“All that existed was precious in Crazy Horse’s religion—whatever a man did or thought was good, was wakan, so long as he obeyed his own inner voice, for that too was wakan.”
“Burial practices illustrated the two men’s different outlooks. Custer believed a body should be buried in a long-lasting metal casket, thus removing the body from the ecological system by preventing bacteria from breaking it down and feeding it back into the soil. Crazy Horse believed in wrapping a body inside a buffalo robe and placing it on a scaffold on an open hillside, where the elements could break it down in a year or two. It would then come up again as buffalo grass, to be eaten by the buffalo, which would then be eaten by the Sioux, completing the circle.”
“In the excitement of a charge, or in the enthusiasm of approaching victory, there is a sense of pleasure which no one should attempt to underrate.” General Horace Porter, aide-decamp to General Grant Custer”
“Both Custer and Crazy Horse, in short, still had much to learn about each other.”
“Lieutenant Edward S. Godfrey, who was present at the meeting and who later became the authority on the battle of the Little Bighorn, recorded the aftermath. “This ‘talk’ of his [Custer’s] was considered at the time as something extraordinary for General Custer, for it was not his habit to unbosom himself to his officers. In it he showed concessions and a reliance on others; there was an indefinable something that was not Custer. His manner and tone, usually brusque and aggressive, or somewhat curt, was on this occasion conciliating and subdued. There was something akin to an appeal, as if depressed, that made a deep impression on all present. … Lieutenant Wallace and myself walked to our bivouac, for some distance in silence, when Wallace remarked: ‘Godfrey, I believe General Custer is going to be killed.’ ‘Why?’ I replied, ‘what makes you think so?’ ‘Because,’ said he, ‘I have never heard Custer talk in that way before.”
“The myths emphasized the relatedness of life, for in them plants and animals talked and exhibited other human characteristics. The myths taught young Curly that everything had its place and function and that all things and animals were important The stories also gave him a feeling of balance; one, for example, told how the animals got together one day and decided to get back at mankind for killing and eating them. Each animal decided on a different disease he would give to man in retribution. Upon hearing of this, the plants got together and each one decided to provide a remedy for a specific disease. The telling of this myth might lead to the handing down of ancient wisdom about the medicinal properties of various leaves, bark, roots, and herbs.”
“Like Crazy Horse, Custer lived his life to the full; again like Crazy Horse, he was so involved with living that he did not have time to fear death.”
“Third, the Sioux did not delegate real power to an individual, be he a head of an akicita society, tribal chief, or simply a brave individual. As Lowie puts it, “in normal times the chief was not a supreme executive, but a peacemaker and an orator.” Chiefs—all chiefs—were titular, “and any power exercised within the tribe was exercised by the total body of responsible men who had qualified for social eminence by their war record and their generosity.”33 Whites could never understand this point, incidentally; because they could not conceive of a society without a solid hierarchy, the whites insisted that the Indians had to have chiefs who would be a final authority and able to speak for the entire tribe. Later, much difficulty grew out of this basic white misunderstanding of Indian government.”
“There was no room on this new road for Crazy Horse, the greatest warrior of them all. Perhaps Touch-the-Clouds had this in mind as he looked down on those courageous, confused people. "It s well," he said quietly, reassuringly. "He has looked for death and it has come." The Oglalas filed away, silently, into the night.”
“They hid, Bos came over the hill, looked puzzled, and Custer let loose with a bullet that whizzed over his brother’s head. Bos turned”
“Of the tens of thousands of men who died in combat in the war, possibly as many as half lost their lives in vain. Lee’s charges at Malvern Hill and Gettysburg, Burnside’s at Fredericksburg, Grant’s at Vicksburg, and many others left the dead strewn everywhere for no discernible military gain. The Sioux would never have followed men who led such bloody, futile assaults, but the Americans made heroes out of these generals—and the higher a general’s losses, it seemed, the greater the hero he became.”
“Arthur Moore describes the results: “Whole forests of oak, beech, poplar, maple, and walnut, standing since Columbus, collapsed … from girdling and deadening with fire. There was in the heart of the new race no more consideration for the trees than for the game until the best of both were gone; steel conquered the West but chilled the soul of the conqueror. This assault on nature, than which few more frightful spectacles could be imagined, owed much to sheer need, but something also to a compelling desire to destroy conspicuous specimens of the fauna and flora of the wilderness. The origin of this mad destructiveness may be in doubt, but there is no question about its effect. The Ohio Valley today has neither trees nor animals to recall adequately the splendor of the garden of the Indian which the white man found and used so profligately.”
“One observer estimated that in 1901 Texas alone had eight hundred million prairie dogs.4 Jack rabbits were nearly as numerous. Antelope and deer numbered in the millions, as did the wolves and coyotes, and there were thousands of elk, bear, and other game.”
“For it was authority that turned men suspicious and stern-faced. Authority and responsibility which made them not themselves, but a sort of corporate body that tried to think as a corporate body rather than a person.”
“I always figured somebody was meant for me, and when I found him, I’d know it. The second I saw you in the alley, something in me recognized you.”
“I loved him. God help me, I loved him more than a girl has ever loved a boy. More than anyone has ever loved anyone.”
“Every writing course I ever heard of said the same thing. Take one story, follow it through, beginning, middle, end. I don’t do that. I never do. Behind the story I tell is the one I don’t. Behind the story you hear is the one I wish I could make you hear.”
“Home is the place that expects the most of you, but still welcomes you at your worst. And she has always been my home, my Merminia.”
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