Musings from the Hill, Aug. 20, 2015
Without the firm courage of women, we would not be a free country today. Roma Earles suggested I read “One Thousand White Women” by Jim Fergus. The book pertains to the settlement of the West, due in a large measure to the labor provided by women and children. Their “stand by your man” mentality in many encounters with renegades, Indians, wild animals, etc. turned the tide and saved the family. Women and children were essential to the creation of America. Women’s rights should never have become an issue.
The following is historical fact. In 1874, “Sweet Medicine Chief” Little Wolf, a Cheyenne chief, came to Washington, D.C., with some of his tribesmen to discuss peace initiatives. In the Cheyenne tradition, the children were of the mother’s tribe, not the father’s. They were instructed by the mother’s uncles or male relatives. In Washington, Little Wolf met with the president and proposed a way to solidify a peaceful relationship with the United States. He said, “For your gift of one thousand white women, we will give you one thousand horses … From this day forward the blood of our people shall be forever joined.”
Of course, as we know from history, this proposal was not granted, but in this fictitious novel it was. The book follows one of the women that were given in the exchange. I would suggest reading this book. It is very interesting story.
It is possible for white people and Native Americans to get along. My grandmother and her family were saved twice in the last Indian uprising in the plains of Nebraska by the Otoe Indians. My family permitted the Indians to camp on their land because the only flint outcropping was on the land owned by the Fabyans. My great uncle Guy Fabyan once told me he frequently raced his pony with the Indians. Later a great misfortune struck, my grandmother was poisoned by a mistake at the local medicine dispensary. Her husband left his children with his sister in New York and disappeared.
I wonder if by any stretch of the imagination, if the white women were traded to the tribes, would peace have prevailed?
Given all of my past strokes and their lasting effects on my hands, I am having trouble typing these columns. I would like to thank Sarah Baker for her help, which is invaluable. She is an assistant editor at of The Baker Orange and won a best in online audio award in April.