A Landing a Day

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Sitting Bull’

Nohly, Montana

Posted by graywacke on March 25, 2010

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (now pretty much an every-other-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

Dan –  Well, my nice little US streak has come to an end.  And what better OSer to end it than the number one OSer . . . MT; 109/90; 5/10; 4; 151.3.  Here’s my landing map, showing my proximity to Nohly (MT), Buford (ND), the Missouri R (running E-W) and the Yellowstone R (flowing N to meet the Missouri near Buford):

I landed in the Fourmile Ck watershed (my fourth “Fourmile Creek”; my 31st “X-Mile” creek or river); on to the Nohly Ck; on to the Missouri (346th hit); on to the MM (737th hit).

Here’s a broader view:

Here’s my GE shot, showing some farming in the uplands south of my landing, and likely open prairie in the lowlands where I landed:

I mentioned above that I landed near where the Yellowstone meets the Missouri.  Here’s a GE shot of the confluence:

There’s not much to see, but here’s a photo of the confluence:

It’s a little surprising to me that the confluence to two such major rivers should be out in the middle of nowhere, although way, way back in the day, this was considered an area of some import.  There was an old fort at the confluence (Fort Buford), and just upstream from the confluence along the Missouri is an old trading post known as Fort Union.  First, Fort Buford – from a ND state history site:

Fort Buford State Historic Site preserves remnants of a vital frontier plains military post. Fort Buford was built in 1866 near the confluence of the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, and became a major supply depot for military field operations. Original features still existing on the site include a stone powder magazine, the post cemetery site, and a large officers’ quarters building which now houses a museum.

Fort Buford was one of a number of military posts established to protect overland and river routes used by immigrants settling the West. It is probably best remembered as the place where the famous Hunkpapa Sioux leader, Sitting Bull, surrendered in 1881.

Here’s a plan of the original fort:

Here’s a photo of a re-enactment of some sort:

About Fort Union, from Wiki:

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site is the site of a partially reconstructed trading post on the Missouri River. It is one of the earliest declared National Historic Landmarks of the United States. The fort was built in 1828 or 1829 and was the most important fur trading post on the upper Missouri until 1867.

At this post, the Assiniboine, Crow, Cree, Ojibway, Blackfeet, Hidatsa, and other tribes traded buffalo robes and furs for trade goods including items such as beads, clay pipes, guns, blankets, knives, cookware, cloth, and especially alcohol. Historic visitors to the fort included John James Audubon and Sitting Bull.

Today, the reconstructed Fort Union memorializes a brief period in American history when two cultures found common ground and mutual benefit through commercial exchange and cultural acceptance.

Santa Fe trader and author William Davis gave his first impression of the fort in the year 1857:

Fort Union, a hundred and ten miles from Santa Fé, is situated in the pleasant valley of the Moro. It is an open post, without either stockades or breastworks of any kind, and, barring the officers and soldiers who are seen about, it has much more the appearance of a quiet frontier village than that of a military station. It is laid out with broad and straight streets crossing each other at right angles. The huts are built of pine logs, obtained from the neighboring mountains, and the quarters of both officers and men wore a neat and comfortable appearance.

Sitting Bull is associated with both forts.  He was the much-celebrated Indian military leader, who’s best known for leading the Sioux against General George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Here’s a wonderful photo:

From Wiki, here’s some info about Sitting Bull’s life after the battle:

The Native Americans’ victory celebrations were short-lived. Public shock and outrage at Custer’s death and defeat led the government to assign thousands more soldiers to the area. Over the next year, the new American military forces pursued the Lakota, forcing many of the Native Americans to surrender. Sitting Bull refused to surrender and in May 1877 led his band across the border into Canada. He remained in exile for many years, refusing a pardon and the chance to return.

Hunger and cold eventually forced Sitting Bull, his family, and nearly 200 other Sioux in his band to return to the United States and surrender on July 19, 1881.  Sitting Bull had his young son Crow Foot surrender his rifle to the commanding officer of Fort Buford.  He told the soldiers that he wished to regard them and the white race as friends.  Two weeks later, Sitting Bull and his band were transferred to Fort Yates.

Arriving with 185 people, Sitting Bull and his band were kept separate from the other Hunkpapa gathered at the Fort.  Army officials were concerned that the famed chief would stir up trouble among the recently surrendered northern bands.  Consequently, the military decided to transfer him and his band to Fort Randall, to be held as prisoners of war.

Loaded onto a steamboat, Sitting Bull’s band, now totaling 172 people, were sent down the Missouri River to Fort Randall.  There they spent the next 20 months.  They were released to the Standing Rock Agency reservation in May 1883.

In 1885, Sitting Bull was allowed to leave the reservation to join Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show.  He earned about $50 a week for riding once around the arena, where he was a popular attraction.  It is rumored that he often cursed his audiences in his native tongue during the show.  Historians have reported that Sitting Bull gave speeches about his desire for education for the young, and reconciling relations between the Sioux and whites.

Sitting Bull stayed with the show for only four months before returning home.  During that time, he had become somewhat of a celebrity and a romanticized warrior.  He earned a small fortune by charging for his autograph and picture, although he often gave his money away to the homeless and beggars.

Sitting Bull realized that his enemies were not limited to the small military and settler communities he had encountered in his homelands, but were in fact numerous and possessed technological advancements.  He also realized that the Sioux would be overwhelmed if they continued to fight.

In 1890 James McLaughlin, the U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Yates on Standing Rock Agency, feared that the Lakota leader was about to flee the reservation with the Ghost Dancers, so he ordered the police to arrest Sitting Bull.  At around 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 1890, 39 police officers surrounded the house, knocked and entered.  The officer in charge, Lt. Bullhead, told Sitting Bull that he was under arrest and led him outside.

The camp awakened and men converged at the house of their chief.  As Lt. Bullhead ordered Sitting Bull to mount a horse, he explained that the Indian affairs agent needed to see him and then he could return to his house.  However, Sitting Bull refused to comply with orders and the police used force on him.  The Sioux in the village were enraged.  A Sioux man known as Catch-the-Bear shouldered his rifle and shot Lt. Bullhead who, in return, fired his revolver into the chest of Sitting Bull. Another police officer, Red Tomahawk, shot Sitting Bull in the head and the chief dropped to the ground.

A terrible close-quarters fight erupted, and within minutes several men were dead.  Six policemen were killed immediately and two more died shortly after the fight.   Sitting Bull and seven of his supporters lay dead, along with two horses.

What a strange, tragic story . . .

I’ll close with some info about and a photo of a railroad bridge over the Missouri, located at Nohly (see landing map).  The following is from a write-up about the Samuel Knight Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology’s 2002 fall tour, by Scott See.   (Note that the bridge is known as the Snowden Lift Bridge, after the town of Snowden on the north bank of the river).

We started our day in Williston, North Dakota and drove west toward Montana. Our first stop of the day was at the Snowden Bridge. When it was built in 1913 it was the longest vertical lift bridge in the world with a lift-span section measuring 296 feet. The bridge was designed to allow the trains of the Great Northern Railroad to cross the Missouri River, while still enabling boat traffic to pass underneath, it was built during the twilight years of shipping on the upper Missouri. In fact, the railroad’s dire prediction that the bridge would never be used almost came true – the lift span was only operated 6 times.

Here’s an old postcard of the bridge, in the raised position:

Some pretty impressive engineering, eh?  I’ll close with this old shot of the bridge:

That’ll do it. . .



© 2010 A Landing A Day

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »