Saturday, June 30, 2018

"Painted" Foals - Photos

I have always been fascinated by the wild patterns,
blots and blobs in the pinto coat colors:

This little girl with a white cat on her side is 1 hour old... 

Friday, June 29, 2018

Photos of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

A Smoky, Hazy Day in Boulder

I opened my bedroom window at 11:30 last night  and immediately smelled smoke.  I didn't worry because I know the wildfires are miles away, but the smell persisted all night.  The haze from the smoke has increased greatly in the two and a half hours since I arose this morning; it's amazing to me. I'm used to the haze from heat and humidity on the islands in Virginia, and down in Florida.  I have yet to become accustomed to haze from wildfires.
   The closest fires are several counties - and miles - away.  There is a fire called the Sugarloaf fire burning in pine beetle-infested trees in the Williams Fork area of the Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand County, but spreading toward Summit County.  It is 0 % contained.  When first spotted, it was reported at less than one-tenth acre yesterday afternoon; it's now burned more than 900 acres.  Also burning in Grand County, near the town of Grand Lake, is a fire that began on the local golf course - it has burned more than 20 acres, and more than 350 homes have been evacuated.  A fire near Weston Pass in Park County has burned nearly 50 acres.
  The other large, new, wildfire (Spring Creek) was first spotted nines miles east of Fort Garland in Costilla County yesterday, and with high winds, has burned over 14,000 acres and looks to go across the county line into Huerfano County.  The 416 Wildfire is still burning merrily in La Plata County, near Durango, and has consumed 41,617 acres so far.  And the Burro Wildfire in Montezuma County has seared almost 4,000 acres.
   To the south, there are two nearby fires in New Mexico, the Sardinas Canyon and the San Antonio, that have burned over 1,000.  There are many more wildfires burning south of Colorado. To our north, in Albany County, Wyoming, the Badger Creek fire is 80 % contained, but has burned 20,357 acres.
   There are 54 wildfires currently burning west of the Mississippi, with quite a few burning in Alaska.  If you want check up on wildfire activity, I like two websites:  InciWeb  at ; and the Active Fire Mapping Program at the USDA Forest Service site at

  We, the state of Colorado, is once again bone dry, thanks to the heat and our low humidity.  It was 102 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday with 10% humidity; today our high is forecast for 95 with about the same level of humidity...  And, as a series of low pressure fronts sweep up from the southwest tonight, we have been told to except gusty winds - up to 80 miles per hour - ahead of the (hopefully) rain-bearing system tomorrow.  Just think - bone dry conditions and 80 mile an hour wind gusts... a pyromaniac's wet dream...
  And the thing I really cannot understand is people getting angry about the no open fires and no  - oh, my God! - fireworks orders in effect because of the usual drought.  Campfires and fireworks and cigarettes - other than Mother Nature's lightning bolts - are the main causes of wildfires.  Why can't most people understand and accept that fact?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Colorado Summer Scenes - Photos

Hiking Summit County

Hiking Winter Park

Hanging Lake near Glenwood Springs

Hiking near Breckenridge

Steamboat Springs Hot Balloon Festival

The Gunnison River

Unaweep Tabeguache Scenic Drive


Colorado's primary voting concluded on Tuesday - and we're still awaiting a winner in one race, the Democratic pick for the Attorney General's office.  Late last night there were still 50,000 votes that needed to be hand checked and verified, and there was about a 9,000 vote difference between the two men.  Phil Weiser is currently in the lead, while the candidate I favor, Joe Salazar,  is not yet willing to concede.  I hope that Joe prevails, even if there must be a re-count.  In any event, I will be supporting the Democratic ticket and not the Republican one.

   We have had sixty-one foals born so far in the Virginia Chincoteague pony herd on the southern end of Assateague.  We have had two deaths of foals, the first due to unknown causes on Assateague, and the second was due to "failure to thrive."  Then there is the mystery foal - he became separated from his Mom before he was a day old, and tried to attach himself to a mare who was still pregnant.  He has been adopted by Bay Girl, who lost her foal. -  So, 59 babies so far will be available at the Pony Auction on 26 July, and there are quite a few mares that are still pregnant.

