The Pain Only seems to get worse

( – promoted by navajo)

I am 27 years old and my name is Cassie. My roots lie with the blackfoot, and I have been a natural healer since I was born. I am currently tracking my roots to get acknowlegment among the blackfoot. I learned all the same things in school as everyone else, I know of the past pain that only now people seem to be able to put into words. I love mother earth, and all who live here to me are family no matter age, race, etc. I take things very personaly and have cried out of pain more times then I can count. Everytime I think that nothing new can be done to family (and u are, no matter who u are) then I always get surprised. What happened in Ohio was an outrage that was completely uncalled for. I thought the time of treating us like cattle to heard, or control ended long ago, or was that my wishful hopeing? To top it all off, everytime I turn around I am reading from someone that some political honcho in some state is trying to pass a bill to hurt and dibilitate tribal people (I care not of your tribe name, u are still family). All I have to say is…you can NEVER take away my pride, hope, or even my unwaivering ability to help others. You can make me cry, cause pain in my heart that will travel to the very bottoms of my soul, but I will NEVER stop doing what I can to help whomever I can. That is my life’s purpose, my gift, and no one can take away that which my anciestors gave me.

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Custer & the Abandonment of Major Elliot

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Was losing Major Elliot’s strategic location during the extermination of the Southern Cheyenne Arapaho at Washita by Lieutenant Colonel Custer acceptable by U.S. military standards? Captain Benteen thought not.


“Surely some search will be made for our missing comrades” mocked Benteen’s piece, before concluding, “No, they are forgotten.”

Custer picked the wrong man to threaten horsewhipping.


One of Custer’s friends sent Custer a copy of this letter. Custer was enraged, and threatened to horsewhip the man who wrote it. Benteen admitted authorship, after which Custer dismissed him with a curt, “Colonel Benteen, sir, I’ll see you later!”

Custer never carried through on the threatened horsewhipping, and Bush never carried through with his threat to punish whoever leaked Libby’s name, either.


Mr. Bush said in 2003 that he would fire whoever leaked the information about Mrs. Plame’s identity.

Consequently, what a feeling of “I wish I’d known then what I know now”  both of them might of felt. No, that would’ve meant either one would’ve ever regretted anything they ever said, unless it meant losing power.

The historical debate revolves around two questions: did Custer retreat on purpose, believing Lieutenant Godfrey about more encampments downstream, thus retreating for his own survival? Or, did Custer really not know where Major Elliot was?

A look at the map of the Washita Massacre reveals an answer.

Lieutenant Godfrey had told Custer there was more gunfire downstream, and Major Elliot was killed perhaps two miles from where Moxtaveto (“Black Kettle”) was. Custer and his men were on horseback. Was that too far to travel in snow on horseback, knowing the “enemies” were downstream and having heard a report of gunfire in that direction? How long would it have taken to ride that distance in those conditions? Twenty minutes? Less than forty? A man commanding the military deserts his comrade troops and their need for safety in order to save himself and his public image for continuing a war. Imagine that.

Captain Benteen found Custer to be arrogant.

On January 29, 1867, Benteen met George Armstrong Custer, the Lieutenant Colonel of the regiment. Benteen disliked Custer almost immediately, finding him vain, arrogant and egotistical.

I can’t think of anyone commanding the military now who is “arrogant, vain, and egotistical,” who doesn’t give them the support they need and lets them die (yes I can). That aside, there is another sense that is crucial in making sound judgments I believe: emotional intelligence.

I Think Captain Benteen displayed enough emotional intelligence –


Salovey and Mayer defined emotional intelligence as the: “Ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”

– to be correct about both Custer’s character and Custer’s abandoning Major Elliot at Washita. Metaphorically, it doesn’t take much emotional intelligence to see it repeating now.

John (Fire) Lame Deer And Richard Erdoes. “Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions.” p. 95-96.

And that’s what I want to talk about. Some of our young Indians have bumper stickers on their cars – “Custer Died For Your Sins!” – but I’m telling you, Custer is alive!

Indeed, and in the Whitehouse.


John (Fire) Lame Deer And Richard Erdoes. “Lame Deer, Seeker of Visions.” p.96.

There’s a little Custer in all those sightseers, souvenir hunters, rock hounds, tourist scalpers, sharps and Deadwood hookers which cover these hills (Black Hills) like so many ants.

And there’s a little “Custer/Bush” in all the Congressman, Senators, lobbyists, neocons, and Religious Right who support and want the war, deny climate disintegration, and cover Capital Hill “like so many ants.”

A commenter who I agree with offered the following insights into this diary, which is a repost since “Today marks the anniversary of an iconic moment of American history: Custer’s Last Stand, the culmination of Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer’s disastrous attack on a coalition of Lakota Sioux, Cheyenne and Arapaho Indians camped on the Little Bighorn River.” I wish to thank that person for giving a few corrections.

Ways not comparable:

Up until Little Big Horn, Armstrong had earned quite a bit of respect as a competent field commander, in comparison to other officers of the era, so let’s do compare.  

As for social attitudes of the era, Armstrong was not out of the main stream.

Americans of the era if conversing with us now would eagerly classify the Native Americans as “insurgent terrorists”, as primatives worthy only of extermination, or conversion, rather like so many Americans classify today’s extremist middle easterners.

Armstrong had military live-fire experience and demonstrated battlefield leadership, versus W.

Armstrong was likely far more competent and intelligent as an officer, and usually was pretty realistic in what can be achieved, versus W.

No one questioned whether Armstrong was AWOL or away from duty posts.

Armstrong was articulate and conversant with tactics, strategies, and had real training.

Armstrong made a few big choices that were bad, versus nearly the avalanache of W’s big choices that have gone bad.  He may have arrogantly overestimated the value of his technological edge and the skilled execution his soldiers could perform.

Any general officer must be mindful of the social impact of their actions, yet not let it inhibit execution where specific ‘national interests’ are defined for him by the executive branch.

Might be interesting to compare W with Armstrong’s idea of staying the course

Shaking up the tribe

( – promoted by navajo)

I’ve always acknowledged my Abenaki heritage and for a long time, I’ve wanted to take part in the tribal council and the political process it involves. However, the council in my opinion, is a puppet council.

There is no tribal democracy here. Instead, the chief came to power by nepotism and not a fair vote. Her father was chief and she became chief while he was on his last legs.

My email below is an attempt to shake things up and get the gears of change started.

Note: I originally posted this diary at Daily Kos as well.

Here’s my email in full. There are no actual names of people mentioned as to protect their identities:


Feel free to pass this on to fellow Abenakis who are disenchanted with the current stateof the St.Francis(sic) band of the Abenakis. I urge you to forward it, especially if you know people who are frustrated and wanting to make change.

   If I could, I would consider starting or joining a new branch of the Missisquoi Abenaki Nation. My arguments for doing so will probably seem crass and uncalled for to some people. If this is the case, I feel for people who may take offense and their inability to see what is in front of them.

   I feel that younger Abenakis such as myself, need to speak out more about the state of the tribe and assert some sort of authority that elders may be unwilling to assert. We are also Americans and even though our country has not always been fair to us, we are still blessed with the ability to change and evolve.

   I feel that the current tribe is un-Democratic. We do not have a say in what our “chief” does. For example, I’m still very disappointed that she moved the pow-wow back by a week.I’ve always looked forward to attending pow-wows and I’m not happy that I missed the one this year. However, looking back on the current state of the tribe, I’m actually glad that I missed it. After all, it’s all about her.

   Our “chief” is a believer in the cult of personality. She loves to take credit for things that she had nothing to do with. She “elects” sycophants and historians to serve on the tribal council, as opposed to real Abenakis. She complains about the injustices lobbied against her, while ignoring the injustices that have plagued our tribe as a whole.

   Tell me, has there ever been a mention of Abenakis without a mention of her in the media? Has the media ever bothered to interview real Abenakis and gather their thoughts on the progress (or lack thereof) of our tribe? Why should her opinion have more weight than the opinion of anyone else in our tribe?

   I think I’ve given enough attention to our “chief”. She craves attention because all of the years we have fought for our tribal identity, she has taken the credit for it. No more.

   It’s time to turn my attention to our tribe and what we can accomplish if we can get involved.

