The Ghost Dancers, Act 1

by Adam Hunault

 

CAST OF CHARACTERS

SITTING BULL, traditional chief of the Lakota.

BISON CALF, a traditional woman, childhood friend of Sitting Bull.

BLACK ELK, a wicasa wakan (holy man) and store clerk at the Trading Post

CRAZY HORSE, founder of the American Indian Movement, a Lakota raised in the city, also a Vietnam veteran

SPOTTED EAGLE, a sixteen-year-old pregnant girl who is half-Lakota, half-white

WOVOKA, a messianic woman from the Paiute tribe

CROOK, a white man who owns the Trading Post, the general store in Wounded Knee

LITTLE BIG MAN, an eighteen-year-old boy who is half-Lakota, half-white

DICKIE WILSON, candidate for head of the Tribal Council supported by the US government

CUSTER, an FBI agent

BILL, a half-breed supporter of Wilson

LEONARD, a half-breed supporter of Wilson

EIGHT GHOST DANCERS, traditional Lakota for most of the play, they double occasionally as Goons, Reporters and Soldiers

 

 

ACT I, SCENE 1

(Crook’s Trading Post: the general store in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on a Lakota Sioux reservation.

(BLACK ELK works at the register. He’s a full-blood Lakota holy man who dresses mostly in red.

(LITTLE BIG MAN, an eighteen-year-old half-breed boy, cleans the store.

(CUSTER enters. He’s a white man with long hair and a mustache. He starts poking around without saying hello.)

BLACK ELK
(After a decent pause.)
Welcome to the Wounded Knee Trading Post.
(No answer.)
First time here, sir?

(CUSTER ignores him. Pause.)

BLACK ELK
Can I help you find—?

CUSTER
(Condescending.)
I’ll let you know if I need anything.

(BLACK ELK shrugs. CUSTER browses the store. After a pause, CROOK enters. He is a white man, owner of the store.)

CROOK
Are you being helped?

CUSTER
Yes, thank you.

(CROOK crosses to BLACK ELK.)

CROOK
(Watching LITTLE BIG MAN clean.)
Black Elk, are you keeping an eye on that new kid?

BLACK ELK
’Course I am, boss.

CROOK
Why the hell do I ask you, anyway? You’re just as bad. For three fifty an hour at least look like you’re trying to stop these characters from robbing me blind.

BLACK ELK
Never seen anybody steal anything.

CROOK
Bull! I like you people but I never seen such sticky fingers.

BLACK ELK
If you say so.

CROOK
You’re the only honest Indian I ever met. ’Course, that don’t stop you from letting people walk out of here with a bulge the size of Mount Rushmore under their shirt.

BLACK ELK
If anybody stole they were just cleverer than me.

CROOK
You know how I know that ain’t so? ’Cause you bust heads if someone tries to snatch one lousy bottle. You’re damn near clairvoyant when it comes to keeping booze safe!

BLACK ELK
Well, I’m keeping an eye on the kid.

CROOK
Little Big Man’s been in here stealing from me off and on since he’s been old enough to walk.

BLACK ELK
Why’d you hire him?

CROOK
For Spotted Eagle! Barely sixteen, baby on the way and this kid hasn’t got a cent.

BLACK ELK
Then you’re a good man, boss.

CROOK
Well, I knew her father.

BLACK ELK
A Wasichu, right?

CROOK
He was a road worker who loved his wife and broke his back for his family until a drunk Indian ran him down. Why do you gotta say that word and leave it at that?

BLACK ELK
Wasichu?

CROOK
Just say “whitie.” The blacks do.

BLACK ELK
Come on, boss, it’s not supposed to be a—

(BISON CALF enters holding flyers.)

BISON CALF
The people ask an old Indian chief if it’s going to be a cold winter….

CROOK
Hello, Bison Calf.

BISON CALF
Hello, Mr. Crook. Hi, Black Elk. The old chief doesn’t really know so he says, yeah, it is, they should start gathering firewood. Next chance he gets he calls up the Channel Four weatherman. The weatherman says he think it’ll be cold so he goes and tells his people to gather more wood. He calls the weatherman again a few weeks later, weatherman says, yeah, it’s gonna be a cold one, so the chief tells his people to get more wood. December comes and it’s still pretty warm so the chief calls the weatherman again and says, “Are you sure it’s gonna be cold?” The weatherman says, “You bet your ass it is, the Indians are gathering firewood like crazy!”

CROOK
How you been, Bison Calf?

BISON CALF
Can’t complain.

CROOK
Got any more baskets to sell me?

BISON CALF
Too busy going campaigning, Mr. Crook.

CROOK
Today’s election day! I half forgot. Now, are you actually campaigning or just telling jokes door to door?

BISON CALF
Have to entertain myself somehow.

CROOK
I don’t need to ask who you two are voting for. He’s a great man, no argument here, but I hope he doesn’t stir up trouble. Everybody’s getting along nice and harmonious for once.

BISON CALF
The alternative’s a half-Wasichu con man who embezzled tribal funds before they kicked him out the first time.

CROOK
That’s never been proved. And Dickie Wilson’s not the only Lakota who’s half-white. For once could we not go wading into this Skins and Breeds baloney? There’s no difference between a Skin and a Breed, you’re all Indians.

BISON CALF
That’s what we keep telling the Breeds! Apples, the whole lot. Red skin, but white to the core.

CROOK
I guess you’re lucky us “Wasichus” can’t vote in a tribal election. Now what can I do for you?

BISON CALF
Beads. Black, yellow, red and white.

CROOK
(To BLACK ELK.)
Take care of the nice lady. Only customer who pays her damn bill…

(CROOK exits. BLACK ELK gets BISON CALF packages of beads.)

BLACK ELK
Since when do traditional folks care about tribal council?

BISON CALF
Start caring! I know what your mission is, magic man! If you want to save your people electing Sitting Bull head of the Tribal Council’s not a bad start.

BLACK ELK
The Tribal Council was set up by the Wasichus!

BISON CALF
That the only excuse you need not to try?

BLACK ELK
I’m voting!

BISON CALF
You are?

BLACK ELK
On my lunch break.

(SPOTTED EAGLE enters.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
Good morning!

LITTLE BIG MAN
Hi. You gonna do it?

SPOTTED EAGLE
’Course I am. Piece of cake.

 (SPOTTED EAGLE goes to another part of the store, out of sight.)

BISON CALF
What about you? You just turned eighteen. Are you voting for Sitting Bull?

LITTLE BIG MAN
Not voting.

BISON CALF
What kind of rez do you want your kid to grow up on, Wilson’s or Sitting Bull’s?

LITTLE BIG MAN
What’s the difference?

(SPOTTED EAGLE reappears.)

