Battles and Baptisms
EVEN AS THE Ojibwa prepared to depart, more Indians arrived. The numbers of Sioux at the agency doubled as western bands came in expectation of their annuities. In total, more than 2,000 Indians, 846 Ojibwa, and 1,250 Sioux now camped on the plateau.1 Those chiefs who brought along their horses raced them back and forth through the tent city to demonstrate their prowess. Chief Strong Ground was thrown from his horse and bled considerably, requiring Dr. Emerson to bind his wounds.2
Hole-in-the-Day told the agent: “Now I report my earnest desire to go to see the president.”3 The Dakota had visited Washington to negotiate their treaty. The Ojibwa chief was now ready for his grand tour of the country. Hole-in-the-Day didn’t realize that for the Americans, treaty making was a one-time deal. Once the tribe had surrendered its lands by treaty, the American president had no further interest in seeing him or hosting his warriors on a trip to the nation’s capital.
A steamboat arrived with H. N. Dillon, Taliaferro’s brother-in-law, and the stores destined for the sutler’s shanty at the fort. Since Mr. Baker suffered from consumption, Horatio Dillon had arranged the annual spring purchase in St. Louis.4 But the remaining treaty goods that the Sioux expected were not aboard.5
Amid the encampments of the two Indian nations, about 50 pullcarts of settlers arrived from the northeast, fleeing from the hard living conditions at Selkirk settlement on the Red River of Manitoba.6 With eviction pending at the Coldwater Spring, these new refugees found only temporary hospitality. Those who had preceded them by a decade feared being turned out from their homes,7 and the arrival of the new refugees underlined the squatters’ continuing insecurity.
The Ariel arrived next, with stores for Mendota and a passenger purveying whiskey and defective goods.8 The agent used the steamboat’s departure to send an emergency allotment of flour, corn, and pork to two different bands of Sioux farther south on the river. (This large allotment may have come from Dr. Emerson’s supply at the post hospital, since no new stores had yet arrived for the agency.)9