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After the Snowbird, Comes the Whale Pt 4, Sec 2.

The 2018 Fortnightly Serial.

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V

The Photograph

‘IMAGINE HOW WE settled,’ continued Mrs Charlotte. ‘It was 1925. Brought up little daughter Libby. Blossom of the Mission. Wordsworth’s Lucy babbling Lakota. In the country the world recognised as north America, that was alien to those who used that label much as China and New Zealand. We were strangers. Elite Americans among pagans. Well, it took a photograph to teach us what our status was there.’

I’d prompted this digression, describing views I’d seen from the window of the Otter as it banked round Tikigaq last autumn. I’d been there three months and absorbed its dark-to-dayness. Even, for the first time in my life, had met some people who openly detested me: white men, teachers, who’d initiated, so I thought, hostilities: nationalistic, ethnic.

As from the air I flew south to Fairbanks, the whole place, which seemed huge, shrank into a small, sharp focus. I could see in a glance the houses I had lived in, their proximity to friends and enemies. Saw, electrically, the paths of interaction I’d tangled in, that linked the white man’s houses and the traders’ cabins I had lived in. And then paths intersecting in faint sandy traces. Beaches. Meat racks. Black tarped cabins. Village store, blue corrugated iron. The two churches. Episcopalian, dark green painted clapboard. And the white, metallic, square Assemblies building.

All this I saw in its imagined tensions, wavering and incoherent. Striped surf motionless against the Point and driftwood piled on the beaches. Sea-ice. Outlines of the north and south sides slanting towards the point of the peninsula. The ridges the peninsula’s composed of. How they stripe the point’s movement as it stretches from the mainland. The whole community enclosed, as though by definition, supported by the symmetry the sea allows it and it lives in.

Then the plane flies low along lagoons that lie between the south beach and the tundra. Marshland, sea and river. And I list the migrant birds that breed there. All this you survey in five or six minutes, details miniature and distanced. Every pain and fear you suffered diagrammed and rendered harmless.

Now, about the photograph I mentioned,’ Mrs Charlotte went on, ‘that showed us something I hadn’t thought of. A couple of boys from Rapid City flew in one summer. Corn-fed football player farm kids who had learned to fly a Cessna.

‘One of the lads had done a Geography MA and specialized in mapping. Knew more about our place than I did. He was junior in the Agriculture Census team — that dates it, 1925, that summer. County by county they surveyed South Dakota — so’s to plot its agricultural yield potential. I never knew the counties named for settlers, ranchers, farmers of the era: Ziebach, Shannon, Armstrong, Spink and Edmunds. Names come and go. Though some of the big names can stay longer — Custer, Dewey, Brule, Yankton, even Buffalo…

‘We fed ‘em pie that Libby knocked up while they roamed round with their tripods. Nice kids. Called me ‘Mrs Reverend,’ which my husband borrowed when the mood came on him.

‘Six weeks later sent a stack of photos, first from the air and then ground level. (Packed that pie away in good time, I remember. Libby also served them with a Skunk and Bobcat story. I could read between the lines, all right. Libby married the tall, dark one and he passed out four years later as a preacher. “Just to hear more Skunk and Bobcat stories,” he whispered to me at the wedding. Close enough to one truth, so I reckoned. She taught him Lakota.)

‘But his photos from the air. That put us in our place. Both geographically and metaphysically. Looked like a moon shot. Almost nothing but bare rock, striped grass patches, spacey canyons, buttes and uninterpretable contours. Not an inch of the human or an animal. Sharp, grey, grizzled distances. And plum in the middle lay our Mission. Church beside it. Two grains of photo-chemicals, and the garden — a shabby blur of nothing where we raised corn, squash, potatoes and tomatoes. Us and what we’d cultivated overwhelmed by nature.

