[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.
Charging the hill was a group of warriors.
“Sitting Bull,” Harry howled. “That dog talked again,” a soldier shouted.
Custer ignored him. “We ain’t ready to fight. Let’s go.” Custer ordered his men down the hill, disappearing in a dust cloud.
“But this one you know,” Frankie muttered, eyes rolling. “Yeah! He is a friend,” Harry stuttered happily.
“The white devils run,” Sitting Bull said angrily. “They seek to drive us from our lands, and claim them for themselves, but act cowardly.” The warrior chief halted his men, turning towards Frankie and Harry with a smile. “But the ‘Great Spirit’ has granted the return of my old friend. That is good. Come, let us return to camp.” Sitting Bull led the warriors and his guests down the hill, and into the enormous encampment. He told them of the huge number of Sioux people, as well as other Native Americans, who had been driven from their lands, coming here for protection.
“Why not move to reservations, if it means peace,” Frankie inquired, settling in around a great campfire.
“Because it does not mean a better life,” Sitting Bull stated, his blemished, solid face covered in firelight, pushing back long black braids. “We lose the freedom to wander and live with the lands our ancestors walked, existing in camps with borders. We’re forced to depend on their government for food and supplies.” “The ‘white man’ believes we are below him, because we do not worship the same gods, or the same beliefs. We are ‘savages’. Each time they invade, we are pushed further back. They butcher buffalo in huge numbers, making our food scarce. Many feel our way of life is dying, and are determined to stop that.”
“So, you’re not fighting because you own the land,” Frankie said, taking in Bull’s words. “You’re fighting for your ‘way of life’…the way your ancestors lived for thousands of years.”
“These men believe that they own the land…that their gods have given them the great mission to take it. But they do not own the land. We do not own the land. It can not be owned,” Sitting Bull said, shaking his head. He stroked Harry’s back, the dog growling, noticing a squirrel in a sack of corn. “We hunt for food, but that doesn’t make us better than the animals. They make these lands their home, and we share in its bounty with them, equally. The Great Spirit has shared this ground with us…it is in the very soil, and all other creatures around us. We must respect it…not take ownership and destroy it.”
“Destroy it like the Dakota Access pipeline might do,” Frankie whispered to himself.
After a while longer, the pair said goodbye, preparing to leave. Frankie finally came to see the pipeline argument in a different way. That more money and jobs didn’t make constructing this pipeline the right thing to do. It’s what Poppop and Harry had both tried to convince him of before. Frankie smiled in understanding.
Harry perked up, nose in the air. “What’re you smelling now,” Frankie asked. Harry paused. “Something old…familiar.”
“Probably nothing,” Harry finished, Frankie putting his hand to Harry’s neck. “Let’s go home.”
As they disappeared in a flash of light, two figures emerged atop where Frankie and Harry had encountered Custer.
“Found him, master,” a gentle, female voice stated. “But I think he sensed us.” A slender man in black stepped forward. Pale, bald head shining in the starlight, as he put an elderly hand onto her back. “His time’s almost up, anyway. You’ve done well,” came a rasping voice. “Good girl.”