Snippets #62

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee-Dee Brown

Black Jim accused Jack of being blind. “Can’t you see soldiers arriving every two or three days? Don’t you know the last soldiers that came brought big guns with them that shoot bullets as big as your head? The commissioners intend to make peace with you by blowing your head off with one of the big guns.” Other speakers supported Black Jim’s argument, and when Jack again tried to reason with them, they shouted him down: Your talk is not good! We are doomed. Let us fight so we die sooner. We have to die anyway.”

Believing it was useless to say more, Jack turned to leave the council, but Black Jim stopped him.”If you are our chief, promise us that you will kill Canby next time you meet him.”

“I cannot do it and I will not do it.”

Hooker Jim, who had been watching silently, now stepped up to his chief. “You will kill Canby or be killed yourself. You will kill or be killed by your own men.”

Jack knew this was a challenge to his chieftaincy, be he held in his anger. “Why do you want to force me to do a coward’s act?”

“It is not a coward’s act,” Hooker Jim retorted. “It will be brave to kill Canby in the presence of all those soldiers.”

Refusing to promise anything, Jack again started to leave the council. Some of Hooker Jim’s men threw a woman’s shawl and headdress over his shoulders, taunting him; “You’re a woman, a fish-hearted woman. You are not a Modoc. We disown you.”

To save his power, to gain time, Jack knew he had to speak.

“I will kill Canby,” he said. (235)

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