‘Where were the Yankton and Lakota? On a separate photo, there were a few tents standing every which way and at angles. Where was Jesus? What business had He in the Badlands? What business in this stony context? [I won’t quote The Waste Land.] How did our home with its Bibles, prayer books, poetry and novels belong in these unmeasurable spaces? Unanswerable questions. Though those boys did measure ‘em.

‘Still, the photo taught us what we should have known if we’d been smarter. How small and separate our world was. Fancy Christians come to stick themselves on untamed ‘savages’. Not that the photo suggested we’d intruded. It was rather that we didn’t matter. Too small to matter. What if those boys flew in fifty years ago? Would their photograph been different? Not much. There would have been no church and mission house. That would have been a minor difference. Same clusters of tents, more widely scattered.

‘My one point which I’ll contradict in due course (I learned Whitman’s habit of equivocation): we missionaries existed in a social quarantine. Looked after ourselves just so our Ministry could reach the other. We were aliens who’d landed from another planet and created a self—gratifying colony of fine intentions. That was the lesson that those photos taught us. As though God deflected how He viewed our self—regard to higher vision. That photo sent us to our knees, all right.

‘“If that’s how God sees us,” said my husband, “then maybe the Lakota likewise view us.” “And if nature has a vision, she too maybe wants to show us in our proper context.”

‘Still, we got excited by those pictures. My husband well nigh started dancing. “There’s Sharp’s Corner, Chimney Butt, White River, Cuny Table, Porcupine and Redwater…! Those last two were creeks we’d supped at. We’d trotted ponies all through Pine Ridge. Collected local names, too. I’ve looked at today’s maps. Much of the place in 1952, when the Army did its latest survey, is just empty contour. As though no—one’s ever been there.

‘Your situation won’t be urgent, compromised as ours was,’ Mrs C assured me. ‘You’ll be there to learn not teach them anything. And you’ll cocoon yourself with poetry…”

Now for my equivocation.

The Wounded Knee Catastrophe

I’VE DESCRIBED OUR realization: we’d brought Princeton to the Badlands. I read German of the evenings. My husband did his Greek and Hebrew. This was radio equivalent. Folks now listen in to the wireless, bless ‘em. My husband was an innocent. Doing good and studying were second nature. All he knew were love and service.

‘But the Wounded Knee catastrophe. It was 1890. Late December. I was ten or eleven. Ain’t many old folk still remember. That day still haunts me.

‘It was Wounded Knee that pulled me to the Badlands back from university. I bludgeoned my husband with that ambition. Behind each syllable of Baudelaire and Kafka I’d read at university, I heard the cries of victims on the floor of Holy Cross Mission as my mother plied the bandages and we inhaled cordite that the army field guns left in their flesh wounds. Gangrene and cordite. Combination that made history of America. A sacrifice I hope the good Lord’s nostrils recognized, not pleasing to Him.

‘Two things stay in the memory. Two symbols of the confrontation. Natural man (that hateful label) versus modernizing young America. Those two artefacts confront the contemplation.

‘On the one hand, the Ghost Shirts. Kicking Bear who’d travelled to Nevada to meet Wovoka, the Paiute Ghost Dance prophet, told those trusting warriors to put these shirts on against battle with the cavalry and which he taught them were impervious to bullets. I handled a ghost shirt — was it calico or buckskin? — bloody tatters. The old man I sat with died in one and pressed it to him.

‘At the other extreme, there’s the Hotchkiss cannon. An early machine gun. What a confrontation! You know how the Civil War initiated machine warfare.

And this, exposed on grassland, shows how modern warfare’s handled. Or non-handled. It’s a casual transition from hand-crafted weapons and takes little human effort. That’s been done already in the foundry. Then there was Col. Nelson Miles.1

That same Colonel Miles, by 1890, was commander of the Military Division of the Missouri, under whose command (although he strongly disapproved) passed the atrocity at Wounded Knee. That’s just detail. Returning to the gun. It was in two parts. A two-wheeled carriage and the canon. Transported to the front line — here’s a point of interest — by two mules. Makes you think of Jesus riding to Jerusalem. I won’t demonise the general.

