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Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Sitting Bull: Champion of the Sioux, Stanley Vestal traces the life of one of the most influential Native Americans from his birth to his death using primary historical sources, mainly interviews with Native Americans related to or acquainted with Sitting Bull. The book covers Sitting Bull’s conflicts with other Native Americans, his rise to the leadership of the Teton, or Western, Sioux, and his role in the tribe’s struggle to preserve its identity and way of life in the face of continual encroachments by whites.

Vestal divides his thirty-nine chapters into three parts. “Warrior” relates Sitting Bull’s life from birth through young adulthood. This section tells how the youngster called Slow earned the name Sitting Bull because of his courage and tenacity, and it follows him through encounters with enemies such as the Crows. Over these years, Sitting Bull accumulated a large, impressive number of “coups,” or acts of personal valor. “Chief,” the second part of the book, covers Sitting Bull’s years of leading the Sioux against enemies from other tribes and white settlers and soldiers. It was in these years that he provided the leadership and foresight that kept his people free and helped them to outfight the United States Army time and again. When the tribe could no longer hold out in its lands within United States boundaries, he led them north into Canada, where they preserved their independence a few years longer until hunger forced them to return to the United States and surrender to the authorities. The third part, “Captive,” details the chief’s life from his surrender to his death at the Standing Rock agency in South Dakota. Through those hard years, he kept his dignity and his concern for the welfare of...

(The entire section is 443 words.)