tv Deanne Stillman Blood Brothers CSPAN February 18, 2018 5:50am-6:46am EST
>> good afternoon and welcome to the historic trinity united methodist church. we feel fortunate to be in this beautiful space which was made possible by the generosity of jack and mary, i'm honored to serve as volunteer for the 11th annual savanna book festival and so glad you also participated in this year's festival. it is presented by george power, david and nancy cintron, the shia family foundation and mark and hats. we want to thank our literary members and individual sponsors and donors who made and continue to make saturday at the book festival a free event. 90% of the revenue comes from donors like you so thank you very much. we are excited to have a
savanna book festival apps available this year. look in your program if you would like information on downloading that apps to your telephone. a couple housekeeping notes. following this presentation, our author, deanne stillman, will sign festival purchased copies of this book. if you want to stay in this venue for the presentation that will follow this presentation please move forward to make room for people coming in through the big front doors. a couple technology announcements, we ask that you take a minute right now to double check with your cell phone is turned off or in silent mode so we will have electronic interruptions during the talk. the other is if you have cell phones with which you want to take photographs please make sure you don't use a flash. for the question and answer portion i am going to ask that you raise your hand. i will make eye contact with one of the ushers who will bring a microphone to you.
please don't begin until you have a microphone in your hand and in the interests of fairness to the attendees and efforts to make as many questions as possible happen please make sure you limit yourself to just one question and your question is actually a question rather than a comment or a story. deanne stillman is with us today. christine and jim. deanne stillman is a critically acclaimed writer. her latest book is blood brothers. and the strange friendship between sitting bull and buffalo bill. it also tells the story of annie oakley who was a friend of both of these men. the book received start review and was named by true west magazine and he millions as the
best book of 2017. deanne stillman is the author of desert reckoning, the winner of the spur award and los angeles press club award for best nonfiction. her book mustang was an la times best book of the year and was released in audio with angelica houston, frances fisher and others. she is also the author of twentynine palms, los angeles times best book of the year with to thompson calling a strange and brilliant story by an important american writer. we have an important american writer with us today so please give a warm savanna welcome to deanne stillman. >> thank you so much. trinity united methodist church
and my sponsors. and my books blood brothers about the strange friendship between sitting bull and buffalo bill. from annie oakley. my journey through this story, let me talk about how i came to write this. this very strange story about a strange friendship. some time ago while working on my book mustang, the saga of the american horse in the wild west, i learned about a strange and heartbreaking moment that
transpired outside sitting bull lapse cabin while he was being assassinated during an ambush. a horse was tethered to a railing and at the sound of gunfire he started to dance. trained to do something in the wild west buffalo bill's famous spectacle of which sitting bull was a part for four months in 1885. i couldn't shake the image and as i began to look into it, the horse was a gift to sitting bull from buffalo bill. presented when he and home for him at that time was standing rock. the fact that buffalo bill had given sitting bull a host -- horse was significant. this was the animal the transformed the west and was stripped from the tribe in
order to vanquish them. it was a gift that sitting bull treasured along with a hat that cody had given him as well. after sitting bull was killed buffalo bill brought the horse back from sitting bull's widows and according to some accounts road it in a parade and then the horse disappears from the record. it was the legend of the dancing horse that led me into the story of sitting bull and buffalo bill. and a portal opened into something else. strange voices coming through the portal. it was all strange, i told you.
