Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Book Review: Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull: American Biographies by: Ann Weil, Heinemann Library, Chicago, Ill, 2013.
This book is interesting because it has little boxes of fact vs. fiction.  Some of these challenge what I previously felt I knew about Sitting Bull.  This book is written from a native American angle, and also seems to be dependent on a biography written of Sitting Bull by his great-great-grandson based on oral history.  I must admit I am a little suspect about some of the things it says.  However, some things I learned.  Sitting Bull was the third name.  Prior names included “Jumpng Badger” and “Slow”.  In this case slow refers to Sitting Bull’s habit of taking his time and thinking things through.  The naming of Sitting Bull, I had read in a book growing up was from making a buffalo bull calf sit.  This book contends it was through a religious visitation to his father.  Sitting Bull showed the Lakota virtues, generosity, wisdom, bravery and fortitude.  He proved himself in battle and in counting coup.  He was also a Sun Dance participant, which took great bravery and fortitude.  He had a vision of the Battle of Little Big Horn before it took place, however he did not actually participate in the battle, leaving this to younger warriors.  Crazy Horse actually lead this battle.
After this battle, they were pursued greatly by the American forces.  (This book uses an Indian term for white people, Wasichu, which basically means greedy.)  Sitting Bull escaped with about 1000 followers to Canada rather than become an agency Indian or reservation Indian.  However this life was hard and he returned. 
He was allowed to travel with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show.  He would give his money to poor children.
However he missed his land and people and returned.  He again saw his vision his own death, by the hand of his own people.  There was conflict with regards to the ghost dance.  (This book says Sitting Bull did not believe however previous research says he was studying the religion and Sitting Bull had been participating in the ghost dance either as participant or spectator.  However his arrest was ordered, and in the struggle Sitting Bull was killed, as well as about six members of his family and friends, as well as six native American police who had been sent to arrest him.
Many who had been at the ghost dance fled.  However the government pursued them, which resulted in the Battle of Wounded Knee.  The ghost shirts did not protect them from bullets. 

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