“Let us put our minds together and see what kind of life we can make for our children.”
The words of the Native Americans have always resonated with me. It troubles me to know what they encountered when the White Man arrived on their land. If I was alive back then, I am certain I would have fought for them and the protection of their way of life.
Sitting Bull was a great Sioux leader who fought for his people. Sitting Bull was a medicine man, or holy man, of the Hunkpapa Lakota (Sioux), who were being driven from their land in the Black Hills. He took up arms against the white man, refusing to be transported to the Indian Territory. Under his leadership as a war chief, the Lakota tribes united in their struggle for survival on the northern plains.
The following words were spoken by Sitting Bull [the great Sioux leader] at the purely Indian “Powder River Council” of 1877, as recounted by men who were present to Charles A. Eastman (author of Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains). [They are inscribed in a plaque on Sitting Bull Rock on the Temelpa Trail]:
“Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun, and we shall soon see the results of their love! Every seed is awakened, and all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being, and we therefore yield to our neighbors, even to our animal neighbors, the same right as ourselves to inhabit this vast land.
“Yet hear me, friends! We have now to deal with another people, small and feeble when our forefathers first met with them, but now great and overbearing. Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possessions is a disease in them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not! They have a religion in which the poor worship, but the rich will not! They even take tithes of the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse. They compel her to produce out of season, and when sterile she is made to take medicine in order to produce again. All this is sacrilege.
“This nation is like a spring freshet; it overruns its banks and destroys all who are in its path.”
ONLY THE ABOVE IS ENGRAVED ON THE PLAQUE. THE FULL SPEECH CONCLUDES WITH:
“We cannot dwell side by side. Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now they threaten to take that from us also. My brothers, shall we submit? Or shall we say to them: ‘First kill me, before you can take possession of my fatherland!’”