Home | Introduction | Links |  Message Boards | Tribal Circles | Photographers | Questions? | Search
Tribes of the Great Plains: Arapaho | Arikara | Cheyenne | Crow | Dakota | Lakota | Nakota | Osage | Ponca
Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs:
Wasco | Tenino | Paiute
Plateau Tribes: Klamath | Modoc | Nez Perce | Salish | Walla Walla | Yakima




White Bear




White Bear, a/k/a Tom Frosted, was a chief of the Lower Yanktonais at Standing Rock. He and his family is listed there in the 1876 census. The name Mato Ska/White Bear also appears in the 1885 records. There he is listed in Chief Eagle That Scares band of the Lower Yanktonais.

Tom Frosted was photographed by Frank Fiske in 1901.

Donovin Sprague stated in one of his books that he was a hereditary chief, so his father might very well been also a chief of the Lower Yanktonai.

Sioux County Pioneer-Arrow
Ft. Yates, ND
Friday, Dec 23, 1932
Vol 22. No. 11

Old Chief Passes Away Early Tuesday Morning
Last of Heriditary Yanktoni Chieftains, White Bear or Thos. Frosted,
South Happy Hunting Grounds After Active Government Service Life

The last of the heriditary Yanktoni Chieftains, Mato-ska, or White Bear, better known to white men as Thomas Frosted, passed away at his spacious log cabin on the banks of the meandering Porcupine creek, six miles north of Fort Yates. He sought out the Happy Hunting Grounds early Tuesday morning after a lingering illness which consumed the old Chieftains health to the very marrow.

Frosted has lived a very interesting life in the land of the once powerful Sioux. Born and reared on the prairie among his people he led the life of a Sioux until early manhood at which time he became a friend of the whites and lived thereafter near the agency here. He served the "Grandfather" (Uncle Sam) in the role of Indian Policeman for more than two score years and at the time of his resignation was chief of that organization. White people must credit with due respect such a man who would join the white man and become a police official over his brothers who were for the most part at that time at war with the government.

The deceased chieftain was born at Long Lake, Dakota Territory in 1859, making him 73 years of age at the time of his death; his father was known as Standing Bull and his mother, Singing. He vividly recalled on frequent occasions the well known and much written about battle of Kildeer Mountains, in which General Sibley's troops participated. Frosted was then but a boy.

As a boy in his late teens he attended Hampton Institute in Virginia where he learned the occupation of a carpenter and on his return here was for many years assistant carpenter at the agency. He built many structures, including school buildings and churches for the Indian People.

In 1880, White Bear married a beautiful young Sioux woman, Orntopawin. The marriage took place in the Catholic church with the Rev. Fr. Hug, officiating. The Frosted's were blessed with two children, but both have gone now to their rewards.

The Frosted's took into their care seven other children. They are: John, August, Mary Brought Plenty, the latter deceased; Mary Standing Crow; and Asa, Susan and Francis Winters.

In 1890, during the Sitting Bull trouble, Frosted was a scout for the military but took no active part in the actual arrest. In 1891 he began his career as an Indian policeman and served in this capacity until his resignation in 1915, at which time he had risen from the ranks and held the honored position as Chief of the Indian Police at the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1912 he held the distinction of being a special delegate to Washington to confer with authorities concerning Indian affairs.

In 1914, when Sioux county was organized as a separate unit from old Morton county and given a full set of officials by appointment of the then Governor, L.B. Hanna, Frosted became one of the first constables. During the World War he was active in securing recruits among the Indian boys to serve the colors and sent his two adopted sons, August and John Brought Plenty, both of whom saw active service, the former with the 1st Div and the latter with the 33rd. Another patriotic gesture on the part of the chief which should be admired by the whites, for at that time the Indians were not considered citizens and had no duty to perform.

White Bear, as chieftain, has presided at many notable ceremonies during which titles, Indian names, etc. have been conferred. Among the outstanding people who have received Indian names at Frosted's hands are:

1928-Ernest Thompson Seton, famous naturalist became Mahto-ska, and received a war bonnet. 1930-O.L. Bodenheimer, then National Commander of the American Legion, received a war bonnet and was named Flying Cloud.

In 1930 the deceased chieftain presided at ceremonies which adopted a number of Bismarck folks into the Sioux tribe. Chief of Police Chris J. Martineson became Charging Eagle, his son Willard, Walking Warrior, D.E. Shipley, state official became Brown Eagle; Mrs. Alfred Zuger, chairman of Women's Fed of Labor, Red Deer; and Irene Engler, Red Bird.

Funeral services were held Wednesday afternoon from the St. Peter's Catholic Church with Father Bernard, Frosted's old counselor and long time friend, reading the last rites. Internment was made in the Catholic cemetery. Pall Bears were: D.S. Hatch, Benj. White, Ed Afraid of Hawks, Louis Endres, J.R. Harmon and Eli Swift Eagle. Honorary Pall Bears were: F.B. Fiske, E.D. Mossman, Chris Martineson, F.B. Zahn and Victor Zahn.

The Indians have lost a man who was considered one of their foremost leaders in all matters concerning their welfare. The whites have lost a true friend among the red men.


In the Chandler-Pohrt wintercount of the Yanktonais these two years are interesting:

1854: White Bear´s father was killed.

1872: Two Bears went to Washington . Came back. Went to war. Standing Bull got killed by another Wiciyela [Yanktonai] or Hohe [Assiniboin] maybe. Clashed over policy to whites. [Blue Thunder variants also state that Standing Bull was killed by a fellow Yanktonai, but do not give a motive.]

See: http://thefirstscout.blogspot.com/2016/01/the-chandler-pohrt-winter-count.html

— Dietmar Schulte-Möhring

Standing Buffalo or Standing Bull was a Yanktonai. This Standing Buffalo or Standing Bulls brother is Fearless Bear(Crow Creek). His wife's name was Singing. I think his father might have been the older Chief White Bear (Yanktonai) a treaty signer since Fearless Bear is the grandfather of Oscar Howe(Crow Creek). Not looking for the Sisseton Standing Buffalo. Standing Buffalos (Yanktonai) children are Thomas (Tom) Frosted (Arewanke) or Matoska (White Bear) enrolled at Standing Rock. His other son who is my great grandpa is Louis Chase-in-Winter (Crow Creek) who married Nancy Tattooed or Blue Lips (Standing Rock). — Timothy Hunts-in-Winter


©2008-2020 Diane Merkel & Dietmar Schulte-Möhring
All contributors retain the rights to their work.
Reproduction in whole or in part without prior written consent is prohibited.