With Lieutenant Pike - Edwin Sabin

The Coming of the Americans

The Spanish came in about three weeks—three hundred of them, led by their young war chief whose name was Melgares. A brave sight they made as they rode with flags and drums and jingle of bridles and formed camp outside the Chief Charakterik town.

Lieutenant Melgares held a council with the Republican Pawnees and the Grand Pawnees from the north. The Pawnee Loups, or Wolf Pawnees, did not send any chiefs, because they were at war with the other Pawnees.

The Spanish chief said that he had met the Ietans or Comanches in the south and signed a treaty of peace with them. They had promised to help their Spanish father. But on the way north the Omahas had stolen many of his horses and mules, after another council; and by reason of these bad hearts he had come on with only a few of his men, in order to smooth the road between the great king and the great king's children.

He was too young to sit in grand council with the head chiefs of the Pawnees. In the spring a higher chief than he would come, to build a town near the Pawnee town, and live with the red people and teach them how to get rich, if they were good. Meanwhile they must watch out that the Americans (who were poor but greedy) did not sneak in, and cheat them of their lands and drive off the game. The American chief, Mungo-Meri Pike, was on the way, although he had not been found. If he arrived, he must be turned back. These were the orders of the king of the Spanish nation, who ruled all this country.

Lieutenant Melgares gave Chief Charakterik and the head chief of the Grand Pawnees each a large, fine medal of silver to wear; and a paper signed by the governor of New Mexico, which made them head men under the king; and a Spanish flag, and four mules. He laid on the prairie other gifts, of crimson cloth and of tobacco and smaller medals; and again warning them that the great king would be very angry if the crafty Americans were permitted to pass, he rode away south, with all his men.

Chief Charakterik hung the gay Spanish flag of red and yellow in front of the council lodge, as a sign for everybody to see. It was plain to him also that the Spanish nation was a powerful nation, to send so many soldiers so far, looking for the Americans.

The Spanish soldiers had not been gone long when from the Osage towns in the southeast toward the Missouri River there ran the news that the Americans of Mungo-Meri Pike were coming indeed. They were bringing to the Osages almost fifty men and women whom the Potawatomis had captured last year, and who had been rescued by the American father. Two of the Pawnees who had been to Wash'ton visiting the American father were with them on the way home.

"We will let them come this far, so as to get our brothers back," said Chief Charakterik. "We will talk with them and see what kind of men they are, but they shall go no farther."

He sent Pawnee scouts down to the Osage towns, to watch the Americans.

Now August, the squash month, had passed, and September, the month when the buffalo fatten, had opened. The Americans were reported to be at the Osage villages, where a welcome had greeted the Osages returned from the Potawatomis, and a great council had been held with the Pike men.

They had traveled in boats up the Osage River from the Missouri, but were coming on across country to the Pawnees by horses.

Only one American appeared, first, riding in with a Pawnee-who-had-been-to-Wash'ton as his guide. This Pawnee young man had gone to visit the American father many moons ago, and here he was again, safe and sound and wearing good clothes. That spoke well for the Americans.

He said that the other Pawnee-who-had-been-to-Wash'ton was coming with the rest of the Americans. They were bringing several Osages to smoke with the Pawnees. They had sent word for the Kansas to meet them and smoke peace. The Americans were a pleasant people; they numbered thousands. This American with him was a medicine-man who cured diseases. The American chief, Pike, had given the Osages all the rescued captives and had asked nothing except peace and a chance to buy horses; he had presents for the Pawnees, too, and was going to the Comanches. His men were few although well armed.

The next day, after having talked with the American medicine-man in the lodge, Chief Charakterik took sixty warriors and rode out to meet chief Mungo-Meri Pike.

Charakterik was gone three days, and came in without having sighted the Americans. But a Pawnee hunter reported that the Americans were farther to the southward; so Chief Charakterik sent out Frank (which was the American name of the Pawnee-who-been-to-Wash'ton) and three other warriors, to find them.

On the second morning two of the scouts galloped back into town.

"The Pike Americans are nearing. They will be here before noon."

"Tell them to wait until I shall meet them and smoke with them," Chief Charakterik ordered.

All the warriors were arrayed, dressed in their best robes and blankets, and painted with the Pawnee colors of white, yellow, blue and black. Chief Charakterik wore his large Spanish medal and finest white buffalo-robe. Second Chief Iskatappe wore a red coat given him by his Spanish father.

Three hundred warriors left the village, with the chiefs. Riding in their midst, as the son of a great chief Scar Head felt that the Pawnees need fear nobody.

The Americans had halted about three miles out, just at the other side of a ridge. The Osages were sitting in front of them. Chief Charakterik shouted and waved his hand—the Pawnee warriors divided right and left and swooped down at dead run, yelling and firing their guns. The Americans stood firm, not afraid, as if they knew that this was only play. They were few, as said; scarcely more than the fingers on two hands.

