Satanta, a member of the Kiowa tribe, was born in about 1830. He was also known as Settainte (White Bear). He developed a reputation as an outstanding warrior and in his twenties was made a chief of his tribe.

Satanta negotiated several treaties with the American government including Little Arkansas (1865) and Medicine Lodge (1867). Satanta agreed that the Kiowas would live on a Indian Reservation. However, when they delayed their move Satanta was seized by General George A. Custer and held as a hostage until the migration took place.

In 1871 Satanta led several attacks on wagon trains in Texas. He was arrested at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and at his trail he warned what might happen if he was hanged: " I am a great chief among my people. If you kill me, it will be like a spark on the prairie. It will make a big fire - a terrible fire!" Satanta was found guilty of murder and sentenced to death, but Edmund Davis, the Governor of Texas, decided to overrule the court and the punishment was changed to life imprisonment.

Satanta was released in 1873 and was soon back attacking buffalo hunters and led the raid on Adobe Walls. He was captured in October, 1874. Unwilling to spend the rest of his life in prison, Satanta killed himself on 11th October, 1878, by diving headlong from a high window of the prison hospital.

Satanta - History

A Kiowa war chief, Satanta (Set'tainte, White Bear) was probably born circa 1819 on the southern Great Plains. An imposing figure, he was a renowned warrior and member of the Koitsenko soldier society. He emerged as a leader prior to 1850 and signed the Little Arkansas Treaty in 1865. A skilled orator, he rivaled Kicking Bird and Lone Wolf for tribal authority following the death of Dohasan in 1866. Satanta represented the Kiowa at the Medicine Lodge Treaty council in 1867. Despite the acceptance of a reservation in Indian Territory, Kiowa hostilities continued. After the Battle of the Washita in November 1868, Lt. Col. George A. Custer held Satanta captive until the Kiowa had encamped peacefully at Fort Cobb.

In May 1871 Satanta participated in a wagon train attack in Young County, Texas. He, Satank, and Big Tree were arrested after Satanta bragged of the incident to agent Lawrie Tatum at Fort Sill. Ordered to Jacksboro, Texas, to stand trial, Satanta was convicted of murder and sentenced to hang. His sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and he was transferred to the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville. He was eventually returned to Fort Sill, and he remained there until paroled in October 1873. Although Satanta's role during the Red River War is uncertain, his parole stipulated Kiowa nonaggression. Therefore, he was apprehended in the fall of 1874 and returned to Huntsville. There he committed suicide on October 11, 1878. Buried at the prison, Satanta's remains were reinterred at Fort Sill in 1963.


Mildred P. Mayhall, The Kiowas (2d ed. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971).

Wilbur S. Nye, Carbine and Lance: The Story of Old Fort Sill (3d ed., rev. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1969).

Carl Coke Rister, "Satanta, Orator of the Plains," Southwest Review 17 (October 1931).

Charles M. Robinson, Satanta: The Life and Death of a War Chief (Austin, Tex.: State House Press, 1997).

Clarence Wharton, Satanta: The Great Chief of the Kiowas and His People (Dallas, Tex.: Banks Upshaw and Co., 1935).

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Jon D. May, &ldquoSatanta,&rdquo The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture,

© Oklahoma Historical Society.


In the 1860s and 1870s, the Kiowa Indians waged an ongoing battle to protect their land and way of life from U.S. encroachment. Satanta (1830-1878), also known as White Bear, was a major Kiowa leader in favor of resistance. Besides his prowess as a warrior, Satanta was also a famed orator—a fact attested by his American-given nickname "The Orator of the Plains."

Satanta was born on the northern Plains, but later migrated to the southern Plains with his people. His father, Red Tipi, was keeper of the tribal medicine bundles or Tai-me. Much of Satanta's adult life was spent fighting U.S. settlers and military. He participated in raids along the Santa Fe Trail in the early 1860s, and in 1866 became the leader of the Kiowa who favored military resistance against U.S. military forces. In 1867, he spoke at the Kiowa Medicine Lodge Council, an annual ceremonial gathering, where, because of his eloquent speech, U.S. observers gave him his nickname. At the council, Satanta signed a peace treaty that obligated the Kiowa to resettle on a reservation in present-day Oklahoma. Shortly thereafter, however, he was taken hostage by U.S. officials who used his imprisonment to coerce more Kiowa into resettling on their assigned reservation.

For the next couple of years, Satanta participated in a number of raids in Texas where cattle ranchers and buffalo hunters were steadily pushing Kiowa and Comanche Indians onto reservations. It was one of these raids that eventually led to Satanta's capture. In May 1871, Satanta planned an ambush along the Butterfield Stage Route on the Salt Creek Prairie. After allowing a smaller medical wagon train to pass, Satanta and his warriors attacked and confiscated the contents of a larger train of ten army freight wagons. Unfortunately for Satanta, the train he had allowed to pass was carrying General William Tecumseh Sherman, the famous Civil War general, then commander of the U.S. Army. Sherman took the attack as a sign that a more militant and coordinated offense was needed to subdue the Kiowa and Comanche, who were unwilling to settle permanently onto reservations. A short time later Satanta was lured into a peace council and then arrested and was sentenced to death. Humanitarian groups and Indian leaders protested the harsh sentence. In 1873, Satanta was paroled on the condition he remain on the Kiowa Reservation.

