Shootin' the Breeze

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Archive for the tag “Crazy Horse”

Being Checked Out

I have a mind.  I’m not just a piece of meat.  I have feelings too.

Sugar and I were in a store in Hill City, South Dakota, in The Black Hills, last weekend.  The store sells books about The American West.  I bought one about Crazy Horse, whose monument is nearby.  It has other items too.  Sugar was looking at Native American jewelry.  The salesclerk was not Native American nor was she from The American West.  She told Sugar, who noted her Back East accent, that she was from Philadelphia.

Out of the blue, when I was not even talking to her, the Philadelphia lady asked me, “Do you ride horses? (pause)  A lot?”

I proudly told her that I have been riding horses my whole life or at least since I was two years old.  I expected her admiration.  I figured she was thrilled to be in the presence of a genuine cowboy.  (In my prior post, Miss Sugar’s Purse, I described my attire, including the manly shoulder bag).

Maybe she asked the question because of my hat and boots.  It turns out that her focus was on checking out my Wrangler jeans as  I innocently browsed the books.

“Man, are you bow-legged!”  That is what she said.  She then asked if spending too many hours in the saddle during my formative years caused my condition.  I am certain that she meant it as a compliment.  I took it as a compliment.  Of course, Miss Sugar being there and all, the store clerk probably was too uncomfortable to come right out and compliment my rear.

The great thing about being delusional is that even if you are not actually on the beach, you can still enjoy it.

coffee at churchHere I am having coffee at our Cowboy Church, Ridin’ for the Brand, which meets in an indoor horse arena.  Guess whose legs are the subject of this post? Hint:  white hat.  Maybe I am slightly bow-legged.  Or it could just be the angle of the camera.

Crazy Horse

Crazy Horse was a Sioux war leader who was never defeated in battle.  He was one of the strategists at the Battle of Little Big Horn, where General Custer was wiped out by an alliance of Indian tribes. 

He fought to protect his home in the Black Hills of what is now South Dakota.  He was never defeated, but he did surrender and was taken to Fort Robinson, in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  Sadly, he was murdered there, stabbed in the back by a bayonet, to the shame of his captors.

He died in 1877.  Many years later, Indian leaders persuaded an award winning sculptor, Korczak Ziolkowski, to build a monument such as Mount Rushmore, honoring Crazy Horse.  The “monumental” job was undertaken by the artist in 1948, but is still not completed.  Mr. Ziolkowski died in 1982.  His family continues the task.  So far, after six decades, only the face of Crazy Horse is recognizable.  It is not really a task of sculpting because a mountain is being carved by dynamite primarily.  There is a sculpture done by the artist which is being recreated on a much larger scale.  It is a daunting task. 

I recommend that you visit the monument, which is near Custer, South Dakota.  There is no hurry though.  Take your time.

After the PowWow

Previously, I wrote about my introduction to Native American people, aka Indians.  Now I will tell you the rest of the story. 

As a dedicated young cowboy, interested in the American West, I enjoyed family trips  to places like Fort Robinson, where Crazy Horse was assassinated, and the Black Hills, sacred to the Sioux.  The Pine Ridge Reservation is in South Dakota on the border of Nebraska.  We visited Wounded Knee in the Pine Ridge. 

So, when I had to pick an 8th grade history project, I wrote about American Indians and learned a lot in the process.

Later, during my higher education, I signed up for a class called “Concentration in Cross Cultural Communication”  because it included a three week field trip as part of the requirement.  Some of my classmates went to Africa.  I arranged to go to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  In preparation, I read Dee Brown’s book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.  Unfortunately, at the time I was to go there in the spring of 1975, the American Indian Movement folks like Russell Means had a standoff with FBI agents and took some hostages.  So, I was told that it was not a good time to visit.

Instead, I redirected my field trip to New Mexico, where I stayed at Ghost Ranch near Abiqui.  I was there three weeks.  I visited the seven northern Pueblos, including the Taos Pueblo.  I enjoyed the experience, meeting some nice folks and learning a lot.  As it turns out, many years later, I still enjoy northern New Mexico.  My trophy wife, Miss Sugar, and I frequently make trips to Santa Fe, Taos, Abiqui and Ojo Caliente. 

Miss Sugar has made friends with some artisans in that area and gets materials such as turquoise and silver to use in her own jewelry making business.  She likes the SouthWest stuff.  So do I.  Actually, our log house on the ranch is decorated with cowboy decor, including SouthWest items.  Plus, I use guns and antlers in much of my decorating.

Fortunately, Miss Sugar shares, no, improves upon my taste in decor.  Of course, there is a good reason why.  Not only did she grow up in Texas, but she is an Indian princess, no less than 1/16th Shoshone.  Get a load of that.  That first powwow became my destiny.

Legend of Rawhide

Me and Miss Sugar made a quick trip to Nebraska and Wyoming this weekend.  It was fun.

On Friday, after work, we drove to Scottsbluff, Nebraska, where I lived before coming to Colorado thirty years ago.  We ate at Applebee’s and stayed at the Hampton Inn.  Everything was fine.  I like western Nebraska.  Scottsbluff is so far west that it is only about twenty-five miles to the Wyoming border.

Saturday morning, we headed to Lusk, Wyoming for the performance of The Legend of Rawhide, which we had never seen but heard about from a gal who used to live there before coming to Fort Collins.  She told us to stay with her Aunt Dottie at her bed and breakfast, which we did.

While waiting for the evening performance, we poked around town.  We visited the local museum and the local pub.  At the pub, a bunch of young men in cowboy hats was drinking and playing pool.  They had an odd custom of sharing a jar of pickle juice.  When offered to Miss Sugar and myself, after we remarked about it, we declined.  No regrets about that decision.  The cheeseburger I got with tater tots was pretty good, but I doubt we will be back.  The patrons were too loud for my taste.

Aunt Dottie’s bed and breakfast was lovely.  She has a mansion-like house with a balcony off the second floor rooms.  In the stairway is a stained glass window imported from Italy.  It looks like it belongs in a cathedral. 

The performance was very well done, all by local folks.  Some played mountain men, some Sioux Indians, and some were folks on a wagon train passing through Wyoming on the way to Oregon.  They had fast galloping horses when the Indian warriors circled the wagon train for a battle after one of the pilgrims shot the chief’s daughter, which is a sure way to incur the wrath of them Sioux.  I was impressed by how the Lusk community comes together to put this on.  Well done.  If you visit Lusk next year, you will probably like it too. 

This morning, Aunt Dottie put out a good breakfast, which we shared with a family from California.  Mr. and Mrs. California knew about this weekend because they grew up in the area before migrating on to California.

After breakfast, Miss Sugar and I traveled about eighty miles east again to Fort Robinson, a former cavalry outpost in the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska.  It has a rich history, including the infamous distinction of being where Crazy Horse surrendered.  Sad for him, after surrendering, he was assasinated by a half-breed.  It was not a fair fight.  Now the fort is a state park.  This is another place I recommend that people interested in the West visit.  Not far away is the Pine Ridge Reservation, which has a history of its own, including the site of the Wounded Knee incident that Dee Brown wrote about years ago in his book, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

We just got home and were glad that it rained a lot while we were gone.  That surely helped put out the fires.  Thank you, Lord!

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