Saturday, November 02, 2013

Kiowa Chief- Sitting Bear

Sitting Bear 
11" x 14
Sitting Bear is well documented as the leader of the Kiowa 10 Bravest War Society (called the Ko-eetsenko in the Kiowa Language).  The chief was born in the Black Hills of South Dakota around 1810. He had six wives and several children before his death in 1871. This poainting was done from a photograph taken near the end of his life when he lived on a reservation. There were many photos of Sitting Bear but I found this one the most interesting. Edward Curtis, the photographer, created black and white portraits of thousands of Indians during the late 19th century and early 20th. The Indian's way of life changed drastically during that period and without Curtis' photos  much of their history might have disappeared.

Sitting Bear lived in Oklahoma when it was simply called, "Indian Territory." He was honored for his bravery and leadership. During his lifetime he watched as Indian families were separated and relocated to reservations. He strived to keep his family together.

One story in particular illustrates this well:

"Old Chief Sitting Bear left the Kiowa reservation against the threats of his U.S. Army overseers. His reason was to retrieve the bones of his son in Texas and bring them back home. Following Kiowa beliefs, the family unit was of primary importance throughout ones life.

Upon his return, he was captured, shackled and taken by wagon to Ft. Sill for leaving the reservation. With Ft. Sill in sight, he told the wagon driver and escort, "See that tree up ahead? You will not live to see the other side." He then stood up and began to sing his death song:

 'O sun. You remain forever, but we Ko-eetsenko must die.

 'O earth you remain forever, but we Ko-eetsenko must die."

According to Kiowa oral history, when he ended his song, he pulled a knife that he had been concealing and took the life of the wagon driver. The escort immediately shot Old Chief Sitting Bear to his death. It is said that Sitting Bear would rather give up his life than live without the remains of his cherished son."

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