2019 JAN FEB DOWN COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE DCR Jan.Feb.2019 web - Page 56

ey Chapter 36 A Under the Eternal Stars After­the­massacre­at­the­Battle­of­the­Little­Big­Horn,­a­vast number­of­Indian­refugees­fled­over­the­borders­into­Canada. There­they­dwelt,­drawing­three­pounds­of­beef­a­day­from­ar- bitrary­uniformed­individuals,­who­were­strangely­lacking­in sympathy,­and­very­observant­of­the­few­rules­and­regulations which­a­mysterious­White­Mother­over­the­sea­had­seen­fit­to impose.­Three­pounds­of­meat­a­day­is­not­much.­Still­it­is enough­to­get­along­on,­and­with­the­necessity,­and­indeed,­the opportunity­of­the­chase­gone,­the­bucks­were­able­to­wax­lazy, drunken,­and­generally­shiftless­to­their­hearts’­content.­All­this was­frowned­on­by­the­uniformed­individuals,­but­opportuni- ties­were­not­far­to­seek. There­ has­ never­ been­ a­ nation­ more­ warlike,­ brave,­ and hardy­than­the­Sioux­in­its­native­environment­of­war­and­hunt- ing.­These­two­furnished­every­point­of­leverage­—­physical, moral,­intellectual­—­which­the­Sioux­required­to­lift­him­to­the level­of­his­greatest­efficiency.­From­the­buffalo­itself­the­Sioux family­obtained­its­supply­of­wigwams,­robes,­food,­fuel,­light, harness,­bow-strings,­instruments­of­industry­—­in­fact,­almost every­article­of­necessity­or­luxury­appertaining­to­its­everyday life.­ From­the­chase­of­the­animal­the­young­learned­to­ride,­to shoot,­to­risk­his­life.­And­then­in­his­constant­strife­with­his neighbors,­the­Blackfeet­or­the­Crows­or­the­Pawnees,­he­was forced,­if­he­would­survive,­to­develop­to­the­last­degree­his cunning,­his­observation,­his­tragedy,­his­resourcefulness,­his patience,­his­power­to­endure,­his­personal­courage.­Habitu- ated­to­these­two,­the­chase­and­war,­from­his­early­youth,­he came­at­last­to­be­the­coolest,­most­dangerous­warrior­of­the plains.­ He­could­ride­anything,­bareback,­in­any­position.­With­his short,­powerful­bow­he­could­launch­a­half-dozen­arrows­into the­air­before­the­first­reached­the­ground,­or­could­drive­one of­his­shafts­quite­through­the­body­of­a­buffalo.­When­neces- sity­required,­he­was­brave­to­the­point­of­recklessness,­but again,­when­expediency­advised,­he­could­worm­his­way­for miles­through­the­scantiest­cover,­flat­on­his­face,­by­the­labo- rious­use­alone­of­his­elbows­and­toes.­He­could­read­a­whole history­in­a­trail­which­another­might­not­even­distinguish.­He could­sit­absolutely­motionless­for­hours­in­the­hottest­sun­or the­bitterest­cold.­And­he­could­bear,­as­he­was­often­called upon­to­do,­the­severest­physical­pain­without­a­quiver­of­the eyelid. But­when­the­buffalo­vanished,­the­Sioux­passed­the­merid- ian­of­his­powers.­No­other­means­of­subsistence­offered.­He 56 DOWN COUNTRY ROADS was­forced­to­plunder,­or­go­to­the­reservation­for­government beef.­Thence­came­much­whiskey­and­much­loafing.­The­new young­man­had­not­the­training­of­his­father...­So,­in­a­little, the­Teton­nation­was­subdued­and­brought­to­reservations,­and herded­in­an­overall-plug-hat-blanket-wearing­multitude,­even now­but­half-tamed,­and­fiercely­instinctual­with­hereditary­fe- rocity­and­resourcefulness.­Other­Indians­go­to­Carlisle,­learn to­plough,­and­become­at­least­partially­civilized.­The­Sioux, fierce,­hawk-eyed,­wide-nostriled,­sits­in­solitary­dignity­be- fore­his­lodge,­brooding.­Occasionally,­he­was­rounded­up­with a­Gatling.­I­have­never­been­able­to­envy­the­agents­of­Dakota reservations.­­ When­the­statute­of­limitations­ran­out,­or­whatever­myste- rious­time-limit­the­government­puts­on­its­displeasure­against Indians,­Sitting­Bull­and­a­horde­of­his­fellow-warriors­came back.­Sitting­Bull­joined­Buffalo­Bill’s­show­where­he­had­a good­time­until­he­began­ghost-dancing­and­was­killed­in­the Wounded­Knee­campaign.­But­some,­Lone­Wolf’s­band­among them,­remained­in­Canada.­They­had­various­reasons­for­doing so. Lone­ Wolf­ stayed­ because­ he­ was­ in­ hard­ luck.­ He­ had barely­settled­down­in­his­new­home­before­the­great­Manitou had­seen­fit­to­strike­his­children­with­the­Spotted­Sickness. When­ finally­ the­ last­ case­ had­ been­ buried­ hastily­ and­ its clothes­and­belongings­burned­under­the­distant­eye­of­the­uni- formed­man,­the­formerly­powerful­band­found­itself­reduced by­almost­half.­By­dint­of­sitting­innumerable­days­naked­in­a circle­ on­ the­ prairie­ and­ beating­ a­ tom-tom­ until­ the­ agent prayed­for­rain,­the­survivors­managed­to­secure­for­themselves immunity­from­the­Spotted­Sickness­at­least.­ Then­some­of­the­ponies­were­stolen.­Then­a­schism­oc- curred­in­the­community,­and­Three­Knives­took­with­him­a dozen­families­and­established­a­new­clan­within­plain­sight­of the­old.­Lone­Wolf­was­powerless­because­of­the­uniformed individual,­who­frowned­on­the­Indian­idea­of­patriarchal­chas- tisement.­A­very­young­man­of­the­band­killed­the­agent,­hop- ing­thus­to­earn­praise,­but­almost­before­the­embers­were­cold and­before­the­scalp­of­Three­Knives­had­clotted­dry,­there­ap- peared­an­astounding­number­of­uniforms,­who­promptly­dec- imated­Lone­Wolf’s­warriors­and­took­away­all­their­arms.­ Lone­Wolf­discovered­that­these­uniformed­men­were­in­re- ality­nothing­but­soldiers­—­a­disgusting­fact­which­he­had­not before­suspected.­They­hung­six­of­his­young­men,­and­that night­a­number­of­things­happened,­such­as­the­unprovoked fall­ of­ Lone­ Wolf’s­ standard­ from­ over­ his­ lodge,­ which