"I am not one who was born in the custody of wisdom. I am one who is fond of olden times and intense in quest of the sacred knowing of the ancients." Gustave Courbet

22 November 2018


Morelodge, Wounded Knee, 1890

There's a danger in our lush society that the artist won't be taken seriously.  For people as a whole it's been a fabulous system, but it's shit on certain people and continues to do so.  I asked a group recently -- and they got very angry when I brought this up -- to try to explain to me the difference between apartheid and the Indian reservation system as it's been maintained by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.  As far as I'm concerned, there isn't any.  I went around to a half-dozen reservations last year and if you think these Indians are any better off than the blacks in Soweto, you're full of shit.  Some people think we got their land fair and square because of the Dawes Act.  Well sure, but none of those Indians had M.B.A.s. Red Cloud had never been in a bank.  ReadMari Sandoz's book on Crazy Horse.  I visited the actual murder site and it was closed because of budget restrictions!  I was the only one there. All the tourists were over in the cavalry horse barns, which I wanted to get a bunch of Sioux to invade and torch.  Can't you see them -- a thousand mounted Sioux -- riding out of the hills to destroy Fort Robinson?  I think that's a magnificent idea.  I'd be glad to join up as a nickel-plated Indian for that one.  That area of our history is just ugly, ugly.  

I know this lawyer who worked for nine years as a volunteer at Pine Ridge.  One night about three A.M. -- we were drinking -- he took me downstairs.  Way back in the corner was a safe, and in the safe was a little pouch that belonged to this old woman.  In the pouch was was a stone that Crazy Horse had given to her mother, and this guy showed it to me, and he let me touch it.  It was such a strange thing.  You know, when the Sioux were being driven hither and yon by the Army until Crazy Horse's daughter died of pneumonia, he lay next to her on the burial platform for three days and three nights.  

Am I supposed to think that Ronald Reagan is as interesting as Crazy Horse, when he's not?  What does it serve us to take these people seriously and not listen to what Black Elk said?  And of course there's a grandeur in that area so hopelessly lost.  Think of being a Sioux and knowing that. I can't imagine anything more painful than being an American Indian.  It's a mystery to me how we could be so generous in defeat to the Japanese and the Germans, and yet so neglect and disregard the Indians. 

Our doom as a nation will be unveiled in the way we have treated the blacks and Indians, the entire Third World.  Washington is a flunked Passion Play.

Jim Harrison

No comments: