Wolf’s Rear End?

by retired California Senator H.L. “Bill” Richardson, founder of GOA

History does repeat itself, often in the strangest ways — especially when dealing with the gullible, misinformed humanoids. Let me give you a pithy example from the pages of Western lore. 

On an early spring morning in 1874, a thousand painted warriors gathered on the high breaks of the Canadian River, in the upper reaches of the Texas Panhandle. They were there to scalp the “white eyes;” the twenty-eight buffalo hunters camped below. The place was called “Adobe Walls,” nothing more than several crudely thrown together sod structures near the river, surrounded on the other three sides by flat-topped bluffs. Waiting for the early light, hidden behind the surrounding ridges, were close to a thousand mounted Comanche, Arapaho, Kiowa and Cheyenne braves, eager to slaughter the buffalo hunters who were asleep in the valley below.

The painted savages were extremely confident and excited at the prospect of having a scalp dance that night, and why not? They had been convinced by Ishatai, the Comanche medicine man, that victory was assured because his “medicine” was powerful. The Indians believed he had great puha [that’s power]. The Comanche prophet had predicted that no harm could possibly come to any of them. His medicine was so strong that bullets bounced off of him and he, the great Ishatai, would give his “medicine,’ his protective power, to each brave.  The highly superstitious braves believed Ishatai, whose name by the way, translated into English, means Coyote Droppings or Wolf’s Rear End. 

However, things didn’t quite go as expected. The buffalo hunters were not all asleep and as soon as the attack began, there were dead and wounded Indians scattered all around the mud dwellings. Coyote Droppings, covered with yellow war paint, sat on his white war pony nearly a mile away, observing the fight, not once venturing near the battle. The father of a downed brave taunted Ishatai to rescue his wounded son. “Why not ride into the fray since you said that bullets couldn’t hurt you?” The medicine man didn’t move a muscle, that is, not until Billy Dixon, one of the buffalo hunters, cut loose with his 50-caliber Sharps rifle from over 1500 yards away, knocking the Indian next to Coyote Droppings off his horse.

It was a bad day for the Indians and Wolf’s Rear End’s “medicine.” The “white eyes” survived, suffering the loss of two men.

You would think that the medicine man would have been run out of the tribe for being such a lousy prophet, but Coyote Droppings had someone else to blame. He explained that it wasn’t his fault. Some dirty Indian must have killed a skunk on the way to the fight and that nefarious act broke the spell, jinxing his magic, thereby allowing the bullets to kill and the white eyes to survive. 

Believe it or not, the superstitious Indians bought this whopper. Ishatai continued to be a respected Comanche chief and medicine man until his death, many, many years later.

Primate lore is filled with examples of witch doctors and medicine men that claimed to possess puha.  This “power” was acquired by the medicine men from their dreams. More often than not, their ticket to dreamland was through fasting or chewing the drug peyote. They would then tell the tribe their dreams, saying they had just had communion with the gods.  Such men will always succeed whenever you have superstitious, primitive and gullible natives who believe such things.

Little wonder such primitive customs and beliefs were dumped in the trashcan of history by Americans — or were they? Has much changed from the 1880’s — the wild west days along the Canadian river? One wonders when we observe nearly half of our fellow Americans still gullibly swallowing the newest “spin” dished out by the medicine man living in the white tepee along the Potomac river, claiming that the battle is going well. The medicine man is aided by the smoke signals of the warriors from the tribes of the Washington Post, CNN and the New York Times — all chanting that his “puha” is true. They say we must believe the arrogant medicine man behind the teleprompter — whose tale ignores the bullets of reality and tells us now that the skunk was a bush.