Tuesday, February 5, 2013

How The West Was Won(ish)

I truly despise the American west. Well, not the actual American west… The fictional west. The west where John Wayne defended settlers from savage Indians, and where Mormons proudly conquered the un-tamable desert. 

 Growing up on an American Quarter Horse ranch in the middle of Colorado, I was raised with examples how “we as strong cowboy stock” claimed the west. As a kid my father’s idea of decorating was to festoon the house with cowboy art. You know the type; majestic cowboys have defeated the evil savage Indian to bring peace to the rolling countryside. Even then, I looked at the shady Native American and wondered how it will feel to have ones lands and history torn away.

In fifth grade our school trip was to visit the site of the Sand Creek Massacre. In case you’re not up on this event, in 1864 a force of 700 Colorado militiamen attacked and slaughtered 150 Native Americans. Two-thirds of who were women and children.  My fifth grade teacher quoted the Colonel in command,

Damn any man who sympathizes with Indians! …I have come to 
kill Indians, and believe it is right and honorable to use any means 
under God’s heave to kill Indians.

If I knew the term “royal ass-hat douche bag” I would of called my teacher this, with his prideful smirk, after reading this quote to the class. This lesson of having a warmongering lack of compassion for your fellow human, has stuck with me all my life. Making me the bleeding heart liberal I am today. The story of taming the west is actually a story of systematically destroying a part of the planet. Systematically wiping a culture off the earth all for big business.

You may ask why am I going off on this anti-west tirade today? Well, I’m taking an American History class this semester.  It is taught by a tiny gay man that started last class on how the native peoples, who lived on the land in the west for thousands of years, were hunted down and wiped out like a ghetto in Poland. What? I was dumbstruck.  A professor whose lector doesn’t sound like my Father’s view of the world? Well… like my Dad always said; “Generally, you ain't learnin' nothing when your mouth's a-jawin.”

Ironic that this is the picture
 hanging on the wall
above my toilet?

Favorite Cowboy book: The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon   Favorite Cowboy line: “I speak horse. His name is Susan. And he wants you to respect his life choices.”


Anonymous said...

You might also like my classes on the Canadian West... No war against the First Nations here... just purposeful, slow genocide... which still goes on to this day.
Oh yeah! And my partner is a Nakota Sioux.

Erik Rubright said...

And I love that you referenced the good Doctor. That line still make me laugh.