BLACK ELK
’Scuse me a second.

(BLACK ELK crosses to SPOTTED EAGLE.)

BLACK ELK
Cough it up.

SPOTTED EAGLE
What?

(BLACK ELK reaches into SPOTTED EAGLE’s clothes.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
Stop it! I’m a pregnant woman!

(BLACK ELK pulls out a bottle of booze.)

BLACK ELK
Then you won’t need this. What’s wrong with you?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Screw you!

BLACK ELK
Last thing we need is a little Indian who drinks from this kind of bottle. Look at you. You’re what, seven months along? What the hell are you doing?

(SPOTTED EAGLE pretends to cry.)

BLACK ELK
No way, kid. I’ve worked here a long time. I’ve seen all the tricks. I’m calling the cops.

SPOTTED EAGLE
(Stops crying.)
Come on, man, please don’t.

BLACK ELK
Some day you’ll thank me.

SPOTTED EAGLE
(Starts crying again.)
I was just being stupid. Messing around, you know? I promise I’ll never, ever, ever—

BISON CALF
(Joins them.)
Black Elk, what have you done?

BLACK ELK
She’s not really crying.

BISON CALF
Looks like real tears to me.

SPOTTED EAGLE
How’d he talk me into this? He said he wanted a bottle and I said steal one and he said can’t be done, Black Elk sees everything. So I said, wanna bet?

LITTLE BIG MAN
(Laughs.)
You lost.

BISON CALF
You think it’s funny to make your pregnant girlfriend steal for you?

LITTLE BIG MAN
I told her not to!

BLACK ELK
Go sweep.

(LITTLE BIG MAN leaves.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
How did you know? Is it ’cause you’re a wee… a wiss… a… A holy man, you know.

BLACK ELK
Wicasa wakan.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Uh-huh. Is it ’cause you’re one of those?

BLACK ELK
Yeah, exactly. I’ve got the sacred power to keep Mr. Crook’s booze safe. Listen, I’ve got to call them.

BISON CALF
The cops?

BLACK ELK
It’s for her own good.

BISON CALF
Let me handle this.

BLACK ELK
(Considers, then nods. To SPOTTED EAGLE.)
You want some advice?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Grow up? Stop messing around? Have some self-respect? Yeah. How’m I supposed to do that?

BLACK ELK
I pray.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Do holy men always know what to do?

BLACK ELK
No. Almost never. I always know who I am, though.

(BLACK ELK returns to the register.)

BISON CALF
I’m cooking for Sitting Bull’s supporters this after noon. You’re giving me a hand.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Why should I?

BISON CALF
’Cause you’re sixteen and going to be a mother and not as good a thief as you thought.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Screw you.

BISON CALF
No? Okay. ’Cause Black Elk’s going to call the cops on you if you don’t. Do we have a deal?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Yeah. Okay.

(BISON CALF and SPOTTED EAGLE cross to the register. CROOK enters.)

BISON CALF
(To LITTLE BIG MAN.)
And you! Vote for Sitting Bull.

LITTLE BIG MAN
I’m not voting!

BISON CALF
Your girlfriend wants you to.

LITTLE BIG MAN
Are you kidding me? I already got a job for you.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Beats me how you hang onto it when you’re out till all hours drinking!

LITTLE BIG MAN
Shut up, Mr. Crook’s—

SPOTTED EAGLE
You laughed at me when I was crying. Vote for Sitting Bull.

LITTLE BIG MAN
Fine.

(BISON CALF and SPOTTED EAGLE exit.)

LITTLE BIG MAN
Mr. Crook, I promise I wasn’t—

CROOK
Have you swept this floor?

LITTLE BIG MAN
Just finished.

CROOK
(Looks at floor with disgust.)
Do it again.

(CUSTER finds a sacred pipe in the souvenir section. He crosses to CROOK.)

CUSTER
What the hell is this supposed to be, some kinda peace pipe?

CROOK
That’s a sacred pipe. It’s the center of Lakota Sioux rituals.

CUSTER
What’s all this shit attached to it?

CROOK
Black Elk can explain better than me. He made it. Black Elk!

(BLACK ELK crosses to CROOK and CUSTER.)

CROOK
Explain what all this means for the gentleman.

(BLACK ELK takes the pipe from CUSTER with reverence.

(WOVOKA, CRAZY HORSE and DICKIE WILSON enter. WOVOKA dresses in white, CRAZY HORSE in black, and WILSON wears gray.

(As BLACK ELK speaks, the other three act out his story, with WOVOKA portraying White Buffalo Woman, DICKIE WILSON as the first hunter, and CRAZY HORSE as the second hunter.)

BLACK ELK
Long ago, when people were no better than animals, two hunters met a beautiful woman dressed in white on the plain. She was the White Buffalo Woman. The first hunter was greatly attracted to her. The second knew this was a sacred woman and tried to stop his friend from trying to possess her. The first approached her and a whirlwind surrounded them. When it cleared the woman was as before but all that was left of the man were bones, crawling with worms. The second man was very afraid but he obeyed when she told him to take her to the Nation, for she had a gift for them.
(Holds up the pipe.)
This pipe she gave to them.

(DICKIE WILSON exits.)

BLACK ELK
The ribbons represent the four quarters of the universe. Yellow is for the south, where we are always facing, whence comes the summer and the earth’s fertility.

(SPOTTED EAGLE appears in the southern quarter of the stage. She puts a streak of yellow paint on her face.)

BLACK ELK
Black is for the west, where the thunder beings live and from whence they send storms that terrify all the world, but leave it greener once they’ve passed.

(CRAZY HORSE appears in the western quarter of the stage and applies black paint to his face.)

BLACK ELK
White is for the north, whence comes the great white cleansing wind, the power of destruction and change.

(WOVOKA appears in the northern quarter and applies white paint.)

BLACK ELK
Red is for the east, whence springs the light, where the morning star appears to give men wisdom.

(BLACK ELK himself crosses to the eastern quarter and applies red paint.

(BISON CALF and SITTING BULL enter. BISON CALF wears buffalo hide, while SITTING BULL wears an eagle feather upright on his head. They stand in the center.)

BLACK ELK
The hide of a bison represents the Earth, the mother of all the universe, at whose breast we suckle all our lives. The eagle feather represents the Sky, our father, who makes the thoughts of men rise high as eagles do. But these six things—the east, the Sky, the north, the west, the Earth and the south—are but one great thing, Wakan Tanka, the great mystery that surrounds us.

(BLACK ELK leaves the east and returns to CUSTER.)

BLACK ELK
Saying these things, the woman took her leave and as she went transformed herself into a white buffalo calf. The people were amazed and knew this sacred woman was sent by Wakan Tanka. From that day to this we’ve used the sacred pipe she had given them in all our ceremonies, offering the pipe first to the four quarters, the earth and the sky.

