Today is the anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee, 1890.
..."I did not know then how much was ended. When I look back now from this high hill of my old age,I can still see the butchered women and children lying heaped and scattered all along the crooked gulch as plain as when I saw them with eyes still young. And I can see that something else died there in the bloody mud, and was buried in the blizzard. A peoples dream died there. It was a beautiful dream... the nation's hoop is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead." ~~Black Elk (From "Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee" by Dee Brown 1970).
If you haven't ever chanced to read this book, you might want to. You might not. It is as scathing and disgusting a report on the policies of the government of this country as any I've read. And yet, it is written without malice, in clear and concise terms. The tragedy is breathtaking. The callousness and greed described here is enough to make any person step back and take a look at the way our beliefs and entitlement permeate our culture.
This morning has been a foray into my library of all books Indian. The stories, the teachings of the Elders. My grandmother was a full blood Cherokee woman who told stories and planted gardens and passed things to me because I was the first born granddaughter. I was young when she died, only 12. I have been a student of Native history most of my life, and have hundreds of books. Today I am reading a book called "Growing Up Native American", an anthology of writings by native writers from the 19th century to the 1990s. It's essays and fiction about childhood. Some of the stories are tragic and some are informative, and all are beautiful.
Anniversaries of events like Wounded Knee are sadly horrific and looking back on the history of our country is a frightening view of how little things have changed in all these years. We still go places to fix people and show them the "truth" about the way they live. Lots of this is done under the guise of mission work in some of the churches and under the even worse disguise of our democracy. I am constantly amazed by the arrogance of anyone who thinks they can go somewhere else and try to make people be like us...by people who think they can go anywhere and take anything they please. The entitlement and hypocrisy are staggering. I have read stories of Native children taken from their parents and sent to boarding schools to "civilize" them, where nuns would beat them and shave their hair off and call them heathens and savages. Where they would be punished if they spoke their own native language. Where they were forbidden to talk about or practice any of their spiritual tenets. Where these children would run away again and again...only to be brought back and beaten and locked up like animals.
If you are interested in any of this (and you're probably not, because why would you be?) google some names like Vine Deloria, Jr., Leonard Peltier, John Chewie, Wilma Mankiller.
It's a bitter cold and sunny day here in the midwest. Much the same as it was on the day of the massacre at Wounded Knee. Blessings on the ghost dancers...blessings for the dead....