New Perspectives on THE WEST
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Message From Sponsor
The People
Empire Upon The Trails
Speck of the Future
Death Runs Riot
The Grandest Enterprise Under God
Fight No More Forever
The Geography of Hope
One Sky Above Us
The Geography of Hope


The Exodusters

Rain Follows the Plow

A Hard Time I Have


The Romance of My Life

The Barrio

I Must Lose Myself Again

Friends of the Indian

Medicine Flower

Hell Without the Heat

Gunpowder Entertainment

Final Vision

THE WEST The Geography of Hope

A Hard Time I Have

T.H. Watkins

"The noblest part of the West is the fact that it gave hope to people in ways that we had not been able to have before. It was a force in the shaping of the national character, and an important one.... [But] there is very little that is presumably dear to the American psyche... that was not at one time or another systematically violated during the history of the West. And sometimes in ways that had never been matched before."
T. H. Watkins

On July 19, 1881, Sitting Bull, his people nearly starving, crossed the border from Canada to surrender. He asked for the right to cross back into Canada whenever he wished, for a home near the Black Hills and the right to hunt wherever he pleased.

Instead, the army sent him east to Standing Rock Reservation, where he found his daughter and many who had fought with him at the Little Bighorn reduced to living on rations, forbidden to speak their own language, and denied their religious customs.

"The idea was that if we couldn't pray, if we couldn't behave the way we do, have our social customs, and we couldn't speak, we'd very quickly become white people, and we would no longer be a military problem. So the idea was to corrupt them from the inside, you know, make them give up who they are."
Charlotte Black Elk

The Lakota lived in log cabins at Standing Rock, as well as tipis. They worked as farmers, or as policemen hired to enforce the Indian agent's rules. In 1883, when a delegation of U.S. Senators arrived with a plan to open part of the reservation to white settlement, Sitting Bull confronted them:

Sitting Bull and his WifeDo you know who I am? I want to tell you that if the Great Spirit has chosen any one to be the chief of this country, it is myself.
Sitting Bull

But his objections were brushed aside. From his cabin on the Grand River, Sitting Bull could see the very place where he had been born more than fifty years ago, into an entirely different world. "A warrior I have been," he sang. "Now it is all over. A hard time I have."

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