I've been on the road since last Friday collecting information, photos, and video for additions to the website. I've traveled through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, and Nebraska and have amassed over 2,500 miles so far. I still have several more sites to visit. I've meet some wonderful people and seen some amazing sites. The scene of Crazy Horse's death at Fort Robinson, NE affected me the most. I kept finding myself going back to the site.
The West continues to amaze me. It's so big and open. The terrain and people are so varied. When I'm making one of my 500 mile drives to an obscure battleground I keep looking at all the open space and wonder why all the fighting had to happen. There's plenty of room for all. I keep coming back to the White Man's greed and the Indians failure to grasp what was happening to them. I'll have plenty about this on the website in August and September.
I've getting really behind on answering email but will ctach them up a day or two after I return home.
I’m currently staying overnight in Columbia, Missouri as I begin my 2009 Western History tour. I’m planning on visiting Fort Leavenworth on July 4th. I’ve always wanted to visit a military installation on Independence Day and will finally be able to do so. The band will be playing and there will be a fireworks show by a lake. I’ll also be visiting the National Cemetery and other attractions while there. Oh yes…I’ll also be eating some of that famous Kansas City BBQ!
Well I’m certainly glad I grabbed my McDonald’s Happy Meal General Custer toys before they are pulled from stores. Who knows, maybe the Feds will go door to door to collect these hell spawn of evil. Ok I’m just kidding (maybe) about the Feds rounding them up in these politically correct times. Some people were offended that McDonald’s included General George Armstrong Custer in their “Battle of The Smithsonian” kid’s Happy Meals. McDonald’s has been called racist over the incident and a whole lot worse. I fail to see how a toy of a Civil War general on a motorcycle is racist, especially if you’ve seen the movie. General Custer comes off as a buffoon, a typical Hollywood post Viet Nam War Custer.
There are plenty of toys, movies, TV programs, books and more that offend me. I have a Serbian father (ever see the goofy piece of trash “Behind Enemy Lines”?), Irish and Shawnee mother. Each portion of my ethnic mix is often portrayed in a manner that is frequently not positive in media. I don’t make a big stink about it. I try to educate people about what is incorrect, in my opinion, without sounding like a sniveling whiney-butt. My opinion about a perceived transgression doesn’t mean it’s always correct.
I’m really sick of the Whites posting on their blogs about how horrible it is to include the General Custer toy because it’s racist. If the toy offends you, try to really help out an Indian in need, Lord knows there are plenty. Indians have never gotten what the government has promised them for stealing their lands and destroying their way of life. Donate time and money, both are desperately needed. If you really want to show how committed you are, deed over your home to a nearby Nation and letting them hang onto the property or sell it. If not, you are just as guilty as McDonald’s. I’ve put my money where my mouth is. I donate time, money, and one of my houses will be deeded over when my wife and I expire.
I just returned from a vacation to Missouri where I visited the Gateway Arch and Westward Expansion Museum. As usual the Museum left me with mixed feelings and emotions. On one hand I admire the spirit and grit of the westward moving Americans and on the other I feel discomfort at my admiration. I am one quarter Shawnee but I am not one those mid-life Whites who suddenly “discover” their great-great-great grandmother was a (insert Tribe of choice) “Princess” and suddenly they become a Native American by buying a dream catcher and redecorating their residence. I do not and have not ever thought of myself as an Indian, but I used to believe that something about seeing the conquest of the West awakened my Shawnee blood. Now I believe it’s just knowing that it was wrong the way Indians were and are treated.
What is in the past is in the past and we can’t change it. Nor should we try to view that distant time through our 21st century eyes. Our values are not the same as those earlier time Americans nor the Indians that resisted them. We cannot realistically give the Indian Nations their lands back, as much I would like to see it happen. What we can do is make sure that Indians get the monies, assistance, and rights they deserve. I challenge you to offer financial assistance and perform volunteer work to help. I do and you will be surprised at how much a small amount of your time and money can do.