Victory in Battle
Bev Vines Haines
“Who names the Saints really?  I say white men think they have this honor but it is not so.  My name is Catch-the-Bear and I am the 4X great grandson of a man in history who bore that same name.  My Anglican name, given to me in a white man’s hospital, is Matthew Borderman.  I do not use that name.  Ever.  

“So many lies in white men’s textbooks.  You would never guess it to look at me but I once attended Yale University. White lies.  I live now near the Standing Rock Reservation and it is nearly time for my annual pilgrimage to that sacred hill.  I go alone.  But once I arrive there will be others.  They come in ones and twos, leading horses, their heads high as they scan the horizon hoping the recent full moon will illuminate Sitting Bull in full headdress, astride his horse with that unquenchable dignity, pride and victory.  

“The thing about white man’s philosophy is they think they can kill a mighty man and he will be no more.  Stupid men!  If they read their own Bibles they would know righteousness cannot be made to disappear.  But I learned at Yale it is not just the killing.  They changed the history, rewrote it to tell the story they teach.  

“The story of Sitting Bull, my saint, my people’s saint, is not confused by lies.  There was a movement called the Ghost Dance.  It fit my native ancestors, fits us to this day.  But what the whites do not understand, they fear.  They say Sitting Bull was baptized a Catholic.  We say he was not.  Nonetheless he knew about Saints.  He knew their names.  He would never have seen himself that way.  Imprisoned in a concrete or wooden statue, painted with garish colors and trapped in a grotto or a niche.  

“He was a wild and a righteous Saint.  Pure.  Lakota man, friend to the Sioux.  Survived the Battle of Little Bighorn.  Four years later he was back with his people, teaching.  Leading.  But that Ghost Dance fear drove white men to haunt his every step and hunt him down.  One night they snuck in to arrest him.  My 4X great grandfather Catch-the-Bear shot Lieutenant Bull Head in an effort to save our saint.  But before he died, Bull Head shot Sitting Bull.  That is the story.  It is not confusing.  It is not written in the books.  

“So we come to see the Ghost Dance.  We come to this sacred place to see you cannot kill what is severed from each event.  It lives on and it reappears on moon lit nights under the very eyes of those who would kill the truth.”



First published: November 2016
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