CUSTER
(To CROOK.)
Your Indian sure knows how to shovel some sweet smelling bullshit.

(CUSTER’s words shatter the dream. SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE, SPOTTED EAGLE and WOVOKA exit.)

CROOK
I don’t believe I caught your name.

CUSTER
George Custer. What the hell. I’ll take the peace pipe.

(CUSTER pays BLACK ELK and exits.)

LITTLE BIG MAN
Why did you have to bore him with that story? Now he thinks we’re a bunch of savages.

BLACK ELK
Pride.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 2

(A ballot box is on stage. There is also a stack of blank slips of paper. CUSTER stands off to one side, watching.

(SITTING BULL and DICKIE WILSON enter. SITTING BULL gives an impression of power and serenity. He walks with a limp. WILSON seems cruel and smirkingly confident.

(SITTING BULL crosses to the ballot box. He writes on a slip of paper.)

SITTING BULL
Sitting Bull.

(SITTING BULL puts the paper in the ballot box, and crosses to one side. WILSON writes on a slip of paper.)

WILSON
Dickie Wilson.

(WILSON puts the paper in the ballot box and crosses to the opposite side from SITTING BULL.

(A line on Indians enter and form. They are: LEONARD, a half-breed drunk; BISON CALF; BLACK ELK; BILL, a half-breed auto mechanic; SPOTTED EAGLE; and LITTLE BIG MAN. One by one, they write their vote on a paper and put it in the box, announce their vote and join their candidate.)

LEONARD
Dickie Wilson.

BISON CALF
Sitting Bull.

BLACK ELK
Sitting Bull.

BILL
Dickie Wilson.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Sitting Bull.

LITTLE BIG MAN
(Starts writing, stops, crosses it out and writes again.)
Dickie Wilson.

(LITTLE BIG MAN stands with Sitting Bull’s supporters.

(LEONARD and BILL pick up the box and start to exit with it. BLACK ELK jumps in their way.)

BLACK ELK
Where are you taking that?

(CUSTER, who has been watching up until now, punches BLACK ELK and LEONARD and BILL beat him. CUSTER, LEONARD and BILL exit with the ballot box.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 3

(Outside Dickie Wilson’s house, in Wounded Knee. The night of the election. BISON CALF stands in front of Wilson’s door.)

BISON CALF
Wilson! What’s wrong? Too much of a coward to come out and talk to a woman? I’m talking to you, you half-breed bastard! Get your ass out here right now!

(SPOTTED EAGLE enters.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
Bison Calf!

BISON CALF
Leave, it isn’t safe!
(Shouting.)
Wilson! You hear me?

SPOTTED EAGLE
What are you doing?

BISON CALF
Get out of here! You heard what they did to Black Elk when he tried to stop them!
(Shouting.)
Is that what you think it means to be an Indian, you son of a bitch?! Two of your goons against a wicasa wakan?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Stop!

BISON CALF
Why should I? No one else is brave enough to come down here.

SPOTTED EAGLE
That’s not true. He’s coming right now.

BISON CALF
Who?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Sitting Bull.

BISON CALF
He’s coming here?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Yes.

BISON CALF
By himself?

SPOTTED EAGLE
He went to the BIA Clinic the moment he heard about Black Elk. Little Big Man was there. He just called me at home and said I shouldn’t go out, Sitting Bull was going to Wilson’s house.

BISON CALF
Then why the hell did you come here?

SPOTTED EAGLE
I have to see what happens!

BISON CALF
Go. There’s still time before Sitting Bull gets here.

(SITTING BULL enters.)

SITTING BULL
Go.

BISON CALF
No.

SITTING BULL
It isn’t safe.

 

BISON CALF
We’re staying.

(SITTING BULL pounds on Wilson’s door.)

SITTING BULL
This is Sitting Bull! I demand Dickie Wilson come out and speak with me!

(SITTING BULL unties his sash and stakes it to the ground, making it impossible for him to move more than a few feet.)

SITTING BULL
I want to speak with Dickie Wilson! I shall not move from this spot until I have seen him!

(The door opens. LEONARD and BILL come out, grinning.)

LEONARD
Look at him.

BILL
(Mocking.)
Staked down like in the old battles.

LEONARD
Maybe you ain’t noticed, chief, but you ain’t got much of a war party.

SITTING BULL
This is supposed to be a fair election. Wilson has no right to take the ballot boxes and count them in is own house.

LEONARD
Maybe he’s afraid of you Skins cheating.

SITTING BULL
He has no right to beat my supporters!

BILL
There’s going to be another beating if you don’t get your ass off Mr. Wilson’s lawn.

SITTING BULL
I’m not moving from this spot until I’ve spoken to Dickie Wilson.

BILL
Oh, you’ll move.

(BILL and LEONARD attack SITTING BULL. They fight bare-handed. SITTING BULL defeats them both without moving from his spot.)

SITTING BULL
I have no business with your goons. Are you too afraid to come out of that house and face me, Wilson?

(WILSON and CUSTER come out of the house.)

WILSON
This is Agent Custer of the FBI. Clear off or he’ll arrest you.

SITTING BULL
You can’t count the votes in your own house.

CUSTER
I certify the count’s fair.

SITTING BULL
You’re the one paying for his campaign, aren’t you? The dinners, the yard signs, the rallies, all from the FBI.
(To WILSON.)
You Breeds are all alike. You’ll sell us out in a flash to get in good with the Wasichus.

(CROOK enters in a rush, with LITTLE BIG MAN. WILSON starts to attack SITTING BULL but CROOK comes between them.)

CROOK
What’s going on here?

WILSON
(To SITTING BULL.)
Get off my land.

SITTING BULL
I won’t let you—

CUSTER
(Pulls out his gun.)
Get off the man’s land.

CROOK
Agent Custer, put it away. Sitting Bull, let’s go.

BISON CALF
(Trying to pull up the stake from SITTING BULL’s sash.)
You saw him, now we have to go.

SITTING BULL
Leave it! Let him shoot me! I came to this reservation a hundred years ago. Since that day I’ve been a memory, not a man. Immortality is a bleak thing. We’re all trapped in the limbo between a past we barely remember and a future we can hardly believe in. The present belongs to Agent Custer. We have nothing left to give you, Custer. Why do you always want more?

WILSON
Shoot him.

CROOK
No! Let’s go, Sitting Bull. It’s over.

(SITTING BULL unstakes his sash.)

SITTING BULL
I’m the only Indian left.

(SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, SPOTTED EAGLE, CROOK and LITTLE BIG MAN exit. Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 4

(SITTING BULL’s house. BISON CALF is the only one there. Someone knocks.)

BISON CALF
Come in.

