If the Buffalo is the National Mammal, is Biological Warfare the National Military Strategy?

A terrific response to the Tatonka Story this week

Memories of the People

buffalo4In an all-too-common example of revisionist history, NPR’s story of the bison becoming the “National Mammal” recounted the near-extinction of the species during American expansion while completely failing to mention that the buffalo slaughter was a deliberate military strategy in the ethnic cleansing of Native Americans from the Plains.  In fact, NPR even listed subsistence hunting by Indians as a contributing factor in the demise of the buffalo.

In 1868, General Sherman wrote to General Sheridan, “As long as Buffalo are up on the Republican [River] the Indians will go there. I think it would be wise to invite all the sportsmen of England and America there this fall for a Grand Buffalo hunt, and make one grand sweep of them all.”

A year later, the Army Navy Journal reported, “General Sherman remarked, in conversation the other day, that the quickest way to compel the Indians to settle down to civilized life was to send…

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Irony Attack


A full-throttle example of irony begins with a drive to visit relatives south of Portland on a beautiful spring day.

We sit and chat inside, so it is odd indeed that by twilight I discover my arms and hands have turned pink: I courted a sunburn piloting the car.

Thanks to an antibiotic I’m taking to ward off the last ravages of winter pneumonia, my skin is more sensitive to the sun—as the pill bottle’s warning label proves.

Continue reading

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The Day Julia Joined the Osage


Emilie Chatillon Lessert

My uncle sat in the front seat while I drove his car, pointing out the sights on our drive to Pine Ridge—there’s Russell Means’ house, there’s the Agency, there’s Big Bat’s store.

We parked the car and John, my daughter and I loped into the famed convenience store and bought ice pops we ate in the parking lot.

We saw a young resident using a cell phone.

That’s a commodity phone, John said. Left-over phones no one wants that make their way to the reservation.

John grew up in small towns in South Dakota, including Mission, where, as a kid, he argued with Vine Deloria and punched him in the nose. “He was a brat,” John said. Continue reading

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My mother: the cop


Margaret Sue Barnes Conover

An enduring memory of my mother was her sheer authority.

She literally packed a pistol.

As a deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County, she carried a purse that had a built-in holster for her gun.

One day, she clearly and deliberately gathered all four of us girls to instruct us on The Gun Rules. Continue reading

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And that’s 30



For Karl Popper

I take refuge

In the search for truth

But what is truth?

Is it knowledge?

Is it possessing knowledge?


It’s the quest for truth

That defines us

Poem 29



A riot of words


Sludge and dreck

And mud and glop

Bake my noodle

On gray days

I just want to sleep

And sleep

Offering warmth

To cool bed-sheets


Releasing an hour

Or two

To quiet



Spring arrives

Late as usual

And noisy as a lawn mower

Poem 30



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Nearly There

ravenSunday Haiku

Sunday’s denouement
Flatlines the weekend
Yet again

Poem 26


We have been friends

For years and years

We pick up where we left off

No matter

The space in between

No matter the spouse in between


Stories warm our talk

No secrets kept veiled

We know them all

We know their vestments


The teasing bares a sweet side

We know each other so well

No room for jabs

Just the splendid chance

For open face

Open heart

Poem 27





Moments before colors

Perform their dance in the sky,

The crows swoop along our rooftop

Headed north


Perhaps to feast at the Columbia

Whose waters

Once powerful

And awesome

Now slowed by the dams

Their pent-up passions

Held fast


Hours pass

And the crows return


They linger on the rooftop

And the sun


Poem 28


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30 Poems in 30 Days


We see what we want to see

Human nature’s best guess,

Rorschach and Roshomon

Holding hands on the street corner,

Hoping you will gaze in their direction,

Looking, but not seeing.




Like Sugar

Rolling by the yellow building

On my bike

I sniff a

Familiar smell,

Acrid and sharp,

Just like my darkroom days.

Some smells you never forget

Like how my mother’s fingers smell like

Tobacco and mint.

My bike thumps over a pot hole

Past gardens that smell like sugar

Just before it burns.





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