Melvin Martin: So what else is new in Rapid City?
I see that Rapid City, South Dakota, has once again outdone itself as the nation's capitol of not only the worst forms of racism towards American Indian people, but also for an unrivaled ignorance and idiocy on the part of the local business community as evidenced by the Custer toys sold via little kids' "Happy Meals" at area McDonald's restaurants recently.

The sudden and pitifully unannounced inclusion of plastic Custer toys into the innocent hands of the children of Rapid City's American Indian community, given all of the relevant historical realities specific to this area, was an action that can best be described as "dumber than a sack of sledgehammers."

And all of the hatred-driven sentiment in local news sources as to the contemporary irrelevance of Custer in terms of the broad "all-American scheme of things" (especially the wildly arrogant and oft-repeated advice for all American Indians to simply "join the rest of us") is but perhaps one the best indications as to the over-all degeneration of cultural literacy in U.S. society that is a highly alarming trend that is only in its infancy.

Custer remains one of this country's (and the rest of the world's) most cherished icons of the sacred saga of Manifest Destiny -- essentially that of the sacrificial son forsaken by his great and distant father up in and around the Washington, DC area at that time. Custer is still incredibly worshipped by all sorts of virulent, cult-like hate groups and deranged individuals smitten by the romanticism of hazy legends deeply connected to a plethora of white racist-oriented propaganda spiels as to the truest history of the American West.

Little do these swooning throngs realize that their most favored hero, in the seconds before he blew his brains out with his own sidearm -- that he defecated in his pants. It has somehow been passed down through the generations (of primarily non-Indian Custer enthusiasts) that the general's corpse had been shot through with well over 200 Sioux and Cheyenne arrows. Not so, as the warriors on site then were very much put off by the powerful scent of Custer's feces, and had backed off on mutilating the body as was the usual practice.

On this particular point, I might add that this account was handed down to me by my late father whose own long-deceased relatives were participants at the Little Big Horn. And I absolutely trust with my very life the oral accounts handed down over the years by my beloved elders so much more than the self-serving lies, untruths and outright fantasies disseminated by legions of academically cloistered historians since their arrival in the Americas. But, I digress...

The dolts at Mickey D's corporate offices have fully embraced and endorsed Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, the sequel to Night at the Museum--a film with an absolutely preposterous premise: that at night the various exhibits at NYC's American Museum of Natural History come to life by way of a magical tablet to wreak all sorts of havoc upon a beleaguered security guard. In the original movie, I was astounded to see another legendary Indian hater, Teddy Roosevelt, energetically lust after the extraordinarily beautiful Sacagawea. Are these presentations, as foolish as they are, of Roosevelt and Custer in these movies harmful to American Indians? Yes, in that the hideous realities of those times and places in history for Indian people are totally whitewashed for the sake of a crass commercialism of the lowest order. And once again history is woefully perverted for maximum profit at the expense of the smallest minority group in the U.S.

And once again, Rapid City, South Dakota, reveals itself to be no more than the lower level of a much-used outhouse of cultural, historical and racial insensitivity to its long-suffering Indian populace--so, what else there is new?

Melvin Martin is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of South Dakota.

Related Stories:
Kevin Abourezk: Another 'last stand' for Custer (6/12)
Native Sun News: Custer in McDonald's Happy Meal (6/9)
Melvin Martin: Even more truths about race in Rapid City (5/19)
Melvin Martin: More truths about race in Rapid City (5/4)
Melvin Martin: The truth about race in Rapid City (3/31)