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Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun Autobiography


These three pages from the autobiography of Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun describe the Cheyenne Outbreak from Fort Robinson, Nebraska, in January 1879. Susan composed the autobiography in the 1930s with the help of Josephine Waggoner. The manuscripts are written in Waggoner's hand, as told to her by Mrs. Bettelyoun.

Susan Bordeaux Bettelyoun was born in 1857 to fur trader James Bordeaux and Huntkalutawin, a Brulé Lakota woman. She grew up at her father's post near Fort Laramie, Wyoming, and was educated at Hamburg, Iowa. In later life she spent time at Fort Robinson and the various Brulé agencies, eventually settling on the Rosebud Reservation with her second husband, Isaac Bettelyoun. In her final years, she lived at the Old Soldiers Home at Hot Springs, South Dakota, where she met Josephine Waggoner, a mixed-blood Hunkpapa Lakota. Waggoner was interested in collecting the stories of "old timers," and Bettelyoun, though unable to write due to rheumatism, wanted to correct what she saw as the flawed and incomplete white history of the West.

page 6 103349 page 7 103350 page 8 103351

[transcript, portions of pages 6 - 8]:

I was at Pine Ridge Agency when the Cheyennes made their escape under Dull Knife, Red Bird and Tangle Hair from Fort Robinson, where they had been held prisoners all fall and winter. These were northern Cheyennes who had been exported to Oklahoma, who had left that country without permmision [sic] from the government. There were one hundred and fifty men, women and children with five chiefs who had given up their guns and surrendered to the U.S. government. After the hardships and escape from the imprisionment [sic] at Fort Robinson under Captain Wessels, there were about fifty eight who reached Pine Ridge. It made many of the Indians cry to see them so sick and starved. Many of those who escaped were never seen or heard of again some were shot down by the soldiers as they fled, while others died from hunger and exposure from the cold, as it was cold with heavy snow.


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Last updated 30 March 2004

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