Newspaper Page Text
THE MONTHLY MAGAZINE 5
CALL OF HIS FATHERS By MRS. WALTER FERGUSON Illustrated by CLARA H. WILCOX IF the dream of an Indian empire had been realized, and the tribal alignments had not been destroyed by the invasion of the white man, John D. Williams, of Can tonment, Oklahoma, would have been a mighty chieftain. Storm Cloud was his In dian name, and it had been his dream and the dream of his people that he might lead them in the warfare of the plains and into the great hunts, for he had inherited the rude scepter of authority from his father, Bull Thunder, the mighty war leader of the Arapahoes. Born in a royal wigwam, with the blood of many fighting men in his veins, Storm Cloud was devotedly nursed by the nobility of the Arapahoes, with the tender hope that for them the good old days would come back again. But, alas for their hopes, his ma turity found the plains dotted with homesteads instead of buffalo, and a primitive civili zation awakening where his an cestors had roamed. There were no wilds to penetrate, and no wars to fight, and Storm Cloud remained an uncrowned prince of royal blood. Even though the new order cost him a miniature empire and a crude crown, yet he sought to adjust himself there to, and to overcome the wild instincts which were rioting in his veins. Missionaries and Indian agents induced him" to enter the government school at Carlisle, where he completed the course and afterward took a year's work in an Eastern university. Then he returned to his peo ple, and he returned to them in every outward respect a white man, with the Indian instincts crowded out by the white man's education. At the time of his second coming to Can tonment the Cheyenne and Arapahoe reservation was just being thrown open to white settlement. Although his friends still lived in their primitive wigwams, Williams went to his allotment and built a good house, which he furnished with modern .furniture. His meals were cooked on a stove instead of over a camp-fire, and all evidences that the white man had claimed him were apparent. The white citizens who were organizing the initial government looked to Williams as the natural leader of his people and urged him to become active in public affairs and to be a part of the new regime. There was a keen rivalry between the Republican and Democratic organizations as to which would secure the membership and co-operation of Williams, and in this the Republicans were finally successful. He was asked to take a place on the Repub lican ticket in the first election and con sented to become the nominee for register of deeds. In the first election in 1892, something over one hundred Indians voted, and it en abled the Republicans to gain control of the county. It was the only time the Red Men of western Oklahoma ever voted and the presence of Williams' name on the tick et was responsible for the fact in this in stance. The Indians had one instruction from Williams, and that was to put a stamp under the eagle. He made them a speech in the Arapahoe language, telling them that the eagle was their fathers' emblem in war. Williams was elected by a good majority and took his office the first of the following year. That he was highly educated, capa ble and industrious, the old records in the courthouse show. They look like copper plate engravings, so efficient was he in pen manship, and his general conduct of the office excited much attention and admira tion. It was believed that he had forsworn all Indian habits and that the call of the blood would -never inspire him. He was a white man in his work,- in his life and in his home. His family lived on his allotment and he drove back and forth each day to his office. He became a mem ber of a white man's church and attended the services regularly, bringing with him each member of his family. His religious life was exemplary, and he was pointed out by his minister as a true type of the Chris tian gentleman. Williams had several children, the favor ite of which was a bright-eyed little girl, and her he loved with all the ardor of the white man, and all the intensity of the In dian. She was with him in all his leisure hours, and her toddling footsteps followed him about the pleasant places of his home. Her prattling voice sung chimes in his ears and was a sweet undercurrent in his con sciousness when he was not with her. She was entwined about his heart as only the tendrils of a child's love can cling. And because of his great love for her the sun one day ceased to shine for John Wil liams, and all the world was black. The little girl died. Her illness was long and terrible, a prevalent contagion then raging, and she drew her last breath in his arms. The night she died John Williams died, too, and from that time forth Storm Cloud was born again. The first night of his grief, in the pres ence of a crowd of Indians of the neighbor hood, he erected a teepee in his front yard, and after a wierd ceremony he set fire to his house and watched the flames of his white man's home mount high to the heavens. Not a stick of furniture nor a shred of the garments of civilization but were reduced to ashes to soothe the grief the father felt and to appease the wild Indian instinct that sorrow had roused from the depths of an Indian heart. To all the pleas of his minister and his missionary friends that the child be given- Christian burial he turned a deaf ear, and tra dition says that she was put into the top of a large tree, which was the Indian form of burial, but no Anglo-Saxon eyes profaned the sacred cere mony, and the last resting place of the little Indian : girl who was so well loved is to this day unknown. After the death of his child Storm Cloud returned not to the ways of the white man, but turned loose the raven hair that civilization had clipped and today wears it in two long braids. He laid away the clothes in which the white man had dressed him and put on his blanket, with all its gaudy appurtenances, and never re turned to his office again. , His deputy served out the term and the white man's law and poli tics knew Williams no more. An effort was made to per suade him to stand for re-election, but he refused, saying that his ways were not the white man's ways and in man ners they were far divided. To the missionaries, who begged him to take up again Christian civilization, he said : "The religion of the white man was well when I did- not know trouble, but when sorrow comes only the faith of my fathers is good." With the greatest grief of his life the call of the blood came to John Williams, and today, in front of his crude wigwam in the heart of one of the best counties of the state, Storm Cloud sits; all his education as naught, a white man never more, with his face turned toward the west, dreaming of the Happy Hunting grounds where the Great Spirit watches over his little one who died so long ago. He Remembered Some people will never realize that there are more ways than one of arriving at the same result. They are like the shock headed boy who was asked to add six and four. He guessed nine, eleven, and twelve. "No, no; you are only guessing 1" expos tulated the teacher. "But why didn't you guess ten while you were about it? Six and four make ten." "Oh no, they don't!". triumphantly replied the urchin. "You told me yesterday that five and five made ten!"