   We are already in the 21st Century and even though our tribe has statewide recognition,we are still lacking in areas that we should have covered long ago.  I personally feel that more should be done to assure that fellow Abenakis have access to education, decent social services and have a sense of pride about their tribe. I know that there are people

   working very hard for these things and I fully support what they are doing, despite the state our tribe is in.

   No more hiding in the shadows. No more fear of our “chief”. In the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

   Our tribe has been marred by years of infighting and corruption. I’m sure that I am not alone among my Abenaki peers when I say that I want to embrace my identity. I’m sure that I am not alone in my frustration towards the way our tribe is run.

   I have been blessed with the ambition and desire to better myself. I want to use my desire to make things better for others. This is why I share my opinion, as strong as it may be. Our tribe is in danger of disappearing. When I use the word  “disappear”, I am talking about allowing the selfish desires of one woman to reign over the desires of our tribe as a whole.

   Are we going to make change? Are we going to right the wrongs?

   As history has consistently shown, we live in a country of innovative people who have used their courage and knowledge to make things better for others. We have the ability to do it.

I have been encouraged to apply to the Vermont Commission on Indian Affairs. I am in the process of doing so.

I also have Barack Obama to thank for my inspiration to speak out. There are not enough young Abenaki voices clamoring for change. I aim to rock the boat and create a wave of change.

Sidekicks and Savages (Part I)

( – promoted by navajo)

(Part II will appear next Friday.)

Rabbit-Proof Fence is my favorite big-screen movie of American Indians.

But that’s an Australian movie, you say? Yep. The best film of American Indians is a Down Under 2002 movie about aboriginals without a loin-cloth, smear of war paint or drop of firewater in sight. It’s the story of three young mixed-race girls who find their way home after being ripped away from their parents in 1931 by the government and trained to focus on their “white side” so they can become somebody’s servants. A few critics have complained that this based-on-a-true-story movie goes overboard in demonizing the main white character (Kenneth Branagh) and depicting most other whites of the era as deeply bigoted, morally uncourageous paternalists. What could the director have been thinking?

The American version of Rabbit-Proof Fence has been out there for the telling ever since Thomas Edison showed his “movie” Hopi Snake Dance at the Columbian World Exposition in Chicago in 1893 on the brand-new kinetoscope his staff had developed. It’s the story of how American Indian children were torn from their customs, religions, languages, tribes and parents by demons and paternalists who saw cultural genocide as the proper modern alternative to the centuries-old physical genocide that had become no longer an acceptable course of action. But of all the hundreds of movie Westerns depicting Indians, this story has failed to generate excitement among four or five generations of movie-makers. Instead, the Hollywood Indian has prevailed.  

As Ted Jojola, an Isleta Pueblo Indian and associate professor at the University of New Mexico, wrote in his 1998 essay, “Absurd Reality II: Hollywood Goes to the Indians,” Edison’s choice presented a stereotypical view of American Indians that would …

“…persist into contemporary times. Its longevity though, is explained by the persistence of myth and symbol. The Indian became a genuine American symbol whose distorted origins are attributed to the folklore of Christopher Columbus when he ‘discovered’ the ‘New World.’ Since then the film industry, or Hollywood, has never allowed Native America to forget it. The Hollywood Indian is a mythological being who exists nowhere but within the fertile imaginations of its movie actors, producers and directors. The preponderance of such movie images have reduced native people to ignoble stereotypes.”

It should not go without mentioning that Frederick Jackson Turner presented his The Significance of the Frontier in American History” in Chicago the same year as Edison’s movie. Turner’s acclaimed thesis was that the frontier had shaped America and the American character, but that it had closed in 1890, that being, not coincidentally, the year the 7th Cavalry got revenge for Custer by slaughtering 300 or so Lakotas at Wounded Knee Creek. While Turner’s thesis has subsequently been deeply critiqued, it held sway among academics and others for a century and still resonates for some today.

What this has meant for the movies is the same as you see in most school textbooks: The end of the frontier marks the end of the Indian. With few exceptions – and none of them even close to the epic films that reinforced the dime-novel, wild-west-show image of Indians that was well-formed before the turn of the 20th Century – most movies about or including Indians have been displays of racism and ahistoricity. They have performed a cultural genocide no different, but a great deal more widespread, than the Indian boarding schools of America which started long before the whitification schools of Australia were pressed into service. The best of these movies, however, have been finely crafted, deeply entertaining and gorgeously photographed productions, enjoyable for all kinds of reasons if only you can keep yourself from retching during certain segments.  

That wasn’t a problem when I was young. As a kid, if it was movie, I tried to see it. The only real theater was 30 miles away, a trip we rarely made, even more rarely for entertainment purposes. But some entrepreneur had struck a deal with the local board and installed a screen in the auditorium of the consolidated junior-senior high school where I lived in southwest Georgia. We used to sneak in to avoid paying whatever the going rate was for a Saturday matinee. A dime? A quarter? I can’t remember. I do know that in my extended family at the time, admission was too expensive to hand out to my dozen cousins and me, so we winged it.

When we came home, we drove my grandfather crazy playing cowboys-and-Indians. None of us Seminoles and Creeks wanted, of course, to be Indians in our game because of what we saw in those movies. Not that there were usually any real Indians to watch, but reenacting the demeanor of heavily made-up white warriors and suffering their fate was not the kind of thing any sane kid would repeatedly choose for fun. The youngest of us usually caught those roles. I was nearly 16 before I figured out how screwed-up it all was.

I shouldn’t have to say this in a progressive venue, but I’m going to anyway because I don’t wish to be misunderstood. For everyone, Indian or non-Indian (as well as part-Indian and part-something else), movies are subjective. We bring to the theatre (or wherever we watch movies) all our varied prejudices, upbringings, cultural quirks, generational specificities, gender and ethnic contexts, our urban sensibility or ruralness, our economic class and geography, just as we do to every venue in the rest of our lives.

Our unique mixtures make us focus on different things. My longtime Kiowa friend Tim Kloberdanz loved Dances with Wolves and nearly walked out on Last of the Mohicans.From beginning to end I hated the Kevin Costner film (a bad remake of Little Big Man) and fully enjoyed the flawed Mohicans, including watching the then-53-year-old Russell Means sprint youthfully through the forest in a muck-up of James Fenimore Cooper’s original novel. I’m just trying to say, to be really, really clear about this, just as all European Americans and African Americans and Asian Americans don’t think alike, all Lakota, Navajo, Haudenosee and Seminoles don’t think alike. So, for anyone to whom it isn’t already obvious, as I comment below on four movies about American Indians, let me reiterate: I speak only for myself.

While our viewing of movies is subjective, however, the making of movies is something else entirely. Without getting into specifics of capitalism and empire, the reinforcement of the dominant paradigm and the adherence to cultural norms, it’s no news to anybody that movies, including some of the most aesthetically pleasing, have been tools of societal propaganda. John Ford’s career shows just how complex that can be. Why pick on somebody who made his last film more than 40 years ago? And clearly one of the best and most prolific directors of all time? Because he did more to shape the quintessential Western than anybody, and thus the image of the Hollywood Indian.

Richard Maltby has written that Ford’s movies were intended to be false historical representations. And Ken Nolley, English Professor at Willamette University in “The Representation of Conquest: John Ford and the Hollywood Indian: 1939-1964” wrote:

“If fictional representations are taken as history, they have real historical consequences. In this sense, Ford’s films function as if they were historical texts, constructing a sense of Native American life on the frontier, participating in the social and political debates of the era in which they were produced, and helping to construct much of what still stands for popular historical knowledge of Native American life.”

During World War II, like many Hollywood directors, Ford made a couple of real propaganda films. But it was his shaping of the genre of the Western in which he made his greatest contribution. In these epic, poetic, panoramic, big-story movies, although no real Indians appear as stars, the Indian myth is ever present. The trajectory from Stagecoach in 1939 to The Searchers in 1956 to Cheyenne Autumn in 1964 takes us from crude racism through semi-critique to soppy sympathy.

In almost every Top 100 movies, The Searchers appears. This year, it was named the No. 1 Western ever by the American Film Institute. (Ford’s Stagecoach clocked in at No. 9.) Because my Libyan-raised stepdaughter was taking a film class this semester and her teacher told her about this movie, I watched it for the first time in 15 years a couple of months ago. It was a rough go.

