A Special Council

Henry Stanley
Missouri Democrat/October 28, 1867

Arrival of Hostile Chiefs—Their People “Making Medicine”—Important Religious Rites—Time Wanted—Spicy Colloquy—Between the Commissioners and Indians—Interesting Announcement—Little Raven

Medicine Lodge Creek, October 22, 1867

Last night Little Robe, Black Kettle, Minnick and Gray Beard, four chiefs of the great Cheyenne nation, came to camp and said they wished to talk with the peace chiefs. Admitted into a special council, they gave their excuses for their non-appearance.

They had advanced one day in their medicine making work. They had three days more; ordinarily it takes four days to renew medicine arrows, but as this was an urgent necessity, they will only take three.

Taylor Spoke to them thus: “We are glad to see you; we have been anxiously expecting you. We would like to know how soon your people could be here.”

Little Robe Replied: “It may be four or five nights after this. I was requested by the Cheyenne nation to communicate their wishes to you. I came here for that purpose. If you can detain the chiefs of the other tribes we would we very well pleased, as we have something of importance to discuss in general council. The Cheyenne soldiers have all got together; no more shall leave their village until we arrive there. It has taken us a longer time to collect the men of this nation together, as they were scattered. Do not be in too much of a hurry to leave. We want to see you very bad, and want to shake hands with you. If you have anything very particular to send back to our village, one of our men shall be a runner and start back tomorrow.”

The Commissioners consulted together about using their influence to request the other tribes to stay till the arrival of the Cheyennes.

General Harney said: “Well, I am in favor of making the tribes to stay.”

Henderson: “Well, I suppose that asking us to stay, is to test our endurance.”

Harney: “Well, let us show the Cheyennes that we can endure.”

Henderson: “We do not see why the Cheyennes could not be here sooner. It does not usually take five days to travel twenty-nine miles.”

Augur: “That is not the point, Judge Henderson; it is this—these tribes have engaged in certain ceremonies, and they cannot cut them short any more than a man would leave church to take a drink.” [Laughter]

Henderson: “Many a man has done it, and you know it, general. I think these men might cut short their ceremonies. I must be home by the 1st of November, and I cannot wait here five days; we have waited here eight days already and they had promised to be here tonight.”

Harney: “Well, Judge, you cannot go home. We cannot do without you, and if you go I fear I will have to arrest you.” [Great sensation.]

Sanborh: “Tell the chiefs that if they want to see us together, they must be here at the end of three days.”

Taylor: “Tell them also that these other tribes have finished their business with us. We can request them to stay but we can do no more. We can tell also that is the Cheyennes’ wish.”

Little Robe: “We are in as much of a hurry as yourself. We have thrown away one day to please you. You have your engagements, we have ours. We want to do all in our power to meet together. If we can’t meet, then we must abide the consequences.”

Black Kettle: “I give you my word I will not ask you to stay here six or seven or eight days. When I look to my left I see you, and that you intend to do right; and when I look to my right I see my men, and know that they intend to do right. I want you both to touch and shake hands.”

Henderson (to Commissioners): “Ah! I see what is the matter—they are afraid to come in. Tell them, interpreter, that they have our full pardon and forgiveness for past offenses.”

Harney: “Oh, no! don’t tell them that. I am sure they will come here. I’ll bet my life on their keeping their word.”

Henderson: “Bah! This medicine is all humbug.”

Augur: “Oh, no it ain’t, it is life and death with them; it is their religion, and they observe all the ceremonies a great deal better than the whites theirs.”

Henderson: “It must be (?). I never knew a white man that would not put aside religion for business.”

Taylor (to interpreter): “Tell them that they must send a runner to their villages, that we can wait four days, and that is all.”

At this point Murphy of the Central Superintendency requested to make a remark. On being permitted to do so, he said that Little Raven had informed him that he was ready to go into council and sign a treaty tomorrow morning at 9 o’clock. Little Raven wished to dissolve their confederation with the Cheyennes, and go with the Apache instead. The Cheyennes had always got them into trouble, and by that trouble had prevented them from getting their annuities. Besides the Cheyennes had made threats against them, and they did not wish to be with them any more. Little Raven also told me to tell you that his young men would be in camp in the morning; they had caught up with the Indians who had stolen their ponies, and had killed some of them, and when they returned to camp tomorrow not to be alarmed, as they would give some startling whoops, yell and fire, and he hoped the soldiers would not get alarmed and fire on them.

“Hurrah!” said Harney. “I hope they killed them all. What were they, Pawnees?”

“No, sir,” said Murphy’ “they were Kaws.”

“Well done,” replied Harney; “the Arapahoes ought to have killed them all, durn them!”

I have endeavored to give, in the above, a synopsis, in dialogue form, of the proceedings in the council tent last night. Every one looks with anxiety to the arrival of the Cheyennes, as they are the Indians who have been at war, and we may expect some interesting disclosures when they arrive. It were well for the Commissioners to stay and see this affair out, and do it well. But your correspondent will be at his post.