Thanksgiving, Crazy Horse, Us

Thanksgiving Note:

Michelle Malkin`s latest
column is a
Thanksgiving prayer. Which reminds us that
Thanksgiving is actually a religious holiday. As
James Fulford

at Thanksgiving last year: “There`s
a question on the Citizenship Test that you
(used to) have to take to become an American
citizen. Who helped the Pilgrims in America? The
"school solution" is Native American Indians…But
the Pilgrims themselves would have said that
"God Almighty" had helped them. Or possibly
`God`s merciful Providence.`”

President Bush has issued
the annual

Thanksgiving Proclamation,

dated, like

all presidential proclamations,
WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
twenty-first day of November, in the year of our Lord
two thousand two, and of the Independence of the United
States of America the two hundred and twenty-seventh.
 The Year of Who?
Doesn`t he know you can`t even say

B.C. and A.D.
Eventually someone will have the same kind of

as when Bush
proclaimed a

National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving
having come through the Florida mess with the country
intact.The questions
asked will be “Thanksgiving? What do the

(sorry, Native
Americans) have to be grateful for? What do

have to be
grateful for? Where do

fit in with this
Thanksgiving story?”
Thanksgiving will be attacked the way

 is now. Meanwhile, Chilton Williamson
reflects on Indians and whites, with some thoughts about
viewing modern-day Pilgrims (or Conquistadors) with

And a Happy Thanksgiving to
all our readers.

On a warm day in the fall of 1987, I happened (just
happened) to be floating lazily down the cocoa-brown
Colorado River between red slickrock walls somewhere
above Moab, Utah, in a dory owned by my friend, the late

Edward Abbey
from Wolf Hole, Arizona.

For years, Ed and I had maintained an
off-and-on-again correspondence across a distance of a
thousand miles before meeting up finally in Moab, where
he and his wife Clarke had rented a house on Moenkopi
Drive for the summer. The author of the notorious novel

Monkey Wrench Gang
, about a gang of
eco-terrorists intent on blowing up the Glen Canyon Dam
to liberate the thousands of slickrock canyons inundated
by Lake Powell, Ed had recently published One Life at
a Time, Please
, a collection of essays that included
“Immigration and Liberal Taboos,” one of his own
favorites as well as of mine.

Ed Abbey, a self-proclaimed liberal and proud of it,
was really an Old Believer: a cranky, independent,
elbows-out, Don`t-Tread-on-Me individualist, a paleo-American
always very much his own man in terms of holding an
opinion and stating it with a blunt cracker-barrel humor
that could be more offensive to his liberal supporters
than to their conservative opponents. As a believer in
Jeffersonian republicanism and the old American
political culture it created, he championed
representative democracy and the Second Amendment,
deplored socialism and its oppression and conformity,
and all the forms of political messiness typical of
Third World societies.

So Ed was concerned by mass immigration not only as
an environmentalist advocating the conservation of
national resources, but also as an Old American devoted
to the founding institutions, customs, and values of his

As he asked in “Immigration and Liberal Taboos,”

“How many of us,
truthfully, would prefer to be submerged in the
Caribbean-Latin version of civilization?…Harsh
: but somebody has to say them.”

Alone on the river lined by wavy green tamarisk
plumes, seven hundred miles north of the border and with
nary an immigrant in sight, we still insisted on
abrading our emotions and raising our blood pressures by
discussing the immigration issue—it had attained
critical mass only the year before by the passage of the

Immigration Control and Reform Act of 1986
—when we
should have set our brains on autopilot and bathed them
in beer instead.

Perhaps because the Colorado Plateau through which
the river cuts remains haunted by the ghostly Anasazi
people, who vanished abruptly from the region some eight
hundred years ago, leaving the shell of their
civilization in the form of stony ruins still hanging
from the walls of sheer cliffs, our conversation turned
to the Indians as we floated slowly downriver through a
wilderness of primeval slickrock.

[VDARE.COM question:
OK! OK! What`s slickrock? CW: It`s a
form of sandstone that splits cleanly, looks like butter
cut by a knife

Ed had written in his essay:

“Yes, I know, if the
American Indians had enforced such a policy [
immigration restriction] none of us pale-faced
honkies would be here. But the Indians were foolish and
divided, and failed to keep our WASP ancestors out.
They`ve regretted it ever since.”

We whites would seem to be a strange people—as the
Sioux chief Crazy Horse so often remarked. Was he
familiar with the story of Crazy Horse? I asked Ed.

Crazy Horse was the greatest warrior-chief of the
Sioux. He was called “Our Strange One,” not from any
mental incapacity—”Inspired Horse” is a better
translation. “Strange” recognized simply the diffident,
set-apart nature of this fair-skinned, light-haired
Indian who eschewed war paint, war dances, and counting
coup after a fight.

Far from being defective, Crazy Horse was the most
farsighted of his people, perhaps of all the aboriginal
tribes west of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers: a
leader who observed more accurately than Geronimo the
events of his time and place; a visionary capable of
extrapolating from these an unwelcome—in fact, a
disastrous—future for the Sioux.

