MEDICINE LODGE PEACE COUNCIL, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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The Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.


Another Very Interesting Account
of the Holding of the Medicine Lodge Indian Council

The following article is taken from the New York Daily Tribune, of Wednesday, October 23, 1867. The article was photographed from the papers in their files and sent to the local committee which is collecting data concerning the famous council and treaty. It was written by a special correspondent for the Tribune and is a very comprehensive description of the event.


On the March -
The Indian Chief Satanta and his Sentiments -
Shooting Buffalo - Preliminary Council -
Grand Council Delayed for Eight Days.

From our Special Correspondent, Medicine Lodge Creek.

Near Texas Line, Oct. 15, 1867.

Before I proceed with a description of this council, it might be proper to state to your readers how and in what manner we all arrived here. The Indian Commissioners and their distinguished guests consists of Major Gens. Augur, Terry and Sanborn, Senator Henderson, Commissioner Taylor, Col. Tappan and Gen. Harney. The guests are Gov. Crawford, Ex-Lieut. Gov. Root, Senator Ross, Senator Kallock, and Gen. J. R. Hardee. The leading journals of the day. The New York Tribune, Herald, Times, World, St. Louis Democrat, Republican, Chicago Tribune, Times, Republican, Cincinnati Commercial, Gazette, Philadelphia Press, Boston Herald, Leavenworth Bulletin and Kansas State Journal, have each a correspondent, all regular Bohemians. A S. H. White, Secretary of the Commission and Willis the photographer are also with us.

Our party arrived at Fort Harker which is the headquarters of Gen. Gibbs, commander of the District of the Upper Arkansas, on the night of the 7th inst. Ambulances were in attendance to convey us to the fort, which we had no sooner entered than 17 guns thundered their salute. An elegant supper was provided, which the distinguished party highly enjoyed. Till midnight the band of the 7th Calvary serenaded them.

Next morning, under convoy of three companies of the 7th Calvary and Battery B 4th artillery our party in ten ambulances with a train of 30 wagons, containing Indian presents and miscellaneous stores, proceeded to Fort Larned, 80 miles distant on the Santa Fe route. During the march army reminiscences were vividly remembered. The Calvary, the clang of sabers, the various bugle signals, reveille, dress parade and tattoo, reminded the correspondents of the various battle scenes they had witnessed. It was a wild country that we passed through, the home of the buffalo, the antelope and howling coyote. A seemingly illimitable savanna, with a diversity of rolling hills, and as we advanced westward the country grew wilder in its aspect, more barren, and the plateaus more immense, unbroken by any undulating hills.

The whole of the journey was traveled with a great deal of circumspection, scouts being sent ahead, a rear guard behind watching warily every place that might afford an ambush for the wily foe.

Ar Fort Zarah, half way between Forts Harker and Larned, we struck the Arkansas River and followed along its bank northwardly up to Larned. Amid the many hundred miles it traverses it flows through no district so wild, so primitive, or so untrodden by civilization as that part of Kansas which is watered by it and which expanded to our view for the first time as we journeyed from Zarah. Any body of Indians happening to peep over the bluffs and watching our progress would undoubtedly hesitate long before they attacked our command. The march was rather monotonous, though the dignified Commissioners enliven it by many a lively jest and repartee. A herd of buffalo were now and then seen away off toward the northern horizon, and a few solitary antelopes races away for dear life, evidently considering us interlopers on their domain. At night coyotes howled mournfully enough around us, and vultures feasted on the dead carcasses which were found on the road. Crows dismally croaked their hoarse cries; prairie dogs shrilly barked their welcome perched impudently at the entrances of their burrows; owls blinked uneasily, while Mephitis American flung their rank venom at every passing object, and caused the distinguished persons in the ambulance great uneasiness.

We arrived at Larned on the 11th inst. About three miles to the southward of the fort we crossed the Arkansas River, a remarkable river but very shallow, its bosom decked with a great many beautiful islands where vegetation is really luxuriant. On the southern banks we camped for the night. During the night our train was joined by 60 wagons and two companies of infantry, thus increasing our train to 175 wagons and ambulances. Including the calvary horses the number of animals with the expedition is now 1,250. The men number 600. The train when on the march is about two miles in length.

