Victor Swallow: Brothers always treated Lakota people with respect

Red Shirt Table on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Photo: James Pendleton / U.S. Department of Agriculture

The Wilson boys were a wild and wooly bunch
By Victor D. Swallow
Native Sun News Today Columnist

My stories are about people that lived in the Red Shirt Table area, stories my parents told me and what I know personally. This story is about the Wilson Boys, Charles whose nickname was Blooch and Frank are the men I knew.

Blooch had hands the size of a bear’s paws and a nasal talk. He was a very entertaining a guy who did things out of the ordinary. Frank was a big cattle man and this is their story. The Wilson brothers were born around the turn of the 19th century.

They had some Indian blood as their father was a white man and their mother was part Indian. My mother talked about a building on the flat at Red Shirt Table where they would have white dances. Her bother Ed played the fiddle kinda crude, she said.

The Wilson boys would ride over to the dance. It included Blooch, Frank and their younger brother Owen who was just a boy and maybe there were other boys she never said. Mother said her sister Dora and her had fun dancing with Owen. Blooch was one I knew best; he lived about one mile south from my parent’s house in Luke Poor Thunder’s log house.

He lived with a hillbilly woman who everyone called “Blondee.” Blooch said she was a hillbilly and to get her to wear shoes he put dirt in her shoes. He was an old cowboy who belonged to the Rodeo Cowboys Association, I think it was called. He was still bull dogging when he was in his mid-50s. An old rancher who had a ranch east of New Underwood told me in 1971 that Blooch had a corral built west of the Fish Hatchery in Rapid City.

When tourists would gather he would get his old wild horse from the bottom of the hill and charge them 25 cents to see him ride that horse. There are endless stories about Blooch around the area from Rapid City to Oelrichs and all the little towns in between. My cousin Maurice Twiss said he was in the cafe in Buffalo Gap when he was young. Blooch came in with his dog and ordered two hamburgers one cooked and the other raw. When they brought the hamburgers he gave the cooked one to his dog and he ate the raw one.

My father told me about the Two Bulls boys branding and Blooch came riding up on his horse from the west. The oldest boy Stern said to Blooch, “Here comes old buffalo snorts at his nuts.” My dad said Blooch had a big grin on his face. Blooch passed away at the Hot Springs V.A. that’s what my dad said. My mother said he was about 60 years old in 1957. She also thought he served in World War I and II.

Frank was a big time cattleman and he would stop by in his jeep pickup and visit my dad. He was kinda big round the middle and wore suspenders and his pants were tucked in his boots. He had a gold tooth and wore a cowboy hat. One time when he was going to brand he asked me and my brother John to help with the branding at a cow camp at the base of the Westside of Cuny Table. He hired some boys from Oglala to help about six of them.

My brother said to me these guys are “Real Indians” they were polite, laughed a lot and knew nothing about wrassling calves. They had a white kid that was staying with one of their families and his name was Clare Courtney. My brother teased him saying, “You are here after our Indian girls and when you leave there will be a bunch of yellow kids.”

I told Clare if you are writing a book and if I am in the book, I want part of the money. We showed them how to handle calves and started branding about seven in the morning and finished about five in the evening. We branded about 1,600 heads of calves. Frank had a daughter that showed up in a T-Bird, I believe it was and he told the guys that were branding to brand 40 heifers calves in his daughter’s brand.

The Wilson boys knew how to get along with Lakota people from Red Shirt to Oglala. I never heard a bad word from the real Indians about the Wilson boys. They treated those less fortunate with respect a lesson we all can learn from.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: The Wilson boys were a wild and wooly bunch

(Victor D. Swallow was born in 1939, Oglala Lakota, U. S. Navy Veteran, 50 year member of Bricklayers Union, Optimistic realist and fair. Victor can be reached at his daughter’s email address at vikkilovestodance@gmail.com)

: Copyright permission Native Sun News