Posts Tagged ‘Pawnee’

The Little Buffalo Robe

February 2, 2012

The last few days have been spent cleaning up the scanned PDF of The Little Buffalo Robe, a task that proved to be much more time consuming and tedious than expected.  I am reprinting this book and Yellow Star because they were illustrated by Lone Star Dietz and his wife, Angel DeCora, while they were on the faculty of Carlisle Indian School.  Because these books have been out of print for the better part of a century, it is likely that few people have ever heard of them and, thus, have not seen the artwork contained in them. Yellow Star contains four full-page black and white reproductions of what were likely color paintings done jointly by the couple and signed by both of them.  In 1911, when this book was first printed, Dietz preferred to be called William Lone Star and signed the artwork in this book with that moniker. The Little Buffalo Robe includes four full-page black and white illustrations as does Yellow Star, but only the frontispiece was done jointly; the other three were Angel DeCora’s work alone. In addition, the book contains numerous, and I mean a lot, of smaller pen-and-ink drawings of things related to the story line.  Most of them were done by Dietz, a few by Angel, and others were not signed.  One of the joys of reading this book is admiring the frequent illustrations.

I found The Little Buffalo Robe to be very interesting because it says much about the culture of Plains Indians at the time.  The protagonist, a young Omaha girl, tells the tale of her odyssey after becoming separated from her tribe and parents.  Her adventures as she encounters Assiniboine, Dakota, Pawnee and Winnebago adults are told from a Omaha child’s perspective and reveal much about the customs, culture and beliefs of her people. The author, Ruth Everett Beck, was a white woman who grew up Lyons, Nebraska along the Missouri River in the time and place where this book was set.  She likely learned the Omaha customs as a girl as she was reputed to be an authority on some aspects of Indian life.

Rush Roberts’ Heritage

August 22, 2011

It is always gratifying when descendants and relatives of Carlisle Indian School football players comment on this blog. Even more gratifying is when they provide information not known and is not easily found. Most gratifying of all is when relatives use this blog as a way to get in touch with each other. All of these things happened last week.

Henry Roberts, left end on the great 1911 team, was the son of Rush Roberts, a legendary figure in Pawnee history. I blogged about Rush Roberts a couple of times in March and April 2010 after discovering things about him I didn’t previously know. Since that time, descendants of Rush have posted comments regarding family genealogy on those blogs, with last week having the greatest concentration of new information.

Unfortunately, comments on older posts don’t show up on the first page of the blog. Readers must search to find them. The easiest way is to search for Rush Roberts and open the comments on the posts relating to him. You should find these to be interesting reading.

Indians Don’t Speak of the Dead

June 9, 2009

Whilst talking with the granddaughter of someone about whom I have written, she shared the difficulty she was having in getting information from family members about her grandmother. What makes it particularly difficult for her is that her grandmother died young, well before she was born. Something that further frustrates her is that her grandmother had an unmistakable influence on her large family. One would think that some of her nine children would reminisce about her, or at least the older ones who had stronger memories of their mother. But no, they said almost nothing about her.

The granddaughter’s clue that her grandmother had an interest in the arts appeared to her at an early age when she visited her grandfather who was a very quiet man. It struck her as odd that a piano sat in the living room of her grandparents’ simple Oklahoma farmhouse thought to be located on her Sac and Fox grandmother’s allotment. That piano was surely an extravagance for that large family in the Great Depression in the Dust Bowl. She later observed that her aunts, uncles, siblings and cousins had artistic talents ranging from music to drawing to writing. In recent years she has located some of her grandmother’s writings that shed a little light on the person who undoubtedly influenced her children greatly.