(SPOTTED EAGLE enters.)

BISON CALF
He isn’t here. He gave me a key so I let myself in.

SPOTTED EAGLE
This isn’t what I expected.

BISON CALF
It’s shabby.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I didn’t want to say it. I mean, it’s a better house than some people have, but Sitting Bull is your chief.

BISON CALF
Our chief.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I didn’t expect him to live in a trailer.

BISON CALF
Men prove they’re great by giving away everything they have. It’s traditional.

SPOTTED EAGLE
My grandmother told me that. She taught me a little but my mother didn’t like it. She’s Catholic.

BISON CALF
The Wasichus said if we became Christians they wouldn’t treat us like Indians anymore. Didn’t make any difference. Nothing’s good enough for them.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I’m going to raise my baby the traditional way.

BISON CALF
(Amused.)
You are?

SPOTTED EAGLE
What’s wrong with that?

BISON CALF
What does Little Big Man think about it?

SPOTTED EAGLE
I don’t think we’re getting married. I mean, he hasn’t asked me.

BISON CALF
He got a job to support you.

SPOTTED EAGLE
He won’t be able to keep it. Maybe I should just raise it alone…

BISON CALF
How old are you?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Sixteen. Isn’t it true that in the old days the whole band raised the children together?

BISON CALF
It’s true. Spoiled ’em rotten.

(SITTING BULL enters.)

SITTING BULL
Oh. Hi.

BISON CALF
Hello.

SITTING BULL
Have you…? Do you have everything you need?

BISON CALF
I think so.

SITTING BULL
Good. Well. Make yourself at home.

(An awkward moment. SITTING BULL seems to think of something and exits to another part of the house.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
Is he in love with you or something?

BISON CALF
Only a little.

SPOTTED EAGLE
He can barely talk to you.

BISON CALF
That’s Slow for you.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Slow?

(SITTING BULL returns carrying a glass.)

SITTING BULL
Everyone called me that as a boy.

BISON CALF
Because he was contemplative.

SITTING BULL
(Hands BISON CALF the glass.)
7-Up with a marchino cherry.

BISON CALF
My favorite.

SITTING BULL
I keep a bottle of cherries in the fridge for you.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Only a little?

(Someone knocks. SITTING BULL opens it. BLACK ELK enters, his face covered with bruises.)

SITTING BULL
Glad to have you with us.

BISON CALF
You were lucky, Black Elk. Wilson’s thugs have been on a bender since the election. Standing Bear’s body was found in the middle of a field. The FBI says he died of exposure, cremated the body without letting anyone see it.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Why’s the FBI covering for Wilson?

BISON CALF
We don’t know.

BLACK ELK
Protect their investment, maybe? The Bureau of Indian Affairs must have sunk fifty thousand bucks in his campaign.

SITTING BULL
Now he’s got all his supporters on the BIA payroll.

BISON CALF
His own army.

BLACK ELK
You called them “goons” back on his front lawn, so he’s named ’em Goons. Guardians of the Oglala somethin’ or-other.

BISON CALF
Nation. Arrogant prick.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Call the American Indian Movement!

SITTING BULL
I don’t think so.

SPOTTED EAGLE
They already got lawyers suing Wilson over the election fraud.

BLACK ELK
We don’t need AIM. City Indians! Can’t protest anything without starting a drunken riot.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Then what about that woman out west?

(Looks of surprise.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
(Defensively.)
I’ve heard rumors.

BLACK ELK
Where’d somebody like you hear those rumors, little sister?

SPOTTED EAGLE
They say she’s some sort of savior. What do you mean, somebody like me, I look like a Breed to you?

BLACK ELK
My mistake.
(To SITTING BULL.)
I don’t know about this savior woman. The wicasa wakan of other tribes have been going to Nevada to see her. She teaches a dance—

(Someone pounds at the door.)

BISON CALF
Goons!

(After a pause, SITTING BULL opens the door. CRAZY HORSE enters. He’s a full-blood Indian dressed mostly in black, wearing a red bandana on his head. He’s surprised so many people are present.)

CRAZY HORSE
(To SITTING BULL, with disappointment.)
You’re him?

SITTING BULL
Who are you?

CRAZY HORSE
Crazy Horse. From Minneapolis. Why can’t you Skins live in town like the Breeds?

BISON CALF
(To SITTING BULL.)
He’s one of the founders of the American Indian Movement.

CRAZY HORSE
Smart lady. Sometimes I think you people never heard of AIM! Anybody ever tell you, you’re gorgeous? We’ve met before, haven’t we?

BISON CALF
No, and we’re not meeting now either.

SITTING BULL
What do you want?

CRAZY HORSE
What do I want?! Our fuckin’ lawyers have been in court a week and you haven’t even showed up.

SITTING BULL
Nobody asked you to come here.

CRAZY HORSE
Crazy ass traditionals. Fine. You don’t want us, we’re gone. But we can drag Wilson through the fucking mud, man, maybe even force the court to order a new election.

BLACK ELK
We won’t win.

CRAZY HORSE
You people are un-fucking-believable!

BLACK ELK
It’s a Wasichu court!

CRAZY HORSE
The point isn’t to win. It’s to raise a stink. Get into the papers. Say that even if fighting is futile we’re gonna fight!

SPOTTED EAGLE
He’s right.

CRAZY HORSE
You’re a pretty little thing. We met before?

SPOTTED EAGLE
No, but I’ve been waiting for you all my life.

CRAZY HORSE
That so?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Yeah! You’re just so handsome and strong.

CRAZY HORSE
You know, baby, I’m bivouacked over by Wounded Knee Creek. Why don’t you and me slip back to my tent and get to know each other a little—

(SPOTTED EAGLE stands, revealing she’s pregnant.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
(With an expression of pain.)
What’s that? A contraction! I think I’m going into labor!

(CRAZY HORSE recoils. Everybody laughs. CRAZY HORSE looks angry, then he laughs too.)

CRAZY HORSE
You people still got a sense of humor. What else you got?

BLACK ELK
The dance the Nevada messiah’s teaching is supposed to bring back the dead and cleanse the Wasichus from the face of the—

CRAZY HORSE
I’m not talking about a magical powwow! I’m talking about fighting. You don’t even realize what’s going on here, do you? Tricky Dick sent that fucker Custer here himself! Yeah, that’s right!

BISON CALF
Why should Nixon care what happens on the Pine Ridge Reservation?

CRAZY HORSE
’Cause AIM’s got him scared. He wants to let corporations mine uranium in South Dakota and Wyoming but the treaty says it belongs to the Lakota, all of it, not just this tiny little reservation!

BLACK ELK
We know what the Fort Laramie Treaty says.