   Today is supposed to be the hottest day of the year so far in Boulder - and, currently, the humidity is also high - for Boulder.  Currently, the temperature is 80, with a high forecast of 102, and the humidity is 40%.  At this time of year, the humidity is usually 7 to 12%, and you don't realize you're sweating because your sweat evaporates immediately...

   My sister attended her 50th High School Reunion in Gainesville, Florida this past weekend, and had a blast reconnecting with her school buddies and old friends.  She was amazed by how much the city has changed and sprawled outward in so many directions.  And she was able to visit the house we lived in from 1960 through 1982, plus the Devil's Millhopper and Payne's Prairie State Park.  She returned to Boulder quite happy with her adventure.

  I am still learning all the new tricks I can with my new camera - besides still shots, it also doubles as a digital video recorder.  I'm afraid my hands aren't quite steady enough for filming any longer, and I'll need to invest in a tripod - I loaned my good tripod to my son 25 years ago and haven't seen it since...

   The Colorado voting race for the Governor will be interesting.  The Republicans chose Walker Stapleton, while the Democrats chose US Representative Jared Polis.  We'll have to see whom other parties choose to run.  Our current Governor, John Hickenlooper, is term-limited and cannot run again this year.  Once Polis and Stapleton were declared winners of their respective primaries, verbal barbs were again in use:  "On almost every question before us in this election... Walker Stapleton comes out on the wrong side and the people of Colorado know that," Polis said in his victory speech, mentioning health care, immigration, and honesty as his rival's faults. - In his victory speech, Stapleton blasted Polis for supporting tax hikes and "a government takeover of your health care. ... The choices could not be clearer; the difference could not be more stark."
   Walker Stapleton is serving his second term as Colorado State Treasurer and is a relative of the Bush family.  (His mother is first cousin to President George H. W. Bush.) His family has been active in Colorado since the early 1900s, and his great-grandfather Benjamin F Stapleton (a very proud member of the Ku Klux Klan) was the mayor of Denver.  Walker grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut and attended the private Brunswick School. He graduated from Williams College in Massachusetts, received a graduate degree in business economics from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  He is the son of US diplomat Craig Roberts Stapleton.  He is married and has three children, and is 44 years of age.  He is trying to become only the second Republican elected governor in 44 years, and has aligned himself with noted Republican firebrands.
   Jared Polis is a five-term Boulder Congressman, and if he wins the Governor's seat in November, will be the nation's first openly gay man elected to a Governorship.  His parents, whose surname is Schutz, started Blue Mountain Publishing Company, printing greeting cards and books.  In 2000, Jared legally changed his name to use his mother's surname, in part to raise public awareness for a fund-raiser, and because he simply "liked it better." Polis lived in San Diego, California during his high school years, and graduated from La Jolla Country Day School in three years with multiple honors.  He received his BA in politics from Princeton University. He has started and sold several businesses, served on the Colorado State Board of Education, is a well known philanthropist, and is one of the ten richest men serving in Congress. He has a partner of many years and two adopted children.  He refuses PAC money for his campaigns.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Greasy Grass: The Native American Viewpoint

