"Protest anyone? It doesn't take much to get a protest going in San Francisco. And a new art installation on Ocean Beach didn't disappoint.
"A cluster of demonstrators - organizers estimated 30 at the peak - gathered Friday to voice their disgust at Seattle artist Thom Rush's depiction of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show. More than 100 life-size plywood figures, most depicting American Indian warriors on horseback, re-create the scene of an iconic photo taken on the beach in 1902.
"Tony Gonzales, the director of American Indian Movement-West, likened the display to 'being dragged out of your grave to re-enact a Wild West show.' He said the American Indians were forced into performing with Buffalo Bill as an alternative to starvation or living on a reservation.
"He particularly took exception to what he said was a depiction of Lt. Col. George Custer.
"'What if there was a Holocaust scene on display and then you have Hitler?' Gonzales said. 'That's who George Custer is to us.'
"The National Park Service, which issued the permit for the display in the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, did so because part of its mission is to "interpret history - good, bad or otherwise," spokeswoman Chris Powell said.
"'We're not passing judgment as to whether Buffalo Bill should have come to Ocean Beach or not,' Powell said. 'We're just saying it occurred in history, and so it's an event to interpret to the public.'"
Cody's father had his throat cut for preaching to free the slaves, and he brought the Indian veterans a new level of appreciation and acceptance. And years before any of that, men like Custer were raised with loads of dime novels which depicted them gallantly. The common American had a lot of interest in Indians, such is why their sense of wardrobe was even weave into the various clothing styles of the wild west.
And the Indians, at least the Sioux and the tribes Custer was fighting, have no right to liken themselves to the Jews of Nazi Germany. The German Jews did not shed any first blood against Hitler, they were real citizens who woke up one day to be violently plucked from their homes.
The Indians were greeted with a plethora of treaties, which completely go against the main rules of war (kill the enemy), and many moves were made to grant a fair deal and quench further aggressions. Protecting their land and families was not the original set of priorities on the Indian Defense List. The Sioux were violently marking their stomping grounds, like a gang or any violent aristocracy, to enforce their status as the tougher tribe. They stole their land from the Crow, and they sent brutal messages to other tribes about who was pulling the reigns.
Savage Ego was on the forefront, they would have won if their priorities had been in order. Especially since many politicians and several Indian Fighters were campaigning for their rights. And the common man, even settlers (if the Indians had not made blood thirsty raids against them) would have also began to stand behind the Indian IF the Indian had placed his priorities to the right order and not dealt so wickedly. The Indians also had enough numbers and fire power to get their messages across without even firing a shot. Some Indians would also opt out of this intimidation idea, because they'd say one thing to our face and then do the opposite (see Black Kettle). Some Indians played off our laws and behaved just like the mafia would. In any battle amongst themselves, the Indians never treated each other to any form negotiation or bargain. They fought to the death, and that is any soldier's right......... but the U.S. treated them better, by talking to them. The Negotiations alone were made at our expense, the Indians could practically tip themselves off with each meeting and take advantage of our kindness.
If any of you are familiar with King Edward I (Edward LongShanks, the adversary of William Wallace), or if any of you are familiar with the Mexican Generals that Geronimo fought....... you might find that other armies have a different approach to treaties and negotiation. Can any of you imagine how easy it could've been, to lure the Indian Leaders to a tent and murder them all without any courtesy in the way of battle ethics and respect for the enemy? We could've done that dozens of times, it was done by people like LongShanks when THEY oppressed the scottish. We never made an official law which sent our nobles, or our military officers, to have sex privileges with Indian Brides and pluck them from their husbands (not that I deny some affairs, but these were not made law nor were they ever accepted as right in the USA's morals. Officers an military men have had their shares of squaws, more in a voluntary sense but probably a few or many sex crimes aswell. Pending further reading from myself.).
Buffalo Cody, AND HIS WILD WEST SHOW, were fairer to the races than anything you'd see in modern Hollywood. The entertainment business was originally the first thing which people of color could openly apply themselves to. Racism reared its ugly head more along the annals of the film age, and especially after some racial propaganda which showed up in the reels. Races found great employment in showbiz, here are some examples......