‘Ironware, starting with Columbus, blew the white man’s path across the continent and Wounded Knee was part of that old pattern. That’s our history.

‘I quoted Milton. Here’s another outcome of those dealings: “rifling the earth” to mould her effluent. Metals are power. The shamans knew this but they only used it amuletically. It was only the Whites who developed murdering technology.

‘There were also wounded US soldiers. Poor boys, ignorant of what they’d done and what had happened. Certainly, the background’s tangled. You can read it in James Mooney. Deep man, Mooney. Stayed at the Mission for ten days on his investigations. I’d sit on a trunk of notebooks that he carted with him while he told me stories from the Cherokee that he’d recorded.2

“Those were peaceful southern evenings,” he would mumble. “Those Indians developed their own writing and would make transcriptions. That leveled our communication.”

‘Yes, but as it happened,’ went on Mrs Charlotte, ‘before Mooney came, I’d travelled with my parents to the Pine Ridge reservation. The Holy Cross preacher, I’ve forgot his name now, oh yes, Cook or Cooper, did the church into a hospital for the survivors. You’ll have seen the photo. Spread grass on the church floor. Wet from snow melt — it was late December. Christmas paper chains still hanging from just four days previous. Next days were blizzards.

‘Now two or three things not in Mooney. I’ve mentioned separation. That was painful. But separated as I may have been, I never recovered, and still haven’t, from those Pine Ridge wounds or from the weeping. As my mother bound them, so those wounds attached me to them. And I prayed to Jesus. Helpless, weeping.

‘Yes. We were helpless. And the wounded perished, mostly. The children orphaned. And I could only crouch there. Useless. One old man, he laid his hand across my forearm. I offered him my own hand, but he declined to hold it. Closed his eyes and died without the comfort. Knew, still, that a ten years white kid was entangled with him somehow. She, the little white girl, thought she’d come to help him. He knew her presence was part product of the issues that the Ghost Dance had confronted. What did it matter which kind of white folk came around here — gentle Christian or cussin’ gold prospector? Both representated new America.

‘Those wounds and cries have never left me. I tried drowning them throughout my education. Flaubert and Goethe versus the Dakotas. But those wounds took me over. You understand the Ghost Dance story? Not many realize that the Sioux had borrowed the revival teachings Wovoka and other prophets been preaching in the western lands since the 1870s.

‘Promised the dance would bring the game back, restore the land that settlers had taken, dance the ancestors who’d died of epidemics back into existence? Not revived as children but as they were when sickness took ‘em. Desperate people clutch at mysteries. Think of women in Naples who danced in 1944 to stop them getting typhus. Then hurled themselves on piles of corpses for the US Army — more innocent farm boys — to dispose of.

‘While the Indians were threatened and imperiled by the white invasion, there was nothing they could do to educate the white man in the value of their culture.

‘I can see how the Ghost Dance which was ‘sposed to save them, itself acted as a trigger to the Wounded Knee disaster. Forgetting land rights issues, the whites’ slaughter of bison, Indian poverty and sickness, all of which are central, the conflict rose from cultural mismatch, distrust and misprision. While the Indians were threatened and imperiled by the white invasion, there was nothing they could do to educate the white man in the value of their culture. Bits of education crossed the cultural boundaries half a century later when some missionaries incorporated elements of Sioux religious practice. Just as we did. Hope it made a bit of difference.’

I looked up towards the kitchen and Asatchaq had slumped into his wheelchair, sleeping.

‘But look. As I’ve mentioned. Many of those army lads were raw recruits and farm kids or half-educated townsfolk. Not ‘Indian fighters’ or survivors of the Little Big Horn battle. And the Reservation Agents mostly frightened, helpless. How could they know anything? The successful ones — McLaughlin and McGillycuddy — worked hard by force of personality, made friends with leaders, tried to act with probity. But how could even well-intentioned white men enter the mind of an Oglala dancer? The principals were unbelievers in each other. I was a child and I see now how white adults shared the white child’s lack of comprehension.

