BLTC Press Titles


available for Kindle at Amazon.com


The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas


Some Experiences of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross


The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky


Knowledge of Higher Worlds and its Attainment

Rudolf Steiner


Mary and I. Forty years with the Sioux

by Stephen Return Riggs

Excerpt:

But really not much was known of the Sioux until the summer of 1680, when Hennepin and Du Luth met in a camp of Dakotas, as they hunted buffalo in what is now north-western Wisconsin. Hennepin had been captured by a war-party, which descended the Father of Waters in their canoes, seeking for scalps among tbeir enemies, the Miamis and Illinois. They took him and his companions of the voyage up to their villages on the head-waters of Rum River, and around the shores of Mille Lac and Knife Lake. From the former of these the eastern band of the Sioux nation named themselves Mdaywakantonwan, Spirit Lake Villagers; and from the latter they inherited the name of Santees (Isanyati), Dwellers on Knife.

These two representative Frenchmen, thus brought together, at so early a day, in the wilds of the West, visited the home of the Sioux, as above indicated, and to them we are indebted for much of what we know of the Dakotas two centuries ago.

The Ojibwas and Hurons were then occupying the southern shores of Lake Superior, and, coining first into communication with the white race, they were first supplied with fire-arms, which gave them such an advantage over the more warlike Sioux that, in the next hundred years, we find the Ojibwas in possession of all the country on the head-waters of the Mississippi, while the Dakotas had migrated southward and westward.

The general enlistment of the Sioux, and indeed of all these tribes of the North-west, on the side of the British in the war of 1812, showed the necessity of a strong military garrison in the heart of the Indian country. Hence the building of Fort Snelling nearly sixty years ago. At the confluence of the Minnesota with the Mississippi, and on the high point between the two it has an admirable outlook. So it seemed to us as we approached it on that first day of June, 1837. On our landing we became the guests of Lieutenant Ogden and his excellent wife, who was the daughter of Major Loomis. To Mary and me, every thing was new and strange. We knew nothing of military life. But our sojourn of a few days was made pleasant and profitable by the Christian sympathy which met us there — the evidence of the Spirit's presence, which, two years before, had culminated in the organization of a Christian church in the garrison, on the arrival of the first missionaries to the Dakotas.

The Falls of St. Anthony and the beautiful Minnehaha have now become historic, and Minnetonka has become a place of summer resort. But forty years ago it was only now and then that the eyes of a white man, and still more rarely the eyes of a white woman, looked upon the Falls of Curling Water; * and scarcely any one knew that the water in Little Falls Creek came from Minnetonka Lake. But nearer by were the beautiful lakes Calhoun and Harriet. On the first of these was the Dakota Village, of which Claudman and Drifter were then the chiefs; and on whose banks the brothers Pond had erected the first white man's cabin; and on the north bank of the latter was a mission station of the American Board, commenced two years before by Rev. Jedediah D. Stevens.

Here we were in daily contact with the Dakota men, women, and children. Here we began to listen to the strange sounds of the Dakota tongue; and here we made our first laughable efforts in speaking the language.

We were fortunate in meeting here Rev. Samuel W. Pond, the older of the brothers, who had come out from Connecticut three years previous, and, in advance of all others, had erected their missionary cabin on the margin of Lake Calhoun. Mr. Pond's knowledge of Dakota was

* Minnehaha means " Curling Water," not " Laughing Water," as many suppose.

quite '. nelp to us, who were just commencing to learn it. Before we left the States, it had heen impressed upon us by Secretary David Greene that whether we were successful missionaries or not depended much on our acquiring a free use of the language. And the teaching of my own experience and observation is that if one fails to make a pretty good start the first year in its acquisition, it will be a rare thing if he ever masters the language. And so, obedient to our instructions, we made it our first work to get our ears opened to the strange sounds, and our tongues made cunning for their utterance. Oftentimes we laughed at our own blunders, as when I told Mary, one day, that pish was the Dakota for fish. A Dakota boy had been trying to speak the English word. Mr. Stevens had gathered, from various sources, a vocabulary of five or six hundred words. This formed the commencement of the growth of the Dakota Grammar and Dictionary which I published fifteen years afterward.


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