In its own time half a century ago, The Searchers was not particularly popular with the critics. It has since come to be seen as perhaps the director’s best. John Wayne, Ford’s star in 24 films, called it his favorite part. That role was one of redemption as lonely, cynical, “redskin”-hating, Confederate war veteran “Ethan” seeks to find his niece “Debbie” (Natalie Wood) – abducted as a girl by Comanches – to kill her and end the misery of  living among these savages. His turning point comes when he rescues her after five years of searching and at the last minute chooses not to blow her brains out for being “soiled.” Many critics see the film as a critique of anti-Indian racism. Ford’s insertion of miscegenation at a time when this was nearly taboo in Hollywood gives this view more credence.

I don’t buy it. For all its scenic beauty, angst-ridden characters and skillful story-telling The Searchers does nothing to erase the myth – that is, the lie – of the American Indian created in his (and a multitude of other directors’) movies. In part, that’s because Wayne’s characters are so often Indian-killers in Ford’s films, and that carries over even though “Ethan” certainly was Wayne at his best and most nuanced. The fundamental problems are the same as in all Ford’s films as regards Indians: The narrative is defined by white characters and white consciousness. Everything, even the choice of music, plays to the white audience’s sensibilities. In most of his films, it is true, there are good Indians and bad. You can tell which are which with ease. The good Indians don’t resist.

In The Searchers, there are good and bad whites. White atrocities, too. But there are no good Indians. Chief Scar (Henry Brandon) is presented as Ethan’s red reflection, nasty, brutal, hateful. But we don’t get his full story in order to humanize him, nor that of any other Indian in the movie. What we do get, for example, are scenes like that when the 7th Cavalry herds captives after a raid into a fort. Ethan and the mixed-blood Martin (Jeffrey Hunter) check out the white captives in the fort’s chapel. One of them is a crazed young woman who screeches and rocks her battered doll (which turns out to be Debbie’s). A pair of obviously crazy girls hug each other. In keeping with his character, Ethan views them with disgust.

But what is the audience to think? Why is this woman whacked out; why have these girls gone insane? Comanche life is the film’s unspoken reply. In fact, from long before the Republic was founded, most captives taken by Indians as young children had to be forcibly returned to their white parents if they were “rescued” after a few years, and many subsequently ran away back to the tribes. The historical “Debbie,” Cynthia Parker, was abducted in a Comanche raid in 1836, recaptured in 1860, and died four years later, having never readjusted to white society. Her son was the famous Comanche chief Quanah Parker, who warred on whites until 1875 and then adjusted quite well to the white world, so much so that today some Comanches (Numunuu) still consider him a sell-out for an agreement he signed in 1892.

At the same time Debbie is rescued, Ethan takes out his anger on the dead Chief Scar by scalping him, which, if you want to go there, has all kinds of layered psycho-sexual meaning regarding Ethan’s view of the raping, marauding, savage Comanche tainting the white woman, and Ethan’s unconsummated love for his brother’s wife that appears as a loud whisper in the earliest frames of the film.

A word, too, about the use of that stunning Southwest topography. Nearly every outdoor frame shows the West as wilderness, untamed, unpopulated, ready and waiting for white settlement, a reiteration of one of the oldest myths since Englishmen landed in the Western hemisphere.

Ford reportedly said: “My sympathy was always with the Indians.” At some level, that is undoubtedly true. But that was not the overall impact of his films, including The Searchers, with the partial exception of Cheyenne Autumn, his last Western, and one that some might take as an attempt to make up for all the others he made. Had that movie been told from the Indian point of view, instead of through the lens of white romance, and with Indians instead of “Indians” in lead roles, sympathy might have turned into something more powerful.


While you’re waiting for me to change reels, let me recommend six books on the subject of Indians in film that are part of my library.

The White Man’s Indian (1977) by Robert F. Berkhofer

Hollywood’s Indian: The Portrayal of the Native American in Film. (1998) edited by Peter Rollins and John E. O’Connor. In the foreward, the late ethnographer Wilcomb E. Washburn writes:

Critics can easily find … incorrect and anomalous details in any number of Indian films. Others will apply questionable abstractions, such as “collective wish fulfillment patterns” in interpreting Indian films. Still others will use the past to  comment on the present (for example, Soldier Blue or Little Big Man which allude to the Vietnam War). Few will agree on what films truly represent the American Indian, but no one should be deterred from debating the question. The “historical reality” – if one can accept the concept at all – will always remain elusive, speculative, and controversial.

The whole anthology is terrific, but especially Ted Jojola’s essay, “Absurd Reality II: Hollywood Goes to the Indians”; Ken Nolley’s essay, “The Representation of Conquest: John Ford and the Hollywood Indian”; James Sandos and Larry Burgess’ “The Hollywood Indian vs. Native Americans: Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here“; and Amanda J. Cobb’s “This Is What It Means to Say Smoke Signals. If you only read one book on Indians in film, this would be a good one.

Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indians (1998) by Ward Churchill. I’ve had massive personal, professional and ideological differences with Ward Churchill over the years, but this book of his is worth the read.

The Book Of Westerns (1996), edited by Ian Cameron and Douglas Pye, especially the essay by Richard Maltby titled “A Better Sense of History: John Ford and the Indians”

Wiping the War Paint Off the Lens: Native American Film and Video (2001) by Beverly R. Singer and Robert Warrior

Making the White Man’s Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies (2005) by Angela Aleiss.


Communicating with images can be more difficult than communicating with words. Despite being worth a thousand words, pictures – moving or not – are more subject than words to misinterpretation by the viewer taking in these images on an emotional and sensory level. Combine that with the fact that, from the beginning, the depiction of Indians in the movies has been designed to meet the needs of non-Indians, to fit them within the master narrative, and you come to understand why Hollywood Indians are far from real.

Some films made attempts to depict Indians differently from the myth. Or rather, to depict the whites who interacted with them more accurately. For instance, there’s The Half Breed (1950 – greedy traders),  Apache (1954 – crooked Indian agents), Run of the Arrow (1956 – bad soldiers). But, with the partial exception of Cheyenne Autumn, there’s no whole-hearted attempt to demolish the myth.

Two films came out in 1970 marked a distinct change in movie-making about Indians. The ultra-violent (by the standards of the day) Soldier Blue was rather quickly forgotten. The other, Little Big Man, continues to be discussed by critics, revisionist critics and re-revisionist critics to this day.

Filmed as they were in the midst of America’s longest single conflict, both films made allusions to Vietnam by means of fictionalizing two massacres of Indians, at Sand Creek in Colorado in 1864 and at the Washita River in Kansas in1868.…

In Soldier Blue, directed by Ralph Nelson, Candice Bergen plays Cresta, a one-time captive of the Cheyenne who, along Private Honus Gant (Peter Strauss), has survived the killing of an Army unit by Cheyenne intent on getting money for rifles. Bergen sympathizes with the Cheyenne.

Honus: 21 men [were killed]!

Cresta: A drop in the old bucket.

Honus: A what!?

Cresta: It’s not the army, Soldier Blue. They’re not the ones being killed off in this damn fool country.

Honus: Our country, Miss Lee, is neither damned nor foolish.

Cresta: Balls!

Honus: Miss Lee, you have a most profane way of speaking.

Cresta: You should hear me in Chyenne, you want to? Na…

Honus: No!

Cresta: Good brave lads, coming out here to kill themselves a real live Indian. Putting up their forts in a country they got no claim to. What do you expect the Indians to do: sit back on their butts while the Army takes over their land?

Honus: You saw for yourself what they did: taking off scalps.

Cresta: Yeah, and who told them that little trick? The white men.

Honus: And cutting off their hands and cutting off feet and cutting off … [shuts up]

Cresta: I know what they cut off, but at least they don’t make tobacco pouches out of them, that’s something else you soldier boys made up.

Honus: You’re lying.

Cresta: Did you ever see an Indian camp after the Army has been there, huh!? Did you ever see the women and what was done to them before they were killed? Ever see the little boys and girls stuck on the long knives, hrm!? Stuck and dying? Well, I have!

