We did a field trip today. Leaving this old house early this morning, we drove out to eastern Colorado. There was a museum to see and a birthday party to attend. It was a beautiful day, warm, lots of sun, and a very different geography of Colorado. The eastern part of the state is plains. Southwest Colorado is more deserts, mesas and buttes, full of Anasazi ruins. My day-to-day life takes place in the Front Range area where the Great Plains end in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Central and Northwestern Colorado is more high mountains. A lot of variety and “something for everyone.”
At the museum out east, I learned about the Battle of Beecher Island, which took place on the plains but in a river bed area that has a high butte above it:
The Battle of Beecher Island, also known as the Battle of Arikaree Fork, was an armed conflict between elements of the United States Army and several of the Plains Native American tribes in September 1868…Near present-day Wray, Colorado, [Beecher Island] was named afterwards for Lieutenant Fredrick H. Beecher, an army officer killed during the battle. [Wikipedia]
The museum curator talked about “dog Indians,” a politically correct term: The Dog Soldiers or Dog Men (Cheyenne Hotamétaneo’o) was one of six military societies of the Cheyenne Indians. Beginning in the late 1830s, this society evolved into a separate, militaristic band that played a dominant role in Cheyenne resistance to American expansion in Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Wyoming, where the Cheyenne had settled in the early 19th Century. [Wikipedia] The curator described this particular unit of “dog Indians” as being made up of disenfranchised Native Americans from several tribes who came together to fight the encroaching white settlers.
It reminds me of modern terrorist groups who often recruit people from places where they feel they “don’t fit in” with the culture of their parents nor the culture of their current homeland. People long for community and when they can’t find it, they will create it, often in ways that aren’t necessarily good for themselves or society at large. “Lord of the Flies” comes to mind here as do some bullies and packs of homeless dogs throughout the world.
The land that saw so much blood shed now suffers from the chemicals used in agribusiness: fertilizers, feedlots, genetically-modified seeds, pesticides. We humans are always seeking to dominate something or other in some way. If we can subdue (which in the Biblical sense never meant “dominate” but rather “steward”) Nature or a group of people that frighten us, we gain a sense of power and safety, false as those feelings may be. It can be fairly disheartening to think about!
Yet, we had a wonderful day with wonderful people celebrating life and God’s goodness. The Discipline of Celebration (see Philippians 4:4-8) encourages me to focus on those thing and so, this evening, I will.