The leaders of the Sioux nation on the Great Plains strongly resisted the mid-19th-century efforts of the US government to confine their people to reservations.  In 1875, after gold was discovered in South Dakota's Black Hills, an area sacred to the Native Americans, the US Army ignored previous treaty agreements and invaded the region.  This betrayal led many Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne tribesmen to leave their reservations and join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana.  By late spring of 1876, more than 10,000 Native Americans had gathered in a camp along the Little Bighorn River - which they called the Greasy Grass - in defiance of a US War Department order to return to their reservations or risk being attacked.
   In mid-June, US soldiers joined together under the command of General Alfred Terry to march against the Native insurgents.  They split into three groups, led by Terry, Crook, and Gibbon.  The Army's coordination and planning began to go awry on 17 June, when Crook's column was turned back bay a force of 1,200 Native Americans at the Battle of Rosebud.  Surprised and, according to some accounts, astonished by the unusually large numbers of warriors, Crook held the field until the end of the battle, but felt compelled by his losses to retreat, regroup, and wait for reinforcements.
  Unaware of Crook's battle, Gibbon and Terry proceeded and joined forces near the mouth of Rosebud Creek. They reviewed Terry's plan for Custer's regiment to proceed south along the Rosebud, while Terry and Gibbon's forces would move westerly towards the Bighorn and Little Bighorn Rivers. All three of the groups were instructed to converge there around 26 or 27 June, in an attempt to surround and engulf the Native Americans. On 22 June, General terry ordered the 7th Cavalry, composed of 31 officers and 566 enlisted men (under the command of Lt Col George A Custer), to begin a reconnaissance in force and pursuit along the Rosebud, with the prerogative to "depart" from orders if Custer saw "sufficient reason."  Custer had been offered the use of Gatling guns on this scouting mission, but declined, believing they would slow his movements.  On the morning of 25 June, Custer approached the camp and was alerted to its presence.  Custer went against the advice of his scouts and decided to press on ahead rather than wait for reinforcements.

The following article was written and published last year by Delphine Red Shirt, a Sioux Native American:
   "In all the testimonies of participants of the battle of Greasy Grass that occurred on June 25 and 26 of 1876, where 263 soldiers, including Lt Col George A Custer died, many of the Lakota people who were asked to speak on their involvement were not believed by the historians.  Most of the historians were interested in identifying military strategy and not interested in what the Lakota, Cheyenne, and Arapahoe were saying.
   That is because, American history discounts oral tradition and American Indian or Native American oral accounts of history.  If it isn't written down then it isn't true. Even, when we Lakota have kept winter counts from the 1700s.  As a descendant of Brown Hat, one of the winter count keepers from the Brule, as my paternal grandmother is Brule, I still don't believe how historians discount even what is written down.
   The next best thing then, to know what really happened at the battle of the Greasy Grass is to first consider the name, the historians give it: "Battle of the Little Big Horn," which isn't what we Lakota, who were victorious in the battle called it.  We called it "Greasy Grass."  In our accounts, we have to remain true to what those who fought bravely in that battle called it.  It is because of them that we are still here.
   If we look at their stories, from what the historians have recorded, and a lot of the stories have been recorded in the effort to try to figure out military strategy on why the soldiers were defeated soundly.  We need to go through those stories, from a Lakota perspective, and try to pull out the cultural elements in those stories.  We need to do that for ourselves, for our own sense of our own strong identity.
   If we wait for the academic community to tell our side of the story, we will never hear it because they still believe that Lakota testimony about the battle, in their words, "lacked sufficient credibility and consistency to win serious acceptance within the history community."  These words come from a historian who collected some of those recollections and published a book in 1997.  It doesn't matter, we, Lakota know who won that battle and we need to tell our side of the story for the generations to come.
   A clear understanding may come, if one understood Crazy Horse's view, who on the day of the battle, along with the many Miniconjou warriors, thought that, if they were able to fight the soldiers until either side died, that would end all future battles.  The Lakota were tired of fighting, they wanted to live as they had lived for centuries as buffalo hunters on the great plains, as free as a people who were able to protect their own could live, and they were tired of being pursued by the soldiers.
   Custer and his entire command were wiped out, including two of his brothers, one brother-in-law, and a nephew who died with him.  Historians say that the seeds for the Custer defeat were sown as far back as 1868.  In that year, the Treaty of Fort Laramie granted the Sioux and the Cheyenne Indians the Black Hills area, "as long as the grass was green and the sky was blue."
   Growing up, what I learned from the adults around me was the view that "toka" or "tocka" peoples were around us; that is, non-Lakotas and their ways were different.  But, for us, the best way, was our way.  This corresponds with the Lakota belief that there are many truths.  But, for us, to be left alone to live our way as we wanted, and as granted by treaties that the new colonial government signed with us, were important to what happened at Greasy Grass.
   In today's political climate, you see the movements in countries like England where the push to keep out non-English people is behind their movement to exit the European Union.  Or in our own country, the fear of immigrants.  When you look at what is happening around the world, you begin to understand our Lakota theory of Tokeca oyate. How sometimes, nations do what they have to do to keep their culture alive; within their own national boundaries, they are entitled to do what they must do to keep their sense of their own identity.  That is exactly what happened at Greasy Grass in 1876."

