Sunday, March 1, 2015

Fort Sheridan and the Lakota: Part Three -- March 1, 1891

The Grand Opera House (Ryerson-Burnham Archives
The place where in 1912 The Wizard of Oz would be seen for the first time
Come with us now as we resume the continuing saga of the Lakota Sioux at Fort Sheridan in 1891.  Two installments in the unfolding story have already been laid out.  You may find them here and here.

On this day, March 1, back in 1891 Lieutenant Maxwell, the same guy who picked up the job of transporting the Native Americans to two separate social events in Evanston on            February 14, accompanied the party to the Grand Opera House on Clark Street in Chicago where the contingent enjoyed entertainment given by Cleveland’s minstrels.

The party included Kicking Bear, Coming Grant, Knows His Horse’s Voice, White Beaver, One Bull, Horn Eagle, Run Along Side Of, Sorrel Horse and Hard to Hit.  The Tribune reported, “Interpreter John Shandreau sat with the Indians to translate Luke Schoolcraft’s and Hughey Dougherty’s jokes.  General Miles with his aide, Capt. Maus, sat humbly in the dress-circle while the conquered reds had plush easy chairs and silk curtains in private boxes.”  [Chicago Tribune, March 1, 1891]

The show was evidently a hit.  One performer emerged in silk tights and sang in a high soprano voice, after which “the curtain rose and the black faces of the end-men were disclosed.”  At the sight Hard to Hit turned to One Bull and said, “Buffaloes,” thinking that a portion of the Ninth Cavalry, the “Flying North” had been ordered from its station near Pine Ridge to sing and dance in its late enemies’ honor.

Chicago in 1891 must have been quite a town, right?  The City Council is passing the ordinance that will allow a new Art Institute to be built on the lakefront.  The tallest building in the world to be constructed on load bearing walls is being finished on Jackson Boulevard.  And a couple blocks away, survivors of Pine Ridge sit with their military guards, watching men with faces smeared with burnt cork sing in falsetto voices.

You can't make this stuff up.

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