X. THE POWDER RIVER AND THE ROSEBUD When the Sioux uprising in Minnesota during the Civil War had been put down, the Santee Sioux were sent to a reservation called Crow Creek, but they found dry, barren land in these Dakotas where the water was alkaline and unfit for drinking, the wild game sparse, -- all of which, combined 8 with the harshness of the winter, took one out of three the first year, so that the hills were covered with graves. Among those who visited here at Crow Creek was a Teton Sioux, the Hunkpapa who was known as Sitting Bull. In his mid-twenties, this was the lot by which he had grown. 16 He had returned to the Black Hills, the Paha Sapa, by eighteen sixty five, a land swept up by infuriation as more of the white men arrived, so much so that the people endlessly harassed the intruders there which only brought more soldiers thrown into the affair. 24 And the cavalry roamed from the Rosebud to the Powder River in quest of villages of the 'hostiles' to destroy. As the late summer pressed, the Sioux and their bands of cousins, which had gathered through the land to commune with the sacred spirits tried to avoid the commands. 32 But when a column of cavalry, low on supplies, morale, and fight, and seeking to make its way back to join General Connor, got sight of the Sioux bands trailing them, now come upon their Powder River camp near where it bends north to the Yellowstone, in late August of the year, 40 they were not in the mood for receiving the truce party of the Sioux that rode in under a white flag hoping that they might be able to give the Bluecoats tobacco and sugar as a peace offering, of sorts. The soldiers waited until they were in range, and then came the reports 48 of rifle fire upon them, killing several before they beat their retreat. Among the larger party was Sitting Bull who had tried to entreat the braves not to be so foolish, and now he was not surprised. When he saw the gaunt soldier horses, Sitting Bull and his allies, 56 rode down upon the soldiers and hit them quickly, and then withdrew, only to reform and hit them again, coming close upon them so to knock the soldiers from their horses. The soldiers were alarmed and ran, and the Sioux followed them making little forays as they ran frightened. 64 And through the next summer Tatanka, together with Crazy Horse, rode with the war parties of Red Cloud, attacking, but more trying to goad the whites into leaving the country, but always the paleface reply was to send in more soldiers who would see how many Indians could die. 72 But after Red Cloud had effected his treaty, Sitting Bull was not pleased: "The white men have put bad medicine over Red Cloud's eyes so he sees everything and anything that pleases them." And while Red Cloud tried to show the people that it was suicide to fight, that to the reservation they must go, 80 Sitting Bull gave other counsel because he would not trust white men. And he had seen the reservation and thought that it would mean death to them. There were those who went with Red Cloud, but as the years grew more sorrowful, as the Washitas multiplied, more and more came to ride with Sitting Bull. 88 This was a man informed in youth, in what he interpreted as prophecy, that he would be a leader of his people -- one day as he lay restfully during a hunting trip in the bottom of the Grand River, he dreamed that a grizzly was poised above him and a hawk flying nearby seemed 96 to be telling him to play dead. When he opened his eyes, he found that the hawk and bear were both real, so he lay as frozen on the ground as the great bear sniffed and then wandered off. Later, in the Black Hills, where he heard a call from a summit, he climbed, and found an eagle perching there. 104 Having proven himself a bold warrior, he was made a leader of the Strong Hearts, an elite military society, and proved himself worthy of the part, fearless as the buffalo who face the gale and plow ahead, and became and Hunkpapa chief, just as white encroachmetn spread. 112 Through the Civil War conspiracies, he joined with the resistance, a tragic, noble figure deployed in his courageous defiance by those who forged the Confederacy against our common land, and fired with an anger which arose equally of their hand. 120 When Red Cloud signed his treaty, Sitting Bull stayed on unceded lands, and told his mentor, a Jesuit priest, Pierre Jean de Smet, he'd stand as long as his strength remained in him, as another tragic figure came into the struggle for the Pa Sapa, and Tatanka knew his Washita fame. 128 XI. CUSTER'S GRAND STAND The long columns under Custer's command made their way through the hills, and the word came back from Custer that the Paha Sapa lands were filled with gold "from the roots down," and like locusts swarming white men came following the Thieves' Road cut by Custer, as the Sioux called its name. 8 He had come to reconnoiter where the Army might best set a fort in the Black Hill lands so that it might protect the Northern Pacific workers harangued now for several years. Geologists found traces of gold, and so from the frontier, 16 Custer had grabbed the headlines, and the prospectors swarmed in. The government had not even asked the Indians for token permission to violate the sacred lands as the treaty clearly said. As he rode, thoughts of the forays of the last year must have filled his head. 24 He had searched the Yellowstone River for Sioux he could defeat, but they had found him instead, and twice he had been badly beat, having escaped the second time when General Stanley's infantry arrived just in time to save him from massacre with certainty. 