Dupree-Dupris-Dupuis Connection to the White Buffalo Calf Pipe


Among the Green Grass Band, I finally came to meet Martha Bad Warrior and had my first acquaintance with the Sacred Calf Pipe.

    Standing Hollow Horn, as we have said, was one of the two hunters and the first to see the Beautiful Lady; she came from the sun as she approached the earth. He was the good one at heart. (See Martha Bad Warrior version of The Coming of the Pipe –The Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.)

    It was, then, Standing Hollow Horn who first received the Sacred Calf Pipe. Thereafter, he turned the Pipe over to Two Runs who then became the first keeper of the Pipe and lived to be 101 years of age. Two Runs passed the Pipe over to a Bad Warrior who became the official keeper and minister of its spiritual and temporal benefits. This Bad Warrior lived to be 109 years old.

    Bad Warrior, then, handed on the Pipe to Elk Head. He lived to be 80 years old.

    But now, the beautiful and gracious ending to the keeping of the Sacred Calf Pipe, a service introduced with the Beautiful Lady from the sun.     Successively there had been three male keepers of the Calf Pipe. Then Martha Bad Warrior became its keeper, the only woman in the direct blood line of keepers. She was a very honest and sincere keeper and minister of the Pipe. Its sacredness was always foremost in her mind and heart. She would care for her people’s spiritual and bodily needs.

    All materials used in my account of the Sacred Calf Pipe. and other references to the keepers and my personal interviews with Martha, are based directly on what she said to me in those interviews and visits with her and her people.

    These visits, while picture-taking was permitted me, concluded with meetings with Lucy Looking Horse and her husband, the Dupree family, i.e. Andrew and his wife, the Larrabees, Mrs. Grant Iron Lightning, Simone and Simon Elk Head, and Thomas Hawk Eagle. Andrew Dupree and his wife were the greatest source of information, and they led me to see the Sacred Calf Pipe.

    From the 1811 winter count of Elk Head we derive this piece of information: “1898: Stole Peace Pipe from Bowless band (Sioux).” After this mistreatment of the Pipe, the Sioux took action to protect the Pipe and keeper. Representatives of the districts of the reservation were chosen to visit the keeper and to be present when and if the Pipe was to be used, as on very special occasions.

    One such event occurred in 1905. On that occasion a blessing was being given at the “kick-off” for the first real buffalo hunt aimed at gathering buffalo to form a Sioux buffalo herd on the reservation. The attempt was made among the Miniconjus at Dupree, South

    The Dupree family owned and, or, leased much land in the Dupree area. It was they who deeded the town site for what is now Dupree (Dupris), South Dakota. Nelson, an engineer from the state capitol in Pierre in 1909 and 1910, surveyed the Dupris property for the town site. Accordingly, the property was deeded for the town of Dupree, as Andrew Dupris informed me.

    So, on that occasion, the Sioux assembled on the grounds of the Dupris cattle ranch. The gathering was religiously interested and motivated. They had come to ask the Great Spirit to guide and protect the large group of men, women, and hardy youth preparing themselves to set out on the hunt. It would take them past Thunder Butte and to the northern Black Rills, where the buffalo were spotted by scouts. The report was that a good herd of bulls, cows and calves were seen.

   Such a hunt was never heard of before or attempted. So the religious convocation was large and included Miniconju ministers and a Catholic priest. The meeting carried over into three days spent in prayer and feasting. To cap the whole celebration, the keeper of the Calf Pipe gave a blessing, using the Pipe for the special occasion.

    Special it was, but to make my account a little more complete, I shall list the Dupris family and some of those who took part in the Dupris ranch life and the round-up of the buffalo.

    Edward Dupris was the originator of the first buffalo herd in captivity. He was born in 1847 and died in 1907 at 60 years of age. Still, a winter count exists which shows Edward died in 1910. Aurelia Traversie Dupris was his wife and was born in 1864 and died in 1960 at the age of 96. All dates here pertaining to the Dupris family tree were given me by Andrew whom I knew personally for many years: in fact. he was my closest Indian friend and often a companion in my travels.

