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much wood on its banks, and the country bordering is not valuable, for agricultural purposes, and posseses few resources.
The Vermilion has a good ford nearly in a direct line from Fort Pierre to Sioux city, the stream being about 20 yards wide; below this point it is difficult to ford. The valley is broad and not all overflowed.
There is some timber along its margin, and the country adjoining is fertile. I consider it about the western limits of agricultural lands.
The Big Sioux is a fine large stream, about 150 yards wide at its mouth; the water is from two to three feet deep in low stages; bottom muddy, and not fordable. The soil of the land bordering it is good and productive, and the stream is fringed with cottonwood. It will no doubt be valuable for steamboat navigation. A ferry is being established at its mouth.
ROUTES, TRANSPORTATION, &c.
From Fort Leavenworth to Fort Kearny there is a good prairie road, with a ferry on the Blue river. The road from Fort Kearny along the south side of the Platte to the crossing of the south fork, is perfectly level and well broken ; the ground, a few inches below the surface, is gravel or sand, and ordinary rains do not seriously affect it. In crossing the divide from the south fork to the north, we gain the summit by easy slopes, but the descent is very sudden into Ash Hollow on the north fork, and it would be almost impracticable to take a loaded wagon up this steep. Ash Hollow is bounded on all sides by rocky escarpments from 50 to 100 feet high, and much labor would be required to make a permanently good road for getting down to it. The route this far is the one usually followed by the emigration which leaves the western part of Missouri for Oregon and California, and it continues usually along the south side of the north fork to Laramie river, which is crossed by a good bridge.
We crossed the north fork at Ash Hollow, and passed up on the north side, which is probably preferable when the river is low enough to be easily crossed." The Mormon emigration, and that which leaves the vicinity of Kanesville, Iowa, I am informed, strikes across the country to the Platte, follows this to the mouth of Wood river, then up this stream to near its source and crosses to the Platte again in the vicinity of Big Cottonwood Spring, and continues on the north side all the
to Fort Laramie. This route has to cross the Elk Horn, a stream about 30 yards wide, and Loup Fork, 200 yards wide, which, when flooded, must be ferried over, and perhaps might not be passable for many days at a time. This route, I am informed, is quite heavy and difficult during wet seasons. If it should be used to supply Fort Laramie the stores would have to be crossed over the north fork of the Platte, but at a point so near the Fort that they might be left on the north side in charge of a detachment from the garrison. The route along the south side of the Platte has at least to cross the south fork, which, in the time of melting snows and spring floods, would occasion serious delay. I am not, therefore, prepared to say whether Fort Laramie could be best supplied from Fort Leavenworth, or from the points of starting of the Mormon emigration near Florence, above the mouth of the Platte ; the distance of land transportation is in favor of the latter. The scarcity of wood along the Platte is a serious objection to winter travel. The bottom, along which the road lies, is very seldom overflowed. I think it altogether probable that a good route could be found leading up Loup Fork towards its source, and then crossing over to the Platte-it should be examined.
It was thought that the route from Fort Pierre to Fort Laramie might be used to supply the latter post, the stores being transported by steamboats up the Missouri. I believe the steamboat transportation perfectly practicable up to Fort Pierre for any requisite amount of provisions and stores, yet they could not be relied upon to reach there before the 15th of July, and the cost would be considerable. The land transportation would then be 323 miles. But the road, eren in good seasons is rough and contains numerous hills, requiring heart hauling, and in wet seasons would be almost impassable, as it lies throughout in a clay region. For 12 miles on the head of White river, the road is in the last degree bad at all times; there is reason. however, to think that this portion could be avoided. But when we consider that the train for transportation from Fort Pierre to Fort Laramie must be procured from the States at a distance of 500 to 6010 miles, it is doubtful if at any time economy would select this route as a channel through which to supply Fort Laramie.
Very much in the same light must we view the project of supplying Fort Laramie from the mouth of Rapid river, supposing a post estatlished at that point, viz: the distance one hundred to four hundred miles, from which the means of land transportation must be obtained and the probable difficulties of the route itself. This proposed roul would have to keep on the divide north or south of Rapid river, and most probably to the north, or if it entered the valley would be forcal to cross the stream frequently, or take again to the bluffs. Unlikt the Platte, or the main portion of White river now followed by the Pierre and Laramie road, the Rapid river has no continuous broad valley on either side, and could not be followed by wagons at the points at which I have visited it. A better route would no doubt be found along the valley of Turtle Hill creek, a branch of l'Eau qui Court, to near its head; it must then take along the divide betwein White and Rapid rivers, of the nature of which I am not informed.