In 1874, during the Comanche and United States conflict called the Red River War, Satanta presented himself to U.S. officials to prove that he was not taking part in the hostilities. His demonstration of loyalty was rewarded with imprisonment. Four years later, an ill Satanta was informed that he would never be released. He jumped to his death from the second story of a prison hospital. □

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Satanta Kiowa Chief



Post by Dietmar on Dec 12, 2006 15:08:09 GMT -5

We started a conversation about Satanta in another thread, but I thought it would be good to have something more of him to read. Satanta was perhaps one of the most controversial figures in Native American history. Here is an article by Charles Robinson III, who also wrote a biography about the Kiowa chief:

Kiowa Chief Satanta
Kiowa chief Satanta was one of the most complicated men ever to rise from the Great Plains--a diplomat and orator of his people who did his share of killing.
By Charles M. Robinson III

In the 1860s and '70s, one of the best-known Plains Indians was the Kiowa war chief Satanta. In the East, he was seen as the orator of his people, a sort of rustic philosopher who represented them in treaty negotiations, and his observations on Indian-white relations were often repeated in great metropolitan newspapers. In Texas, he was regarded as the architect of the Warren Wagon Train Massacre in which seven teamsters were killed--a murderer who deservedly had been condemned to die, but who, at the last minute, had been given life imprisonment due to Reconstruction politics.

Both these views overly simplified one of the most complicated men ever to rise from the Great Plains--a highly intelligent chief, diplomat and philosopher who was also a murderer, but a man whose life story has only recently begun to receive its full measure of justice.

Satanta was already an adult of distinction when he entered the history of the southern Plains. What is known of his early life is based on tribal tradition passed down through generations of Kiowa until the present day. When or where he was born is uncertain, but based on a general agreement about his age among white contemporaries, it may be assumed he was born between 1815 and 1818, when his people ranged between the North Platte River in what is now western Nebraska and the Canadian River of what is now north Texas and central Oklahoma. His father was Red Tipi, the ranking Kiowa priest of his day his mother appears to have been Arapaho.

As a baby, Satanta was called Big Ribs, referring to the massive physique for which he was known throughout his life. When he grew older he received his permanent name, Set-t'ainte or "White Bear," perhaps based on a vision or some sort of personal achievement. Because Set-t'ainte is virtually unpronounceable to anyone besides a Kiowa, the whites anglicized the name to "Satanta."

Kiowa boys began training as warriors at a very early age and were sent out on their own as soon as they proved capable. By the age of 20, most had married and begun families of their own. Satanta, however, was not allowed this early freedom Kiowa tradition holds that Red Tipi was so proud of his son that he kept Satanta under strict supervision long after most young men would have gone out on their own. When his father finally released him into the world, Satanta was almost 30 and thoroughly prepared for his role in the Kiowa Nation.

Satanta enters conventional history in the mid-1850s, when he first attracted the attention of soldiers attached to military expeditions in Kiowa country. Although he was still a subchief, everyone noticed his large frame and fine features. One officer, Captain Richard T. Jacob, described him as "a man of magnificent physique, being over six feet tall, well built and finely proportioned"--a description that would be repeated throughout Satanta's life. Whites also noted his intelligence, forceful personality and arrogance. He had a fine sense of the dramatic, but anyone who considered his posturing nothing but show entirely underestimated the man. Beneath his theatrics, he was an outstanding warrior and leader. At the height of his prestige in the late 1860s, frontier whites hated and feared him.

Satanta figured prominently in the intertribal warfare of the 1850s, as well as in treaty negotiations with the U.S. government. During a treaty conference at Fort Atkinson, Kansas Territory, in 1853, he aired Kiowa grievances to a dragoon officer, Major Robert Hall Chilton. One of the soldiers, Private Percival Lowe, thought Chilton and Satanta were pretty well matched, both being tough and uncompromising, and each understanding the other.

By the time of this treaty, Satanta was almost 40 years old and a noted warrior. In battle he wore red paint on his upper torso, face and hair, and a buckskin vest painted red on one side and yellow on the other. Among his associates was the ancient medicine man Black Horse, who provided Satanta's most important piece of battle equipment--one of the sacred shields used during the Kiowa Sun Dance. To accept it, Satanta had to sacrifice his own flesh to the sun by having four deep gashes cut into the back of each shoulder just above the joint with the arm, a painful and enduring offering. He carried the shield during raids against other tribes and into Mexico.

While the Kiowa might have regarded the sun shield as Satanta's most important possession, among the whites his best-known trademark was the bugle that he blew to signal an attack or announce his presence. The Kiowa say he captured the bugle during a fight with federal troops after observing the soldiers responding to the different bugle calls. Although other Indians also carried bugles and signaled warriors with army calls during fights, whites linked it with Satanta and automatically assumed he was present if they heard a bugle during an Indian fight.