and other than the fact that he was my next story and it was calling and at some point down its trail. later i was i was well along the path i came across another image. it is now on the cover of this book and it captured my attention. it was taken for publicity purposes while sitting bull and buffalo bill were on tour in montréal and its caption, friends and 85, i began to imagine these two men on the road, sitting bull on the horse, crisscrossing the nation, visiting lands that belong to the lakota, uncrowded thoroughfares built on top of ancient paths made by animals and the people who follow them with william f cody, another mystical figure of the great
plains reenacting wartime scenarios that had one outcome. the end of the red man in the victory of the white leading is a parade in celebration of the wild west became the national scripture. what were the forces that brought these two together i wonder? what was the nature of their alliance. where they each trapped in a persona, a veneer that was somewhat true. behind the projected ideas in which they were preserved, who were they in day-to-day life. there is was certainly an unlikely partnership but one thing was obvious on its face. both had names that were forever linked with the buffalo. when man was credited with wiping out the species, so that was hardly the case and the other was sustained by its very life. there were two sides of the
same coin, foes and friends as the photo caption on the publicity poster says so this image too entered my consciousness, two american superstars, icons not just of their era and country but for all time and around the world. what story was this picture telling and how is it connecting to the dancing horse outside sitting bull's cabinet. can't answer all of them. and recount the stories of each men from cradle to grave literally. and tracked parallel histories. both corrupt on the frontier
and both came from rough circumstances, both reviewed in their own tribe, both became superstars, husbands, fathers, sons, warriors, shared a bloodied history, they were enemies for quite some time until they hooked up in buffalo bill's wild west show. .. >> and presidents in general sought his advice. his friends included frederick
remington and mark twain, bronc busters who could drink him under the table and might have even been better writers. ranch cooks who needed a job. he was open to all. he had no airs. what you saw was what you got. even if what you saw was sometimes a mirage. he was the simplest of men, as annie oakley would say at the end of his life, as comfortable with cowboys as with kings. before the term was forever linked to his name, william f. cody grew up in the wild, wild west. once he was a boy, not a superstar not named for the animal he would kill by the thousands. others, for the record, would kill more. but just a boy who played with indians on the great plains, he would pass through territory near his home in kansas as they
followed the buffalo. so, too, by his own account did he kill an indian in his youth. and others later while he was employed as a wagon train hand. but of course he was not aware that the curtain would soon fall on their way of life and that he would participate in that last act as well as try to reserve what came before. once he was just a boy who helped his struggling family eke out a living on the frontier. so how he came to hook up with sitting bull is a pretty amazing part of this story. after the battle of the little bighorn during which custer was killed, as i hope all of you know -- [laughter] sitting bull was blamed for killing custer which was not true. he did not pull the trigger. but he was nearby, and he was certainly a factor in that
battle. in fact, his medicine was all over the battlefield as i recount in my book. but because of this very humiliating defeat for the u.s. cavalry and victory, great victory for the lakota and cheyenne, the native americans who were involved in that battle fellowed northward into -- fled northward into the arms of the grandmother -- aka, canada -- because they were branded as hostiles and had to leave their homeland. or be arrested. so sitting bull took his people to canada, and they lived there in exile for a number of years. and then at some point, were forced to leave by the canadian government which was being pressured by american authorities and also buffalo there were vanishing as well. you know, there was kind of -- sitting bull was caught in this
squeeze play, and he returned to his, to the dakota territory, his homeland. and he was quite well known; infamous, i should say, at that point. they didn't have the term public enemy number one there, but i use it in my book. he had become public enemy number one. he was the guy who killed custer, you know? a great civil war hero. and pretty notorious for his role in the indian wars. and so when he turned himself in at fort buford with his people and his children including his young son and had his son surrender his rifle in a very poignant sr. moanny -- poignant ceremony which i describe in my book, he makes a point of saying that the reason he came back is he wanted to make sure his children could see how the white man was living and learn to endure, assimilate into this new
culture. he was so famous then that everybody, people would -- soldiers would surround him and want his autograph, and, you know, just kind of soak up some of his mojo. he was a celebrity. a lot of people were courting him for their wild west shows. there were a number of circuses traveling the country then including -- which featured cowboys and indians. and animals too. and he hooked up with a couple of troupes and traveled around. it was not -- the reason that native americans joined some of these shows isn't because it was, like, oh, this is great, i get to appear in these shows. it was a way off the reservation. it was a sanctioned way for them to leave the reservation. and be he wasn't really treated very well many these shows. he was -- in these shows. you know, this is one of the
