Native American culture: How Red Shirt Table came to be |

Native American culture: How Red Shirt Table came to be

By Victor Swallow | Special to First Nation's Focus

Editor's note: 

This story was first published in the May 2017 edition of First Nation’s Focus.

Most of the stories I write about way back when are told to me by my mother Lizzie Two Bulls-Swallow. When I re-tell these stories told to me, I always acknowledge the person who told me.

My mother told me how Red Shirt Table was settled, which was told to her by her father Fred Two Bulls (my grandpa). My mother said that Grandpa Two Bulls knew an Indian Agent and he told him the Cheyenne River, area what is now known as Red Shirt Table, would be allotted soon.

The Indian Agent told my Grandpa Two Bulls he should go up there and pick a spot he liked and build a house and make improvements and that land would be his. Somewhere around the year 1900, different families started moving to the Cheyenne River area — most were from Manderson.

In 1907 my mother was born, and in 1909 is when the Indian Agent came through to allot the land. He allotted the Head of the household 640 acres, wife 320 acres, and each child 160 acres.

When my Grandpa Two Bulls got his land allotted, he told the Indian Agent I also got a baby in the tent. The Agent asked to see the baby, so my Grandpa Two Bulls got the baby, which was my mother Lizzie Two Bulls, from the tent and showed the Indian agent.

At the time my Grandpa had eight children who got land allotted and three more children were born after. I was always interested in history, especially about the area and people where I grew up.

I found a book of a diary of a Pine Ridge Government official at the School of Mines and he wrote that Chief Red Dog took his people and went to the Cheyenne River area. He also wrote that Red Dog was nonprogressive and lived to an old age.

Mother talked about old man Red Dog who lived below in Cedar Creek Canyon between Red Shirt Table and Blind Man’s Table. When she was a young girl, she remembered hearing Red Dog beating his drum and singing at daybreak and at dusk. She said it sounded lonesome.

I don’t know what happened to Red Dog, she never told me. I am grateful that my Grandpa Fred Two Bulls had the foresight to go to a new area and start a new beginning for his children’s future where they could look to the East and see the Badlands and look the West and see the Black Hills.

To this day the original allotments are still being utilized by the Two Bulls descendants. (Victor D. Swallow was born in 1939, Oglala Lakota, U. S. Navy Veteran, 50 year member of Bricklayers Union, Optimistic realist and fair. Victor can be reached at his daughter’s email address at


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