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.
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