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Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Lessons Of Wounded Knee- The Sunday Collage

The midday sun was beating down on me. I wear a do rag on my head mostly because I have no hair to hide my scalp anymore. In high winds, the rag helps keep my sun glass frames where they should be and keeps my scalp from turning into beef jerky. Thank God in this state, I still have the freedom to decide what to wear- at least for a little while longer.

Can you imagine Custer wearing a helmet?

Every time I am here, I have this spiritual feeling that floods over me- like I have been here long ago. Just like the first time. I don't know what to call that- but it is undeniable. On two wheels, Spearfish Canyon is one of the most beautiful venues there is. I am due south and east, traveling to a little town called Pine Ridge. They don't like me there. I am white. The young Indians flash vitriolic looks my way and then quickly look away. The defiant ones just stare at you. You can feel the hatred and the years of Indian indoctrination. I am a trespasser here. The hate is tangible. I am some hideous reminder of what happened to them once. A wound that will never heal. In the old days, I just hated them back. Like the Crows. I find an old woman who will talk to me. She gives me the final directions to Wounded Knee. Due east, turn left at some billboard. It is no more than 15 miles and I am there. In awe.

This was the first time.

There is a hill with a little cemetery at the top with an arch. The graves have coins, cigarettes, and six packs of beer on them. There are manufactured homes nearby. At the base of the hill on the highway- there is a giant, green, wrought iron sign that tells somebody's version of what happened here 110 years ago. Scrawled on the sign, in black grease pen, somebody has written "lies." The sign has been shot several times. There is no monument, no light colored brick building where the government charges you 20 bucks to park and renders their version of what happened that winter of 1890. Two old Sioux women are selling dream catchers and jewelry from the back of pickup trucks near the sign on a dirt turn out. I made a mistake. I asked them where the "battlefield" was. One woman pointed a crooked and wrinkled index finger north towards the hillside. The other says, "there was no battle."   

So I did the unthinkable. I asked what happened and she told me. That would never happen nowadays because people are too afraid to even strike up a conversation. She said that the government had offered millions to the tribe to buy the venue and do what they always do. Tell their version of events. But the Sioux nation said no. They had not taken the bribe.

I mulled that over briefly. About 15 years now. I have been back so many times, that I can no longer remember one trip distinctly. They have all merged into one single and good memory wherein I cannot distinguish the true from the false. It is better that way I think.

History has always been told by the winners. Except here. Black Elk was present when Custer was killed. He survived Wounded Knee. And because someone had the vision to speak with him- history was told by the vanquished in "Black Elk Speaks." The American military handed out medals for slaughtering the Sioux that day- and counted up their own dead. Sans the proper autopsies, the notoriously inaccurate and lead spraying Hotchkiss guns of the US Cavalry probably accounted for most if not all, of the soldier fatalities that day- although undoubtedly the Sioux took the initial blame.

The government covers up friendly fire deaths. It is one of those embarrassing and inconvenient things that we do and continue to do. Like the death of Pat Tilman and the odd circumstances surrounding the deaths of Seal Team 6 fresh from the execution of Bin Laden- all on one chopper.

Sioux nation doesn't tolerate government bullshit like we do. They are still pissed that the United States government handed out those 20 Medals of Honor to cowardly men with no restraint- who slaughtered women and children.

I can't imagine why the Sioux didn't turn over the keys to Uncle Sam.

I read "Black Elk Speaks" as a young man. So I've always had a little distrust for government. That seemed to grow over the years as I discovered the history of central banking, FDR's seizure of our citizens gold, and the imprisoning of Japanese Americans without due process. It continued through the fraud of the Gulf of Tonkin, the war in Vietnam, Nixon and Watergate, CIA plots to kill foreign leaders, Reagan's creation of the Presidents Working Group on Financial Markets aka the Plunge Protection Team which rigs what are supposed to be "free" markets to this very day. The Bush family weapons of mass destruction, the Clintons who solicited bribes, beat Whitewater, Vince Foster, cattle future scandals, and pardoned over 300 convicted criminals and stole some White House furnishings as they departed. And this latest buffoon. This guy is so full of shit- that as a nation- we can't even figure out if he is a citizen, a Muslim, where and how he got his social security number, and rather than hold this liar's feet to the fire- we have a whole nation of enabling sycophants that look the other way and ridicule us for asking questions.

Perhaps Edward Snowden read Black Elk Speaks.

Given the track record of our government, a picture begins to take shape for those of us card carrying members with just a minimal amount of consciousness and comprehension skills. That club by the way, is shrinking.

So call me a nut job- but I don't trust my own government. Not in the slightest. I understand human nature and I understand what happens when power meets authority. And I don't trust the majority of Americans, either. I think they are the most uneducated, superficial, apathetic, self absorbed people on the planet and their blind obedience to a proven and dishonest government scares me. If you are a regular reader here, you are probably excluded.

My first visit to Wounded Knee left me wondering why my government hadn't preserved that place. Fifteen years later- I get it and I celebrate Sioux Nation giving Washington the finger. Think treaties.

 Vine Deloria Jr.
“Never has America lost a war ... But name, if you can, the last peace the United States won. Victory yes, but this country has never made a successful peace because peace requires exchanging ideas, concepts, thoughts, and recognizing the fact that two distinct systems of life can exist together without conflict. Consider how quickly America seems to be facing its allies of one war as new enemies.”
Vine Deloria Jr., Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto