(by Student #31 AMH 2010 1115)
Originally, the casefile I received was a man named Luther Bear Skin. I was instantaneously intrigued because all that resided in the file was a mugshot picture. When I started to research Luther Bear Skin, I was shocked at how little information was available. I searched the entire web for weeks and all I could find was that he murdered two people, no background information was available. After nearly a month of research I came across a title that said “Luther Standing Bear” with nearly the same birthdate. I figured back in that time, the Indians weren’t necessarily cared for, and names often got changed or misused. I started extensive research on this individual, I found a book called “My People, The Sioux.”. After reading all 400 pages of this book, I realized they were two different people. Though he isn’t the murderer, Luther Standing Bear ended up making a massive impact on many people’s lives and becoming legendary. So, with that being said, here is what I found on Luther Standing Bear.
First, I went onto ancestry.com and searched up Luther Standing Bear, here I found Indian Census Rolls and Luther’s family tree. Luther Standing Bear was born in about 1863 and was the head of the household. His tribe was Ogala Sioux and he was passionate about being a part of this tribe. The Sioux was an indian tribe that originated in the upper Mississippi area. Eventually, The Sioux got forced west by the French and were treated poorly. The Sioux indians ended up becoming divided into three groups: Lakota, Nakota, and Dakota. After figuring out his birth date and family tree, I found the book he wrote called “My People, The Sioux.” In this book I uncovered so much information that isn’t disclosed by history books written by individuals that did not experience this journey first hand. Luther Bear Skin turned out to be a revolutionary human being and wrote against our founding fathers. The fact that he wrote a book discussing how things really went down during an age where freedom of speech was not fully accepted shows his bravery as a leader. He begins his book with a very irate tone. This tone is due to him being so frustrated with the way that white people were treating Indians at the time. He even claims “Theodore Roosevelt, Frederic Remington, and Owen Wister had every attribute to illustrate the West. Except they were shy on only one thing - KNOWLEDGE GAINED BY ACTUAL EXPERIENCE” (page 11-12).
Luther Standing Bear was the first born son of Chief Standing Bear the First. He went a school named Carlisle Industrial and knew how to read and write. His mother’s name was ‘Pretty Face’, and his father’s name was ‘Spotted Horse’. Luther Standing Bear was given the name ‘Ota Kte’ which meant ‘Plenty Kill’ because his father has faced and killed many enemies. The family name changed once Ota Kte was accepted and elected as chief, he then took his fathers surname and lead his tribe. Luther Standing Bear lists all of the unjust acts the white people did to the people of the Sioux tribe. One of these acts consisted of the following: The indian tribe was returning home and stopped at a railroad to get some water. The white man who ran the railroad station would not let any of them drink any water, and compelled them to leave immediately. He speaks of when he returned home and his grandmother grabbed an axe and followed the men to tear up the railroad tracks in that area. Luther and his family were very big on equality and Indian rights, which makes them considered activists.
Luther Standing Bear is now considered a legend, as he was one of the first Native American authors, educators, philosophers, and actors of the 20th century. He was devoted and passionate about his tribes and all of the things that they have accomplished. Some of the titles you can find him in are: My Indian Boyhood (1931), Stories of The Sioux (1934), and Land of The Spotted Eagle (1933). Luther Bear Skins accomplishments all revolved around avoiding the whites attempts to make all men fit into the likeness of the white race. Luther Standing Bear was important to American history in the way that he was an activist to the people of The Sioux. He inspired many indians throughout History because of the many changes he worked hard to establish in our country. A couple of examples of these changes he helped instate are: equal rights, and increased education of Indian culture. In his book, he speaks of the many struggles he experienced as a native american living in America. In 1939 on February 20th, Luther standing bear died while on set of the movie “Union Pacific.” Luther was said to have died of the flu, and left an unforgettable mark on American History.
I started my casefile with only a picture of Luther Bear Skin, a murderer. At the end of my research I learned about the history of the Sioux, a revolutionary leader, and grasped a better idea of what life was like for these people back then. This research project really opened my eyes to how bad discrimination was back then. I am really glad that this research project led me to reading one of the best books I have ever come across.