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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tatanka Yotanka's death

I found these two gems (1, 2) by accident after I had watched a satire on Buffalo Bill's Wild West show and felt the need to scurry around a bit looking for some more information on Sitting Bull (one of my childhood heroes, quite unsurprisingly really). For those of you not initiated to the wonderful world of cowboys and Indians (such an inept and inaccurate description though), Sitting Bull (or Tatanka Yotanka in his native tongue) was the spiritual leader of the Hunkpapa Sioux, themselves part of the Lakota, he is widely held responsible (or celebrated?) for his preparation (again, more spiritual and motivational than as someone comparable to a general (that role would have been played by Crazy Horse (Tashunka Witko) or Gall), but considering the usual disaster called inter-tribal cooperation (see the disastrous defeat of Tecumseh) this role should not be underestimated) in the battle of the Big Horn river (Southern Montana). This battle was (and still is) the only one during which the US army ever lost every single man fighting on its side. Evidently, this last hurrah of the plains Indians didn't change anything in the long run, and the Lakota, like everyone other Indian tribe really, ended on a miserable reservation, dominated by alcoholism, violence and misery.

Is it scary that I wrote this without looking up anything by the way? Probably so, but then I spent most of my childhood reading books on this kind of irrelevant crap. Wait...that kind of reminds me of last week actually, and the week before that. Oh well.

What I found shocking was how the New York Times in 1890 reported on Sitting Bull's death, he was nothing but an old man at that point and it seems disproportionate how they condemn him especially considering the fact that the Indians miserable conditions and exploitation must have been widely known even then.

My favorite quotes:
  • the arch villain is dead
  • [his followers] will be good Indians or prisoners [this of course being a disgusting reference to (I believe) General Sherman's epitome that only a dead Indian were a good Indian]
  • the killing of the wily old plotter [part compliment, part insult I guess]
  • the savages [interesting about that is the fact that the NY Times basically admits to the attempted arrest being made possible in the first case through a blatant lie by the commanding officer (that he only wanted to talk to Sitting Bull namely), yet no criticism of that is voiced of course]
  • the Sioux, with a hideous yell, charged on the police
  • the old rascal
  • the arch traitor [to whom? To the white men's government that had broken treaty after treaty after treaty?] [..] was an accomplished liar [see above and just beforehand]

Did I mention that these things piss me off?

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