Saint O-kuh-ha-tah

For about 15 years Emma Newashe’s granddaughter and I have been communicating with each other when one of us has something to share. In September1905, Emma joined her brother Bill at Carlisle Indian School. Both were orphans for whom the Sac and Fox tribe had few resources to help. Bill excelled in athletics and Emma in academics. She was a particularly good writer. This time we didn’t talk much about the Newashes. Instead we talked about a Cheyenne from Oklahoma who had been incarcerated at Fort Marion under Lt. Richard Henry Pratt.

The inmate’s childhood name was Noksowist (Bear Going Straight). His military career began at age 14 in raids against the Otoe and Missouri, for which he was initiated into the tribe’s Bowstring Society. He participated in a number of battles with the U. S. Cavalry and state militias. He is reputed to have been the youngest man to complete the sun dance ritual (Okuh hatuh in Cheyenne). After surrendering at Fort Sill to end the Red River War, he was selected by a reputedly inebriated U. S. Colonel to be one of the 72 “hostiles” sent to Fort Marion for incarceration.

Known at that time as Making Medicine, aka Oakerhater, attended classes given in a casement-turned-classroom in the fort and learned to read and write English. He soon became a leader of the younger men who were confined. At the end of two years he petitioned to have the young men released because they had given up their old ways and desired to be integrated into the majority society. The request was rejected. However, in the next year, 1878, he and the other inmates were released after three years of confinement. Episcopal deaconess Mary Douglas Burnham, who had seen the men in St. Augustine, offered to take four of them home with her. She also arranged funding from Alice Key Pendleton and her husband, Senator George Pendleton, to transport Oakerhater and his wife Nomee to St. Paul’s Church in Paris Hill, New York. There he was educated by the Reverend J. B. Wicks in agriculture, scripture and current events. After six months he was baptized and confirmed at Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse. At that time he took the Christian name of David and family name of Pendleton, in honor of his patron. Three years later, he was ordained a deacon.

<end of part one>

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