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.
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.