A Chief Speaks

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“What treaties that the whites have kept, that the red man broken?
Not one.
What treaties that the white man gave to us they kept?
Not one.” 

 Sitting Bull

 Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux, is recognized by many as the most powerful of all First Nation leaders.  Born in 1831 in Grand River, South Dakota, his destiny was to become a holy man and tribal chief during a time of great upheaval.  As a young boy, he wanted to emulate his warrior father, Returns-Again, but he lacked the aptitude for martial endeavours.  As a consequence, he was given the nickname, “Slon-he or “Slow.” That changed dramatically when Sitting Bull felled his first buffalo at the age of ten.    His name became Tatanka-Iyotanka, a Lakota name describing a buffalo bull sitting on its haunches.

Sitting Bull was a guardian of his people; he recognized that their tribal ways would be forever changed by the ever forward movement of pioneers moving west.  He said, “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.” His life was a testament to courage and determination in the presence of hardship.  He travelled many miles across the plains and into Canada in his search to find a place for his people to live in peace.

Wherever he went, Sitting Bull left his indelible mark. James Morrow Walsh, commander of the North West Mounted Police, became Sitting Bull’s life-long friend.   Chief Crowfoot of the Blackfoot nation, an old and powerful enemy, accepted Sitting Bull’s offer to smoke the Peace-Pipe.  On leaving Canada, Sitting Bull joined Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show and adopted Annie Oakley as a daughter, giving her the name “Little Sure Shot.”

“If the Great Spirit had desired me to be a white man, he would have made me so in the first place.”

 Sitting Bull

In the end, Sitting Bull sacrificed his life for his people. There were false rumours he would participate in the Ghost Dance, a sacred ceremony that would bring back together the living with the spirits of the dead to bring peace, prosperity and unity to the tribes across the land. On December 15, 1890, Sitting Bull was mortally wounded.

“Behold, my brothers, the spring has come; the earth has received the embraces of the sun and we shall soon see the results of that love! Every seed has awakened and so has all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being and we therefore yield to our neighbours, even our animal neighbours, the same right as ourselves, to inhabit this land.” 

 Sitting Bull

24 thoughts on “A Chief Speaks

  1. Such a source of sad history and inspiration.
    “Each man is good in the sight of the Great Spirit.”
    – Sitting Bull

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  2. I’m about a quarter of the way through a book you might be interested in if you haven’t already read it: Thomas Sanchez’s Rabbit Boss.

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    • I have just gone on Amazon and have put Rabbit Boss on my wish list and have placed it on my “to read” list! The Kindle edition is about $20 but there is an edition that sells for over $400. Thank you for your recommendation – looks fantastic!

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  3. I believe there is still one treaty intact in New York with the Seneca nation – but that speaks volumes.

    I don’t know if it is Assimov’s Hari Seldon of the Foundation Trilogy, or a Heinlein character who stated: a more technologically advanced society will always conquer or assimilate a less advanced one.

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    • I must look up that quote!!! I agree that technology, especially in military might, has the advantage.

      “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”
      ― Charles Darwin

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  4. You amaze me always with the diversity of your posts. Sitting Bull and his stories are unfamiliar territory to me. Love your previous quote from Darwin. It rings so true.

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    • I have often thought of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse etc, but what I would really like to research (when there is time???!!!) is the history of First Nation women. In my ancestry there, I have a great, great grandmother who was from the Santee Sioux nation. I don’t know much about her because the photos were lost…perhaps that is why I’m so interested in the stories from the past!

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      • Oh what wonderful research that would be. I think we may have to give you a sabbatical from WordPress to undertake that. As long as we got regular updates on your research 🙂

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      • Oh Gallivanta – it is so much more fun when we learn together – seems that I retain more information that way. I would have never know about Edward Wollstonecraft, if it weren’t for your comments!! 🙂

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      • Yes, it is true that collaboration seems to create a vigorous collective memory which keeps the individual memories vigorous too. Do bees already know this :)?

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    • I agree! There are so many stories in the past that give breadth and depth to our present. Sitting Bull is a man for all generations, not just his!

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    • Absolutely! This world has many men of women who have the courage and creativity to chose a better way!

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  5. A beautiful tribute to one of my favourite men from North American history, and one of the greatest chiefs of the Lakota Sioux. Stories of the First Nation people and their leaders have fascinated me as they fascinated by father and grandfather before me. A wonderfully poignant comment that you made regarding your ancestry and interest in history. Although not all your blog appeals to me, the historic posts almost always do. 🙂

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    • Thank you for your comments and for your presence! One thing I have learned from blogging is that there is a great freedom of choice. What I enjoy most is the dialogues. It is a global conversation, that continues to interest and challenge me. Have a wonderful day – you made mine!!!

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