SET-ANGYA (Satank, "Setting Bear")

Born in the Black Hills, Satank had a mother who was part Sarci and a father who was Kiowa. He was for many years the principal war chief of the Kiowas, leader of the Kiowa Dog Soldier Society or the Principal Dogs (sometimes called Ten Bravest) military society. About 1840, he aided in negotiating the peace between the Cheyennes and the Kiowas. In 1846 during the battle with the Pawnee, an arrow wounded him in the upper lip, causing a bad scar for the rest of his life

Satank was one of the ten Kiowa signers of the Medicine Lodge Treaty in 1867. This treaty granted the Kiowas lands in Indian Terretory if they lived in peace, but the Kiowas did not give up raiding. In 1870, after his son was slain by Anglos during a raid in Texas, Satank journeyed to Texas and collected his son's bones in a buckskin bundle. From that day on, he carried the bones on a separate horse in all of his travels. Despairing, he became a staunch proponent of war with the Americans.

With the southern buffalo herds vanishing and treaties being broken, it was impossible for the Kiowas to remain on their shrinking lands in Indian Territory. He was a chief and Medicine Man of the Kiowa. He had War Power, when he took parties out, they were successful. He was one of ten warriors of the Crazy Dog Society. He was one of the Keepers of a Grandmother Medicine Bundle, and Keeper of the Eagle Shield, which gave him magic power.

Another power he had was Peace Power. Everybody in his band looked up to him. When people quarreled or wives were angry with their husbands and wanted to leave them, the person that was hurt would go to Satank to make things right. Satank's favorite son, Young Setting Bear, was killed with Lone Wolf's son in Texas in 1873.

In 1874, a large raiding party killed 7 white men in Texas and captured a number of mules. Upon their return, the leaders bragged about their deeds in the presence of the agent and General Sherman, who promptly arrested the the 3 most prominent, Set-angya (Santank, Setting Bear), Set-tainte, (Satanta, White Bear) and Ado-eette (Big Tree). They were to be taken to Texas for trial and punishment. Satank sent word to his remaining son, Eagle Plume, regarding the care and passing of the Grandmother bundle, and passed his power to him. He said he would not go to Texas.

As the wagons left Fort Sill for Texas, carrying the prisoners, Satank was in the first one with guards, and Satanta and Big Tree were in the second. He managed to get his chains off, as his hands were to small to be held. He had retreived the magic Eagle Shield knife, and began to sing in a loud, clear happy voice.

"Get ready, my son," he sang, "Fill your pipe for we shall smoke together today. Make room for me . I am coming!"
"I live, but I will not live forever
Mysterious moon, you only remain
Powerful sun, you alone remain
Wonderful earth, you remain forever."

Then he stabbed the guard beside him. The man fell backward over the tailgate of the wagon and as he fell, his gun went off. Satanta and Big Tree in the second wagon heard the song start and started singing it too, as if they had the right. Only singing the song didn't do them much good because they didn't belong to the Eagle Shields and didn't have any magic knife.

The wagons stopped and the soldiers were piling around the one with Satank in it. They took him out and laid him on the ground under a pecan tree. The bullet from the soldier's gun had hit him and he was going to die, but he was still singing his song; still talking to his dead son.

He was buried in the post cemetery.

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.

Copyright, 1998-2006

This information compiled, prepared and submitted to this site by Ethel Taylorand remains the property of the submitter
NOTICE: Ethel Taylor grants that this information and data may be used by non-commercial entities, as long as this message remains on all copied material, for personal and genealogical research. These electronic pages cannot be reproduced in any format for profit, can not be copied over to other sites, linked to, or other presentation without written permission of Ethel Taylor.

Turn to Next Page

Return to Kiowa Photo Album

Return to Kiowa Page