32 And to add insult to injury, Stanley had put Long Hair under arrest for having disobeyed orders. This tiime, Custer would do his best to return the favor to the Sioux. And with him on the mission came a corps of journalists he had invited -- it certainly would spread his name. 40 Only barely had he been able to accompany the expedition, much less command it, for President Grant disliked Custer, and unless others had interceded and somehow gotten Grant to relent against his better judgement, he would never have been sent. 48 Before the Great Wasiya came, the Winter Giant, the Blizzard King, the hordes were in upon them, and the Indian commissioners would bring an offer to buy the Paha Sapa to Red Cloud, who spurned the request with an outrageous price for it. The government then moved to impress 56 upon the Sioux a show of might -- they were all ordered to report inside the reservation, and those who did not were to be deemed in short order as "hostile and treated accordingly by military force." Sitting Bull and most of the non-agency chiefs ignored the ultimatum, of course. 64 Or perhaps they did not ignore it, for the order never reached any winter camp of the affected Sioux in time for them to breach the deep snow blanketing the way to the nearest agency. Even if they had wanted to, there was no way it could be. 72 In the meantime, Custer was in the east, playing at politics and more. He had recently had a book published about his life on the plains. The war seemed far away and he kept requesting extensions of his leave. But as soon as he returned in February to his post in the Dakotas, he received 80 telegraphed orders from the War Department to return at once to Washington to answer Congressional inquiries that all seemed to have sprung from his opinion that there was corruption -- in one article, it was said that Secretary of War William Belknap was guilty of graft. The alledged 88 charges were denied by Custer, but Grant was furious with him now. The Colonel's friends tried to intercede for him, but the President would not allow his directive recalling Custer to be reversed. When he testified before the Congress, it was ruled hearsay, and he was excused from any more 96 testimony and was discredited. And now he was not allowed to return to the Dakotas and his command. President Grant angrily burned. It was not just that his friend Belknap and the others might be wrong -- all of that would come out and he would resign before very long. 104 The problem was that Long Hair was playing politics for partisan gain and maybe even personal ambition, and further, it was with disdain that Grant looked upon Custer, in whom he saw weaknesses he thought made him unfitted for command. The charges the Colonel had brought 112 were never conclusively proven -- the selling of western trading posts. But Custer was up to something more than rabble-rousing on the coast. He had come from the school of Jackson and his Secretary of War, Lewis Cass, and the Democratic Party of Van Buren and Belmont and their cast. 120 It was not only the National Bank that had been undone by Van Buren's cabal of eastern and London bankers, for their policies had led to all the conflict dividing the nation -- and they had fostered the Trail of Tears. And now Custer wanted the White House, and he was receiving their cheers. 128 XII. THE CENTENNIEL YEAR Colonel Custer was busy with his games and Grant's orders that forbade Yellow Hair from even going with the Seventh Cavalry, so he stayed back east. Besides, it was winter, not the best time to be riding across the Dakota lands or even camped with the cavalry. 8 In March of 1876, General George Crook led an expedition out, ten companies of cavalry and two of infantry for the bout with the hostiles, but when they attacked and burned a hundred teepees on the Tongue River, a blizzard struck, and they did not win clear victory. 16 Quite to the contrary, these Indians that General Crook had found were Cheyenne, not Sioux, who were trying to make it onto the ground of the reservation to avoid war. In the past, they had been friends of the whites, but with this unprovoked attack, that quickly came to an end. 24 And Sitting Bull took in some of the Cheyenne refugees who got away -- he had been telling them all along, and now they knew. Crook's forays against the 'hostile' Indians out here had been summarily without success, and, in fact, were only making things worse as he continued to press. 32 The nation was still in depression, and workingmen were being organized by a new breed of working class heroes to counteract what had been the tide. The labor-industrial alliance, and the Knights of Labor would fall and be replaced by the British model which bore the International's call. 40 Within a year, these radical rabble would lead a nation-wide strike that would shut down the whole country -- another one of the prolonged spikes thrust at the heart of our Republic, by those who loudly proclaimed that it would be divided and become part of the Empire it once overcame. 48 And Sitting Bull, when he had learned of the orders of the Sioux to go immediately onto the reservation in the midst of the deep winter snow, knew that this had been done by design, for it was the white man's intent to destroy them under this pretext, and so Tatanka quickly sent 56 work throughout all the people to come and hold council with him in the village of the Hunkpapa, along Beaver Creek, high where it begins. And cloaked in their buffalo and wolf robes, all of the great Sioux chiefs fought the drifts and cold to journey, as Sitting Bull's lodge they sought. 64 Only Red Cloud among the great warriors of the Sioux nation failed to appear, for he was old and on the reservation. The elders noted his absence here in the circle around the fire, and they agreed now that his place should be filled by another -- they appointed Crazy Horse to fill the space. 72 Each chief spoke to the coucil as to what his people would do, either surrender and go to the reservation, or stay and fight. When they were through and the pipe turned to Sitting Bull, he told them they knew his heart, and so he would let his Oglala brother, Crazy Horse, speak for his part. 80 Crazy Horse rose and stood silently as all the chiefs gazed upon him and then they began to chant "Hun-hun-he," the greatest tribute, low and grim. He thanked them for the honor and he pledged that he would not fail their trust. He told them he could not ask his peoplel women, the old, children, to be rushed 88 weak on a trail of tears through the snow to an agency where they would find neither food nor friendship awaiting them, and that so it was his mind that they should stand and fight -- "I will stay out here and be free! I will fight the pony soldiers. I will die a Sioux!" was Tashunka's decree. 