Page:Female Prose Writers of America.djvu/257

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227
MARY H. EASTMAN.

SHAH-CO-PEE;

THE ORATOR OF THE SIOUX.

Shah–Co–Pee (or Six) is one of the chiefs of the Dahcotahs; his village is about twenty-five miles from Fort Snelling. He belongs to the bands that are called Men–da–wa–can–ton, or People of the Spirit Lakes.

No one who has lived at Fort Snelling can ever forget him, for at what house has he not called to shake hands and smoke, to say that he is a great chief, and that he is hungry and must eat before he starts for home? If the hint is not immediately acted upon, he adds that the sun is dying fast, and it is time for him to set out.

Shah–co–pee is not so tall or fine looking as Bad Hail, nor has he the fine Roman features of old Man in the Cloud. His face is decidedly ugly; but there is an expression of intelligence about his quick black eye and fine forehead, that makes him friends, notwithstanding his many troublesome qualities.

At present he is in mourning; his face is painted black. He never combs his hair, but wears a black silk handkerchief tied across his forehead.

When he speaks he uses a great deal of gesture, suiting the action to the word. His hands, which are small and well formed, are black with dirt; he does not descend to the duties of the toilet.

He is the orator of the Dahcotahs. No matter how trifling the occasion, he talks well; and assumes an air of importance that would become him if he were discoursing on matters of life and death.

Some years ago, our government wished the Chippeways and Dahcotahs to conclude a treaty of peace among themselves. Frequently have these two bands made peace, but rarely kept it any length of time. On this occasion many promises were made on