Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mitakuye Oyasin

On June 25, 1876,  the U.S. Army’s 7th cavalry, under the command of George Armstrong Custer, moved against a village Lakota, Cheyenne and Arapaho where they camped along the banks of the Greasy Grass Creek – called “Little Big Horn” by the wasichus, in what is now Montana. The “surprise attack” had been seen in a vision by Lakota religious leader, Sitting Bull.  Led principally by Crazy Horse, the Indians responded to the threat by mounting a decisive counter-attack (or, more precisely an attack-on the –preparation) that wiped out the infamous Custer and five companies of his regiment.
I always commemorate the day in some way, because it isn’t often that the good guys win one, and even less often do they win in spectacular fashion. I wonder whether one of my forebears participated in that fight.
Previously, Custer had led an attack against a peaceful village of Cheyennes living with Chief Black Kettle on the Washita River. They were living there at the behest of the U.S.  There was a white flag flying over one of the lodges, and Black Kettle was reportedly displayed an American Flag he’d been given to show that he was a “friendly” Indian, i.e., one who had conceded to the U.S. government’s demands.  Custer and his men murdered around a hundred Cheyennes that day, including many women and children.  The slaughter was hailed as a great victory
The Lakotas and their allies were fighting to protect their homes and families and their freedom from invaders. Their only offense was refusing to surrender to the demands of the United States government. Today, no doubt, the U.S. would call them “terrorists.”
What’s that they say about history repeating itself?


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