June 25, 2012

136th anniversary of Greasy Grass

Visiting South Dakota, we didn't realize the significance of the Battle of Little Bighorn anniversary. Several Plains tribes celebrate it as an official holiday.

That means the chairman of the Oglala Sioux Tribe (OST) wasn't there to greet us when we arrived in Pine Ridge. He and other tribal employees had taken the day off.

Some postings on the day's significance:

The 136th anniversary of the Battle at Little Big Horn

By Tim GiagoThe bumper stickers were born before the holiday.

They could be seen on cars coming and going from the Indian reservations in America. They read “Custer died for your sins,” or “Custer wore Arrow Shirts.” And then came the holiday in the 1970s.

The Indian holiday on June 25 marks the 136th anniversary of the thrashing of George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Cavalry at the Little Big Horn, or Greasy Grass, as the Indians called it. On all of the Sioux Indian reservations in South Dakota it is a statewide holiday. The Cheyenne and the Arapahoe, also participants in the great victory, have also joined the celebration.

They celebrate the day their ancestors handed the United States Army one of its worst defeats in all of the so-called “Indian Wars.” The Indians called them the “White Man Wars.”
The Battle of the Little Bighorn is Still Relevant

By Chase Iron EyesThe battlefield is no longer only a physical fight to steal our lands, sever our ties to protect mother earth, eradicate our dignity, kill our languages, stop our ceremonies and purposefully and perpetually keep us in a subdued state of existence. Poverty is not an accident. The battlefield has largely shifted to the arena of our own minds.

Today our enemy is the corporate west and its institutions (legal, social, political, media, educational, etc.). These institutions that attempt to teach us that we were savage, that we were primitive, that skinny and white is beautiful, that women are objects, that we should value comfort, material products, ego, and consumer culture over sacrifice and our ceremonies. These institutions that ignore us yet demand that we work for them 8-12 hours per day for 60 years or until we retire, at the expense of our families, earth, and ceremonies.

These institutions and their perpetrators, Indian and non, seek to deny the truth that we are children of creation with the blessing and the burden to protect the earth and practice divine order in our ceremonies and life patterns as compelled by our spiritual dignity. I also would be remiss if I did not recognize that our own apathy, learned helplessness, and ego are also our enemies. The theatre of war may have changed to our hearts and minds, but the same lives are at stake.

We celebrate our unconquerable spiritual dignity today with the Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Lakota Alliance (Okaspe Yamni) in their country and in the homelands of Gall, Sitting Bull, Inkpa Duta, Rain in the face, Crazy Horse, American Horse, Big Road, and Black Elk to name a few of the Grandfathers that fought at the Greasy Grass and we remember all the others, including women such as Inyan He Wita (Rocky Butte) and Mary Crawler who fought as well.

We celebrate and choose to remember into the future, because that spirit is still alive and ready to meet any challenge in any battle.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Custer Flag Auctioned to Help Indians and Why No Wounded Knee National Monument?

No comments: