Friday, September 23, 2016

Historical Conflict And Trade At Cannonball River, A Review

Challenges And Conflict On The Cannonball
Confluence Of Indians & Traders, A Review
By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, ND – Is the Cannonball River so different today than it was two hundred years ago? Yes and no. The river still drains into the Missouri River as it has done for thousands of years, but the similarities depart from there. The Cannonball River drains into a stretch of the Missouri River that is more lake now than flowing stream.

600 years ago, the Mandan lived in two earthlodge villages, the Big River Villages, on the north and south banks at the Cannonball River and Missouri River confluence. The Cheyenne lived in an earthlodge village located at present-day Fort Yates, ND, and occupied the region including the Cannonball River from around 1700 to about the turn of 1800 before taking up the nomadic horse culture for themselves and moving west. The Arikara contested the Cheyenne occupation, and even came to live at the Big River Village on the north bank for a time.

Tracy Potter’s “Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat” offers a summary of the backstory which sets up the Mandan Indian protagonist Shehek Shote (“White Wolf;” aka Sheheke, or “White Coyote”) in the post-contact and early trade era on the Upper Missouri River. Potter references living oral tradition of the Mandan people, and archaeology of the ancient territory of the Mandan, as well as writings from the early fur traders including the Corps of Discovery to show the struggle and survival of the Mandan on the prairie steppe.

Potter’s teeters back and forth between a biographical epic of White Wolf who journeyed east to parlay with President Jefferson and his return, and a historical summary of the Mandan people. The tale concludes with a grand gesture of self-sacrifice and service to a country that has largely forgotten that White Wolf died protecting Americans on the frontier when the War of 1812 spread to the Missouri River.

Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat was released in 2003 as a companion book to all the Corps of Discovery excitement during the Lewis & Clark Bicentennial. Its a genuine original concept, with a focus on the story of a native man, a civil chief of a peaceful first nation, at a time when a dozen books a month were coming out about the Corps of Discovery. It’s 2016 and Potter’s book deserves a second closer look at its brief narrative involving the conflicts on the Cannonball River in light of the current energy interests there.

Inter-tribal conflict is a part of the collective history of the first nations. Different languages yield different world views and values, which may lead to conflict, but contests for control of natural resources is universal in the history of humanity anywhere in the world at any time.

During the Corps of Discovery’s mission, they selected various tribal leaders to journey downriver and east to meet with the great father of the new United States. In 1804, the corps selected Arketarnawhar Was-to-ne (“Is A Whippoorwill”) and a company of six others from the Osage, Missouri, and Pawnee nations, to entreat with President Jefferson. Is A Whippoorwill died in the spring of 1805; the other tribal representatives soon died as well. Jefferson wrote a missive telling the Arikara that their beloved leader had promised their friendship to the Americans before dying, and that he was buried in the east.

The Arikara received official word of their leader’s death in the summer of 1807. By then, the Arikara and Mandan were at war with one another. One of the conflicts between the two nations was at the Cannonball River, where the Mandan had fought the Arikara and killed two of their warriors. The Mandan wanted and supported trade with the Americans; the Arikara wanted the same too, but wanted their leader back more.

In the fall of 1812, war tension spread west. The Hidatsa supported the English in their trade. The Mandan supported trade with the American Fur Company. The Arikara indiscriminately harassed all white trappers and traders on the Upper Missouri. The Cheyenne were withdrawing from the Missouri River for the deep west, but lingering trade drew them back to the Missouri River. The American Fur Company had set up shop with Fort Manuel Lisa near present-day Kenel, SD near the ND-SD border.

The Arikara reported to a Fort Manuel trader that the Cheyenne had robbed and whipped a trader at the Cannonball. The trappers were so nervous when the sun went down, they shot a skulking dog thinking it was a Cheyenne. What’s not reported, is the Cheyenne were lied to and robbed in trade themselves. Their retaliation was just. They didn’t kill the trader, only suffered him to be humiliated for his corrupt dealings. Some of the Cheyenne were still on good terms with the traders at Fort Manuel Lisa and had planned on wintering there in 1812-1813.

Fort Manuel Lisa was attacked and burned in December 1812. Lisa and his men, even the Cheyenne were anticipating attack from the Arikara, but it was the Thítȟuŋwaŋ (“Teton”), persuaded by English trade agent Col. Robert Dickson who had married into the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (“Seven Council Fires;” Great Sioux Nation), who carried the fight to the trade fort.

Potter’s “Sheheke: Mandan Indian Diplomat” is a wonderfully short historical book in clear light prose, but it’s deep and rich enough for serious study. His book is dedicated to the Mandan people and includes many Mandan and Hidatsa descendants in his acknowledgements. Get your copy from the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum store. The book isn’t listed on the website, but it’s available on the floor. Get your copy today! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri River, A Review

The cover of Sunder's book 
The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri
Cannonball River Part Of History, A Review
By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, ND – The first edition of John Sunder’s “The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri, 1840-1865” was published in 1965 by the University of Oklahoma Press. The book focuses on the closing days of the American Fur Company on the Northern Great Plains which effectively concluded with the punitive campaigns of generals Sibley and Sully.

