By: Belinda Brooks
Oral History by Chief Rodger Collum
In 1799, Spain gave Louisiana back to France although the actual takeover wasn’t until 1802. White Smoke was more than ready to rid himself and his people of Spanish rule. The elders told of the adventures of White Smoke on the trail to Louisiana. White Smoke and his band of Indians escaped the enslavement of the Texas Missions at the end of the 18th century.
One late afternoon, the band was making camp for the night when a scout came galloping into camp at break-neck speed. He warned of raiding Apaches headed their way. Quickly, White Smoke’s band grabbed their weapons, mounted their horses, and rode out to meet their opponents on the battlefield. With painted faces, White Smoke and his men reached their destination and waited to battle the Apaches.
White Smoke was a fearless warrior, and to die on a battlefield was an honorable death. He coveted bouts to the death that showed his prowess. There was no doubt that the Apaches were there to rob, torture, and kill his people.
The Apaches were not expecting the party waiting for them. They stopped about 50 yards from their adversaries. White Smoke advanced slowly on his horse, waiting for the Apache leader to meet him in the middle of the battlefield. As the two leaders faced each other, White Smoke insultingly called out “Gósé!” in the Apache language as he looked his opponent up and down with cold-black eyes and a smirk on his face. The Apache turned red-faced and challenged White Smoke by raising his lance and shrieking out a loud battle cry. The challenge was accepted as both rode back to their band of men.
White Smoke’s horse was high-strung with anticipation. The horse knew his master’s touch. As White Smoke turned to face his opponent, he lightly touched his stud’s belly. The horse reared up on his hind feet and leaped forward to meet his master’s challenge.
As White Smoke rode past the Apache, he reached out with a slight touch of his spear and, ever so lightly, sliced the Apache’s cheek making White Smoke the first to draw blood. As he turned to ride back to his men, he shouted out “Gósé!” once again calling the Apache a dog to humiliate him. Sitting high on his horse, White Smoke continued mocking his enemy while his stud stood still with muscles shivering. With one slight touch, the horse eagerly rushed forward as White Smoke’s spear found its mark in the Apache’s heart. White Smoke leaped from his horse, snatched the Apache’s hair, jerked the dead man’s head back, and, with one quick, sharp slice of his knife, raised the scalp high in the air with a loud war cry. White Smoke carried the scalp on his coupstick for many years.
Upon his death, White Smoke was buried on Butte Hill’s burial mound standing up, holding his sacred pipe in his folded arms. Standing beside him was the coupstick with the attached Apache scalp.
Learn more at Buttetribe.org.
By: Belinda Brooks