Commitment, Servitude, and Honor may best describe them. But, it is their beliefs and approach, which makes each unique.
William Fetterman's entire command was defeated here.
Although each man’s reaction to the white incursion on their tribal lands differed significantly, research has led me to believe that the three qualities listed above were the common links between the three men and likely shared by the leaders of all great native nations.
Their focus was on Oyate-The People. Every action they took held that focus as its basis. Each man showed his commitment to protect and nurture the people. The most important thing in their minds was to serve the people with unbreakable honor and commitment. Not surprisingly, they differed greatly in personalities and what each viewed as the best tactic for protecting the people and the land they controlled. At times their characters seemed at odds, but by the people, each was viewed with utmost respect, for each carried the day with what became recognized as their unique gift to the people.
Sitting Bull surrounded by family.
Sitting Bull was a Holy Man. His leadership was one of understatement and wisdom balanced with a steady and uncommon knowledge of the realities of the time. His penchant was to solve problems through peaceful means. His common sense and good judgment were evident to his people, and his honor was undeniable. He would fight if the situation deemed it necessary.
Crazy Horse was a warrior, a fighter that lived for the battle. Selfless in his unyielding distrust of the white man, he was committed to his people. Everything he gained, he gave to the people. His honor drove him to fight for more than his distaste for the ways of the white man, instead, to protect the people at all costs. Given the choice of winning through compromise or winning through battle, he would choose to fight. There are no known pictures of Crazy Horse.
Chief Red Cloud
Red Cloud was a pragmatist. It was as though he could see the end before the beginning. With the Bozeman Trail drawing miners and families through land promised the Indian in the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty, the people favored killing all interlopers. With an awareness of what had happened to the Santee Dakota in the short Minnesota War, Red Cloud favored giving travelers a choice to turn back or continue toward their promised death, although, to bring the fight to the Army was a different matter. When the U.S. Government began building forts along the trail—in the heart of prime buffalo country—Red Cloud met the provocation with his war, intending to force the abandonment of the new forts and closure of the trail by engaging the army in battle.
To learn more about these three Indian leaders, stories which aren't covered in our history books, read my books titled, The Thirty Ninth Man and Tears of Sorrow.
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At seventy-six, I’m at the beginning of a new chapter in a life filled with blessings from above, adventure, love of family, and kinships reaching into the heavens and to God himself. —AND— I love to tell a story.