Wood will no doubt be found on all the streams along this route, but we should have to make frequent detours to find camps if we are confined to the divide.
The country is sandy and the road would be good in wet weather: there is undoubtedly good grass.
The route from Fort Pierre to Fort Kearny in summer answers very well for light vehicles or pack trains, and wood, water, and grass are sufficient for travelling purposes; the large streams, however, that have to be crossed, and which, when flooded, would occasion delar, as well as the difficulties of the sand hills, render this route unfit for more than the ordinary communications between posts.
The direct route from Sioux City to Fort Pierre, by the way of Fire Steel creek, is very good; there is a ferry at the mouth of the big Sioux, and a good ford in low stages across the Vermilion and James rivers. Scarcity of fuel is a serious objection to winter travel. A better route in cold weather, or when the streams are flooded, though somewhat longer, lies nearer the Missouri, crossing the Vermilion and James rivers at their mouths, and at these two places ferry boats should be provided.
I have no special information concerning the route from Fort Pierre to Fort Ridgely ; it is probably good and very direct, but James river cannot be forded if it is high. The road from Fort Pierre, direct to the mouth of Shyenne river, forty miles, is very bad in wet weather, and almost impassable for wagons. The road leading to the American Fur Company's trading house, on the Moreau, crosses the Shyenne about twenty miles from its mouth, and is bad in wet weather, though not so hilly as the other, as it avoids the side ravines of the Missouri.
Detail directions for travelling on the routes between Fort Pierre and Fort Kearny, between Fort Kearny and Fort Laramie, between Fort Laramie and Fort Pierre, and between Fort Pierre and Sioux city, will be found at the end of this report.
A good road could be had from near the mouth of the Platte to the mouth of l'Eau qui Court, following the Elk Horn river; it has been used by the American Fur Company, but I have no definite information concerning it.
INDIANS AND MILITARY POSTS.
The Dacotas occupy most of the country we have been considering, and are scattered over an immense territory, extending from the Mississippi on the east to the Black Hills on the west, and from the forks of the Platte on the south to Devil's Lake on the north. “They say their name means leagued or allied,” and they sometimes speak of themselves as the “ Ocheti Shaowni,” or “Seven Council Fires." These are the seven principal bands which compose the nation, viz:
“1. The Mde-wakan-tonwans, meaning village of the Spirit lake.” “2. Wahpekutes, meaning leaf shooters.” "3. Wahpe-tonwans, meaning village in the leaves." "4. Sisi-tonwans, meaning village of the marsh.”
These four constitute the Mississippi and Minnesota Dacotas, and are called by those on the Missouri " Isanties.” They are estimated at 6,200 souls. Some of these are said to give much trouble to the settlers in northwestern Iowa and in Nebraska, and are charged with outrages during the past season. Fort Ridgely is in their country.
5. The Ihanktonwans, village at the end, (Yanktons,) sometimes called Wichiyela or First Nation."
They are found at the mouth of the Big Sioux, and between it and James river, and on the opposite bank of the Missouri. They are supposed to number 360 lodges. Contact with the whites has considerably degenerated them, and their distance from the present buffalo ranges renders them comparatively poor.
6. The Thanktonwannas, one of the "end village” bands, (Yanktonais) range between James river and the Missouri as high north as Devil's Lake. They number 800 lodges, and are spirited and warlike.
They fought against the United States in the war of 1812, and their chief went on a visit to England. "From the Wazikute branch of this band the Assinniboins, or Hohe of the Dacotas, are said to have sprung."
7. “The Titonwans, village of the prairie, are supposed to constitute more than one-half of the whole Dacota nation.” They live on the western side of the Missouri, and take within their range the Black Hills from between the forks of the Platte to the Yellowstone river. They are allied by marriage with the Shyennes and Aricarees, but are mortal enemies of the Pawnees. The Titonwans, except a few of the Brules on White river, and some of the families connected with the whites by marriage, have never planted corn. They are divided into seven bands, viz:
1. Unkpapas, they who camp by themselves. They live on the Missouri near the mouth of the Moreau, and roam from the Big Shyenne up to the Yellowstone, and west to the Black Hills. They formerly intermarried extensively with the Shyennes. They number about 365 lodges.