The next day buffalo were seen covering the whole prairie as far as the eye could reach. Though orders were given in the morning that no person should fire any gun or pistol, yet. when we saw those immense bodies the temptation to resist the order was too strong and with the permission of Gen. Sanborn, Jack D. Howland, special artist for Harper's Weekly and assistant Secretary of the Commission shot a fine buffalo specially for the Bohemian mess. The Commissioners also received some rare steaks for which they were grateful.

Santanta or White Bear, the redoubtable Sachem of the Kiowa nation; Little Raven head chief of Arapahos and two Apache chiefs came to our camp at night at Rattle Snake Creek, in company with Major-gen. Augur; Col. James H. Leavenworth agent Comanches, Kiowas and Araphoes; Col. Edward Wynkoop, agent Sioux and Cheyennes; Capt. John W. Smith, interpreter, and a whole host of itinerant nobodies. There was a vast amount of shaking hands and guttural "hows" exchanged and your special correspondent received a bone afide bear's (White Bear) hug from Santanta. He instantly recognized him as the important personage who reported his speech at the pow-wow with Gen. Hancock.

Gen. Augar has been ordered by the President to join the Indian Commission, vice Gen. Sherman, who received a telegram to proceed to Washington. The nation at large may suffer the exchange, but it is apparent that, with Sherman, all hauteur and cold reserve have vanished among the Commissioners, and the corps of correspondents accompanying them, feel immensely relieved, and bless their stars Sherman is gone.

On the 13th we reached Medicine Lodge Creek, at a point eight miles from the Indian villages. Santana, who was with us was very cross because the young bloods accompanying the expedition had shot the buffalo and left them where they fell. Said he, as the angry blood mounted up to his face. "Has the white man become a child, that he should kill the buffalo for sport. When the red men kill, they do so that they may live." It was a most reckless extravagant course to pursue undoubtedly, and an unprejudiced man could not blame him for his language.

On the morning of the 14th we arrived in sight of the Indian villages, stretching away for five miles along the creek.

A more picturesque location for a camp could not have been selected as the vale or basin of Medicine Lodge Creek. Covering the entire basin were the respective villages of the Kiowas, Arapahos, Cheyennes, Comanches, and Apaches. They undoubtedly evince a taste in the selection of their camps. Water and wood are indispensable necessities. Roaming at large over a wild country, of the various lovely sites which nature has no bountifully provided, they select the loveliest spot. Without exaggerating or indulging in the romantic, I may style this vale a paradise of beauty. Viewing the encampment from the distance, the white tops of the wigwams could be discerned from the verdant umbrageous foliage of the grove of timber, the white forming a pleasing contrast with the vivid green. Some fanciful notions arose in our minds at the beautiful prospect, but on arriving at the village the charm which the fancy had woven in our minds was entirely dissolved. Within and around the Arapaho village which we first visited all was corruption and filth. Dressed in dingy buffalo robes which swarmed with vermin were the warriors, squaws and papooses, who crowded around the delegates sent by the Great Father to make peace. Some old superannuate squaws laid indolently on their backs, sheepishly eyeing the palefaces. Cooper-colored papooses slung in wicker cradles to poles driven in the ground, were as plentiful as the grass. Other papooses were stretched and bound unmercifully to shingles on their mother's backs, while squaws themselves seemed busy over some mysterious culinary preparations which I suspect was the cooking of some delectable dog stew.

