities from this band was one Henry Lott, whom Judge Fulton characterizes as "a rough, unscrupulous border character," who in 1846 settled near the mouth of Boone River in Webster County. His chief occupation seems to have been selling poor whisky to the Indians. He was also accused of stealing horses, as in 1848 some horses stolen from the Indians were traced to his cabin. Other lawless acts were also charged to him. This so irritated and enraged the savages that they determined to drive him out of the country. It would be well to remember here that this was not on Sioux territory at all, but was south of the Neutral Ground, on laud but recently vacated by the Sacs and Foxes. Lott was soon waited on by the chief and a party of his men and informed that he was regarded as an intruder and given a certain number of days in which to leave their hunting grounds. The Indians now went away, but Lott did not see proper to leave. At the expiration of the appointed time the Indians returned, and, finding Lott still there, commenced to destroy his property. They shot his horses and cattle, robbed his bee hives, threatened his family and drove him and his step-son from home, carrying things with a high hand generally. After Lott and his step-son had left the house, a younger boy, Milton Lott, a lad of about twelve years of age, attempted to follow them. It was in December. The night was intensely cold, and after following them for some miles the boy became exhausted and froze to death. This embittered Lott .against the Indians to an intense degree. After a short time he returned to the old place and remained there until after the death of his wife, which occurred a few years later, after which he changed his location, and in 1853 he and his step-son settled at Lott's Creek, on the east branch of the Des Moines River, in Humboldt County. They had been established there but a short time when Sidominadotah and his family of nine persons pitched their camp a short distance below on the other side of the river.
Burning with the desire to avenge the injuries they had received from this chief and his band five years before at the mouth of the Boone River, they conceived the diabolical plot of destroying the entire party. To accomplish this they went to the chief's lodge and reported that they had seen a herd of elk feeding on the bottom, and asked him to go with them and try to get one. He, suspecting nothing, prepared at once to accompany them. When some distance from the chief's lodge they shot him dead on the spot. After nightfall they returned to his lodge and murdered the balance of the family, including the aged mother of the chief, except two children, one a girl about ten years of age and a boy still older. The little girl had concealed herself in some bushes, and the boy they had left for dead on the ground, but he recovered. This boy was afterward known to the frontier settlers as "Indian Josh," and lived some time with a family, on the west fork of the Des Moines in Palo Alto County, by the name of Carter. After finishing their terrible work, Lott and his step-son loaded what they could of their portables into a wagon and the balance they piled up in their cabin and set it on fire, then hitching their mules to the wagon they left the place. Following down the divide between the Des Moines and Boone Rivers, they continued their course in a southerly direction until they struck the great overland trail to California, which was then thronged with emigrants. Joining a party of these, they crossed the plains to California, where it is said Lott was shortly afterwards killed in a quarrel. The murder of the chief was not discovered for two weeks, and it was later still before it was known the Lotts were the guilty parties, and they were so far on their way by that time that no pursuit was attempted.
Inasmuch as everything calculated to throw light upon the relations existing between the settlers and the Sioux, during this interesting period, becomes more valuable as the difficulty in the way of securing correct information increases, the following extracts from Harvey Ingham's "Scraps of Early History," published in the Upper Des Moines, will be read with interest:
`"Fort Dodge was established as the frontier outpost of northern Iowa in 1850, just four years .after Fort Des Moines was abandoned. Fort Des Moines was located in 1843 and occupied by troops until 1846, the years during which the Sacs and Foxes were being removed from the state. Between the occupancy of the two forts the Sioux came prominently into notice, driving out every white man who attempted to push into their territory and trying to stem the tide of emigration to the Northwest. The event which, more than any other, led to the establishment of the fort, was old Sidominadotah's attack upon Marsh, a government surveyor, in 1848. Sidominadotah is one of the conspicuous figures in our pioneer history. He was a brother of Inkpadutah and leader of a band of Wahpekutah outlaws. He was commonly called Chief Two Fingers, having lost the remainder of his right hand in battle. Major Williams knew him well and has left an accurate description of him. He says: `Sidominadotah was a man about five feet ten in height, stout and well formed, very active, had a piercing black eye, broad face and high cheek bones.' The major adds an item to the description which certainly entitles Sidominadotah to be called the man with the iron jaw: `Both rows of teeth were double all around in both jaws.' A dentist could have paid off all of the old scores of the white race at one sitting. When killed he was forty-five or fifty years of age. He evidently was the leader of all the bands of the northern Sioux at that time, or, at least, held a prominent place among the leaders, for nearly all the attacks upon the whites who began to invade the territory north and west of Des Moines were led by him."
