“The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.”
General Phil Sheridan

My mother’s grandmother’s grandmother’s baby died while hiding out from a trail of tears.

That baby was a good Indian: good and dead. It never caused any white man any trouble about anything.

Her other child survived, which is why I’m here, definitely not dead, and possibly not good.

But my mother’s grandmother’s grandmother, who was bad and alive for a long time, never broke a single paper promise in her life.

And *her* grandfather did not vote in Congress in 1789 for this new treaty:

“The utmost good faith shall always be observed towards the Indians: their lands and property shall never be taken from them.”

Come to think of it, none of my ancestors ever even went to Congress, ever voted for any of those Indian treaties that kept changing and changing through the decades.

They just stayed quiet and listened to a long litany of promises.

The white men “talked and talked for days, but it was just the wind blowing in the end.” Black Elk