The end of the Injun

Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 21, 2016

Montana is my heart home.

That’s where I was born.

Daddy was in the Army Air Corps and he said the Army Air Corps delivered me on a great big airplane. I was way too special to let a stork bring me across those mountains.

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Daddy kept a photo album full of postcards of people and places in the Big Sky Country.

When I was growing up, I would sit for hours looking at the pictures of Indians, teepees, horses, buffalo and all the other wildlife in Montana and the mountains, oh, the mountains. I was fascinated by the pictures of the Indians with their feathered headdresses and the pictures of them dancing.

When I went to the picture show on Saturday afternoons, I watched with big eyes when the Indians danced around the campfire. When I got home, I practiced dancing just like the Indians did.

All of the children in the neighborhood went to the Saturday picture show so one of our favorite things to do was play cowboys and Indians. I always wanted to be an Indian because I could dance and play a drum at the same time.

Behind our house was a huge pasture that was bordered by a creek and a deep, dark forest. We played in the pasture all the time and we would often find arrowheads. We knew that Indians had lived in that pasture at one time. To know that real Indians had lived right behind our house was exciting.

Sometimes, I imagine that I could see the flickering of the Indians’ campfire or hear their drums or feel the thumping of their feet as they danced by the light of the moon.

There was a sense of adventure, of mystery to the pasture because of the Indian buried nearby.

Many times I had walked through the pasture and wondered at the concrete slab that looked for all the world like a lonely grave.

One day, I was walking through the pasture with Daddy to see a newborn calf.

“What’s that?” I asked pointing to the slab.

“An ol’ Injun,” Daddy said.

My blood ran cold.

I knew it! I knew it! A grave … but an Injun? Wow! A real live, dead Injun! But with all the arrowheads that we had found in the pasture, I should have guessed it. My imagination went on a wild goose chase. Oh, the ways that Injun could have died. Rustlers could have done it or the cavalry when it rode through or maybe the Apaches cause they were mean Injuns. Or maybe a bear. For whatever reason, I imagined him to be a good Injun because he had a gravestone.

I was curious about that Injun so one night at supper I asked Daddy.

“What do you reckon happened to that Injun? You know. The one’s that buried in the pasture –in concrete grave.”

Daddy looked puzzled. “I didn’t say Injun. I said engine. That’s where an engine was mounted that we used on the farm.”

What did Daddy have to go and say that for.