Saturday, February 14, 2015

Ghost Dance in Evanston -- February 14, 1891

The Pine Ridge Sioux, Evanston "Visitors"
Illinois Digital Archives
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the arrival of a group of Lakota Sioux whohad been transported to Fort Sheridan at the end of January in 1891.  Their arrival at the new military base, which was still in the midst of construction, was just the start of a strange saga that would unfold over the following two years.

The second installment took place on this date, February 14, of 1891 as 15 members of the group were transported from the fort to Evanston under charge of a Lieutenant Maxwell and six guards.  At the Young Men’s Christian Association “they witnessed an exhibition of sports upon the bar, the dummy-horse, and trapeze that made them interested to the extent of clapping of hands, a mark of appreciation that an Indian seldom shows.”  [Chicago Tribune, February 15, 1891]

From there the Indians were moved to the headquarters of the Evanston Club where they were served coffee and sandwiches.  After refreshments “the reds gave a regulation ghost dance, in which there was nothing lacking except the ghost shirts and the antelope necklaces.  They danced around the banquet hall of the Evanston Club for the pleasure of about 500 guests and for the delectation of hundreds of uninvited boys and girls who peeped through the many windows.”

There was a bit of a dust-up at the Y.M.C.A. when someone offered a pack of cigarettes at which two of the Sioux braves, Scatters and Little Horse “made a jump” that “for a moment or two . . . looked like a scrimmage.”  But Lieutenant Maxwell gave the order, the guards closed in, and calm was restored.  “After that the whole affair went of in the orthodox Christian style.”

The paper listed the braves as “visitors” and they included:  Short Bull, Kicking Bear, Scatters, One Bull, Standing Bear, Little Horse, Horn Eagle, Coming Grunt, Know-His-Voice, Revenge, Run Alongside, and Sorrel Horse.  Three squaws were also present:  Call-the-Name, Medicine Horse, and Crow Cane.

This was the second event in a series to which I will be returning over the coming months.  The story does not become any less strange.  Stay tuned.

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