Wilbur Riegerts own words from his book Quest for the Pipe of the Sioux


    It was a matter of only two months from the time I was allowed to meet with Martha Bad Warrior at her home in Green Grass, until she passed away inside a tent pitched at the Larrabee dam. She seemed to know her time on earth was nearing an end. So she prepared for the life and keeping of the Sacred Calf Pipe. You will note from the photographs that the Pipe was not in the wrappings. but some odd pipe stems and a bowl were. The pipe in the hands of Martha was, no doubt, for public occasions. It was evident and I was told she carried the Calf Pipe in her clothing close to her body at all times. She may well have been carrying the Pipe when I photographed her. On display at one time in the museum in Wounded Knee, was a life-size painting made from that photo.

    According to the winter count of 1898. Eli Bad Warrior (as I noted from Martha’s friends and relatives) was one of the Elk Head’s who was keeper before Martha. He was 80 years old when he died. Martha herself was 68 years old in 1905 and was present at the convocation. It could very well have been that she brought the Pipe for the convocation blessing. I have no record of when Elk Head passed into the Happy Hunting Grounds.

    This bit of information would be enough to solve the problem of who was present at the assembly. Andrew Dupris gave me the distinct impression that it was Martha Bad Warrior who brought the Pipe. He himself had been present then in 1905. I was careless in failing to get the day of Elk Head’s death. The fact that the Pipe was there in 1905 is the main point of my story, nonetheless.

    It is very important to realize that, because of the stealing of the Pipe in 1898, a protective body of men was selected to be present or nearby the keeper, especially when the Pipe was in evidence. Members to this protectorate were: a Bad Warrior, Elk Head, Two Runs, Straight Head. Crow Eagle, and a Fielder. These men were, it seems, the last to be named to this office, and they served in that capacity for Martha Bad Warrior.

    I met some of them in the fifteen years I lived and worked at the Cheyenne River Agency and throughout that reservation. All these men were present at Martha’s telling of her Story and scattered throughout the crowd. They seemed to feel it their duty to be there. I took note of the many men, women, and children gathered on that occasion. I was also asked to photograph Martha and her relatives. This I did.

    As I stated before, it was a hot day in August, very oppressive especially to an aged woman, but she insisted she would stay in the open. You see her facing the sun; she did so until she finished telling her Story .She wanted to show her people that sacrifice and patience are necessary throughout life so that a person might be able to walk toward Wakantanka, the living and Great Spirit, and that face to face He might hear the words of her lips.

    Martha and her people were apparently satisfied with my presence among them and their witness to my hearing her Story .

    The Story and photographs are simply priceless, and what has here been entrusted to me with such great confidence, with God’s help, will never suffer jeopardy by misuse of trust. The Story bespeaks great faith, sacrifice, and trust in the Great Spirit. These are the spiritual and beneficent guidelines available to all men in whatever predicament, however great and confusing, they might find themselves. We who are Indian can look back to our ancestors and their following of the Great God, Wakantanka, in His teachings and see how His children responded, struggled to answer Him in truth. This quest, for even centuries pursued and in one way or another handed down to us today, is the supreme good for all of mankind.

    This Story of Martha Bad Warrior and her people I have written, the origin and message of the Sacred Calf Pipe. This heritage is such as to be open to the good of all mankind, regardless of race, creed, color, or blood quantums.

    As much as I wanted to stay for the evening prayers at Martha’s home, I felt they wanted to give special attention to their own feelings as members of one large family, and comment on the day’s events, especially the taking of pictures and the briefing on the origin of the Sacred Pipe. I continued taking notes after this meeting with Martha and after her death, and from that day on, important Indian men spoke most freely with me. A kind of new day entered my life on that August Sunday of 1936.

    I then spent several days reminiscing and adding to my notes. This outstanding and unprecedented event’s import was yet unknown to me. Welcome as it was, it was unexpected and I accepted the honor and treasured the confidence. The keeper of the Pipe looks to his own and the Sioux Nation’s good. Things continued to develop.

    Andrew Dupris and his family lived on the Morreau River, in a beautiful spot and in the quarters of a comfortable little home. He gained his livelihood raising cattle, following the example of his parents. He gave his children a similar start in life, and he felt they were well on their own and capable of carIng for themselves. Aurelia, his wife, was a most capable mother to a growing and healthy family. Their houses on the Morreau and in Dupree were homes anyone could enjoy.

    Then, Andrew and his family moved to the Agency where he had a comfortable job. We worked together on a variety of jobs. Among the Indian and many white farmers and ranchers, there were those who remembered the drought of the early 30’s in many a tale.

     So, several days after my experience in the home of Martha Bad Warrior, Andrew and his wife came to me and asked if they could use my car for the evening. This request I granted them immediately. I asked no questions; they offered no reasons for the request. I trusted Andrew completely, for he had proven himself trustworthy as a kinsman ought, just as did the Larrabees, Elk Heads, Iron Lightning, Fielder, and others.

    I often thought of how many of these friendships started. There was only one explanation, it seemed: the part I played in running down information on family trees on the reservation and in supervising the distribution of
food and clothing during the drought.

    It was late at night when Andrew and his wife brought the car back and woke me on their arrival with it. They said they had gone to Martha Bad Warrior at her home in Green Grass. It was a meeting by appointment, they told me. Now, the surprise of a lifetime. They brought forth an object wrapped in a piece of calico stripping. As they unraveled it, they were exposing to me the original Sacred Calf Pipe, for it had the exact markings as were described by Martha and the Beautiful Lady from the sun. I asked Andrew to fill me in with the details.

Andrew said to me that after Martha placed the Pipe in his hands, he and his wife went together out to a high hill near Martha’s home and there paid homage to God in prayer, saluting Him in the four quarters of the universe and directing the Pipe to the North. the East. the South, and the West. Afterwards, bowing in great reverence to the presence of God, they turned and went to the car. From there they drove to where I was, at the Cheyenne River Agency.

“Wilbur,” said Andrew, “rest assured I will leave the Pipe in the hands of a trusted one. He is an Indian and known by many as a true friend of the Indians. I will come back to you soon and talk more about the Pipe and its future.”

That trusted one was Ceremonial Chief and Holy Man Frank Fools Crow, with his Uncle, Nicolas Black Elk caring for the Cannunpa Wakan until Frank Fools Crow passed the Cannunpa Wakan back to the Dupree Family (Calvin Dupree) in 1971, to protect the Cannunpa Wakan from AIM and Arvol Looking Horse, and this was verified by Beatrice Medicine in October 2005 shortly before her death, also by Paul Manhart SJ in 2006, as well as by Phil Lane Sr through contacting Stanley Looking Horse in 2002, verifying what Looking Back Woman carries is the Cannunpa Wakan that White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman taught the Chiefs to make from Catlinite (Pipestone), from the blood of the people (in approximately 1550), after WBCP Woman brought the Buffalo Leg Bone Cannunpa, the Sacred teachings, and Lakota Lifeways to the Lakota people.

(Some of the excerpts above came from Wilbur A. Riegert’s “Quest For The Pipe Of The Sioux”, As Viewed From Wounded Knee 1975.)

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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