Black Elk, circa 1920
"I CAN REMEMBER THAT WINTER OF THE HUNDRED SLAIN (1866) As a
man may remember some bad dream he dreamed when he was little,
but I can not tell just how much I heard when I was bigger and how
much I understood when I was little.
It is like some fearful thing in a fog, for it was a time when everything seemed troubled and afraid. I had never seen a Wasichu [white man] then, and did not know what one looked like; but everyone was saying that the Wasichus were coming and that they were going to take our country and rub us all out and that we should all have to die fighting.
Once we were happy in our own country and we were seldom hungry,
for then the two-leggeds and the four-leggeds lived together like
relatives, and there was plenty for them and for us.
But the Wasichus came, and they have made little islands for us and other little islands for the four leggeds, and always these islands are becoming smaller, for around them surges the gnawing flood of the Wasichu; and it is dirty with lies and greed.
I was ten years old that winter, and that was the first time I ever
saw a Wasichu.
At first I thought they all looked sick, and I was afraid they might just begin to fight us any time, but I got used to them.
I can remember when the bison were so many that they could not be
counted, but more and more Wasichus came to kill them until there
were only heaps of bones scattered where they used to be.
The Wasichus did not kill them to eat; they killed them for the metal that makes them crazy, and they took only the hides to sell.
Sometimes they did not even take the hides, only the tongues; and I have heard that fire boats came down the Missouri River loaded with dried bison tongues.
You can see that the men who did this were crazy. Sometimes they did not even take the tongues; they just killed and killed because they Iiked to do that."
********From _Black Elk Speaks_