The Civil War provided new opportunities for the Indians to expand their depredations with virtual impunity. With most soldiers withdrawn for fighting in the East, the frontier was more or less undefended, and they could raid at leisure. Texas, one of their traditional marauding grounds, was a particularly attractive target. Because Texas was a Confederate state, the North not only looked the other way but actively encouraged the raiding. According to ethnologist James Mooney, the Kiowa "distinctly stated that they had been told by military officers of the [federal] government to do all the damage they could to Texas, because Texas was at war with the United States."

The year 1864 was one of the bloodiest in the history of the southern Plains. Satanta began by leading a raid into the vicinity of Menard, in west Texas, where he and his warriors killed several whites and carried off one woman into captivity. Then, he joined other Plains Indians in depredations in Colorado, for which Black Kettle's friendly Cheyenne followers subsequently were made to suffer in the senseless Sand Creek Massacre.

One of the worst raids was in Young County, Texas, in October 1864. Although the Comanche Chief Little Buffalo led the war party, one of the captives later told her rescuers that a Kiowa chief called "Satine" had blown a bugle to signal the others. There is little doubt this was Satanta. In a later raid he kidnapped several members of a Texas family named Box and, pleased with the ransom paid by the government, remarked that trafficking in white women was more profitable than horse stealing.

In 1867, raids by Satanta and others in the south, combined with the Red Cloud War in the north, prompted the government to try to negotiate treaties with the various Plains tribes. This was the second peace effort in two years. The earlier Treaty of the Little Arkansas, in which Satanta participated, had accomplished nothing. Now, once again, the federal commissioners met with the tribes, this time near Medicine Lodge Creek in Kansas in October 1867.

The commissioners gathered at Fort Larned, where Satanta and several other chiefs met them and accompanied them the 80 miles to the conference site. During the council, Satanta commanded the attention of the news correspondents, including young Henry Morton Stanley, who would later gain fame as the greatest of all African explorers.

Satanta spoke often, at one point making a speech that later became required reading in American literature classes. He said: "I have heard that you intend to set apart a reservation near the mountains of [western Oklahoma]. I don't want to settle I love to roam over the prairie I feel free and happy but when we settle down we get pale and die. A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers but when I go up to the [Arkansas] river I see camps of soldiers on its banks. The soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo and when I see that my heart feels like bursting I feel sorry."

While his words may have impressed later generations, at the time they had little affect on the peace commissioners, who, according to Stanley, gave Satanta "a rather blank look." Nevertheless, in this and subsequent statements, the chief succeeded in discomfiting the commissioners about the government's failure to live up to the obligations of past treaties. The fact that Satanta himself violated treaties when it suited him did not become a major issue. In the end, the Kiowa agreed to sign the treaty and accept the reservation Satanta found so objectionable. They also agreed to accept schools, annuities and supplies from the government and to shift from raiding to agriculture.

Like so many other treaties, the Medicine Lodge pact was unworkable. The government attempted to keep faith but was hampered by bureaucracy. The Kiowa war faction, headed by Satanta and Lone Wolf, was not really interested in making it work. Despite allegations by Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan, however, documented evidence shows that Satanta was elsewhere when Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer attacked the Plains Indian camps along the Washita during Sheridan's winter campaign of 1868­69. And being absent, he likewise was not responsible for the death in that fight of white captive Clara Blinn, for which Sheridan specifically blamed him. Even so, Sheridan ordered Custer to arrest Satanta and Lone Wolf, and they were kept in close confinement for several weeks. Upon release, Satanta went back to his old habit of raiding.

Satanta finally pushed his luck too far when he participated in the Warren Wagon Trail Massacre near Fort Richardson, Texas, on May 18, 1871. Returning to the Kiowa­Comanche Agency near Fort Sill (southwestern Oklahoma), he bragged about the raid and the killings to Agent Lawrie Tatum and incriminated several other chiefs, including the aging war chief Satank and the teenage subchief Big Tree. Tatum reported the boasts to Fort Sill, where General W.T. Sherman was on inspection, having just arrived from Fort Richardson. Sherman was aware of the Warren raid, and he had narrowly missed death at the hands of the same war party, which had spotted him the day before the massacre. Sherman arrested Satanta and Satank and ordered them, together with Big Tree, to Texas for trial.

Old Satank (who is often confused with Satanta because of their similar names) jumped a guard at Fort Sill and was killed. Satanta and Big Tree were tried by a Texas jury and convicted of seven counts of murder in the Warren massacre. The jury fixed their sentences at death by hanging. At the behest of Agent Tatum, a Quaker, and Judge Charles Soward, who presided over the trial, Governor Edmund Davis commuted their sentences to life imprisonment, and on November 2, 1871, Satanta and Big Tree entered the state penitentiary at Huntsville.

Although Tatum advocated sending more hostile chiefs to prison, his superiors in the Quaker committee that administered all the southern Plains agencies immediately began lobbying for a pardon for the two chiefs. Davis, a Reconstruction governor, balked at the idea, but after 23 months of wrangling and pressure from Washington, finally agreed to parole Satanta and Big Tree against the good behavior of the Kiowa as a whole.

Much of the fighting spirit had left Satanta when he returned to his people, and, when the Kiowa debated whether to enter the Red River War of 1874, he publicly stated his position by resigning his office as a war chief and giving his symbolic medicine lance and shield to other warriors. Even so, he was present when fighting erupted. Although he may not have participated in it, he did consort with hostile chiefs, and Kiowa involvement in the war was, itself, considered a parole violation. He was arrested and returned to Huntsville.

