Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Carols Random Writing Challenge

The following is a challenge i still take part in on 360. Carol gives you 7 phrases to build a story around. Most people choose all 7, I always just choose one. Oh and you have to have a pic to go with it. The following is fiction based around true events. The people are fiction, although the man's name is a last name from around here that I admire. Read on

*pic taken of my reservation by my friend Father Bucko

"Breathtaking! Just Breathtaking!" said the agent who was showing the family of 5 their new land.

"Under the Dawes Act this land is now yours and your family. Well of course we will hold it in trust for you for 25 years before you are allowed to sell it. At that time you may sell it. Materials will be provided for you to build a house so the days of the tipi will be gone. You will now be civilized." The agent turned to the family of five and shook the hand of the father, Kills Enemy.

Kills Enemy watched as the agent rode away and his wife and daughters set up the tipi. He looked at the land that was to be his own. He was now expected to farm. The thought made him sick. How could he, a great warrior be expected to farm? Only a little over ten years earlier he was in the Battle at Greasy Grass where they had taken out General Custer (Long Hair) and took the flag of the 7th calvary home.

He jumped on his horse and rode looking for something for his wife to cook. When he looked back Red Shawl was watching him go. He rode on all of the land the government gave him. It was dry, even the wild weeds were dead. He couldn't see anything moving, perhaps it was too hot. Maybe if he rode near the water. It took him forever to find some water but when he did he also was able to shoot a rabbit. It was a small rabbit, but he was the man. He had to provide for his family.

When he arrived back at his tipi, the white agent was there again. He had brought blankets.

"I forgot to tell you Kills Enemy, you are no longer allowed to hunt. You can go into Pine Ridge once a month to pick up your rations."

"Those rations are full of worms. We cannot eat those." Kills Enemy told him.

"You shouldn't complain, they are free." The agent rode away. "We will be bringing your supplies to build your own house tomorrow."

Red Shawl went to work butchering the rabbit. Their daughters had gone out and dug up tinpsila's (prairie turnips) to go in the soup. The word the agent used to describe this land, breathtaking. she wondered about it. What did he mean by it? Did he really mean breathtaking? Was this land going to take their breath? Because it felt like it. She felt as if she couldn't breathe here. Her husband couldn't hunt. They couldn't live in their beloved tipi. How much worse was it going to get?

After dinner their girls ran around and her husband sang her a song by the fire. Red Shawl was lonely for the other women of the camp. For her mother and sisters and her husband's mother. Why did life have to change so much?

Only years earlier they were allowed to live in the Black Hills. Allowed to hunt under the 1868 Treaty. Then the Great Chief of Washington came and took it all away again. After the Greasy Grass Battle, then Crazy Horse was murdered. Nothing went good for the people after that.

Red Shawl remembered hearing of the last time Crazy Horse spoke.

"My friend, I do not blame you for this. Had I listened to you this trouble would not have happened to me. I was not hostile to the white men. Sometimes my young men would attack the Indians who were their enemies and took their ponies. They did it in return. We had buffalo for food, and their hides for clothing and for our teepees. We preferred huntiing to a life of idleness on the reservation, where we were driven against our will. At times we did not get enough to eat and we were not allowed to leave the reservation to hunt. We preferred our own way of living. We were no expense to the government. All we wanted was peace and to be left alone. Soldiers were sent out in the winter, they destroyed our villages. The "Long Hair" [Custer] came in the same way. They say we massacred him, but he would have done the same thing to us had we not defended ourselves and fought to the last. Our first impulse was to escape with our squaws and papooses, but we were so hemmed in that we had to fight. After that I went up on the Tongue River with a few of my people and lived in peace. But the government would not let me alone. Finally, I came back to the Red Cloud Agency. Yet, I was not allowed to remain quiet. I was tired of fighting. I went to the Spotted Tail Agency and asked that chief and his agent to let me live there in peace. I came here with the agent [Lee] to talk with the Big White Chief but was not given a chance. They tried to confine me. I tried to escape, and a soldier ran his bayonet into me. I have spoken."

Now that he is gone, she wondered if life would ever be like it used to. Would the people give up the fight? Would the Oglala Lakota stop fighting? They were forcing the people to live like they were poor, how long would this go on?

She started to grab the blankets the agent gave them.

"Hiya" (NO) her husband said and he threw them in the fire. "They may have sickness on them. My cousin died from government blankets."

Thye went to bed that night under buffalo robes and dreamed of the days they were able to roam and follow the buffalo. Someday those days would be back. Someday.

For Carol's Random Writing Challenge


Dorid said...

Hey Dana... am interested to know about a literary use in this story... the word "breathtaking" In Iroquois tradition, the breath is where the soul resides, so taking the breath is a way to capture the soul. Just wondering if the removal of the soul of the people was one of the intended interpretations here, or if it is also coincidental... since destruction of the soul is exactly what was attempted as part of the white genocide, which took place in three domains: legal/paper, literal, and cultural.

anyway, another great tale, with some very heavy traditional elements... these stories are you at your best!

Josie Two Shoes said...

This is history the way it should be presented in school textbooks, from the viewpoint of the people who lived it. I try to imagine all the thoughts and feelings those people must have had at that moment, I can't even fathom it. The tragedy speaks for itself. Excellent, compelling writing Dana!

Dana Dane said...

thanks guys....um, as for the word Dorid, it was a coincidence. It is a word i always wondered about so I went with that phrase for the story. I could never imagine breathtaking as being something beautiful when it seems so cruel, so i decided to show that side of it. The more I am home and around elders the more radical I get and want to show the "other" side of the story. As my dad said about anyone going to war..."Why fight for a country that keeps us so poor. No country treats their own people so bad without a civil war" Of course that will never happen, but it's true. Iw anted to show how the people were made to feel "confined and living in poverty" back then and today it is still the same. The fight continues but over mascots.

Dana Dane said...

well not just mascots, but I think the conditions here are so bad I get sick of handouts from people wanting to go to heaven and people here living so poorly and city indians fighting for all the wrong causes.

Dana Dane said...

no offense to any city indian, but the real problems and real tragedies are back home on your reservations.....thats all

CarolinaDreamz.com said...

Great writing Dana!