‘But just focus on fear. The Dakota feared the white man and his army, hated settlers and American expansion. Take that as read. Could not be otherwise. What few people know is fear of Indians. That opaque otherness that repelled and mystified. I’m not talking about raids, wars, scalpings, that department. That’s another subject. It’s enormous. I can’t address that nutshell issue. What children and naïve adults looked on.

‘Take the Ghost Dance. Just look at it from outside and imagine the strangeness to a childish observation. First Indians — in hundreds in a clearing. Plus four hundred tipis. A field full of folk, as Piers Plowman witnessed. The prayer tree set up in the middle of the dance ground. Sweat lodges and the skins draped round them, bison skulls at every entrance, half-naked people, men and women, crawling in and out of lodges. Painted faces. Ghost shirts, uninterpretable symbols, everybody carrying an eagle feather.

‘Imagine the leader shouting out instructions and the cries, prayers, ghost songs. Then the dancers drop down, roll on earth and go into trances, weeping, screaming. Shamans run round waving eagle feathers. Dancers also rush round, race and stagger, butt on tree trunks, run at horses, shouting up to Wakan Tanka that they’d entered spirit land.

‘I’ve simplified it, narrowed the issue to a ten-years-old’s focus, done a colour drawing of a complex history. The complexities were socially enormous. But just enter that child’s view, that most white men shared. And you begin to understand the distant, foreign seeming nature of what white Americans who wished to ‘normalise’ the land into a country, confronted. These were awe-inspiring aliens whose character denied the normalcy of civilized America.3

‘I’ve satirized the church and told you, maybe scornfully, about our separation. That’s personal. And it isn’t bitter. But what else was there to give these different-from-us people? It was only the churches had the conscience, courage, energy and spare bucks — not enough of them for most folks — to travel out there. What other powers were there in America to salvage something from the chaos? The reservation Agencies — weak and corrupt or pointlessly effective in deceitful operation. Did they have the ointment Jesus offers? Better that than nothing. Agents didn’t have it.

‘And when you contemplate what’s grown since 1890, it’s not nothing. I honour the Missions. They’ve persisted. Jesuits and us Episcopalians. Mooney’s book may help explain things. Still, positives are not abstractions. It all has to do with helping others. Look at the earth from the air and you wonder, given the dimension of most people’s suffering, if anything’s worth doing. Still, you work local. That’s all you can do. Helping. That’s all we aim at. And we brought up daughter Libby, from a helpless baby, to do likewise.

‘She talks soft, Libby,’ she continued. ‘But that girl was raised hard. Walked an hour to school and home across the prairie. Rattlesnakes and thunder storms and gulches, rogue dogs, wild Sioux children. Talked Lakota, told them stories when she met them. That was 1920. Spring, did the garden and inherited my husband’s rifle. Walked out bare legged once night, shot three coyotes had been digging at our food cache. Still, Sioux men — and the women mind you — at Communion called her “Flower”. Wanahca in the Lakota. Now she’s more ‘an sixty, no prospect of retirement and another winter coming. And she hasn’t stopped her caring.’ Mrs Charlotte gestured towards the kitchen.

‘I can see you have a taste for us old buzzards,’ she continued. She was indeed, a wiry ancient critter. She too had walked the hard Dakotas, spoke the language, dug through prairie roots to make a garden and could fire a Browning… And could change the subject.

‘You’ve read the Renoir book?4 His son who made films wrote his father’s life and sayings. A friend of mine in Paris met the old painter. He said, “You ambitious Yankees, what’s the point of all your reading? Look how the Jews live. They read just one book.”

‘Of course, he didn’t know about the Talmud and the million other commentaries. Bit of an anti-semite, worth remembering. In love with the flesh pots. I can’t blame him. Half Paris was whoring. You’ve read Maupassant’s stories. Put your face in a book and you’re missing what the book emerged from. Life’s hairy and misshapen.