As time passed, Satanta seemed to lose the will to live and became a sympathetic figure. Even Thomas J. Gorree, superintendent of the penitentiary, advocated his release. The government, however, was adamant that he remain confined. Finally, on October 11, 1878, he slashed his wrists. As he was taken to the second floor of the prison hospital, he jumped off the landing. The fall killed him.

Satanta's descendants believe he was pushed off the landing, because suicide was not in his nature. Still, it would have been in character for Satanta, in his last act as a Kiowa warrior, to deprive the whites of victory by taking his own life. They had his corpse, but not his obedience. And for a warrior, that is an honorable death.

Legends of America

Chief Satanta of the Kiowa tribe.

Known to his people as Set-Tainte, meaning “White Bear Person,” Satanta was a great Kiowa warrior who would later become the principal chief in the Kiowa Wars of the 1860s-1870s and was known as “The Orator of the Plains.”

He was born about 1820, during the height of the power of the Plains Tribes, probably along the Canadian River in the traditional winter campgrounds of his people.

After developing a reputation as an outstanding warrior, he was made a sub-chief of his tribe under Chief Dohasan while still in his twenties. In appearance, he was described as tall, having a fine physique, erect bearing, and a piercing glance.

He fought with Chief Dohasan at the First Battle of Adobe Walls in 1864 and earned enduring fame for his use of an army bugle to confuse the troops in battle.

His speaking abilities gained him the title of “Orator of the Plains,” and as such, he negotiated several treaties with the American government including the Little Arkansas Treaty in 1865 and the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867, which required the Kiowa to be placed on a reservation.

The treaty assured the Kiowa people rule over the lands set aside for them, but white settlers continued to pour across their territory and as a result, the Kiowa continued to raid settlements and harass immigrants.

The unstable situation got worse when Chief Dohasan died in 1866 and without his strong leadership, competition between several sub-chiefs including Satanta, Guipago, and Tene-angopte, resulted in more raids across the southern plains from Kansas to Texas, during the fall of 1866 and into 1867. During one of these raids in the Texas Panhandle, the Kiowa killed a man named James Box and captured his wife and four children, whom they sold to the army at Fort Dodge, Kansas.

By this time, Satanta’s fame as a warrior and a leader was growing but he was unable to defuse a confrontation between the Kiowa and the U.S. Cavalry near Fort Zarah, Kansas in 1867. After a young Kiowa warrior was killed at the civilian camp near the army fort, the Kiowa gathered to avenge his death, and the cavalry retaliated by attacking the Kiowa encampment, in which several children were killed during the brief skirmish.

Medicine Lodge, Kansas Peace Treaty

The Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867 failed to resolve the sources of conflict and by early 1868 the Kiowa and other plains tribes were actively attacking white settlers.

Fearing that these attacks were leading to an Indian uprising, General Philip H. Sheridan was sent in to restore order in the “winter campaign” of 1868-69. Sheridan’s strategy of destroying Kiowa homes and horses dampened the Kiowa’s will to resist, especially after Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer destroyed the southern Cheyenne village on the Washita River on November 27, 1868.

Upon hearing of Custer’s willingness to kill women and children, Satanta and Guipago decided to surrender. Flying a flag of truce, the two chiefs approached Custer on December 17th but were immediately arrested and held for nearly three months while Custer sought permission to hang them. Finally, in February 1869 Tene-angopte negotiated their freedom by promising that the Kiowa would return to the reservation and cease all attacks on white settlers.

Warren Wagon Train Raid by Buck Taylor.

However, by 1871, Satanta and his followers were obviously not satisfied with the reservation and began to make a number of attacks on wagon trains in Texas. On May 18, 1871, Satanta, along with Big Tree and Satank, led the Warren Wagon Train Raid in Texas. Also known as “The Salt Creek Massacre”, the incident occurred as Henry Warren was contracted to haul supplies to Texas forts including Fort Richardson, Fort Griffin, and Fort Concho. While the freight train was traveling down the Jacksboro-Belknap Road on May 18th towards Salt Creek Crossing, they encountered General William T. Sherman, who had earlier allowed the Satanta and his men to pass unmolested. Less than an hour later, the wagon train spotted a group of about 100 warriors.

Recognizing an imminent attack, the wagon train quickly pulled into a ring formation, but the 12 teamsters were overwhelmed by the warriors. When the attack was over, the Indians captured all of the supplies and killed and mutilated seven of the wagoneers. Five men managed to escape and Thomas Brazeale was able to reach Fort Richardson on foot, some 20 miles away. When Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie learned of the attack, he immediately informed General Sherman, who in turn dispatched Mackenzie to bring the offending Indians to justice.

