Friday, April 4, 2008

Tasunka Witko

Where do I start writing this?

A few weeks ago, a lady was looking up her long lost grandmother's grave here on the reservation. I didn't say anything or judge because heck, one day you might see me all clueless wondering around France or the Philippines looking for my ancestors graves. Anyway, as we talked, she said something that struck me as odd.

"Well, your people didn't like Crazy Horse anyway. Why so many books about him?"

I stopped in my tracks and had to count backwards from 137 to 1.

"Huh?" Was all I could say.

"Well, you know, he was the end of your people." she said.

"My people are still here, ma'am. Crazy Horse was a great man and chief. A warrior. Our hero." I said, still counting backwards.

"If he was your hero, why do I go to Custer to see a tribute?" she asked.

"He fought and died for us, even in this day, I know that. Even my children know that, their children will know that." I said.

I let it go at that and walked away.

I started thinking about when I was 12 years old and my step-dad was a speaker at Korczak Ziolkowski's funeral. I looked at him in his casket and thought of how he lived his life, always dressed like a mountain man, bulldozing away and moving that mountain with sticks of dynamite. This man had so much passion for the life Crazy Horse lived, he begin carving a mountain a few years after he was approached by Chief Standing Bear, who told him;

“My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too.”

Work on the mountain has been going for over 60 years. When I worked there, people would say "What is taking so long?"

I would have to say "Did you see the size of it? Mount Rushmore can fit in the head alone."

So I have been thinking, why don't we have a monument to Crazy Horse here on the reservation?

We can go see the pile of rocks at Fort Robinson or a mountain being carved by non-Indians near a town called Custer, which is an oxymoron itself.

Do we fight amongst ourselves so much that we can't honor one of our greatest Chiefs? Other tribes honor their chiefs for less.

It makes me sick to see strip bars, malt liquor,clothing companies and other such things named after our hero. Our hero inspired a Polish American sculptor from Boston to move a mountain, why can't we honor our hero with something.

I'm not saying we have to carve a mountain or mark a grave, because his parents wanted it undisclosed and the mountains Chief Crazy Horse fought and died for, were stolen by the government, but a tribute would be nice.

Or as people that are still proud because of him, do we let others build memorials and let the spirit of Crazy Horse live on through our hearts, our minds, our spirit, and in our song, like we have been.

"An eagle seeks the bluest part of the sky because of truth and honor " -Chief Crazy Horse


Josie Two Shoes said...

A powerful post...submit it! Your writing is definitely back in form these days. I never cease to be amazed at the idiotic things visitors to the rez will say. I've never felt that stone monuments, even headstones in cemetaries, spoke much to me about the life of the person they represent. I think the oral tradition of carrying on knowledge of that person is so much more important. Honor and respect don't have to be shown in big flashy ways, they must be engraved on the heart. Teach your children and make sure they teach theirs. As for that obscenity at Mt. Rushmore, don't even get me started!

Leigh Russell said...

That's right. Heroes from the past live on in our memories, not in memorials. Your post on the blog is a memorial to your hero.