Horse Capture



Moving northward in my trusty Indian Bronco, we traverse through swarms of winter snow snakes as they wink their icy way across the lonely ribbon of asphalt. Rising above the first big wheat field on the right is an unplowed knoll, crowned with native prairie grass and a small pile of stones. A great tribal leader lies buried beneath this bit of earth. He is my great-grandfather, Horse Capture. He passed from this place sixty-nine years ago, after enjoying sixty-six summers. I first met him face-to-face in 1969 in a photographic likeness, a lasting legacy retained by the preeminent recorder of the Indian West – Edward S. Curtis. As we pass the stubbled wheat field, memories of my dark days – my childhood on the reservation – come easily, but now seem far away in time and space, and I am reminded once again of our history and of the importance of my great-grandfather. His presence in our lives, symbolizing all of our American Indian elders, ushered in light and knowledge where there was only darkness before. Growing up on an Indian reservation is not as romantic and full of adventure as some might believe. As shaggy-headed children we played all day long, climbing trees, swimming in the murky Milk River, picking berries and doing most of the things that country kids everywhere do. We played in the sunshine, oblivious to our poverty and low social status. When we entered the off-reservation public school, our environment abruptly changed as we encountered the non-Indian world for the first time. As we studied our lessons, it soon became apparent to us that this culture ignored Indian people. Only George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, George Armstrong Custer, and other non- Indians filled the history books. Even Jesus was white. It was as if we didn’t exist, and our minds and souls suffered from this exclusion in our own country …


George P. Horse Capture