Biographical, Historical, Fiction



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It was mid-summer. These were the times when the men of the tribe were able to kill enough animals to be certain that the tribe would have the food to carry them through the bitter winter. The tribe was nomadic and constantly moved with the animals. This year there just weren’t many animals. They could kill the occasional deer or antelope but this did not go far when trying to feed over a hundred people.

The time was ten thousand years ago from today. The great ice age was coming to an end and the glaciers were retreating. Areas that were once covered with a three thousand foot wall of ice were now down to about 200 feet. The rivers were running full with the melting water from the glaciers. The land where the glaciers had been was now starting to have green grass and the people could see the trees were growing. The summers were a bit warmer.

The people were worried. Where had the animals gone? If they did not find animals soon then the tribe would not survive. Uupemba was the oldest son of the leader of the tribe and was a masterful hunter. He could find animals when others were not able. Uupemba was sent with a group of ten men to see what he could find. They travelled northward and slightly eastward and travelled fast at a trot to cover as much ground as possible. In the distance the men spotted something moving. They increased their speed and soon came within sight of a herd of woolly mammoths. There were twelve mammoths in the herd and they seemed to be unconcerned about the approaching men. Normally when the men hunted the mammoth they used at least twenty-five men to surround the beast but there were only ten. Uupemba did not want to wait several days for more men to arrive because the animals would be moving and may be lost. One man was sent back to the tribe to tell them to hurry to the kill sight and the men prepared to attempt to kill one of the beasts.

They decided on attempting to kill one of the juvenile female mammoths as they would be easier to kill. It was doubtful that they would be able to kill an adult with the few men they had and decided that the juvenile was better than no kill. The men were lucky. They ran at the animals and the adults started in their lumbering run which left the younger members of the herd lagging. They were able to separate the female they had chosen from the herd and ran at her with spears. The animal took a number of spear hits and the men could see that she was weakening. Uupemba took over and ran as hard as he could and buried his spear deep in the chest of the animal. The beast gave one last howl of pain and went down. The men were on her and continued to push in the spears until they were certain the beast was dead. An injured mammoth can be very dangerous and the men did not want to risk her coming at them.

Uupemba was no longer needed. He could see the herd. They had stopped running and were starting to feed as they travelled northeast. He decided to follow them to see where they were going. He took two men with him to use as runners if he needed to inform the tribe. The men started at a fast trot. When the mammoths saw the men they started to increase their speed and it was difficult for the men to keep up. Uupemba decided that running was spooking the beasts and decided to follow at a walk. This seemed to settle the mammoths and they became less concerned and started eating and walking.

A week later Uupemba saw a strange sight. The mammoths were moving across a narrow area. The area was about four miles wide and they could see the water on both sides of what looked to be a bridge. As far as they could see forward they could see ice continuing and in the distance what looked to be high hills or mountains. The land they were used to had no hills as the mighty glaciers had flattened all the land. The mammoths were moving across the ice and heading for the hills because they could see the grass was green.

Uupemba sent one of the men back to tell the tribe to hurry to where they were. He left the other man at that spot to show the tribe where he had gone. Uupemba followed the mammoths. Three days walk and the mammoths reached the green grass and stopped to eat. Uupemba found some edible roots and other foods to sustain him until the tribe arrived. Uupemba settled down and kept his distance from the animals so they would not start moving again. He wanted the tribe to arrive to see if they could kill enough of the animals to sustain them through the winter. Winter was coming. The nights were becoming colder and the days did not have the warmth of summer.

Fifteen days later the tribe arrived. Uupemba went to meet them and told them to move slowly and quietly so the animals would not run. He picked fifty of the strongest men. Uupemba wanted to kill two of the larger mammoths. This would be enough to feed them for most of the winter. They could kill other, smaller animals to augment their diet. The men moved slowly and cautiously towards the beasts. The mammoths were not concerned. Some of the men circled to the left and some circled to the right. The men attacked and the mammoths were confused as they were encircled and had nowhere to run. After an intense battle three of the mammoths were dead. The tribe had lost four men to the mammoths.

It was going to take time to butcher the animals. They had to dry the meat and prepare the skins for clothing. This process would take time. The days were getting shorter and there was a chill in the air that signified the coming of winter. The leader decided that they would make a winter camp where they were. The ground was high so they needn’t worry about flooding and when the grass dried they would be able to make comfortable beds. The women started preparing the camp for the winter while the men continued seeing about preserving the meat of the mammoths. Like all nomads, they carried their homes with them. Within two days all of the tents were up and the large tent for meetings and other purposes was in place. The tribe settled in for the long winter.