The fur trade has an interesting history in North America. The French and English hooked native peoples with trade goods such as mirrors, knives, kettles, beads, and guns. American Indian tribes even made war on one another for a hundred years in the Great Lakes region until the beaver was effectively hunted out at the turn of 1700. Then the fur trade turned west.

Sunder takes readers to the last of the trading posts on the Upper Missouri, from Fort Berthold where the Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan became utterly dependent on the US military for aid in their struggle for survival against the elements and the hostilities of their traditional enemies, the Teton Lakota, to Fort Union Trading Post.

Sunder’s narrative is a carefully constructed study of the last trading posts. That is to say, that this book is dry in its detail, but everything within is genuinely valued and included for its contribution to the development of the American West. This includes mentions of rivers and streams on the Upper Missouri River that have been exploited for their material value, rivers and streams that were inter-tribal conflict sites, and river and streams that have served as important points of interest for river traffic.

Here’s a short excerpt from Sunder’s The Fur Trade Era On The Upper Missouri, 1840-1865 which happens to pertain to the Cannonball River, a western tributary of the Missouri River, and of some interest to the energy industry.

After brief stops at Forts Buford and Union, the St. Ange reached the mouth of the Poplar River. Since the mid-July channel of the Missouri was too low to allow Captain La Barge to go up-river beyond that point, he unloaded freight destined for the Blackfoot country, then swung the steamer around and rode the current downriver to St. Louis, carrying a large cargo of robes and furs and new Indian-country curiosities: spherical stones from Cannonball River and a caged wild songbird resembling an Old World finch. Father De Smet, who disembarked at Fort Union, accompanied Alexander Culbertson and thirty Indians in a small wagon and cart train overland from Yellowstone to Fort Laramie to attend a scheduled September meeting between St. Louis Indian Superintendent Mitchell and the northern Plains tribes.

These spherical stones, concretions, from the 60-million-year-old Cannonball Formation – unique to North Dakota – continue to be a part of North Dakota’s identity and geologic history, so much that a lovely collection of the stones are prominently featured at the new east entrance of the North Dakota Heritage Center & State Museum. The stones were collected from Harmon Lake recreation area. There's precious few stones remaining at the Cannonball River. 

Sunder’s book is available at the NorthDakota Heritage Center & State Museum’s gift shop. The book is not listed for purchase on the website, but it's on the floor. Get your copy today!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Medicine Bear Winter Count Variant

A picture of the Medicine Bear Winter Count from the collections at the Montana Historical Society (picture courtesy of the Montana Historical Society).
Waníyetu Wowápi Tȟá Matȟó Wakȟáŋ Akhé
A Medicine Bear Winter Count Variant

By Dakota Wind
Helena, MT - Medicine Bear was an itáŋčaŋ, one of four principal chiefs, of the Pȟabáksa (Cut-Head) division of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai). He was forty years old when the reservation era, the time of nothing, began. By then he kept a winter count, a history of his band of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna, rendered in his own hand, on muslin cloth. It seems he kept one on brain-tanned buckskin as well.

A variant of that winter count has surfaced in the collection at the Montana Historical Society. The paint on this variant is much worn and flaked (charcoal, but probably mixed with bear grease or other animal fat), but there is enough distinction in the images and execution of style in the pictographs that this researcher has determined that the hide winter count is a variant, if not the originator, of the Medicine Bear Winter Count.

The waníyetu wowápi, winter count, is a pictographic record, a mnemonic device, in which each image represents a year with a story of the people, in this case, Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna. It is not a calendar, not in the sense that you can look ahead and see the next month or year, but a record to look back at previous years.

The traditional homeland of the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna lies between the Mníšoše (Water-Astir; Missouri River) and Čaŋsáŋsaŋ Wakpá (White Birch River; James River), and south of Mní Wakȟáŋ (Water With-Energy; Spirit Lake) on the Northern Great Plains. Occasionally the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna ventured as far east as Ohio, and as far west as the Čhaŋsótka Wakpá (Towering Tree River; Little Missouri River).

In Josephine Waggoner’s book “Witness: A Húŋkpapȟa Historian’s Strong-Heart Songs of the Lakotas” there are listed thirteen bands of Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna. These thirteen groups were split among three different reservations in the late 1800’s, Standing Rock (Wičhíyena), Fort Peck (Wačhíŋča Oyáte), and Crow Creek (Húŋkpathi).

The Montana Historical Society Medicine Bear Winter Count has been correlated with the Medicine Bear Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) at Dartmouth College, the Blue Thunder Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) at the State Historical Society of North Dakota (SHSND), the High Dog Winter Count (variously listed as Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna and Huŋkphápȟa) at the SHSND, the Chandler-Pohrt Winter Count at the Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, MI, and the John K. Bear Winter Count (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna). The Lakota Language Consortium standard orthography has been used to write the text of each entry in Dakȟóta.

1823 (1): Wahúwapa šéča ȟápi waníyetu kiŋ (Ears-of-corn dried bury-they winter the). That winter they cached parched ears of corn.

1824 (2): Ȟaȟátȟuŋwaŋ ób kičhízapi. Čhaŋkáškapi yuȟdéčapi ([Water] Fall-dwellers with fight-they. Fence-fortification to-tear-apart-they). They fought with the Chippewa. They tore their palisades to pieces.

1825 (3): Mní wičhát’E (Water many-dead). Dead bodies in the water.

