The life of Tatanka Yotanka better known as Sitting Bull and the tragic events that led to his death will be discussed in this paper. Yotanka led a carefree life as a young boy with the Sioux tribe. He received early recognition from his tribe as a warrior and man of vision. During his youth he joined in the usual tribal raids for horses against traditional enemies such as the Crow and Assiniboin. This paper will explain the history behind Sitting Bull and how he grew into a warrior, a chief and how his life was tragically put to an end.
Yotanka was born in 1831 in the Grand River region of present-day South Dakota. Tatanka’s father did not at first name him Sitting Bull but rather Jumping Badger, which would be replaced with something more suitable at the appropriate time in his growth. “No one called the boy Jumping Badger, however, for his willful and deliberate ways earned him the nickname Hunkesni, or Slow.” Slow never hurried and did everything with care and therefore the name Slow was an appropriate name. While still a small child Slow learned to use a small boy’s bow hunting birds, rabbits, and other small animals. As he grew into a young man, he desired to prove himself to his people. At the young age of 10, he demonstrated both skill and courage when he killed his first buffalo. When Slow was 14, he was considered very young to join a war party. However, slow was very anxious for a chance to prove himself. The chance arrived when the rest of the party waited for the enemy to approach nearer, Slow quickly charged towards an enemy on his pony. The other tribe members changed their strategy and followed his lead. The enemy warriors were so shocked at the boldness of the attack that they began to retreat.
At the age of 15, Sitting Bull displayed great courage in a fight with the Flatheads in 1847. He galloped past their skirmish line, laughing and taunting them. In spite of the shower of arrows and the hail of Flathead bullets directed against him, Sitting Bull sustained only a minor foot wound. This display convinced all that not only was this young man courageous; his medicine was powerful as well. “Because his father was so proud of his son’s early victory, he gave the name Sitting Bull to his son that the Buffalo God had given him. The Indians thought of the Buffalo as a headstrong, stubborn creature that was afraid of nothing. A creature that has great endurance, courage and strength.” These qualities were fighting qualities that people saw in Sitting Bull.
As a final tribute, Jumping Bull presented his son with a shield. Like the shield of every Sioux warrior, Sitting Bull’s shield contained power far beyond the tough buffalo hide of which it was crafted. All shields claimed sacred origins and thus endowed their users with sacred power. The design that was on Sitting Bull’s shield was said that it appeared as a vision to his father. “A specially skilled craftsman fashioned the shield, and a holy man painted the vision onto buckskin stretched over the cured hide. Colorfully painted in scarlet, green, dark blue, and brown, it feathered a bold figure that may have been a bird or, according to One Bull, a manlike being that appeared in Jumping Bull’s vision.” Through all his battles, Sitting Bull carried his treasured shield. “When he sketched his first pictographic autobiography, the shield appeared in nearly every representation of an encounter with an enemy.”
The Sioux tribe began losing respect and faith in the chiefs of their tribe; Four Horns decided it was time that a new chief was to be chosen. A chief that would restore the honor of and rebuild the people’s respect would be Sitting Bull. The people knew Sitting Bull as an avid buffalo hunter, a brave warrior who led charges against enemies, and he was a popular figure within the camp. “Sitting Bull also had a reputation as a peacemaker, settling disputes among his people. Sitting Bull felt...
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