Shield Of Sits Down Talking

   The first owner of the shield pictured below was that of Sits Down Talking, a Miniconjou Sioux.  He used it in the battle of the Little Bighorn on June 25, 1876.  After the battle, he followed Crazy Horse's band as they avoided the great number of cavalry seeking to bring all Indians to reservations.  In September, General Crook led his starving and cold soldiers on a campaign to attack Sioux in the Slim Buttes Battle.  During the fight on the 8th and 9th, American Horse was killed.  Crazy Horse led a counter-attack, but was unsuccessful.  In the winter of the following year, Colonel Miles attacked Sioux in the Battle of Wolf Mountain.  The attack on January 8, 1877, was made in minus 30 degree temperatures and in three feet of new snowfall.  The fight was led by Crazy Horse and ended when a fierce blizzard ended visibility.  It is likely that Sits Down Talking was in the battles along side of his brother, One Skunk.  When Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson on May 6, 1877, there was another rogue fighter named Lame Deer, head of the Miniconjou band, seeking to evade the military.  On May 7, 1877 Colonel Mills was guided by two captured Sioux from the Battle of Wolf Mountain who led him to Lame Deer's camp near the Rosebud River in Montana, on a tributary called Muddy Creek.  The captives hoped that if they aided the military, the peaceful Indians would not be punished.  The Indian camp was attacked and the horse herd scattered.  After a fight, Chief Lame Deer was killed and also Sits Down Talking.  His brother, Peter One Skunk, then took his brother's shield and continued to fight.  Eventually the band, which had only 51 lodges, surrendered to end the Great Sioux War.   


   Later One Skunk lived with the Miniconjou band of Big Foot on the Cheyenne River Reservation in South Dakota.  When the Ghost Dance Movement began in 1890, One Skunk traveled with Big Foot as they secretly left the reservation and headed to the Pine Ridge Reservation to meet with Red Cloud.  The band of Big Foot was caught and surrounded near Wounded Knee.  During the disarming of the Indians on December 29,  one Indian shot his rifle, which was followed by a volley from the 7th cavalry.  One Skunk was wearing two eagle feathers for two coups he had counted.  A bullet cut his feathers in half, not hurting him.  Thereafter he changed his name to "Close Shot".  He also named his son "Close Shot", although his enrollment name was "Samson One Skunk". 

   In World War I, Samson was enlisted to teach young recruits survival tactics.  He probably served in World War II, because his son, Marius,  remembers his dad repaired parts of the shield when he returned from the war.  Ownership of the shield was by 82-year-old Marius Randall, born in 1932, living northeast of Red Scaffold in South Dakota.

   The 21-inch, highly-convex shield was made from a buffalo's thick neck and shaped over a mound of dirt or anthill.  This resulted in a curved rim around the edge.  Covering the edge is a strip of fringed buckskin.  The curved edge and buckskin piece served to cushion the shield from rubbing the rider's back, when worn horseback.  The shield is colored with red ochre, but insects have eaten places on the flesh side, causing a speckled appearance.  A black circle, open at the top, is painted near the edge to signify a surrounded enemy with the shield's owner guarding the way out.  Pigment for the black color is a sacred paint, to appear glossy-blue in sunlight.  Four feathers with red stain,  wrapped with buffalo heart membrane, represent four enemies killed in battle.  On the left of the shield are ermine strips and bells. The carrying strap is fringed and rubbed with red ochre.  Both the front and back of the shield have areas of dried blood, appearing black, from when Sits Down Talking was shot and killed in the Lame Deer fight.