1826 (4): Tȟaspáŋna Wakpána éd waníthipi (Apple-[Little] Creek at winter-camp). They made winter camp at Apple Creek.

1827 (5): Wičháakiȟ’aŋ na wičháša čheȟpí yútA, Isáŋyathi (Starvation and people flesh to-eat-something, Santee). In their desperate hunger, the Santee ate their own.

1828 (6): Wakáŋkadaŋ ób kičhízapi (Thunder-beings with fight-they). They fought with the Thunder Beings.

1829 (7): Makhú Šá čhaŋkáğa thípi káğA Hiŋháŋ Wakpá éd (Breast-bone Red trimmed-logs lodge to-build Owl River at). Red Breast built a cabin on Owl River (Moreau River). The variant depicts a lodge alongside a cabin. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts a man wearing a hat (a white man; a trader) next to a cabin.

1830 (8): Pȟadáni ób kičhízapi kiŋ (Arikara with fight-they the). They fought with the Arikara. The variant depicts four figures representing the enemy. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only two.

1831 (9): Nuŋpá kičhíkte (Two killed-each-other). Two men killed each other.

1832 (10): Thí tȟáŋka obléča káğapi (Lodge big square-sides built-they). They built a large cabin.

1833 (11): Wičháȟpi hiŋȟpáya (Star-Nation to-fall-down). The stars fell down.

1834 (12): Matȟó kičhí waníthipi, Čhaŋté Wakpá éd (Bear with winter-camp, Heart River at). They made winter camp with a bear, at Heart River.

1835 (13): Wičhíyena óta wičhákasotapi waníyetu (Wičhíyena many massacre-they winter). Many Upper Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai) were massacred that winter. Both the variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a Hupáwaheyuŋpi (Poles Pack-things-up-to-travel), or travois which was used to move their wounded and deceased.

1836 (14): Tȟatȟáŋka Iŋyáŋke tȟóka kte na thi akdí kiŋ (Bison-[Bull] Running enemy kill and camp return the). Running Bull killed an enemy and returned to camp. The variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a figure above which is featured four horse tracks, killing or counting coup on another figure. The horse tracks represent a successful horse raid against his enemy.

1837 (15): Wičháȟaŋȟaŋ tȟaŋká (Smallpox big). There was an epidemic of smallpox.

1838 (16): Wičháȟaŋȟaŋ aktá (Smallpox again). Another epidemic of smallpox.

1839 (17): Pté sáŋ ktépi (Bison-[Cow] creamy-white kill-they). They killed a female white bison.

1840 (18): Tȟámina Wé Padáni ob kičhize waktékdi (His-Knife Blood Arikara with fight return-in-victory). His Bloody Knife returned in victory from a fight against the Arikara. This is the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Dakȟóta headman of the Wičhíyena, or PȟabáksA (“Cutheads”) division. In later years he was known as Oscar No Heart. The forehead of the figure in the variant is painted scarlet, indicating that this is a PȟabáksA figure.

1841 (19): Itáŋčhaŋ ktépi (Leader kill-they). They killed a chief.

1842 (20): Tȟatȟáŋka Oyé Wakȟáŋ t’Á. Wakhéya kdézena uŋ wičháknakapi. (Bison-Bull Tracks With-Energy died. Lodge striped using above-the-ground [buried]-they). Holy Buffalo Tracks died. They laid him to rest in a striped thípi.

1843 (21): Čhaŋčéğa Yuhá ečíyapi ptehíko (Drum Has called-by-name-them bison-to-attract). Drum Owner called the bison.

1844 (22): Wíŋyaŋ onákte (woman prairie-fire-killed). A woman died in a prairie fire. The figure depicted is standing in flame.

1845 (23): Huŋkádowaŋpi (Singing-over-a-relative-they). They sang over someone in ceremony and made a relative. The making-of-relatives ceremony is still practiced among the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Seven Council Fires; the name the “Great Sioux Nation” refers to themselves) today.

1846 (24): Šuŋg’híŋzi áwičakdipi (Horse-teeth-yellow captured-return-they). They brought back horses with yellow teeth.

1847 (25): Wašíču nuŋpá kičhí waníthi (Takes-The-Fat two with winter-camp). Two white traders camped with them that winter.

1848 (26): Kičhí ktépi (Each-other killed-they). They killed each other. This year’s entry depicts two men shooting each other.

1849 (27): WatȟókhiyopȟeyA čhúŋkaške éd waníthipi (To-Trade fort at winter-camp). They wintered at a trading post.

1850 (28): Wópȟetȟuŋ waŋ Wičhíyena ópi. Matȟó Núŋpa thíŋktes’a t’eyÁ (Trader a Wičhíyena wound. Bear Two murderer-would-be caused-to-die). An Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna wounds a trader. Two Bear puts the would-be murderer to death. Note: The Two Bear family on Standing Rock insist on the use of “Two Bear” as opposed to “Two Bears.”

1851 (29): Heȟáka šá kútepi (Elk red hunted-they). They hunted a red elk. The variant depicts a lodge in front of the elk indicating that the hunters conferred and prayed about this hunt. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only a leaping red elk.

1852 (30): Matȟó Wašté ečíyapi ptehíko (Bear Good called-them-by-name bison-to-attract). Good Bear called the bison. The variant depicts a lodge in front of the bison indicating that the hunters, in this case Good Bear, prayed about this hunt. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts only a charging or leaping bison.