Here follows the detailed account of the attack on the surveying party when their instruments were destroyed, their supplies taken from there and they were obliged. to abandon their work. Mr. Ingham's account continues:
"Marsh made a report to the government which, taken in connection with reports of other outrages, caused the order to bring troops into the Northwest.* * * Brigadier General Mason was ordered in 1849 to locate the new fort as nearly as possible to the northwest corner of the Neutral Ground. He chose the site where the city of Fort Dodge now stands and named the new post Fort Clarke. In 1851 General Winfield Scott changed the name to Fort Dodge, in honor of General Henry Dodge." (Another reason for the change of name was that there was another Fort Clarke in the southwest, and a great deal of annoyance was occasioned by supplies that were intended for one going wrong and eventually reaching the other.) "Company E of the Sixth Infantry, U. S. A., came from Fort Snelling to occupy it. With this company Major Williams came as sutler. When the pioneer history of northwestern Iowa is written, Major Williams will be the central figure. He was part of all that happened in the early years. When after three years and a half Fort Dodge was abandoned and the troops were ordered north to build Fort Ridgley, he remained, and baying the ground and buildings of the dismantled fortifications, founded the city which perpetuates its name. Fort Dodge was then and afterwards the central point in the upper Des Moines region. Major Williams was associated intimately with all the stirring events along the entire frontier. * * *
"During the years of occupancy of the fort, Major Williams became acquainted with the various Sioux hands and their leaders. He has left very interesting descriptions of the latter. His estimate of the character of the outfit tallies with that before given of the Wahpekutahs. `The Sioux Indians,' he says, `who inhabited this district of country, were the most desperate characters, made up of renegades from all the bands.' They were generally very active, stout Indians, and great horsemen. The majority of then were well armed with guns. They always had in their possession horses and mules with white men's brands. They generally encamped on high ground where they could not be easily surprised, and when any number of them were together, they encamped in a circle. They were very expert hunters. Their famous leaders, Sidominadotah and Inkpadutah, were very stout, active men, also Titonka and Umpashota ; in fact, all of them. Of Inkpadutah, who led in the Spirit Lake Massacre, and who was present in person at the raid on Mr. Call and the settlers south of Algona in 1855, he says: `Inkpadutalt was about fifty-five years old, .about five feet eleven inches in height, stoutly built, broad shouldered, high cheek bones, sunken and very black sparkling eyes, big mouth, light copper color and pockmarked in the face.'
"Umpashota is of scarcely less interest, as he is the Indian who visited with W. H. Ingham three days on the upper Des Moines when each one was figuring on who was in charge of the expedition, and his name is also associated with the legend of Spirit Lake."
Here follows a description of Umpashota (Smoky Day), also of Titonka, or Big Buffalo, and Ishtahaba, or Young Sleepy Eye:
"Besides these there were Cosomeneh, dark, silent, stealthy; Wahkonsa, Umpashota's son, a dude, painting his cheeks, forehead and chin with stars; Modocaqueuiou, Inkpadutah's oldest son, who was shot for his part in the Spirit Lake Massacre, with low forehead, scowling face and thick lips; Mocopoco, Inkpadutah's second son, sullen and ill-favored. * * * The soldiers were ordered to leave the fort in September, 1853. * * * It was after the abandonment of the fort that the outrages most intimately associated with our early history were perpetrated. Of these, by far the most important in its after effects was the murder of Sidominadotah and his family by Henry Lott, at Bloody Run, in Humboldt County, in January, 1854. Major Williams records one fact in connection with the Sioux that is very singular. In all the raids made by them a very large negro was a prominent participant. The soldiers tried often to capture him, but failed. He was one of the boldest and most reckless of the savages in every outrage that was perpetrated in these years."
More space has been given the foregoing extracts than was at first intended, but really reliable information is so difficult to obtain that it was deemed best to use what was available.
Upon the death of Sidominadotah, his brother, Inkpadutah, sometimes known as Scarlet Point or Red End, became chief of the band. This chief was known to be bold, reckless, cruel and bloodthirsty, and it is not difficult to imagine the effect such a. tragedy as the one heretofore related would have upon a character such as he. It is a well known characteristic of all the aboriginal tribes that if they cannot take their revenge on the party from whom they received their injuries, they are ready to wreak their vengeance upon the first party they come in contact with, no matter how innocent. Many an honest and industrious frontiersman has had to pay with his life for the wrong done by some reckless, worthless, unscrupulous, border character just out of pure wantonness. It is the same old story so often repeated in our frontier history. In view of the condition of affairs just related, the relations between this band of Indians and the settlers will be readily understood to be anything but cordial. It is but natural to presume that the arrogant and imperious character of Inkpadutah drove many of the more peaceably inclined Indians out of his band. It is possible, too, that the prospect of being deprived of their annuities sent a great number of this band back to the main tribe. At any rate the numerical strength of the band became rapidly depleted. What had been a tribe of respectable strength was soon reduced to a few families of stragglers. The strength of the band, after the death of Sidominadotah, has been variously estimated at from fifty to one hundred and fifty. In 1856 it dwindled down below the lowest figure.