After the warriors had charged and had formed a circle, Chief Charakterik and Second Chief Iskatappe advanced on foot to shake hands with the American chief. This Mungo-Meri Pike was a young man, in a long hunting-shirt or coat of blue with brass buttons and high standing collar and lighter blue facings; on his head there was a three-cornered hat; a curved sword was at his side and leather moccasins reached to his knees. He was redder than the Spanish chief Melgares, and had no hair on his face.

His men were armed with guns that ended in sharp-pointed knives, but their clothing was thin and poor—nothing like the rich clothing of the Spanish soldiers. They had a flag of red and white stripes and a starry blue square in one corner, but they were small in number; and all in all they did not cut much of a figure when compared with the Spanish. Certainly they were either brave or foolish, thought Boy Scar Head as he roundly stared, to dare the Spanish and the Indians in such fashion.

The Osages knew how to act when in Pawnee country. Their chief stood up and offered Chief White Wolf a pipe. They smoked, as sign of peace. Then at a signal by White Wolf, he and Mungo-Meri Pike and the American second chief (also a young man) rode on for the village. An American head warrior on a white horse rode just behind, carrying the American flag. The Osages and the other Americans followed, while the Pawnee warriors raced back and forth alongside, whooping and showing off. It was great fun.

When they all had crossed the ridge and were near the town, another halt was ordered, in order to smoke horses with the Osages. The four Osages sat down together; Chief Charakterik sat down in front of them, and lighted his pipe. Any Pawnee who wished to give horses to an Osage took the pipe and passed it to the Osage. Every time it was passed it meant a horse, until eight horses had been given. This was the Horse Smoke.

The American second chief marched the soldiers on, to make camp up-river from the town. Chief Mungo-Meri Pike and his medicine-man stayed for a talk with White Wolf in his lodge. They were feasted to stewed corn and squash.

The Osages also were feasted in the village. They had come on with the Americans to meet the Kansas at the Pawnee village and sit in peace council. Pretty Bird was their head chief.

Everybody was curious to learn from the Osages and from the two Pawnee-who-had-been-to-Wash'-ton what kind of people these Americans were.

"They live in a country wider than a week's travel by horse," Frank asserted. "You are never out of sight of their lodges."

"Their women have red cheeks, and their men are in number of the buffalo," the other Pawnee asserted. "They have great guns that shoot a mile and speak twice."

"If they are so powerful and many, why do they send such a little company into this country, when the Spanish father sent half a thousand soldiers at once?" inquired Skidi. "These are spies."

"They brought us forty-six of our relatives, from the Potawatomi," said an Osage. "They asked for horses to go on with, but we sold them few. Now by orders of the great father at Wash'ton we are to make peace with the Kansas. The great father wishes his red children to fight no more."

"It is all because there is talk of war between the Spanish and the Americans," Frank wisely declared. "That we heard. The Americans wish to keep the Indians from the war trail, so that they can march in here and take the land."

"We do not want the Americans in here," spoke Skidi. "Our Spanish father warned us against them. They are poor and stingy or they would have sent a large company and an old chief to treat with us. They will get no help from the Pawnee, and they must go back."

The American chief and his medicine-man stayed a long time in the Charakterik lodge. After a while Scar Head's older brother came looking for him.

"White Wolf says that you are to go on with the two Americans up to their camp and take a pony load of corn."

"How soon?"

"Now. They are leaving. The pony is being packed."

So Scar Head hastened to the lodge. The two Americans were bidding Chief Charakterik good-by, and were about to mount their horses. The chief beckoned to Scar Head and pointed to the pony. Scar Head obediently scrambled atop the corn.

"Do I come back to-night?" he asked.

"You may stay till morning, and see what you can see. Do not talk; and be sure and bring back the pony."

This was quite an adventure—to ride to the American camp with the head chief and the medicine-man, and maybe spend the night there. Scar Head's heart beat rapidly, but he did not show that he was either frightened or delighted, for he was Indian, and son of White Wolf.

He guided his loaded pony in the rear of the two trotting horsemen. Outside the town Chief Mungo-Meri Pike reined in and dropped back beside him, with a smile.

They eyed each other, although Scar Head did not smile. He was not ready to smile, and White Wolf had told him not to talk.

The American chief had a clear pink and brown skin and a bright blue eye, with rather large nose and mouth, and stubborn chin. His manner was quick and commanding; anybody might see that he was a chief.

"What is your name?" he asked, suddenly, in French.

"Scar Head," answered Scar Head, in Pawnee.

Evidently the American chief did not understand Pawnee, for he looked a little puzzled.

"Do you speak French?" he demanded.

"Yes, little," answered Scar Head.

"You are not an Indian?"

"Yes, Pawnee," grunted Scar Head.

"You don't look like a Pawnee."