1853 (31): Hé Tópa uŋ waŋ ktépi (Horn/s Four wearing a killed-they). They killed a man wearing a headdress with four horns. Both the variant and the Medicine Bear Winter Count depict a head with what appears to be a shaved horn headdress with four horns, and a trailer of what appears to be ermine tails and a slat (slats were quilled and sometimes decorated with feathers or plumes).

1854 (32): Waníyetu kičhízapi (Winter fight-they). They had a fight that winter.

1855 (33): Phuthíŋ Ská wawáhoye kiŋ (Beard White to-order-things the). White Beard [General William Harney] gave the order.

1856 (34): Wapȟáha waŋ yuk’ézapi (Warbonnet in-particular to-shear-off-they). In a fight, he sheared a war-bonnet off [the enemy’s head]. The variant depicts a wapȟáha (a warbonnet) with what appears to be horns. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts the same but without this embellishment.

1857 (35): Tȟatȟáŋka Ináži wiŋyáŋ áwičakdi (Bison-[Bull] Standing woman captured-returned-with). Standing Bull brought back a captive woman.

1858 (36): Waŋbdí Hoȟpí t’Á (Eagle Nest died). Eagle Nest died.

1859 (37): Wókapȟaŋ paŋȟya (Meat-block/pemmican very-much). Much pemmican. The variant depicts blocks or parcels of meat in front of the lodge door. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts the same on the lodge.

1860 (38): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdipi (Horses many captured-returned-with). They returned with many captured horses.

1861 (39): Hitȟúŋkasaŋ Dúta šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdi aktá (Weasel Red horses many captured-returned-with again). Red Weasel returned with many captured horses.

1862 (40): Kȟaŋğí tópa ktépi (Crow four killed-they). They killed four Crow.

1863 (41): Akíčhita Pȟá Tȟáŋka kaškápi. Kdí na t’Á (Soldier/s Head Big imprisoned. Return and die). Soldiers imprisoned Big Head. He returned and died. The variant depicts a figure with four feathers, and appears to be wounded. The Medicine Bear Winter Count depicts a figure with three feathers.

1864 (42): Wíŋyaŋ nuŋpá ktépi (Woman two killed-they). They killed two women.

1865 (43): Pȟatkâša Pȟá čhapȟÁ t’ekíyA (Jugular-vein-scarlet Head [Western Painted Turtle] stab to-cause-one’s-own-death). Western Painted Turtle Head [or “Turtle Head”] was stabbed to death.

1866 (44): Wóoyake Wičháša ktépi (Story Man killed-they). They killed Storyteller.

1867 (45): Waníyetu osní (Winter cold). It was a cold dark winter. The accompanying text of the Medicine Bear Winter Count says that this was an especially cold winter. The image depicted for this year’s entry is a circle that appears to be hastily filled in. This might also represent the solar eclipse the summer of 1868.

1868 (46): Itázipčho akézaptaŋ t’Á (Without-Bows fifteen died). Fifteen members of the Itázipčho (Sans Arc) died. The conflict appears to be with the Kȟaŋǧí (Crow Nation).

1869 (47): Kȟaŋğí wičháša wikčémna yámni wičháktepi (Crow men ten three men-killed-they). They fought and killed thirty Crow men. Only four are depicted.

1870 (48): Wašíču waŋ Nasú ikčéka kté (Takes-The-Fat a Brain common killed). Brain, a Lakȟóta, killed a white man. This entry appears to correspond to the Blue Thunder Winter Count entry for 1871-1872.

1871 (49): Witkówiŋ nuŋpá ktépi (Crazy-women two killed-they). They killed two prostitutes.

1872 (50): Wakhéya Šáya t’Á (Lodge Red-Painted died). Red Painted Lodge died.

1873 (51): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ otá áwičakdipi (Horses many captured-returned-with). They returned with many captured horses. The variant depicts many horse tracks, while the Medicine Bear depicts only captured horses.

1874 (52): Wičháša zaptáŋ ahí ktépi (Men five came-here killed-they). They killed five of them.

1875 (53): Tȟóka nuŋwaŋki napá (enemy swim-home escape). The enemy escaped by swimming home. The arch below the enemy figures represent each one’s escape.

1876 (54): Heȟáka t’Á (Elk died). Elk died. A man named Elk died. The image represents a name glyph in this case, as opposed to them actually hunting an elk.

1877 (55): Waníyetu snížE (Winter withering). A withering year. Whether this year represents the weather or is in reference to the fallout of Okíčhize Pȟežísla Wakpá (the Battle of the Greasy Grass; the Battle of the Little Bighorn), it was a long wearying year. They were tired. This year marks the first of the remaining entries to include a palisade before the figure. This represents the “prison” era, or the beginning of the reservation era.

1878 (56): Tȟašúŋke Máza ktépi (Horse Iron killed-they). They killed Iron Horse.

1879 (57): Wapȟáha Sápa šuŋkawakȟaŋ óta áwičakdi (Warbonnet Black horse many captured-returned-with). Black Warbonnet led a successful horse raid.