Kiowa warrior Setangya, aka: Satank, Sitting Bear, by William S. Soule

Their mission however, proved unnecessary as Satanta, shortly after returning from the raid with his men to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to claim their rations, was questioned by Indian agent Lawrie Tatum. The warrior, obviously using bad judgment, responded by boasting about the raid, and a horrified Tatum quickly turned the chiefs over to General Sherman. The warriors were then ordered sent to Jacksboro, Texas, to stand trial for murder. Bound hand and foot, Satanta, Satank, and Big Tree left Fort Sill on June 8, 1871. Satank was later killed while resisting a guard and Satanta was warned that he might be hanged for his crimes. To this, Satanta responded: “I am a great chief among my people. If you kill me, it will be like a spark on the prairie. It will make a big fire – a terrible fire!”

Satanta and Big Tree were tried in Texas and sentenced to death but Texas Governor Edmund Davis, overruled the court and the punishment was changed to life imprisonment. While in prison, a visitor described him as “a tall, finely formed man, princely in carriage, on whom even the prison garb seemed elegant.” Just two years later, Satanta was released in 1873, conditional upon the good behavior of their people.

The following year, Satanta and his warriors were back on the warpath, attacking buffalo hunters and engaging in what is known as the Second Battle of Adobe Walls which occurred on June 27, 1874.

In October 1874, Satanta was captured and once again placed in the Texas Penitentiary at Huntsville. Unwilling to spend the rest of his life in prison, Satanta committed suicide on October 11, 1878, by throwing himself from a high window of the prison hospital.

Big Tree, with other chiefs believed to be secretly hostile, were confined as prisoners at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. After Big Tree’s release, he continued to live on an allotment from the reservation until his death in 1929.

Satanta USD 507 Logo

Satanta High School (SHS) students involved in the school&rsquos Science and History Club worked over the course of two years to raise funds to take an educational trip across Kansas this spring. This trip took place on April 27-29. Mr. Tim Dusin, SHS social science instructor, and Mrs. Crystal Naylor, SHS science instructor, were the sponsors who accompanied these high schoolers on their trip. Maureen Wagner drove the Satanta activity bus for three-day adventure.

The schedule for the trip included a Saturday stop at the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson where students experienced experiments with live fire and visited the museum. The journey continued that day at Tanganyika Wildlife park near Wichita where they were able to feed the giraffes and ride camels. They stayed the night in Kansas City on Saturday night.

On Sunday, the trip continued with a visit to the World War I museum in Kansas City where students were able to honor the lives that were lost in that terrible war. Saturday ended with a Kansas City Royals game against the Las Angeles Angels.

After the game, the students traveled to Topeka for their final stop. On Monday, students were able to visit the Kansas Supreme Court and the state capitol. Leslie Cabrera says, &ldquoIt was a great educational experience. I am thankful for the school letting us go and for our teachers and Mrs. Wagner for helping us make this trip a memorable one.&rdquo

Library History

The Satanta library was founded in November 1931 by four Satanta women’s clubs: The American Legion Auxiliary, Santee, Owaissa, and Wohelo. The Santee and Owaissa clubs were both still active until a few years ago. The young Owaissa is still active today and is called the YO club. At the back of the yearbook is a handwritten copy of the bylaws and a newspaper clipping with the heading “Clubs launch Campaign for City Library”.

The Library was founded during the Great Depression and the lean economic times of the Dust Bowl years. During this time the library received funding for the librarians salaries from the Kansas Emergency Relief Committee (KERC). Later funding came from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which was part of the President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal project.

The November 17, 1931 minutes noted that the Constitution and By Laws were read and accepted as written. The Elementary School Board voted to allow the library be located in a room at the grade school building. The first Library Board members were:

The rules for checking out a book in 1933: only ONE book could be checked out on a card, unless the individual pay 10 cents for a second card to permit checking out a second book.

Today the Dudley Township Library is funded through a mill levy through Dudley Township. In December 1961 a blond brick building was completed at 105 Sequoyah to house the Dudley Township Library. The building was added onto in the 1970’s.

History of the Satanta Library was first shared at the December 1, 2008 Satanta Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The information was drawn from the library board minutes from 1931-1944 by Leanne Tschanz, Dudley Township Library Board member.

Author’s notes: My primary source of information is the handwritten minutes of the library board from November 1931 to January 1944. The minutes were recorded by hand in a 1929 Yearbook compliments of James Patrick, a bonded abstractor. James Patrick bought the first building lot in Satanta in 1912 and his real estate office was one of the first businesses in Satanta.


Satantan tarkkaa syntymäaikaa ja -paikkaa ei ole yleisessä tiedossa, eikä hänen nuoruudestaan löydy luotettavia merkintöjä. Ruumiinrakenteeltaan hänet on kuvattu lapsesta lähtien kookkaaksi. [2] Hänen nimeään Set-Tainte eivät pystyneet lausumaan kuin kiowat, joten nimi muotoiltiin helpompaan muotoon Satanta. Soturina hän osoittautui erinomaiseksi taisteltuaan ylipäällikkö Dohasanin alaisuudessa monien vuosien ajan.