Honus: You’re lying.

Cresta [after a pause]: Go to sleep.

Honus: You’re lying.

She’s not, of course. What happens next is that Honus seeks to keep the Indians from getting the rifles from a sleazy trader (Donald Pleasance) while Cresta tries to persuade him that they need those guns for self-defense. Next thing you know, the Cheyenne have been attacked, and soldiers indiscriminately kill men, women and children. There’s a graphic rape scene, and bullets tearing flesh (something audiences had not yet been subjected to for the most part). In real life, many of the soldiers of the Third Colorado volunteers who attacked the Cheyenne-Arapaho encampment cut off breasts and scrota to be made into tobacco pouches and paraded back into Denver with Indians scalps hanging from their saddles.

To be sure, Soldier Blue is no great movie. Weak acting, a story with plot holes big enough to drive a conestoga through, and, again, no Indians in lead roles, although the Mexicans chosen for some parts no doubt could claim some native blood. Moreover, the wiping-out of soldiers that begins the movie was not the reason the Third Colorado was sent to Sand Creek. And, once again, the story is told from the point of view of whites, though of whites with different perspectives.  

Soldier Blue was, of course, overwhelmed by Arthur Penn’s tragic satire and social critique, Little Big Man. The young Dustin Hoffman gives a twangy, gravelly voice to the narration of 121-year-old Jack Crabb, a survivor of Indian and white massacres, Colonel Custer’s “Last Stand,” and a host of other “adventures.” For the first time in a blockbuster, an Indian – a real Indian – portrays a fully realized character. Dan George (Tsleil-Waututh [Salish]) plays Old Lodge Skins, the young Crabb’s adopted grandfather and mentor. Other Indians play major and minor roles, and considerable attention is paid to accuracy in costuming and, especially, some Cheyenne customs.

Margo Kasdan and Susan Tavernetti write in “Native Americans in a Revisionist Western: Little Big Man, 1970“:

The film criticizes America’s historical military aggression against Indians by graphically dramatizing an overwhelming military force employed against  a technologically primitive people. Viewers at the time may have connected the portrayed genocide of the Indians to America’s attack on the Vietnamese people.


That military aggression is depicted in an almost elegiac manner, when, out of the morning mist, to the strains of “Garry Owen,” Custer’s 7th Cavalry comes riding into the village where Crabb lives a happy and lusty life with his wife and the Cheyenne. In a brutally realistic scene that he watches in the snow across the river, she is shot repeatedly as she tries to escape with their baby. It’s the fictional version of the real-life massacre on the Washita, where Black Kettle, the Cheyenne who had managed to survive Sand Creek four years earlier, is gunned down along with his wife and anywhere from 50 to 100 Indians, twice as many women and children and warriors, according to one on-the-scene officer who resigned his commission in protest.        

Much of Little Big Man is played for laughs, and at everybody’s expense, with Old Lodge Skins often making jokes about himself, as when he goes off to die, but doesn’t, finally opening his eyes to rise and offer another bit of his wisdom: “Sometimes the magic works; sometimes it doesn’t.”

While Little Big Man sharply criticizes white society, its turning of the tables is problematic in that it goes from the old depiction of Indians as “savage” savages to a new one (for film anyway), of the “noble” savage, in its own way as dehumanizing as its predecessor. The savage savage and noble savage motifs are not new to the age of movies, of course, but save that discussion for another time.

Furthermore,  some portrayals in the film are positively offensive. For instance, Little Horse (Robert Little Star) is a flouncing, lisping, stereotypical gay man who is supposed to represent the heemaneh, men among various Plains tribes who may have sexually ambiguous roles, but were respected for their spiritual contributions. In the film, however, Little Horse is played strictly for laughs and ridicule.

There are other problems. Kasdan and Tavernetti write:

“…the depiction of the Cheyenne women suggests a Sixties stereotype with a comic twist. They personify the “natural” women of the era who engaged in communal living and practiced sexual freedom. The film introduces Sunshine as a strong woman courageously giving birth in hiding while soldiers slaughter her people in a nearby encampment. Later Sunshine goes off alone like a wild creature to deliver her second child, when actually … Cheyenne women were always accompanied by their mother or another woman invited by the mother. Subsequently, Sunshine is portrayed as a coy child-wife, unhampered by puritanical constraints about monogamy and fidelity; she insists on sharing her husband with each of her three sisters who are, in turn, more than willing collaborators. A scene of communal lovemaking in the teepee mirrors the image of a hippie commune, and reflects the free-love, open-marriage ethos associated with the Sixties.

In other words, Little Big Man meets Easy Rider. The reality? Cheyenne culture maintained strict rules of chastity and rigidly defined courtship over several years.

And, of course, even though no Jack Crabb ever spoke to Custer like this, if you were an Indian sitting in the theatre when that movie first screened, you couldn’t help grinning at this inspired bit of dialog after Custer is warned about going into Medicine Tail Coulee near the river the Indians know as the Greasy Grass and that is known ever after as Little Big Horn:

Custer: What do you say, mule skinner. Should I go down there, or withdraw?

Crabb thinking I had him. But this time what I held in my hand wasn’t a knife, but the truth.

Custer: Well? What’s your answer, mule skinner?

Crabb: General… you go down there.

Custer: You’re saying, go into the coulee?

Crabb: Yes, sir.

Custer: There are no Indians there, I suppose?

Crabb: I didn’t say that. There are thousands

of Indians down there… and when they get done with you there won’t be nothing left but a greasy spot. This ain’t the Washita River, General, and them ain’t helpless women and children waiting for you. They’re Cheyenne brave, and Sioux. You go down there if you got the nerve.

Custer: Still trying to outsmart me, aren’t you, mule skinner?

The fourth and final movie in Part I is Michael Mann’s Last of the Mohicans, a lush production of the French and Indian War filmed in the Blue Ridge Mountains and taking its title from the James Fenimore Cooper novel. For once, we have real Indians playing major and minor roles, including Wes Studi (Cherokee) and American Indian Movement activist Russell Means (Lakota).

Countless people I know think this is a great movie. And, as romance, as epic, as storytelling, as an accurate depiction of costumes and weaponry, I don’t disagree. And since it’s from James Fenimore Cooper novel, who can complain that its leading male main character is Hawkeye, a white man (Daniel Day-Lewis) with more than a touch of frontier libertarianism and love for the Mohican way of life?

Except that the film is not Cooper’s novel, but rather the 1936 screenplay of the novel adapted for the 1992 remake. And it’s riddled with problems.

Uncas (Eric Schweig – Inuit) and Cora Munro (Madeleine Stowe) are the romantic duo in Cooper’s novel, and that romance he wrote about was between a Mohican and what was once called a mulatto in America, not between the white Native-Americanized Hawkeye and an all-white Cora. Of course, Cooper himself did not write Mohicans as a romance; indeed he downplayed the whole idea in his novels. Instead of Stowe, they should perhaps have cast Halle Berry or Thandie Newton.

Shortly after the film came out, Jeffrey Walker wrote Deconstructing an American Myth: Hollywood and The Last of the Mohicans

To focus on the love affair between American literature’s most strongly individualistic, anti-authoritarian, and anti-British mythic hero and Cora Munro is to miss the essential theme and flavor of Cooper’s classic tale. As James Franklin Beard informs us in his historical introduction to the SUNY edition of the novel, The Last of the Mohicans is not finally about such peripheral action as two lovers (particularly white ones), but about the “unremitting, frequently violent, always exasperating contest between the Native Americans and the intruders, white immigrants and settlers of every description” and its consequences: the destruction of the last vestiges of a race of Native-Americans.

Next week: The New Revisionism and Indians make movies about Indians.

Austin Rollcall :: Native American Caucus :: Updatedx3

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I will be organizing the Native American Caucus again this year at Netroots Nation in Austin.

Time and room assignments have not been issued yet but most likely will take place on Thursday, August 17th in the early afternoon at 9 a.m.  I will update this diary when I receive this info.

Please comment below if you are going to attend the convention.

Also, if you are unable to attend please comment below on the topics you would like us to discuss.

I will diary a recap with photos after the event.



Rain from Street Prophets will be doing a Star designed quilt this year with a Native American blogger focus.  She has invited the members of this blog to stop by her table and sign a patch. I will be signing one.  Please spread the word.

