Dakota Datebook

Eagle Woman That All Look At-Part 2

Thursday, January 1, 2004

Yesterday, we began a three-part series on the women who was a contributor to peace between her husband’s white military world and the world of her Yankton father, Chief Two Lance.

Eagle Woman That All Look At and her husband, Major Galpin, had agreed to accompany Father De Smet on his trip to Montana. They were to find Sitting Bull and convince him to move his people to a reservation. They arrived at Sitting Bull’s camp on the Yellowstone and held council. Sitting Bull had a great deal of respect for Father De Smet, who gave him a gift of a cross.

Eagle Woman knew the strength of the U.S. military and advised the Lakota to stop fighting. “The white men are stronger than your thousands of warriors,” she said. “What good will your hunting grounds do you when their blood cries out from the ground?”

Sitting Buffalo, the medicine man, resisted. “My people shall not come to the fort to live like old men too old to hunt. What are you, a Sioux or a white man’s slave?”

Eagle Woman countered, “Were I a white man’s slave, Sitting Buffalo, I would not have come to you! We came of our own will, even though we learned that you planned to kill us.”

In the end, Eagle Woman and the priest convinced Sitting Bull to let Chief Gall and forty lodges go back with them to northern Dakota Territory to appraise the Lakota’s options.

As a trader of goods, Major Galpin was convinced by his wife to give a lot of his profits to her native people; so when he died, he left his family in poverty. Eagle Woman allowed Father De Smet to take her children to St. Louis, so they could attend a convent school. To support them, Eagle Woman took up Major Galpin’s business and became a respected and successful trader. One account states that, “The commissioners and agents agree that she wields a more powerful influence among the Grand River tribes than any of their chiefs.” Some accounts even state that she became a chief herself, but because she married white men, that’s not possible.

In 1872, the U.S. government chose Eagle Woman to personally select a delegation of thirteen chiefs and accompany them to Washington, D.C. It was the first time the men had ever ridden on a train. Things went well until it began to move; then all of a sudden the men had second thoughts. Sure that they were being led into a trap, they began singing their battle song and threatening to fight. Thankfully, Eagle Woman was able to calm the men and finish the journey without further incident.

In Washington, the Indian delegation went into conference with President Grant, General Sherman and the Secretary of the Interior. Then, they were taken on a tour of the war department, naval yard and arsenal to impress the chiefs with their military strength. The delegation also attended an opera in New York. They were supposed to go on to Boston, but the incredible number of whites disheartened them. Four days later, with some of the chiefs ill, and the others homesick, Eagle Woman cut the tour short and the delegation returned home.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the final part in our series on Eagle Woman That All Look At.

Dakota Datebook written by Merry Helm

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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