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The Indian Story

By Henry Roberts - Fourth Grade

This family history sketch appears in The Indian Leader, Haskell Institute, Lawrence, Kansas, January 9, 1903. Henry was born in 1888, a son of Rush Roberts and Lou (Howell) Roberts – all Skidis. Henry’s younger brother, George, worked with George Hyde to prepare a fascinating family history: “Ancestry of Latakuts Kalahar (Fancy Eagle),” Nebraska History, volume 40, number 1, 1959, p. 67-73. In this history, Henry’s birth date is given as March 24, 1888; he married a woman named Rose Denomie and they had four children and three grandchildren. My uncle John Knife Chief told me in 1983 that Rush Roberts was a Pawnee by adoption. He said that Rush’s parents were, as he put it, white immigrants who may have been German. They were killed by the Sioux. Some Skidis came upon the slaughter and found a living child, and Rush grew up as a son of Sitting Eagle and Roaming Princess. This might explain why (as Henry tells in his story below) Rush was sent by his Skidi mother to the new Pawnee boarding school at the Pawnee Reservation in Nebraska. Many Pawnee orphans ended up there. George Roberts’ family history makes no mention of this oral tradition – I have the impression that no one ever told Rush the truth about his parentage.

My father always tells me the stories about the Pawnees long ago, when they used to live in Nebraska.
He said that when he was young his father was killed in a battle with the Sioux Indians, and so he did not get to see his father very long. But his mother was still with him and they were about the only ones left of his generation. He said that he used to help get wood and water for the people. And he also used to go after their horses which sometimes would be at least ten or twelve miles out from the camp. As you know at that time they had no fences. He said that he used to see the older men kill buffaloes out on the plain.
At one time a white man came to their camp and asked if they wanted their boys to go to school. So some of the parents wanted them to go and one of them was my father. They did not know anything about a school. My father said that he did not intend to run away. But one day some of the boys came telling the rest to go hunting. They said this just to make boys go that much more quickly. So they asked father to go with them. He did not know they were running away. So they asked father to go with them. He did not know they were running away. So they started out and they kept on hunting until at last they came in sight of the encampment. Perhaps he would have gone back had it not been for the moving out. The Pawnees had decided to go southward to a new country. The name of that school is Genoa, now one of the biggest schools in the United States.
The Pawnees settled in Oklahoma. I forget which year, so to this day they are living in Oklahoma. My father is still living, but is in bad health and is thinking of going to Phoenix, Arizona, on account of having asthma. He is now 45 years old.
The number of our family is 9 altogether, one born just last year. Our homes are in Pawnee City; one in Osage City. I love my home very much. I am glad that I have seen some buffaloes with which my tribe used to have something to do. My father still has some hides of buffaloes and old bow and arrows which the old Indians used to shoot buffaloes and other animals. Well, this is all about this story. But there are still some more Pawnees in the north yet. I know of two here that are from there. I would like to have been with them then. The Pawnees used to have a great many fights with the Sioux. I like my folks and home. There used to be a great number of Pawnees but now there are only 365 of us. We are divided into four bands. I am in the Skeedee band as they call it. Our agent is Mr. Harvey. Trains in Pawnee City were just brought the last two years. Since the trains are running through there have been a number of small towns built up. There are a number of buffaloes kept in the pasture there belonging to Pawnee Bill’s Wild West Show. They are rather wild and I presume rather fierce. On all the corners of this pasture there is a sign saying, “Dangerous! Keep out.” I like to write this kind of stories.