1880 (58): Phizí thí (Gall lodge). Gall lodge. Soldiers fired into Gall’s camp on the Tongue River. Gall and his followers, Crow King, Black Moon, Low Dog, and Fools Heart, and their extended families (a total of 230 people) were brought to Standing Rock Agency in the summer of 1881.

1881 (59): Wakíŋyaŋ Nuŋpá ktépi (Thunder-Being Two killed-they). They killed Two Thunder. Two Thunderbirds are depicted.

1882 (60): Kȟaŋğí wičháša hípi (Crow men three came-they). The Crow man came to them. One Crow man is depicted “followed” by a white man.

1883 (61): 1883 (61): Matȟó Wakȟáŋ t’Á (Bear With-Energy died). Holy Bear died. The Medicine Bear and Blue Thunder Winter Counts both say that Medicine Bear died this year.

1884 (62): Makȟá k’apí (Earth dug-they). They dug earth. This could reference the construction of a sod house, construction (maintenance possibly) of an earth lodge, or preparations for funerals.

1885 (63): Waȟúŋ Nap’íŋ t’Á (Burning Necklace died). Burning Necklace died.

1886 (64): Wakȟáŋpahomni ktépi (With-Energy-Turns killed-they). They killed Turns Holy.

1887 (65): Maȟpíya Hétoŋ mníwani kté (Cloud Horn Turning kill). Turning Horn Cloud was killed. The image resembles the Medicine Bear Winter Count entry for this year. The Blue Thunder Winter Count text for this year, however, seems to be a better correlation: Matȟó Núŋpa huŋká waŋžítku t’Á, Čhečá Yámni ečíyapi (Bear Two ceremoniously-adopted one-his died, Thighs Three name-they). Two Bear’s ceremonially adopted brother, whom they called Three Thighs, died. Neither text from Blue Thunder nor Medicine Bear seem to fully match the entry on this variant. One of the figure’s cheek is colored red, as a woman would have colored her cheeks. Red painted circles on a woman’s cheeks were considered beautiful accents.

1888 (66): Išúŋmanuŋ t’Á (Fails-To-Steal died). Does Not Steal died.

1889 (67): Šuŋkawakȟaŋ waŋ kiíyaŋkdi t’Á (Horse a race-horse died). A race horse died.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Cannonball, The Historical Review Process

DAPL machinery waits on the north bluff of the Cannonball River. 
Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá
By Dr. Tom Isern
Fargo, ND - It’s all quiet on the Cannonball. For the moment. This is a good time to reflect on how we got to the point where an out-of-state energy transport company, here operating under the (rather ironic) name Dakota Access, manipulated our sworn officers of the law into confrontation with the native citizens of North Dakota.

Bear with me on this, because it requires some attention span. And there is required reading, too. Begin with a document on this page:

Here’s why I think you should look at this obscure manual of practice. Issued by the Historic Preservation Department of the State Historical Society of North Dakota, it details the requirements for “Cultural Resource Inventory Projects.” Yeah, I know, I think they meant to say “Inventory,” but that’s not the point. The manual codifies the expectations of cultural resource contractors--usually archaeologists--submitting work for review. This includes the studies required parcel to environmental assessments for construction projects, such as the Dakota Access pipeline.

All such work, like any reputable science, begins with a literature review. Now, archaeologists like to do field work. They aren’t so keen about book work. So, the authors of the guidelines spelled out clearly what they expected every research entity to accomplish with the literature review. You can read for yourself in the manual, but I will summarize here the three essential points.

1.    Review the site files and other materials already of record in the historic preservation department.

2.    Make use of the published, textual sources for history and archaeology in the study area.

3.    Interview persons with personal knowledge of the area.

But, really, isn’t archaeology about fieldwork? Why bother with this review-of-literature stuff?

Because, North Dakota is a huge place. Even a defined study area is too large to cover foot-by-foot with pedestrian survey. You need that boots-on-the-ground work, but if you’re just walking around out there, or even working the ground in systematic fashion, you’re going to miss a lot of stuff.

Think of it like this. If I start walking across a 5000-acre pasture looking for sharptail grouse, on my own, I may or may not be lucky enough to stumble across one. But if I start across guided by my trusty retriever, and follow where she leads me, I will find birds just about every time. You have to hunt where the birds are.

Historical sources tell you where to concentrate your survey efforts, so that you actually find stuff. Maybe that’s the problem here. If you want to find stuff, you consult the sources. If you don’t want to find stuff, don’t look at the sources.

Wait a minute, why would a researcher not want to find stuff? I’m a researcher, and I love to find stuff! The answer is, these cultural resource contractors work for the people, like Dakota Access, who want to build things, in ways that do violence to heritage resources, if you’re not careful. When cultural resource surveyors find things, that’s nothing but trouble for the people who pay them.

At this point, if you’re unfamiliar with the system of cultural resource management, you’re wondering how this makes sense. The point is, it does not. We set up a process ostensibly intended to safeguard our heritage resources. To do this, we require that before a party goes ahead with a big project, it has to submit a cultural resource survey and establish that the project will not do unreasonable amounts of damage to historic and archeological resources. Such a study is supposed to identify and locate the resources to be safeguarded. The study is conducted, however, by a contractor hired by the party desiring to do the project, such as the Dakota Access pipeline. Dakota Access pays the bills. Moreover, the companies who do such cultural resource work specialize in it and depend, for their existence and profit, on repeat business. The incentive, therefore, is not to find stuff, to go through the motions, but to bring in a report that satisfies the company which pays the bill.

