The Day the World Ended at Little Big Horn; Joseph M. Marshall
Six years ago Wendy and I set out on a road trip that wound up in North Dakota, and towards the end we visited Wounded Knee. We were surprised to see that the only sign was an obviously amateur locally made one and there was no historical marker. There were some tables down off the road with local Nakotas who were very willing to tell us what had happened there.
The following year we retraced our steps with a couple of friends and, this time, went further North to Little Big Horn. The contrast was very clear! A visitor center with books and souvenirs and a regular guided tour round the site where the message was all about the heroic ‘Custer’s last stand’.
Marshall’s book tells the history of the Nakota from the first arrival of French explorers in the 16th century right up to today. He is a professor of history, an academic and a Nakota. His book tells the story of Little Big Horn and Wounded knee from the Nakota perspective. It’s both triumphant and horrific, of course.
When we visited Little Big Horn we did the tour which was led by a local Nakota and he was following the script which was completely focused on the Custer story. So it was both refreshing and informative to read this book. It portrays the battle as a triumphant victory for the First Nations which led on, of course, to the vengeance that was wreaked at Wounded Knee.
Marshall comes right up to date in the 21st Century with the aftermath of the ‘Indian Wars’ including the removal of First Nation children to special schools, the stealing of the land and the removals to the reservations. He even mentions Sitting Bull joining Buffalo Bill’s wild west show for a tour of Europe!
I first became interested in this history when I discovered my grandad had seen Buffalo Bill’s show in my home town in Scotland in 1908. A good friend and marvelous songwriter discovered his father had also seen the same show and wrote this –
Well there I was yesterday at noon heading down I-85 (motorway 85 to my Scottish readers) on my way to my friend Dirk’s house and home studio to record the next five radio shows. (Celtic Clanjamphry, since you ask.) Sailing along at the seventy MPH speed limit I rounded a corner and saw in front of me a large chunk of tire from a tractor trailer (Artic lorry for my Scottish readers). It was straddling both lanes.
It must have just happened as there were no vehicles stopped and I only had a split second to decide what to do. I could see lots of other vehicles behind me, so I had to make a decision. Should I go right or left? I made the wrong decision. If I’d gone to the right onto the hard shoulder I’d have missed it (we drive on the other side of the road for my Scottish readers) but I opted for left. I didn’t want to end up toppling into the median (the grassy area between the carriageways for my – – – ) but in trying to avoid the tire and the median I hit the tire with the front fender—pretty hard.
It made a thump but I didn’t think too much of it. I had the radio on and was listening to a talk show on WETS.fm (of course). The car kept going and I thought everything was fine, until I began to hear what I thought was interference on the radio. Alas, it was a bit too rhythmic – – – . So I switched off the radio and realized the noise was elsewhere and coming from the fender area.
I pulled off at the next exit and onto the shoulder, got out and had a look. Most of the plastic ‘mudguard’ inside the front passenger side fender (wing for my – – – ) was sticking out in the wind and the rest of it was rubbing against the tire (tyre for – – – ). I thought I’d managed to spring it back up to where it was designed to be and carried on.
But thirty minutes later as I approached Abingdon (Virginia for – – – ) the all too familiar sound returned so I pulled into a parking lot (do I really need to – – – ). There it was hanging out again in the wind (nope, nope!).
Maybe I could tie it in place with some of Wendy’s yarn that’s bound to be stashed around the various corners of the car? Just my luck – she had done a car tidy last week. For the first time in over twenty-five years I couldn’t find a scrap!
I ripped the damn thing out with my bare hands and carried on my way – – – –