Our Military Life Blog

Black Hills – Week 3

Good morning dear readers! We are moving into the third section of our book! Hard to believe that we are almost finished with it! For those of you who wish to avoid a “steamy scene” please skip pages 191-195 (halfway down both pages). This way, you can enjoy the rest of the read, and finally get a decent account from the “pen” of General George Armstrong Custer.


Paha Sapa is on his way to his hanbleceya, and is beginning to feel the strain on his body. He is tired, hungry, and worn out. The night he spent in the cave with the older Cherokee gentleman almost feels like a dream. As he waits and wonders about the trials that he must go through, and whether or not the visions will occur, he is scared. He wonders what would happen if he did not make it back to his tribe, or what will happen if he fails in completing this sacred journey. As he waits, the waiting seems to become longer, and the thoughts turn more terrible in his mind. He is ashamed and afraid. Just when he feels as though he should give up, the vision he has been waiting for comes. He rises up above the earth and can see the white men moving through and eating everything in their path. He is powerless to stop it, and the grandfathers tell him that either his people will prevail, or they will perish. The view from the top is awe inspiring and the visions of the future that Paha Sapa can see are amazing! After the vision is over, he hastily packs his belongings, and heads out. He is in such a hurry to get back to the tribe that he is careless. He leaves behind several things at the site he stayed at, and then because he is so tired, he is not watching carefully around him. As he attempts to escape what looks like a Crow war party, he realizes that they are just scouts for the cavalry that has moved in. He is captured and taken prisoner. While he awaits his fate, he realizes he might be able to escape, or at least die in the battle that will ensue if he tells General Crook where the rest of the warriors are waiting. By giving them this information, not only does the battle go against the warriors, but Paha Sapa is pulled into service as a scout for the General. Upset that it did not kill him, he simply bides his time until his tormentor (another scout named Curly) dies, and then simply leaves the fort. He does not want to be there anymore.

As a young man, he meets Rain, a young woman who is the daughter of a missionary. As he accompanies her around the fair, they begin to talk and as they talk more and more about their pasts are revealed. She tells him that her mother was Lakota, and manages to get Paha Sapa to tell her about the death of Sitting Bull. While at the fair, they ride the Ferris wheel several times, and enjoy the views, as well as spending time with each other, as they watch the world rise and fall around them. When he shakes hands with her father, toward the end of the day, the ability to see into people’s past and future is jolted into him, and he passes out. As he wakes up and realizes where he is at, he also knows that he has fallen in love with Rain, and that no matter how far apart they are, he will always love her.

Blasting away on the mountain side, which Paha Sapa knows as the Six Grandfathers, the faces of some of the Presidents of the United States are coming into view. The sculptor has said that Paha Sapa knows what they are going to look like and can envision the future, but then, he has seen them before. Remember his vision from when he was a young boy? The mountain has finally begun to reveal their faces, and its not the faces of the warriors that have dwelt in those mountains before, but the powerful men from the East. Paha Sapa still plans to bring down the construction, but his time is running out, and he is growing weaker by the day. The cancer is eating through him, and he is not sure just how much longer he is going to be able to hold on.  When he finally asks for some time off, he visits New York. He has a long awaited call to make, to the wife of the ghost who lives in his head, the spirit of General George Armstrong Custer.


This week we are reading Chapters 14-19


  1. Paha Sapa refers quite a bit to his time in the Holy Terror Mine. What, besides steady employment kept him there?
  2. The vision that the young Paha Sapa saw shows the expansion of the settlers and the loss of land that the Native Americans will endure. Is there anything that he could have done differently?
  3. The job that Paha Sapa has planned for the Mount Rushmore project is very daring, and one that will more that likely cause his and others to die. Do you think this is something that he has fully thought through or is it just a pipe dream of his?