The unsophisticated Aboriginal maidens about which poems have been sung. Longfellow and Cooper have each woven romantic stories about these damsels, but truth compels me to state that out of thirty different tribes which I have visited, no such beauties as Pocahontas and Hiawatha have ever come within range of my visual organs. There were a few very pretty, dainty girls, most tenderly cared for if I might judge by their rich olive complexion; but the majority of them were a matter of fact practical and most unpoetical set who handled axes most dexterously. The distinguishing characteristics were low foreheads, coal-black eyes, noses inclined to be flat, monstrous flat feet, dwarfish legs, not over modestly dressed - if mothers, they carried grinning round-eyed papooses which they seemed to lavish those little material endearments so natural and spontaneous to a mother's heart. When they were espoused their lords launched not into lyrical enthusiasm nor did they forget the existence of a sky or the green woods about them, but simply asked the prosaic question, "how much is she worth?" Probably this may be accounted for by their methodical matter of fact treatment when young.

The camp was strewn with the most miscellaneous articles that could be conceived. Dogs, half eaten up, untanned buffalo robes, axes, pots, kettles, and pans; bead work and other gaudy finery; old moccasins, chunks of lately killed buffalo, stews cooking in the kettles, dogskins, antelope and elk hides, pipes, tom-toms, and war clubs, bone grubbing hoes, scraping instruments, stone hammers, headless arrows, and broken bows; Indian dolls lay promiscuously on the ground near the wigwam and bone saddles in heaps; wicker cradles by the score, while, howling and barking were Indian dogs.

Young braves and boys romped in a complete state of nudity, with the exception of an apology for a breech clout, in the shape of a narrow rag. Leap-frog and baseball after their own fashion were the principal games. A few hurled the tomahawk at a target while others practiced with headless arrows. Girls ten years old and upward wrestled and fought, their lithe agile forms performing wild circumgyrations in the air. All these scenes transpired before our eyes, and were very interesting to persons who had never seen such before.

The architecture of an Indian wigwam is almost universally the same. Its size varies from 50 to 75 feet in circumference at the base and height from the base to the apex, about 12 feet. Twenty poles planted around meeting at the top, covered over with tanned buffalo hide form the wigwam. The top is left open to represent a window, and as a flue for the escape of smoke, and a flap in the side is typical of a door, through which the Indian enters on all fours. In this unpartitioned lodge sleeps the Indian, his wife or wives, and papooses. The furniture consists of a saucepan, camp kettle, three or four horn spoons of home manufacture two or three wooden dishes and you have as complete an inventory as any knight of the hammer could make. It is not by any inadvertence that the coffee roasting, grinding and boiling apparatus are absent from the list, for the luxury of a cup of coffee is not among the home comforts of the "poor Indian" unless he has lately been to a Government fort. Half a dozen buffalo robes are the only articles approaching bed furniture which he possesses. The whole forming an accumulation of filth and vermin. Towels and soap are, of course unknown luxuries and his personal costume entirely accords with his other domestic equipment. His scanty and only covering with the exception of the buffalo robe or red blanket - a breech cloth, generally ragged and never washed. As a mother the squaw ranks but little above the lower animals, making no preparation and possessing apparently no instinctive forethought for childbirth, but as frequently introducing her young into the world on the open prairie as under the friendly shelter of the wigwam. The papooses is swaddled in any chance rag that offers, and the mother resumes her journey or work as if nothing had happened.

I have sketched these things, imagining that they would be found interesting before proceeding with the business of the Commission, and now that the council is about to be held this afternoon. I will desist from any further description of scenery for the present.

The following chiefs were at the grand council held to-day, representing their respective tribes: Comanches - Pavy-Wah-sah-mer (Young Bear), head chief; Tip-pah-pen-nov-aly (Painted Lips), Boy-ah-wah-to-yeh-be (Iron Mountain), Par-er-eh-ve (Wise Shield), Za-mah-we-ah (Without Wealth), the whole consisting of 100 lodges. Of the Kiowas - Sa-Tan-ta (White Bear) head Sachem, Black Eagle, Sit-em-ga-ah (Stumbling Bear), Stat-ank (Sitting Bear), Ton-a-ew-ko (Kicking Bird), the whole tribe numbering 150 lodges.

Of the Arapahos, Little Raven head casique great Arapaho nation: Spotted Wolf, Storm, Yellow Bear, Powder Face, and Ice, representing 171 lodges.

