Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Health Care and the Rhyming of History

Wooden Leg was 18 years old in 1876 when he fought Custer's 7th Cavalry at Greasy Grass (Little Bighorn.) He was nineteen when he and his fellow Cheyenne were forcibly coerced to surrender and withdraw to reservation lands by the US government. There they were induced, swindled, bribed, bullied, and in any other way convinced to give up the old ways and accept the way of the white man. Wooden Leg did so quite successfully and ended his long role as a leader of the Northern Cheyenne as a reservation judge for the US government.

He never truly gave up the old ways and often longed for the freedom he once had. On the reservation he watched as his tribe suffered disease and ailments they had never experienced when they freely roamed the plains. It seemed, he thought, that white man's medicine was not good for Indians. In his 70s, Wooden Leg told his story to a former agency physician, Thomas B. Marquis, who then wrote Wooden Leg: A Warrior Who Fought Custer.
"We had good medicine men in the old times. It may be they did not know as much about sickness as the white men doctors know, but our doctors knew more about Indians and how to talk to them. Our people then did not die so young so much as they do now. In present times our Indian doctors are put into jail if they make medicine for our sick people. Whoever of us may become sick or injured must have the agency white man doctor or none at all. But he can not always come, and there are some who do not like him. I think it is best and right if each sick one be allowed to choose which doctor he wants."
The do-gooders still insist on helping people who do not want their help, doing for others what others wish to do themselves, providing services of dubious efficacy to those who simply want to be left alone saying, 'We will help you whether you like it or not and in time you will come to love us as we love you now.' Love and compassion were as much weapons against the American Indian as any cavalry unit, rifle, or diseased blanket. Today free people are approached with the same arrogant 'we know what's best for you' love and compassion from the left as the Indians of Wooden Leg's time were confronted by the progressive do-gooders of their time who only wanted to share the bounty of civilization.

Ironically, George Custer, commander of the 7th Cavalry at the Battle of Little Bighorn, wrote in "My Life on the Plains", published only months before his death in battle against the N. Cheyenne, Sioux, and Arapaho -
"I often think that if I were an Indian I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people who adhered to the free and open plains than submit to the confined limits of a reservation, there to be the recipient of the blessed benefits of civilization, with its vices thrown in without stint or measure."
"History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes," noted Mark Twain. It appaers to be rhyming time agian.

The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.