The following sample essay on Sitting Bull Necessary Facts Essay provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.If we live to the biblical life-span of ‘three score years and ten’, then the vast majority of our life-cycle will be spent in adulthood – an area about which little was known in terms of psychological theory and research until fairly recently. Indeed Levinson et al (1978) go so far as to describe adulthood as “… one of the best-kept secrets in our society and probably in human history, generally… “.
Can it be possible that by applying the psychological perspective of a theory of lives to an adult’s passage through life that we could gain a better understanding of an individual’s life structure or as Levinson (1978) describes the concept – “… the underlying pattern or design of a person’s life at a given time… ” (quoted in Sugarman p.
103)? In an effort to answer this question, I have chosen to examine the life of possibly one of the best known Native American Chiefs – namely Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) of the Hunkpapa Sioux.
I chose to read 2 biographies on Sitting Bull and although both are on the same person, the authors use different approaches to provide insights into the man’s character. The main theories of lives which I chose to apply in this assignment were those of Erikson, (with particular reference to his development of ego strengths) and Maslow, since I felt that they were likely to be more relevant, given Sitting Bull’s cultural background, then a more modern theory such as Levinson’s.
Also, much of Erikson’s research was done amongst the Sioux Indians while if we were to look at the fifteen characteristic traits of self-actualising people as identified by Maslow, then it could certainly be suggested that Sitting Bull was operating successfully at some, if not indeed all, of these levels. Stanley Vestal’s biography Sitting Bull Champion of the Sioux approached the character of Sitting Bull by way of the literary method after spending 5 years gathering information for the original edition of the book in 1932.
Vestal spent much of his youth living in Indian Territory, playing games with Cheyenne and Arapaho boys and consequently developing what would seem to be an abiding interest in their culture. Upon deciding to write a biography on Sitting Bull after the first World War, he returned to Sioux country where there were still tribal members living who had experienced Indian life firsthand along with some who had known Sitting Bull personally. It is worth mentioning here that only those who actually knew the Sioux and could merit their confidence were able to secure factual data so perhaps a strong point in Vestal’s favour, at least from my personal point of view, was the realisation that he had obviously gained enough of the Sioux’s confidence to be adopted, as a son, in 1929 by One Bull, a nephew of Sitting Bull; who along with another nephew, White Bull (supposedly the Indian who actually killed Custer at Little Big Horn) provided their support and co-operation to enable their uncle’s life story to be printed.
Indeed for more than half a century, Vestal’s work dominated book-shelves as the standard biography of Sitting Bull, a fact acknowledged by Robert Utley in my other chosen reading The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull (1998) which builds the character of Sitting Bull by historical method; although he does admit that sources he used provided him with “… enough persuasive evidence to corroborate the essence of the image recalled for Vestal by White Bull, One Bull and the other Indians of the 1920’s…
” The problem which Utley seems to suffer from is similar to the one which I also faced when attempting to apply the relevance of a theory of lives to Sitting Bull’s life-history in that it is difficult to look at him in terms of his cultural norms and not mine, although there are occasions when it has been possible to use what little knowledge I have learned about his culture to perhaps better understand his motivations or at least not pass judgement on him through my lack of understanding. Sitting Bull was born in March 1831 at Many-Caches on the south bank of Grand River, South Dakota. As a child he was nicknamed “Slow”, seemingly because even as a child, he did not instantly put food from his hand to his mouth (as is the habit of most babies) but instead held the food in his hand, constantly turning it over and looking at it before deciding to eat it although “… once he accepted it, however, he never let go… ”, and as we will discover this tenacity was a characteristic which he maintained right up to the day that he died.
Even as a child, Sitting Bull was proud of his nation and longed for the time when he could share the brave adventures of the warriors. We need to understand here that to the Sioux prestige, especially won on the warpath was an all important dream so it seems small wonder that at the age of 14, Sitting Bull was so eager to prove to the Sioux that he was a man that he followed his father and other warriors on a raid against the Crow where he successfully achieved the goal of every Indian warrior – namely counting coup, i. e.touching or striking the enemy with the hand or with a coup-stick. Although our culture may find it difficult to comprehend, Indians regarded hand-to-hand combat as the only manly form of battle even after they had obtained long-range weapons because the prime object of Plains Indian warfare was not bloodshed or manslaughter of the enemy, but a way of distinguishing oneself.
Consequently, counting coup was rated by the Indians as a more greater war honour than the mere killing of an enemy and indeed all their social privileges were dependent upon achieving as many coups as possible. Small wonder then that at age 14, Sitting Bull appeared to be particularly concerned with finding his own personal space in Sioux adult society. He certainly seems to have obtained formal operational thought as defined by Piaget in that he could think what others would think of him, because before riding off to join his father and the other warriors, he was able to conceive that had he informed his mother and his two sisters of his intentions then they would soon “… remind him that he was just a boy, only fourteen years old… ”, and also of how upon catching up with the other warriors he “…felt the silent disapproval of these men… ”
At this stage of his life, Sitting Bull might be seen as matching Erikson’s 5th stage of psychosocial development, since he seems to have gained some understanding of the values and beliefs of his culture to which he felt he must show commitment and loyalty, thus he appears to have been successful in producing the ego strength of ‘fidelity’ whereby the need is felt to be ‘true to ourselves’. Indeed, Erikson suggests that the achievement of a sense of self-identity can carry people through difficult times in their lives and provide them with a “…feeling of being at home in one’s body, a sense of knowing where one is going and an inner assurance of anticipated recognition from those who count… ”
It might also be suggested that even at the young age of 14, Sitting Bull seems to be motivated to address himself to the 4th level in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self esteem, since he appears to be seeking a high level of self-respect and also respect from others which, when satisfied, leads as Maslow suggests to “… feelings of self-confidence, worth, strength, capability, and adequacy, of being useful and necessary in the world… ”.
Having achieved a sense of adult identity, Erikson suggests that the developmental task of early adulthood is to achieve the ego strength of ‘love’ achieved through the establishment of ‘intimacy’ – the adaptive outcome of his 6th psychosocial stage. The maladaptive outcome of this stage is ‘isolation’, although it should be stressed here that Erikson does not see these adaptive/maladaptive personality outcomes as either/or alternatives, suggesting instead that every personality represents a mixture of both with healthy development involving the adaptive outweighing the maladaptive. With regard to Sitting Bull’s exploits in early adulthood, it should be recognised that Sioux mores exalted female chastity – a point seemingly observed by General Sully in his official statement that “… the females of the wild bands of Sioux, called the Teton Sioux, set an example of virtue worthy of being copied by any civilized nation… ”