A Friendly Note
Hello again, my friends, my thiospaye,
As I told you in the epilogue of the Westward Series, I gleaned so many stories about the residents of Dawson through all of my research that I could write more books about them. I also said that I might just do it. So, here I am, embarking on yet another adventure through Dawson’s rich history.
When we last left our friends, Chief Black Fox had just remarried and it was the year 1900. There’s a rather large gap in the timeline due to some of the documents and journals suffering water damage. Therefore, I picked it back up in the year 1918, when there were more complete anecdotes and the journals were again readable. There are some things from those intervening years that survived and I’ll include them where it’s appropriate.
1918 was a time of unrest around the world since WWI was in full swing at this point and the United States had been pulled into the fray against Germany in May of 1917. Montana was one of the most important states in the war effort, growing vast amounts of grains, supplying lumber, copper, and beef to send overseas. Montana sent more men to the front lines than any other state. The government drafted close to 40,000 men from Montana, which was almost ten percent of the state’s population.
It would be a great disservice to our Lakota family if I didn’t mention that almost 15,000 Native Americans around the nation joined the military, going overseas to fight the enemy and doing so with distinction and honor. Some of the young men from our tribe were called up, too.
Quite a few of Dawson’s men went to war. However, there were some who were deemed by the government as too integral to the agricultural industry to be drafted. They were needed to keep our men supplied with food, breed and train horses for our troops, and work in other positions that were important to the military. However, more single men of marrying age went than stayed home. Therefore, unlike the last few decades of the previous century, there were now more single women than men and the fellas had their pick of the women—most of the time.
The lovely ladies around Dawson were also kept busy with their Red Cross Auxiliary, rolling bandages, encouraging people to continue buying liberty bonds, and working even harder to grow bigger Victory gardens with which to feed their families so that more crops could go to our fighting men. Since Dawson and the surrounding ranches were situated on prime growing lands, the town was important to the government, and the large ranching community experienced great economic growth, of which Joe Dwyer I took full advantage.
The Dawson Dialogue also became central in handling the high telegram volumes for the military since there were two forts nearby and several more businesses opened around town. It was an exciting time in Dawson’s history, as you’ll see in the new series, The Dawson Chronicles. So once you have the first book (which is coming soon), fix your favorite snack, and get comfy. Come along on our next journey and let me tell you some more stories about all of our beloved Dawsonites, won’t you?