February 22 1882
I’m in Philadelphia and its snow all around me. It’s really beautiful here with the white trees and white hills. I’m quite nervous. I’m here to interview chief Sitting Bull of the Hiawatha tribe. I’ve heard he’s quite aggressive.
I have finally arrived to the reservation where the Hiawatha clan lives. It’s not very big, and I would hate living there. It’s no wonder chief Sitting Bull is aggressive, I would be to if I had to live there. I am welcomed by sitting bulls son, Little Hawk, who takes me to their “House”. They have made a tent out of trees tied together at the top, and put in a circle in the end so it forms a round triangle. Then they have put a sheet over the trees. It’s much bigger inside than it looks from the outside. Inside they have a little fire going in the middle, and the smoke gets out through a hole at the top of the tent. There are animal skins from what looks like buffalo on the ground and the inside of the sheet is covered wit animal skins. It’s actually quite cosy in here, except the strong tobacco smell. Little Hawk tells me this type of tent is called a wigwam.
Then I see him, the chief him self. Behind the fire he sits. He looks really wise and tough. He is wearing a light brown leather shirt and trousers. The trousers have fur from the knees and down. Ha wears a lot of necklaces, they have lots of different colours. He has long hair, with beads and small feathers in it. He also has one big feather sticking up from the back of his head. He looks really impressive. His face has a lot of wrinkles and his lips are really thin, his nose is huge and his eyes have a different colour. The left eye is brown and the right eye is blue.
The first question I have for Sitting Bull is what his thoughts about the white men are.
He answers with a deep and husky voice. “The white med think they are very wise, which they might be, in their own way, but they are naïve and foolish. They don’t know anything about nature, and they are scared. They are scared of the animals and trees. Their even scared of the dark. They hunt buffalo for fun, and the Indians just take what they need. The white man is also greedy. They don’t like giving away things, and just take what ever they want.”
You don’t think that about all white people, I ask him.
“No, of course not” he answers. “I’ve met a lot of kind white men; one actually saved my life once. And I haven’t yet met all of them so I cant judge all of you.”
“I was in a fight with one of the guards here. He thought we had stolen some of his food, which we hadn’t. he took a gun and was going to shoot me, but then some stranger came up to him and told him not too do it. So he didn’t. I am really grateful for that”.
How is your life here at the reservation?
“It’s quite boring. We are not allowed to do anything; all the games we used to play are banned. We also get quite hungry, because we have to grow our food, and we are not used to doing that. We are hunters, not farmers. We are not allowed to hunt. We have to go to school every day to learn English, our children have to learn all the things the other English kids learn, so they can become civilized. But we don’t want to be civilized. We want our children to be proper Hiawathans and to live in harmony with nature. “
What is it to be Hiawathan?
“To be Hiawathan you have to go through a special ceremony when you are little. You have to have a special kind of clothes, like the ones I’m wearing today, and all Hiawathans wear a necklace like this.” He points to his necklace; it’s green and has square beads. “All the men have long hair with beads. Only the chief is allowed to have feathers in his hair.”
What kind of ceremony is it you have to go through?
“The ceremony happens a few months after you are born. We sing a song and lay the baby on a table. Then we cut the skin in the end of a baby’s pipi”.
How do you become a chief?
“to become a chief you have to go through several tests. You have to kill a buffalo alone, you have to spend five days in a tree and you have to walk on hot coal. You are chosen by the rest of the tribe, but you have to pass all these test too.”
Well, thank you for talking to me Sitting Bull. It has been an honour.