Views of the Greasy Grass - or Little Bighorn - Battlefield Photos

I think, if you are really interested in the battle site in Montana, that you would greatly enjoy the painting and interactive information at the Center of the West website at:

The entrance to the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Graves and obelisk on Last Stand Hill

Custer's marker

A year after the battle

Looking down from Last Stand Hill

 Markers for Native American warriors

Memorial for Captain Myles Keogh

Battle of the Greasy Grass - Or - Custer's Last Stand

Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer is best known for leading more than 200 of his men to their deaths in the notorious Battle of the Little Bighorn on 25 June 1876.  The battle, also known as "Custer's Last Stand," was part of the Black Hills War against a confederation of Plains Indians, including the Arapaho, Northern Cheyenne, and both halves of the Sioux nation - the Dakota and Lakota.  It remains one of the most controversial battles in United States history.
   To force the large groups of Native Americans back to the reservations, the US Army dispatched three columns, under the command of General Alfred Terry, to attack the gathering in a coordinated fashion.  One of those three columns was led by Lt Col Custer, and it consisted of his prized possession, the 7th US Cavalry.  On the morning of 25 June, Custer's scouts reported smoke from campfires and signs of many Indians about 15 miles from their position.  Custer decided to ignore his standing orders from General Terry, and attack the encampment before sending information back to the other two columns, which meant facing the enemy alone and without infantry, artillery, or any of the other cavalry troops on the move. His scouts told him that there were a great many enemy scattered along the banks of the Little Bighorn, and warned him he might be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers.  Custer, however, had decided and he was set upon his course.
   Custer divided his forces into three sections, but his supply train was to hold back, other than with ammunition.  He ordered Captain Frederick Benteen's battalion to scout along a ridge to the left, to prevent the Indians from escaping through the upper valley of the river.  Major Marcus Reno was to travel up the valley, cross the river and attack the encampment in a surprise charge at the southern end.  Custer was going to lead his battalion quietly to the north, and attack, supposedly, at the same time as Reno from the north end of the encampment. Custer made this decision without checking the terrain.  He had to wander through a maze of bluffs and ravines to reach the other end of the camp.  He arrived where he thought he wanted to be too late for a simultaneous attack.
   Reno attacked when he had been told to - his squadron of 175 soldiers advanced to the river and found a band of young braves bathing.  They were taken completely by surprise, and some began running towards the soldiers while unarmed and naked.  Chief Gall, was bathing also.  His wives and children were in the camp immediately on the other side of the river.  The soldiers crossed into the camp and began shooting anything that moved, including women and children.  Gall jumped onto his black horse, completely naked and without arms, and rallied his frightened young contingent.  Hearing the cries and gunfire, other mounted and armed warriors were appearing.  Quickly finding themselves in a desperate battle with little to no hope of relief or reinforcements, Reno halted his men and recrossed the river.  The US troops fought in a dismounted formation for ten minutes, and then withdrew into the timber and brush along the river.  They still heard no sounds of combat from the north end of the camp, where Custer should have been attacking.  When the position along the river bank proved indefensible, Reno withdrew his men uphill to the bluffs east of the river, while being hotly pursued by the Cheyenne and Sioux.  Especially so when it was found that two of Gall's wives and four of his children had been killed in the attack upon the camp.
   Just as the braves finished driving the soldiers away from the river bank to the south, roughly 210 men led by Custer, himself, were spotted approaching the camp from the north.  Cheyenne and Hunkpapa Sioux crossed the river together and slammed into the advancing cavalry.  The force of the assault drove Custer's men back to a long high ridge to the north.  In the meantime, another group of braves, largely Oglala Sioux following Crazy Horse, swiftly moved downstream and then doubled back in a sweeping arc.  This enveloped Custer and his men in a classic pincer move.  The warriors began pouring gunfire and arrows into the constricted area.
