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Ioway Cultural Institute : History :

Laughing Buffalo

A Peripatetic Teacher and . . .

It was a spring day in Paris in 1780, and Michael Barada (Baradat), was 20. As he sauntered along a fashionable street, very gay in the silk, ribbons and ruffles of a young French gallant of the court of Louis XVI; he surveyed the world with a roving, adventurous eye and felt within him the vague, exciting expectancy with which spring brings to youth. He strutted a little, his sword in its jeweled scabbard swinging jauntily.

In front of the house of a nobleman, Michael halted abruptly, something had dropped at his feet from one of the windows. It was a rose, romantically red. The youth glanced swiftly and saw, framed in the window, the piquant face of a girl. He had time for just a glimpse of white teeth and smiling lips and a moment's look into the dark seductive eyes. Then the casement closed-cutting off a murmur of soft laughter.

Michael picked up the rose and went on his way. His heart was singing, but he walked more slowly, more thoughtfully. Something had happened to him in that brief meeting of eyes. Romance had lost its vagueness: romance had centered in the girl at the window. So young Michael Barada fell in love on a spring day in Paris. So began the romance that was to send this youth of gentle birth from the gay luxury of the French court to a life of hardship in the New World and keep him roaming for ten years through the wilderness in search of a girl seen but for a moment. It was romance that is now engaging, a hundred and fifty years later, the attention of the Congress of the United States. A bill relating to the descendants of Michael Barada is now pending in the House of Representatives. The bill was introduced by Congressman Edgar Howard of Nebraska, and the romance is officially told in the report made by the Committee on Indian Affairs which accompanied the bill.

The day after young Michael acquired a rose and lost his heart, he returned to the scene of his adventure. But, there was no rose for him this time, no face at the window. The following day when he had again failed to see the girl, he made inquiry of the owner of the house and learned her identity. She was an Indian, who with others of her race, had been brought to Paris by the French government in order that the people of the capitol might see the aborigines of America, and that these visiting Indians, in turn, might, when they got home, spread word of the wonder and might of France among the tribes.

The girl was Tae-Gle-Ha, or Laughing Buffalo. She was 17 years old and had spent a year in the capitol. All this information Michael gathered eagerly. Then came an additional fact which dealt his hopes a heavy blow. Tae-Gle-Ha had left Paris for America the day after he had seen her, just some 24 hours before he learned who she was. But the high-spirited Michael, after a short period of despondency, refused to accept defeat from an outrageous fortune. A few days later he, too, took a ship for America to find Tae-Gle-Ha.

In his impetuous ardor and ignorance of America, young Barada had neglected to supply himself with certain data without which his quest would seem hopeless to any practical person. He didn't know know that the girl he sought was a member of the Oo-maha (now called Omaha) tribe, which was living in territory embraced by the present states of Wisconsin and Iowa. He didn't know anything about the division of Indians into tribes or their respective territories. He didn't know even the port to which the Indian girl's ship had sailed. The port was New Orleans, from where Tae-Gle-Ha landed. She went up the river through St. Louis to her people in the North. Barada's boat landed him in Montreal one day in the late 1780's. And it was only after many inquiries there proved fruitless that he realized how stupendous was the task he had undertaken: the finding of an Indian girl, tribe and habitat unknown, somewhere in the vast reaches of America.

But Michael was not deterred. He joined a band of trappers and went with them into Indian country, far from civilization. He set himself to learn as much as possible about Indians. In time, he became a skilled hunter and trapper and often ranged the wilds alone. Always he inquired of Indians he met about Tae-Gle-Ha, Laughing Buffalo.

He early discovered that in the Sioux tongue, the base of most of the northern and western Indian languages, "Tae" meant "Buffalo". This enabled him to narrow his search a bit, for when he came upon a tribe which had a different word for Buffalo, he knew it was useless to seek among them. Year after year, the search went on. The callow, romantic youth became a lean, bronzed, self-reliant man, an expert, hardened woodsman. France and his easy, frivolous existence there became a dim memory. But he held tenaciously to his purpose.

