Thunder Butte

March 07, 2005

Clash of Cultures

By all accounts, Thomas' wife, Mary Patricia--also known as Mayme, did not like the life of hardship at Thunder Butte. Living in a sod house, miles from the nearest neighbor, with only the butte, the prairie grass, and the rattlesnakes for company, she must have wondered why she had ever agreed to settle in this country with her husband. Secretly, she harbored a feeling that only a fool would have given up the security of Wisconsin and family to come to a land like this.

Adding to her fear for her family's well being was that the homestead was surrounded by tribal areas. She didn't really understand what the Indians were doing here, why the Indians crossed the property, and congregated about the butte. Of course, the Indians knew little of dry land farming themselves and lived in deep poverty following the forced abandonment of their nomadic, hunting ways. They often came to the door begging for food. And, sometimes they would take things. To them, this was their land and the whites were interlopers anyway. Mayme did not know the religious and cultural significance of Thunder Butte to the Lakota. Even if she had understood as much, she likely would have viewed them as heathens.

Often, Thomas was away from the place, working to bring home food or little things to improve their lives. Sometimes, he and the boys rode into Faith to get provisions. At times such as these, when Indians came to her door, Mayme grabbed a gun. She said as much, years later in California--not long before she died.
Mike Crowley Monday, March 07, 2005


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