Congratulations to the Pit River Tribe for the addition of its first crop of buffalo calves. The above image is what appears to be a buffalo at the White Mountain Petroglyphs in Wyoming. Wherever they walked the buffalo were a treasured creature. It is only the folly of the attempt to exterminate them from the plains and Rocky Mountains that turned a sea of buffalo to a nearly extinct species. Buffalo were considered varmints in Wyoming until the 1950s. Up until that time a rancher could "protect" his or her herd by killing buffalo on their grazing areas. Buffalo are not as docile or easy to ranch as cattle but they are a better fit for the environment than cattle and sheep. As more tribes attempt to restore the buffalo and more ranchers see the economic benefits we may yet again see herds of some size. Every great endeavor starts with modest beginnings. Every small step in the right direction is a blessing.
Whatever time they served, wherever they were stationed we owe every veteran a thank you. More than that we owe them our personal commitment to take all of our civic responsibilities seriously. Voting comes to mind as a simple act by which we thank our veterans for putting it all on the line. Thank you all!!!!!
It has been a while since we've had a sign that doesn't make sense on the blog. Clearly it's a sign meant for winter but in the months of spring it just looks like someone is wound a little too tight.
I'm a sucker for old roads. Many of the old roads that linked places together in the past are still out there. Once out of use mother nature began her process of healing and returning the roads into the landscape. The above is an example of a 19th century freight and stage road north of Rock Springs, Wyoming. I have added enhancements so you can see the depth better. An enhancement of the cross section of the road is in orange and red arrows show the edge of the seal going into the distance. This connected Rock Springs to South Pass City and Lander, using a segment of the Cherokee Trail of 1850. Such places thrill me as allowing one to actually put oneself in the path. There's something about being able to walk in the actual footprints of those who came before us. This little segment likely was used by famous criminals such as Butch Cassidy and Jack Morrow. If you want to travel time... take out your hiking shoes and walk into the past.
One of my favorite places to reflect upon life is at White Mountain Petroglyphs. I've never wasted a moment there. There are wonderful memories of visiting the place with elders from the Northern Ute, Eastern Shoshone, and Arapaho Tribes. We did a series of videos on the petroglyphs that are available on UTube. The Spirit of the White Mountain Petroglyphs in Sweetwater County I wish Clifford Duncan and Judge Richard Ferris were still around to take another trip out there. They are sorely missed.
An unusual feature of the panels there is that several of them have a continuous line running through them (see picture below). The Tribes have offered several interpretations including; it is a river, it is a time line, it shows a break between the real world versus the spirit world, and it represents a break in time. All make sense to me. Thank you to the artists who lovingly decorated the sandstone faces of this place. You have enriched my life.
When life puts giant highland werewolves in your vicinity the best policy is to be nice. Don't make any sudden moves. If they request sourdough pancakes, give them their fill. That concludes today's Survival Out West tip. Be sure to catch my continuing series in True West Magazine, Survival Out West, Forthcoming features include Medicine Woman Later's survival at the Sand Creek Massacre and Ruben Van Ornum's survival of the Utter Disaster.
Few indeed have heard of an act from Utah's Territorial Government called A Preamble and An Act for the Farther Relief of Indian Slaves and Prisoners passed in March of 1852. I've scanned a copy of this incredibly racist bit of legislation from Sir Richard Burton's City of the Saints, published in 1862. Burton, famed for finding the source of the Nile and transcribing 1001 Arabian Nights (among the most salacious books of the era) was in Utah studying the sexual habits of Mormons. Burton saw the act as designed to save slaves and their children from starvation by allowing Mormons to purchase individuals at risk. Indians could be "indentured" to a master for up to twenty years. This act foreshadows subsequent policies of states to allow Indian children to be taken from their families and culture in order to "protect" them.
In our hurry to cram as much into our days, we sometimes to forget to slow down a little and take in the wonders of the world around us. Find some time in the day to absorb what is going on around you. It's not all bad. Neither is it all good. The ability to clear all the noise from one's head is a true gift. Once you become accustomed to experience the joy of just going at a natural pace for a bit, it becomes a hunger. The driven among us might feel that it's just wasted time. It's not. It is honest time where the world can be experienced as it is. It how we were meant to experience this life. My pet in the image above asks each of us this important question, "What's your hurry?"
As we wind down on the Sesquicentennial celebration for the American Civil War (a.k.a. War of the Rebellion or War Between the States) there has been less of a national interest in the wars that raged in the Great Western Desert. Tensions between the tribes of the West and the U.S. Government had been building by the time the North and the South began shooting at one another. The withdrawal of most of the regular army from the West combined with news of Confederate victories and late treaty payments led many of the West's original inhabitants to the conclusion that the time was ripe for kicking the invaders from their lands. The Santee uprising created an atmosphere of unparalleled violence. Desperate fights, massacres, and senseless murder (committed by all sides) ruled the land and though the Santee came within an ace of capturing a fort, eventually the laws of logistics came to play and the side with the most ammunition won the day. Not content with the surrender of the Santee the government hung 38 of the so-called hostiles in the largest mass execution in American history. Army commanders spread the war throughout the northern plains by attacking peaceful villages. These blind attacks against peaceful people increased the scope of the war and soon it became the largest "Indian War" in U.S. History.
Mineral finds in the West continued to draw large numbers of miners. The U.S. government exacerbated the situation by implementing the Homestead Act and Conscription Act as well as starting construction on the transcontinental railroad during this period, essentially turning the stream of emigrants invading tribal lands into a torrent. The Civil War years saw the greatest numbers of emigrants on the trails that led to Western destinations. Population centers like Denver and Salt Lake City helped to squeeze Indians from one area into the territory of another tribe, also creating a ripple effect of conflict between Indians. The military used tribes against one another, for example allowing the Utes to take Navajo Indians as prisoners and sell them into slavery. This was after the emancipation proclamation has started to rein in slavery back in the East.
It was a time of mass murder on a scale unseen since Pontiac's War a hundred years earlier. The army sought out Indian encampments with a will. Massacres at Bear River and Sand Creek resulted in hundreds of dead, mostly women and children. (There were many smaller such massacres.) The army hung Indians on the flimsiest of evidence. In October of 1863 Col. Robert Livingston set huge prairie fires between Julesburg and the Missouri River in an attempt to create an environment inhospitable to the tribes. It must not have worked well as in January of 1864 in the area between Ft. Kearny and the South Platte River. Julesburg was sacked and burned twice within a year. Stage stations and telegraph stations were raided and small wagon trains became easy targets. Native American leaders experimented with new operational and tactical approaches to fighting. Instead of the traditional small raiding parties, regiment and brigade sized war parties swamped the defenses of the U.S. Army, which counted upon being able to stand off attacks of small parties with small garrisons armed with long-range weapons. Crazy Horse first tried the ambuscade technique, that resulted in the destruction of Lt. Fetterman's command, two years earlier at Platte Bridge Station. The failed attempt in 1865 led to a successful springing of a similar trap in 1867.
As the war in the East ended, huge numbers of soldiers were freed up to serve in the ongoing war in the West. Those pesky laws of logistics came into play again and as long as the post war surge was in play the war cooled down. In 1867, after most troops had been mustered out, war on a smaller scale returned. It was called Red Clouds War and it was a clear loss for the U.S. Army.