I WAS now able to take my
place as a hunter and warrior with the other men, and with my wonderful
little horse, I felt that I was bigger than anything that could happen.
In the first days of my
warriorhood, came a big buffalo hunt. We prepared for it as usual by an
all night of prayer and left camp at daylight.
The herd was out on the
plain not far away, but we all led our horses so they would be fresh for
the work. I didn’t have Buckskin. I had loaned him to Efawhahcho.
It was after sunup when
we arrived at the stamping ground, and the signal was given for the
dash. We mounted quickly and went at the prey in a mad rush, each of us
singling out his buffalo.
I picked out a nice fat
bull, as the herd went lumbering off across the prairie, and was soon at
his side. I sent a shot into him, and whirled my horse to avoid the
Again I came up beside
him, and again I fired, but this time I didn’t whirl soon enough. I
didn’t have Buckskin to work with, and it nearly cost me my life. The
buffalo charged and upset my horse and me.
The enraged animal was
about to stamp my life out with his forefeet when one of the passing
hunters killed him.
When I came to myself I
was sitting on the prairie and wondering what had happened. I soon found
out, for beside me my horse was lying, so badly gored he had been shot.
That night in the camp,
the other hunters sat in the fireshine and told of their exploits.
I had no good thing to
tell of myself, so I sat in the darkness with heavy heart, and heard how
one of the young fellows had ridden up behind his buffalo, grabbed him
by the tail, jabbed him with his knife, and had hamstrung him; how
another had jumped from his horse to the back of his prey, spurred him
with his knife and, after riding him a while, had driven the knife into
his neck again and again until the blood spurted and he fell dead.
The recitals furnished a
very entertaining evening for everybody except me.
The next day and for
several days and nights, there was fun and feasting.
It was the women who
brought the skins and meat into camp, and who took great pride in
roasting just right the choicest bits—the luscious humps and marrow
bones—for their hunter-and-warrior men.
After a hunt like this,
when there was plenty of food in the camp, there was little to do but to
think and dream. It was then that the warriors would meet in talk over
the condition of their race, compare it with the past, and bewail its
prospects for the future.
What rankled in their
spirits worse than thorns in the flesh, was the way in which the white
intruders had treated the Indian from the time they first set foot on
“Had the paleface been
fair,” they argued, “we would have been brothers. There would have been
no war. Always there would have been peace, had they been just. They not
only have taken our land, they have killed off the buffalo, the deer and
the turkey. What is there for us to look forward to? In a little while
their iron-shod horses will be trampling down the grass here where our
Their faces grew sad as
they thought and talked about it. They could see nothing for themselves
But they always ended the
talk by declaring they would fight to the last and die like men.
Then one by one each
warrior rose and went silently away.
Our wild prairie men were
real patriots, for they loved their country with a fervour that could
not be surpassed.
As the years went by the
buffalo became fewer and fewer, and our wide range smaller and smaller.
So our raids grew more and more frequent. This, too, in spite of the
fact that we were bent on keeping our tribe’s existence a secret But we
always took pains, on returning from our raids, to cross the reservation
of some tribe, if possible, and lose our trail in a beaten track.
Thus, I am sure that the
Comanches and other tribes were blamed for the killing and plundering
done by our warriors.
Our men had long wanted
to make war upon the Apaches in return for what they had done to us on
one occasion. When Quohahles, the Medicine Man, declared that the
medicine was strong, we set out toward their country under a leader
appointed by the chief.
After several days’ ride
from our camp, each warrior got a stone about the size of his fist, and
we put them all in a heap in a secluded spot. Then each of us promised,
in case we met with defeat and were scattered, to make his way to the
rock pile, remove one of the stones, and wait in hiding nearby for at
least one sleep; then to throw the stone away, and take a trail
previously agreed upon.
Following this custom of
the prairie tribes, a separated band was able to get together again.
As we went on our way,
one of the warriors in advance came galloping back to report that he had
seen a bear cross our course with his head toward the wind.
This was a bad sign, for
crossing the bear’s trail would surely bring us defeat and death. The
sign was never known to fail.
As all of us believed the
bear had come to warn us, most of us were more than willing to go bade.
But not Efawhahcho.
“You who turn back are
afraid to die. You are not men,” he scoffed. “As for me, I started upon
this war trail as a man. I will go on. All of you who are not afraid,
Five of the men paid no
attention to the taunt, and went back.
“Come on,” I shouted to
There was no reply.
“I will go on,” I cried.
“My medicine is strong, I go if I go alone!”
Then the five who were
left joined Efawhahcho and me. The leader was not among them. So I
became leader and the seven of us went on towards the Apache country.
We had not gone far, that
same day, when we sighted a number of Indians. They proved to be an
Apache war party, and a war party we did not want to meet. We wanted to
surprise their camp at night and get away with booty. But now that we
were in sight of the enemy we would fight, no matter what the
The Apaches, uncertain of
our intentions, halted on a ridge and stood looking at us.
We turned into a hollow,
out of sight of them, dismounted, stripped, and tied our dothes to our
saddles, ready for the fray. Then we rode boldly out to meet the enemy.
The Apaches greatly
outnumbered us, but this did not daunt us in the least.
As we rode slowly towards
them, Efawhahcho came up beside me.
“Tahan,” he said, “this
is my last war-trail. You will remember your vow, my brother-friend, and
when you go back to camp, tell the warriors I died like a man.”
He well knew I would do
this and that I would not forget my vow, made when we became
brother-friends. We pledged ourselves to everlasting friendship, to die,
the one for the other, if necessary, and to avenge the death, should one
of us be killed.
This was a custom of the
Kiowas and also of the Dakotahs, with whom my comrade had lived a while.
When he had spoken, he
gave his long war whoop, whipped his horse into a run, and sped ahead of
the rest of us.
The Apaches, now aware of
our intentions, came full tilt towards us. As we neared them our
warriors separated. Some circled to the right, others to the left, our
enemy between. We all fired at them as they passed. They kept together,
turned and came at us again.
Exhilarated by the
excitement of battle, I became careless of what might happen. Buckskin
seemed to share my feeling. With ears laid back on his short neck he
responded to the pressure of my knees, dashing to the right or left at
my will, as I, with my warriors, fought the enemy almost hand to hand.
I saw Efawhahcho fall
slain from his horse. It maddened me, I started after the exultant and
yelling Apache who had killed my brother-friend. Several of my warriors
helped me cut him off from the rest-
I pass over what
But I came out with a
buckskin shirt and leggings of beautifully beaded workmanship and a
certain other thing with blood on one end of it dangling from my belt.
True to my vow, I had
avenged my brother-friend. From that day the warriors began to call me
When the Apaches were
completely routed and we were assembled, we found that three of our men
were slightly wounded and one other besides Efawhahcho gone on the Long