You can read the environmental assessment for the Dakota Access project here:

I also have seen sections of the cultural resource study that is part of the EA. The cultural resource study is not included in the online posting. It is withheld because if people knew where to find archeological sites, they might loot them for artifacts. Such caution is standard practice, allowed by state statute--although it appears in this case to be redundant, because at least in the section dealing with Morton County, the researchers, surprise, didn’t find anything.

And why didn’t they find anything? Because, far as I can see, there is no evidence the cultural resource contractors even pretended to meet the minimum requirements for documentary research. And because of that failure, they missed known sites of profound significance and importance--some of them, in fact, visible in Google Earth, for Pete’s sake.

It is time for concerned parties to examine the primary text on this matter, the cultural resource study on file in the historic preservation department of the state historical society, and to determine to what degree, if any, it meets requirements for such surveys. I have seen enough to know it is deficient. The only question is, how deficient. Now would be an excellent time for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to organize a qualified investigative team and dispatch it to the heritage center to determine the extent of deficiency. The findings would be important to legal proceedings currently in progress. It appears that all regulatory approvals of the Dakota Access project have been based on faulty intelligence.

There is a final issue I must address, although it pains me. I am a historian, and a sustaining member of the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The cultural resource study for the Dakota Access project came to the historic preservation department of the SHSND for review; the department accepted it, despite its failure to meet requirements; and thus it certified to the North Dakota Public Service Commission and other agencies that the Dakota Access project would do no harm to heritage resources. The statement of the SHSND, in its letter of 26 April 2016, was unequivocal: “No Historic Properties Affected.” That statement was based on demonstrably deficient studies.

How can this happen? There are three possible explanations.

1.    Time constraints - the SHSND simply lacked the staff to exercise due diligence.

2.    Lack of competence - the SHSND dropped the ball.

3.    Conflict of interest - the SHSND averted it gaze.

That third possibility, conflict of interest, is most disturbing. Energy firms are seven-figure donors to the SHSND. In fact, when the legislature only partially funded the new North Dakota Heritage Center, the SHSND made it known that it looked to energy companies as its main reliance for funding. And so it was done.

Let me make this plain: I am not accusing anyone, or any agency, of wrongdoing or bias. I am saying that so long as this conflict of interest exists, the public will view the pronouncements of the SHSND with suspicion.

It is long past time for the SHSND to deal with this problem. It is possible, through a transparent process of recusal by conflicted parties and involvement of unbiased reviewers, to solve it. As a member of the SHSND, I say, let this reform commence immediately.

Dr. Isern heads up the Center For Heritage Renewal at North Dakota State University. Check it out. 

At The Heart Of The World, A Review

The cover features a beautiful scene by American western artist William Jacob Hays, Sr., straight from 1863, and a Karl Bodmer painting of the Mandan Mandeh Pahchu in 1840. 
At The Heart Of The World, A Review
Survey History Reveals Native Homesteads
A Book Review By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND – In March 2014, Dr. Elizabeth Fenn’s seminal work on the history and culture of the Mandan Indians Encounters At The Heart Of The World: A History Of The Mandan People was published. The following year her work won the Pulitzer Prize for History.

Fenn is a historian. Naturally, she meticulously researched the primary resource documents like journals and maps. She isn’t an archaeologist or a geologist, and she’d be the first to tell you, but she immersed herself in the surveys, visited many of the sites first-hand, and then constructed a narrative of her experience of North Dakota making her research a little more personalized with exposition of the modern landscape, and produced an amazing piece of history that is easy to read and follow.

In light of the current energy interests in the Cannonball River vicinity, here follows a ten paragraph excerpt of Encounters At The Heart Of The World which details some history, geology, and cultural occupation:

A map on page seventeen, one of several appearing in Fenn's book. 

The Cannonball River starts in Theodore Roosevelt country – at the edge of the North Dakota badlands where, in the 1880s, the Harvard-trained politician found solace and manhood after personal tragedy sent him reeling. From here, the stream flows east across 150 miles of treeless plains and enters the Missouri not far above the South Dakota border. The confluence is today obscured by the waters of Lake Oahe, but there was a time when that confluence intrigued nearly every Missouri River traveler. Scattered along the shoreline and protruding from the banks were hundreds of stone balls, some as big as two feet in diameter.

These stone balls are the product of the ancient Fox Hills and Cannonball sandstone formations, deposited by inland seas that inundated the landscape for nearly half a billion years. Seventy million years ago, continental uplift caused the waters to recede and the sea floor to emerge, visible today as undulating plain. By slicing through this surface to expose the layers of sediment below, the Cannonball River revealed the land’s ancient, hard-to-fathom aquatic history. The Fox Hills and Cannonball strata are rich in minerals, especially calcium carbonate – a vestige of marine animals such as crabs, which often appear fossilized in these formations. When groundwater flows through the sandstone, the calcium crystallizes with other minerals and forms concretions – literally concrete – of a spherical shape.