The Apaches, numbering in all 85 lodges, were represented by the head warrior, Wolf Sleeve, and the chiefs, Poor Bear, Iron Shirt, and Crow.

The Cheyenne tribe was represented by Black Kettle, formerly great sachem of the tribe but who has lately been disposed because of his peaceful proclivities, and Bull Bear, a most powerful warrior is substituted instead, Bull Bear, chief of the Dog band, was also present. Present head warrior of the Cheyenne tribe, Big Tall Bull, Heap of Birds, Slim Face, Black White Man and Grey Head, representing in all 250 lodges.

These chiefs were dressed in the most picturesque manner. Their faces dyed with red ochre, with curious hieroglyphics drawn in other colors on their cheeks. Their head-dresses were of a very unique cut - eagle feathers in plenty stuck in a circle all standing erect, and forming a head-dress resembling a crown. Their ears were hung with brass rings of every size, ranging from one inch to three in diameter. Their scalp locks were plaited, and hung down the back adorned by a string of silver plates reaching to the heel. On their breasts were shields of curiously carved concave shells, enormous silver crosses, and silver medals. Their wrists and fingers were encased in rings of brass. Their feet were covered with moccasins, strung with beads of every color, worked in the shape of flowers leaves, rings, stars and any other way that their vivid fancy could devise. Black Kettle wore on his head a tall dragoon hat. While flowing over his shoulders and trailing on the ground was a long robe of the finest blue cloth. Other chiefs had gaudy blankets interwoven with fancy colors. Some had Mexican serapes, while the rest wore blue, red, black and green blankets.

The commissioners held a preliminary council today of which the following was the substance:

Commissioner - Where are the Cheyennes?

Interpreter - The most important chiefs of the Cheyenne Nation though there are 250 lodges here present, are absent on the Cimaron River.

Well then tell these men said Commissioner Taylor that their Great Father has heard there is trouble, that he has sent us here to see for ourselves and to make peace; and that we have some military men with us as we were traveling through a wild country and we wished them to protect us on the road. That we have heard there is trouble North, and we must finish our business here as expeditiously as possible so as to keep our word with them. Tell them that we have made peace with the Ogallallas and Brules, and we hoped to make a full and lasting peace with these people here.

In answer to which Big Jake, chief of the Cheyennes said, through the interpreter, that it would take eight days at the furthest before all could be in; that those chiefs that were present were but few in comparison to the great body absent; that it would be useless to make a treaty which the big men absent would not accede to, but they were willing to leave everything to the Commissioners' judgment and would be their children. He also told them to choose whatever roads they wanted and they would obey; that he was going to send 20 soldiers to drive everybody into the council, and that it would be better as a means to induce the tribes to come in, to dress those 20 men of his in good clothes.

To this proposition the Commissioners gladly acceded, and the runners were dressed in fill calvary uniform. In eight days at the furthest, the Council will take place. We are now camped half a mile from the Indian villages.

Little Big-Mouths' a band having absented themselves, they state that they don't want any annuity goods, but they would be well pleased to have traders among them. Until the Council we have nothing to do but wait for a period of seven or eight days. We cannot be in St. Louis until the 1st on November. As the couriers are about departing, I must close.

Also see:

Ten Bears, Comanche Chief, Made an Eloquent Address At The Medicine Lodge Peace Council
Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

The Medicine Lodge Peace Council Location:
Sworn Statement of I-See-O

Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

"The Medicine Lodge Peace Council" by George Bent
Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

"The Medicine Lodge Peace Council": A Graphic Description of Famous Peace Council By An Eye Witness, Gov. A. A. Taylor of Tenn.
Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

"The Medicine Lodge Peace Council": Some More Interesting Articles Telling About Famous Medicine Lodge Indian Peace Council
Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

The West That Was - Cody
Barber County Index, September 29, 1927.

Governor Paulen's Address Regarding the Medicine Lodge Peace Council
Barber County Index, October 20, 1927.

The Treaty of Medicine Lodge Creek   The text of the treaty, from

Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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