Sitting Bull

June 20, 2007 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

 With Fist Nations Sunday coming this week, I am sticking with an aboriginal theme for another week. I have just finished a great biography of the amazing Lakota chief, Sitting Bull (The Lance and the Shield by Robert Utley). For me the book was a real journey and I will share that sometime, somewhere once it is all digested. For today, I will just focus on my last impressions as I finished the book.

Controversy surrounds Sitting Bull. He is described as short and stocky or tall; a brave warrior leader or a coward; a great thinker or a dullard; a very spiritual medicine man or a fraud. My feeling leans toward the favourable characteristics but one thing comes through in the biography and that is his commitment to his family, his people and their way of life. It is this unbending commitment that was his greatest attribute yet also the cause of his undoing.

Sitting Bull lived in a very special time. The flood of the white faces into North America was at the point of overwhelming the natives. The Indians were vastly outnumbered. The Lakotas led a simple nomadic life surviving on hunting and fighting occasionally with neighbouring tribes. Their world view was very local. They lived in tipis and used primitive weapons such as bows and arrows, knives and lances. The white faces, on the other hand, were technologically advanced with cannon and rifles, they fought to assert their power over the land and people and their world view was global.

As the white steamroller hit the U.S. Midwest in the mid 1800s, these two cultures were about to clash. Sitting Bull was the point man for a native side that was doomed simply by numbers and time. The story that unfolds is instructive on a number of levels and tragic but I finished the book with a familiar story running through my mind.

At this special time in North American history, Sitting Bull believed and lived in a deep spiritual way. His concerns were for others; his people and family. He fought a constant battle against white domination and lies to preserve the simple way of his people. He was personally persecuted by the whites and even his own people and was eventually put in a position where he was killed by them. He was buried in a pauper’s grave but today nobody is sure where his body is. Yet his story and his legend lives on today greater than ever.

Jesus lived in special historical times too. He led a deeply spiritual life. The quality of his spirituality is well known and is celebrated as an example for all. His concerns were for others, never his own. He too fought a battle against power and lies. He was personally persecuted by the Romans and his own people, and also put in a position where he was killed by them. He too was buried in a borrowed grave and today nobody is sure where his body is. His story certainly lives strongly today and is very much greater than ever.

Like Jesus’ story, Sitting Bull’s story illustrates the injustice that is practiced between humans. Today we are still wrestling with ways to apply Jesus’ teachings in the global community. From Sitting Bull’s story we can take instruction on the injustices done on a more local level to our native brothers and sisters. We need to apply the lesson of love and justice that was the teaching of Jesus. It is not too late and in this the Creator will be well served.


Entry filed under: Wrestling With God.

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