Sitting Bull: Do You Know Who I Am?


Arranged by Kyle Gann from historical sources

I am no chief.

I am a man. I see. I know.

I began to see when I was not yet born; when I was not in my mother's arms, but inside of my mother's belly.

It was there that I began to study about my people.

God gave me the power to see out of the womb.

The [Great Spirit] must have told me at that time that I would be the man to be the judge of all the other Indians - a big man, to decide for them in all their ways.

I speak. It is enough.

I never taught my people to trust Americans.

I have told them the truth - that the Americans are great liars.

I have never dealt with the Americans. Why should I?

The land belonged to my people.

[New York Herald, November 16, 1877]

Of course I will speak to you if you desire me to do so.

I suppose it is only such men as you desire to speak who must say something.

Do you recognize me?

Any man who desires to speak... shall talk for [the Indians].

Do you know who I am...?

...Sitting Bull.

[But] do you know who I am?

Slightly recumbent gentleman cow.

[But] do you know who I am?

I do not know any difference between you and the other Indians at this agency.

I am here by the will of the Great Spirit, and by his will I am a chief.

My heart is red and sweet, and I know it is sweet, because whatever passes near me puts out its tongue to me.

[Senate Committee, Standing Rock Agency, August, 1883]

If a man is a chief, and has authority, he should be proud, and consider himself a great man.

[Stanley Vestal, Sitting Bull]

And yet you men have come here to talk with us, and you do not know who I am.

If the Great Spirit has chosen any one to be the chief of this country it is myself.

You have conducted yourself like men who have been drinking whiskey, and I came here to give you some advice.

I have always been a chief, and have been made chief of all the land.

Thirty-two years ago I was present at the [Fort Rice] council with the white man....

Since then a great many questions have been asked me about it, and I always said, Wait.

Then the Black Hills council was held, and they asked me to give up that land, and I said... wait.

I remember well all the promises that were made about that land....

You white men advise us to follow your ways, and therefore I talk as I do.

When you have a piece of land, and anything trespasses on it, you catch and keep it until you get damages, and I am doing the same thing now.

And I want you to tell this to the Great Father for me.

I am looking into the future for the benefit of my children, and... I want my country taken care of for me.

[to the Senate Committee, Standing Rock Agency, August, 1883]

My father has given me this nation,

In protecting them I have a hard time.

No chance for me to live, Mother,

You might as well mourn.

[songs, recorded in Stanley Vestal, Sitting Bull]

Indians! There are no Indians left but me.

[when asked how the Indians felt about having sold the Black Hills, recorded in Stanley Vestal, Sitting Bull]

Text copyright 1998 by Kyle Gann

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