"Pawnee," Scar Head insisted, as he had been ordered always to do, by Charakterik.

"Who is your father?"

"White Wolf."

"Who was your mother?"

"Don't know."

"Were you born here?"

"Don't know."

"Do you speak English?"


"How old are you?"

Scar Head held up the fingers of his two hands; that was as nearly as he could guess. It didn't matter, anyway.

The American chief hailed the medicine-man in the American language Scar Head did not understand, but the words ware: "Doctor, I don't believe this is an Indian boy at ill."

Now the medicine-than (he was a young man, with brown hair on his face) reined back to ride upon Scar Head's other side. He spoke, in French.

"Are you an Indian?"


"What nation?"


"Where did the Pawnee get you?"

"From Utahs."

"Chief Charakterik Is not your father, then?"

"Yes. My father."

"Your mother a Utah?

"Don't know."

"How long has Charakterik been your father?" The medicine-man was smart.

"Two year."

"I see. The Utahs probably traded him to the Pawnees, doctor," spoke the chief Mungo-Meri Pike, across, in the language that Scar Head did not understand. And Charakterik adopted him."

"The Utahs must have got him somewhere. He's no Indian." replied the medicine-man, in those strange words. "He's not Spanish either. And he asked, in French, of Scar Head:

"You speak Spanish?"

"A litt1e."

"You speak Utah?

Scar Head nodded. He was growing tired of these questionings.

The Medicine-man kept eyeing him.

"Where did you get this?" And he tapped his own head, in sign of the patch of white hair.

"My name," answered Scar Head.

"What made it?"

"Don't know."

"Did the Utahs capture you?"

"Don't know."

"Where were you before the Utahs had you?"

"Don't know."

"He may not be all Indian, but he's enough Indian so he won't tell what he doesn't want to tell," laughed the American chief, in the strange words.

The medicine-man shrugged his shoulders.

"I'd like to take him along with us and find out more about him. By the shape of his head he's white blood."

The three jogged on in silence. Scar Head wondered what they had said, with those words, but he was glad to be let alone. White Wolf had forbidden him to talk with strangers. Nevertheless he glanced now and then at the two Americans. He felt more friendly toward them. They seemed kind.

The American camp was not far. It had guard stationed, who saluted the American chief when he passed. At his lodge fire he halted; a head warrior took Scar Head's pony, with the corn; other warriors took the two horses, to lead them away. The American second chief was here. While he and Chief Mungo-Meri Pike talked, Scar Head sat by the fire and looked around, to see what was going on

The camp had been placed upon a hill for protection. There were only four or five lodges, of canvas, besides the chief's lodge. The American flag was flying from a pole. This American carne appeared poor—nothing. The soldiers, fifteen, wore shabby uniforms of sky blue; their coats were short and tight, their leggins thin, and several were mending their moccasins of heavy leather. They had only fifteen extra horses, to carry their baggage and the presents. There was a black dog. They talked and laughed much, as they busied themselves or waited around the two fires that they had built. The hair on their heads was of different colors—brown, and black, and red, and gray. So was the hair on their faces. They were quick, active warriors—good men, evidently. If the Pawnees fought them, it would be hot work before they all were wiped out.

Maybe, thought Scar Head, they depended upon the medicine of their "doctor," to help them.

Another man, who could talk sign language and a little Pawnee, came and sat down beside him. He was the interpreter for Chief Pike.

"You're no Indian; you're white," he accused, of Scar Head.

"Indian," said Scar Head.

"Where did you come from?"


"Where did they get you?"

"Don't know."

"Did White Wolf buy you from the Utahs?"

"He is my father."

"You speak with crooked tongue," the interpreter accused. "You are white. You are American. Who was your father?"

"White Wolf is my father. I am Pawnee. I will talk no more," said Scar Head. "Let me alone."

After that nobody bothered him, although they all eyed him. Why did they tell him that he was white? Did he wish to be white? Why should he be white, or American, when the Pawnee were a great people who could fight even the Padoucah—the Comanches or Ietans as they were called. And if one were white instead of red, it would be better to be Spanish, for the Spanish were rich and powerful, and their king owned the country.

Yet—yet, Scar Head could not help but admit that these Americans bore themselves like warriors; this Pike must be a bold young chief, to come so far with so few men; and after all, perhaps the Americans might prove strong in medicine. The Osages and the two Pawnee-who-had-been-to-Wash'ton spoke well of the nation.

The medicine-man approached him and suddenly laid fingers upon his white patch, and pressed. "Does that hurt?"

Scar Head tried not to wince, for hurt it did. He squirmed free.


The medicine-man might be putting an evil spell upon him, to change him to white; but the medicine-man only smiled, and left him.

Having eaten of meat and corn, Scar Head slept in the chief's lodge, with the chief himself and the medicine-man whose title was "doctor." When he awakened in the morning he was safe and sound still.