Stuck Inside

Few patients wanted to remain at the Canton Asylum for Insane Indians, and the staff (and sometimes townspeople) had to deal with a number of escapes. The April 28, 1905 edition of The Sioux Valley News, Canton’s weekly paper, mentioned that the superintendent of the asylum, O.S. Gifford, had “returned from the north and brought with him the runaway Indian who had escaped from the Indian asylum on Tuesday of last week.

“This is the same redskin who made his escape from the asylum several times before […] Judge Gifford said to a reporter for this paper on his return that it would be a warm day when the fellow would get the liberty enough to get away.” Unfortunately, the paper did not give the name of this determined patient.

Most escaped patients headed back to their reservations and families. The picture of Dirty John’s cabin represents the type of home they may have returned to.

Log Cabin Belonging to Dirty John, Flathead Reservation, 1909, courtesy Library of Congress

Log Cabin Belonging to Dirty John, Flathead Reservation, 1909, courtesy Library of Congress

The Badlands, S.D., courtesy Library of Congress

The Badlands, S.D., courtesy Library of Congress

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