CRAZY HORSE
Then you know the United States can’t break it, not legally, not even with a Constitutional amendment! That treaty is still valid and AIM has been getting courts to order the government to live up to their promises.

BLACK ELK
On small stuff. Fishing rights.

CRAZY HORSE
On small stuff so far.

BLACK ELK
The lawsuit has to come from the Tribal Council.

CRAZY HORSE
Which is exactly why Nixon’s people are giving giant fucking heaps of money to any half-breed candidate who’ll keep traditionals in line. Like His Majesty Dickie Wilson. They’re installing puppet dictators in South Dakota, man! Beatings, murders, it’s just the beginning! The government’s going to let him run this reservation like it was South Vietnam. I’ve seen South Vietnam. It’s no place you’d want to live.
(Long pause.)
Well?

BISON CALF
He’s right.

CRAZY HORSE
Thank you!

SITTING BULL
It’s not your decision.

BISON CALF
If you’re not man enough to do what’s necessary, I will. I’m going to that courthouse. Nobody’s going to walk through the front door without hearing how angry I am.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I’m coming with you.

BISON CALF
Black Elk, think about what your vision told you to do! A pregnant kid’s braver than you, a Catholic. No offense.
(To SITTING BULL.)
And I’m ashamed of you. You staked yourself to Wilson’s front lawn. Why not fight in court, where it could actually do some good?

SITTING BULL
(To CRAZY HORSE, after a thoughtful pause.)
I’ll be at the courthouse tomorrow at dawn. I’ll see all of you tomorrow. Bring anyone you can.

(CRAZY HORSE, BISON CALF and SPOTTED EAGLE exit. BLACK ELK starts to exit also.)

SITTING BULL
Black Elk.

(BLACK ELK stops.)

SITTING BULL
We’ll need help. What have you heard about the messiah?

BLACK ELK
She’s a Paiute, from Nevada. She claims if enough Indians dance her dance, the dead will return and the Wasichus will melt like snow. She’s had a powerful vision.

SITTING BULL
But…?

BLACK ELK
I saw other things in my vision.

(BLACK ELK begins to exit.)

SITTING BULL
Black Elk? What did you see in your vision?

BLACK ELK
(Pauses.)
You know I can’t tell you.

(BLACK ELK exits. SITTING BULL picks up his phone.)

SITTING BULL
Mason Valley, Nevada, please, Paiute Reservation. Hello? This is Sitting Bull of the Lakota. I want to talk to the messiah.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 5

 

(The Trading Post. Two weeks later.

(BLACK ELK is behind the register. CROOK is examining BLACK ELK’s bruises.)

CROOK
It’s been two weeks. I swear they just keep getting worse and worse. This one here’s turning yellow.

BLACK ELK
They get worse because the injury to my people is growing.

CROOK
That holy man shtick goes over great with tourists, pal, but it gives me the heebie jeebies.

(SPOTTED EAGLE enters.)

CROOK
Why, hello, little lady. What can I get for the two of you?

SPOTTED EAGLE
Where’s Little Big Man?

CROOK
Beats the hell out of me.

SPOTTED EAGLE
This is the second time this week!

CROOK
Don’t gotta tell me that.

BLACK ELK
You can wait for him.

CROOK
If he even bothers to show.
(Gestures to SPOTTED EAGLE’s belly.)
Only reason I hired him was for the little guy here. If he can’t show up for work, that ain’t reason enough to keep him.

(SPOTTED EAGLE looks crestfallen. CROOK withdraws to another part of the store.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
I’m worried about my son.

(BLACK ELK feels SPOTTED EAGLE’s belly.)

BLACK ELK
How did you know it’s a boy?

SPOTTED EAGLE
I dream about him almost every night. Playing, or learning about the old days from you. He’s so much happier with you than when I see him at the Catholic School. I was raised Catholic and I still ran away from that shithole. In my dream he’s like one of those traditional kids who’s sent there by child services, forced to wear shoes and speak English, and getting beaten by nuns if they don’t pray to the Wasichu god. Little Big Man would send him there. He hated it too, but he wouldn’t know what else to do.

BLACK ELK
You’ll be an excellent mother.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I’d be happy if I don’t break the kid.

(CRAZY HORSE and LITTLE BIG MAN enter. LITTLE BIG MAN has bruises and blood all over his face.)

SPOTTED EAGLE
Oh my God, what happened?!

CRAZY HORSE
Goons.

(BLACK ELK examines LITTLE BIG MAN’s injuries. CROOK returns.)

CROOK
Can’t you goddamn Indians think of something better to do than getting loaded and brawling with each other?

BLACK ELK
(To CROOK.)
Get me a glass of water.

(CROOK leaves. BLACK ELK takes out a bag from behind the register. He removes a sacred pipe, offers it to the four quarters, earth and sky, then smokes.)

CRAZY HORSE
What the hell are you doing?

(CROOK returns with the water.)

CROOK
Maybe we oughta get him to the BIA Clinic.

(BLACK ELK takes a handful of herbs from a pouch and grinds it into the water.)

BLACK ELK
Drink.

LITTLE BIG MAN
No way.

SPOTTED EAGLE
Drink it.

(LITTLE BIG MAN drinks.)

BLACK ELK
He’ll be fine in a minute.

SPOTTED EAGLE
What happened?

CRAZY HORSE
Some Goons got their hands on him, but we fought them off…
(Claps LITTLE BIG MAN on the shoulder.)
… didn’t we, kid?

LITTLE BIG MAN
You did.
(To BLACK ELK.)
Me and some buddies were at the bar before work and six of ’em surrounded the table. Just pushed my buddies down and dragged me out of there. They said they’d seen Spotted Eagle hanging around with Skins too much and started wailing on me. Thought I was a goner like Standing Bear and then he showed up. He fought ’em, all six of ’em.

SPOTTED EAGLE
(Examining CRAZY HORSE.)
There isn’t a scratch on him.

CRAZY HORSE
They were drunk.

BLACK ELK
Not even Sitting Bull could have fought off six of them.

LITTLE BIG MAN
I’m starting to feel better. What did you give me?

BLACK ELK
A sacred herb I saw in a vision.

CROOK
We’re going to the clinic.

CRAZY HORSE
A vision?

BLACK ELK
Sure. Why?

CRAZY HORSE
Nothing.

BLACK ELK
You saw something?

CRAZY HORSE
(After a beat.)
In the Army. Everybody was always seeing things or saying they had. People were always getting spooked in country.

BLACK ELK
Even Wasichus can have visions.

SPOTTED EAGLE
What did you see?

CRAZY HORSE
This is stupid. We were marching twenty clicks, I was bone tired and it was like I could see the real world in front of me, kinda like the truth of everything, you know? So I threw away my rifle. The LT laid into me but I refused to carry it. After that, I could sort of dream myself into the real world any time. Every time shit started getting hairy, I would do it. One day we were ambushed. Whole squad got killed except for me.

