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United States. Office of Indian Affairs / Annual report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs, for the year 1904, Part I

Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,   pp. 1-128 PDF (50.3 MB)

Page 127

wagons; and when the firing began they all tried to get away as best 
they could, taking wives and children with them and leaving wagons 
and other effects behind. 
The four Indians killed were the 11-year-old boy; Black Kettle, 58 
years old; Charles Smith, 38, and Clear, 52 years old. The two 
wounded were the wife of Charles Smith, who afterwards died, and 
Last Bear, an old man, who was shot through the back. 
Some days later 9 of the Indians were arrested and charged with the 
murder of Sheriff Miller and deputy. They were tried at Douglas, 
Wyo., November 13, 1903, and speedily acquitted, although the 9 or 
10 witnesses who testified against them all belonged to the sheriff's 
posse. This trial or preliminary hearing was held in a justice court, 
before H. R. Daniels, justice of the peace for Converse County, Wyo. 
On the day following the encounter, the governor of Wyoming 
telegraphed this Office that a sheriff and a member of his posse had 
been killed by Indians of the Pine Ridge Agency, who were reported 
to have been illegally hunting on Lightning Creek, and asked that 
they be apprehended through the Indian agents or by the military 
authorities, and delivered to the proper authorities for trial. Later 
still more alarming reports were received as to the threatening attitude
of the Indians, and this Office at once telegraphed the agents of the 
Sioux to take measures to prevent any of their Indians leaving 
their reservations and going to the scene of trouble. The Indian 
agent of the Pine Ridge Agency was at the same time telegraphed to 
proceed to Newcastle and thoroughly investigate the affair and bring 
the real facts to light. The Office also recommended that the Attorney- 
General direct the district attorney to make an investigation, and that 
an inspector of the Interior Department be sent out to cooperate with 
Mr. T. F. Burk, United States district attorney, and Special Indian 
*Agent Charles S. McNichols, were assigned to the duty of making the 
examination, and from their reports the following is clear: The Indians 
were lawfully absent from their reservation; it does not appear that 
they were guilty of a direct violation of the game laws, though the 
evidence shows that they had bought fresh skins and could be prose- 
cuted for having the same in their possession; the warrant issued for 
their arrest charging a violation of the game laws was for but two per- 
sons, whereas the sheriff attempted to use it for the arrest of some 20 
or 25 Indian men, besides women and children; at the time of the 
shooting the Indians were not in a threatening or menacing attitude, 
whereas the sheriff and his posse were the aggressors; and under the 
conditions the Indians were legally justified in resisting arrest, but not
to the extent of using deadly weapons, unless the sheriff's posse first 
used their guns, which seems to have been the case. In the opinion 

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