Sunday, June 5, 2016

Native American Biography: Satanta: Kiowa

Santanta was a Chief of the Kiowa during the time of Indian Wars.  In 1864 Federal forces wanted to punish the Indians for frequent raids on wagons along the Santa Fe Trail.  During the Civil War they was hardly any deterrent to these raids, and the Indians looked about the wagons as trespassers who were killing too many buffalo.  This raid was an expedition into the heartland of the Kiowa and Comanche peoples.  Colonel Kit Carson lead the raid.  This battle became known as the Battle of Adobe Walls.  However Carson took only 300 men and found a force of 2500-3000 braves waiting for him.  They were able to hold off the Indians for a time with their two Howitzers, but the retreated as quickly as they could back to their supply train.  Both sides claimed victory.  During the battle Santanta played an important part, confusing the American troops by mimicking and playing his own trumpet against the calls of the military trumpeter.
At negotiations for the Medicine Lodge Treaty Santanta became known as the Orator of the Plains.  This may have been a sarcastic title for his long windedness.  With the death of Dohasan, last of the chiefs of the entire Kiowa, three different sub-chiefs claimed power.  Santanta lead several parties against wagon trains, and had some success.  However in 1871 he went too far.  He and his men attacked the Warren Wagon Train.  They killed several men, and were able to take all the supplies and mules.  However some men escaped and fled to inform the military.  Santanta and others bragged about the attack, so he could not deny it.  He and two other sub-chiefs were arrested.  One attempted escape before he was tried.  He had sung his death song.  Santanta was tried and sentence to be hung.  However this sentence was commuted.  There was fear of reprisal should he be killed.  He served two years, and was released on parole after two years.  The government contended that he was involved in attacking a wagon  He was present at the second battle of Adobe Walls.  He had given his war lance to younger chiefs, and was only present.  However his presence violated his parole, and he was taken back to the penitentiary, where he worked on a chain gang.  He help prepare land for the railroad, through territory where he use to hunt.  This was too much for him and he committed suicide by jumping out of a high window of the penitentiary hospital.  His grandson, James Auchiah, a famous painter, claimed his body 90 years later from the penitentiary cemetery.
Dohasan was the last undisputed chief of the entire Kiowa Nation before the reservation period.  At the first Battle of Adobe Falls he and his people repelled the famous Kit Carson.  Carson and his men were outnumbered 10-1 and it was only clever use of his howitzers that kept he and his men from being over run.  Ads it was, this battle, although large in scope, did not result in a great many casualties other than the Old Indians who couldn't escape when their village was attacked.  Dohasan passed away a couple years after this battle.

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