BLACK ELK
That’s a powerful vision.

SPOTTED EAGLE
How did you get away?

CRAZY HORSE
Bunch of Charlie was shooting at me but they couldn’t hit me. I wandered half way across the fuckin’ country before I found another squad. They put me in with those guys but their LT saw I wouldn’t touch a gun so they gave me a section eight and sent me home. I just thought it was that crazy shit that happens to everybody.

BLACK ELK
Did you dream yourself into the real world before you fought the six Goons?

CRAZY HORSE
Yeah.

BLACK ELK
You could use this power for your people, not to just save yourself or win a brawl. You could be our greatest warrior.

CRAZY HORSE
(Takes a moment to digest this.)
How?

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 6

(An open space, such as a field.

(WOVOKA enters with eight GHOST DANCERS. She is a beautiful Indian woman dressed all in white. She beats a drum and sings. The DANCERS dance.)

WOVOKA
(Sings.)
Heye’ heye’ heye’ hey’ Aho’ho
Heye’ heye’ heye’ hey’ Aho’ho
Because I am poor
Because I am poor
I pray for all creatures
I pray for all creatures
Ao’ri yo! Ao ri yo!

(SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE, BLACK ELK, SPOTTED EAGLE and LITTLE BIG MAN enter.)

BISON CALF
Is that who I think?

BLACK ELK
The messiah? Who else could it be?

WOVOKA
(Sings.)
The spirit host is advancing, they say
The spirit host is advancing, they say.
They are coming with the buffalo, they say,
They are coming with the buffalo, they say.
They are coming with the earth, they say,
They are coming with the earth, they say.
Dance with me the dance of the ghosts
Dance with me the dance of the ghosts
The ghost dancers will rise into the air
The ghost dancers will rise into the air
As a white wind blows from the north.
As a white wind blows from the north.

(BISON CALF begins to dance.   SPOTTED EAGLE tries to get LITTLE BIG MAN to join. He won’t. She dances by herself.)

WOVOKA
(Sings.)
The old world will be buried in snow
The old world will be buried in snow
It will melt like the snow in springtime
It will melt like the snow in springtime
Haye’ye’ Eyayo’yo’! Heye’ye’ Eyayo’yo’!
Haye’ye’ Eyayo’yo’! Heye’ye’ Eyayo’yo’!
The Wasichus and all their works
The Wasichus and all their works
Will melt in the bright sun
Will melt in the bright sun
Eya Yo’yoyo’! Eya Yo’yoyo’!
Eya Yo’yoyo’! Eya Yo’yoyo’!

(BLACK ELK stares at the dancers in wonder.)

BLACK ELK
I want to try.

SITTING BULL
You weren’t sure you believed her.

BLACK ELK
It reminds me of what I saw in my great vision.

(BLACK ELK dances. CRAZY HORSE also joins, with BLACK ELK’s help.)

WOVOKA
(Sings.)
That wind, that wind
Shakes my tipi, shakes my tipi
And sings a song for me
And sings a song for me.
The spirit army is approaching,
The spirit army is approaching
The whole world is moving onward
The whole world is moving onward
See! Everybody stands watching
See! Everybody stands watching
Let us all pray
Let us all pray.

(BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE, BLACK ELK, SPOTTED EAGLE and WOVOKA dance faster and faster. As they approach maximum speed BLACK ELK passes out.

(Blackness.)

WOVOKA
What did you see?

(BLACK ELK appears. WOVOKA’s voice continues from the darkness. Since BLACK ELK is describing a vision the entire scene has a strange, dreamlike quality.)

BLACK ELK
I felt strange. It was like there were ants in my legs. I was dancing off the ground. Then I flew over the land until I saw a Lakota camp. Their tipis were in a circle, the women were smiling and the horses were fat.

(SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE and SPOTTED EAGLE appear. They are wearing Ghost Shirts—large shirts with a sacred symbol pained large on the front and back. DANCERS dance around them, as spirits in Black Elk’s vision.)

BLACK ELK
Four figures appeared: two women and two men. All four wore strange shirts. I didn’t recognize them but it was like I knew them. The leader spoke to me.

WOVOKA
What did she say?

BISON CALF
Long have we watched you, Black Elk. Long have we desired to speak with you.

BLACK ELK
Was it you that sent me my Great Vision all those years ago?

BISON CALF
One far greater than I did that. The power that watches over us all…
(Gestures to BLACK ELK.)
… both in the inner world…
(Gestures to herself.)
… and the outer.

WOVOKA
You realized who they were.

BLACK ELK
Yes. They were the dead who live in the outer world.

(To BISON CALF.)
My father. Is he here?

BISON CALF
It is not yet time for you to see him. A message I have for you.

(BISON CALF holds up a Ghost Shirt.)

BISON CALF
This shall you take back with you, Black Elk. Its power is our power and it will protect your people.

(Everyone but BLACK ELK vanishes.)

BLACK ELK
Then I was flying again, over the same landscape until I saw all of you still dancing the Ghost Dance. The next thing I knew you were all standing over me.

(The lights come up. BLACK ELK is with SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE, SPOTTED EAGLE, WOVOKA and LITTLE BIG MAN at the Ghost Dance site once again.)

BLACK ELK
(Deliriously, to WOVOKA.)
Are you the White Buffalo Woman? Have you come back?

BISON CALF
(To SITTING BULL.)
With this power we could stand against Wilson.

SITTING BULL
There are too many.

BLACK ELK
The Ghost Shirts will protect us! They can’t hurt us!

CRAZY HORSE
Black Elk, they’re gonna be shooting real bullets!

SPOTTED EAGLE
Didn’t he prove his power curing Little Big Man?

CRAZY HORSE
Yes but there’s a limit, for Pete’s sake! He’s injured, he danced too hard and he fainted, hallucinated.

BISON CALF
Is that all that happened to you in Vietnam?

CRAZY HORSE
I don’t know, goddammit, but he can’t risk his life!

BLACK ELK
What life? As long as the Wasichus occupy our land they occupy our souls. Always waiting. Waiting. I’ve lived a hundred years in it and I don’t plan on a hundred more.

CRAZY HORSE
What if the Wasichus kill you?

BLACK ELK
Before battle, the Cheyennes said, “It’s a good day to die.” But the Ghost Shirts will only protect us. We need a great warrior. Will you go to war beside me?

SITTING BULL
No one is going to war.

BLACK ELK
But—

SITTING BULL
We are fifteen thousand, Black Elk. The Wasichus are two hundred million. You mean to put your Ghost Shirt up against their tanks and bombers?

