Meeting Chipeta, Part 1

Chipeta early 1900sThe story that follows appeared in the The American Indian Magazine: a Journal of Race Ideals, Sept 30, 1917. It was written by a woman named Zitkala-Sa. She was the editor of the magazine produced quarterly by the Society of American Indians.

          This fall it was my special privilege to be the guest of Chipeta. I had gone to her for a heart to heart talk about the use of peyote, a powerful narcotic, used by the Ute people.
          Within her nephew’s tepee…were gathered friends, relatives and neighbors—for word had gone out that I was coming to talk about matters of large importance with Chipeta. And Chipeta is an honored woman for she is the widow of Ouray, a red patriot who had many times saved the lives of white settlers and who had in many an emergency saved his tribe from disaster.
          Our conversation drifted pleasantly to the days of Chipeta’s girlhood. It is an old time custom among Indians to enter upon a subject slowly and not rush to discussion at once, nor try to say all one desired to voice in one breath.
          Chipeta was not boastful. More often she sat silently smiling and nodding her assent to the stories one related of her wild rides through the hills, risking her own personal safely to give warning to her white friends of impeding raids.
          With these stories told, came the plunge into the talk about present day conditions.
          I told of the rumors that [Chipeta] and her brother McCook had been deceived into the use of a dangerous drug. [A]nd that they were being fleeced by the mercenary traffickers in peyote buttons.
          [Chipeta] scanned my face as I told them of the inevitable degeneration that follows the habitual and indiscriminate use of narcotics.
          She told me that peyote eased her brother’s rheumatism and hers. She added, “I have noticed that the pain returns when I stop the use of the drug.”

(Part 2 follows next week)

Published in: on January 13, 2014 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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