   As the Indians closed in, Custer ordered his men to shoot their horses and stack the carcasses to form a protective wall - but it was too little and much too late.  In less than an hour, Custer and all his men were killed in the worst American military disaster ever.  After another 24 hours of skirmishing, Reno and Benteen's now combined forces escaped the area when the Native Americans vanished.  Their scouts had reported the approaches of two more large columns of soldiers - the ones that Custer had orders to wait for.  Both Reno and Benteen's troops had suffered heavy casualties, but few deaths.
(Because the fighting at the encampment began on the afternoon of 25 June, and the skirmishes involving Reno and Benteen did not end until the afternoon of 26 June, this battle is usually said to have lasted approximately 24 hours.)
    After the battle with Custer's men, the Indians came through and stripped the bodies.  They mutilated all of the men who had been wearing a uniform, as they believed that the soul of a mutilated body was forced to walk the earth for all eternity, seeking wholeness, and could not ascend to heaven.  They took rifles and knives and all of the horses that were not badly wounded.  When the other US Army columns arrived at the battlefield, they did find something odd. George A Custer's body had been stripped and cleaned, but not mutilated or scalped, unlike his brother Thomas, brother Boston, brother-in-law James Calhoun, and nephew Autie Reed.  It has been reported that George A Custer was wearing his favorite buckskins, and not his cavalry uniform.  Some have opined that he was not touched due to the fact the warriors thought he was a civilian, as his hair had been cut short, also. The US Army, and Custer's wife Libbie, however, pushed the myth that the Indians had respected his fighting ability, and therefore left him unmarked.  It is highly unlikely that Custer, who, in a way, started the whole ball of wax rolling by breaking the 1868 Treaty, was "respected" by his enemies, whom he had slaughtered by the hundreds.  In all fairness, to this day, no one knows why Custer was not traditionally mutilated and scalped.
    The pinnacle of the Plains Native American peoples' power was reached on that day, 142 years ago.  They had achieved their greatest victory ever, but soon their tenuous union fell apart in the face of the onslaught of the United States government, Army, and people.  Outraged over the death of a popular Union Civil War hero on the eve of the American Centennial, the people of the nation demanded and received harsh retribution against the people who were the Natives here.  The Black Hills dispute was quickly settled by redrawing boundary lines, placing the sacred land of the Black Hills outside the reservation, and open to white settlement.  Within a year, the Sioux nation was defeated and broken.  Sitting Bull and Chief Gall fled to Canada.  Crazy Horse was forced to surrender a year later.  "Custer's Last Stand" was the last stand for the plains Indians, as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

They Were There - Little Bighorn, South Dakota in 1876

Custer's Battalion:
George A. Custer

Capt. Thomas Custer, Company C

First Lieut. Algernon Smith, Company E

Capt. Charles Yates, Company F

Capt. Myles Keough, Company I

First Lieut. James Calhoun, Company L

 Reno's Battalion:
Major Marcus Reno

First Lieut. Donald McIntosh, Company G

Benteen's Battalion

Capt. Frederick Benteen 

US 7th Cavalry Army Scouts
Bloody Knife

Isaiah Dorman

Little Brave

"Lonesome" Charley Reynolds

Mitch Bowyer

Strikes With Knife (left) and Bob-Tailed Bull

In camp and originally surprised by Major Reno were members 
of the Arapaho, Dakota Sioux, Lakota Sioux, and Northern Cheyenne
Sitting Bull, as a medicine chief

Chief Grall, as a war chief

Chief Hump, as a war chief

Inkpaduta, as a war chief

Two Moons, as a war chief

Waterman, as a war chief

** Crazy Horse, the Oglala Sioux, was there as
a war chief.  No photo of him exists. **

Wild Hog (left) and Lame White Man in 1873.
Lame White Man was one of the few Native Americans
who were killed in the battle...