What do the Mandans say?

It is very easy to dismiss the whole Welsh Indian theory as a imperialist or even 'white' racial conspiracy but what of the Mandan's themselves? With the near extinction of the Mandan people, the reliance on oral history might be expected to have died with them, however, there are written records. A US Colonel who served with native Americans in WWI came to respect and understand the Dakota tribes. His name was Colonel A>B Welch and he became a adopted son of the tribes of that region. As such he was trusted and he became a 'scribe', recording the oral history of those tribes, including the Mandans.

Interview: Mandan, N.D., November 9th, 1920

Participants:

Mandan: Sitting Crow, full blood Mandan, about 65 years of age, Little Wolf, full blood Mandan, about 50 years of age. Interpreter, Ed Crows Heart, three quarters Mandan, about 49 years old.

Interviewer: Colonel AB Welch

Circumstances: Request by Mandans to record their history.

Extract

“One day we found a white man. It was the first one we had ever seen. We walked around him many times and said ‘He is a beautiful man. He is all white.’ We had never seen any white man like that and we made him our friend also. One day he was gone. We do not know where he went. We did not harm him.”
“We came along the river way until we reached where we are now, the Heart river mouth where it flows into the Missouri. We met some people coming from the Devils Lake. They lived there then. They were the people known today as the Gros Ventres. We made them out friends. Then another people came to us from the southeast and we made friends of them, too. They were the Arikara. So, we three people have always been friends since that time and when we went to war we went together. That is the story we want you to keep and print in your papers so all the people will not forget it.”

The interviewer followed up with specific questions:


Question: Was this white man a spirit or a real man like I am?
Answer: I heard that he was a real man and not a spirit.
Question: Did these people you met who came out of the ground, really come out of a hole or out of houses made of dirt like you used to live in?
Answer: Those old Mandans did not know. They said ‘out of the ground,’ but it might have been out of ‘ground houses.’
Question: Who taught you people how to make pottery?
Answer: We have always made pots of clay, I think. I do not know.
Question: Who taught you how to make round houses of logs and sod?
Answer: I heard that these people we first met in the river way did it.
Question: Did any of the Mandans have any other coloured eyes than brown or black?
Answer: Yes. There were many blue eyes and there are some today.
Question: Can any of you make pottery today?
Answer: There is one old woman who can. She is 100 years old. She can make any kind she wants to make.