Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Divided into twelve chapters, Dorothy M. Johnson’s Warrior for a Lost Nation: A Biography of Sitting Bull covers the life of Sitting Bull in chronological sequence from his childhood growing up to be a Sioux warrior through his many clashes with the United States Cavalry and his eventual surrender and death on a reservation. As Johnson writes, from Sitting Bull’s appointment as head chief of the Sioux in 1867 (when he was in his mid-thirties) until his death in 1890, his story can also be read as the story of the whole Sioux nation—and indeed of all Native Americans.

Johnson indicates that Sitting Bull’s contact with whites was negligible before the age of twenty. In his childhood, he dreamed of gaining honor and respect as a brave warrior. As a teenager, he gained that respect in hunting expeditions and in skirmishes with rival tribes. When describing the old Native American way of life, Johnson successfully uses invented dialogue and activities to present the essential realities of the people and their lives.

Sitting Bull’s attitude toward whites was that, as long as his people had buffalo to hunt and land to roam, he did not really care much about them. Warrior for a Lost Nation shows how this view was short-sighted in the light of the ravenous hunger of the settlers for new land and new passageways throughout tribal hunting grounds. Sitting Bull negotiated with a series of army officers, but each time, after...

(The entire section is 446 words.)