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Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of…

Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People

by S.D. Nelson

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The story of Sitting Bull and his attempts to save his people.
  Jahnavee | May 14, 2018 |
Sitting Bull, by S. D. Nelson, is a very beautiful biography of the famous Lakota warrior. The design is exciting, from the end papers covered in maps and archival Sioux art to the homage to Ledger Art that the entire book is. The book does a good job of telling the story of Sitting Bull’s life, providing a narrative flow that is easy to follow and paints a broad picture of the world in which Sitting Bull lived. The prose is in imaginary first person, as if written by Sitting Bull himself, which I was uncomfortable with as it created a blur between fiction and non-fiction that I do not think was intentional but could be misleading to a student in elementary or high school. The book also more provides a picture of life for the High Plains Indians during Sitting Bulls life more than it provides a detailed account of his own experience, making it an impersonal read at times. This does not detract from the book, but the information is noticeably weighted toward the state of the indigenous nations in the Dakotas rather than the story of Sitting Bull’s life. What did he do with his family. How did being in Buffalo Bill’s show affect his pride and dignity?
But all that is a mere bump in the road in a masterfully designed book. The back end paper explains that Ledger Art is a form created out of necessity in the late 1800s. Supplies on reservations were scarce, so Plains Indians began using the discarded ledger books of the government soldiers as their primary material for drawing and painting. In this book, every page has a ledger book background, and the illustrations are done in a faux-naif style imitative of original Ledger Art. This adds an imaginary, magical sense of authenticity that works well while reading. The book also has some photos from the time which provide wonderful context for the story.
The story told is a hard story to hear, as it is rife with injustice and suffering. The illustrations add depth and the photos add context. The use of a fictitious first person voice is not the best choice in dealing with a history which to this day is a matter of contention, but it does not spoil the book. ( )
  jbenrubin | Feb 13, 2018 |
Sitting Bull in about a Native American Indian who showed his bravery and courage to save his people. During this time, many white people moved more west in the new world. This disrupted many Indian tribes that were already there. They traded with the Indians and tried to make peace but the whites did not know peace. They wanted their land so they took it instead. They would chose Indians they felt were fit to be chiefs and sign treaties but the other Indians did not agree to these treaties. The white people felt they were breaking it and would retaliate. Sitting Bull was tired of seeing his people suffer. he would take position in every battle. Sitting Bull was killed by a Lakota policeman unfairly. People still talk about his story today, he was a symbol of honor and strength for his people. ( )
  mcsuane | Nov 15, 2017 |
Very interesting story about the life of Sioux Indian chief Sitting Bull. This book tells the story of his life growing up as young hunter and warrior on the Plains of the Midwest to his eventual role of chief and defender of his people against the United States government. He shares his struggles with his own tribe's willingness to negotiate treaties with the government, give up their land and customs, and move to reservations. ( )
  MotherGoose10 | Oct 29, 2017 |
This book is written in the imagined voice of Sitting Bull, born in 1831, who was a member of one of seven Lakota tribes, known by non-Natives as the Sioux. Sitting Bull was one of the greatest Lakota/Souix warriors, resisting for over twenty-five years the efforts of the U.S. Government to move the tribes to reservations (where the land was less desirable so the whites could have the better land - especially in the Black Hills - and also not have to worry about retribution by the Native Americans).

As the author writes:

“The wasichus [white men] were looking for the yellow metal that made their hearts crazy with greed. Gold! It didn’t matter that the gold was on Lakota land. Wasichus began to arrive in huge numbers.”

The army also announced that those who refused to give up the land would be considered “hostile Indians.”

Sitting Bull, trained from childhood to be a warrior, was at the battles of Killdeer Mountain and the Little Bighorn. Along with Crazy Horse, he became the last of the Lakota/Sioux to hold out against the U.S. Government. He said in 1881: “A warrior I have been. Now it is all over. A hard time I have.”

His tragic story is told with passion, and in a way that will be understandable to young readers. He also tells about his own death in 1890 at the Standing Rock Reservation, when many Native Americans were engaging in the religious ritual known as “The Ghost Dance.” It was a rite involving drums, dancing, and prayer, and made the whites very nervous. They feared the dance was just a precursor to an Indian uprising. They killed Sitting Bull, as well as his son and six members of his band who were trying to defend him. [The Ghost Dance was also the “excuse” for the 1890 massacre by the U.S. Army of mostly old men, women, and children, at Wounded Knee on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.]

Historical quotes are periodically offset from the text, not only by Sitting Bull, but by others important to his life and times, such as this infamous 1866 vow from General William Tecumseh Sherman:

“We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women, and children.”

The illustrations, by the author, are done in ink and colored pencil in the style called Ledger Book Art. When Natives were forced onto reservations, the only paper they could get was in the form of bound ledger books no longer of use to the white man. The Plains Indians used the books to create the art they previously painted on buffalo robes, tipis, etc. The bound books of lined paper were turned into beautiful testimonials to Native life and memory.

There are also a number of reproductions of historical photos included in the book.

At the back of the book, there is an extensively annotated time line and Author’s Note, a select bibliography, and index.

Evaluation: This excellent combination of biography and history tells a riveting and tragic story. Such books as these can enhance the ability of young people to see the plight of others from different races and religions, and would make an invaluable addition to any classroom. (The intended audience is ages 8-12, but I myself found it to read like a page-turner.) Telling the story in the voice of Sitting Bull helped add immediacy and emotional heft to the story.

The book also serves as a correction to the omission from contemporary history of the mass murders of Native Americans (and arguably of course the rightful owners of the land) by the American Government. ( )
  nbmars | Jan 7, 2017 |
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Sitting Bull was one of the greatest Lakota/Sioux warriors and chiefs who ever lived. From killing his first buffalo at age 10 to being named war chief to leading his people against the U.S. Army, "Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People" brings the story of the great chief to light.… (more)

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