When We Settle Down, We Grow Pale and Die…

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Satanta, the revered Kiowa chief, fought, then tried, then died on the white road. As 1870 approaches, he speaks his poignant truths to Indian Agent Lawrie Tatum, a well-meaning but ultimately powerless Indian Agent…

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I have heard that you intend to settle us on a reservation near the mountains. I don’t want to settle. I love to roam over the prairies. There I feel free and happy, but when we settle down we grow pale and die. I have laid aside my lance, bow, and shield, and yet I feel safe in your presence. I have told you the truth. I have no little lies hid about me, but I don’t know how it is with the commissioners. Are they as clear as I am? A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers; but when I go up to the river I see soldiers on its banks. These soldiers cut down my timber; they kill my buffalo; and when I see that, my heat feels like bursting; I feel sorry… Has the white man become a child that he should recklessly kill and not eat? When the red men slay game, they do so that they may live and not starve.

Chief of the Kiowas
Circa 1870