On this date… September 8, 1858… Washington

On this date in 1858, the US Army under Colonel George Wright began executing nine-hundred horses of the Yakama, Palus, and Spokane tribes.  Their bones can still be found today along the Spokane River near Liberty Lake.      

“It was a cruel sight to see so many Spokanehorses1noble beasts shot down. They were all sleek, glossy, and fat, and as I love a horse, I fancied I saw in their beautiful faces an appeal for mercy. Towards the last the soldiers appeared to exult in their bloody task; and such is the ferocious character of men.”  – US Army soldier

“As she stepped out of her front door, Big Mom heard the first gunshot, which reverberated in her DNA.  She pulled her dress up around her waist and ran for the clearing, heard a gunshot with each of her footfalls.  All she heard were the gunshots, singular at first, and then in rapid bursts that she could not count. 

Big Mom ran to the rise above the clearing where the horses gathered.  There, she saw the future and the past, the white soldiers in blue uniforms with black rifles and pistols.  She saw the Indian horses shot and fallen like tattered sheets.  Big Mom stood on the rise and watched the horses fall, until only one remained. Spokanehorses2

Big Mom watched the Indian colt circled by soldiers.  The colt darted from side to side, looked for escape.  One soldier, an officer, stepped down from his pony, walked over to the colt, gently touched its face, and whispered in its ear.  The colt shivered as the officer put his pistol between its eyes and pulled the trigger.  That colt fell to the grass of the clearing, to the sidewalk outside a reservation tavern, to the cold, hard coroner’s table in a Veterans Hospital.” – Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues

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