Many of the American Indian tribes that participated in the Ghost Dances in the late 1800s created special shirts and dresses for that purpose and infused them with meaning and power. In “Identity by Design: Tradition, Change, and Celebration in Native Women’s Dresses,” Colleen Cutschall wrote: “Both buckskin and cloth Ghost Dance dresses were painted… Continue reading The Beauty and Meaning of Ghost Dance Shirts
The Ghost Dance movement that swept through the western Indian tribes in the late 1800s formed a tragic trajectory from Sitting Bull’s death to the Wounded Knee massacre of 1890. After the U.S. government corralled Indians onto reservations, Congress promptly cut appropriations, drastically reducing rations for Indians at a time when crops were failing. A… Continue reading Plains Indians and the Tragic Lure of the Ghost Dance
It’s a bit overwhelming to write a post about Wounded Knee, both because of the complexity of the events leading up to the massacre and the enormity of the heartbreak, but I wanted to note the date—126 years ago today. What was originally called a battle and now widely acknowledged as a massacre happened two… Continue reading Remembering the 1890 Massacre at Wounded Knee, S.D.
You’d think the answer would be simple, but the question sent me down one rabbit hole of research after another. Sitting Bull, the great Hunkpapa Lakota leader, was killed on December 15, 1890, at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota during a botched arrest. He had surrendered to federal authorities several years earlier, but… Continue reading Where is Sitting Bull Buried?
The effort by the Standing Rock Sioux to halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline is the largest gathering of Indian tribes in decades. As Mark Sundeen so eloquently put it on Outside Online: “Two of our country’s biggest issues, racism and climate change, have collided on a North Dakota reservation.” It’s also about history.… Continue reading Standing Rock Sioux and the Whitestone Massacre of 1863
Moving to New England has shifted my awareness of history back a century or two. As a result, I’ve been trying to refresh my knowledge of the Revolutionary War and realizing that my early education in mercantilism and the House of Burgesses and Colonial Virginia is woefully inadequate (and, unfortunately, mostly forgettable). The Fort at… Continue reading Revolutionary War in My Own Backyard
Sarah Josepha Hale. Portrait by James Reid Lambdin. Americans owe the modern-day celebration of Thanksgiving to Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Josepha Hale. However, I fear we owe our warm, fuzzy image of Pilgrims and Indians living in harmony to a lazy attitude toward history. Hale promoted women’s issues through the American Ladies Magazine, which she… Continue reading Thanksgiving without the Pilgrims
It’s impossible to imagine the Old West without horses. Impossible to imagine cowboys, outlaws or lawmen making their way across the plains without them. I recently volunteered to help with a 30- and 50-mile endurance riding event to learn more about the sport, and in the process, I learned a lot about horses, which naturally… Continue reading My Kingdom for a Horse
Bass Reeves Just in time for the release of Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” movie, the July issue of True West magazine has an intriguing article about the possible real-life model for the masked man. The author, Art T. Burton, wrote a biography of Deputy U.S. Marshal Bass Reeves, and he makes a compelling case. Reeves,… Continue reading Bass Reeves: The inspiration for the Lone Ranger?