Saturday, May 21, 2016

"The Green Frog Skin"

"The Green Frog Skin"
by John (Fire) Lame Deer

"The Green Frog Skin – that’s what I call the dollar bill. In our attitude towards it lies the biggest difference between the Indians and the whites. My grandparents grew up in an Indian world without money. Just before the Custer battle the white soldiers had received their pay. Their pockets were full of green paper and they had no place to spend it. What were their last thoughts as an Indian bullet or arrow hit them? I guess they were thinking of all that money going to waste, of not having had a chance to enjoy it, of a bunch of dumb savages getting their paws on that hard-earned pay. That must have hurt them more than the arrow between their ribs.

The close hand-to-hand fighting, with a thousand horses gally-hooting all over the place, had covered the battlefield with an enormous cloud of dust, and in it the green frog skins of the soldiers were whirling around like snowflakes in a blizzard. Now, what did the Indians do with all that money? They gave it to their children to play with, to fold those strange bits of colored paper into all kinds of shapes, making into toy buffalo and horses. Somebody was enjoying that money after all.

The books tell of one soldier who survived. He got away, but he went crazy and some women watched him from a distance as he killed himself. The writers always say that he must have been afraid of being captured and tortured, but that’s all wrong. Can’t you see it? There he is, bellied down in a gully, watching what is going on. He sees the kids playing with the money, tearing it up, the women using it to fire up some dried buffalo chips to cook on, the men lighting their pipes with green frog skins, but mostly all those beautiful dollar bills floating away with the dust and the wind. It’s this sight that drove the poor soldier crazy. He’s clutching his head, hollering, ‘Goddam, Jesus Christ Almighty, look at them dumb, stupid, red sons of bitches wasting all that dough!’ He watches till he can’t stand it any longer, and then he blows his brains out with a six-shooter. It would make a great scene in a movie, but it would take an Indian mind to get the point."
- John (Fire) Lame Deer, "Seeker of Visions"

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