great americans of all time. and he was known and still is revered around world. he was not treated with respect many these shows -- in these shows until cody came along. and cody had been after him for a long time. he knew that sitting bull was like, you know, a big score to use today's parlance. he knew that having him in his show would bring in a lot of money. and by then cody himself was this huge superstar as well. after the little bighorn, he had avenged custer's death by scalping an indian and then returning to the stage in new york and elsewhere on the east coast and reenacting this scalping of yellow hand and brandishing the scalp to the dismay of many. but cody was a showman, and he
had been acting for some time, and he just really, like, cranked it up at this point. so he was able to convince sitting bull to join his show because of his stature, he promised him, promised to pay him -- i think he was paid more than anybody else in the show. sitting bull was kind of, like, in baseball terms a free agent. he kind of wrote his own ticket at that time. he asked to be able to sell his own autograph which other people in the show were doing, and cody, you know, of course a agreed to all this. he really wanted sitting bull in his show. but another reason that sitting bull agreed to travel with cody was the fact that annie oakley was already in the show. and he had met her while traveling to st. paul, minnesota, with the, with an
army official a couple of years before hooking up with cody, and he was impressed with her shooting skills and even, like, sent her a note backstage like he became a fan. and they struck up an immediate friendship, and he gave her the nickname little miss sureshot. which actually translates into something else, but -- [laughter] you'll have to read my book to find that out. like a lot of things at that time, a lot of native american language, it was a mistranslation. but it doesn't much matter in terms of her career because when you think about it, who would annie oakley have become without that nickname, little miss sureshot? he he really kind of branded her. so having found out that she was, she had been hired by cody, he -- that was one other thing that made him join up. and then there were a couple of
other things, but perhaps the most important of which was the fact that he wanted to get to washington, d.c. to meet the grandfather, aka the president, and ask him why the american government had betrayed his people. that was, like, really the overriding reason for him to join up with cody. and they did get to washington, d.c. as well as a number of other places, and he and some of the other native americans in cody's show did have a meeting with some state department officials. and i describe this really another strange scene in my book where they're inside a building, an office on capitol hill, and there's all this western art on the walls, you know, like portraits of indians and paintings of buffalo and so on. and apparently some of the
indians at the, at this meeting started to laugh. but sitting bull remained silent. so he apparently did not get to meet the president, the grandfather, you know, to his disappointment. and, you know, that part of his desire to join up with cody was not fulfilled. but he did get to see what was going on with the white man, and he wanted to understand how this new civilization worked, and he admired all this great new technology, you know, like telephones and fire trucks. acknowledged the white man's superior firepower but wondered how come as he traveled he was meeting all these homeless children around the country. there were all these orphans. and he would often give them money. cody helped out a lot of people too.
they were very generous. he couldn't understand how this technologically advanced culture was failing its people. and i think that, you know, quite interesting in terms of what's going on today. so at any rate, after the -- well, sit ising bull traveled -- sitting bull traveled with cody for four months in 1885, and i just want to read you this short paragraph about what that might have been like for him. imagine being born into a world where your tribe was the most powerful in all the land, and within that being born at the climax of its power. imagine that in your lifetime you witnessed a thing that consumed nearly everything you loved and were nourished by and that nearly everyone you cherished or parlayed with was destroyed, altered, killed or locked up.
imagine being a person who lived through such a thing, sought to head it off directly and softly, was both celebrated and hated for doing so. and yet because of an alliance with the natural world and it with you, saw the whole thing coming, even your own end. and then finally, imagine embracing life with all of your might and force, your generosity and joy trying to contain the wellspring of sorrow and blood that was flooding your world and drowning it. knowing that a river cannot be stopped, but there are many different ways to ride it. this was sitting bull's fate and condition. so here he was, you know, joining up with buffalo bill for the reasons i mentioned. weirdly, their first meeting was in, of all places, buffalo. [laughter] and i wonderedded, i mean, when i found that out, i was
completely stunned. another, like, breathtaking moment as i was working on my book. i wondered, like, what sitting bull thought when he was told he was going to buffalo. i mean, i'm sure it was translated, and he had to, you know, have known irony of that, if that's what you could call it. and he certainly knew that cody's name was buffalo bill, cody's nickname. and then i started to think about jokes that he sometimes -- reporters followed him around he traveled. he happened an entourage of friends, and there were often reporters. and i started to wonder if reporters were making jokes about, you know, hey, chief, here we are in buffalo, what do you think about that? it just seemed like he was in a very, again, strange and humiliating position. and i want to reiterate that leafing the reservation for --
