Lakota Grandmother Talks About Custer

Grandmother Twinkle Star also told me something she had heard from her own mother and father. At the US 7th Calvary's "sensitivity training" session along the banks of the Greasy Grass River in 1876 which whites call the Battle of the Little Big Horn George Armstrong Custer was not killed in battle. He took his own life, as did many other soldiers in his command.
It happened in this way, Grandma Twinkle Star explained. Custer was well known among the members of the Allies encamped along the Greasy Grass. They hated him, but he was not a foe worthy of respect. Custer had built his reputation among whites as an "Indian fighter," with sneak attacks on villages of women, old men, and babies. He was a butcher, not a soldier. Among the Allies and the Cheyenne and Arapaho, he was considered a dishonorable man. When he foolishly attacked what he thought were defenseless Lakota encampments near the Greasy Grass, he suddenly found himself facing armed men. When the Lakota assembled to defend themselves and their families, many of the whites, perhaps fearing the torture or mutilation that cavalrymen had so often inflicted on Indian victims, took their own lives.
No self-respecting Lakota wanted the dishonor of killing a maggot such as Custer . . . The Lakota were going to let Custer go, let him return to his people and suffer the lifetime of shame and humiliation he had earned by murdering women and children. Dozens of women, mostly armed only with what they could snatch up from their tipis tools and cooking implements -- ran toward Custer, yelling and screaming for him to run away.
Grandma Twinkle Star told me that Custer rode a short way, then stopped, looked back at the swarm of women, put his revolver to his head and blew his brains out. Because no one wanted to soil his hands with Custer, the Lakota left his body where it lay.There were no white survivors of the encounter along the Greasy Grass, no white witnesses to Custer's death. When white soldiers recovered his body a few days later, they put the best face they could on what they had found. They said Indians had so respected Custer that to spare a dying man further agony, they had administered a coup de grace. Out of that same respect, the Lakota had not mutilated his body. Bull!

From Where White Men Fear to Tread; The Autobiography of Russell Means, with Marvin J. Wolf. ISBN 0-312-13621-8; $26.95, St. Martin's Press. Printed in The Gentle Survivalist From News From Indian Country. We are on an Exchange basis with these folks. For a sample copy send $3 to Rt 2 Box 2900-A Hayward, WI 54843.


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