2019 JAN FEB DOWN COUNTRY ROADS MAGAZINE DCR Jan.Feb.2019 web - Page 58

a­great­red-stone­calumet­or­pipe.­Each­warrior­puffed­at­it twice­ and­ passed­ it­ to­ his­ neighbor.­ It­ was­ not­ offered­ to Michail­Lafond,­whose­bonds­had­now­been­loosened. After­each­of­the­seated­warriors­had­taken­his­part­in­this ceremony,­and­the­pipe­had­completed­the­circle­to­Lone­Wolf, that­chief­arose,­throwing­back­his­blanket­from­his­shoulders. With­a­sudden­chill­of­fear,­Michail­Lafond­saw­that­he­was to­assist­at­a­state­council­of­the­sort­held­only­when­the­tribe is­to­sit­in­judgment­on­one­of­its­own­number. The­man­was­naked­to­the­waist.­In­his­hair,­worn­loose­and unbraided­after­the­Sioux­fashion,­three­eagle­feathers­with white­tips­were­thrust­slantwise­across­the­back­of­his­head, and­under­its­heavy­mass­his­fierce­bright­eyes­and­hawk­face gleamed­impressively.­About­his­neck­hung­a­fringe­of­bears’ claws,­from­which­depended­a­round­silver­medal.­Now­as­he stood­there­—­the­lithe­strength­of­his­bronze­torso­revealed one­arm­clasping­the­blanket­about­his­waist,­the­other­holding loosely­at­his­side­the­feather-bedecked­calumet­of­sandstone —­ the­ stigma­ of­ sordidness­ and­ drunkenness­ and­ squalor seemed­to­fall­away,­so­that­the­spectator­would­have­seen­in this­group­of­silent­men­under­the­silent­western­heavens­only the­pomp­and­pride­of­a­great­and­savage­people­in­the­zenith of­its­power. Lone­Wolf­stood­for­the­space­of­several­minutes­without­a sign.­Then­with­a­magnificently­sweeping­gesture­he­held­the calumet­aloft­and­began­to­speak. At­first­his­voice­was­low­and­monotonous,­but­as­his­speech continued­it­took­on­more­color,­until­at­the­close­it­responded in­modulation­to­every­flash­of­his­eye.­He­began­with­a­recital of­the­tribe’s­ancient­glory,­dwelling­rather­on­concrete­exam- ples­than­on­broader­generalities.­He­numbered­its­warriors,­its ponies,­its­arms­and­lodges.­He­told­of­the­beauty­of­its­women and­the­greatness­of­its­men,­whom­he­ran­over­by­name.­He told­of­its­deeds­in­war,­enumerating­the­enemies­it­had­struck, the­ponies­it­had­stolen,­the­stratagems­it­had­conceived­and carried­out.­And­then­he­swept­his­arm­and­the­feather-flutter- ing­calumet­abroad­as­he­described­the­boundless­extent­of­the hunting­grounds­over­which­it­had­used­to­roam.­As­he­contin- ued,­the­warrior’s­expressive­eyes­brightened­and­flashed­with pride,­though­they­moved­not­one­muscle­of­their­faces­or­bod- ies.­Beyond­the­circle­could­be­dimly­descried­another­not­less interested­audience­of­women­and­older­children. “These­and­more­were­ours!”­cried­Lone­Wolf,­“these­and many­more.­The­favor­of­Gitche­Manitou­was­ours­and­the riches­of­the­world.­Where­are­they­now?” With­an­indescribably­graceful­gesture,­the­orator­stooped­to the­ground­and­grasped­a­handful­of­the­loose­dry­earth. “Gone!”­he­said­solemnly,­letting­the­sand­fall­from­his­out- stretched­suddenly­opened­palm. Then,­without­pause­or­transition,­he­began,­in­equally­vivid objective­language,­to­detail­the­tribe’s­misery­and­poverty­of today.­He­recounted­its­disasters,­just­as­a­moment­before­he had­recounted­its­victories.­He­told­of­the­Spotted­Sickness,­the dividing­of­forces,­the­battle­with­the­red­coats,­all­the­long­se- ries­of­oppressions­great­and­little­which­had­brought­them­to their­present­condition.­He­counted­over­by­name­the­present members,­to­show­how­their­numbers­had­shrunken,­and­to each­name­he­added­others­of­those­who­had­gone­before.­So real­was­the­picture­that­the­orator­himself­faltered,­while­from outside­the­circle­rose­for­a­single­instant­a­long­trembling­wail. 58 DOWN COUNTRY ROADS The­warriors­had­half­covered­their­faces­with­the­folds­of­their blankets. “Thus­our­glory­went­and­our­young­men­are­seen­no­longer on­the­war­path,­but­only­in­the­white­men’s­towns.­And­yet our­fathers­were­brave­before­us­and­we­have­struck­well­in our­time.­Why­is­this­so?­Why­has­Gitche­Manitou­veiled­his face­from­his­children?” Leaving­the­question­unanswered,­Lone­Wolf­unexpectedly took­up­Lafond’s­connection­with­the­tribe.­In­the­recounting of­this,­too,­he­held­to­the­greatest­minuteness­of­detail,­show- ing­plainly­the­half-breed’s­rise­from­despised­squaw­man­to­a person­of­influence­in­the­councils.­He­gave­the­half-breed­full credit­for­all­he­did.­He­even­went­out­of­his­way­to­show­that to­Lafond­was­due­much­of­the­power­that­had­so­distinguished the­Brule­Sioux­among­the­other­tribes.­He­described­again briefly­that­power,­and­told­of­the­battle­of­the­Little­Big­Horn. He­dwelt­on­that­as­to­some­extent­the­culmination­of­the­tribe’s glory.­It­was­the­last­and­greatest­of­its­exploits.­After­it­mis- fortune­commenced.­Gitche­Manitou­that­day­veiled­his­face. “And­he­turned­his­hand­against­the­totem­of­the­Turtle,” said­Lone­Wolf­impressively,­“because­one­of­its­children­had committed­a­sacrilege.­The­very­night­of­that­great­victory,­a brave­from­among­us­arose­and­took­the­sacred­totem,­the­great Turtle,­from­the­lodge­of­his­chief,­and­slew­Buffalo­Voice,­the medicine­ man­ favored­ of­ Gitche­ Manitou,­ and­ defiled­ the totem. “From­that­time­Gitche­Manitou­has­frowned­upon­his­chil- dren.­From­that­time­misfortune­has­visited­the­tribe­of­Lone Wolf.­From­that­time­the­man­who­did­these­things­has­lost­his old­warrior­name­and­has­been­known­as­the­Defiler.” He­paused­and­looked­about­the­circle­until­his­eye­rested­on Lafond.­With­a­sudden­fierce­enmity,­he­stretched­his­arm­to- ward­the­captive. “That­is­he,”­he­concluded­impressively,­“and­it­has­been revealed­by­Big­Thunder­that­never­will­Gitche­Manitou­smile on­his­children­until­the­Defiler­dies!”