leaving the reservation for native americans at that time and joining up with buffalo bill and these other shows was not like this, like, fantastic thing that they could do. they were essentially prisoners of war, and this was a way off the reservation that was sanctioned. and they could continue living a life that was banned within a limited frame. you know, they were allowed to ride horses, and they were reenacting moments in our history and theirs, although not there their point of view, certainly. but the cowboys, too, were engaged in these reenactments which, weirdly enough, were almost had pretty much ended as codety's show was touring -- cody's show was touring. the frontier was vanishing. so here were all these cast members, all these americans -- and by that, i'm including white and red men and some women. here were all these people locked out of time but reenacting what has become the
national scripture. and the way i see it, that's where america lives, you know? we live inside the wild west, and it all comes right out of buffalo bill. i mean, again, think about it's not just annie oakley who wouldn't have a snuck -- nickname. think about what stories we would tell ourselves about who we are as americans without buffalo bill and his wild west show. what dreams would this country have about itself. and, of course, there's a dark side, and i talk about and write about all of this in my book. here's a little bit about the two men together. some friendships form quickly and fade just as fast, others last for a short period of time, an hour say or a day, but even they may be as deep as the kind that lasts for a lifetime. and then there are those in
which mysterious forces, a hand of the creator perhaps, necessity, desire brings two people together. even former enemies in an alliance that seems unlikely. and in the end, not at all. such was the join-up of sitting bull and buffalo bill. foes in '76, friends in '85 as the photo caption said of the pair. each an icon to himself, together a powerhouse of mythology and might and sparks. both -- the men had much in common, both were fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. both were celebrated, surrounded by admirers and those who embodied the oh side of admiration -- the other side of admiration, jealousy. in the end, trapped in a persona, worn down by their gifts. both were men of action, fearing not a rumble nor a personal
assault. they were warriors in service of their people and their time not unlike montezuma and cortez, this some ways. montezuma who carved out hearts with ab zit yam and ate them -- ab sid yum and lusting for sparkles in the ground and sending greyhounds to devour those in the way with. but unlike montezuma and cortez, there was one thing that made them blood brothers, took them way beyond a show biz alliance, and that was buffalo to which they both owed their lives and paid tribute with their names. so as i said, they first came together in buffalo of all places, and i recount the scene in which they first met. setting bull was -- sitting bull was with his entourage, and they
were all very gaily bedecked in war regalia. and, again, there was a reporter, and sitting bull had paraded down an avenue in buffalo with all of these people on his way to the field where cody's show was underway. and when he got there, apparently he had to wait for some time for cody to acknowledge him and invite him onto the field. and then when it finally happened, buffalo bill's advance man, arizona john burke -- this very flamboyant character who looked a lot like cody but was nowhere really as charismatic but did a lot of his, did a lot of the advance work -- he took,
he guided sitting bull onto the field where cody was waiting for him and announced, chief, i think we've got him. and according to the reporter, cody was a little bit humbled by the moment. you know, he was a big guy, very handsome, very powerful and by that i mean, you know, he had a lot of -- if you've ever been in the circle of somebody who has nothing but charisma and then some, you know, it's or very mesmerizing and, you know, it can stop you in your tracks. but apparently cody was stopped in his tracks by sitting bull who had an equal, who had that kind of impact on people too. and cody even was over six feet, he even appeared to, like, shrink down a little bit in
stature when sitting bull approached. and the two men kind of waited or hesitated for a moment or two, and then cody extended his hand, and they shook hands. and then cody made this incredible speech to everybody describing sitting bull as the napoleon of his people and this great native american figure, and he was urging all of these spectators to give sitting bull his due. and it was an important speech, and it's not that everybody followed cody's commands because as they traveled around the country, sitting bull would sometimes, was often booed actually in his appearances and sometimes spat on. other times he was warmly welcomed, but, you know, he was still regarded by a lot of people as public enemy number one, the guy who killed custer. and it was a big deal for these two men to come together. i mean, people have excoriated
cody for, you know, having his show and exploiting native americans, and you could make that case, but he was also providing them with this way off the reservation and acknowledging their, just their humanity and their achievements in battle which he respected. so at the end of this four month period in 1885, sitting bull was homesick for standing rock. and having not met the grandfather, although gotten very close, and having seen enough of the white man's world with, he wanted to go home. is ko'dty gave him -- and cody gave him the horse that he rode apparently in the show. and i want to point out that sitting bull did not participate in any of the reenactments in the show. he only rode around the arena