Update 2:

Rain has posted a photo of the Star Quilt below in the comments.  It is beautiful!

Update 3:

The room location and time has been posted for our caucus:

Native American Caucus

Thu, 07/17/2008 – 9:00am, Room 11

Connect with like-minded folks and talk with others from your community in our identity, issue and regional caucuses.

Full Schedule here:…


McCain Visited by Andrew Jackson

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“You introduced legislation (S1973-1 and S.1003) and claimed that legislation was justified by a non-existent range war between the Dineh and the Hopi,” Andrew Jackson said –


– to McCain.

McCain & Bush

“Your bogus claim that the Navajo and the Hopi were having land disputes when the truth was they weren’t, was refreshing to me and reminded me of my intentions to steal their land at any cost to them.



The Dineh (otherwise known as Navajo) were stripped of all land title and forced to relocate. Their land was turned over to the coal companies without making any provisions to protect the burial or sacred sites that would be destroyed by the mines. People whose lives were based in their deep spiritual and life-giving relationship with the land were relocated into cities, often without compensation, forbidden to return to the land that their families had occupied for generations. People became homeless with significant increases in alcoholism, suicide, family break up, emotional abuse and death.


“I feel that in relocating these elderly people, we are as bad as the Nazis that ran the concentration camps in World War II.”

Roger Lewis, federally appointed Relocation Commissioner upon resignation


“I believe that the forced relocation of Navajo and Hopi people that followed from the passage in 1974 of Public Law 93-531 is a major violation of these people’s human rights. Indeed this forced relocation of over 12,000 Native Americans is one of the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement that I have studied throughout the world over the past 40 years.” — Thayer Scudder, Professor of Anthropology, California Institute of Technology in a letter to Mr. Abdelfattah Amor, UN Special Rapporteur on Religious Intolerance



“You introduced legislation (S1973-1 and S.1003) which resulted in forcibly relocating the elderly and helped create what Scudder called “one of the worst cases of involuntary community resettlement that I have studied throughout the world over the past 40 years” and what Wager called,  “the largest forced relocation of U.S. citizens since the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II.” And, you “claimed” that legislation was justified by a non-existent range war between the Dineh and the Hopi.”

“You’re hypocritical like I am,”

Andrew Jackson

“It will be my sincere and constant desire to observe toward the Indian tribes within our limits a just and liberal policy, and to give that humane and considerate attention to their rights and their wants which is consistent with the habits of our Government and the feelings of our people.”


“aren’t you?

McCain & Bush


The justification for Public Law 93-531 passed by Congress in 1974 was that the Navajo-Hopi land dispute is so serious that 10,000 Navajos near Big Mountain, Arizona, must be relocated, forcibly if necessary. It would be the largest forced relocation of U.S. citizens since the relocation of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

But tradition-minded Navajo and Hopi claim there never was a land dispute. They say the dispute was invented to get the Navajos and their livestock off mineral-rich land in the Hopi reservation so it could be developed by mining companies such as Peabody Coal and Kerr-McGee.



John McCain’s political history is loaded with abuse of his position concerning lobbyists. Since posting actual links is against HuffPo policy, do the simple research yourself.

Look into the forcible removal of the Dineh tribes, known as the Navajo, in Arizona. Follow his ties to Atty John Boyden and the Peabody Western Group (nka Peabody Energy) and their advantages gained from McCain’s legislation S1973-1 and S1003. He pushed Atty Gen Reno in forcing them off their treaty lands and onto

a nuclear waste site (Church Hill, Nevada) through the “Relocation Commission” Look up PL 93-531. Genocide for the expansion of mining rights. Follow the money that supported his political career from the energy elites that own the Mohave Generating Station in Nevada. John McCain is a corrupt politician and the evidence is there to prove it. posted 02/21/2008 at 11:28:47

John McCain “knows what’s best for America”, and that’s Straight Talk, my friends….unless of course you’re a Native American.

Pretty Bird Woman House Needs a Coat of Paint +

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This diary is an update on the Pretty Bird Woman House and a request for a few small donations. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, it’s a women’s shelter on the South Dakota side of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation that the netroots came together to help in its time of need.  

Anyway, the shelter has been operating for about a month, and wonderful things have been happening since they closed on the house in February.

One exciting development has been that many members of the McLaughlin community have gone from being suspicious to being supporters. That’s one reason we’re raising money right now: a youth group from a local church as volunteered to paint the house.

More below the fold.

The Pretty Bird Woman House is Up and Running!

As I said above, the shelter officially opened for business about a month ago.

Despite the fact that they haven’t been able to get the fence up due to an incredible amount of inclement weather, it has been full.  Until the fence is installed (which it should be by the end of the month) the staff are taking women who feel that their spouses might stalk them to another one farther away. The security system was installed a while ago, so the women who do stay at the house are safe anyway. The local police department has also been increasing its patrols around the house.

In April, Pretty Bird Woman House also co-sponsored a domestic violence workshop for all residents of the reservation, which was the first time something like that has happened there.

In addition to being extremely successful as a conference, afterward two  elder women approached Georgia with the idea of doing talks at local schools on what love really is and developing self-respect, so the girls especially don’t think they have to put up with any kind of abuse. This group is still in the planning stages, but I thought it was a wonderful indication of the ripple effect that the shelter can have on the reservation.

A couple of weeks ago, a youth group from local church approached Georgia with an offer of volunteer time this summer. As you will see from the photos below, since the house is sorely in need of a coat of paint, she asked them to paint it.

Even Georgia was was surprised at how badly the paint is peeling when she took a closer look at it.

peeling paint


The youth group will be painting the house July 8th – 11th.

Since this church doesn’t have affluent members, and therefore can’t send housepaint along with their kids, I have started a fundraiser for the paint and painting supplies.

So far we have $175.01. To buy about 20 gallons of paint and brushes, scrapers, etc., I figure we’ll need about $800 more. That’s only 80 people giving $10 each, or 40 giving $20 each. I know people have been stretched thin by donating to the campaigns and $4 a gallon gas, but this is really just the price of a bottle of wine. So how about it?

You can donateat the ChipIn page here,or by clicking the ChipIn widget at the Pretty Bird Woman House blog here

A few more words about community support

As some of you might remember, when the Pretty Bird Woman House board was in the process of buying the house, the City of McLaughlin, which is a non-Indian town in the middle of the Reservation, passed an ordinance mandating that all non-profits that were sheltering people get a permit first. This was in response to problems with a homeless shelter, but it also affected the PBWH. The first Town Council meeting was tense, and comments by a few Council members seemed to have racial overtones. We were worried. I diaried that here.

However, afterward the Mayor and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD) came out publicly in support of the shelter. By the next meeting, the Council made a 360 degree turnaround, and unanimously approved the permit for the shelter.

All of that made me wonder how the community would respond afterward.

When Georgia told me what has been going on, I felt as if she were telling me about some Disney movie.

The first time they needed their lawn cut, a woman from the Lutheran church, which had been the owner of the house, came over and mowed it herself.

The next time it needed to be cut, the MAYOR himself showed up on his riding mower. Heh heh, when’s the last time your mayor cut YOUR lawn?

And, then we had the youth group volunteering to help as well.

So, let’s buy some house paint!

Go here.

Since more than 1,000 people donated to the first fundraiser, I figure this one should be a cinch.

Another subject: anybody have any advice?

Since I started this project, everything I see turns out to be an illustration of a larger problem.

Georgia is having such severe back pain now that a doctor at a private clinic suggested she go on disability. Why? The Indian Health Service is refusing to approve a CAT scan or any other diagnostic test so the doctors can tell exactly what is wrong with her. Is it a disc issue, or arthritis, or something worse? If we leave it up to the IHS, she’ll never find out.

Because the IHS has refused to either permit her to be properly diagnosed or send her to a chiropractor, or give her the proper amount of pain medication Georgia finally went to a private clinic, where at least they would give her an x-ray (don’t know the results).

Just as bad, the IHS will only give her a prescription for a few pain killers at a time. That means that she has to drive 2 hours to the IHS office, or put up with more pain. If she doesn’t get proper medical attention soon, she might not be able to walk, in which case she might have go on disability anyway. Since Georgia lives for her job, that would be terrible on a number of levels.