At last the winter was coming to an end. The days were getting longer and some green grass was starting to push through the snow. Uupemba had been watchful during the winter. He noticed groups of mammoths and musk ox moving south. When the days got longer he saw the deer and caribou moving south. He advised his father that to go back where they were would mean the end of the tribe. There was no food left. He wanted to move south and follow where the animals had gone. They held a meeting of the elders of the tribe. There was much discussion and Uupemba reminded them of how sparse things were back where they came from. He reminded them of their concerns about the lack of game and food. At the end of the meeting it was decided to move south and follow the animals.

Uupemba took his ten men and went ahead of the tribe. They could move faster and range wider to find the best trail for the tribe to follow. They had little choice as they were in an area between two glaciers and the glaciers extended as far as the eyes could see. They followed the tracks of the animals but they were certain that they had found the winter camps of other tribes that were also leaving the other area and moving south. They came upon five such camps. Were the camps from this winter or from previous winters?

The tribe continued to move south. There was plenty of game for the men to kill so there was always plentiful food for the tribe. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits. The further south they moved the warmer the weather became. They were able to shed their heavy fur clothing and were able to move more freely and move faster.

Uupemba thought he was about two weeks ahead of the tribe when he could see the end of the glaciers. They decided to wait for the tribe to catch up with them. They were on the shores of a lake of fresh water and the lake was teeming with fish. The men fashioned a net out of the stringy bark of some nearby trees and were able catch many fish each time they cast the net into the water. When the tribe arrived they had a great feast of the fish. This was a welcome change from eating the dried mammoth meat.

The tribe had to make a decision. The days were again getting shorter and nights colder. Should they stop at this favorable place to spend the winter or should they move further south. Uupemba suggested that he and his men go further south to see what was there and the tribe could wait in this place. When they returned they could make the decision. Uupemba promised he would return within ten suns. The elders thought this was a good suggestion and agreed. Uupemba and his men moved very rapidly.

They soon came to the end of the glaciers and each of the men was amazed by what they saw. Ahead lay a broad expanse of grass and trees for as far as the eye could see. They also saw great herds of a large variety of animals. They saw a huge herd of a hairy brown beast with horns and a hump on its back. There were woolly mammoths and deer and elk and antelope and an abundance of small game. This is the land they came to find when they left the land they knew.

Four of the men hurried back to the tribe to tell them what they had found. This was the place to stop, not just for the winter but forever. This was a paradise for the people. They would no longer need to move from place to place to find animals. The animals were here.

Uupemba and the other five men continued to move around and were more amazed with each new sight they saw. There was a herd of animals that resembled the animals that lived in the land they left. The men killed one of the animals and found the meat to be very tasty. They located a site for the tribe to make their camp. This was by a lake so they would have water. There were trees so they would have wood for warmth and cooking. There were a myriad of animals so they would not have to go far to get food. It was an ideal place.

The tribe arrived and the women quickly put up the tents and prepared for the winter that was coming. The men started to gather materials to build permanent houses out of wood and mud and grass and dung. Other men went on a hunt and killed enough animals to see the tribe through the winter in comfort. The women found many edible plants in the forest. It was certain to be a good winter and the tribe was looking forward to the time to rest and recuperate after the long walk. Twenty members of the tribe had died on the journey. They were the very old and the very young. One of the dead was the leader and Father of Uupemba. The elders of the tribe decided that Uupemba should be the new leader. He was the one that had brought them to this wonderful place. Uupemba was pleased that the people of the tribe had such confidence in him.

The tribe would survive. Uupemba was a very happy leader. The tribe had settled in and everyone was happy about the decision to follow the animals to this new land. The children were all healthy with the diet of meat and vegetables and greens. The adults were building muscle. The women of child bearing age were bearing children. It was the best of times. It was a time that most of the elders had never believed would happen for the people.

Uupemba was proving to be an excellent leader. He had the respect of all the people. His insistence that the tribe follow the animals had been an excellent indicator of the type of leader he would be. As leader he was entitled to choose any four women of the tribe to be his mates. Uupemba exhibited his leadership skills by deciding that he would not choose a woman that already had a mate. This could create dissension in the tribe and that would be bad. He chose three young women that were just entering child bearing age. He decided that he did not need a fourth as there was already a shortage of women in the tribe. The tribe was happy with his decision.

