THE SIOUX INDIANS (trad.) (1800s)

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The next night we camped on the river, and to our left, about 500 yards, was a little grove of ash trees, where, about two weeks before, the Indians had tied a young man about seventeen years of age to one of the trees and skinned him alive. He belonged to a family that came from Illinois and was going to California.
The boy had sworn that he would kill the first Indian he saw, and just before they camped for the night he saw an old squaw sitting by the side of the road, and took his gun out of the wagon and shot her dead.
They had not been camped more than half an hour when about 200 Sioux warriors came riding up the river toward the camp.... As soon as the Indians came up they asked who had killed the squaw, but no one would tell.
At last the Indians told them if they did not tell who had shot her, they would massacre the whole train. Then the captain pointed out the boy who had shot the squaw. As soon as he was pointed out the chief ordered two of the warriors to take the boy....
They took him to that little grove and treated him as already described in sight of the whole camp.... It lasted about half an hour, then all was still and his friends went to the spot and cut him loose from the tree and buried him at the end of the little grove.
From 'The Life and Adventures of E. S. Carter,' reprinted in Irwin Silber (ed.), Songs Of the Great American West, New York, NY, 1967, p. 33

Lyrics as reprinted in Irwin Silber (ed.), Songs Of the Great American West, New York, NY, 1967, pp. 34-35

I'll sing you a song, though it may be a sad one,
Of trials and troubles and where first begun;
I left my dear fam'ly, my friends and my home,
To cross the wide mountains and deserts to roam.

I crossed the Missouri and joined a large train,
Which bore us over mountains, through valley and plain;
And often of an evening a-huntin' we'd go
To shoot the fleet antelope and wild buffalo.

We heard of Sioux Indians all out on the plains,
A-killing poor drivers and burning their trains,
A-killing poor drivers with arrows and bows,
When captured by Indians no mercy they'd show.

We traveled three weeks till we come to the Platte,
A-pitching our tents at the head of the flat;
We spread down our blankets on the green shady ground
Where the mules and the horses were grazing around.

While taking refreshment, we heard a loud yell,
The whoops of Sioux Indians come up from the dell.
We sprang to our rifles with a flash in each eye,
And says our brave leader, "We'll fight till we die."

They made a bold dash and they come near our train
The arrows fell around us like showers of rain,
But with our long rifles we fed them hot lead
Till many a brave warrior around us lay dead.

We shot their bold chief at the head of their band,
He died like a warrior with his bow in his hand.
When they saw their brave chief lie dead in his gore,
They whooped and they yelled and we saw them no more.

In our little band there were just twenty-four,
And of the Sioux Indians five hundred or more;
We fought them with courage, we spoke not a word;
The whoop of Sioux indians was all could be heard.

We hooked up our horses and started our train;
Three more bloody battles this trip on the plain.
And in our last battle three of our brave boys fell,
And we left them to rest in the green shady dell.



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