February 11, 2012

White Face Woman: 8 of 8

Sioux Indian Police, 1882, Oglala Reservation
White Face Woman lay on her death bed. She was given up to die. All the medicine men for miles around had failed to restore her. Her husband, still wearing the star on his breast, sat by her bed, broken-hearted—waiting for her die.
          It was near sunset and visitors for the night would soon be coming. A stranger, covered with trail dust, stood at the door. Calling Elk greeted the man and motioned him to a chair.
          The stranger was a Cheyenne Indian, by his clothing. He was a handsome-looking man. Neither spoke for some time. Finally, the stranger spoke in very good Sioux, saying, “I am a Cheyenne. I wish to find the home of one named Come Out Like A Bear.”
          Calling Elk answered, “The man you are seeking lives near. But, friend, it is getting late. I wish you would stay over night with me—I have a tipi out there, furnished with bedding, where you can rest quietly.” The Cheyenne accepted. Calling Elk set before the man a cold bowl of pork and beans, hardtack, biscuits, and coffee—it was the government ration.
          An hour or so later the Cheyenne asked, “Has someone doctored your woman? I can see plainly the spark of life in her body is waning.”
 “Are you a medicine man?” asked Calling Elk excitedly.
          The Cheyenne answered with a nod.
          “Too bad,” said Calling Elk, “I have nothing wherewith to employ our service. I have only one horse left, but that is for police service. I must hold it in case my wife lives. Too bad.”
          Again the Cheyenne spoke. “Friend, the pay a medicine an requires is not for gain. It is part o the offering to the spirits we are commanded to ask for—I see you still have something of very great value that I will take as pay for curing your wife.”
          Excitedly, Calling Elk looked about the house, but could see nothing of very great value. “Friend,” he answered, “I love my wife. Act quickly.”
          Never before had three persons been known to live so happily as White Face Woman and her two husbands. White Face Woman had a maid—her husband’s hired man. Both husbands worked as government employees and rapid improvement toward a new way of life was made.

NOTE: The parents of White Face Woman returned to the United States and were enrolled in the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, at Poplar, Montana. There, one of her brothers, William Derby, became Chief of Police. All are now under the sod.

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