Summer, 1983 They're locked together outside a gift shop outside the Badlands: a statue Indian shaking hands with a statue cowboy. The Indian's head feathers hang down, subdued; the cowboy's hat tilts up at the front— invitation, forgiveness. His six-shooter, holstered, juts out from the wood, and I trace it, guiding two fingers along a well-worn stream that ends at the Indian's leather vest tassels: When I touch them they should be soft but are not. My family floats somewhere apart from me; I do not think of my family. The Indian creeps into the mist of a forest, lifts his hatchet toward a rustle in the distance. The cowboy kicks the ribs of his horse, wrecks onward through a blizzard of dust. And far away the speck of Rushmore's faces scoured—by sun, by wind—one layer more lean.
From Journal of American Foreign Policy, published by New Issues Press. Copyright © 2011 by Jeff Hoffman. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.