I have been wanting to write about my experience going to the 160 year commemoration event regarding the massacre of around 800 horses by General Wright and the US Army in 1858, about 20 miles east of Spokane, Washington. I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts on this.
I have a fairly clear recollection of a horse massacre myself, from a previous lifetime, so have a fair understanding of how it must have really felt by the tribes in the area at the time. As the one native speaker said, “what kind of a man would do this to the four leggeds?” It is indeed hard to wrap your mind around, for me anyway, and clearly to the native peoples who have the stories from their perspective handed down to them from their elders. The other thing that became clear, is how even to this day the truth is not being told about this event. It was something those involved should be, but probably aren’t, deeply ashamed of.
Fort George Wright was named in honor of this horrible man. I would post his picture, but his cold and haughty eyes could give some nightmares. And, it became clear to me after hearing native people from the surrounding tribes speak that the bridges that this event hopes to help facilitate between them and the non-natives still has a long ways to go. As was pointed out, the very place where we were sitting, along the Spokane river, in their mind, was still Indian land. It’s really never been made right, and probably never will, in my lifetime. And it does make me sad, especially to know that the truth of these events is still not really being told, or taught to our youth as part of the real history of this land.
It is in Indian schools, though. One of the speakers was a recently retired school teacher for the Spokane tribe and tribal member himself. After 40 years teaching in the social sciences he was able to state his biggest healing had to do with the realization that what has been done to them, and in many ways is still being done, has been done to everyone, across the globe. It’s just farther removed from most of us, and not so recent history. But all of us can trace ourselves back to times when our people were hunted down, imprisoned, killed, women raped, children taken forcibly away, and lands re-appropriated to others. The collective trauma runs deep. He said that is what helped him to hate less, and love more.
I found out at this event that the marker put in place in regards to the massacre, that supposedly marks where it happened, is not even correct or true. They moved it about a mile from where it really did occur, because of development plans. The highway and a weigh station sits upon the place it really happened, and the marker was installed in a much more convenient location that wouldn’t interfere with their plans. Figures.
And, I also found out that the bastards first started shooting the rounded up horses, and then, to save bullets, just started clubbing them to death. There were natives present who were unable to do anything to stop the carnage. We also found out how different their perception was of the roles horses played in tribal life, compared to the soldiers mentality and attitude towards them. Actually, no comparison, really, for their relationship was a spiritual one of honor and friendship with the four leggeds. They could never even conceive of doing such a thing, even to their worst enemies. The one speaker talked about how they separated the stallions from the rest of the herd, and how they tried, to no avail, to do their job of protecting the herd, and how the mothers would cry out as the foals were clubbed to death. And I forgot to bring Kleenex.
This isn’t to make anyone feel bad, it is simply to tell the truth. This IS how it really was, and you will never read about it in a public school book. And not to be irreverent, but no number of peace poles erected is going to be enough to make it right. I agree, it is a start, an effort, but wrongs of this sort are still going on all over the planet, with more in the works. How do we really stop these kinds of things from taking place. I do not have the answer.
I’m glad I went, for at least I got to hear the truth about what happened. And I got to hear several native languages spoken, and several songs sung in one of them. Their languages are beautiful, and I am glad effort is being made to preserve them. I think it’s important to allow ourselves to actually feel into the deep pain that still exists from these types of events. I fully feel that the nature kingdoms absorb the ungrounded emotional energies released by us humans, and certain places are literally saturated with blood, and these energies of suffering. I, for one, will work with releasing what I can. I hope more will join me.
And I think this captures some of the deep rage that Christine talked about on another thread: viewtopic.php?f=51&t=1542&start=10
Even if we think we have worked through our own rage issues, I would venture a guess there are more and deeper levels to this, that may not be noticed until triggered. We have a long way to go.