25th September

Red Cloud Returns to Washington, 1875

When I was a boy we knew of the white man but we seldom saw him. White men had passed through our country before I was born, and we had let them pass. My people lived on the great plains and in the wooded mountains and if you had told me then that one day we would not live there I would not have believed you. We had the buffalo, the antelope and the deer, we had dogs and horses, we had the seasons and the land and the rivers. There was not one thing we lacked. Most of all we had freedom.

Our enemies were the Pawnee and the Crow. We did not know what was coming to us.

After the Americans had finished their great war, they turned their attention on us. That war was fought to free black people from slavery but when the whites came to our country it was to demand it from us and to enslave us. We refused. They sent soldiers to build forts and drive a trail through our country. We fought a great war against them and we killed many and sent the others home. We signed a treaty at Fort Laramie which promised that we could keep our country as long as the grass shall grow and the water flow. Those were the words. That was only seven years ago.

This is not the first time I have come here. I have met the President before. He has offered to buy our land, and to give us a new home in another place. But we are in our own place, and it cannot be bought and sold for money.

That is not why they brought us here. They wanted to show us their cities, their factories, their wealth and their power. The war we fought was a dogfight compared with their great war. We could never have imagined how many white people there are if we had not seen them with our own eyes. I am not a fool. I will not sign this new treaty, but neither will I fight against such numbers. We fought a good fight seven years ago. It is over.

Reader: James Robertson
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
Harmonium: Kit Downes
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