Thank you Molly for allowing me my little preamble.
Winters in Montana can be cold and snowy. It's a time for regeneration from the work frenzy that begins in the spring and doesn't let up until the snow flies. Winter is a wonderful time to curl up by the fire with a good book and I always do.
This past winter I read what, for me, was the best history book I've read The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Calvin. It's not often I find a history book a page turner but this one was. The book is about Red Cloud a Oglala Lakota Sioux warrior who was the only Indian to ever defeat the US Army. Yes, other warriors like Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse won great battles but Red Cloud won his war.
The objective Red Cloud's war was to shut down the Bozeman trail and this he did. The Treaty of Fort Laramie 1868 gave the Oglala Lakota their sacred Black Hills (Paha Sapa). Unfortunately, the US government was only willing to give up what it didn't want. When rumors began that there was gold in the Black Hills (Paha Sapa) that was the end of the treaty.
|Chief Red Cloud|
Now the government wanted to round up the Lakota Sioux and send them to a reservation in Oklahoma. This Red Cloud could not let happen. He went to Washington to plead his case. Whilst there he saw that the whites were numerous beyond imagining. He knew to continue fighting would mean certain annihilation of his people.
Red Cloud prevailed in his efforts to keep his people near the Black Hills (Paha Sapa) and led his people onto the Pine Ridge Reservation about 65 miles away. Red Cloud died there at the age of 88. To have lived the life he lived, in the times he lived in, and reach such a great age is almost unimaginable.
After reading the book I knew that I had to go to Pine Ridge and pay this man my respects. I had to see with my own eyes that for which he fought so hard.
On this trip I learned that among his people there are two camps, those who think Red Cloud a hero and those who think him a traitor. I am obviously in the hero camp. He is thought by some to be a traitor because he led his people onto the reservation instead of continuing the fight. I think what he did showed great wisdom and courage. Had he not, there is no doubt his people would have been wiped out. Red Cloud was no coward. For him to do this thing surely took great courage because it went against everything for which he stood. Great leaders do the hard thing.
Chief Red Cloud - Sioux
Over the past 17 days Molly and I have clocked over 2,600 miles (between Clementine & Shadow), seen many amazing sites and learned much. Mostly we have learned we were barely able to scratch the surface and we will be returning to continue our quest.
Starting tomorrow Molly will begin showing and telling of our fantastic journey to the Black Hills (Paha Sapa).
Ciao for now,
Molly & Kinsey