One of the young boys had gone exploring on the prairie and had come upon a young colt that was without a mother. He did not know what happened to the mare. Possible the mare had been taken by wolves or a bear. The colt was alone and afraid. He was skittish when the boy approached but the boy made comforting noises and eventually the colt allowed the boy to touch him and stroke the fur to make the animal feel better. The boy took the colt around the neck and returned to the village. Uupemba saw them approach and went to meet the boy and his new friend. The boy asked if he could keep him and nurture the colt until it was large enough to be on its own. The tribe ate horses as the meat was particularly tasty. The boy did not want this animal eaten and Uupemba agreed that they would not eat the colt. Soon the colt had the run of the village and was a friend to all of the tribal members. They fed the colt and petted the colt. All the children were especially fond of the colt.

The colt was growing and soon was almost grown. The villagers were astounded one day when they saw the boy sitting on the back of the horse and riding around the village. The villagers thought it amusing to see a boy riding on the back of an animal. Uupemba saw this as a new opportunity to enhance the tribes hunting capabilities. If the men could ride horseback then they could go faster and go further than running. Uupemba was wondering how to control the animal so that it would go in the direction they wanted. Uupemba worked with the boy to fashion a device. They put a strip of leather around the animal’s snout. Then they fastened two long strips of leather to that strip. When the boy pulled on the left piece of leather the animal would go left. It was the same for the right. The harder you pulled the more the horse would turn. Now the boy had complete control of the animal’s movements. When he pulled back on both at the same time the animal would stop.

Uupemba brought all of the men of the village to see how the boy could handle the horse. He instructed the men to begin to build a large fenced area where they could hold horses if they captured them. The fence was built from tree limbs and bushes from the forest and was about five feet high. They left one area open so the animals could be taken in or out. Then each man was instructed to make a small enclosure of his own where he could keep two or three horses.

When all of this was done, the men went to look for horses. The found a small herd of ten horses not far from the village. The men surrounded the herd and started driving them towards the large enclosure. When the men approached the entire village turned out to form a picket line so the horses could only go in the enclosure. When all the horses were in the enclosure they closed the opening so they would not be able to leave. Ten men were selected to enter the enclosure and start making friends with one of the animals. They were to spend most of the day with the animal and pet it and make soothing noises and feed it and give it water. After four days of this they put a rope of leather around the animal’s neck and led it to the man’s enclosure where he would continue to make friends with the animal.

After the ten animals were removed the men went looking for more horses to capture. They soon came on a herd of thirty horses and drove them to the enclosure. Again, the entire village formed a picket line to guide the animals into the enclosure. Thirty men were selected to go into the enclosure and begin to make friends with one of the animals. This continued until the tribe had enough horses for each man to have two in his personal enclosure.

The animals were being trained. The men were careful not to try to mount the animals before the animal was ready. One man made that mistake and was seriously hurt by the animal throwing him off and over the enclosure. The women of the tribe went to work to make bridles and reins from the soft leather of the deer. They made them so the bridle went around the head of the horse and could be left on all the time. Soon the horses were used to having the bridle and did not object to wearing it. Then the reins were tied on the bridle and the men would walk the horses while holding the reins. After a few weeks, all of the men were able to ride, and control, both of their horses. They went riding on the prairie in groups to train the animals. It was a miraculous thing to see.

More tribes were finding the bridge of ice and were crossing to the new land. When a new tribe was seen coming into the tribal area Uupemba and his twenty best horsemen would ride on the horses to meet them and tell them to keep moving and not to stop for two moons. Even though they spoke a different tongue, they understood what they had to do. They were frightened of these magical men that make animals do what they wanted the animals to do. They wanted to be as far from these frightening men as they could get. No other tribe ever stopped in their tribal hunting area.

Each of Uupemba’s mates had the round belly. The first born was a boy. On the day he was born, an eagle swooped from the sky and stole some meat from one of the tribal members. The boy was named Bold Eagle. The second born was a girl. The day she was born a hawk’s feather blew across the village. She was named Wind Feather. The third born was a boy. On the day he was born the villagers saw a fox trying to catch a rabbit. As the rabbit kept turning first one way and then another, the fox turned and jumped to catch it. The boy was named Dancing Fox. The tribe was growing. There were now about two hundred members of the tribe.

After ten years in the new land Uupemba was pleased with what he saw. The tribe was unthreatened. The biggest danger the tribe faced was the weather. Several winters had been brutal with blizzards and deep drifts. This was especially hard on the horses. The tribal herd of horses had grown to three hundred trained animals. They men went to work to make some covered enclosure so the horses would not have to endure the worst of the winter weather. They had to endure some violent storms with fire from the sky and high winds. These blew through very fast and were soon gone. They learned when riding on the prairie not to be on the horse when the fire came from the sky. One year a part of their hunting territory was under water as a large rainstorm had caused the river to overflow.

