Bruce Brown's 100 Voices...
High Dog's Memories
Scouting: How It Is Done
Narrator: High Dog
IF A MAN'S word is trustworthy it is he that is chosen; and for the sake of going to war, after two men are chosen, they pick and choose horses that are fast and high spirited. Now off they go.
When it is dawn they stash their horses in the woods, in a dense woods. They lie on a hillside and use their field glasses, there being men as it was watching the hill. For that reason they spy no one.
Now when they go out they go along a creek. And when it is night, they then go stand and listen. And when they hear nothing, they again go on. They want to know the direction of tobacco smoke, or also to smell the smoke.
When it is daylight, they then want to know their kinship, or things disturbed, horses' dung, or how men made their moves. Then when they see a house, at night they lay nearby. Then from there, when it is morning, they choose which is the better house to be concerned; they watch it, being concerned with whence come the fresh tracks. And they estimate well how many people there are.
When they return dogs come howling, wolves howling, when they approach where there was a war. And when they hear the war-party they again rout some of them. When there are some two who somewhere give out a dog's howl, they go straight in that direction; and when they sound off again, they themselves sound off and they then hear each other galloping away. So they bring them back homeward.
As it was, when whichever party they were brought back, and when they come openly, they hurry to make a boundary line; they stand with their backs to it; and when the scouts go singing and there is a camp nearby, they then come, go up and toss the boundary aside. They then knew of this nearby camp. They knew also when it was far away and to be avoided. And when they came around, a pipe was packed and placed before them.
They were questioned saying:
"Now, speak honestly why you are looking for something
The one who put the question to them was the war-chief, for that is really his office. When they talked things over no one pointed a finger at him; they did so with a thumb. And when they had camped, or as it was pretty well done, when they finished talking, they then puffed on this pipe and had them smoke it. Then the four party leaders understood they should do as they did.
And when they went, they understood how being alone is a tight situation at night, if the people were either few or if they were many, they should go in the daylight. It was made clear And they bid the four leaders of the war-party to do so.
If they should go home, they settled how many ways the group would go home. And when they went, one from the group stopped when an owl hooted and again they went on. They did this because they figured it seemed to be an owl. When they arrived at a home, there was then one very loud voice, that was a wolf’s, they shot at him and they did so round about. They were very courageous at niqht, and when it was daylight, cowards; and It was right that all these seven scouts who had returned be honored on bringing in game.
Lakota Tales & Texts, Volume II, collected by Eugene Buechel, S.J. and Paul I. Manhart, S.J., The Tipi Press, Chamberlain, SD 1998 pp 286 - 288
See Bruce Brown's intro note to American Horse's account of the Battle of the Little Bighorn for more info on Sioux and Cheyenne scouts, and Bruce Brown's The Twisted Saga of the Seventh Cavalry's Unsung Scouts for info on Crow, Arikara, Sioux and Americans scouts for the Seventh Cavalry in June 1876.
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