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The speaker is a 68-year-old White woman with a college education from St. Francis, Kansas; she was recorded in 1968.



County: Cheyenne
State: KS

Commentary:
St. Francis, Kansas, population about 1,500, is on the Republican River near the eastern border of Colorado. The town was settled by homesteaders and cattle ranchers around the turn of the twentieth century. The main sources of income are still cattle and wheat. The informant talks about a bloody clash, prior to her birth, between Whites and American Indians in the following excerpt.
Inf: Beecher Island is not far from our own city, St. Francis, Kansas. And since, uh, many of our places in Kansas, uh, were given Indian names, and our own county, Cheyenne, was named after the Cheyenne Indians, we decided to go up there for the celebration, a three-day celebration at Beecher Island, Colorado, on the Arikaree River. Um, we went by, uh, covered wagon, the girls in one wagon and the boys in the other, of course, with our chaperones. We took our tents and camped for the three days.

Beecher Island is, um, was manned by, uh, fifty scouts some years before we went, and uh, on the w-, while, when they reached Beecher Island, uh, they were confronted by a band of Cheyenne Indians with their Chief Roman Nose. The Indians were not out on a war party, because they had their wife and families along. But when they met the scouts, uh, they decided, uh, to attack the scouts. The scouts were on the island, and they went across the waters and (xx) and attacked them. But they put their wives and children up on a hill just north of the island, which was called Squaw's Hill. And the fight, the battle, was on.

The scouts knew that they did not have enough people to battle that large a number of Indians, and so, uh, after a day or so they sent out two scouts to go to Fort Wallace, Kansas, and get help. Nothing more was ever heard of these two scouts. But a day or two later they sent out two more. These two men traveled by night and uh hid out in the daytime. Ah, one particular night they hid in a buffalo carcass, were there all day, and then started out again at night. And they finally reached Fort Wallace.

Many of the scouts were killed and uh, of course many gravestones were on the island. They thought uh, when they saw a large group of people coming down the hillside that it was more Indians coming to the help of the Cheyennes that were there. But it wasn't. It proved to be the relief party for them. And so the few that were left were taken back to Fort Wallace. The, the um, squaws and the children on Squaw's Hill, uh, would wail and weep and scream when the Indians were killed, and thus it was called Squaw's Hill. It was a uh, flat-shaped hill, hill, shaped like a flatiron, flat on the top, and there the women and children would stand and watch the battle.

Yes, this was Indian country, but not at the time I was here.

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