The tribe was careful not to kill too many of one type of animal. They did not want the animals to leave as they represented life for the tribe. Uupemba was surprised one day to see his son, Bold Eagle, with a strange device. The boy had a length of limb to which he had fastened a braided length of leather to one end and then bent the limb so he could fasten the leather to the other end. What was the purpose of this? Uupemba talked with Bold Eagle to find out what it was. Bold Eagle picked up small stick and when he pulled back the leather and released it the stick flew further than a man could throw it. Uupemba picked up a longer and straighter stick and he tried it. The stick flew a long way. Uupemba instructed all of the men to come and observe this strange device. The men were amazed.

After the men left they all started experimenting with this device. Some of the men used longer limbs for the bow so it would throw the stick further. Others sharpened the point of the sticks to shoot. They soon learned that the sticks they made fly had to be straight. One man put pieces of feather on the end and found the stick flew very straight. Soon each man had his own bow and a supply of sticks to shoot. One man found a small rock with a sharp point and he fastened that to the end. When he shot it at a tree it penetrated the wood. All of the men gathered around to see this. Now the tribe had a tool to help them in hunting. They did not have to get close to the animals to kill it. They could do it from a distance. The men were getting very proficient at using the bow and arrow.

One day while hunting, some of the men saw a large group of thirty or forty men coming into their hunting land. They told Uupemba and he, and a group of men, rode out to tell them to leave. The men were impressed with the men riding animals but were not afraid. They threatened Uupemba and the men with their spears. Uupemba and the men took out their bows and arrows and while the intruders were too far away to use their spears they shot the arrows and killed all but one of the men. They let this man leave to tell the other tribes that they should not come into this tribes hunting land.

It would be many years before the tribe would be threatened by outsiders.

The tribe had been settled in the new land for twenty years and was growing. The growing was accomplished by the children having a better chance of surviving the first year of life. When the tribe was moving all the time, the children did not get the proper nutrition and protection from the elements. Before the tribe settled in a fixed location, two out of three children died before the end of their first year. Now that the children were better cared for, four out of five children survived the first year of life and most made it to adulthood.

The tribe was also growing by adding newcomers. One of the men was riding on the prairie when he saw a group of people coming from the north. He rode back to the village to tell Uupemba. Uupemba and twenty men rode out to warn the strangers to keep moving. When they saw the group they were surprised. It was a small tribe; only thirty people and there were only four men in the group. The rest were women and children. There were no old people. They spoke a tongue that one of the men understood and explained that they had left the old land with over one hundred people and this is all that was left. Fifteen people had drowned crossing a river. Five men had died trying to kill a mammoth. The other deaths were due to starvation. They were surviving on rabbits and other small animals and most of the food was going to the children. At least ten of the people were close to death from starvation. Uupemba instructed the riders to put the sickest people on the horses with the children and they walked back to the village. The people in the village were surprised as this was the first time that new people had come to the village. They fed them soup of meat and greens. Gradually the new people were getting better. They were grateful for the help they received.

Uupemba had a dilemma. What should the tribe do with these people? Should they send them away? They would certainly be dead soon if they sent them away. Should they let them stay in the village and become part of the tribe? Uupemba called a meeting of the elders to talk about the dilemma. Uupemba thought they should let them stay for several reasons. They needed more women in the village and the children would be welcome. The men were reasonably good hunters so this new group would not be a burden. The elders discussed the dilemma at length but it was finally decided that adding new people to the village would be a good thing. They sent for the four men and the adult women and asked them if they would want to stay and be a part of the tribe. They all readily agreed and were grateful for the tribe saving them and offering them an opportunity for a good life and for the children to have a good life.

The new people assimilated into the tribe in such a meaningful way that Uupemba thought that they should look for others that they could add to the tribe. All of the women found mates with men that had no mates and soon they had round bellies. Uupemba instructed the men that when they saw small groups that they should get Uupemba and see if they could be added to the tribe. Within a year three more small groups were added to the tribe. These were groups of twenty to thirty people and they were all in a bad way when they were found. They all were welcome additions to the tribe.

The tribe now numbered almost three hundred people. The village was getting very large. More and more large groups of people were coming into the new land. The tribe was being surrounded by others in all directions. Uupemba talked with Bold Eagle and Dancing Fox about going on a journey. They took five other men and started to the east. The tall mountains were to the east and the men did not know why they were going in that direction. They got to the mountains and Uupemba sent men in various directions to see if they could find a way through the mountains. One of the men found a pass that was low enough that they could cross the mountains. When they got to the other side of the mountains, Uupemba sent Bold Eagle and two men Northeast and he sent Dancing Fox and two men southeast to look for a place for a new village.

