February 11, 2012

White Face Woman: 1 of 8

The trail began at the Grease Grass River, otherwise known as The Little Big Horn. General George A. Custer started the trail for White Face Woman (Iteskawin) when he attempted, once and for all, to capture the Sitting Bull Sioux on June 25th, 1876.
     The general forgot the Indian is hard to capture on his own grounds. He and his officers planned well. With 900 men armed with gattling guns and carbine rifles, what chance had the hostile Sioux with their few muskets, bows and arrows? It was all as simple as that. In fact, he thought it so easy that he, with Major Reno, attacked the Sioux camp with between 3- and 400 cavalry—cream of the US army, so they say.
     In less than two hours Custer’s Seventh Cavalry was killed to the last man, while Major Reno came near being the same. After the battle dust cleared, the Sioux picked up their killed—ten in number, nine Sioux and one friendly Cheyenne—and about twenty wounded. Those killed were White Bull and Fast Bear, brothers, Buffalo Standing Up, Elk Standing Up, Hawk, Dice, White Eagle, Counted Coupe Upon, and Ice, the Cheyenne Indian. A Catholic priest cried when I told him the above number (Sioux tradition).
     “No, no, John, it cannot be true. It’s against the law of averages.”
     I thought of Samson, in the Holy Book, who slew 1,000 Philistines with the jaw bone of an ass. Anyway, I was only telling him the number of casualties handed down to me by my people. No miracles among the heathen? That is something God alone can answer.
     General Custer, although he met defeat, accomplished a task the United States had on its hands from 1776 to 1876—a hundred years. And to conquer the Sioux Indians he also started the trail of romance for White Face Woman, a trail that led her to Major Jarvis of the NWMP at Wood Mountain, near the US boundary in Western Canada.
     Immediately following the battle of the Little Big Horse, Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull, also the other four bands, including the Cheyenne, slowly began to scatter. Crazy Horse, whose band is credited with destroying Custer, worked his way southeast, intending to surrender, while the friendly Cheyenne band moved south. A third of Sitting Bull’s band headed north and entered the Wood Mountain country in the late fall of that year. In May, the next year, Sitting Bull joined his band in Canada, the rest followed in June.
For five years Sitting Bull remained in the Wood Mountain country and elsewhere in the vicinity of the NWMP, who welcomed him as a refugee. The Metis, too, received him and his people as friends. Each year the buffalo were rapidly thinning and by 1882 they were seldom seen, so the Sioux were starving, living on smaller game.

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