William Clark, who examined the mouth of the Cannonball as he and Meriwether Lewis headed up the Missouri River on October 18, 1804, noted that the balls were “of excellent grit for Grindstons.” His men selected one “to answer for an anker.” The German prince Maximilian of Weid viewed the distinctive globes from the deck of a steamboat in June 1833, The Cannonball River “got its name,” he explained, from the “round, yellow sandstone balls” along its shoreline and that of the Missouri nearby. They were “perfectly regularly formed, of various sizes: some with a diameter of several feet, but most of them smaller.” Today, they are little more than a curiosity. Local residents use them as lawn ornaments.

A map from page nineteen detailing continental trade to the Mandan Indian villages. Note: map says "Pre-contact Trade." 

For ancestral Mandans, the migration farther north and the construction of new towns may have mitigated the threat of violence. Though they fortified some of their new settlements, they built others in the open, unfortified pattern of old, with fourteen to forty-five lodges spread over as many as seventeen acres. One such town sat on the south bank of the Cannonball River where it joins the Missouri, in what is now the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

The South Cannonball villagers tapped a wide array of food resources. In the short-grass prairies to their west, herds of bison beckoned hunters. In the mixed- and tall-grass lands across the Missouri to the east, antelope, deer, and small game did the same. The riverbanks brimmed with seasonal chokecherries, buffalo berries, serviceberries, raspberries, plums, and grapes, while river-bottom gardens produced a bounty of maize, beans, squash, and sunflowers. The Missouri itself offered catfish, bass, mussels, turtles, waterfowl, and drowned “float” bison, this last considered particularly delectable.

Much of the South Cannonball village site has succumbed to the steel plows of more recent farmers tilling the soil here, but the layout of the ancient village is clear. The settlers dispersed their town over fifteen acres, with ample space between individual homes. The houses themselves, about forty in number, were nearly rectangular log-and-earth structures, narrower at the rear and wider at the front.

There were no fortifications. It appears that the occupants of the South Cannonball hamlet counted on peaceful relations with neighboring villagers and with the hunter-gatherers who may have visited from time to time. But fortified towns nearby suggest that security was tenuous. South Cannonball may have been on the last villages to follow the scattered settlement pattern of earlier days. By the mid-1400s, the same neighborhood was home to some of the most massively defended sites ever seen on the Upper Missouri River.

Fenn’s narrative reconstructs a historic Mandan presence in the vicinity of the Cannonball River. Where Dr. W. Ray Wood focused more on the physicality of the north bank of the Cannonball, Fenn brings a living history lens to the south bank of the same.

Fenn cares about the people she has written about, actually making friends on each trip she takes to the Northern Great Plains. She knows that no matter how carefully she constructed her narrative, that there would be some among the Mandan who don’t embrace her interpretation, and she accepts that even as she acknowledges them. She cares about the history. She cares about the people. Her work reflects that and it is no wonder her work received such acclaim.

You can get your copy of Fenn’s Encounters At The Heart Of The World: A History Of The Mandan People at the North Dakota Heritage Center and Museum’s store. The book isn't listed on the website, but its on the floor. 

Another America, A Review

The cover of Warhus' "Another America" features the third section of Sitting Rabbit's map of the Missouri River. 
Another America: Native American Maps
Big River Villages At Cannonball River
A Book Review By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND – In 1997, Mark Warhus, published his work Another America: Native American Maps And The History Of Our Land. Warhus carefully examined and researched Native American maps from a variety of mediums from petroglyphs and bark to animal hide and paper, from pre-contact to post-reservation.

In the pre-contact days and through post contact, when maps were drawn, it was only at great need. Mapping the land was through language (both oral and sign), before it was ever drawn. When a map was rendered, it was also done with a unique world view. For some tribes, east, the direction of the sunrise was the direction to orient oneself. For others it was the mountains to the west. For the Lakȟóta it was the south, the direction upon which pulls the water.

According to Warhus, “When a map was needed to show the way or convey a message, it would be drawn out on the ground, in the snow, or in the ashes of a campfire. These drawings were transitory illusions for the oral documents.” The oral document to which Warhus refers to is the sense of time it might take to reach an objective. How many days or nights it might take, or how many “sleeps.” The oral document may include tribal entities in a landscape, and whether one was on friendly terms with them. The oral document certainly included rivers, streams, and bodies of water.

Western maps are oriented to the north, and detail things like miles, elevation, latitude, and longitude, as if the landscape were nothing without being measured. The native maps, oral and drawn, are maps of experience.

Warhus details the dispossession of the landscape and the renaming of it. His work doesn’t serve as an apology for what happened, but exclaims at the loss of historical and cultural information, while rejoices in the maps that have survived calling them “documents of resilience and survival.”

Another America includes the Mandan Indian Sitting Rabbit’s map of the Missouri River that depicts an old Mandan town south of present-day Fort Yates, ND on the south bank of what is known variously today as Ókaǧa Wakpá (“Floater’s Creek”), Akíčhita Haŋská Wakpá (“Long Soldier Creek”), or the Four Mile Creek. The Mandan town was known as Mida Oduk Kua Atis (“Village Of Woods Confluence”).

A picture from page 47 of Warhus' "Another America" features the third section of Sitting Rabbit's map of the Missouri River. Note: the Big River is the Cannonball River.

