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Unit 4: Set 4. Fort Berthold Indian Fair, 1911 - Report 1

Introduction | Fair Report 1 | Fair Report 2 | Photographs | Activity 1 | Activity 2

Fort Berthold Indian Fair

The first industrial fair was held at Fort Berthold Reservation from September 17 to 24 in the open place in the woods just below Elbowoods Agency. This industrial fair takes the place of the Forth of July celebration and was wanted by many of the young people who had ambition and understanding that the Industrial fair would give the older and the younger people a clear idea of how to raise things around their own homes.

We want to make this fair a yearly event and as this is our first beginning things have been delayed but from now on we hope to do things better and have a better show.

The officers of the association are:

President – Thomas Smith,

V.Pres. William Bighead, Ben Benson, Four Rings.

Secretary – James H. Eagle,

Treasurer – Arthur Mandan,

Judges – Frank Packineau, Harry Gillette, Young Bird, Louis Baker.

Heralds – Chas. Ross, Robt. Lincoln, Ed Good Bird, Rufus Red Feather, Spotted Weasel, Chief Sitting Owl, Holding Eagle, Enemy Heart and four policemen were appointed to work along with heralds.

During the fair we have had some good horse racing broncho riding contests, foot racing for men and women, breaking camp starting fire with flint, playing of old games. The most exciting was the moccasin game. Every body entered the contests with spirit and both the contestants and the audiences enjoyed the program thoroughly.

Our industrial exhibit is being held at the commesary under the able management of of Mrs. Chas. W. Hoffman. The outsiders and the people on the reservation are greatly pleased by the exhibit and many visitors told us they were surprised that we could get up such a good collection and such a great variety of things. We too have learned a great deal.  We have strings of corn, early Mandan corn, squash, early daysquash, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbages, carrots, oats, wheat, sunflowers, beans, etc. And many of the old Indian dresses and works on skins with porcupine quills and beads. And a variety of old things we had for prizes the State Historical Society offered us.

Our friend Mr. Fish looked after the historical Society prizes.

One of the (Our) most attractive scenes was the Day School exhibits of the different districts on the reservation, and also the Mission Schools- Fort Berthold Mission school and the Sacred Heart Mission. The best exhibit was by the Shell Creek school.They had basket weaving, drawing sewing and product from their garden.

Besides the products of the earth we had nice jellies of different kinds, cakes, bread, home made soap, sewing on different kind of cloth, mending of different kinds and fancy work by the returned young ladies who have been students east. Many prizes were given and next year we all will know better and bring more things.

The old custom of camp caller was used and very early in the morning he goes around the circle calling at the top of his voice to get ready for the events of the day. And when the even are coming off in the days time the heralds go around the circle announcing what will happen or the news of the camp. It is a good sight at the dawn to see the smoke curl up from the 260 tepees and as it raises above the great trees it carries a message of joy and welcome over the banks of the native Missouri.

Thursday afternoon and Friday we had as our guests Mr. Abbott and Mr. Hanna. Many of the camp went miles out to meet them and we were all glad to meet these friends again. On Friday morning we had a great council in the big tent and these men gave us a good clear talk telling us they were glad we had started a fair and told us what would be expected of us when all our allotments were given to us. Then both of them discussed many of the problems we have to face as the building of houses, carrying on a good demonstration farm, the preserving of game, the attitude of the government to the coal lands and the bettering of our schools. We were glad to grasp these men by the hand and to hear the good practical words formany of the younger men are ambitious to make our reservation life count for a great deal. We feel that these men are helping us a great deal. On Friday night from 7.30 till 12.30 the older men talked with Mr. Abbott and Mr. Hanna in council. They brought up many questions of treaties years ago and discussed coal right and problems of allotting lands and the questions of living near the white settlers. We were glad these things were brought up and settled while our friends were near.

The fair was a success and our committee will have a better one next year.

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