Like all great leaders, Crazy Horse identified
plainly the paramount issue, in his time, for his


Crazy Horse`s story was a Greek tragedy, translated
to the late-nineteenth century American West. It`s
marvelously told by

Mari Sandoz
—daughter of Swiss pioneers who was
raised on the Niobrara River in the Nebraska panhandle
and had a personal acquaintance with some of her
subject`s associates—in her


It begins with a vision experienced by the young man,
in which he is exhorted to save his people by expelling
the immigrant invaders and making whole again the
damaged circle of the Teton Sioux. In recognition of his
valor he is made a chief, but later has his warrior
shirt stripped from him when he shoots his rival for the
hand of Black Buffalo Woman. Unhappy in love, he finally
marries—and loses his young daughter to tuberculosis,
one of the many virulent diseases introduced into the
country by immigrants arriving on the Holy Road or
immigrant trail, so-called by the Sioux because
travelers on it must not be touched. Inventive and
ingenious, he grasps the need to fight the whites with
their own tactics and weapons–only to discover his small
force is no match for the enemy`s superior numbers. At

Little Bighorn,
he defeats the Americans and kills
General Custer in battle, while continuing to lose the
war. And then Fort Robinson, under the command of
General George Crook, where Crazy Horse comes in
peaceably after being apprehended by Indian
“friendlies”–and is assassinated by one of his own, as
he has been warned in his vision.

The strategy toward the Sioux adopted by the sponsors
and protectors of the immigrant whites–that is, by the

blue-uniformed troops
and their masters in
Washington, D.C.–was divide and conquer, as with all the
Indian tribes. In the Southwest, Kit Carson

dealt the Navajo their final defeat
by employing
scouts hired from the Utes –the Navajos` traditional
enemies—to lead him to their secret redoubt in

Canyon de Chelly.
In the case of the Sioux, the U.S.
Army divided the tribe by bribing the people with
much-desired goods like coffee and sugar, tobacco and
beads, substandard calico and other fabrics, even guns
and knives, and their influential men with
chieftainships created–extra-legally as far as the Sioux
were concerned–out of thin air. The Army established
trading posts and invited the Indians to “come in” to
them, promising plenty and security in return.

Needless to say, a great many of the Sioux saw
nothing but advantage to be gained from the white
invasion. Immigration was a good thing–a windfall for
the Sioux

! The whites brought

the people lacked, they were inventive (and
carried their inventions along with them), and

Thanks to all the material goods
the white men imported with them into the country, the
Indians no longer had to work so hard to support
themselves, to stay alive! Instead, they could relax and
enjoy a life enhanced by mass-produced goods and a
multicultural cuisine. As for the impact of immigration
upon the Sioux political system, the whites were voting
to make every man of substance a king, while hiring

lesser men into the Army
where they were paid and
fed well and issued the most up-to-date rifles and the
handsome blue coats with the gilt buttons on them.

But Crazy Horse understood that the source of foreign
immigration was inexhaustible. Nobody had guessed there
were so many white people in the world, but
here–suddenly–they were. He understood that the
newcomers would shoot all the game and take all the land
(and fence it: a custom hitherto unknown to the
Indians). He tried to make the coffee-coolers and the
others who counseled acceptance–Red Cloud, Spotted Tail
(his own uncle), Red Dog, American Horse—understand. But
they would not listen. Or had no care for the long term,
only for the benefits they received in the short term.

None of the above should be taken as an endorsement
of the

White Guilt Lobby
, but the opposite. The natural and
healthy instinct of ANY people is to defend itself and
its civilization against co-optation, even as powerfully
perverse counterforces within it are working toward an
opposite end.

The Indians lost because their fate was to play a
role that was to recur inexorably throughout history
when a higher and more sophisticated civilization runs
against a lower and more primitive one.

For the Sioux, oblivion advanced more slowly. In
fact, it continues to proceed apace on the Pine Ridge
Indian Reservation in South Dakota where a once proud
and, in their way, magnificent people have been reduced
to a surly remnant of bull-necked, beer-sodden, federal
dependents, forced to sacrifice the freedom of the
plains for what is no doubt–materially—a higher standard
of living.

The saga of Crazy Horse is thus a timeless human
story. It is also, however, a fable for our own
time–even more, for our own people, our own nation. Its
relevance is so notable that, in fact, it has NOT gone
unnoted. The Indian v. white-native v.
immigrant parallel has been a staple of the immigration
debate for decades–as a feature of the enthusiast case

The lesson, immigration enthusiasts insist, is that
European Americans whose ancestors stole the country
from the Noble Red Men have it coming to them. Whites
DESERVE to lose their country to the new immigrant
tribes! As an Anglo board member of a southern
California hospital whose specialty is treating illegal
immigrants for free at the

taxpayers` expense
recently crowed, “Now the tables
are turned, and the Mexicans are

taking California
from US!”

History, of course, doesn`t work that way. Thomas
Aquinas argued the first human duty of each individual
is to family members. Similarly, the first duty of every
society is to its own members with their culture and its
history—which amount only to itself.

Nor should the entwined interests of a given society,
like those of any individual, be dismissed as an
aggregation of selfish impulses. The Christian ideal of
self-sacrifice is a strictly personal virtue. No such
thing exists as a society`s duty to be an historical

Crazy Horse was a hero–for his own people. Americans
need to find their own.

“What do you suppose Crazy Horse would say if he
could witness the situation today?” I asked Ed.

He pondered, trailing one oar in the quickening water
as the dory slid smoothly toward the head of a small

“`Good borders make good neighbors. Zapotec [Mexican]
Indians heap bad medicine for the [American] Sioux?`” he
suggested at last.

Edward Abbey`s essay “Immigration and Liberal Taboos”
was actually commissioned by the New York Times,
which somehow never got around to printing the piece, or
even paying its starving author a kill fee for it.  

Ed died in the spring of 1989. He was buried, at his
request, in a remote spot in the Arizona desert known
only to his friends.

Williamson Jr.

is the author of The
Immigration Mystique: America`s False Conscience

and an editor and columnist for Chronicles
Magazine, where he writes the The Hundredth Meridian
column about life in the Rocky Mountain West.

November 27, 2002