EDO-EETTE (Big Tree)

Big Tree was a major Kiowa war chief late in the nineteenth century. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s, when Big Tree was young, the Kiowas raided the Texas Plains until their chief, Dohosan, died in 1866. Dohosan was succeeded by a new chief, Lone Wolf, who also resisted white settlement on their lands.

Reared in this pattern of resistance, it is not surprising that in May 1871, Big Tree, Satanta, and Satank, along with a force of over three hundred, struck a wagon train in Young Country, Texas, taking its mules and leaving seven men dead. Upon their return, the leaders bragged about the deeds in front of the agent and General Sheriman, who promptly arrested the three most prominent, Set-angya (Satank, ‘Setting Bear'), Set-T'ainte (Satanta, ‘White Bear') and Edo-eete (Big Tree).

The three were sent to Texas to stand. On the way to Texas, Satank attempted to flee his captors and was killed. Big Tree and Satanta were tried and sentenced to death, but the protests of sympathetic whites over the harsh sentences deterred their execution; their sentences were commuted to life imprisonment at Huntsville, Texas. The Bureau of Indian Affairs argued that the two men should not be released since their raid was an act of war.

Two years later in 1873, Big Tree and Satanta were paroled on assurances of good behavior and confined to Indian Territory.

In 1874-1875, violence erupted once again when the army confiscated some Kiowa horses. Consequently, the government became alarmed when Quannah Parker, Big Tree, and Satanta left Indian Terretory while on a hunting expedition to Kansas. The army contingent of three thousand men pursued them until they surrendered at the Cheyenne Agency. Big Tree was briefly incarcerated at Fort Sill for violating parole, while Satanta was jailed in Huntsville, where he commited suicide.

Big Tree, when he was released in 1875, settled down to a peaceful life on the Kiowa Reservation, operating a supply train from Anadarko to Wichita. Wedding a Kiowa woman, Omboke, he became a Christian and attended the Rainy Mountain Baptist Church, where he taught Sunday school and was deacon for over thirty years. Farming his allotment near Mountain View, Kiowa Country, Oklahoma, he became a model and peaceful citizen in his later years. He died on November 13, 1929, at Fort Sill.

In 1888, Big Tree was a delegate to the intertribal council that met in Fort Gibson because the question of railroads through the reservations, allotments and the ultimate opening of the Indian Territory to white settlement. They were strongly opposed.

Information from "The Ten Grandmothers" by Alice Marriott, published by University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK, 1945; and "Calender History of the Kiowa Indians" by James Mooney, published by Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. from reports, 1895-1896.

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