Sitting Bull

William Yenne, Author Westholme Publishing $29.95 (379p) ISBN 978-1-59416-060-8
In this stirring biography, Yenne, author of numerous books on the history of the American West (Indian Wars, On the Trail of Lewis and Clark, etc.), captures the extraordinary life of Plains Indian leader Sitting Bull while providing new insight into the nomadic culture of the Lakota. Born in 1831, Sitting Bull witnessed the downfall of his people's way of life nearly from start to finish-despite some clashes, ""the Lakota supremacy on the northern Plains remained essentially unchallenged"" until the 1850s. Yenne describes how hostilities increased after the 1849 California gold rush, and were exacerbated by the opening of the railroad; conflicts and broken treaties would harden many Lakota against the colonists, including Sitting Bull. A high point is Yenne's account of how celebrity journalism created the myth of Custer's Last Stand, casting the general as hero and Sitting Bull as the villain, and how the US cavalry's defeat was used to justify forcing Indians off their land and onto reservations. The last half of the book describes Sitting Bull's unsuccessful attempts to defend the Lakota's land and culture through negotiation and peaceful resistance, alongside a dismal record of government betrayal and neglect. In this remarkable, tragic portrait, Sitting Bull emerges as a thoughtful, passionate and very human figure. 60 illustrations.
Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 04/01/2008
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