THE PLAINS COUNTRY
 SEVENTY years ago, when some of the events here recounted took place, Indians were Indians, and the plains
were the plains indeed.
Those plains stretched out in limitless rolling swells of prairie until they met the blue sky that
on every hand bent down to touch them. In spring brightly green, and spangled with wild flowers, by
midsummer this prairie had grown sere and yellow. Clumps of dark green cottonwoods marked the
courses of the infrequent streams—for most of the year the only note of color in the
landscape, except the brilliant sky. On the wide, level river bottoms, sheltered by the enclosing
hills, the Indians pitched their conical skin lodges and lived their simple lives. If the camp were
large the lodges stood in a wide circle, but if only a few families were together, they were
scattered along the stream.
In the spring and early summer the rivers, swollen by the melting snows, were often deep and rapid,
but a little later they shrank to a few narrow trickles running over a bed of sand, and sometimes
the water sank wholly out of sight.
The animals of the prairie and the roots and berries that grew in the bottoms and on the uplands
gave the people their chief sustenance.
In such surroundings the boy Wikis was born and
 grew up. The people that he knew well were those of his own camp. Once a year perhaps, for a few
weeks, he saw the larger population of a great camp, but for the most part half a dozen families of
the tribe, with the buffalo, the deer, the wolves, and the smaller animals and birds, were the
companions with whom he lived and from whom he learned life's lessons.
The incidents of this simple story are true.
The life of those days and the teachings received by the boy or the girl who was to take part in it
have passed away and will not return.
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