After a variety of adventures, we arrived at the canvas city of Jamestown, then the terminal point of the Northern Pacific rail road. I was out watering the ponies when a terrific peal of thunder burst from a spotless blue sky, and indeed seemed to me to be running along the surface of the ground. The terrified ponies instantly stampeded, and I confess I was not far behind them, when a monster with one fiery eye poked his head around a corner of the hill.
When we reached camp, my father kindly explained, and I was greatly relieved.
It was a peaceful Indian summer day when we reached Flandreau, in Dakota Territory, the citizen Indian settlement, and found the whole community gathered together to congratulate and welcome us home.
MY FIRST SCHOOL DAYS
It was less than a month since I had been a rover and a hunter in the Manitoba wilderness, with no thoughts save those which concern the most free and natural life of an Indian. Now, I found myself standing near a rude log cabin on the edge of a narrow strip of timber, overlooking the fertile basin of the Big Sioux River. As I gazed over the rolling prairie land, all I could see was that it met the sky at the horizon line. It seemed to me vast and vague and endless, as was my conception of the new trail which I had taken and my dream of the far-off goal. My father s farm of 160 acres, which he had taken up and improved under the United States homestead laws, lay along the north bank of the river. The nearest neighbor lived a mile away, and all had flourishing fields of wheat, Indian corn and potatoes.
Some two miles distant, where the Big Sioux doubled upon itself in a swinging loop, rose the mission church and schoolhouse, the only frame building within forty miles. Our herd of ponies was loose upon the prairie, and it was my first task each morning to bring them into the log corral. On this particular morning I lingered, finding some of them, like myself, who loved their freedom too well and would not come in.
The man who had built the cabin it was his first house, and therefore he was proud of it was tall and manly looking. He stood in front of his pioneer home with a resolute face. He had been accustomed to the buffalo- skin teepee all his life, until he opposed the white man and was defeated and made a prisoner of war at Davenport, Iowa.
It was because of his meditations during those four years in a military prison that he had severed himself from his tribe and taken up a home stead. He declared that he would never join in another Indian outbreak, but would work with his hands for the rest of his life. “I have hunted every day,” he said, “for the support of my family. I sometimes chase the deer all day. One must work, and work hard, whether chasing the deer or planting corn. After all, the corn planting is the surer provision.”
I didn’t have any technology except my practical way of doing things. So I told them by pulling on the spring. If it is hard to pull it means that it would hit harder and that’s how I do it.