Arranged by Kyle Gann from historical sources
Arranged by Kyle Gann from historical sources
In proceeding from the Missouri River to the base of the Rocky Mountains, the ascent, though gradual, is quite rapid.... Comparing the surface of the country to that of the ocean,... it does not require a very great stretch of the imagination, when viewing this boundless ocean of beautiful living verdure, to picture these successive undulations as gigantic waves, standing silent and immovable, and adding to the impressive grandeur of the scene. If the Indian were the innocent, simple-minded being he is represented, he would be just the character to complete the picture. [My Life on the Plains, pp. 5, 13]
If I were an Indian, I often think, I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people adhered to the free open plains rather than submit to the confined limits of a reservation, there to be the recipient of the blessed benefits of civilization, with its vices thrown in.... The Indian can never be permitted to view the question in this deliberate way.... When the soil which he has claimed and hunted over for so long a time is demanded by this... insatiable monster, there is no appeal; he must yield, or, like the car of Juggernaut, it will roll mercilessly over him, destroying as it advances. Destiny seems to have so willed it, and the world looks on and nods its approval.... Two hundred years ago it required millions to express in numbers the Indian population. Today, less than half the number of thousands will suffice. Where and why have they gone? Ask the Saxon race.... [My Life on the Plains, pp. 22-23]
We had approached so near the village that from the dead silence which reigned I feared the lodges were deserted. I was about to turn in my saddle and give the signal for attack, when a single rifle shot rang sharp and clear on the far side of the village. I turned to the band leader and directed him to give us "Garryowen." The bugle sounded the charge and the command dashed rapidly into the village. The Indians were caught napping, but overcame their surprise, and quickly seized their rifles, bows, and arrows. Orders were given to prevent the killing of any but the fighting strength of the village, but in a struggle where the squaws are as dangerous as the warriors it is impossible to always discriminate. When everything had been collected the torch was applied, and soon, all that was left of the village were a few heaps of blackened ashes. [My Life on the Plains, pp. 240-241, 248]
Let Bacchus's sons be not dismayed, And join with me each jovial blade, Come booze and sing and lend your aid To help me with the chorus. So in place of water we'll drink ale and pay the reckoning on the nail, No man for debt shall go to jail from Garry Owen in glory. [lyrics, "Garryowen"]
My firm conviction based on analysis of the character traits of the Indian is that the Indian cannot be induced to adopt an unaccustomed mode of life by any teaching, argument, reasoning, or coaxing not followed closely by physical force. The Indian is capable of recognizing no influence but that of stern, arbitrary power. [My Life on the Plains, p. 148]
From Garry Owen in glory!
What was to become of all those women and children bereft of everything and of every friend? True, it was just. The warriors had brought this fate upon themselves and their families by their unprovoked attacks upon the White Man.... Although never claimed as an exponent of the peace policy,... yet I entertained the most peaceable sentiments toward all Indians who were in no condition to cause trouble. [My Life on the Plains, pp. 251-253]
If I were an Indian, I often think, I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people adhered to the free open plains rather than submit to the confined limits of a reservation. [My Life on the Plains, p. 22]
I have never been absent from my command without leave, as here charged.
I have never made use of my men for the advancement of my private interests, as here charged.
I have never turned away from our enemy, as here charged,
Or failed to relieve an imperiled friend, as here charged,
Or left unburied a single fallen man under my command, as here charged,
Or took upon myself the responsibility of a single action not demanded by the occasion, as here charged. [from Custer's defense at his 1867 court-martial, quoted in Lawrence A. Frost, The Court-Martial of General George Armstrong Custer, p. 236]
Judge me not by what is known now, but in the light of what I knew when these events transpired. [adapted from Custer's defense at his 1867 court-martial, quoted in Lawrence A. Frost, The Court-Martial of General George Armstrong Custer, p. 217]
Where and why have they gone? Ask the Saxon race.... [My Life on the Plains, p. 23]
George Armstrong Custer: My Life on the Plains, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK: 1962)
Lawrence A. Frost, The Court-Martial of General George Armstrong Custer, University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK: 1968)
Text copyright 1998 by Kyle Gann
See the tuning for Custer: "If I Were an Indian..."
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