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by William Tomkins

Some time ago Keesakawasis, Chief Day Child, of the Rocky Boy Tribe of Chippewa Indians, located at Rocky Boy, Montana, through his talented secretary Sitting Eagle, wrote to the author regarding his endeavors to trace certain records with reference to the lost tribe of Chippewas of which his people are descendants.

As Keesakawasis himself can neither speak nor write English, and as the writer has no knowledge of Chippewa, it became necessary for us to communicate by means of Indian pictography, which proved to be quite satisfactory. The first letter and its interpretation follows:

Castor~8.gif (5641 bytes)

In the upper left hand corner is the date, Feb. 15, indicated as the 15th day of the hunger moon. Then comes the chief’s name; the Indian with the feather is the chief, and the next two signs are "day" and "child". A careful translation of the letter is as follows:

"I see your talking leaf and my heart is big for you. I pray the great mystery that I may travel to your teepee, and that we may have a long talk together as brothers (The two figures at the right of the teepee are having the long talk. the chief designated by his symbol, Tomkins by the hat which makes him a white man. The line joining them at the bottom makes them brothers). The Indian sky is everywhere overcast with clouds. The old Indian trail was good. The Chief and his white brother will travel the ancient path together toward the light. I look eagerly for your pictured message of reply.


Keesakawasis was delighted to find that he had a white brother to whom he could write his ancient pictorial language. He is over 70 years old but still in the full possession of his faculties, and actively heads the tribe of which he is a member.

To his Sioux brothers William Tomkins has been known for many years as Sunka Wakan Wahtogla, or Wild Horse. The text of the Chief's letter of reply and its interpretation follows:

Castor~9.gif (6592 bytes)

"In the 14th day of the Frog Moon, Day Child writes to his friend Wild Horse, who is a wise man. The winter was cold and stormy from the Frost Moon. The Fog Moon there was much snow and cold, and in our teepecs we were hungry. Now it is the Frog Moon and the river runs and we again have a little meat. I look for the coming of my friend Wild Horse when we can sit in my teepee, talk and smoke much kinni kinnick. Sitting Eagle helps me write. Your friend DAY CHILD."

See Also:

Pictographic Stories

Pictographic Correspondence

Pictography & Sign

Seton's "Picture-Writing"

Universal Indian Sign Language






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Peer- Level Topic Links:
Sign Dictionary ] Introductory Notes ] Asking Names ] Moons/Months ] Sign Simplified ] Top 200 Signs ] 40 Native American Signs ] Indian Blessing ] Boy Scout Oath in Sign ] Sentence Formation ] Practice Sentences ] Sign Synonyms ] Telling Directions ] Pictographs ] Pictographic Story ] [ Correspondence ] Sign&Pictography ] Smoke Signals ] Sign History ] Sign Idioms ] Song "Taps" in Sign ] Troop Meeting ] Council Fire ] Camp Ideas ] Sign Play ] Sign Playlet ] Boy Scout Initiation ] Sign Exercises ] Advanced Students ] Immortality Poem ] Photos ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.