-Professional Wrestling: This is widely an inside sport which as been dominated by families. To this day, most wrestlers are Black, Italian, Samoan, Japanese, etc.. The blond haired bombshells like Hogan or Flair were popular as RARITIES, they didn't become too prominent until the 70s and 80s. (For the record, Hogan is also Italian, even part Latino through his mother) Here's a major black wrestler and one of the world's last great NATURAL bodybuilders, 60 year old Tony Atlas (who still carries 20 inch arms. Its very hard to lose natural earned muscles, only drug users fluctuate rapidly in size. I suggest a few Charles Bronson/Charlton Heston/Clint Eastwood movies to see exactly how they keep their fitness even into EXTREME old age), courtesy of youtube..... I'm also pen pals with a major pro wrestler who's the brother of an even bigger league pro wrestler, and his family has been in the business all the way back to the 1900s. -Bill Pickett remains one of the greatest cowboys of all time. He arrived at the very Turn of The Century, if I recall right. He invented the gimmick of "bull-dogging" where he wrestles a great beast with his teeth. He was very popular. -Music and Movies: Elvis is Indian, along with mostly every other country western personality and cowboy icon. Its easier to name the people who DON'T have ethnic blood. At the moment, I'm thinking that Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin are probably some of the only western actors who aren't part Indian. Indians you want? Burt Reynolds, Roy Rogers, James Earl Jones, Val Kilmer, Michael Madsen, Quinten Tarantino, Johnny Cash (I think), Will Sampson, Carmen Electra, Glenn Strange (he played Frankenstein too), Boris Karloff (okay, so he's part INDIA Indian, not American Indian), Micheal Landon...... Are we gonna split hairs here?
It just shows that anybody can take a set of bare facts and put any spin on them that they want. I doubt that the Indians were "forced " into performing with Buffalo Bill any more than most of us are "forced" to take a particular job to make a living because it's what is available that we are qualified for. The folks who went with Buffalo Bill were probably the more adventurous ones, among other things, going off into the unknown to see the world. And the ones who were more able to get along with whites, despite all the nastiness of the recent years of war.
That doesn't mean the other point of view doesn't have some validity--I'm sure life on the reservation wasn't a lot of fun. But at least Buffalo Bill was providing some kind of viable alternative, and I don't believe he treated his performers badly.
But, hey, it's San Francisco. One reason I live here is that it's never boring!
Didn't Indians enjoy storytelling the last time that I checked? Their accounts and autobiographies often start with a good folk tale. I don't see how any of them would be opposed to show business, except maybe a few leaders who would be grossly unsatisfied at living life without their mantle.
Geronimo always enjoyed entertainment stuff, he'd marvel at stage shows and carnival rides, very pleased with the inventions and innovations of the white society ( Geronimo is a really good example of a modern warrior, welcoming all adaptions to technological advances. Staying fresh gives him a high advantage against the old ways of the common Indian.). Geronimo might have adapted better because he was not a Chief, apparently. Its really tough for "upper class" individuals like Sitting Bull to step down from their monarchy, even to live amongst fellow Indians like they that might have served under him. People forget that Indians have a few class systems.
I think if you looked at any of our American Presidents, you'll find just how spindly they begin to feel once they are out of office. There's almost nothing to top the rush of ruling a country. A regular King, ruling for decades, will probably feel like he has more to live for. America is set up to accommodate the people, so we sacrifice the comfort of long lived rulers ( that way we always have fresh ideals, new innovations, etc.). I do have a little jealousy for rulers like Castro who have been privileged to watch several empires come and go and remain still standing. Even for a no good Commi, its still very comfortable to see surviving remnants of years before........... and I almost feel a little cheap to know that Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and even Reagan and Ford (albeit, they lived a LONG TIME) did not make it into this unique long haul. It seems as if Castro will be with us for a very long time, I'll look forward to looking at his cigar chomping grin and remembering to stay on my toes.
Last Edit: Sept 17, 2008 17:41:23 GMT -5 by strange