once at the beginning of each production and then left the ring. he was not hired to, like, to perform powwows or any of these other things. i mean, cody really treat him with respect. so at then end of this four month period, he gave him the horse that he rode in the show, and sit ising bull went home -- sitting bull went home from his last performance that year in -- st. louis. he had given cody a necklace which was also a great gift, kind of a warrior to warrior symbol of respect and power. so i want to get back to this dancing horse. sitting bull went home, as i
said, he knew that his time was near. he had many dreams which were prescient. he had animal guides in his life, and he paid attention to them. and at some point a meadowlark told him that he would be killed by his own people. he knew this was all coming. and five years later, in 1890 at the height of the ghost dance frenzy which was the religious apocalypse, apocalyptic movement that was sweeping through the tribes of the great plains calling for a return to the old ways, and the idea was that if you danced hard enough and with enough intention, the buffalo would return, and harmony would be restored, and all would be well in the world. so there was this ghost dance frenzy outside of sitting bull's cabin and on his reservation,
and it frightened a lot of the reservation authorities, and it was a hyped-up, there was hyped-up fear. the call went out to assassinate sitting bull. and one more thing he was blamed for, the ghost dancing. and it got crazier and crazier, and tribal police were hired to do the bidding of the government. and he was, they were sent to arrest sitting bull at dawn in december of 1890, shortly before christmas. and as they, as this arrest was underway, an altercation broke out, and sitting bull was killed. and as this killing was happening, the horse danced, as i mentioned. so i want to get back to that. a while ago i called chief
looking horse to seek his insight into this matter. he is a 19th generation keeper of the sacred white buffalo pipe for the lakota indians which was given to his people by the woman in black elk's vision. he has lived is ceremonies at standing rock, the united nations and elsewhere. i had met him several years earlier at a wild horse preservation event many las vegas. in las vegas. at its conclusion, everyone joined hum in a prayer circle in a ballroom at the south pointwith e hotel with garish chandeliers being the location of many such events because they are among the central gathering places of our time. what was the symbolism of the dancing horse outside sitting bull's cabin, i asked him in our phone conversation. was he responding to the sound of the gunfire as the story
goes? there was a long silence and i hesitated to break it. after a few moments, this is what he said: it was the horse or taking the bullets, he told me. that's what they did. not everyone believes that the horse danced, but i do. and that's how i came to write book. and perhaps after reading it, you'll have your own thoughts about what happened on a winter's dawn of 1890 and all of the matters and forces that preceded it. so thank you very much more coming. [applause] i'll take questions now. >> yeah. and, please, if you would remember to raise your hand and let an usher come to you before asking your question. right here in the blue shirt, there we go. there's an usher right beside
you. >> here we are. you did a great job on sitting bull. you also had a vignette in there about another great indian chief, tecumseh, whose background is just as interesting. >> yeah. >> i was wondering if you ever had any intention of getting out a new book on tecumseh. it's been a while. >> oh, thank you for your comments. i appreciate that suggestion. you know, a few people have asked me about that. i grew up in ohio, so i'm somewhat familiar with the story. it certainly deserves a current, you know, contemporary telling, and i'll keep it in mind. thank you very much. >> down here. >> was there -- oh, okay. >> waiting for the microphone. >> i don't need it, but i'll use it. [laughter] there's a poem and a song by
somebody that i admire, it's called "sitting bull in venice." did sitting bull ever actually cross the atlantic ocean with cody's wild west show? >> no. he left in i think it was september or october in 1885 before cody went to england and then beyond. so, no, he wasn't part of the wild west show in europe or the u.k. at all. but it was because of his time with cody that the show really took off, and then it really went into the stratosphere after it began, you know, touring overseas. so i think that that, the song, you know, comes out of myth. although there was another native american named sitting bull who toured later with cody, and that might -- could be the source of the mix-up too. >> rebecca? there's an usher coming for you right now. >> i'm just wondering how difficult it must be to write a
history that is authentic about native americans when all of that history has been written by white men. how do you get through the racism, the slant, all of that to the authentic story? >> yeah, it's a really good question. a lot of the accepted histories -- and some of them quite well written -- are, you know, have been written by white men. i relied on those, but i also relied very much on a book by earnest lapoint's grandson, i mean, sitting bull's grandson, ernest lapointe whose book is called -- i'm blanking on the title. it might be just called sitting bull, his story -- i have it in my bibliography, but i talk about discrepancies between his account9 and all these other
books written by white writers. and there are a couple of major ones. i will say that, in general, well, that's wrong. never mind. i just, i talk about all of this in my book. it's a really good question and an important one. and as you heard me read from my introduction, i did call chief looking horse to talk about this dancing horse, and he's a very respected spiritual leader internationally and, you know, among native americans. what he said really opened up the story for me in a big way. >> well, i have a question finish. >> oh, sure. >> i have to stand by the microphone to ask -- [laughter] i don't want to run you away at all. i think about this era, the 1880s, 1890s, as kind of the era of the lecture circuit and that kind of thing.
