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Bessie Carry The Moccasin


On this date in 1911, Bessie ‘Carry The Moccasin’ died. The Sioux woman lived her entire life near Porcupine, North Dakota, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. She was born as Matoziwin, or Yellow Bear, in 1873 or ‘74. Her father was Struck Many and her mother was Iron Tracks. Iron Tracks gave birth to Matoziwin at 13. The family belonged to the Upper Yanktonai Sioux tribe. Matoziwin was raised with her siblings Surrounded, Fight For Him and Wounded Horse.

In 1890, Matoziwin adopted the name Bessie. Her siblings took the names Rosa, Albert and George. She married Carry The Moccasin, a Sioux man 12 years older than her, in 1898. Early in their marriage, they briefly lived with his parents, Holy Elk Face and Red Corn. In March 1899, Bessie gave birth to her daughter Grace Green Plum. The child died within a year. Three of Bessie and Carry The Moccasin’s six children died before 1910. Their sons James and John Thomas would go on to have families of their own.

Bessie’s husband, Carry The Moccasin, adopted the name James in the early 1900s and was employed as an Indian Police private for Standing Rock. His wages were $10 a month. He was also a farmer. James also had a son, To All, from a previous relationship. To All took the name George in 1903.

U.S. Indian Census Rolls tell us a lot about the Carry The Moccasin family. Bessie and her husband were both full blooded Sioux and both could speak English, though only Bessie could read and write. Various relatives lived with them during their marriage, including James’s parents and an aunt.

Bessie was only about 37 years old when she died. Her children James, John Thomas and Elizabeth continued to live with their father, who remarried by 1920 and continued to farm. Bessie was buried in a cemetery along the Cannonball River near Porcupine, North Dakota. Her grave today is marked with a rusted wrought iron cross. Her sons later dropped the article from their surnames and continued the Carry The Moccasin name.

Dakota Datebook by Jack Dura


United States Office of Indian Affairs. (1903). Annual report of the commission of Indian affairs. Washington, DC: Office of Indian Affairs. Retrieved from:

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U.S. Indian Census Rolls, 1885-1940

1900 United States Federal Census, Sioux County, North Dakota, USA, page 22 of 111

1910 United States Federal Census, Sioux County, North Dakota, USA, page 9 of 20

1920 United States Federal Census, Sioux County, North Dakota, USA, page 1 of 3

1930 United States Federal Census, Sioux County, North Dakota, USA, page 3 of 3