My education taught me little about the one-time Indian Nation in North America — mostly about moving the “savage Indians” on to nice reservations and teaching them white men’s ways. But I finally got that education from a nonfiction book.
I recently tumbled on a copy of “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee,” a factual report on how the United States almost casually destroyed the last fragments of the Native American nation. Seniors may want to read it as it is an untold story.
It was written by Dee Brown and published in 1970 by Holt Rineheart Winston. It is subtitled “An Indian History of the American West.” It was made into a shoddy movie by HBO.
It is a detailed report on the many treaties Washington made with the Western Indians, all of which were abrogated to give miners and railroaders access to gold and rights of way. It is extensively footnoted and verified.
Why read a 487-page book when almost all of the period — the past 20 years of the 19th century — is of little import today, when such as Kit Carson is remembered as a great soldier, here in his namesake town, when he was infamous as a killer of Indians?
Many thousands died and much wealth was stolen under the guise of putting the “Indian savages” in poorly run reservations (not that that has improved with time). That the Indians were cheated at every turn is revealed.
Today the fact that what’s left of the Indian Nation, and memories of such as Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and Roman Nose, is mostly forgotten is tolerated in our multicultural ways. We enjoy the dances and powwows and the remnants of Indian culture. We admire the reed basketry of our local Indians.
But our schoolchildren and seniors know little of the horrors of the end of the Indian wars. A few myths, perhaps — the Indians at the first Thanksgiving, feeding the Puritans. John Alden and Pocahontas.
Seniors may have a hazy knowledge of the massacres of Indians and probably have little interest in finding out how the Indian Nation died at Pine Ridge four days after Christmas 1890. The survivors of the band of 350 Sioux were only four men and forty-seven women and children, and they were housed in a mission where a banner proclaimed “Peace of Earth, Good Will to Men.”
A common government saying of the time was, “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” We tried to live up to that. Sadly.
It’s a challenge most of us avoid.
Daily exercise. As we age, we need to make up for the natural exercises we used to do — running, walking, bending and so on.
Well, here are some simple exercises from Consumer Reports’ On Health:
Put your thumbs and forefingers in a triangle below your chest. Stick your legs straight back. Slowly lower yourself by extending your elbows. Then rise back up. Repeat.
BODY WEIGHT SQUATS
Stand tall. Tighten abs, slowly shift weight back on your heels and push hips back. Begin bending knees until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Slowly straighten your legs.
Face a staircase, place right foot on step, pause, push off with left foot until both feet are on the same stair. Pause, step back with right foot first. Lean slightly forward on the step down phase. Repeat will opposite leg.
Sam Bauman writes about senior issues for the Nevada Appeal.