Along the way while asking questions to learn more about her family, she was told that “we don’t speak of the dead for a year after their death.” Obituaries are a great information source for biographers and historians. Without them, we would know less about our subjects. Not talking about a person for a year likely puts people in the habit of not thinking, talking or remembering things about them. While researching an entirely different person, I learned that the Pawnees do not talk about their dead. It may well be that this is true of many tribes. If so, much information will be lost forever. In a 2002 National Graphic article about an isolated Venezuelan tribe, Scott Wallace wrote that “the Yanomami consider it taboo to speak of the dead.” Perhaps this custom was widespread throughout the Americas.

Indians Were Poor Marksmen

January 10, 2009

Over a century before Rush Limbaugh roamed the airwaves, Rush Roberts, whose Pawnee name translates to Fancy Eagle, roamed the Great Plains. While researching the life of Henry Roberts, left end on the great Carlisle Indian School football team of 1911, for my upcoming book, Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals, I came across the fact that Henry’s father was a quite colorful character.

In 1876, at age 16 or 17, Rush was recruited as a scout for the U. S. Cavalry, becoming the youngest man to fight under Gen. Crook in this campaign. It is documented that he participated in the November 25, 1876 Dull Knife-Mackenzie Fight (aka Battle of Bates Creek) as a member of the Pawnee Battalion. The Pawnees were credited for fighting with exceptional capability against one of their ancient enemies. He was awarded his father’s name, Fancy Eagle, for his bravery in battle. Almost a decade after the war ended, he enrolled as a student at Hampton Institute in Virginia. He stayed there for two years and later sent two of his children, one of whom was Henry Roberts. Rush eventually became a chief of the Skidi Pawnees and lived to an old age. His exploits ares mentioned in We Remember: the history of the U. S. Cavalry from 1776 to the present by Edward L. Daily.

In an interview about the plains wars, Rush stated that, in general, Indians weren’t good marksmen with rifles. The problem was that they didn’t understand how to use the rear sight and wind gauge to hit their targets at long distances. However, they were excellent at shooting from horseback, particularly at short range. Rush explained, “The group formations of the army made a bigger target, but army marksmanship was better and steadier.”

Henry Roberts Gets Married

July 28, 2008

While looking up information on Carlisle’s participation in the 1912 Olympics, I stumbled across an article from Carlisle in the Washington Post that had nothing to do with the Olympics. So, we’ll take a day off from our Olympic coverage for a little romance.




Hurt in Game Against Syracuse, First Thing He Remembers on Regaining Consciousness Is Face of Pretty Indian Maid—Football Eleven Gives Happy Couple Wedding Banquet.


Carlisle, Pa., Jan 17 —As the climax to a four months romance that began when the groom was Injured on the football field, and was nursed in the Carlisle Indian School Hospital here by the bride, Henry Roberts, 23 years old, of Pawnee, Okla and Miss Rose Denomie, 19 years old, of Ashland Wis, were married here at the home of M. Friedman, superintendent of the school, today.

Henry Roberts, Pawnee, played left end on the great Carlisle 1911 team and, before his injury, was Rose Denomie’s football hero. As she nursed him back to health he determined to win the Chippewa maiden’s hand. He studied for a civil service examination and passed with high marks for which he was rewarded with a $900 a year clerical job (not bad for any American in 1911) at Shoshone Indian School in Wyoming. Armed with a good-paying job and restored health, he proposed.


Because Rose was Catholic, they were married by Father Strock in Superintendent Moses Friedman’s residence and were feted by his teammates. Immediately after the celebration they caught a train for Wind River Agency, Wyoming. In November The Red Man reported that they were in Odanah, Wisconsin where he was employed by the government as a stenographer. Jack Newcombe described Roberts as the one who “epitomized the success story Carlisle cared to boast of: a business career with an oil firm in Oklahoma, a home on a hilltop in Pawnee not far from the reserve where he was born, a happy marriage with the girl he had met at Carlisle.” In a 1959 interview Roberts mentioned that before retiring he had helped build the atomic bomb at Los Alamos. From bows and arrows to atom bombs!


Next time it will be back to the Olympics – if nothing interferes.


 Henry Roberts shortly before his wedding