Black Elk Speaks: The Complete Edition

By John G. Neihardt; Black Elk | Go to book overview

8 THE FIGHT WITH THREE STARS

We stayed at the Soldiers’ Town this time until the grass was good in the Moon When the Ponies Shed (May). Then my father told me we were going back to Crazy Horse and that we were going to have to fight from then on, because there was no other way to keep our country. He said that Red Cloud was a cheap man and wanted to sell the Black Hills to the Wasichus; that Spotted Tail1 and other chiefs were cheap men too, and that the Hang-Around-the-Fort people were all cheap and would stand up for the Wasichus. My aunt, who was living at the Soldiers’ Town, must have felt the way we did, because when we were breaking camp she gave me a six-shooter like the soldiers had, and told me I was a man now.2 I was thirteen years old and not very big for my age, but I thought I should have to be a man anyway. We boys had practiced endurance, and we were all good riders, and I could shoot straight with either a bow or a gun.

We were a small band, and we started in the night and traveled fast. Before we got to War Bonnet Creek, some Shyelas (Cheyennes) joined us, because their hearts were bad like ours and they were going to the same place. Later I learned that many small bands were doing the same thing and coming together from everywhere.

Just after we camped on the War Bonnet, our scouts saw a wagon train of the Wasichus coming up the old road that caused the trouble before.*

* The Bozeman Trail, closed by the Treaty of 1868. [Again, Black Elk’s people were at this time in northwestern Nebraska. This attack must have taken place on the road between Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, and the gold mining camps in the Black Hills. Continual Indian attacks were reported near the Hat Creek (Warbonnet Creek) station in May 1876 (Spring, The Cheyenne and Black Hills Stage and Express Routes, 144).—RDM]

-57-

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