Marcella Dupuis Carlin was the youngest of eleven children of Fred and Mary Ann (Good Elk Woman) Dupuis (also spelled Dupris). Marcella’s father came to Dakota Territory as a fur trader in 1838 and later became a livestock grower. The family was one of the best known and wealthiest in Dakota Territory. According to an article, “The Call of the Prairie,” written by Calvin Dupree and published in the January 29, 1981 Eagle Butte News, “The Dupuis home was known as a place for sharing good time and food in the true Indian way.”
At age 17, Marcella married Douglas Carlin, a non-Indian who was the issue clerk at the Cheyenne Agency. Their wedding at Cherry Creek on August 27, 1887 was a major social event. The groom was either the grandson or grandnephew of a governor of Illinois Territory and a nephew of a U.S. Army Colonel. Douglas became a stock grower himself and served as a South Dakota state senator representing Lyman and Stanley counties.
Hundreds of Indian people attended the wedding which included both traditional Lakota and non-Indian ceremonies, the latter performed by Judge Kinney of Pierre. Non-Indian dignitaries included members of the Pierre city council. The dancing and feasting lasted for days and the father of the bride gave the couple 500 head of cattle and 50 ponies.
Marcella’s ceremonial dress, on exhibit in the Indian Museum of North America, is of buckskin with a fully beaded yoke. It was handed down to Marcella’s daughter Grace Rousseau and then to Grace’s children who have lovingly cared for the collection for the past 20 years. Several other items, including the shawl shown above, were also given as part of the collection.
Frederick Dupuis (also spelled Dupree, DuPriest, Dupri and Dupris), a French-Canadian from Longqueil, Quebec arrived in the Fort Pierre area in 1838 via Kaskaskia, Illinois. He worked for the American Fur Company under Pierre Choteau, Jr. By 1860 he was fur trading on his own from his trading post at the mouth of Cherry Creek, 35 miles west of the confluence of the Cheyenne and Missouri rivers.
Fred married Good Elk Woman, a Minnicoujou, who was later known as Mary Ann Dupuis. They had 11 children. The Dupuis home, located on a beautiful wooded flat on the north side of the Cheyenne River, soon became the center of an active community as each son and daughter married and moved into a growing row of log cabins. Dupree, S.D., was named after one of Fred and Mary’s sons.
As the buffalo dwindled, Fred became a stock grower, using the Circle-P brand. In 1883 or earlier, Fred sent out several of his sons to acquire a handful of buffalo calves, capturing them when their mothers left them sleeping. Not all of the calves survived, but by 1888 the Dupuis herd consisted of nine healthy purebred buffalo.
After Fred died in 1898, the herd was purchased by James “Scotty” Philip of Fort Pierre. The herd grew under Philip’s care, reaching 500 head in 1918. The state of South Dakota bought 46 head and moved them to the State Game Park in Fall River County and later to Custer State Park. Anecdotal reports indicate that Philip sold buffalo to several other states and parks. As a result, the calves raised by Fred Dupuis were largely responsible for saving the buffalo as a species.