Dancing Fox was the first to return. He had found an ideal place just four days ride away. It was by a river and had a lake. There was a large forest and an abundance of animals. There were more animals than Dancing Fox had ever seen. Bold Eagle was back two days later. He had found an ideal place for a village. It was six days ride to the northeast. It also had a lake and a forest and a river and an abundance of game. There was a large river further away. They marked the spot they were in with a tall cairn that could be seen from several miles away. They pointed rocks in the direction of the two potential villages. With that done, Uupemba led them back to the village.

Uupemba met with the elders. He also had Bold Eagle, Dancing Fox, and the other five men that made the journey attend the meeting. Uupemba advised the group that he thought that the entire tribe should move to this new area. More and more tribes were coming to the new land. It would only be a matter of time before some other tribe would think they were strong enough to take over the tribes hunting grounds. Then there would be many people killed. No other tribes had journeyed to this far away place. They would have the hunting grounds to themselves again. The tribe could prosper. Uupemba proposed having the tribe separate and live in two villages. That would be better and each tribe would not have to take so many animals to feed the people. The elders talked and talked and talked. They did not like the idea of not staying together. Uupemba explained that the two villages would be close enough together that they could protect each other from outsiders and no other tribe would settle between the villages so they would have all of that hunting ground to themselves. The elders talked some more when one of the elders reminded them that Uupemba had not made any bad decisions. All of the things that he suggested had helped the tribe to survive. The decision to move east was made.

It was now early in the spring. The trees were starting to get new leaves and the prairie grass was turning green. The animals were starting to eat more of the fresh grass and getting fatter. The decision was made to move one moon from that time. The tribe started getting ready. Having the horses to ride and to pull the heavy tents and skins would make the trek much easier. The day arrived for the move. All of the animals were packed and there was enough food to feed the tribe for one moon. Uupemba thought that it would take that long to get to the new place. If it took longer they could kill other animals for food. Ten men were sent one sun ahead to scout and be certain that nothing was in the way that was not foreseen or would impede the progress of the tribe.

The move was going well. They arrived at the cairn only two suns longer than Uuemba had thought it would take. Uupemba and the elders had decided that Bold Eagle and Dancing Fox would be the leaders of the two villages. They were both skilled hunters and leaders. All the people of the tribe respected the two young men. They had learned well from Uupemba. It was time to split up the tribe. Uupemba had a novel solution on how to split the tribe. He had all of the men line up in one long line. They could be anywhere they wished. He had Bold Eagle to the left and Dancing Fox to the right. First man left and second man right and then left and then right until all of the men were in two equal groups behind the two young leaders. The mates and children of each man would accompany him to the new village. Each man and his mates had been responsible for bringing their own possessions so all the possessions were already divided.

The people were not certain they wanted to be separated. Uupemba assured them the two villages were only two days ride apart so they would be able to see each other again. As they rode off to the northeast and southeast each of the groups kept looking at the other. They had friends that they would miss. Finally they came to a small hill and when the groups went behind the hill they could not see each other again.

Authors note. The group that went north settled in the area of the Belle Fourche River in what it now Western South Dakota. The group that went to the south settled in the area of the Niobrara River in Northwest Nebraska.

When the groups arrived at their new village site they were amazed at the abundance of animals. Only the elders remembered the large numbers of animals that were in the new land when they arrived. The tribes went right to work building new homes in the new village. They had the tents for shelter but they all wanted the permanent homes they had in the old village. As the young leaders had promised, there were adequate supplies of everything. The rivers were teeming with fish. The game was only a short distance from the village. The forest and the prairie had abundant greens and other foods to improve the diets. Everyone was happy with the decision to move. Uupemba had made another good decision that benefited the tribe.

Uupemba and the elders held a meeting at the village of the north to be certain there were no problems. There were no problems. They travelled to the village to the south for the same reason and found there were no problems. Everything was good. Bold Eagle and Dancing Fox loved each other and respected each other and none of the elders expected any troubles between the villages.

Uupemba was getting old. He was now almost 60 years and that was old for the people of the tribe. He had travelled far. One night he went to sleep and never awoke. The people would miss his leadership and knowledge. He was buried in a special place half the distance between the two villages. Uupemba had a special name for the tribe. No one knew why he called it that. Out of respect for Uupemba the tribe would forever be referred to by all the people as SIOUX.

Life was good.

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