The legendary courage of Tatanka Iyotanka (Sitting Bull) is apparent in the following story, which I first learned about while watching Ken Burns' series on "The West."
In August, the summer of 1872, a Lakota force led by Tatanka Iyotanka and Crazy Horse formed a war party, and mounted several brisk attacks where a guardian detachment of 500
U. S. Army soldiers were protecting a white survey team party of engineers and railroad workers on the Yellowstone River at its junction with Arrow Creek, in the heart of Lakota territory.
At the height of the fire fight, Tatanka Iyotanka led four other warriors, strode out into the opening between the lines of the two forces, seated himself on the ground, filled his pipe, and set it alight. Then he shared his chanupa with them and sat there smoking while the bullets ripped and buzzed all around and past them. He did not budge until the pipe was finished. With soldiers in full view, he carefully reamed the pipe out and scraped clean the bowl. When they were finished, he casually walked away, once again displaying legendary courage.
The battle was not decisive.
Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.