so how would you characterize this traveling show which was more entertainment oriented, perhaps, with the likes of oscar wilde and maybe other people who were visiting on the lecture circuit. >> wow, that's a really good question. that's a really good question. well, you know, in a way cody was such a huge factor in american theater. i mean, he was acting on stage in new york. and, in fact, it was in a bar in brooklyn after a show that he and a partner cooked up the idea for the wild west show. so he came out of this acting tradition, you know, of the frontier. and there were traveling shakespeare troupes as you mentioned, and theater was huge then. i think people were starved for culture and myth, and, you know,
we as americans were just kind of coming, cooking up our own identity, and that, you know, moved it along. there was still, we were still very much involved with british civilization so that when actors from england came here, it was a big deal. i mean, there were even -- some of you might be aware of this, there were the shakespeare riots in new york in the 1920 maybe involving there was some sort of feud over who performed hamlet better, an american actor or a famous british -- both very well known -- british actor. and there was rioting in the streets which led to death and, actually, an associate of cody's was part of that whole thing. so there was, like, tremendous fervor around theater then and
spectacle. i don't know if that exactly answers your question -- >> it does. >> there was just a real hunger for it. >> yes, sir. wait for the usher. she's coming right across the aisle. you'll see her in just a minute. >> i look forward to reading your book. >> thank you. >> i think a question to follow on an earlier is the question of cultural cleansing. the issue of never said or documented, but an administration who set out to exterminate, the opening of the west by whites. wonder if you could address that from your vantage point of knowing the native american. >> yeah. i get into that in great detail in my book. i think something important to keep in mind is that, first of
all, buffalo bill and sitting bull forged this strange commercially-driven alliance but crossed a vast, you know, chasm to do so. you know, they were -- here were these two superstars coming together. i'm not saying that was love fest, but symbolically it meant a lot and reverberates today. and i think it's interesting when you or consider what happened in standing rock in 2016 -- and i'm not just talking about the protests over the pipeline. remember, that's where sitting bull lived and died. so his spirit is all over that region. there were descendants of soldiers who served at the little bighorn, army veterans
themselves who came to standing rock to apologize to lakota elders for the role of their ancestors in the indian wars. and i discuss this in my book as well. to me, that's the most profound thing that came out of standing rock, and one of the most profound things that's happened in terms of, you know, the cause of the ongoing conflict between the red and white man in this country. and i think it opens the door on reconcile ising our meaning -- america's original sin which is the trawl of native americans. it happened at standing rock, i think that means a lot. that's where this story starts and ends. >> right over here. >> while you're near georgia, you might want to -- here in
georgia, you might want to take a look at the cherokee, they won a supreme court decision that said they could keep their land, and we took it all away from them. >> yeah, another really sad story. but i do think, again, back to thisser ceremony in standing ro, in 2016 i think the door is now open on healing this rift. you know, we are all blood brothers in terms of this shared bloody history that we have. and sisters too. >> i was kind of struck by the fact that once the native americans were put on the reservations, they were not allowed to really hunt -- >> right. >> -- and they had no food, and they were given very limited portions. i don't understand how anyone could expect them to survive and thrive. do you have any idea of what the
rationale was for that, or were they just trying to eliminate them? >> it was a slow elimination. >> yeah. >> that was another reason some native americans joined up in cody and other shows because, you know, they were getting, you know, they were well fed during these shows. at least in cody's. en i can't really speak for the other -- i don't know what was going on in the others, but cody made a point, made it a point that his indian cast members were treated exactly the same as his white cast members even though he, you know, some people came after him, and there were religious groups and others who came after him and wanted to try to shut down the shows. finish but that's not as simple as it sounds. some of the groups wanted to convert the indians to christianity and wipe out their own spiritual beliefs. >> yeah, about halfway down.
