By Maurice Winternitz
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Extra resources for A History of Indian Literature. Vol. I.
That choice was soon made: Chief Joseph White Bull, Sitting Bull's 'fighting nephew,' was the ideal figure for my purpose. I preferred him, not merely because our mutual liking and long friendship had made him utterly frank with me, but because I knew him to have been a participant and eye-witness of Page xxvii almost every battle which I consider worth narrating. He was naturally a daredevil, as General Nelson A. Miles has testified, and was always a ringleader among the fighters of his generation.
In 1879 White Bull had learned from missionaries to write in the Lakota language; each drawing was supplemented with inscriptions giving the details of the event. S. army Indian scouts to age twenty-seven when in October 1876 he participated in fights with the army in the Yellowstone country after the Custer battle. 12 As the days passed, White Bull reviewed the ledger book page by page, recalling the context of each event and the participants, and describing minutely his part in each affair. White Bull made copies of these drawings for Vestal, some of which are reproduced in Warpath.
6 Finally, Vestal's patience was rewarded: White Bull sent him a letter requesting the writer to visit him at his home in the community of Cherry Creek, on the Cheyenne River Reservation. At the same time, Vestal was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation grant for the period June 1930August 1931 to allow him to complete his research and write the biography of Sitting Bull. Vestal's 1930 summer trip proved to be the culmination of his Page ix field research. He admired White Bull as the man who had been chosen at the fiftieth anniversary of the Custer fight to lead the surviving Sioux and Cheyenne warriors across the battlefield, and he was tantalized by the story he heard at the agency suggesting that White Bull had personally slain George Armstrong Custer.
A History of Indian Literature. Vol. I. by Maurice Winternitz