Oh, my dears. It’s been a long week. And it is Friday night. The sky is dark, the moon is traveling past the stars, and much of the world is readying for bed. Curl up and listen to the tales I weave, until your eyes grow heavy and you slip into slumber, ready for the Dream Maker.
The Arikara people (also called the Ree peoples) lived in North and South Dakota long before they were called North and South Dakota. Strong agriculturalists, they traded with both the white settlers to the East and their fellow Native Americans to the West. While originally a peaceful people, the Arikara were often caught in the bloody differences between the European and White peoples and the Native peoples of the United States. Staying peaceful is sometimes a bloody business, my dears.
The tribe met with the Lewis and Clark expedition when they came through their lands. They were fascinated with their journals and the expedition crew’s habit of filling them with notes and pictures. While the Arikara had no written language, they were adept at picking up the languages of their neighbors – white and otherwise.
When several Arikara men joined General Custer’s cavalry crew, legend has it that they kept their own versions of expedition journals, chronicling their travels and their experiences. The Arikara called these in un raniin awi, literallly “written pictures”; since they had no written language they used photos in their pain-stakingly crafted journals. In the aftermath of The Battle of Little Bighorn, one of these journals was found. Nothing is known of the original owner, but it is clear that the Arikaras’ affinity for meeting peoples of all colors and creeds helped fuel a robust in un raniin awi.
Sleep tight, my pets. Dream deep.