Satanta nousi 1860-luvun alussa päällikön asemaan. Yhdessä muiden alipäälliköiden tavoin hän käytti sodan ja diplomatian keinoja hillitsemään Texasissa Yhdysvaltain asutuksen lisääntyvää leviämistä. Vuosina 1865 ja 1867 hän osallistui neuvotteluihin kiowien maiden luovuttamisesta Yhdysvalloille. Reservaattiin siirtymisen vaikeutui, kun everstiluutnantti George Armstrong Custerin joukot hyökkäsivät vuonna 1868 läheiseen cheyennien talvileiriin ja surmasivat yli sata intiaania. [4] Verilöylyn pelästyttäminä uuteen reservaattiin matkaavat kiowat lähettivät lapsensa ja naisensa päinvastaiseen suuntaan. Custer pidätytti vaikutusvaltaisimmat kiowapäälliköt Lone Wolfin ja Satantan ja piti heidät vankeudessa, kunnes kiowat oli saman vuoden loppuun mennessä saatu reservaattiin. [5]

Kiowien ja Yhdysvaltojen väliset vihamielisyydet lisääntyivät uudelleen vuoden 1870 aikana. Satanta ja suurin osa kiowista vihasivat elämää reservaatissa. Intiaaniasiamiesten kautta tuleva naudanliha oli sitkeää eikä ollut verrattavissa biisonin lihaan. Heille tarjottu maissi oli mautonta. [6] Hallituksen vuotuisten muona-annosten pieneneminen ja valkoisten metsästäjien järjestämät biisonien joukkoteurastukset eteläisillä tasangoilla saivat Satantan johtamaan sotapäällikkönä kiowat hyökkäyksiin Texasin uudisasutuksia vastaan. [7] Kun Satanta kiowineen palasi reservaattiin, he eivät myöntäneet olleensa hyökkäysten takana. [6]

Seuraavana vuonna Satantan katkeruus kasvoi. Hän liittyi reservaattiensa kurinalaisuudesta tarpeeksi saaneisiin kiowiin ja comancheihin, ja johti nämä eteläisillä tasangoilla liikkuvien vankkurikaravaanien kimppuun. Näistä hyökkäyksistä historiaan on jättänyt surullisen merkkinsä toukokuussa 1871 suoritettu Warren Wagonin verilöylynä tunnettu tapahtuma. Satanta ja noin sadan soturin joukko, joista osa oli aseistettu uusin kiväärein, pysäytti maissia kuljettavan karavaanin ja surmasi seitsemän vankkurinkuljettajaa. Eräs kuljettajista oli kahlittu vankkurin pyörään ja poltettu. [8] Tapahtumapaikalta pakoon selvinnyt vahvisti surmien tekijöiden olleen reservaatistaan poistuneita kiowia. Intiaanit olivat halunneet aseita ja ammuksia. Satanta myönsi myöhemmin olleensa murhaajien johtaja ja perusteli tekoa reservaatin ankeilla oloilla. [6]

– Kiowa-johtaja Satanta. [6]

Satanta joutui valkoisen tuomioistuimen eteen, ja hänet tuomittiin vankeuteen kahden muun kiowan kanssa. Alkuperäinen murhasyyte hylättiin, ja kahden vuoden kuluttua Satanta pääsi moitteettoman käytöksen ansiosta ehdonalaiseen vapauteen. Vapautuminen osui kuitenkin mahdollisimman huonoon aikaan. Comanchien merkittäväksi johtajaksi noussut Quanah Parker aloitti samanaikaisesti laajamittaiset hyökkäykset Texasin siirtolaisasutuksia vastaan. Vuonna 1873 aikana Parker ja hänen soturinsa, joihin kuului hänen oman heimonsa lisäksi kiowia, cheyennejä ja arapahoja, levittivät pelkoa ympärilleen ja saivat seuraavana vuonna aikaan parikymmentä yhteenottoa Yhdysvaltain armeijan kanssa Red Riverin sodassa. [9]

Viimeisistä sodista sivussa pysynyt Satanta pidätettiin uudelleen vuonna 1874. Hän kielsi osallisuutensa, mutta hänen sanojaan ei uskottu, ja hänet passitettiin Texasin valtionvankilaan Huntsvilleen neljäksi vuodeksi. Määräajan tultua täyteen hän vankilaelämän masentaneena, sairaana ja katkeroituneena kertoi kärsineensä vankeustuomionsa ja haluavansa vapauteen. Kun Satantan pyyntöihin ei suostuttu, hän hakeutui vankilan lääkärin vastaanotolle. Lääkäri lähetti Satantan vankilan sairaalaan, jossa tämä lokakuussa 1878 teki itsemurhan heittäytymällä toisen kerroksen ikkunasta pää edellä maahan. [10]


"Satanta would ride into Fort Chadbourne splendidly mounted, dressed in beautiful fashion carrying a shield ornamented with a white woman's scalp from which hung a suite of beautiful brown hair."

"After he was returned to the penitentiary in 1874, he saw no hope of escape. For awhile he was worked on a chain gain which helped to build the M.K. & T. Railway. He became sullen and broken in spirit, and would be seen for hours gazing through his prison bars toward the north, the hunting grounds of his people."

Both illustrations and captions from History of Texas by Clarence R. Wharton, 1935.

Like his counterpart Comanche chief Quanah Parker, the Kiowa chief Satanta (White Bear) led his people in the titanic struggle to expel the white man from his ancestral homeland. And, like Parker, he lived to see his people eclipsed in defeat and exile. One of the most feared of all Indian leaders, his life inspired the character of Blue Duck in Larry McMurtry's classic Texas novel Lonesome Dove.

