During the early 1840s, the Pembina Band, under Chief Red Bear, was camped on the Red River about a mile and a half north of the location of present-day Pembina, on the west side of the River. A contingent of Mandan on a war party arrived at the Pembina River and hoped to launch a sneak attack against the village. To cross the river, the Mandan built a makeshift raft and placed their clothing and provisions upon it. They then crossed the river and took up their arms, proceeding towards where the Ojibwe camp was situated.
Along the way to the camp, the Mandan encountered some children playing and digging wild carrots along a slough to the south of the camp. Among these children was a little girl, a daughter of Red Bear. The Mandan dashed forward to capture the children. The children saw the Mandan and started to run back towards camp, but the daughter of Red Bear, who was very young, could not keep up and she was captured by the enemy warriors. Grabbing the small girl, they proceeded to scalp her on each side of her head, and then they released her thinking that she would soon die from blood loss.
Shortly, the children who had fled the enemy entered camp and cried that the enemy was coming! The Ojibwe men were currently holding a council of the warriors, and they were immediately roused and grabbed their weapons to prepare for battle. They moved in the direction from where the children had fled, and on their way they found the daughter of Red Bear, profusely bleeding and staggering in confusion and pain. Among the warriors were two sons of Red Bear - Sky (Sha-we-ne-kezik) and Great Walker (Na-ta-wish-kung). They quickly assessed their young sister and then sped on in pursuit of the enemy, with the rest of the warriors.
As they reached the north bank of the Pembina River they saw the Mandan warriors disappearing over the bank. As they reached the top of the bank they saw a Mandan stand up. Immediately both of the brothers raised their guns and fired, their guns sounded like a single shot and the Mandan dropped dead where he stood. The rest of the Mandan started to flee in a panic, plunging into the river to swim for their lives at the overwhelming number of Ojibwe warriors. The Ojibwe came to the top of the river bank and started to fire at will at the swimming Mandan, who were mostly shot dead before they reached the opposite bank.
Years afterward, when the two tribes were at peace, the Ojibwe learned very few of this forty-man Mandan war party ever made it home.
The little girl who had been scalped did not die. She suffered greatly, but she lived to grow up and was married, although she later drowned when her canoe tipped over in the river.
Read more at:
(1923) O.G. Libby. Collections of The State Historical Society, Vol. V. Bismarck, ND
A collaborative effort of members of the Ojibwe and Metis communities