In the disastrous battle on the Big Horn River, in which General Custer and his entire force were slain, the chief Rain-in-the-Face was one of the fiercest leaders of the Indians. In Longfellow’s poem on the massacre, these lines will be remembered:–
“Revenge!” cried Rain-in-the-Face,
“Revenge upon all the race
Of the White Chief with yellow hair!”
And the mountains dark and high
From their crags reechoed the cry
Of his anger and despair.
He is now a man of peace; and the agent at Standing Rock, Dakota, writes, September 28, 1886: “Rain-in-the-Face is very anxious to go to Hampton. I fear he is too old, but he desires very much to go.” The Southern Workman, the organ of General Armstrong’s Industrial School at Hampton, Va., says in a late number:–
“Rain-in-the-Face has applied before to come to Hampton, but his age would exclude him from the school as an ordinary student. He has shown himself very much in earnest about it, and is anxious, all say, to learn the better ways of life. It is as unusual as it is striking to see a man of his age, and one who has had such an experience, willing to give up the old way, and put himself in the position of a boy and a student.”
THE years are but half a score,
And the war-whoop sounds no more
With the blast of bugles, where
Straight into a slaughter pen,
With his doomed three hundred men,
Rode the chief with the yellow hair.
O Hampton, down by the sea!
What voice is beseeching thee
For the scholar’s lowliest place?
Can this be the voice of him
Who fought on the Big Horn’s rim?
Can this be Rain-in-the-Face?
His war-paint is washed away,
His hands have forgotten to slay;
He seeks for himself and his race
The arts of peace and the lore
That give to the skilled hand more
Than the spoils of war and chase.
O chief of the Christ-like school!
Can the zeal of thy heart grow cool
When the victor scarred with fight
Like a child for thy guidance craves,
And the faces of hunters and braves
Are turning to thee for light?
The hatchet lies overgrown
With grass by the Yellowstone,
Wind River and Paw of Bear;
And, in sign that foes are friends,
Each lodge like a peace-pipe sends
Its smoke in the quiet air.
The hands that have done the wrong
To right the wronged are strong,
And the voice of a nation saith
“Enough of the war of swords,
Enough of the lying words
And shame of a broken faith!”
The hills that have watched afar
The valleys ablaze with war
Shall look on the tasselled corn;
And the dust of the grinded grain,
Instead of the blood of the slain,
Shall sprinkle thy banks, Big Horn!
The Ute and the wandering Crow
Shall know as the white men know,
And fare as the white men fare;
The pale and the red shall be brothers,
One’s rights shall be as another’s,
Home, School, and House of Prayer!
O mountains that climb to snow,
O river winding below,
Through meadows by war once trod,
O wild, waste lands that await
The harvest exceeding great,
Break forth into praise of God!