Satanta was born around 1820 in Kiowa country, somewhere in present-day Kansas or Oklahoma. Little is known of his early life. As he grew up, he became a warrior, participating in raids against the Cheyennes and the Utes and raiding white settlements in Texas and Mexico for horses and other booty. By 1865, the tall, muscular Kiowa had become important enough to accompany Dohäsan (Little Mountain), the principal chief of the Kiowas, and two other well-known chiefs to treaty negotiations.

Dohäsan led the Kiowas for more than thirty years and was renowned as both a warrior and a shrewd politician. As long as he was living, Satanta and other subchiefs were willing to follow his lead, tacking between war and diplomacy to stop the increasing flow of whites into their lands. But after Dohäsan died in 1866, the leadership of the Kiowas split. The majority of Kiowas threw in their lot with the peace chief, Kicking Bird. The warlike younger men were divided between two war chiefs, Satanta and Lone Wolf. The competition set off an especially fierce round of raids across the southern plains in 1866 and 1867.

Satanta's exploits earned him the right to represent the Kiowas at the Medicine Lodge Treaty council in Kansas in October 1867. In spite of the success of their raids, Satanta and the elderly chief who accompanied him, Satank (Sitting Bear), both realized that the Kiowas were in deep trouble. Like other tribes, they had been greatly weakened by epidemic disease. Moreover, it was easy to see that the U.S. army was increasing its presence in the West now that the American Civil War had ended. Satanta and Satank signed the treaty, which required that the Kiowas move to a reservation in Oklahoma. However, the treaty was a dismal failure, and the Kiowas were back on the warpath within months.

During the winter of 1868-1869, the U.S. army undertook its most important campaign against the Indians in decades. The so-called "winter campaign" of General Phil Sheridan made use of all of the devastating tactics learned by the Army in the Civil War, including burning the Indians' homes, killing their horses, and even entering villages to kill unarmed women and children. The militants Satanta and Lone Wolf decided to surrender to a subordinate of Sheridan's, Colonel George Armstrong Custer, rather than risk a massacre of their people. Custer took the two chiefs hostage and held them prisoner for several months until Kicking Bird won their release by promising to take the Kiowas to the reservation.

An uneasy peace lasted until the spring of 1871, when fourteen white Texans were killed in renewed raids by the Kiowas. Lone Wolf and Satanta were both leading their own factions again, and Satanta headed out of the reservation with a war party of about one hundred warriors, including the able Big Tree and the elderly Satank. Their raids culminated in the notorious Warren Wagon Train Raid (See Native American Relations in Texas for more.) Back at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, Satanta bragged openly about the massacre. He was arrested by the commander of the U.S. Army, General William Tecumseh Sherman, and taken under guard for trial at Fort Richardson in Jacksboro, Texas.

A lieutenant at the fort vividly described Satanta when he arrived at the fort: "He was over six feet and, mounted on a small pony, seemed taller. He was stark naked but for a breech clout and beaded moccasins. His coarse black hair, powdered with dust, hung tangled about his neck except a single scalp lock with an eagle feather to adorn it. The muscles stood out on his giant frame like knots, and his form was proud and erect in the saddle, while his motionless face and body gave him the appearance of a bronze statue. Nothing but his intensely black glittering eyes betokened any life in his carved figure. Every feature of his face spoke disdain for the curious crowd that gathered about him. His feet were lashed with a rawhide lariat under the pony's belly, and his hands were tied. Disarmed and helpless, he was a picture of fallen savage greatness."

The trial of Satanta and Big Tree became a national sensation. (Satank was killed before the trial in an escape attempt.) It was the first time that Indian chiefs had been tried for murder in a court of law. They were sentenced to death. Under pressure from eastern humanitarians and fearing igniting a larger Indian war, Governor Edmund J. Davis commuted their sentences to life in prison and ordered Satanta and Big Tree locked up in Huntsville prison.

After two years, Davis paroled the chiefs in a move designed to appease the Kiowas, who were increasingly outraged about the slaughter of the buffalo. Needless to say, this decision was extremely unpopular with white Texans and with General Sherman, who wrote, "I believe Satanta and Big Tree will have their revenge, if they have not already had it, and if they are to take scalps, I hope that yours is the first that will be taken."

Nor did the parole have the effect for which Davis hoped. Within mere days of being released from custody, Kiowa and Comanche war parties descended on Texas. Over the next year, Satanta was often seen on these deadly raids, including the Second Battle of Adobe Walls in June 1874, a debacle that all but destroyed the Kiowas as a military power. In September 1874, Satanta turned himself in to authorities and was taken back to Huntsville to resume serving his life sentence.