>> hi. do you see any parallels with what's happening now with, like, the immigration issue? more and more people want to try and control immigration and also the way the indians are treated right now, anything more the federal government can to help the indian people out more than they're doing now? >> honor the treaties. [laughter] i mean, there are people that have spent their lifetimes trying to get the u.s. government to honor native american treaties. i would say it starts there. but again, back to this ceremony at standing rock -- [audio difficulty] be an official apology. from the american government to the tribes for what happened to them. >> tell us a little bit more about that ceremony. i think not everybody knows -- >> yeah, i write about it in my book.
it was really moving. there's some footage of it on youtube. there were a number of veterans, many veterans who came to standing rock to support the tribes, you know, in their efforts to stop the pipeline. and that was a big deal because, you know, in the old days when the cavalry showed up, there was a lot of trouble for native americans. now this was a 180. they were there to support the tribes. so then there was this ceremony in which general wesley clark's son, i think it's wesley clark jr. or iii -- i have his name in my book -- led this prayer circle, i guess you could call it, or led this ceremony of apology to some lakota elders asking for forgiveness in the role of, you know, their -- his
and other ancestors in these wars. it was a very, very moving ceremony. the words are quite profound. oh, but i, i just want to follow up. one thing that the lakota elders whom they apologized to said at the end of the ceremony was land belongs to no one, no one owns the land. so i think that's something important, really important thing to keep in mind these days as this assault on land, sea and air cranks up. and to me, that's kind of the end game of the indian wars, this total war on the environment. it's all connected to what happened in this country during the 19th century. >> if i'm allowed, i've got one, maybe two more questions, and i don't mean to crowd you out.
>> no, no, go ahead. >> have is you given your talk since your book came out to any audiences that were entirely or predominantly native american, and if so, what was the response? >> i haven't. >> have there been any formal responses from any nations finish. >> no -- actually, there was. there was a nice review in one to have native american publications. >> so that was well received? >> well, i can't say everybody, that was one. >> right. i wonder if we could finish up by your telling a little bit about a book either you've written before what you have in mind next. >> thanks for asking, roger. i'm very superstitious, i never talk about works in progress, but i'll talk about some of my previous books, and c-span has covered other talks of mine, and you can see those online as well. my books are all related in a big way. i mean, they're all narrative nonfiction about the frontier and modern west and have to do
with, you know, our wars against each other, against other people, against the land, against animal, and i like to sort of take a look at how can we, how can this all be resolved. the land is a main character in a lot of my books, probably all of them. i see it as just being as essential a player in these stories as the people. so one of my -- my last book was called "desert reckoning," and it's based on a rolling stone piece of mine. it's about a hermit who lived in the desert outside of los angeles and killed a popular sheriff there in 2003, i think it was. and then he took off into the desert and kicked off this massive manhunt involving thousands of cops and six or seven federal and state and local agencies and so on. what i get into in the story is
here were two men -- again, blood brothers, two sides of the coin -- two men who loved the desert but were really enemies and never resolved their differences at all. but something, this theme of reconciliation and what can, how can these wounds be healed is something i look, i try to take a look at in all of my work. >> very good. let's say thank you to d estillman. >> okay, thanks, roger. [applause] -- deanne stillman. there are vessels, resent bls into which you can put your dollars if you believe saturday should stay free at savannah book festival. so, please, support the festival in that regard. >> thank you so much. thank you. [inaudible conversations]