Sitting Bull

From this place we moved each sun for two suns. Stormy dark, we could not tell direction to go. Often traveled wrong way It was the second sun, a little past noon, we crossed the border into Canada. in the evening we camped, and next morning, the third sun, we had not gone far when we saw Indians coming. At quite a distance one of those Indians threw a sign:

'What Indians are you?'

"Nez Perce,' one of our men answered. Then he signed, 'Who are you?' "Sioux,' was the reply
"Come on,' one of our men signed. "We will have smoke ready!'

We knew that some time ago we had trouble with the Sioux, so we must smoke.

Yellow Wolf

Smoking a pipe refers to making peace between the Peoples. The Nez Perce had never been friends of the Lakota (Sioux). In fact, in the alliance of nations on the plains, the Nez Perce were friends of the Crows who were enemies of the Lakota. Doubtless, in aiding their friends the Crows more than one Nez Perce warrior had killed or been killed by a Lakota warrior. Upon their arrival, then, the Nez Perce were very unsure of the welcome they would receive from the Sioux. Would the Sioux offer them hospitality and then kill them as the Assiniboins and Gros Ventres on the Milk River had done? Perhaps the Sioux would divide them up and kill them one by one?

But the Sioux mixed us up. They took us one by one. The women and children were separated from the men....

When we came only a little ways from the camp, we saw smoke from many tepees of the Sioux. For eight or ten miles they seemed strung. I thought to myself, "There is quite a number of Sioux Indians!' Going closer, I could see down the canyon. Nothing but Sioux tepees.

It was yet early morning when they took us scattering, in different tepees....

They gave me everything I asked, just as if I were one of their children.

Yellow Wolf

White Bird did not know whether or not it would be safe for him to go to Sitting Buil's camp, but after a consultation with his followers they came to the conclusion they might as well be killed by Indian enemies as by the whites. Coming to a half-breed [Metis] camp near Milk River, they hired one of the party to guide them to Sitting Bull. As they were proceeding toward the Sioux camp they came upon an Indian skinning a buffalo. The hunter appeared rather shy, but after considerable parley told White Bird that he was a Sioux and that he had come from Sitting Bull's camp. White Bird told him to go to Sitting Bull and tell him the Nez Perces were anxious to see him; that they were refugees, fleeing for protection from the U.S. troops. The buffalo hunter started on his mission and the Nez Perces camp moved slowly in the direction he had gone. After marching a few miles, they discovered a large body of mounted Indians coming toward them. They numbered nearly 3,000 warriors and were coming at full speed. A short distance in advance of the main body rode an Indian warrior, on a magnificent war horse. When within hailing distance of the Nez Perces the command halted. The warrior in advance asked White Bird, by signs, to what tribe he belonged. White Bird made answer, saying he was a Nez Perces. The other then said.

"I am Sitting Bull, and these,' pointing to his followers, "are my warriors.' Sitting Bull then came up and shook hands with White Bird and his warriors. After bidding them welcome, he said: "I am very sorry indeed that your skin is like mine, that your hair is like mine, and that every one around you is pure red man like myself. We, too, have lost our country by falsehood and theft.'

Although the Indians were now north of the line, they expected to be followed and attacked by US. soldiers. The Sioux had not thus far been attacked, but they did not know now that so many soldiers were near them they would follow the Indians and give them battle. Sitting Bull, after hearing of the Bear Paw fight, said: "if I had known you were surrounded by soldiers at Bear Paw Mountains, I certainly would have helped you. But now you are here, and as long as you are with me I will not allow the Americans to take even a child from you without fighting for it.' Sitting Bull received a present of seven horses from White Bird. The Nez Perces were welcomed in the Sioux camp and received from Sitting Bull and his followers nothing but the kindest of treatment.

Duncan McDonald

Nez Perce reporter



The Nez Perce Flight to Canada - An Introduction

 How do I participate in the student Sketchbook Project?

Back to Our Heritage Home Page