Old Yellow Hair

Larry McMurtry writes about the Battle of the Little Bighorn for The New York Review of Books:

No one should think that because 130 years have passed since the battle the passions between tribes and within tribes have abated. Much of Michael Elliott's book [Custerology: The Enduring Legacy of the Indian Wars and George Armstrong Custer] is devoted to explaining that people who might have been expected to calm down in that length of time in fact haven't calmed down at all. For example, as Elliott points out, all the native guides to the battlefield itself are now Crow.

Lame Deer, a Cheyenne community not very far from the battlefield, is filled with people who aren't guiding any Wasichus (whites) anywhere. The Cheyenne fought Custer, and were punished for it. Lame Deer and Hardin are towns that might as well be on opposite sides of the moon. Explaining how all this works out today is part of what Elliott's book is about. In 2003 the federal government dedicated the Little Bighorn Indian Memorial, an earthwork that leads to a stone wall with maps and a text. A slogan on the wall says: "The Indian Wars Are Not Over."

February 26, 2008 11:12 AM |



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