From 1857-1860 Alexander Hamilton Redfield, my great great grandfather served as the Indian agent for the Sioux nation at a time of great change.
His story continues:
February 3, 1858: He wrote concerning affairs of agency and necessity for making new treaty with Sioux, and stressed that agency was too large and one agent should handle Sioux only. Clothing promised should be delivered. Nearly all Indians at war with each other and kill whites occasionally. At least 2,500 Indians in agency speaking 6 languages.
February 6, 1858: He reported that he had made an expedition to Upper Missouri Country to most trading posts. While there he learned of the death of a white man, Le Blond, by an Arickaree Indian by the name of “The man that don’t run on the male cow.” The Indian told him that he had lost his family by disease and blamed it on the whites.
Situated as I then was in the heart of the Indian Country without any support and surrounded by five thousand of the worst of the Sioux, I could not make any further investigation.
April 10, 1858: Ranchers destroy and frighten off the Buffalo and other game upon which nearly all the Indians depend for sustenance and soon they will lack food. This is well calculated to excite and does excite their hostility.
April 24, 1858: Received . . . medals for distribution to the Indians. Appointed agent for Yankton Sioux April 19, 1858, paid $1500/year. The Indians in the Upper Missouri and its headwaters were not visited with small pox in 1858 – number about 30,400 and have been somewhat discontented. A large and warlike portion of them are near the frontiers and have it in their power to inflict much injury on advanced settlements.
The Arickarees, Gusentic, and Maudans are small weak Nations –they would be glad to keep their treaty and be at peace but as long as the powerful Sioux are permitted to rob and murder them, how can they be expected to do so or feel friendly to the government or to white people.
On the morning of May 23, 1858, the steamboat Twilight began its second voyage to the Yellowstone carrying 120 tons of Indian annuities that Redfield and his fellow agent had sent for under the government treaties, the German artist Wimar was on that voyage. At this time, Redfield noted that relations between the U.S. and the native Americans were at an all time low. He wrote the Indians had ceded: Eleven million acres of land, much of which is very fine for cultivation and grazing, and over which our bold and enterprising emigrants are resolved to spread. Unfortunately,while the lower portion of the tribe is well pleased with the treaty and the sale of their country, but as I proceeded up the river I found much dissatisfaction on account of it among the upper portion of the Yanctons and all the other seven tribes of the Sioux.
On June 10, Redfield’s party arrived at a large village of the Yanctons, one hundred miles above Fort Randall. Here he called a Council of the tribe and found the Indians to be in a foul temper. Furious at what they believed to be the sale of their lands, the Indians would not allow Redfield and his party safe passage beyond Fort Pierre. A chief named Medicine Cow did most of the threatening. Redfield later noted that he would not have been able to complete his business with the Indians were it not for the large number of troops that accompanied them.
Leaving Ft. Pierre, The Twilight steamed upriver. — To be continued in With the Sioux 3