Sitting Rabbit’s map goes as far north as the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. The map does more than just mention place, but details history and names of sites from hundreds of years ago, places the Mandan don’t live at anymore. One such site in particular deserves to be mentioned here in light of current energy interests and that is the two Mandan villages on both the south and north banks of the Cannonball River. The historic Mandan referred to the Cannonball River as the Big River. The two villages there were known as As Irtia Athis [transcription may be incorrect] (“Big River Villages”).

Sitting Rabbit’s map tells us that the Mandan regularly crossed the river to hunt bison along Beaver Creek, chasing them to a location they called Mysterious Corral, or what is today known as Little Beaver Creek. This method of hunting bison fell out of practice after the arrival of the horse. The map also names the hill, upon which the water tower rests in the community of Cannonball, as Bison Ear Hill.

Warhus’ book, and all the maps therein, are treasures. They detail inter-tribal conflicts, inter-tribal trade and commerce, hunting and fishing, and history reaching back hundreds, if not a thousand years or more.

Many of the illustrations and maps are in color. One almost wishes that this book were published in a larger format to really appreciate the detail and texture of the maps, but don't let this stop you from adding this to your home or work library. Get your copy of Mark Warhus’ Another America: Native American Maps AndThe History Of Our Land

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Remarkable Places Around Cannonball, A Review

The cover to "Prologue To Lewis & Clark" features a 1795 map by Antoine Soulard. "There is probably no scholar more qualified to write on this subject than Wood," said James P. Ronda in his review. 
Prologue To Lewis And Clark
Remarkable Places Around Cannonball
A Book Review by Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND – Wood’s book, “Prologue To Lewis And Clark: The Mackay And Evans Expedition,” is a wonderful combination of research and composition relating to the expedition almost ten years before the Corps of Discovery arrived on scene. The work isn’t loaded with archaeological narrative nor bogged down in the weight of its own revelation, but is carefully and deliberately written with the common reader in mind.

At five chapters and only 255 pages, Prologue is amazingly concise, and features maps by John Evans and Antoine Soulard, and maps of the explorations reconstructed by Wood’s own meticulous research.

Wood is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is an acknowledged expert of archaeology on the Missouri River by the State Historical Society of North Dakota and many other fine institutions, state, federal, and tribal, across the country. Wood has over fifty years of experience from before the federal dam projects of the 1950s to general field work at the Mandan Indian village Double Ditch in recent years.

Here’s a three paragraph (pp. 109-110) excerpt from Wood’s “Prologue To Lewis And Clark: The Mackay And Evans Expedition.”

Page 147 features sheet 5 of the Beinecke Library Map. 

Chapter Four
The Missouri River Basin Explored
“Those Remarkable Things Mentioned By Evans”

Between Beaver Creek and the Cannonball River, there is a sequence of small named and unnamed islands and tributary streams. [Wood is/was unaware of these streams having names in any of the native languages.] Evans called the Cannonball River the “Bomb River,” a name we also may presume to derive from his hypothesized companion. (In this instance, we may speculate on a French origin, for an Indian identification of the individual is improbable.) “Bomb” is an appropriate name, for the banks and valley of this stream once were home to uncounted spherical sandstone concretions that ranged from a few inches to several feet in diameter. Some of them indeed were the size of cannonballs. Today they have been carried away by curio hunters in such numbers that they are very rare.

The mouth of the Cannonball, which Evans said was 150 yards wide, marks the south end of a high, steep bluff that extends for four miles upriver along the west bank of the Missouri. It was here that William Clark “walked on Shore, in the evining with a view to See Some of those remarkable places mentioned by evens, none of which I could find.” Unfortunately, we cannot determine what those “remarkable places” might have been by looking at Evans’s narrative; if it was consulted by Clark, it is no longer available to us today. Nor are there clues to their identity in Clark’s subsequent notes, perhaps because he did not begin his search until he had passed the mouth of modern Badger Creek, thus being upstream from three locations on Evans’s map that modern viewers find so intriguing. But the map that Evans made of his voyage contains several clues to those “remarkable places.” The four-mile-long bluff above the Cannonball is called the “Hummit” (or “Hermitt”) on his chart – a term that so far defies explanation. Two features that he names on the rim of Humitt Bluff demonstrate that here he was following the river uplands on foot, for the features he notes would have been invisible from the river channel two hundred feet below its rim.

Page 111 from Wood's book features an aerial view of the mouth of the Cannonball River. Eagle eyed readers should be able to make out the curved fortification ditch in this image. Google Earth users can zoom in and view the area for themselves. 

One notation reads “Jupiter’s Fort,” which a hand-and-finger pointing to the north side of the Cannonball River atop the south end of Humitt Bluff. There is no doubt that this refers to a prehistoric Mandan village at that location overlooking the mouth of the Cannonball. Today, archaeologists call this village the North Cannonball site. Not only was it a defensive setting, but the village also was fortified by a curving ditch that isolated a lever upland spur from the adjoining upland. The village today is badly disturbed by plowing, but from the air one can clearly see the fortification ditch and the numerous bastions protruding from it. Little wonder that Evans referred to it as a fort, though his reference to Jupiter is not explainable.

In light of the current energy interests on the north side of the mouth of the Cannonball River, one might be inclined to review the historical properties that are about to be disturbed. Get your copy of W. Raymond Wood’s “Prologue To Lewis And Clark: The Mackay And EvansExpedition” today. Contact the North Dakota Heritage Center and Museum's Store at (701) 328-2822 for available copies.