On the shores of Lake Superior, Barada met a band of wandering Indians who told him of a tribe far to the south, some of whose members spoke French. Ready to investigate everything that even remotely resembled a clue, the trapper turned southward. In the Wisconsin country he found small bands of a tribe whose main body had moved westward. With the main body, he was told, were Indians who could speak French; some had even been to France. Also, in the language of this tribe "Tae" was the word for Buffalo. Barada, despite previous disappointments, grew hopeful again and hastened on. He crossed the Mississippi and traveled down into what is now Iowa.

Barada reached at last a village of the tribe of which he had been told, the Oo-Mahas. As he paused before a skil teepee before which sat an old an old grandmother, he heard her call to someone inside. The name she called was Tae-Gle-Ha. Barada stopped and waited. A young woman came to the door of the tepee and looked out. It was Laughing Buffalo, his lady of the rose. The hunt had ended after ten years.

Tae-Gle-Ha at 27 was still unmarried. It was not for lack of suitors. At the time of her visit to France, she was considered the prettiest maiden of her tribe. And her family was influential; her brother, Wa-Ni-Ke-Ge, was a chief of the Omahas. But her year's contact with white civilization made her unwilling to become the wife of a brave. Perhaps, too, the look she had exchanged through a window with young Michael Barada one spring day in Paris had something to do with it. Two weeks after their second meeting, she and Barada were married by an Indian ceremony. Later, the service was performed for them by a Jesuit priest. Barada became a member of the tribe.

The Omahas moved, sometime afterward, across the Missouri River into territory which is now Nebrasks. And in 1807, a few miles from where the city of Omaha now stands, a son was born to Michael Barada and Laughing Buffalo in the first house built by a white man in Nebraska. The boy was named Antoine. Within the next few years, Margaret, Mary and Julia were born. Another child whose name is not known, was killed by the Sioux while Michael was on a buffalo hunt. (Church records show a Poperine, but not a Julia).

When the children began to grow up, Michael tried to persuade his wife to move to St. Louis where they could educate the children. She refused to be separated from her tribe, so Michael took Antoine and Margaret to St. Louis where they grew up. It is assumed that Michael remarried because years later a Barada boy came to Barada, Nebraska, and said that Michael was his father. Michael is probably buried at St. Louis.

Antoine Barada was born on August 22, 1807, and died March 20, 1885. When he was a small boy, the family moved to St. Louis, journeying down the Missouri River on a flatboat. Antoine grew to manhood and returned to the Nebraska Indian country as a trapper; maintaining headquarteres, however, in St. Louis, the chief center of the fur trade in the U. S. In 1833 Antoine married in Carondelet-then an independent community on the outskirts of St. Louis-Marcellite Vien (the Belle of St. Louis). She was the daughter of Jean Baptiste Vien. The ceremony was performed by Father Saulnir. The record of the marriage, written in French, appears in one of the old Parish registers preserved at the Church of St. Mary and Joseph in Carondelet. Sometime afterward, Antoine and his family moved to Nebraska, settling in Richardson County where the town of Barada was named for him. To our knowledge seven children were born to the couple; Thomas, Bill, Euphrosine, Celestine, Julia, Clara and Michael T.

Both Antoine and Marcellite are buried at the cemetery at Barada. The inscriptions read-Antoine Barada, born August 22, 1807-died March 20, 1883. His wife's reads "Marcellite "Josephine" Barada, born March 22, 1817-died May 8, 1889. The inscriptions are still readable on the tombstones in the Barada Cemetery.

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Another account indicates that Antoine was not taken to St. Louis by his father, but that his father was sending him back east to school, but that he was abandoned in St. Louis by the soldiers who where to accompany him to school. He found his Aunt Mme. Mousette and stayed with her in St. Louis.

Michael Barada and Tae-Gle-Ha (Marie Sauvegesse) both gave their consent to Antoine's marriage in 1836, so it is assumed they were living together at that time. Also, there is one account that states that Miahael is buried in Nebraska and that Tae-Gle-Ha's ashes were spread over Blackbird Hill, near Macey, Nebraska, which is northwest of Omaha.

Newspaper article submitted by John Clark

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