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|1887-88 1891-92 1892 1902-03 1904
I bring you word from your fathers the ghosts, that they are now marching to join you, led by the Messiah who came once to live on earth with the white men, but was cast out and killed by them. I have seen the wonders of the spirit-land, and have talked with the ghosts. I traveled far and am sent back with a message to tell you to make ready for the coming of the Messiah and return of the ghosts in the spring.
- Matò Wanachtàka (Kicking Bear), 1890
‘Your Fathers the Ghosts’ - Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Scotland
by Tom F. Cunningham
Black & White Publishing, Edinburgh
Published 16th November 2007
‘Your Fathers the Ghosts’ blends the full range of pre-existing scholarship with several years’ worth of original research to produce what is easily the most comprehensive account presently available of Buffalo Bill’s Scottish venues undertaken thus far. It picks up where Dee Brown’s classic work Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee left off and explores the astonishing historical reality that for Kicking Bear and numerous other survivors of the Lakota apocalypse, the end of the trail was Glasgow, Scotland.
Most people are conscious, at least in outline, of Buffalo Bill Cody’s legendary exploits as an army scout and Indian fighter during the formative years of his career.
However, the no less remarkable story of how the frontiersman-turned-showman later attended a Glasgow Cup tie between Rangers and Queen’s Park, provoked an uproar in Edinburgh’s Court of Session, set a Dundee goods yard ablaze, was almost the innocent cause of an Arbroath hotelier losing his licence, reduced the Aberdeenshire fishing industry to chaos, sparked a power cut in Perth and was next presented with a medal by a house painter from Dumfries must now be told.
The time has come to inform the wider public that Annie ‘Get Your Gun’ Oakley learned to ride a bike in Glasgow.
And let us not forget the time in that Indian summer of 1904 when the unheralded appearance of a feathered band of Lakota nearly frightened the life out of the good people of Buchanhaven.
Buffalo Bill’s extraordinary capacity to generate myths was limited neither to the American side of the Atlantic, nor even to his own lifetime. This definitive account of Buffalo Bill’s Scottish adventures bravely undertakes to sift out the history from a generous and enduring legacy of fiction.