An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
May 31, 2003 - Issue 88
A Chief of a Great Nation
editor's note: The following is a report by a Patric, nine-year-old Ojibwa boy. The assignment was to write about a famous leader. He wanted to share it with you.
nigi, hello friends. My name is Chief Sitting Bull. I was born in 1831
or 1832, into a wealthy Hunkpapa family, which is part of the Sioux Tribe.
My mother's name was her Holy Door and my father's name was also Sitting
hobbies and things that I enjoyed were hunting for food and helping those
less fortunate than I was. There were no schools back then, like there
are today, so I did not learn from books. I learned by watching and helping
my Elders. By doing this, I learned from them, the skills I needed to
work and to hunt. My name was not always Sitting Bull. Sometimes in and
Indian's life a person may have several different names. My name, at birth,
was Jumping Badger, which no one ever really called me. As I grew, my
name was changed to Slow, because of my careful and deliberate ways. At
the age of 14, I received the name that I am known by today, which is
Sitting Bull. This name was given to me by my father after I fought in
my first battle. Sitting Bull means an animal that has great endurance
and when brought to bay, it will plant itself so that it cannot be moved
and it will fight until its death. The feather that you see in my hair
represents the first and most important virtue, which is bravery. I received
this feather in 1845, during a battle with the Crow Indians, for my bravery
in defending myself with only a coup stick, which looks something like
a Shepard"s hook.
I was a child, there were no schools like there are today, so I gained
my knowledge from others and that is how I became a great Chief of the
Hunkpapa Clan. My job was to protect my tribe and to be a good warrior
and hunter. I married my first wife in 1851. She died in 1857, while giving
birth to our son, who died at the age of 4 years old. I was very saddened
by this, so I adopted my nephew whose name was One Bull. I also later
adopted another boy by the name of Stay Back, who would otherwise have
been killed in a battle. I later married my second wife whose name was
Snow-On-Her, and we had two daughters. I then married my third wife, Red
Woman, and we had a son together. My interests have always been to keep
my tribe together and safe on the sacred land that is rightfully ours.
General Custer and his army are trying to remove us from this land and
put us onto assigned land called reservations. By doing this, they are
taking away our culture and our freedom to live off the land and survive
the only way we know how to do.
people remember me as a person who fought his whole life and that is true
in some ways. It depends on where you go and who you talk to, why I am
remembered. Some will tell you that I was a bad person and killed many
people. The Indians who still live today, though will tell you that I
am remembered for the battle at Little Bighorn, in which I fought for
our land rights that the government had promised us that we could keep,
which was ours anyway, and they were now stealing away from us because
there was gold and other valuable things on it. We did not care about
those things, we only cared that the land was sacred to us and we were
not greedy about the gold. We only wanted to be able to keep our sacred
land. This battle is know today as the Battle of Little Bighorn. Many
people were killed that day, both red and white people. I remain famous,
mostly for that battle and for the Ghost Dance in which the government
tried to accuse me of conjuring up another war. I am remembered also for
being a good Chief, taking the best care of my people that I knew how,
and for keeping peace within my tribe and clan. Most of society does not
honor me today, except for the Native American Nations or Tribes. They
honor me by telling stories of long ago to their children and grandchildren,
hold ceremonies in honor of me, and the month of November is also considered
Native American History Month, in which I am remembered as well as many
other Native Americans. There is also a reservation named in honor of
me that exists still today, as well as Rosebud Reservation, Standing Rock,
and Pine Ridge Reservations. These reservations still, to this day, experience
the things that I will tell you about. I would like to think that I did
make a difference in this world, because although my people did end up
on reservations, and being forced to give up their Indian ways, they were
able to still survive in a world that they knew hardly anything about.
To this day they have still been able to keep their culture alive and
to pass it on from generation to generation, not letting it get lost.
In November of 1890, after all the fighting was over and we were living
peacefully on the reservations that we had been forced onto, I was still
performing the ways of my culture. The government did not understand these
ways and it scared them. We were not bothering anybody, but the government
sent a man by the name of James Mc Laughlin to come and arrest me. The
government said that "fleas have nits," meaning I was a flea
and all the Indian children and adults were the nits. They wanted to get
rid of me because I was still teaching our cultural ways, and because
of this, I was to be arrested and or killed. Mc Laughlin did not come
for me until December 17, 1890. On that day, at 6:00 in the morning, he
came, along with 44 other men, to arrest me. I was sleeping peacefully
in my home, with my family, when they arrived. The men were nervous and
afraid of me, so they were rushing things along. I had no clothes on,
so my wife went to get me some to wear. After I was dressed, I told the
policemen that I would go peacefully and that there was no reason to push
or shove me. Afterall, I was an old man, I was almost 60 years old! They
refused to do this, so my tribe began to yell at these men, telling them
how rotten they were for coming onto the reservation and causing trouble
for no reason at all. One of the policemen fired his gun and it hit his
fellow officer, killing him. Another man thought that I had done this,
even though I had no weapon of any kind, and he shot me in the chest,
killing me. I died that day, on the reservation, with my clan members
at my side.
The title of the book I read for this biography is called The Lance and the Shield. It is authored by Robert M. Utley. What I enjoyed most about this book is that I was able to read and learn things about Sitting Bull that I had never learned in any other book that I had read. What I enjoyed least about the book, was that it was a very long book and was sometimes hard to understand and was written for an adult level. I admire Sitting Bull for several different reasons. He was a generous person, in spite of what most of the books say about him. He always stood up for what was right and for his people. He tried to protect his people the best he could, and even though he was a great Chief, he never acted like he was better than anybody else. He worked right along side of his people and doing the common things like everyone else did. Maybe if he were here today, people would be different, but he is not, because he was killed for no reason at all. That is why I admire Sitting Bull. Thank you for listening to a story about just one of the great Indians of yesterday. I hope that you have learned something from this biography.
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