Judge Flandrau, who was Indian Agent at that time, says of them: "By 1857 all that remained of Wamdisappi's band was under the chieftainship of Inkpadutah, or Scarlet Point, sometimes called Red End. In August, 1856, I received the appointment of United States Indian Agent for the Sioux of the Mississippi. The agencies for these Indians were on the Minnesota River at Redwood and on the Yellow Medicine River a few miles from its mouth. Having been on the frontier sometime previous to such appointment, I had become quite familiar with the Sioux and knew in a general way of Inkpadutah and his band, its habits and whereabouts. They ranged the country far and wide and were considered a bad lot of vagabonds. In 1856 they came to the payment and demanded a share of the money of the Wahpekutahs, and made a great deal of trouble, but were forced to return to their haunts on the Big Sioux and adjoining country. To this Mrs. Sharp adds: `According to the most authentic testimony collected by Major Prichette, Inkpadutah came to the Sioux Agency in the fall of 1855 and received annuities for eleven persons, although he was not identified with any band.' "
It may seem singular to some that in preparing a history of Dickinson County so much time and space should be given to people and events wholly outside of the county. It may also seem that too much space has been given in endeavoring to set forth who Inkpadutah and his band were, their relations to the Agency Indians, also the strained relations between them and the settlers, and the cause thereof. This may be true, but it is the experience of the writer that many of the tourists who visit the lakes from year to year are entirely ignorant of the facts in the matter and are also desirous of correct information on all of these points, and more questions are asked first and last involving a knowledge of then than any others. Many have expressed surprise that more has not been preserved, and that more is not known of the personal character and personal history of individual Indians who in an early day made these lakes their favorite rendezvous. This is accounted for in the strained and unfriendly relations existing between the settlers and the Sioux. The fraternal relations which so long existed between the Sacs and Foxes on the one side and the pioneer settlers of eastern and central Iowa on the other, were entirely wanting on the northwestern frontier, and consequently very little is or can be known of the individual Indians who pitched their tepees in the groves, fished in the lakes and hunted on the prairies of northwestern Iowa. However, some enterprising real estate and hotel men have recently endeavored to supply this lack of real knowledge on these points by fictitious inventions of their own. Of late a great many questions are asked about Okoboji. Who was he? Where were the headquarters of his hand? How many warriors were among his followers? and a thousand and one other questions which nobody but inquisitive summer tourists would think of.
A large mound on the west side of the lake has been pointed out to the credulous and unsuspecting summer resorter as being the last resting place of the great chief, or, in other words, as the grave of Okoboji. Ambitious correspondents of the Capital City papers have, at different times, tried their hands at writing up glowing accounts of their visits to the grave of the mythical chief, and many doubtless believe that the representations made to 'them are true, and that the lake was actually named for a brave and powerful warrior who once lived in its groves and was buried in the mound on its western border, where his supposed resting place is pointed out by the obliging guide to the unsophisticated and inquisitive traveler. Now this is all pure fiction. There is not one particle of truth in it. So far as can be ascertained, no such chief as Okoboji was ever known to the Sioux, and no such Indian ever lived in the neighborhood of the lakes.
It will be remembered that the death of Sidominadotah occurred in January, 1854, and that the chieftainship fell to Inkpadutah at that time. We know but little of the wanderings of Inkpadutah's band from then until the fall of 1856. The troubles in the neighborhood of Clear Lake, which finally culminated in what is known as the "Grindstone War," were in the summer of 1854. Harvey Ingham, in an article in the Midland Monthly, has this to say of their movements in 1855: "Major Williams expresses the opinion that but for the rapid influx of settlers an attack would have been made on Fort Dodge in 1855. As it was, Inkpadutah and his followers contented themselves with stripping trappers and surveyors, stealing horses, and foraging on scattered settlers, always maintaining a hostile and threatening attitude. Many pages of the Midland would be required for a brief enumeration of the petty annoyances, pilferings and more serious assaults which occurred. At Dakota City, in Humboldt County, the cabin of T. McKnight was rifled in the spring of 1855. Further north, within a few miles of Algona, the cabin ,of Malachi Clark was entered, and the settlers gathered in great alarm to drive out the Indians—a band of eighty braves led by Inkpadutah in person. Still further north, near where Bancroft stands, W. H. Ingham was captured by Umpashota, a leader under Inkpudatah in the massacre, and was held a prisoner for three days."
Judge Fulton writes of this same period as follows: "During the same summer (1855) Chief Inkpadutah and his band, comprising about fifty lodges, encamped in the timber near where Algona now stands. They occasionally pillaged the cabins of the white settlers in that vicinity. At last the whites notified them to leave, which they did reluctantly. They returned no more to that vicinity except in small hunting parties."
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