I know some of you will have some expert opinions I can pass on to her.

I wanted to say “another WTF moment brought to you by George Bush,” but it’s just typical IHS behavior.

So the larger issue is the IHS’s terrible medical care. We can see how local doctors recognize that Medicaid and Medicare both provide better service. How can we let this go on?

I advised Georgia to call Rep. Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin’s office to see if one of the LAs there can help. The Congresswoman has been so supportive of the shelter, even buying it a washer and dryer, that I’m sure they’ll  help.

Can anyone else think of something else Georgia could do to get proper medical care?

What she had wanted to do was get Aflac or some other type of supplementary health insurance for the entire shelter staff just for these types of things, but their federal grant doesn’t cover that cost. She’s going to apply for a foundation grant for that, but that’s a crap shoot sometimes.

So, if anyone has any ideas, let me know, and I’ll pass them on to Georgia.

Again, thanks so much for all your support. Now I wish we could also help Georgia get some decent medical care.

And, don’t forget. The shelter needs a new coat of paint. No contribution is too small not to be greatly appreciated. You can contribute here.

If you like to shop, think shampoo and diapers!

Exposing Revisionist History: Washita Massacre w/ Modern Implications

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Since some have questioned the validity of the Police Brutality against Longest Walkers in Ohio, perhaps a little history review is in order. Who is innocent and who is guilty? Which side of the story is predominantly told and why? These are questions needing to be asked, for the devastating effects of genocide are still alive today.

Attempts to revise history are abundant in this video.


The soldiers never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged, but reported the misdeeds of the Indians.

And especially having “never explained to the government when an Indian was wronged,” was Custer. Distrubing is the fact that some people still try to spread his lies after 140 years.

So, let us review –

Moxtaveto (“Black Kettle”) at Washita: November 27, 1868 (Introduction) (Updated Title),

Moxtaveto (“Black Kettle”) at Washita: 11- 27, 1868 (Re-introduction),

Custer In The Whitehouse & The Abandonment Of Major Elliot (Updated),

Custer “Stayed The Course” & The Kansas Raids,

Custer’s Indian Hostages: (One White Woman & 2 White Children, Part 1),

and Custer’s Indian Hostages: (One White Woman & 2 White Children, Part 2),

– what really happened, again.

Custer’s tactical errors of rushing ahead of the established military plans and dividing his troops are well known, which resulted in his and all his men’s deaths.


On the verge of what seemed to him a certain and glorious victory for both the United States and himself, Custer ordered an immediate attack on the Indian village. Contemptuous of Indian military prowess, he split his forces into three parts to ensure that fewer Indians would escape. The attack was one the greatest fiascos of the United States Army, as thousands of Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho warriors forced Custer’s unit back onto a long, dusty ridge parallel to the Little Bighorn, surrounded them, and killed all 210 of them.

Yet, what enabled him to get back “on the course” after his court martial in 1867 and his being relieved by President Ulysses S. Grant temporarily in 1876?

The answers to that question are deception, wisely having prevented Washita from being labeled a massacre by halting the slaying of women and children at Washita; thus, sidestepping a full investigation as Sand Creek was (my speculation), and more lies.

Confining and binding those Native Nations to land where they could not survive by hunting or agriculture, breaking promises to provide those survival means, and propaganda revolving around the Kansas Raids reset Custer “on the course,” as if they were without severe provocation in the first place. As was stated in Moxtaveto (“Black Kettle”) at Washita: November 27, 1868 (Introduction) (Updated Title),Moxtaveto was innocent.

So what about the other Dog Soldiers, weren’t they somehow to blame in all this? An old Indian joke goes, “When the whites win, it’s a victory; when the Indians win, it’s a massacre.” Let’s look at what occurred amongst the Chiefs after the Sand Creek Massacre and prior to the Kansas Raids to find some answers, in between the “victories” and the “massacres.”

Halfbreed: The Remarkable True Story of George Bent – Caught Between the Worlds of the Indian and… By Andrew Edward Masich, David Fridtjof Halaas

And so, when the Chiefs gathered to decide what the people should do, Black Kettle took his usual place among them. Everyone agreed Sand Creek must be avenged. But there were questions. Why had the soldiers attacked with such viciousness? Why had they killed and mutilated women and children?
It seemed that the conflict with the whites had somehow changed. No longer was it just a war over land and buffalo. Now, the soldiers were destroying everything Cheyenne – the land, the buffalo, and the people themselves.

Why? George thought he knew. He had lived among the whites and had fought in their war. He knew their greed for land and possessions – Their appetite for these things was boundless. But they also obeyed rules of warfare peculiar to them. They waged war on men, and only on recognized fields of battle. In the great life-and-death struggle between North and South even then raging in the East, prisoners were routinely paroled and released or held in guarded camps, where they were fed and cared for. And the whites never warred on women and children who were protected by law and by an unshakable code of honor –

Still Black Kettle counseled peace. A war with the whites, he said, could not be won. The newcomers were too numerous, their weapons too strong. Besides, they had the ability to fight in winter when Cheyenne horses were weak and food was scarce… For Black Kettle, Cheyenne survival depended on peace. War could only bring more Sand Creeks, more deaths, more sorrow –

One by one the council Chiefs smoked the red stone war pipe, each recognizing the importance of his decision.When the pipe reached Black Kettle, he passed it on, refusing to smoke. But the others took it up, indicating they would fight.

Hence, the Kansas “Raids” were the only means left available to keep what was promised to them: the ability to survive. The land “given” to them was neither harvestable nor huntable. Those “raids” were the last resort of self defense for survival of their Nations.

The Last Indian Raid in Kansas


Black Kettle miraculously escaped harm at the Sand Creek Massacre, even when he returned to rescue his seriously injured wife. And perhaps more miraculously, he continued to counsel peace when the Cheyenne attempted to strike back with isolated raids on wagon trains and nearby ranches.
By October 1865, he  and other Indian leaders had arranged an uneasy truce on the plains, signing a new treaty that exchanged the Sand Creek reservation for reservations in southwestern Kansas but deprived the Cheyenne of access to most of their coveted Kansas hunting grounds.

To further make my point, General Sheridan never even had any intention of peaceful relations with Black Kettle.

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” P. 169.

In his official report over the “savage butchers” and “savage bands of cruel marauders,” General Sheridan rejoiced that he had “wiped out Black Kettle, a worn – out and worthless old cipher.”

He then stated that he had promised Black Kettle sanctuary if he would come into a fort before military operations began. “He refused,” Sheridan lied, “and was killed in the fight.”

In fact, it is owed to General Sheridan himself the “American aphorism,” “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” It started as “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”

Whether Black Kettle strove for peace or not, whether the dog soldiers fought or not, they were all as “good as dead” in the eyes of Sheridan and Custer. The extermination policy set Custer “on the course” to Washita; the Kansas “Raids” merely gave that engine of death a refill.


Given the War Department’s mandate that all Cheyennes were guilty for the sins of the few in regard to the Kansas raids, there is no question that Custer succeeded in this pur­pose by attacking Black Kettle’s village. His instructions from his supe­riors had been “to destroy their villages and ponies; to kill or hang all warriors, and bring back all women and children.”

The Approaching Genocide At Washita

Custer was pursuing the snow tracks of Dog Soldiers that would eventually lead to Black Kettle’s village on Thanksgiving Day in a cruel irony. The cruelest irony however, was that Black Kettle and his wife would be slain nearly four years to the day that they both escaped Chivington at the Sand Creek Massacre. Black Kettle’s honesty concerning young men in his village he could not control was of no avail. He and his village were going to be “punished” and broken beyond any immediate or distant recovery.

John Corbin, the messenger from Major Elliot, rode up and informed Custer of two large Indian snow tracks. One was recent. Preparations were then made to pursue the “savages” as covertly as possible. Smoking ceased and weapons were bound to prevent visual or aural detection. In addition, the 7th whispered and paused frequently as they rode slowly towards the future tracks that would lead to Black Kettle’s village. Simultaneously, Black Kettle received dire warnings that he and the others ignored. A Kiowa war party gave the first warning of having seen soldier’s tracks that were heading their direction. It was discounted. Black Kettle’s wife, Medicine Woman, gave another warning that night before the 7th’s arrival of an intuitive nature during the meeting in the Peace Chief’s lodge by firelight. She begged them to move immediately. It too was dismissed. They would move the next day, instead.

