Column: Non-Indian earned trusted role in Oglala Sioux Tribe

"When Antoine Janis came upon the valley of the Poudre River as a young man more than 150 years ago, he might have thought he had wandered into paradise. The lush green meadows were “black with buffalo,” wildflowers colored the landscape, tall trees lined the river bank, and the river murmured and splashed its way to somewhere. The high, clear water teemed with fish. The abundant wildlife and pure high-plains air promised as good a life as could be had.

Native Americans had long been hunting here, and since the early 1800s, the Rocky Mountains had enticed trappers, many of them French Canadian, into an unfettered life in the rugged wilderness. Janis’s father, a trapper also named Antoine, had been in the valley a decade earlier and named the river Cache la Poudre (hide the powder), so the story goes. (Other sources contradict this account; history is murky here.)

In 1844, Janis selected his homestead in the valley, “should the country ever be settled.” He spent several years at Fort Laramie among a tribe of Oglala Sioux, serving as a guide and interpreter. He married a Sioux, First Elk Woman (Mary), with whom he raised a large family. Janis and his brother Nicolas were deeply trusted by tribal leaders at a time when trust between whites and Native Americans was fragile at best. Antoine was honored with a tribal name, Yellow Hair All Messed Up."

Get the Story:
Barbara Fleming : First settler, Antoine Janis, saw potential in Poudre River Valley (The Colorodoan 8/20)

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