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Chronicles of Oklahoma
Volume 15, No. 4
December, 1937
MILLIE DURGAN

By George Hunt.

Page 480

Millie Durgan's foster father was a noted Kiowa warrior named Au-soant-sai-mah, who was a partner of the famous chief Set-ankeah (Sitting Bear), or Satank, as he was known to the white people. Both of these men were members of the Ko-eet-senko, which was a warrior society composed of the ten bravest members of the tribe. Au-soant-sai-mah and his wife apparently had no other children than the foster child. It was customary that captives, especially Mexicans, led a rather hard life, and were not much better off than slaves. Millie, however, happened to become the foster child of a couple who treated her better than usual. They were exceedingly fond of the little girl, and gave her the same consideration which she would have received if she had been their own flesh and blood. The foster father was a man of considerable wealth in the tribe. That is, he had plenty of horses of the best stock, a good tepee, and fine clothing and weapons. Nothing was too good for his foster daughter. She always had a fine pony to ride, and the best of clothing to wear. Her foster mother on one occasion even injured herself in scraping cedar poles in order to purchase for her a fine garment which she especially desired for the girl.

Millie's grandmother, her sister Lottie, and the Negro slaves captured in the Elm Creek raid were all ransomed at Camp Napoleon, near the present town of Verden, in 1865. Millie, however, was not given up. Her foster father asked the other members of the tribe to promise to keep it a secret from the white people that the captive girl was still alive. Mrs. Clifton made several ineffectual attempts after this to get some information concerning the child, but was informed in each case that the girl was dead. There is on file in the Oklahoma Historical Society considerable correspondence concerning this matter, in 1871, 1878, and 1879; the agent of the Kiowas was either unable to get any information, or did not try, for the story was still told that Millie

Millie Durgan

Page 481

was dead. Her foster mother used to keep the child's face painted when she was near Fort Sill, so that the authorities would not know that she was white.

Millie grew up as the daughter of wealthy, respected Kiowas. She always had the best of everything. This did not prevent her from learning all the domestic duties which an Indian woman had to know. She could tan hides, cook meat just as her parents liked it best, and was especially good at handling stock. She was fond of animals, and in this the Indians say that she showed her Texan ancestry. Even when she was a young girl she gave a striking demonstration of this. A deer came charging through the camp, chased by some men or boys. It was tired, but still able to defend itself by striking with its sharp front hoofs. Millie dived at the deer, caught hold of it, and threw it just like a Texan cowboy bull-dogging a steer. After the deer had been killed she claimed and received the hindquarter which she was the first one to touch. The hide was also tanned for her to be made into a buckskin garment.

When she was married and had her first child, the foster parents were extremely proud. They took charge of the infant, so that Millie scarcely had any care of it at all. Later when her father was in his last illness, she nursed him tenderly, and prepared for him a special dish of which he was fond, meat made tender by pounding, and mixed with tallow. The old Kiowa said that she had been a good daughter to him. She said that she was lucky to have such kind, fond parents, who never had whipped her or been unkind to her in any way. She doubted that her own mother and father could have treated her better, if as well. She never regretted her Indian life.

Millie was brought up in the Indian religion, and had a firm belief in the old idol medicines, the Grandma Gods and the Tai-me. When the Baptist missionaries came to Rainy Mountain she steadfastly refused to take up the new religion. However she did enjoy going to the sewing circles held by the missionary women. Soon, however, she learned that the Kiowa women were jealous of her,

Page 482

on account of the special attention showed her by the missionaries. She promptly stopped going to the missionary house, for she did not care to have hard feelings with the other women of the tribe. She was always very shy when in the presence of white people. This may have been due to the fact that when she was a child her foster parents always kept her concealed from the whites. All her children adopted the Christian religion, but she refused until the death of her youngest son, when it suddenly came to her that the heathen religion gave her no comfort and little hope that she would meet her children in the next life. So at last she became a Christian, and was a very strong one at the time of her death.

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