It so happened that in February, 1857, there came a promise of spring, and with this promise Inkpaduta and his band of Indians left their winter camp. Verging upon starvation, they hastened on foot or on horseback toward the white settlements along the Iowa frontier; and it can truly be said of Inkpaduta that "wherever he appeared, murder and theft marked his trail." Reaching the Big Sioux, he and his followers passed down its course and across its waters to the beginning of the white settlements upon the Little Sioux in eastern Woodbury County. At the time of arrival at these settlements the band was not large‐having, presumably, been sadly depleted by desertion or by the severity of the winter. Apparently there were only about ten lodges in all, comprising men, women, and children. So far as known the warriors in February, 1857, included the following: Inkpaduta, the leader; Roaring Cloud and Fire Cloud, the twin sons of Inkpaduta; Sacred Plume; Old Man; Putting on Walking; Rattling, son-in-law of Inkpaduta; Big Face; His Great Gun; Red Leg; Shifting Wind; and Talitay- Shkope Kah-gah, whose name does not appear to be translatable. Nothing further need be said of the band's personnel than that they had been well trained by Inkpaduta for the work in hand.
As the settlements were neared it doubtless seemed to the Indians that they were approaching a land of plenty, for game which had hitherto been seen nowhere now began to make an occasional appearance. It must have seemed to their primitive minds that this region, their land of plenty, had been usurped by the whites. They were eager for revenge and prepared to carry arson, murder, and pillage the full length of Iowa's western frontier. It should be borne in mind, as events rapidly follow, that the deeds of these Indians were not by any means spontaneous or the result of any single or isolated incident or circumstance. As an explanation of what occurred in Iowa in the spring of 1857, there has been advanced the theory that Inkpaduta was merely seeking revenge for the murder of his brother, Sidominadota. This explanation has been advanced so frequently that it has been long accepted by most people as an undoubted fact. In all probability, however, such was not the motive of the Indians: on the contrary the real cause must be sought in the innate character of the band that committed the tragic deed. In fact this unhappy incident in Iowa's pioneer history was but one of many justly charged against this particular band of wild Bedouins of the prairies.
The murder of Sidominadota in all probability did not cause Inkpaduta much concern. Moreover, it should be said at the outset that Inkpaduta and Sidominadota were not brothers‐as has so often been claimed‐since Inkpaduta was a Lower Sioux, a Wahpekuta; while Sidominadota was an Upper Sioux, a Sisseton. Hence they could not have been brothers. It is true that in some phases of Indian relationship they might have been spoken of as brothers, but the conditions making such a reference even remotely possible were not present in the case of these two Indian leaders. Hence the theory of blood revenge can not be accepted. Furthermore, the term "brother" with the Sioux was not limited to blood relationship. The tribe consists of a group of men calling one another brother, who are husbands to a group of women calling one another sister." To call one another brother was a common practice and carried with it no idea of relationships as ordinarily interpreted.
Granting that the two were brothers, if Inkpaduta could not have avenged the death within a year he could not have done so thereafter according to the practice of blood revenge universally taught and practiced among the Sioux. In religious practice and ceremonial observance Inkpaduta was neither a heretic nor an outcast. The Sioux have never been noted for retentive memories in matters of revenge, but rather for their laxity.
Inkpaduta was superior to Sidominadota in rank; hence he would not have succeeded him and could not have taken up blood revenge as his successor. Moreover, these two men had bitterly disagreed, and Sidominadota had severed all relation and connection with Inkpaduta or any of his band and had grown to be one of the bitterest and most vindictive of enemies. Inkpaduta knew this. It is likely that Inkpaduta would have rejoiced at the news of his enemy's death: it is certain that the murder would not have caused him much if any concern. "With him it was every man for himself; he never had a sentiment so noble and dignified as that of revenge, and would not turn on his heel to retaliate for the slaughter of his nearest friend. Again, according to Siouan practice each band is absolutely separate: one band must not concern itself with the affairs of another. War would inevitably have followed such conduct. Although Inkpaduta was lawless in many respects, no instance in which he broke over the strict letter of this custom has come to light.
Finally, the bands were so widely separated and so busily engaged in dodging each other that "it is doubtful whether Inkpadoota ever heard the particulars of All Over Bed's murder; it is certain that he would not have been concerned if he had." Thus it seems evident that Inkpaduta could not have been on a mission of blood revenge: it seems more probable that his own character and that of the members of his group, coupled with an overemphasized conviction of wrongs suffered in years past, allied with the intense suffering of the moment, had produced an outburst of savage frenzy culminating in murder. This would seem to be more in keeping with the known character of the Indian and in line with his known conduct. The idea of blood revenge has made a strong appeal since it was advanced as an explanation by Major William Williams, but it can not be made to rest upon a foundation of known and recognized facts in connection with the Spirit Lake Massacre."