96 When they voted, only one, He Dog, failed to join with the rest, and he led his little band away to the reservation, full of distress. The others would prepare for the battles that with spring would lay in store against the pony soldiers. Wasicun, the white man, would have his war. 104 And then when the Cheyenne joined them, another council would be held. Cheyenne and Arapaho joined the Sioux as the numbers quickly swelled. Sitting Bull called for all the warriors to join him and renedevous on Rosebud Creek in one army as the Green Grass in Up Moon was new. 112 The Bluecoats had begun gathering, and with the Geese Laying Moon, Crazy Horse broke his camp and led his warriors off so that soon they joined together with Sitting Bull as the Tongue River where they had wintered, and then they moved north and camped at the Rosebud in May. 120 Tashunka Witko, Crazy Horse, and Tatanka Tokanta, Sitting Bull, were gathering at the Rosebud just as the spring was full. "I will stay out here and be free," said Crazy Horse, and he was speaking, too, for Sitting Bull; "I will fight the pony soldiers. I will die a Sioux!" 128 XIII. THE MOON OF MAKING FAT As the summer of 1876 began, there were pony soldiers on all sides closing in upon the Sioux and their allies -- General Crook with a tide of over one thousand soldiers coming from Fort Fetterman to the south, Colonel Gibbon advancing from the west, approaching with about 8 half that many men from Fort Ellis in the Montana Territory. And out of the east from Fort Lincoln came the command of General Terry -- 925 men -- a force which included in its ranks the infamous Seventh Cavalry, to whom much of the thanks 16 for the escalation of this conflict had to be given for its part in spreading the overblown rumors of gold from which it got its start. And the impetuous commander who had stirred up the hornet's nest with his megalomaniac efforts rode once again along with the rest. 24 General Crook had indeed failed badly, and had even provoked the Cheyenne into riding along with Sitting Bull when he'd sent Reynolds in his plan against the village of Two Moons. And his old rival, General Terry, saw in Crook's failure his chance to build up a reputation that he 32 was a great Indian fighter, and although he knew that he was not, General Terry knew very well where such a person could be got. And so it was that in early May, two fateful letters were sent, one from General Terry, and one from Long Hair, directly to the President. 40 Colonel Custer had grown weary of waiting for orders that he could proceed back to the Plains. President Grant not only would not accede, but even refused to see Custer. The time of battle was growing nigh, and he knew that Terry wanted him, and so Custer proceeded by 48 rail and without permission to the post in the first week of May. And when the communiques had been read, Grant telegraphed Terry to say that he had surrendered and that Custer could return to his command. And now on May 17th, Custer rode out triumphant, as the band 56 played "The Girl I Left Behind Me," with Benteen and Reno at his side, anxious to join in battle -- a longing which fate would abide. There followed two weeks of careful marching. And through it Custer would disobey his orders, as he always had, to scout the area as best he could. 64 But Terry was impatient with him, and though he recalled him from the front, when the news came that the trail was hot, Terry forgot the stunt. And then he abandoned caution. Yet, while the trail was freshly worn, the Indians could not be found. Custer marched on toward Little Big Horn. 72 Early in the Moon of Making Fat, the Sioux performed their annual rain dance. Sitting Bull danced for three days, and bled himself, until in a trance, in a vision he heard voices calling, and saw soldiers fall from the sky as locusts. Because he would not listen, the pony soldiers were going to die. 80 His hands and feet had been painted red; there were blue stripes across his back which were tokens of the sky. He brought a scarlet blanket from his back which he had promised Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, and he offered it. Then his skin from wrists to shoulders was sliced with fifty slits. 88 The blood flowed, covering both arms, to the monotonous wails of prayer, and he sat gazing directly at the sun. And then he arose from there, to lean against the sacred trunk in a rhythmic dance all day. Without food or water, and all throughout the night he continued to pray and sway 96 until about noon, in exhaustion, when Sitting Bull staggered and fell into a trance of delirium in which he saw the vision that he would tell. With that, the ritual was ended. The Sioux, whenever such times of impending crisis faced them, danced in such manner and were given signs. 104 Now the lodges would be disassembled and packed on sledges of poles dragged by their horses, the stock rounded up. And then to the west they stole. By sunset, the camp was empty and the gathered bands moved away. Over the hill, they rode into that sunset, not fleeing, even thought they 112 were being closed in upon by General Crook. But they had not gathered this time to retreat. Confident in their numbers, they had painted race and body with signs of war. It was the next morning, that the warriors of Crazy Horse fell in surprise upon Crook at the Battle of the Rosebud in which they compelled 120 in wave after wave of mass attacks, General Crook to halt his advance and wait there for reinforcements, while they withdrew in orderly vigilance. As they journeyed westward, the soldiers followed the trail freshly worn, all moving toward the Greasy Grass, which Wasicun called the Little Big Horn. 128 Continue