2. Sihasapas, Blackfeet. Haunts and homes same as the Unkpapas: number 165 lodges. These two bands have very little respect for the power of the whites.
3. 00-he-non-pas, two boilings or two kettle band. These are nes very much scattered among other bands. They number about 11 lodges.
4. Sichangus, burnt thighs, Brulés, claim the country along White river and contiguous to it. They number 480 lodges. They include the Wazazhas, to which belonged Matoiya, (the Scattering Bear.) made chief of all the Dacotas by the government, and who was killed by Lieutenant Grattan.
5. Ogalalas, they who live in the mountains, live between the fork: of the Platte, and number 360 lodges.
6. Minikanyes, they who plant by the water, live on and between the forks of the Shyenne and in the Black Hills; number 200 lodges.
7. Itahzipchois, Bowpith, Sans Arc, claim in common with the Minikanyes, and number 170 lodges. These last two bands hare been exceedingly troublesome to the emigration.
The Dacotas, on and west of the Missouri, which includes all Edt the Isanties, are the only ones I have heard estimated. I should thick that eight inmates to a lodge, and one-fifth of them warriors, an ample allowance. We would then have:
Lodges Inmates. Warran Thanktonwans, (Yanktons)...
2,880 Thanktonwannas (Yanktonais).
2,920 Sihasapas, (Blackfeet)..
165 1,280 Oohenonpas, (Two Kettle).
800 Sichangus, (Brulé)...
1,600 Itazipchois, (Sans Arc)
480 360 200 170
These Dacotas formerly all lived around the headwaters of the Mississippi and Red river of the north, and in their migration to the southwest have pushed the Shyennes (with whom they are on friendly terms) in advance, leaving their name to the Shyenne of Red river, to the Big Shyenne of the Missouri, and to the section of country they now occupy between the Platte and the Arkansas.
In the summer the Dacotas follow the buffaloes in their ranges over the prairie, and in the winter fix their lodges in the clusters or fringes of wood along the banks of the lakes and streams. The bark of the cottonwood, which furnishes food for their horses during the winter snows, have led to immense destruction of this timber, and many streams have been thinned or entirely stripped of their former beautiful groves.
Their horses are obtained by traffic with the Indians further south, who have stolen them in New Mexico, or are caught wild on the plains towards the Rocky mountains. The nation is one of the most skilfull and warlike and most numerous in our Territory; and could they be made to feel a due confidence in their own powers, would be most formidable warriors. In single combat on horseback they have no superiors—a skill acquired by constant practice with their bows and arrows and long lances, with which they succeed in killing their game at full speed. The rapidity with which they shoot their arrows, and the accuracy of their aim, rivals that of a practiced hand with the famed revolver.
Notwithstanding the destruction of their numbers by small pox and cholera, it is the opinion of some that they are increasing in numbers rather than diminishing, except where they mingle with the settlements on the frontier. It has been well said that theft is an Indian virtue.
The love of renown and desire for plunder leads them far from their homes, and many of the depredations along the Platte are committed by the Unkpapas and Sihasapas, whose homes are further from it than those of any of the Titonwans. The Isanties or Dacotas of the St. Peter's also carry their ravages into Nebraska, and are there the most dreaded of all the savages.
When any redress or reparation is sought, or punishment threatened for these offences, the same excuse is always made: "The old men opposed it, but the young men could not be restrained.” So long as the smiles of the females, the admiration of his comrades, and ultimate influence with his tribe continue to be the reward of daring exploits, these, to say nothing of the Indian's often absolute necessities, will prove too strong in the breast of the youthful warrior for the counsels and frowns of age, or for the peaceful policy of the Indian Bureau.
Military occupation is essential to the safety of the whites, and the military posts should be in such positions, and occupied by such numbers, as ettectually to overawe the ambitious and turbulent, and sustain the counsel of the old and prudent.
They should be placed well in the country whence the marauders come, as well as on the frontiers and lines of communication they are designed to protect. In making this occupation we should look to the future. Agricultural settlements have now nearly reached their
Ex. Doc. 76-2