I learned the delusional stories the victors told themselves, each other and their minions. Thankfully, it's never too late to go back and find it. When it comes to the histories, true stories of what has happened on these bloodied lands, I am thankful to have so many different sources to draw from...
Tonight I jumped from mostly water to people of color organize! and was gifted with this...
It Was a Good Day to Die: 135 Years Since The Battle of the Greasy Grass
Yesterday and today marks 135 years since that settler murderer Custer and the rest of his horde were cut down by the brave and victorious warriors of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho nations. In remembrance of them and their sacrifices I have put together this short piece. It first appeared on my personal site.
Generally known to settler historians as the Battle of the Little Bighorn, or in the more heroic historical fantasy literature of the American settler mythology as Custer’s Last Stand, what is known to us, the Native people of this continent now called America, as the Battle of the Greasy Grass was an attempted massacre of what was thought to be a primarily civilian Indian encampment by the Amerikkkan 7th Cavalry commanded by one of the most cowardly butchers in the employ of the expanding white settler colony, George Armstrong Custer. While Custer had expected to primarily encounter (and slaughter) women and children in the name of Amerikkka, with only a force of 800 “non-reservation hostiles” to defend them, in actually Custer’s own Crow Indian scouts warned him that it was the largest Indian encampment they had ever seen. But he didn’t listen. He was out to kill some Indian women and children in the name of America, white power and personal glory, and he was not to be deterred. When he attacked he was met by a combined Lakota-Northern Cheyenne-Arapaho force of thousands.
This of course was unacceptable to the expanding American white power empire. In order to force this large army of Indians back to their prisons-called-reservations, the American Empire dispatched three army columns to attack them in a coordinated fashion. Having arrived in the eastern portion of what the whites then called the Montana Territory, the main Indian encampment near the Little Bighorn River was spotted on June 25 by Custer and his forces. They also found a nearby group of about forty warriors. Seeking glory against the “savages”, Custer ignored his orders to wait and decided to attack before the small war party could alert the main encampment.
Custer of course in his desire to rush headlong into glorious battle against the Indians did not realize that the actual number of warriors in the village was roughly three times the strength of his own forces. Custer sent troops under Captain Frederick Benteen to prevent the warriors’ escape through the upper valley of the Little Bighorn River. Major Marcus Reno was ordered to pursue the group, cross the river, and charge the encampment in a coordinated effort with the remaining troops under his command. Custer had hoped to strike the encampment at the northern and southern ends simultaneously, but made this decision without knowing what kind of terrain he would have to cross before making his assault. Only later did he discover that he would have to make his way through a veritable a maze of bluffs and ravines in order to attack his target.
Meanwhile Reno’s group of 175 soldiers attacked the southern end. Quickly finding themselves in a desperate battle with little hope of any relief, they withdrew into the timber and brush along the river. When that position proved indefensible for the settler soldiers, they retreated uphill to the bluffs east of the river. They were hotly pursued by a mix of Cheyenne and Lakota warriors.
Just as the warriors had finished driving Reno’s troops out, they discovered that roughly 200 of Custer’s men were coming towards the other end of the village. Cheyenne and Hunkpapa Lakota warriors together crossed the river and slammed into this column of advancing American soldiers, forcing them back to a long high ridge to the north.
Meanwhile, another Indian force, largely composed of warriors from the Oglala band of the Lakota nation under the command of Tȟašúŋke Witkó, swiftly moved downstream and then doubled back in a sweeping arc, enveloping Custer and his men in a pincer move. They began pouring in gunfire and arrows onto his now trapped settler army of wannabe butchers. By now the end was near.
As the warriors slowly closed in, Custer ordered his men to shoot their horses and stack the carcasses to form a wall, but they provided little protection against the warriors’ bullets. In less than an hour, Custer and his men were dead. After yet another day of fighting, Reno and Benteen’s now united forces managed to escape, but only when the warriors broke off the battle.
The deaths of Custer and his personal unit, as well as the general resounding defeat of his forces in pursuit of an attempted massacre of Indian civilians, was the worst American military disaster ever. What began as an attempted slaughter of presumed near defenseless Indian women and children became a massacre of the wannabe massacrers.
However, great as this victory was, it would prove to be one of our people’s last over the imperial American snake. Though the Diné (Navajo & other Apachean peoples), Comanche and other nations in the southern plains and southwest would carry on the fight against imperialism and settler colonialism for some years more, within less than a generation of the battle the great Lakota leaders Maȟpíya Lúta (who the whites call Red Cloud), Tȟašúŋke Witkó and Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake had all either died or surrendered. Tȟašúŋke Witkó and Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake died during attempts to take them into custody by the imperial American military, while Red Cloud surrendered, and would live to 1909, his last years on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
There resistance to the ever encroaching military, economic, cultural and religious domination of the white American settlers would never be forgotten though by Indians of all tribes, and has entered in our history, and the history of all oppressed people struggling against imperialism, as legend. So on this 135th anniversary I, like many other Indians, salute and remember those who gave their lives in one last attempt to save our people and our cultures. As Tȟašúŋke Witkó used to say, it was a good day to die.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse
In the Spirit of Total Resistance
Long Live the Anti-Colonial Warrior!
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