Black Kettle had already moved their camp recently, which the returning war party that had helped in the Kansas Raids learned upon their returning. November 25th found this war party dividing into two different directions in order to reach their destinations the quickest. Approximately 139 of them traveled to the big village on the river, while about 11 of them led Custer straight to Black Kettle. A bell around one dog’s neck enabled all the dogs to be located easily by the tribe, and after a Cheyenne baby cried, Custer pinpointed their exact location. He coordinated the attack to begin at dawn from four fronts.

Thompson’s troops would attack to the North East, Myer’s and Custer’s troops positioned to attack to the East and South East, while Elliot would attack to the South.

Custer knew their mobility was greatly hampered in winter time; consequently, that was an important element in the “campaign.”

The Genocide At Washita

The sensory components of the genocide at Washita in now Cheyenne, Oklahoma must be held in mind in order to capture the entire breadth of it. These are sound, smell, and sight. For example, the shrill crying of the noncombatant Cheyenne women and children, and the yelling of the charging 7th Calvary with their knives and guns would have been beyond deafening. And the fog with gunpowder smoke must have been worse than any nightmare, while the red blood – stained snow and the smell of death permeated the ground and air.

The Death & Vision of Moxtaveto ( Black Kettle)

A woman dashed into the village to warn Black Kettle of the coming troopers; he hastily snatched his rifle from his lodge and fired a warning shot for all to awaken and flee. If he had attempted to meet the soldiers and ask for peaceful negotiations, that would have been useless; as a result, he then mounted his horse with his wife, Woman Here After, and tried to escape through the North direction. His horse was shot in the leg before bullets knocked him and his wife off the horse and into the Washita River, where they both died together.


“Both the chief and his wife fell at the river bank riddled with bullets,” one witness reported, “the soldiers rode right over Black Kettle and his wife and their horse as they lay dead on the ground, and their bodies were all splashed with mud by the charging soldiers.” Custer later reported that an Osage guide took Black Kettle’s scalp.

A few miles from Black Kettle’s death

Warriors, eleven who died, rushed out of their lodges with inferior firepower to defend the village. Simultaneously, the overall noncombatants ran for their lives into the freezing Washita River.

(Taken with permission)

The words of Ben Clark, Custer’s chief of scouts, brought out the truth after Custer distributed the propaganda about one white woman and two white boys –

Since she didn’t want her son mutilated by Custer or a 7th Calvary soldier; since she didn’t want her vagina ripped out with a weapon and put on a stick, or worn, or have her reproductive organs made into a tobacco pouch – she killed her son and herself first.

Jerome A. Greene. Washita. Chap.7. pp130-131

There, as the people fell at the hands of the troopers, one woman, in a helpless rage, stood up with her baby, held it out in an outstretched arm, and with the other drew a knife and fatally stabbed the infant – erroneously believed by the soldiers to be a white child. She then plunged the blade into her own chest in suicide.

Close to Black Kettle’s death at Washita

The 7th hunted them down and murdered them, and although the orders were to “hang all warriors;” it was much more convenient to shoot the Cheyenne. All wounded Cheyenne were shot where they laid.

Osage scouts mutilated women and children. In fact, they did a “roundup” of their own by using tree limbs to herd the defenseless Cheyenne women and children back to the village, where the mutilations could continue. Custer halted the slaying of women and children at one point, but he raped them later in captivity.

One Osage scout beheaded a Cheyenne.

Jerome A. Greene. Washita. Chap.7. pp120

They (Osages) “shot down the women and mutilated their bodies, cutting off their arms, legs and breasts with knives.”

The 7th Calvary captured the Cheyenne and then started bonfires. They burned the 51 lodges to the ground. Winter clothing that was depended upon for winter survival was incinerated in the bonfires, as was food supplies. In addition, weapons and all lodge contents were burned, including any sacred items. Finally, 875 horses were shot, thus stripping away their last means of survival and independence.

Dee Brown. “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.” P.170

Late in December the survivors of Black Kettle’s band began arriving at Fort Cobb –

Little Robe was now the nominal leader of the tribe, and was taken to see Sheridan he told the bearlike soldier chief that his people were starving – they had eaten all their dogs.

Sheridan replied that the Cheyennes would be fed if they all came into Fort Cobb and surrendered unconditionally. “You cannot make peace now and commence killing whites again in the spring.” Sheridan added, “If you are not willing to make a complete peace, you can go back and we will fight this thing out.”

Little Robe knew there was but one answer he could give.

“It is for you to say what we have to do,” he said.

The Cheyenne women were “transported” by an officer named Romero to the other officers once they were prisoners at Fort Cobb.


Custer “enjoyed one” every evening in the privacy of his tent. Presumably, he stopped  raping the Cheyenne women when his wife arrived.


Custer’s wife, Elizabeth (Bacon), whom he married in 1864, lived to the age of ninety-one. The couple had no children. She was devoted to his memory, wrote three books about him, and when she died in 1933 was buried beside him at West Point.
Her Tenting on the Plains (1887) presents a charming picture of their stay in Texas. Custer’s headquarters building in Austin, the Blind Asylum, located on the “Little Campus” of the University of Texas, has been restored.

Jerome A. Greene. “Washita.” Chap. 8, p.169:

Ben Clack told Walter M. Camp: many of the squaws captured at Washita were used by the officers…Romero was put in charge of them and on the march Romero would send squaws around to the officers’ tents every night. [Clark] says Custer picked out a fine looking one and had her in his tent every night.”

This statement is more or less confirmed by Frederick Benteen, who in 1896 asserted that Custer selected Monahseetah/Meotzi from among the women prisoners and cohabited with her “during the winter and spring ao 1868 and ’69” until his wife arrived in the summer of 1869. Although Benteen’s assertions regarding Custer are not always to be trusted, his statements nonetheless conform entirely to those of the reliable Ben Clark and thus cannot be ignored.”

Further information regarding accurate numbers of deaths, captives and list of names are in Jerome A. Greene’s wonderful book, “Washita.”


We have been traveling through a cloud. The sky has been dark ever since the war began.

Black Kettle

To conclude, what is the best way to combat revisionist history in my opinion?

The descendants camped where Custer’s 7th Calvary had attacked Black Kettle’s camp one century earlier; however, they were unaware that the grandsons of Custer’s 7th would be coming over the hill firing guns with blanks in them. When the 7th Calvary’s grandsons came towards them on horses firing blanks in their weapons, there were many feelings of surprise, fear, anger, and betrayal experienced by the Sand Creek Massacre descendants. Remember, the Sand Creek Massacre descendants and the ones who were slain at Washita were the same individuals.


Unknown to the Cheyenne,a California

group called the Grandsons of the

Seventh Calvary,Grand Army of the

Republic,had been asked to join the


A line was formed after the reenactment with the grandsons of the 7th Calvary, who obviously wanted to help in this healing, at the front of the line. Lawrence Hart, a Mennonite pastor, felt very angry as he watched the bones of the child being passed down it towards the front. A Native woman then put a blanket over the little coffin containing the child’s bones, which continued to be passed down the line to Hart. The blanket was then handed to him.

Among the Cheyenne was Lawrence

Hart, a peace chief and a Mennonite pastor. The celebration became tense. The final event of the day was the re-burial of the victim’s remains. The small coffin was covered with a beautiful new woolen blanket. According to Cheyenne tradition, the blanket would be given to a guest.

The older peace chiefs asked Hart to give the blanket to the captain of the Grandsons of the Seventh Calvary! He couldn’t believe what they were asking. This man was the enemy! Hart’s own great-grandfather, Afraid of Beavers, had barely escaped the attack by hiding in a snowdrift.

Hart was tense. As the captain came forward, Hart told him to turn around. Hart’s trembling hands then draped the beautiful blanket over the captain’s shoulders.

