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An Indian Wife on Her Muscle

The following is a chapter from "The History of Jefferson County, Iowa", Pages 363-364, published by the Western Historical Company of Chicago in 1879.



Morris' family and the Indians became very intimate and friendly, and the latter were frequent visitors at the cabin of their pale-faced neighbors. On one occasion, an Indian named Shi-ash-kah and his wife stopped at the Morris cabin, when Shi-ash-kah was in a beastly state of intoxication, and soon went into a drunken sleep. Mrs. Shi-ash-kah was about twenty-five years of age, and said to have been a remarkably handsome woman. An impudent young Indian "buck," named No-tel-us-kuk, happened to be at Morris' at the time, and like many an one of his "pale-faced" brothers (sic), succeeded in getting himself into trouble by attempting to be too familiar with the wife of a drunken husband. While Shi-ash-kah was sleeping off his drunk, Mrs. Shi-ash-kah went out to the stable to attend to her pony, whither she was followed by No-tel-us-kuk, by whom she was grossly insulted. She returned to the house, her cheeks flushed, and her keen eyes sparkling with anger. The impudent and shameless villain soon came in also, and seated himself in one corner of the room with as much nonchalance and sang froid as if he had been the most virtuous being in the world. Mrs. Shi-ash-kah began exposing him by calling him "kee-ne-ket-chee wal-lu-ki," which being interpreted means "you are a d----d rascal." Ne-tel-us-kuk, placing his hand upon his breast, declared that he was "nee-nee-ket-e-ko-pe" -- a "gentleman," and that although he might be on the "ragged edges," he was guiltless of the "great transgression." The insulted Indian wife asked him, "Wau-ke-low kee-ne-ket-e-ko-pe," or "What makes you a gentleman?" "Kee-ne-ku-mo-tee nish-e-neck, a-tos-ke-see She-mo-ke-man," which meant "You stole two horses from a white man, and seven blankets from the trader." The indignant woman then turned to Mrs. Morris and asked her if to steal two horses and seven blankets, and then insult a married woman, when her husband was drunk, made a gentleman? What answer Mrs. Morris rendered is not stated, but after the quarrel had continued some time, Ne-tel-us-kuk called Mrs. Shi-ash-kah some disreputable names, which so enraged the already angered woman that she attempted to draw her knife; but not finding it where she usually carried it about her person, she sprang at the object of her wrath with the agility of a cat, and dealt him such a blow with her hand as to send him sprawling to the floor. She then sprang upon him like a tigress, and stamped and beat him until the blood ran in profusion over his swarthy face, and finally caught him by the hair of his head and dragged him out of doors!

Mr. Morris subsequently removed to Southwestern Missouri and settled among the spurs of the Ozark Mountains. Not long ago, he wrote back that his home was in the paradise of hunters; that bears and other game were plenty, and that he was perfectly satisfied with the change from the prairies of Iowa to the mountain ranges and rocky slopes of Southwestern Missouri.

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