Black Belly

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Photo (left): Black Belly, a Cheyenne woman. There is some confusion as to the date of the photo, alternately listed as 1905 and 1921. My sense is that it was taken at the earlier date, when photographers rushed to record what was left of the Indians before they were gone. (today they exist as “native Americans”,  and they are ‘wards of the government’, which is something altogether different)
That was also the case with “Arrow Walking” (below), an Indian who had been shot with arrows so many times that the tribe changed his name.
Indian names could change over a lifetime. There was the name you were given at birth, usually a name given when you came of age, and then a name that sometimes came with a great event in your life. I couldn’t find any reference to Black Belly’s story, but it’s all there in her face, isn’t it?
Geronimo (Apache), Quanah Parker (Comanche/Scots-Irish) are pictured below in a 1905 photograph. As I understand it, the photo was taken at Ft. Sill, OK, at Parker’s house where Geronimo was a house guest.
The days of “The Old West” passed very quickly as the modern age overtook the people who were swept up, and swept aside by it.

25 thoughts on “Black Belly

  1. The Old West — not that long ago. But what a difference between then and now. Great pics.

  2. The tide of humanity swept away the old and installed the modern. Now even the most remote part of the world has imaginary Poke-e-Mons running around and i-Phones.

  3. I suspect that no one ever told Black Belly (wonder how she got than name, too) about sun screen. I can only imagine the stories she could tell while sitting abound a campfire.

  4. I'm sure that there was more than one campfire. And we can be reasonably sure that she lost children in her journey of life. Life is still life, but there was an essential nature to the struggle then that the Pajama Boys, living in mom and dad's basement, "protesting the unfairness of a border wall" that didn't exist on the prairie.

  5. Thanks, LL. After reading your post, Gruntessa is going to reassign my name to something like Big Belly. Possibly Drinks Like Fish.

  6. Im 72. As a young boy I listened to family elders who had fought natives, mainly Utes and Arapahoes. Their insights have little in common with mainstream views. As an example, cannibalism.

    A fight one ancestor was in. 5th Calvary Scout.

  7. She 'survived' her life… And a hard one it was. Agree with the others, I'm betting she lost one or more children over those years. Geronimo and Parker picture is interesting, since BOTH of them lived just outside Ft. Sill. The way they are dressed makes me think they were at some kind of council or government meeting.

  8. They are clearly dressed in their best. I have read accounts that Geronimo greatly admired Parker's house.

  9. Even in the movie, LAST OF THE MOHICANS, the Indians plan to BBQ (and eat) one of the English girls. They end up eating the British Army major instead, but my point is that Hollywood dealt with it. Whether they would do it today or not, I can't say.

    I don't think that most Indians were squeamish on the point, but usually ate enemies instead of their own. But if it was a hard winter…well, protein. The Donner Party did the same. Times could be hard.

    My grandfather traded with the Piutes and had stories to tell. He had an old black mule when he was a kid named "Old Bird". He'd ride Old Bird to the reservation and would swap things with them. I still have photos.

  10. Mine fought the Japs, the Germans and the Italians. Though the Irish will always be at war with the English.

  11. I was fishing with the Cadets at the bottom of these limestone bluffs the other day and we were catching a lot of fish (topwater sand bass blitz) — on the top of the bluffs were three or four kids catching fishing, electronically, via pokemon, "I just caught an imagicarp!" they cried. We got the better deal.

  12. Amen to that. I wish I had known ancestors that could tell true stories of America's First People.
    Thanks for sharing this one with us.

  13. I found the reference immediately _ Whoa Black Belly, Bam-A-Lam, Whoa Black Belly, Bam-A-Lam, Black Belly had a child, Bam-A-_lam, Damn thing gone wild, Bam- A-Lam. That's what sent her belly black – evil offspring.

    You're welcome.

  14. One of my grandfathers grew up in the Sand Hills of Nebraska just south of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. At harvest time, they'd hire Indians from the Rez. Mostly it was the women who worked while a lot of the 'warriors' loafed, but he did get to meet a number of old warriors who'd fought at the Rosebud and/or Little Bighorn. They'd probably still been in their teens at the time, but the fact that I was hearing parts of some of their stories from someone who'd gotten it firsthand knocked me back on my teenaged heels ("But that's ancient history!"). It wasn't that long ago, though. Grandpa passed away 20 years ago, so I doubt anyone else who any of those tales or met any of those old men are still alive.

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