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• Chapter Eleven The Barrel Bull ride Winner Saturday, August 16, 1969 When the region first organized itself as a county, two communities , Haysworth and Schmidt—each with no better name than that of its original founding family—vied for the honor of being county seat. Haysworth won one hundred twenty out of two hundred votes and became the county seat, but no one called the new town Haysworth. They calleditWinner,andthenamestuck.OntheeasternedgeoftheRosebud Reservation, the county filled up with immigrants—Germans, Swedes, Irish, a few Poles—who tried farming the land, but breaking up centuries of root-bound sod proved difficult. Those who managed found that the ground beneath was light stuff, blowing away in the persistent wind, so they looked to their Indian neighbors on the west, who had started cattle ranching after a long tradition of horse breeding. Within a short time, the county turned almost completely to ranching, with a few die-hard old countrymen who stubbornly refused to accept the inevitable, planting corn, barley, and wheat every year that barely yielded more than the seed it took to grow it. Some of the White ranchers both hated and feared their Indian neighbors to the west; some Whites were indifferent, but others got on well enough to intermarry. The standing joke went like this: Q. How does a White woman become a member of the Rosebud tribe? A. Get a little Indian in her. Because in those days, a White woman married to an Indian with mixedblood children would be enrolled in the tribe, with all the drawbacks and benefits thereof. The drawback at the top of the list, scorn from the woman ’s White relatives and friends. Among the dubious benefits was the right to use the Indian Health Service, which meant putting yourself at the mercy of doctors who, because they were incompetent or drunks or 118 Chapter Eleven insane or, rarely, just poor, could not make it in the private medical system , but were hired by the government to see to the health of Indians. The right to health care that had been written into treaties between Indians and the federal government was loosely interpreted. Clayton was a model of tact and decorum on the ride over from Jackson to Winner with Sissy in the passenger seat. He commented on the health of the grasslands passing by the car windows as they drove, on the fatness of the cattle in the pastures, on the cleanliness of Melvin’s pickup that they followed. He wondered about the fishing in Beads Lake and He Dog Lake that they passed; he spoke of the coming school year when Darrell would be entering sixth grade and Darlene would start her junior year in high school, how he hoped his kids would do well, how he wished he had tried harder when he was in school. He never mentioned Gordon Charbonneau. Not a word about Sissy’s potential future as Clayton’s wife, nothing at all about Sissy personally, which was better than his talk at practice on Wednesday when he had effused about Sissy’s turn of phrase on a particular song, how she hit a certain note dead on, how her guitar chording was getting smoother, until she had said just three words: Shut up, Clayton. He had. His continual hectoring was annoying . His false praise was worse. His yammering about nothing was marginally better than the other two, so she let him run on. He was not going to wear her down. He did drift away from his innocuous conversation a bit when they passed a herd of ten or twelve horses running and bucking out of sheer playfulness, or because the heel flies were biting. “Fine animals, fine,” Clayton said. “Look at their legs. None of those cowhocks like you see on Pine Ridge–bred horses. No soft white hoofs, either. And look at the topline, see how the hindquarters drop down in a nice line? That’s some horses that could sit down and hold whatever a rider might tie onto.” “Yeah, good-looking animals,” Sissy said. Since back when Pine Ridge was known as Red Cloud Agency and Rosebud as Spotted Tail, people on the two reservations had been arguing about who bred the better horses. Sissy had heard her own father going on about Pine Ridge horses just as Clayton bragged on Rosebud’s. She couldn’t see any real difference. The VFW outside of Winner was usually neutral territory for everyone who...


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