2011-04-13 / Headlines

Snapshot of the people

By Cora White Horse

Joe Whiting Joe Whiting Joseph Herman Whiting was born August 9, 1944 at the Pine Ridge Hospital to Lawrence Jacob and Martha Esther (Clifford) Whiting. He has two sisters: Annette Moore and Gloria Valdez; and 3 brothers: Lawrence " Larry" Whiting, Robert " Bobby" Whiting and Clifford Whiting.

He spent most of his childhood at No Flesh Creek (near Kyle) at his Grandpa John Clifford's place. From 1948 to 1958 he would spend his winters in Rapid City and summers at No Flesh. His mother Martha decided they needed to move to Rapid City to make sure the kids got a good, strict, Catholic education.

In 1958 Joe ran away from home, to Holy Rosary Mission School. He wanted to go to school but he didn't want to go to school in Rapid City anymore. He said he and three other Lakota boys were sitting in class one day and they over heard one of the nuns talking about those "dirty Indians." That was when Joe decided he wanted to go back to the reservation and go to school where he didn't have to listen to stuff like that. He and the three other Lakota boys in his class decided they were all going to run away and hopefully they would get to go to Holy Rosary. However, they didn't and they all ended up at different boarding schools.

When he told his mother he wanted to go to Holy Rosary she said no, that he had to go to school in Rapid City. That night he waited until everyone went to bed and took off walking to Holy Rosary, at seven o'clock in the morning the priest came out of the rectory and helped him get enrolled and settled. Then they called his mother. She was ok with him being there, at least he was ok. He went back to Holy Rosary every year until he graduated in 1962. He was 17 years old, the youngest in his class of 18 students.

After high school Joe travelled all around doing ranch work, going to rodeos and pow-wows, he even worked for an aerial sprayer for a time. He thought that was exciting! He worked on ranches in South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming and Montana.

In 1968, Joe came home and became a Tribal Cop at Pine Ridge. He graduated from the Indian Police Academy in Marana, Arizona. His job was to cover the eastern side of the Pine Ridge Reservation. Back then there were only 9 people on the whole Police Force; including 3 jailers, the captain and 5 cops. They were on call 24-7!

In 1971 he married his first wife and had two daughters, Roberta and Cora.

Joe worked with the Tribal/BIA Police for a few more years then went to work in Bennett County as a Deputy Sherriff. In 1975 Joe divorced and moved to Gordon to work as a City Cop.

In 1977 Joe remarried and had another daughter, Alexandria. He worked as a Tribal Cop and also worked at the Feed mill. He divorced in 1979 and moved to Kansas.

While in Kansas he worked as a police officer for another year and decided that it was too political, and chose not to do police work anymore. He worked as a ranch hand and various jobs until he moved home 1982 to hunt for Big Foot!

The fall of 1982 Joe's dad, Lawrence, had an experience that was talked about for years. He was down in the badlands checking his fruit trees; he had an irrigation system rigged up to move the water from the natural springs down to the trees so they would get water. To make this work he would go out and check the system to make sure the water was flowing down, he would go out a couple times a week.

One day when he went out to check, the water wasn't flowing so he was walking the line up to the spring to see what the problem was. There was a terrible smell coming from up towards the spring, his dog ran ahead of him sniffing and barking. He thought there was a dead animal blocking the water. He was almost at the spring when he heard his dog barking and growling, then the bushes began shaking and his dog went running right by him down the hill. He looked up where the all the commotion was there stood a big, hairy, smelly man. Lawrence turned around and the next thing he remembers he was across the river, in his truck, flying down the dirt road! That night his dog got sick and died. When he told Joe his story, Joe decided he was going to move home and find that Big Foot!

He moved home to Kyle, helped his parents and worked various jobs. He spent most of his free time at the Badlands.

In 1984, he gave up his hunt and went to work full-time at Little Wound School. He worked in various positions until he retired in 2008.

Currently he is a tour guide. He guides tours all over the Black Hills, Badlands and surrounding areas.

What a character he is! He is in an encyclopedia under "Indian Joe."

He participates annually in the "Artist Ride" which takes place yearly at the Shearer Ranch north of Wall. The "Artist Ride" is an event where over artists from all over the United States spend 4 days with 120 models and do reenactments of events from the civil war to turn of the century plains scenes (Cowboys and Indians). The Artists take pictures which they use and inspiration for their artwork.

Joe loves traveling and has friends all over the world. He has been to or through much of the 50 states and 23 different countries; I guess you could say has been f rom here to Timbuktu! Literally!

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