(SITTING BULL exits. Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 7

(WILSON’s office. CUSTER is reading reports at WILSON’s desk. WILSON enters.)

WILSON
Agent Custer.

CUSTER
I’m reading.

WILSON
But Agent Custer…

CUSTER
There’s hundreds of pages of police reports and I started fifteen minutes ago. What could you possibly want?

WILSON
Someone to see you.

CUSTER
No.

WILSON
But it’s Mr. Crook.

CUSTER
The storekeeper? No. Wait. Yeah, better let him in.

(WILSON shows CROOK in.)

CROOK
Not often you get down here from Sioux Falls, Agent Custer.

(WILSON starts to exit.)

CUSTER
(To WILSON.)
You’d better stay. What can I do you for, Mr. Crook?

CROOK
Ever since he came to power there’s hardly a night when I don’t hear gunshots.

CUSTER
Mr. Wilson is a very controversial man. Hardly surprising some of the backwards Indians are causing trouble.

CROOK
They aren’t the one’s doing the shooting, you know damn well!

CUSTER
You’ve witnessed these incidents?

CROOK
No…

CUSTER
Mr. Wilson’s supporters have confessed to you?

CROOK
Of course not, dammit! I know because sixteen people have died, all Sitting Bull’s people. Old men and women shot and beaten. The FBI’s supposed to investigate crimes like that.

CUSTER
There’s no evidence of foul play.

CROOK
What about Standing Bear?

CUSTER
An autopsy said he died of exposure.

CROOK
He was shot in the head.

CUSTER
I don’t know who started that rumor.

CROOK
Fine, then explain this, since you got an answer for everything. How’s he supposed to have died of exposure when it never got below sixty-five degrees that night. Huh? That’s what I thought. You gave this man money for his campaign, supported him when he stole the ballot boxes, when he put a hundred of his friends on the government payroll, when he refused to follow the court order for a new election… Now he’s killing people and you’re still supporting him.

CUSTER
I haven’t seen evidence he’s killed anybody.

CROOK
Bullshit. Who was elected leader of the tribal council? You were there when they counted the votes in Wilson’s house.

CUSTER
As a matter of fact, Wilson won. But let’s say it was Sitting Bull. Should I have let it stand?

CROOK
Of course.

CUSTER
Naïve, Mr. Crook.

CROOK
Sitting Bull’s a friend of mine.

CUSTER
Sitting Bull is an enemy of the United States of America. He always said the US took the Sioux’s land in violation of treaty. Now he’s allied with Crazy Horse and his liberal lawyers. He’d take his treaty to court if he controlled the Tribal Council.

CROOK
Ever consider maybe he’s right.

CUSTER
He’s not. You wanna know how come he’s not?

CROOK
How?

CUSTER
Because he can’t be. That treaty says the Lakota own half of South Dakota and eastern Wyoming all the way to the Bighorns.

CROOK
What you mean is you’d have to mine your uranium somewhere other than the Black Hills.

CUSTER
Uranium isn’t even the tip of the tip of that iceberg. Turn over a big chunk of two states? It would be USA, closed for business! No, thank you, Mr. Crook. Maybe we shouldn’t’ve taken their land in the first place but it’s too late now. Gotta finish what we started. Sitting Bull’s wrong ’cause we just can’t let him be right. Period. End of story.

CROOK
(To WILSON.)
What about you?

WILSON
What about me?

CROOK
Look, I don’t care if you call Sitting Bull a Skin and he calls you a Breed. You’re both Indians.

WILSON
I’m an American.

CROOK
You think Agent Custer believes that?

CUSTER
Sure I do. Opportunity knocked and he answered the door.

WILSON
The old days are over. We gotta face reality, join the twentieth century. Sitting Bull, Black Elk and the rest of these old-timers have been hanging on for a century out of sheer stubbornness. Time to make room for a new generation.

CROOK
You’re going to kill them?

WILSON
They didn’t have decency to go quietly. You’re right, I am an Indian. His kind are holding us back.

CROOK
Whatever else you do, you sure as hell talk straight.

CUSTER
Watch your tone.

CROOK
Why the hell should I?

CUSTER
’Cause you love your country. You lied about your age to go to Korea and fight for it.

CROOK
How do you know about that?

CUSTER
I know my allies, sir.

CROOK
I’m no ally of yours.

CUSTER
I know they’re your friends, I know you pity them. But we’re talking about our way of life. I don’t really need to ask what side you’re on, do I?

(CROOK is silent.)

CUSTER
Anything else we can help you with today, Mr. Crook?

CROOK
Go to hell, Agent Custer.

(CROOK exits. Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 8

(SITTING BULL’s trailer. SITTING BULL pours himself a glass of whiskey but doesn’t drink any. Someone knocks. SITTING BULL doesn’t answer. BISON CALF enters without invitation.)

BISON CALF
I thought you didn’t drink, Slow.

SITTING BULL
Go away.

(BISON CALF pours SITTING BULL’s whiskey on the ground.)

SITTING BULL
(Leaps up.)
I said, go away!

BISON CALF
Sit down!

(SITTING BULL hesitates, then sits.)

BISON CALF
Some chief you are. Your people want to go to war and you’re hiding.

SITTING BULL
There’s what they want and what’s good for them.

BISON CALF
If that’s how you feel, why invite Wovoka?

SITTING BULL
People need some kinda hope.

BISON CALF
What about you?

SITTING BULL
(Pours himself another glass but doesn’t drink.)
You were with Black Elk when he had his vision?

BISON CALF
Yes.

SITTING BULL
What did he see?

BISON CALF
You’d have to ask him that, Slow.

SITTING BULL
I know it’s important or he wouldn’t be so unhappy.

BISON CALF
Maybe. Slow, he feels unworthy. He can’t take any more pressure. Besides, what are you afraid of? Wilson and the Wasichus are killing us already! I understand if you have doubts, nobody wants to test their faith by getting shot, but—

SITTING BULL
It isn’t the Ghost Dance.

BISON CALF
Then why are you so scared?

SITTING BULL
A dream.

BISON CALF
What dream?

SITTING BULL
I’ve had it every night since Crazy Horse arrived. Bluecoat soldiers, from when we were young. A whole column of them falling head first from the sky like grasshoppers, and a voice was shouting, “I give you these because they do not hear.”

BISON CALF
Wakan Tanka means you can kill them.

SITTING BULL
But they weren’t Wasichus in those blue coats. When I got closer, I saw they were Breeds.

BISON CALF
Wilson’s our enemy.

SITTING BULL
But he’s a Lakota. There’s not enough of us left to fight each other. The Wasichus are two hundred million—

BISON CALF
—and we’re only fifteen thousand, yes, I know. But there are less and less Skins ever generation. How long until there’s nothing worth saving?

