August 11, 2016

Remembering the March of the Xo’shga

By Jerry W. Kram
It was late in the winter of 1894 at Fort Buford, near present day Williston. The grass would be turning green in a matter of weeks, but then there was still snow on the ground. That was the start of the March of the Xo’ghsa (pronounced Hoosh-ga or Hushka).
According to Valerian Three Iron’s, who teaches Native Studies at Nueta Sahnish Arikara College in New Town, there were perhaps 100 members of the Xo’ghsa who left the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in 1869 to maintain their traditional life style and had settled and built earth lodges near the confluence of the Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers. That was about one fifth of the entire Hidatsa tribe that remained after repeated smallpox epidemics followed the riverboat trade up the Missouri.
“This particular group of Hidatsa wanted to carry on the free way of life as they had always lived,” Three Irons said. “They did not want to be under the rule of the U.S. government. They broke away from the rest of the tribe to live free for another 25 years. Much of our culture and way of life came from that.”
By 1894, North Dakota had become a state and homesteaders were clamoring for land. After 25 years of freedom, the Xo’ghsa were rounded up at Fort Buford and forced to march nearly 100 miles through the snow to the Shell Creek area of the reservation. Many Xo’ghsa did not survive the trip.

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