Four years later, Satanta committed suicide by jumping out a window. He was buried in the prison graveyard. In 1963, Satanta's grandson claimed his body and returned it for burial in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Satanta I speak to
Lone Wolfe, Kicking Bird and all and
want them to pick up a good road
to the other Comanches now raiding

in Texas I want them to quit it and
stay here on the reservation. This Chief
(Mr Smith) has come from Washington to
tell them what the Great Father wants
them to do. While in Texas in prison I
was treated kindly, no one struck or abused
me. Some one told my tribe I was dead
which was wrong. I mean what I say.
I take my Texas father by the hand and
hold him tight. I am half Kiowa and
half Arrapahoe [sic]. Whatever the white man
agrees in, that is what I want my
people to do. Strip these things off of
me that I have worn in prison, turn
me even to the Kiowas and I will live
on the white man&rsquos road forever. Turn
me over to my people and they will do as
the white man wants them. The Father
in Washington has selected good men to
meet my tribe and do what is good. The
best thing to do for my people is to re-
lease me. That is what I have to
say to the White People and now I will
talk to my Chiefs.

(He addresses his people in Kiowa
and on being told that he must
talk to them in Comanche so that
the Interpreter could interpret what

he said he desisted from saying
more and took his seat.)

(Lone Wolfe. Kiowa Chief.) My people
have come here to-day to hear what the
Governor of Texas has to say to them
and afterwards we will answer.

Satanta's speech at the Negotiations Concerning Satanta and Big Tree, October 6, 1873. Texas Indian Papers Volume 4, #224, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Silent Death

This 1880s cabinet photo taken at Arizona’s Fort Apache features an Indian holding two arrows in his bow that looks to be a Self Bow, made of one piece from local wood, possibly willow, mesquite, cottonwood or juniper. His 1883 blue wool U.S. Army shirt and woven canvas cartridge belt indicate
he may be a scout.
– Courtesy Phil Spangenberger Collection –

Silent, deadly and accurate at close range, the American Indian’s handmade bow was capable of rapid fire. Because the archer’s bow threw a projectile, it could easily be considered the predecessor to the gun. In the early days of the frontier, it was even superior to the settler’s firearms.

While the bow predates recorded history, some historians feel the weapon did not make its first appearance in North America until around AD 1000, when early Viking explorers introduced it to northeastern North America. Others believe indigenous peoples of the continent knew about the bow as early as 500 BC, although it reportedly began spreading from Alaska down through North America around 2000 BC. Regardless, by the time settlers made contact with frontier Indians, the bow had become a staple for hunting or war.

Up until the mid-19th century and the introduction of repeating firearms, the Indian’s bow was superior to the clumsy, often unreliable and slow loading muzzle-loading weapons of the Europeans. Lead for ammunition for guns could be difficult for Indians to obtain, while the bow’s ammunition—arrows—were literally growing on trees. Easy to make in large quantities, the bow offered rapid fire and reliability.

Artist George Catlin put it best when he wrote of his travels in the 1830s: “An Indian…mounted on a fleet and well-trained horse, with his bow in his hand, and his quiver slung on his back, containing an hundred arrows, of which he can throw fifteen or twenty in a minute, is a formidable and dangerous enemy.”

Indian bows were made in a variety of configurations, such as straight bows, or single or double recurve bows. As a rule, Indian bows ran about three feet in length, although they occasionally reached as long as five. Records show that their bows seldom exceeded what we know as a 60-pound pull, the necessary force to bring the bow to full draw.

Indians made their bows out of natural materials, generally of wood, such as cottonwood, willow, hickory, oak, ash, mesquite, birch, evergreen or any tree found in the Indian’s locale. Bows made from animal parts, such as deer antler, buffalo ribs or whalebone, were also common in certain regions.

Today’s collectors have narrowed Indian bows down to four main types. The first is the most common class of North American bow, the Self Bow, made of one piece of material, usually wood. Next is the rarely encountered Compound Bow, made of several pieces of wood bone or horn that are lashed together, similar to lamination, to form a solid bow. The third is the Sinew Backed Bow made from a brittle piece of wood and reinforced with cord or sinew wrapping. The last type is the Sinew Lined Bow, a self bow with its back strengthened by a sinew strip glued on the outside of the bow or, in certain regions, on both sides of the bow.

Early-day mountain men also made use of the bow. Well-known fur trapper James P. Beckwourth claimed he practiced with it extensively during the early 1820s and became proficient.

For the most part, the bow was exclusively a weapon for the Indians. As 1830s and early 1840s Southwestern traveler Josiah Gregg put it: “The arms of the wild Indians are chiefly the bow and arrows, with the use of which they become remarkably expert…at distances under fifty yards, with an accuracy equal to the rifle.”

Surely, many a frontiersman would have attested to that!

This fine specimen of a mid-19th century Southern Plains outfit consists of a sinew-wrapped bow, a hide and fringed bow case, a lightly beaded, fringed and trade cloth-decorated quiver with a shoulder strap and several arrows.
– Courtesy Richard Manifor Collection –

Famed Kiowa Chief Satanta, present at both famous Adobe Walls battles, in 1864 and 1874, holds his bow, bow case and quiver, made of animal hide trimmed with fur and trade cloth. This circa 1870s photo also shows metal trade arrowheads. Satanta not only led many attacks against settlers, but also helped negotiate the Medicine Lodge Treaty in October 1867.
– Courtesy Phil Spangenberger Collection –

Phil Spangenberger has written for Guns & Ammo, appears on the History Channel and other documentary networks, produces Wild West shows, is a Hollywood gun coach and character actor, and is True West’s Firearms Editor.

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