SITTING BULL
There’s something worth saving now?

BISON CALF
Fine. I’ll attack Wilson myself. Crazy Horse will help me.

SITTING BULL
Crazy Horse wouldn’t listen to a woman if she told him the sky was blue. You won’t win.

BISON CALF
I don’t care. Neither does Black Elk, neither does Crazy Horse or Wovoka or probably even Spotted Eagle, even if she is good for nothing, or a hundred other people! And neither do you. We’re ready, Slow. Lead us.

SITTING BULL
(Pause.)
They’re waiting outside? Get Crazy Horse in here.

(BISON CALF goes to the door. CRAZY HORSE enters.)

SITTING BULL
Let’s talk seriously.

CRAZY HORSE
About time.

SITTING BULL
This woman says we should attack Wilson.

BISON CALF
I’m standing five feet away, don’t talk about me like I’m not here!

CRAZY HORSE
She’s right.

BISON CALF
(Withdraws, exasperated.)
Okay, fine.

SITTING BULL
We’re outnumbered, outgunned…

CRAZY HORSE
They’ll never see it coming.

SITTING BULL
The Wasichus will help them.

CRAZY HORSE
I can never tell what white men are gonna do. Sometimes they’ll break your skull, sometimes they try to be your best friend.

SITTING BULL
Guilt does weird things.

CRAZY HORSE
If you want my help just ask, man. The AIM’s got your six.

SITTING BULL
You were in Vietnam?

CRAZY HORSE
That’s right.

SITTING BULL
And you came from Minneapolis before that. How long you been there?

CRAZY HORSE
Why the third degree?

SITTING BULL
I’m trying to decide if you’re a warrior or just a thug who joined the Army to duck an armed robbery rap.

CRAZY HORSE
(Pause as he masters his anger.)
I stole a car, actually. I’ve lived in Minneapolis around forty years. I never seem to get any older. Don’t know why but lot of us are that way, huh?

SITTING BULL
What did you do before that?

CRAZY HORSE
Spent a lot of time alone, I think. I don’t remember so well. And, yeah, I’ve been in jail a few times. More since I helped start AIM. You know, your average Indian living in a red ghetto doesn’t know he’s got the right to a lawyer. He’ll plead guilty when he hasn’t done anything, what’s it matter to a white jury, he figures. It was never supposed to be a huge movement. We were just telling people their rights, how to deal with racist cops. We drove around like maniacs to film arrests on 8-millimeter and usually got the shit kicked out of us by the cops for our trouble. They broke my arm twice. Don’t tell me I’m just a thug who doesn’t know what it means to be an Indian, okay? You and me are different, no denying it, but if you make a move I’ll back it.

(SITTING BULL puts on a head band with one eagle feather.)

SITTING BULL
Let them in.

(CRAZY HORSE, BLACK ELK, SPOTTED EAGLE and WOVOKA enter.)

SITTING BULL
Wovoka, Black Elk, we’ll need Ghost Shirts. At least a hundred. Bison Calf, Spotted Eagle, round up the Skins. Only the ones you can trust, the others will have a chance to join later.
(To CRAZY HORSE.)
If any of your people want to join us, we’ll welcome them.

CRAZY HORSE
What’s the plan?

SITTING BULL
We’re go to the headquarters of the Tribal Council.

CRAZY HORSE
(Nods.)
Wounded Knee.

(Blackout.)

 

ACT I, SCENE 9

(Wounded Knee. The stage is divided into several areas: An office in the Tribal Council Headquarters where DICKIE WILSON sits with CUSTER; the main street of Wounded Knee, where LEONARD and BILL are hanging out; and the counter of the Trading Post, where CROOK is working.

(In another section of the stage, SITTING BULL, BISON CALF, CRAZY HORSE, BLACK ELK, SPOTTED EAGLE, WOVOKA and LITTLE BIG MAN appear. They all wear Ghost Shirts and carry guns—CRAZY HORSE carries an AK-47.)

SITTING BULL
Crazy Horse and I will take the Tribal Council building and capture Wilson. Little Big Man, Wovoka, you’re coming with us. Black Elk, you and Bison Calf secure the Trading Post. Don’t hurt Mr. Crook unless you have to. Spotted Eagle, stay here.

SPOTTED EAGLE
I’m coming with you.

SITTING BULL
Then stay in the back, don’t get hurt.
(To everyone.)
Save your ammunition. Don’t fire unless they do! If they run, let them run! If they fight, show them no mercy.

(SITTING BULL makes an ear splitting war cry.)

SITTING BULL
Hoka-hey!

CRAZY HORSE
Hoka-hey!

ALL
Hoka-hey!

(WILSON, CROOK, CUSTER, LEONARD and BILL all react to this war cry as if they hear it in the distance.)

WILSON
What was that?

(SITTING BULL, CRAZY HORSE, WOVOKA and LITTLE BIG MAN charge towards WILSON’s office. LEONARD and BILL intercept them and knock LITTLE BIG MAN unconscious.)

CRAZY HORSE
(To SITTING BULL.)
Go on. I can see the real world. I’ve got these two.

(CRAZY HORSE charges LEONARD and BILL, diverting them so SITTING BULL can pass. BISON CALF and BLACK ELK enter the Trading Post.)

CROOK
What the hell is going on?

BLACK ELK
We’re taking the town.

CROOK
The hell you are! Who’s out there?

BISON CALF
Sitting Bull.

CROOK
I have to stop him!

(BISON CALF and BLACK ELK restrain CROOK.)

CROOK
No, goddammit, he’s making a big mistake!

(LEONARD and BILL pull knives but CRAZY HORSE defeats them. SITTING BULL enters WILSON’s office and disarms CUSTER. WILSON takes a gun from his desk and shoots SITTING BULL.

(Everything on stage freezes at the gunshot. WILSON and CUSTER stare in amazement—SITTING BULL is unharmed.

(WILSON fires again with no effect. WILSON and CUSTER flee into the street where they’re surrounded by SITTING BULL, CRAZY HORSE, SPOTTED EAGLE and WOVOKA. WILSON shoots at SITTING BULL again, up close, with no effect.)

CRAZY HORSE
It works…

WOVOKA
The power of the outer world is with us. Your bullets can’t hurt us.

(WILSON and CUSTER flee.)

SITTING BULL
Let them go! Crazy Horse?

CRAZY HORSE
We’ve formed a perimeter. Wounded Knee is secure.

(SITTING BULL walks around the stage in a long, deliberate circle, like a lion surveying its territory.)

SITTING BULL
(Shouts.)
WE HOLD THE KNEE!

ALL
Hoka-hey!

(Blackout. Intermission.)

 

Continue to Act 2…

 

 

Copyright (c) 2008 by Adam Hunault.

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