Antoine of Oregon - James Otis

Indians on the March

We remained at Fort Laramie one day and had the good fortune to see the Indians setting out on the march, the men to go against their enemies, and the women to return to the villages.

We saw the squaws taking down the lodges and fastening the poles on either side of the pack animals, with one end dragging on the ground. Across these poles, just behind the horse, were lashed short pieces of wood, forming a framework on which were tied the food, furs, and household belongings, while in many cases the children rode on top of the load during the journey.

[Illustration] from Antoine of Oregon by James Otis

Then the babies were shut up in small willow cages, and either fastened on the backs of the pack horses, or securely tied to the trailing poles.

The women performed all the work from taking down the lodges to leading the pack animals. The men did nothing save sit on their ponies, decked out in a fanciful array of feathers, with their war shields and spears from which fluttered gay-colored bits of cloth, as if their only purpose in life was to present a warlike appearance.

As I told the girls, those Sioux Indians making ready for battle were the first real savages we had met. They would not hesitate to carry away anything belonging to a white man, if they could get their hands upon it, but they acted more like men, than did any we had seen before.