icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

The Education of Clarence Three Stars: A Lakota American Life

From Chapter 1: The Iron Road


"The children had no idea where they were going. 


"The wagons wound their way along the rutted trail that pushed across the Dakota prairie.  It was almost the Moon of the Changing Season.  The drivers of the teams were fathers and uncles and grandfathers all, chiefs and headmen of the tribe, who guided the plodding convoy toward what they called the Mud River.  The wagon beds were laden with tipis for the nights they would spend on the road, but the elders were most concerned about the rest of the cargo they carried, neither dried beef nor cut boards nor rolls of bright calico--but their very sons and daughters.  A few boys rode alongside on saddle mounts.   It was almost two hundred miles to the river from Pine Ridge.  Their spotted and prancing ponies were the last form of locomotion the children would even recognize on the longest trip of their lives.


"It had only been days before, at the agency, that some Indian boys dressed in strange clothes suddenly appeared. They were with white people who passed out candy to the children and promised them a new suit of clothes if they would go away to a place called school. They didn't force them, exactly. A loud white man walked around and made a long speech, asking permission of the parents and making a lot of big promises. Some were less trusting than others, but it wasn't long before most parents were watching as their children stood in line to be poked and prodded by a white man doctor. He looked in their eyes, listened to them breathe, checked their pulses, and each time made little black marks on a long roll of paper. They only picked the ones they thought would survive…"