XVIII "THIS IS A GOOD DAY TO DIE" Sitting Bull had escaped to Canada, but he was not wanted there. Canadian Indians objected to giving them land and the whites shared the feeling and would not lend any help to the decimated Sioux. Here, the hunting was not good -- it was cold and they were hungry, too. 8 For his part, Tatanka Yotanka proclaimed loudly he had come to the land of the Grandmother, Queen Victoria, for it had been from those who represented themselves as envoys of her government, that he had received support -- promises, arms, encouragement. 16 Even though before the time of the great uprising, the Sioux had flown Old Glory as their own, and been proud to be Americans, too, their attempts to live as brothers, learning farming and other ways of the white man had been met with the racism that says 24 that there is a separate culture for those who were not born white, and that they must remain separate, and treats with scorn efforts by them to adapt new ways to their traditionalities, even though it is in thus growing that we are more free. 32 And now Sitting Bull proclaimed that he was a subject of the Crown, and that his people had accepted English rule when it had been bound upon them after the French and Indian War, and that they had refused to accept the authority of the U.S. The people had been used 40 by the same corrupt forces which had sought to destroy our land, and of which, across the earth, are left the marks of their bloody hands. From Africa to India to China, they had set the course of events like those making use of men like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse. 48 Thus, rejected and abandoned, Sitting Bull, who had always said that he had not fought the soldiers 'til they attacked, turned his head and at last came back across the border in July of eighty one, and rode with his people into Fort Buford, and there surrendered his gun. 56 The promise that had been given of a pardon, was broken now, and Sitting Bull was held a prisoner, and the few with him bowed to the subsistence and treachery of life the reservation held. Yet, within two summers, his position once again had swelled 64 from the respect the people had for him so that he became the leading spokesman for the people. And when the white man came, it was he they would talk to. Only now, he spoke of peace: "I do not consider that the people should be treated as beasts." 72 They had none of the things, he told them, that were used by the white man. If they were to live with their white brothers, then all of the Indians must have tools, livestock, wagons, he said, "because it is the way white people make a living." But they refused to hear what he'd say. 80 They must become white men, the Commissioners would tell the Sioux. The government would care for them and feed them, in the meantime, too. But Sitting Bull spoke out against them: "It is bad for the young men to be fed by an agent. It makes them lazy and drunken." 88 Despite the attempts that were made to have Sitting Bull replaced in the minds of the people with other leaders, he could not be erased from their memories, and indeed, all across the nation, it was Sitting Bull the people knew and recognized. He gre more powerful. 96 The government authorized Sitting Bull on a nation-wide tour to go, and then he became the star of Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show. By 1890, as the Ghost Dance was being performed with growing zeal, the government issued orders that the army should quickly deal 104 with the leaders of the trouble, even though it called for no violence. Sitting Bull's name was on the list, and it was decided, that hence, he should be arrested. And when they went, forty men to take him in, they surrounded his cabin and woke him. He agreed to go with them. 112 But as they manhandled him, he objected. His friends gathered outside. "I am not going," he protested. And some of the Sioux then tried to stop the arrest; fighting broke out, and in the fracas that spread, one of the agency police shot Sitting Bull in the head. 120 "There are no more Indians. I am the only Indian left alive, anymore," Sitting Bull had said in Washington, and now he breathed no more. At Wounded Knee days later, Ghost Dancers were cut down. Tashunka had cried, "Hoka hey!" It has ended. "This is a good day to die!" 128


the journal of contemporary narrative verse Volume I Number 2 Summer 1997

In the Fall Issue of POeTRY you will find the explanation of a new sonnet form with examples of the format, written by the creator of this new structure, Jeffry Woodward. Mr Woodward has had his work widely published, and here makes an important contribution to the realm. POeTRY solicits your comments and your submissions for publication. Submissions should be made by mailing them on PC diskette to Ron Ziegler Editor, POeTRY 15744 Crescentwood East Pointe, MI 48021 Direct comments to rzieg97818@aol.com

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