A reverent tribute to the great Hunkpapa chief and holy man, cast as a memoir with a rich array of new and contemporary illustrations.
Nelson also pays tribute (as he has elsewhere) to ledger-book art, with scenes done in that simple style. Here they depict, along with mystical symbols and traditional hunts and battles, a steamboat, a busy city street, the slaughter of women and children at Killdeer Mountain, Custer’s death (depicted as a suicide) at Little Big Horn, and Sitting Bull’s murder by a Lakota police officer. Sitting Bull himself, aptly named for a buffalo that would never back down, retraces in dignified language his early years, long struggles with the “wasichus” over invasions and broken promises, and his end. His is a strong voice, whether scorning subservient “Hang-Around-the-Forts” or commending his great contemporaries—of Crazy Horse: “He fought like a thunderstorm. I liked that man.” He closes with a stirring exhortation to “honor those traditions that still serve our people,” to “Brave up!” and to “go forth with a good heart.” The first-person narration makes this problematic as nonfiction, but the backmatter provides a wealth of information. Along with period photos distributed throughout and a detailed timeline of Lakota history up to Wounded Knee, Nelson’s lengthy closing notes on Lakota practices and spiritual beliefs will leave readers with a rich picture of this noble figure’s personal and cultural context.
Solidly historical and far more heartfelt than those on the overcrowded shelf of assignment-fodder profiles. (endnotes, bibliography, index) (Historical fiction. 10-13)