‘Look at old Whitman. My granddaddy knew him. Said to me one evening. “I’ve come from the old man’s turbulent embrace.” You’ll understand that one day. Oh, I said that earlier. Very well, I repeat myself. Whitman did, and said as much.

‘That’s why eventually we left the prairie. Couldn’t continue with the contradictions. Mine especially. Universalists we were, I reckon… Going back to John Driggs in Alaska. Driggs, bless him, came through the Dakotas on his way to missionize in Tikigaq. My parents met him at some railroad station, spring of 1890. Boy, that Driggs, they told me, had an appetite. Put away two stacks of hot cakes, drank a pint of coffee, stashed corn pone and bacon in his satchel. He wasn’t gonna stay, not even stop to visit. Couldn’t wait to get to Frisco and the shipyards, cut deals with chandlers, buy his year’s chow, measure lumber for a Mission, order writing slates and pencils, choose a shot gun, cold weather outfits. Knew what he wanted. All bully six foot of him.

‘Look at that old pagan Libby’s brought here,’ gesturing towards the kitchen window through which Asatchaq’s glasses caught late summer sunlight. ‘Wants to set up house with me. Because I’m mobile and can operate a kitchen. And, dear Lord, because I’m powerful. The Priest’s wife’s mother. Family shaman.

‘I can also tell you he’s still thinking sex. There’s still sex in his system. I left mine on the prairie forty years back. Makes life simpler. How come the good Lord put us to the trouble? I can imagine you’re still in that line of behaviour. What, for land’s sake, will you do there for comfort? Just don’t mess around, if you want some advice from a dried up old woman. Get married if you have to. But your interest’s in the issues up there, ain’t it?

‘I can see you have a taste for us old buzzards,’ she repeated. She was indeed the boniest old matron. Her harangue had been exhausting and she needed to lie down. I was aching to escape her.

‘Your old Eskimo was here last Tuesday. Heard I was a widow. Said we should keep house together.’

She laughed sarcastically and went indoors. I sent her my parody of Whitman. But that was the last I ever saw of Mrs Charlotte.

V

Mrs Charlotte’s Monologue — An Afterthought

STILL HUNGRY AFTER lunch and still flummoxed by grammar, I was anxious to get back to Inupiaq homework. I loved the cold thorns that the language shared with Hebrew’s sweet ones: long, protracted diphthongs, humming consonants, dark throat stops, both languages germinated in hard, stony places, radiating bright, intense blossom, tough systematic foliage.

It was no coincidence that I’d meet Mrs Charlotte in Alaska although her discourse came from South Dakota which lay three thousand miles southeast of Fairbanks where her son-in-law was still working as a pastor.

I didn’t know then, but later learned, that the Episcopal church is part of the Anglican communion and represents a kind of church aristocracy. Or rather that it does not represent a proletarian Christianity. Episcopalian priests were often humanists whose religious outlook lived within a world view that included and even incorporated non-Christian cultures. Hudson Stuck, ‘Archdeacon of the Arctic’, for example, invariably carried Shakespeare on his expeditions. When he and three colleagues scaled Mount Denali (then Mt. McKinley) for the first time in 1913, they read Shakespeare in their evening bivouacs.

Later in the century, Episcopalians and Jesuits in the Dakotas incorporated Sioux traditions in their services. Such catholicity was foreign to most churches. Driggs in Tikigaq, though not a priest, was drawn to shamanism. While his contemporaries in north Alaska — Quakers, Presbyterians and Baptists — were rigid opponents of ‘pagan’ devotion.

The people within Mrs Charlotte’s culture weren’t in this context, entirely unusual. Princeton also had its relevance. In addition to its academic status, Princeton also housed a centre of evangelical studies. Sheldon Jackson, who graduated from the Princeton Episcopalian Seminary in 1858 was the architect of the north-Alaskan Protestant evangelism and sent Driggs to Tikigaq, the Presbyterians to Barrow and the Congregationists to Wales, west Alaska. Missionary fervour was an adjunct of the westward spread of ‘sensible’ commercializing urban, anti-pagan values. It contributed to the project of unification. And in the face of Irish and Italian immigration — the new 1890s Catholic millions — there was Protestant rightness to consider.

