Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Big stories

Just outside of Greenwood, SD, a burg that's almost ghostly, stands a monument dedicated to the Yankton Sioux chiefs who signed a treaty with the U. S. government in 1858 on that very spot, which was, back then, the old Yankton Sioux Agency.  

Probably wasn't the Yanktons who put it up, of course.  More than likely it was white folks who really felt that the Native people should honor the signers. There's no indication of whether or not the Yanktons did.  Today, most Native people don't.  Furthermore, if I may be so bold as to generalize, Native people are really, really into art, but not into this kind of granite monument.

Still, there are stories here.  The first name on the list of local leaders is Struck by the Ree, a Yankton chief who, as a newborn, was baptized, so to speak, by Lewis and Clark, right here, in 1804, when the Core of Discovery was parleying with the Yanktons on the shores of the Missouri.  The two white leaders told the folks around the fire that they'd like to hold that newborn if they could, and when they did they told all the others that this child would someday be a great man, a man of peace.

Lewis and Clark weren't bad as prophets, at least not in this forecast.  Struck by the Ree, who became something of a celebrity and traveled to Washington D. C. in the early years of the 19th century already, was an advocate for appeasement with the white folks coming into Native country.  What's more, he was a leader among the Yankton, who made their peace with white folks before their Sioux nation brethren farther west at Rosebud and Pine Ridge. 

But I wouldn't have stopped for the shot if it was just for the monument.  What made us pull over and prompted me to get out the best of my camera equipment was the buffalo, who are here being framed by the monument, the old wooden fence, and the swath of yellow mustard.

This herd belongs to the Yanktons, I believe, the people who would likely have occupied Sioux County in their travels, long before a paleface came along.  When I took the picture, beneath my feet was Yankton Reservation.  But right now it is, too, even though I'm about two hours east.

Half way back, east an hour or so away, stands Spirit Mound, where the Corps of Discovery took one of their forays into the country and away from the Missouri River on a summer day so hot that they sent their black dog, Seaman, home to rest.  They took a nine mile hike 
to trace down a story some Native folks claimed deadly serious, that there were little tiny men up there at the top of Spirit Mount, a species of evil spirits.  

Lewis and Clark found no eight-inch men up there, but when they got to the top of the hill they saw their very first herd of buffalo, the very first on the trip, less than an hour, today, from where I'm sitting right now behind my computer and screen.  I'm not kidding.  
There's just something about that I like.  First sighting.

So the whole place is a story about Native people, about Lewis and Clark, about a big broad land, and about the bison that once wandered the landscape in numbers that can hardly believed.  And even a big black dog that couldn't take the heat.

That's what's all in the picture, and it's why I may be the only soul on the face of the earth who loves it.

There is no accounting for taste.  


Anonymous said...

Thank You, King David would understand.

Kelsey Doom said...

How might I go about obtaining rights to use this photo in a publication?