It was a grand moment. The wise Cheyenne peace chiefs had initiated peace. The Grandsons embraced the chiefs. Some cried. Some apologized. When Hart greeted the captain, the officer took the Garry Owen pin from his own uniform and handed it to Hart. “Accept this on behalf of all Cheyenne Indian people,” the captain said. “Never again will your people hear “Garry Owen.”

Read that last sentence again said by the captain, and remember that “Garry Owen” was the song Custer had his band play right before the exterminations began at Washita.

“Accept this on behalf of all Cheyenne

Indian people,” the captain said.“Never again will your people hear Garry Owen.”

The lady I spoke with said there wasn’t a dry eye left.

I think a tree makes a sound in the forest, even if nobody is around to hear it.

Approximately ¼ mile from Black Kettle’s death.

With the heart.

Native Voices: Black Kettle

Police Brutality against Longest Walkers in Ohio (Updated)

( – promoted by navajo)


Thanks to Meteor Blades for finding this photo!…

Imagine beginning to walk from San Francisco in order to raise awareness about American Indian concerns in a good way and having walked over 2,400 miles since February; but then, you get to Ohio where eight police cars come swooping at you while one does the blocking. Suddenly, an officer comes and reaches into the window, grabbing the wheel.


COLUMBUS Ohio – Unprovoked Columbus, Ohio police, attacked Long Walkers, by first pointing a taser at the head of Michael Lane and then forcing Luv the Mezenger to the ground and handcuffing him.

The Longest Walk Northern Route was walking this prayer through Columbus on Monday, June 2, when squad cars and arrest wagons arrived. Without discussion of the purpose of the prayer walk, or even verify that the Ohio Department of Transportation had been notified of the prayer walk, police attacked the walkers.

I suppose I can understand why, but not really.

Michael Lane, who arrived on the walk with his wife, Sharon Heta, Maori, and their children from New Zealand, was targeted by police with a taser.

As dozens of police came at the walkers, a police officer held a taser three feet away from Lane’s head.

It must be truly terrifying for some to have the truth about the suicides on reservations, the lack of justice on reservations, climate change, alcohol and drug addiction in the American Indian population, health concerns of American Indians, and the worries of the American Indian People in general becoming public knowledge. I suppose I can understand.

Anyone, anyone whosoever with a taser and a gun would just cuff ’em & stuff ’em too, wouldn’t they?

Luv the Mezenger from Los Angeles went to the aid of Lane. At that point, police officers threw Luv on the ground and handcuffed him.


(from a Myspace bulletin)

To the Editor:

Columbus, OH has once again distinguished itself. After walking more than 2,400 miles from San Francisco since February, a group of men, women and children experienced their first police problem on their journey in Columbus. The Longest Walk is a group of about forty mostly Native American people who are walking to Washington DC for the Seventh Generation for youth, peace, justice, the healing of Mother Earth, heart conditions, alcoholism, drug addiction and other diseases. It is a spiritual walk, a historical walk, and a walk for educational awareness for the American and world communities about the concerns of the American Indian People. And, as they go, they are picking up trash.

On Monday, June 2, as this peaceful group walked in the parking lane and on the sidewalk on the west side of Columbus on Main Street, eight police cars zoomed up, one blocking their way. A police officer came up to a van that follows the walkers and reached into the window and grabbed and yanked the steering wheel. He yelled at the young woman who was driving a carload of young children and threatened Your children would be taken away and given to Childrens Services! As the children began to cry, their mothers who were walking came to see what was wrong and to comfort them. A walker charged with security came up and was grabbed, kneed, thrown to the ground and handcuffed. A police officer pointed a taser gun at the head of a walker who was also an attorney as he spoke to the police. A grandmother spoke softly to an officer asking what the concern was and trying to calm a situation that was becoming increasingly frightening. She pointed out “We are like your mothers, your sisters, your children. Ultimately the walkers were allowed to continue, but were badly shaken by this unprovoked and frightening experience.

The walkers have walked though the snow, extreme rain, and the blazing sun. They are often tired, hungry, thirsty and sore. They will continue through Ohio on Route 40 to their destination of Washington DC, expecting to arrive next month.

I hope our leaders will ask questions about our Columbus Welcome to these peaceful people who were picking up our trash as they walked for health, justice and the environment.

If you are embarrassed for our city by our polices harassment, as I am, consider sending a message of support and a donation if you are able, to the Longest Walk at their website at www. longestwalk. org.

Netroots Nation Can Be More Inclusive with Your Help

Last summer, Kid Oakland did what many of us kinda, sorta, in our mental wanderings had pondered but utterly failed to put into action. He began raising money to help people who wanted to attend the Yearlykos Chicago gathering but couldn’t afford it.

He’d met many such people on-line in his ongoing outreach efforts with state and local blogs. Like others of us in progressive wwwLand, KO was a true believer in the “50-state strategy” before it became Howard Dean’s goal. Before Howard Dean was even a candidate for the Democratic nomination. Before there even was a progressive blogosphere to help make that organizing strategy more than wishful thinking.

A key aspect of such a progressive strategy is inclusiveness. While we all have little trouble applauding diversity when it comes to gender, orientation, age, ethnicity or disability, there’s not infrequently a blind spot when it comes to class, something the powers-that-be have tried to erase from the national consciousness without erasing its reality from daily life. KO went about trying to ensure a modest remedy by doing what plenty of us hate doing even when the cause is righteous: actually asking for money. What he raised would provide a few “scholarships” to Yearlykos. When he was done asking, 19 people, 17 of whom you can read about here, people who otherwise could not have attended, were in Chicago, enriching themselves and everyone else in attendance with their presence.

One of last year’s attendees subsequently got herself chosen as a delegate for the Denver Democratic Convention this year. Another was involved in the recent imbroglio over blogger credentials at the Convention.

This year, the successor to Yearlykos, Netroots Nation, is happening in Austin. The NN Scholarship Program drive has gotten underway six weeks earlier than last year.

The Democracy for America folks originally committed to contributing nine scholarships, but enough additional money has already been contributed to raise that to 16. You can apply for a scholarship here. The deadline is June 9. You can apply under your “real” name or your screen moniker. You’ll have to tell why you deserve a scholarship and provide some other information.

At the same site, you can vote for nominees – at last count there were 87 – whom you think are most deserving. Votes matter, but other criteria – ethnicity, gender, urban/rural, et cetera – will be taken into account when the scholarships are awarded.

If you click on the right-side icon, you can contribute money to provide additional scholarships. That’s extremely important. There’s no reason we shouldn’t improve on the number of scholarships from last year. Let’s say 35.

Scholarships cover the entire cost of Netroots Nation registration and hotel charges (except the minibar and adult channels). But “scholars” will have to pay for a few things themselves, including getting to Austin, food and beverages while there, that “Don’t Mess with Texas” tee-shirt, and “incidentals.”

There are other ways to contribute besides cash:

Land of Enchantment is coordinating a supplemental program for donating frequent-flyer miles. Contact her at her gmail account, which you can find on her user profile page here.  

If you registered and have since learned you can’t attend Austin or you’ve been approved for a panel and won’t be using your registration, you can donate it, again by contacting Land of Enchantment.

If you know someone who you think is worthy, encourage them to apply.

What are you waiting for?  Go vote. Go contribute. Go apply.

+ + +

Crossposted at Daily Kos.

Billy Mills endorses Obama

( – promoted by navajo)

Via Deoliver47 on Daily Kos, Native Times is reporting that Billy Mills, a Lakota Sioux Olympic gold medalist born and raised on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation came out today in support of Barack Obama — all the more notable because Mills is a Republican:

Mills, who won the 1964 Olympic gold in the 10,000-meter run in one of the greatest upsets in Olympic history, said that he was a lifelong Republican, but that he had been inspired by Obama’s track record of uniting Americans from all walks of life. He also noted Obama’s background as the son of a single, working mom and his youth in Hawaii and Indonesia as predictive of his ability to understand and work for people in underserved communities.

Mills rose to prominence at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo where he came in as a virtual unknown and stunned the world by surging forward from third place in the final lap to capture the gold medal. He has since been inducted into the U.S. Track and Field Hall of Fame and the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame.

The 1983 film “Running Brave” starred Robby Benson as a young Mills.

Mills concluded his endorsement by saying, “Barack Obama is the right choice for Indian Country and all of South Dakota.”