Jackson, who was a fervent but narrow-minded and opinionated evangelist, was also an avid collector of Alaskan Native artefacts and his acquisitions found their way both to Princeton and a museum in south-east Alaska (later named the Sheldon Jackson Museum, Sitka), though it’s doubtful that Jackson’s sometimes rapacious collecting reflected an aesthetic sensibility, still less a respect for the Tlingit totem poles he chopped down or the mask collections he assembled during a visit to Tikigaq.

Reverting to Mrs Charlotte’s church experience, this was germane to Tikigaq in a number of ways: Though this was a connection about which Mrs Charlotte and Asatchaq were unaware. While Asatchaq passed away in 1980, Mrs Charlotte died a few months after our encounter. Bless them.

VI

The Episcopalian Connection

AFTER THE ALASKA Purchase from Russia in 1867, four main populations lived in Alaska. First, there were Native people: northern Inupiat, Yup’iit and Chugach Eskimos to the south west; Aleut people who’d been near exterminated and otherwise brutally exploited by the Russian traders; Tlingit Indians in south-east Alaska. And Athabascan Indians of the vast interior.

Second, there were small numbers of Euro-American traders, miners and commercial hunters whose potential wealth creation was one raison d’etre for the 1867 purchase. Third, was the small and relatively feeble presence of the US Army whose duties were replaced by the Coast Guard in the late 1870s.

Finally, there were Christian missionaries. Russian Orthodox in the south-west; Christian Covenanters in the Bering Strait region; Friends and Baptists in the lower Arctic. Presbyterians in Barrow and the Episcopalians, first among Athabascans on the Yukon River and in 1890 at Tikigaq. The Orthodox had arrived first, coming as they had with Russian traders in the late eighteenth century. The ‘Comity Agreement’ of 1889-90 had, under the auspices of the Presbyterian Sheldon Jackson, divided up Alaska more or less at random as described among the other missionary societies.

VII

The Lakota Ghost Dance and the Inupiaq Uivvaqsaaq

I’VE TOUCHED ON this connection, but omitted a detailed description and a crucial component: the historical connection that linked Asatchaq and Mrs Charlotte. What both had observed was a revivalist religion. Asatchaq’s in north Alaska. Mrs Charlotte’s in the Dakotas. Each was a witness, not a victim.

Transmission, from the late 1870s and 1880s, of the revivalist religions happened possibly at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River that Lewis and Clark had visited in 1805, describing the Native meeting there as a ‘great emporium…where all the neighboring nations assemble,’ and a population density unlike anything they had seen on their journey.

What became Ghost Dance ideology in the Dakotas and uivvaqsaaq in north Alaska, may have been transmitted via a jargon otherwise mainly used for the purpose of trade.

Native artefacts from the Great Plains, the southwest and also Alaska, mutually remote regions, have since been excavated at Celilo Falls. On the border between Sahaptian and Chinookan people, this meeting place on the Columbia River was also a centre of the Chinook Jargon. With the help of this jargon, jargon speakers from different tribes had the ability to expound revivalist ideas, and transmit them to diverse people who were otherwise separated by mutually unintelligible languages. Thus what became Ghost Dance ideology in the Dakotas and uivvaqsaaq in north Alaska, may have been transmitted via a jargon otherwise mainly used for the purpose of trade. It is therefore possible that the otherwise inexplicable presence of similar cults with virtually identical purposes and a remarkable uniformity of symbolism might have been distributed by jargon specialists to entirely different and linguistically discrete societies.5

VIII

Postscript — Axe Percussion

I’D NOTICED, AS Mrs Charlotte moved toward her peroration and I sensed a band of cold air layering the warmth of mid-September, that she’d grown aware of axe blows reaching us from nearby woodsheds and that the sound of this percussion took her back to South Dakota, year-round preparation of the winter firewood, the feel in her hands of axe hafts, logs that sprang apart revealing fresh, splintery interiors and the smell of resin. Pine, alder, cottonwood that she and her husband humped monthly from a nearby patch of woodland. And how the temperature conditioned ways on cold days logs sprang apart which in the warmer weather hung together.

