Custer’s Last Stand from the Lakota point of view.
Marshall (The Lakota Way, 2001, etc.) has examined all the research on the Battle of the Little Bighorn undertaken by traditional historians and Custer “groupies.” In addition, he has studied the versions told by Lakota storytellers since that June day in 1876 when flamboyant Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer unwisely divided his force and died with all of his men on the hills above the Little Bighorn River in southern Montana. In an eloquent introduction, the author argues for the significance and dignity of the oral tradition. Marshall alludes appropriately to academic scholarship, but he focuses sharply on how the Lakota saw events and the impact of their last major victory on their lives thereafter. He begins with the deaths of respected Lakota battle leader Gall’s two wives and daughter—the first to fall, he avers, when a column of Custer’s Seventh Cavalry fired directly into the tipis as it rode toward the enormous Lakota village in which some 10,000 Indians from various tribes had assembled. Marshall, himself raised on a Sioux reservation, occasionally leaves the battle to instruct us in his people’s history and culture, as well as their conflicts with the seemingly endless torrent of (mostly) white Americans propelled across the plains by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. He tells us about the great Lakota warriors and leaders: Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Gall, whose value at Little Bighorn the author believes has been greatly underestimated. Marshall also explains the history of the bow and arrow, commends the Lakota for their discipline, martial prowess and horsemanship, explores their spiritual life and, most disturbingly, outlines the government’s egregious post-battle policies, which seemed intent on destroying the Lakota way.
A profoundly loving and proudly tendentious view of a bloody battle and the fierce cultural warfare that ensued.