Sitting Bull Critical Context
by Walter Stanley Campbell

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Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

When the first edition of this biography came out in 1932, many of the Sioux who had participated in the events that Vestal related were still alive. Since that time, all of them have died, and their stories have died with them. Although some new evidence has come to light in the years since the book’s first publication, these valuable firsthand sources have been lost with the deaths of the participants. Thus, Sitting Bull contains information unavailable to later writers, and for this reason it provides young readers with a glimpse of the great Sioux chief and his culture that they may not find in any other work.

Vestal brings to light the tragedy that befell a proud people and their leaders in the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the Sioux and all the Plains tribes were forced to give up their way of life. In Sitting Bull’s life and character, one can see a leader who blended courage, compassion, and tolerance and who sought to do his best for his people regardless of the personal consequences for him. Young readers may learn a valuable lesson from this portrayal of his life and gain insight into the old and honorable culture of the Sioux tribe and the cultures of Native Americans in general.