Hands. Blisters. Axes. Smells of burning. Ashes. Back ache. Arthritic shoulders. Woodland, prairie, horse loads, sizing up next winter against supplies you’ve stacked up in the summer. Local timber. Insects — beetle larvae, earwigs — that you disturbed in their environment and others that you burned to ashes.


Tom Lowenstein was born near London in 1941 and educated at Cambridge. He has worked since the mid-1960s as a teacher. Between 1973 and 1989 he recorded materials deriving from intermittent residence in an Inupiaq (north Alaskan Eskimo) village. Previous publications include three books of poetry: Filibustering in Samsara (The Many Press), Ancestors and Species: New and Selected Ethnographic Poetry (Shearsman Books), and Conversation with Murasaki (Shearsman Books). His three studies of Point Hope are The Things that Were Said of Them (University of California Press 1990), Ancient Land: Sacred Whale (Bloomsbury, Farrar Strauss and Harvill, 1993-2001) and Ultimate Americans: Point Hope, Alaska 1826-1909 (University of Alaska Press, 2009).

NOTES.

  1. Later, looking into nineteenth century ordnance documents I stumbled on this history:

    Early in 1876, Colonel Miles, Fifth Infantry, suggested that a light field-gun weighing less than 500 pounds be provided for service on the plains, to replace the obsolete mountain howitzer.

    The subject was submitted to the Ordnance Board for consideration, with the remark “that a rifled gun, probably a breech-loader, that can travel with cavalry, and has an effective shell range beyond that of rifled small arms, not less than 1,500 yards, would probably meet the requirements of the service”.-

    While under consideration, Mr. B. B. Hotchkiss presented for examination and trial a light breech-loading rifle that gave promise of efficient service on the frontier, and fulfilled the conditions of mobility, range, and accuracy.

    One was procured and issued to the Department of Dakota in 1877, and used in the field that summer. It weighs 116 pounds, and its caliber is 1.65 inches. It uses a charge of 6 ounces of powder, and a percussion shell weighing 2 pounds. While many defects in its mechanism, and in the carriage and ammunition, have been pointed out after the experience of a campaign, showing that modifications are desirable to add to its effectiveness, it did excellent work. I am informed that Colonel Miles expressed himself as satisfied that it had rendered efficient service, and was a valuable weapon. With all its defects, others have been called for, and the five now in possession of the department will be issued to the troops. (Ord, 1878)

  2. Mooney, Sacred Fomulas of the Cherokees, 1901.
  3. The historical Realpolitik entailed by potential warfare was horrifyingly summed up by American Horse, an Oglala leader on Pine Ridge reservation, summer 1890: ‘Think! What are you going to do? Your country is surrounded by a network of railroads; thousands of white soldiers will be here within three days. What ammunition have you? What provisions? What will become of your families? This is child’s madness.’ Quoted in Utley, 6:108.  In Tikigaq, ca.1960, in response to disturbance surrounding US Atomic Agency officials who were in the village for a meeting about Project Chariot (see pp… below), Asatchaq said: ‘If you hurt one of these men, the white man will respond with planes and bombs…’ Thus inherent inequalities in Native/non-Native relations.
  4. Jean Renoir, Renoir, my Father, 1962
  5. With thanks to Prof. Bruce Ingham, Lakota language specialist and Jonathan King of the British Museum for help on this subject. For a longer discussion of uivvaqsaaq, see Ultimate Americans, 2009.

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