Luther Standing Bear born “Ota Kte” or Plenty Kill was born to the Sioux tribe.
He was the first born son to Chief Standing Bear and Pretty Face. Chief Standing Bear was respected in the Sioux tribe and Luther wanted nothing more to make his father proud of him. Every decision Luther made was with thought of making his father proud of him. He strived to learn the white man’s way and use that knowledge to educate his people.
He was a fair man and stood up for the rights of his people. As Luther states in his book “My People the Sioux”, he was born, “in the year of ‘breaking up of camp” (3).It was not until after he became educated and learned how to count the dates back that he came to the conclusion he was born in December of 1868. Luther grew up on the Sioux reservation and learned the values and customs of his people.
He embraced them and wanted to learn as much from his father as he possibly could. Luther’s father instilled in him to always be honest, brave and if you were to die, die with dignity and honor. At one point his father told him, “Son, always remember that a man who tells lies is never liked by anybody” (Standing Bear, 65).At a young age Luther decided he was going to attend Carlisle a white man’s school.
He had the words of his father in his head “Son, be brave! Die on the battle-field if necessary away from home. It is better to die young than to get old and sick and then die” (Standing Bear, 124). Luther believed that going to school was his opportunity to show his father that he was brave and was prepared to die there if necessary. Eventually he learned that by him going to school he would be able to offer his father an even greater gift.
He would be able to help his father when dealing with the white men by being able to act as his translator.He vowed to learn everything he possibly could from the white man. He immersed himself into his studies and never turned down a task that was given to him. He was determined to be as good if not better than the white man and show them that Indians could do the work of a white man.
Luther excelled at Carlisle school and was rewarded for it with many opportunities that at that time were not afforded to Indians at that time. After Luther’s lengthy stay at Carlisle he returned home to his tribe “but with a better understanding of life.There would be no more hunting-we would have to work now for our food and clothing. It was like Garden of Eden after the fall of man” (Standing Bear, 190).
Upon returning home people were unsure how to receive Luther as some of the other Indians who had attended Carlisle came back and thought they were better than the uneducated Indians. Luther never believed this. His only goal was to better the life of himself and his people. Luther worked various jobs throughout his life, including but not limited to helping the agent on the reservation.
One of his greatest journeys was his job with the Buffalo Bills show. He was to be in charge of the Indians as well as act as their translator. Luther always did what was fair throughout his time with the show. If he caught an Indian drinking which he himself as well as the show prohibited he gave them a warning.
He saw that this seemed to help somewhat but decided to keep half their pay back until the end of the show so that way his people would be able to go home with some money instead of wasting it frivolously while overseas.During his time overseas Luther and his wife welcomed a second child who later became a part of the show as the first Indian baby to be born in England. His family eventually returned to the Sioux tribe where they remained for some time. Luther was to go out again the the Buffalo Bill show but was hurt in a horrific train accident along the way and returned back to the tribe.
Upon returning to the tribe, Luther was eventually given the honor of becoming a chief just like his father and his father’s father. This was believed to be a great honor to him as he always strived to make his father proud.He agreed to protect his people and help them in any way he could. At one point Luther decided that he no longer wanted to stay on the reservation but instead he wanted to sell his land and move.
In order to sell his land he would need to become an American Citizen. He filled out the necessary documentation and asked an Indian lawyer to help him file the documents. When the documents were returned to him Luther decided to take matters into his own hands. He went to Washington and there he spent the next five weeks checking in daily on the progress of his citizenship.
Citizenship was not something granted to Indians at that time. However, with much persistence Luther was able to achieve this and he describes it as one of the best days of his life. After gaining his citizenship Luther sold his land and moved his family several times until he finally ended up in Los Angeles, California. He got in the motion picture industry working on films that depicted what the white man thought of the Indians.
Luther strived to change this and urged his producer to allow Luther to tell the truth of what the Indians were really like. He was ultimately rejected.After many years Luther decided to retire and write a series of books to help the younger generations of Native Americans as well as the white man to understand what really happened from an Indians perspective something they had not yet heard. He wrote a series of books about his childhood and life which are now an important part to Native American history.
As stated by Mark S. Anderson “Standing Bear’s most important goal and indeed his greatest success was in recording for the younger generation of Native Americans the rich historical legacy of the Lakota Sioux. Though some of his assertions, such as those discussed above, were problematic.Standing Bear successfully conveys to his readers the essence of what it was like to grow up amidst the turmoil and transformation of late-nineteenth century Native America “(95).
It is widely agreed upon that through all of ”Ota Kte” or Luther Standing Bears accomplishments and pursuits today he is known for his literary works. “Although varied in content, all of Standing Bear’s works reflect the central purpose that inspired his writing: to defend the worth and dignity of Indian cultures. In pursuing this goal, he can be said to have raised the art of autobiographical apologetics to new heights” (Standing Bear, Luther (1868? 1939).Works CitedAnderson, Mark S.
“The Works Of Luther Standing Bear. ” Journal Of The West 46. 2 (2007): 93-95.Standing, Bear Luther.
My People, the Sioux. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1975.Koster, John. “Luther Standing Bear Went From Pine Ridge To Carlisle To Hollywood.
” Wild West 25. 5 (2013): 22-23.”Standing Bear, Luther (1868? – 1939). ” Encyclopedia of North American Indians, Houghton Mifflin.
Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1996.