    Learning the people. their way of life, collecting artifacts, and coming to know of the Sacred Calf Pipe. I had his gracious company. Andrew had two brothers, Robert and Douglas. By the winter count, they were both killed by Russian-Germans in 1922. I have only a record of Douglas being born in 1888, one sister born in 1891 who died in 1915. Andrew Dupris was born in 1894 and died in 1965, 71 years old.

    All the Dupris family attended the convocation and received the blessing in the ceremonial with the Calf Pipe. The Pipe was lit and raised to the heavens, as the prayer man called upon the Great Spirit to witness and bless the convocation and the gathering of the buffalo. This was perhaps the most dramatic use of the Sacred Calf pipe in its history.

    As I have said, the Pipe was lit and a religious salute made to the Great Spirit. Then the Pipe was passed to Edward Dupris. He took one deep draw on it and passed it to his wife Aurelia. She was not allowed to draw upon the Pipe but was permitted to kiss the bowl, which she did. The Pipe was then passed back to the keeper who wrapped it and placed it back in safety. This was the story as told me by Andrew Dupris himself.

    Preparations for the buffalo hunt were completed. Those to make the excursion were chosen, and shortly they were ready to start. The Dupris ranch and home were about one and a half miles northeast of Dupree. Three large and sturdy hay wagons of a sort were made ready, besides other wagons for transporting bulls and calves. The hunters were in their glory! It was to be a buffalo hunt for a herd of their own, and with the special blessing they were in near ecstasy,

    One outstanding characteristic of the Sioux is their appreciation of the way to relate themselves to man, God, and His creation. To give thanks for blessings was almost second-nature, as well as to be ready to look out for their fellow men.

    The hunters’ destination was a spot about 120 miles away towards the slim buttes in the northern part of the Black Hills. The terrain there is rough and virgin country, lined with cow trails and buffalo runs, dry creeks and washes. They crossed the Morreau and Belfourche Rivers and Hay Creek. Well had they prepared for the trip, for they knew they would have to return the same way with heavy loads.

    They arrived near the Hills and set up their camp from which they would carry on the round-up. They left the Dupris ranch early in September and returned in late October 1905 with four bulls and 42 calves. Corrals and a heavy fence were ready for them. Only an Indian can elaborately express his gleeful thanksgiving in dance and prayer .

     Some of those who took part in this successful round-up were still alive when I took my notes from Andrew Dupris, youngest son of Edward. Andrew had accompanied the hunt and grew up on the ranch. All hands were happy working hands in that family.

    I noted then that Palmer Horseshoe living at Eagle Butte, South Dakota, was, at that time, 90 years old and was Edward Dupris’ top wrangler for 18 years. Alex Traversie of Timber Lake was also among Edward’s men and then in his late 8O’s. Those who had passed on to eternity were Straight Head, White Horse, Two Moons, Standing Straddle, Black Eagle, Iron Lightning, Joe Fox and Makes Room. There were others as men who had worked in those early days with the Dupris’, and as Andrew said: “They are not forgotten.” Many of their names were recalled during our family meetings.

   We talked many things then. He told me he and his sons owned and leased enough land to run several hundred head of Herefords (white faced cows). He also described the convocation and noted that, in the memory of the Miniconju Sioux, that was the last public showing of the Calf Pipe.

    Also, he spoke of many things his father and grandfather had taught him, saying: “I am; I live; and, therefore, I bring down with me a heritage from my birth. As I reflect, I see that I am now alone the remaining member of Edward Dupris’ family. My father Edward, my mother Aurelia, my brother Douglas, and my sister Marcella have been called by the Great Spirit, by Him who is Wakantanka (Great Mystery) into those Happy Hunting Grounds of our Sioux Indians.” Then, after I had recorded his relatives’ years and ages, he said: “Waste (Fine) !”

In tribute to this dear friend, Andrew Dupris, early one morning about 2:00 A.M., on June 15th, 1944 at the Cheyenne River Agency in South Dakota.

Wilbur Riegert

Author of Quest for the Pipe of the Sioux, As Viewed From Wounded Knee (1975), I am A Sioux Indian (1967), allotment agent at Cheyenne River Agency (1930s), and later curator for the Wounded Knee Museum (1973).

About Looking Back Woman-Suzanne Dupree

Tetuwan Lakota scholar, educator, historian, Sun Dance participant, Cannunpa carrier, cultural & spiritual preservationist, journalist-writer and fraud investigator.
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