The American Bison, once spread across this land, as the sand on the beach. Those that say they know, estimate their number at over 60 million, once upon a time, that is.
They were wild and untameable, but they were food, shelter, and clothing to those who lived upon these lands.
By 1890, there were 750 left.
Today, there is a manageable number. They live on Ted Turner's ranch.
Manifest Destiny: we're here, it's here, so therefore, it must be ours.
When I was a boy, my Father never locked the doors. We were never robbed, but i suppose someone was.
When I was a boy, there were no seat belts. No law to buckle them. People either cut them off, or tucked them into the seats. I stood on the front seat, and if my father had to brake suddenly, he would use the arm bar. We were never killed, but I suppose someone was.
I would leave the house in early summer morning, to go find a ballgame, or ride my bike, or just find some soft grass to play in. I was five years old. I was never abducted or molested, but I'm sure someone was.
I remember my mother sending me to the store for cigarettes with just a note. The clerk never questioned it, but you can't do that anymore.
My father was the fire chief for forty years. When the bell rang, all the volunteers would bolt for the station and the first one there usually drove the fire truck. Most often, it was the least sober among them, as the local tavern was only a block away. The fires got put out, the truck never crashed, but I suppose, somewhere, one did.
The easiest way to destroy the humans who had been living on this land for ever and one day, was to take away their food, shelter, and clothing. When we couldn't kill the buffalo fast enough to appease our lust for gold and land, we tricked the natives themselves into killing them. It worked.
I used to like to fly. My dad would take me to the airport to watch the jets take off. Flying isn't fun anymore. Not with x-rays, strip search and the fear of some evil being slipping through and blowing you up.
And there were no armed guards in school, but of course, there were no drugs to give the kids back then for all the disorders we assign to them now. Funny, no one ever shot up schools back then.
Have you seen the cars pulled over on the freeway? Whole families just trying to get Little Rock, sitting in the ditch while a small platoon of policemen search their luggage.
It wasn't always like that.
I can remember when if you saw a car broke down, you just naturally pulled over to see if you could help. That's just the way it was.. If you tried that now, you'd get searched too. Best to just move along and not be noticed.
I've hitch hiked, and picked up hitch hikers. But not in a long time.
And be careful having that third drink with dinner at Applebees. The police are hiding in the bushes watching, timing you. To protect the others.
Hey! remember this? A person is presumed innocent, until proven guilty.
Now we have random drug testing (except for the Senators and Congressmen that made it a law. And after all, they only decide if we go to war or not, so what's the big deal if they have a few drinks at lunch) so, now it's-a person is presumed guilty unless they can prove they're innocent.
I guess that's sorta the same thing.
Crazy Horse, Geronimo, Cochise, Sitting Bull-they were renegades. Non Conformists.
We tried real hard to convince the natives that they'd be much better off on reservations. Under our protection where they could depend on us for food, shelter, and clothing.
Most drank the kool aid, and why not? Really, what choice was there?
But some rebelled, fought back, even though they knew they would fail. In their hearts and in their spirits, they had no choice.
I didn't grow up with Wal Mart, but we have them now. Seems silly to plant a garden or even learn how to, when we can get it all so much cheaper and prettier at Wal Mart. And if you can't afford Wally's apples, our government will give you stamps so you can. And why learn to sew if poor children in Bangladesh will do it cheap.
Ben Franklin said, "Those that would trade their liberties for temporary security, deserve neither, and will lose both."
I guess we're all living longer now, and some would say better. But I can't help but wonder when the measure of life became a yard stick rather than weights. I still remember when life weighed less than a feather.
Chief Joseph tried to be a renegade, but one day, just short of winning, he said, "I will fight no more forever"
That makes me sad.
But now we have the New York Police to weed out the renegades. If you look like one, you'll be considered one.
We once told Gorbachev to tear down the wall. So he did. Now we have built a great wall of soldiers to keep out the lazy, drunken, stinkin no good Mexicans. Can't have them coming up here raping our women, selling their drugs, stealing our jobs. We didn't mind them washing our windows or picking our fruit for a quarter an hour, but they've just gone too far.
I tried to think of all we've warred with, Canada, Mexico, Britain, France, Spain, ourselves, Russia, Germany......Damn! It's just easier to list Nations we haven't warred with. Have we fought the Swedes?
Well, there's still time.
We told Saddam we won't tolerate WMD. Didn't we put him in power? Ha! turns out he didn't have any anyway. Jokes on him! Now it's Syria's turn. They may have gassed a thousand people.
Um, wasn't it us that dropped two atomic bombs on cities of civilians? Women, children, old people, dogs, whatever. How many did we kill? How many are still dying?
I don't remember our apology for that. Do You?
If that wasn't WMD, I guess I have the definition wrong.
No matter. We're all safe. Fully protected and taken care of.
We live longer and safer now. Soon we'll all have health insurance. And no, you wont have a choice.
And we have Face book, free porn, playstation, football, and reality TV to entertain us, control us, while our protective government takes care of the serious business.
I used to wonder what it was like, before we got here. When teepees were the cities of the Plains. When time as we have invented it, didn't exist. When every day there was a danger of dying, but no one feared. The grizzly, the panther, and the wolf roamed border to border. There were no laws other than those written upon the heart. Those that lived, lived unmeasured by length.
And I wondered what it was like to have it all taken. To be put on reservations.
But I don't wonder much anymore. I think I understand.
I am a renegade, in the manner of those before me. I too will lose. But my heart wont let me surrender
The lilacs still bloom
but the fragrance has grown dull
the stars have gone dim
the moon has lost it's mystique,
while the sun has become our blister
that shall never heal
we no longer sprint
through the woods, tripping over
boulder and log
out of breath
bruised and bleeding
to watchful clouds
of silver glory
and the whispering of
a laughing brook
waiting for our fall
we now march
across a barren desert
only to reach the other side
but so far