[History with Harry: Custer and the Bull is a 3-part story, with its central theme being the Dakota Access Pipeline. The story looks at the history behind the land that was once revered by native Americans and is at the heart of the pipeline debate.]
Continued from Part 1 HERE.
“Why’s a boy and dog out here, Colonel,” a man asked, over sounds of horses. “He wearing a cowboy hat?” “I’m sure gonna find out,” Custer replied.
“So…you know him?” Frankie froze, eyes following the rifle pointed at him, as he whispered to Harry. Custer kept the weapon trained on the pair, as he and three soldiers circled them.
“Uh…nope,” Harry whispered back with his usual stutter. “Why?”
“You knew Winston Churchill...figured I’d ask."
“That dog talked,” a soldier exclaimed in shock.
“Frankie…we’re friends, right,” Harry asked.
“Yeah…why do you keep asking me that?” “Good…I like that,” Harry whispered back, before leaping at the lead man, biting down onto his arm. Custer yelped, throwing Harry to the ground, raising his rifle to fire. Without much thought, Frankie threw himself in-between Harry and the wounded soldier.
“You best tell me why you’re helping these ‘redskins’. They’re on American land illegally,” George Custer snarled, mustache bristling, long, curly blonde hair waving. He was spotlessly dressed in his military uniform. Harry shot Frankie a look of approval, but dared not speak anymore. Think fast Frankie. “Why are you trying to push them off this land?”
“You dense, boy? I just told you, this is American territory. They need to get themselves to where they rightfully belong…on their reservations.”
“What gives you…America…the right to this land,” Frankie hollered back, mind racing, as he carefully chose his words. He needed to defuse this situation, without blowing that he wasn’t from this time. “These…’redskins’ were here long before us! What makes us better than them?”
Custer tossed a look to his men, as they roared in laughter. “You hear this, fellas? This boy thinks these Indians deserve to live wherever they please, cause they ‘were here first’! Ain’t that something?”
“God, son,” Custer said, still chuckling, wiping a tear. “God gives us the right. ‘Manifest Destiny’. We, as Americans, have the God-given right to spread our fine society…our great ideals and freedom all over this great land of ours.”
“These ‘savages’ don’t know what’s good for them. They still live in huts made of animal hides, and go around shooting game with bow and arrows. We need to be the ones to bring these people out of darkness. It’s our mission from on high.”
‘Amen’ came a sarcastic chorus from Custer’s men.
Minutes before, Frankie had been arguing with Harry against the Native American point of view, but Custer’s high and mighty attitude was changing that.
“So that gives you the right to make treaties, and then break them as you see fit? Depending on what land you want and when? Sure it’s not just cause there’s gold in these hills,” Frankie shot.
“Higher powers then me decide what’s best. I enforce their decisions. Congress declared this land to be America’s, so that gold’s ours. It’s on our land. These Indians can go right on back to the land we gave them, and live under our morals.”
“What if they don’t want to live as Americans,” Frankie argued, Harry wagging his tail in approval. “What if they don’t think your…our…way of life is better then how they live now…how they’ve lived for thousands of years? What if they don’t want to conform? Shouldn’t they have a say on how and where they live…Americans or not?”
“I guess ‘freedom’ only matters if you’re willing to give up your way of life, then?” Custer scowled. “You got a smart mouth on you, boy…”
“Indians,” a soldier bellowed.
[Concludes in Part 3]