Book Description

This biography of Spotted Tail traces the life of the famous Lakota leader who expertly guided his people through a pivotal and tumultuous time in their nation’s history as they fought and then negotiated with the U.S. government. Spotted Tail is remembered for his unique leadership style and deep love for his people. Today a university is named in his honor.


Bank Street College of Education: Best Children’s Books of the Year Outstanding Merit

The Children’s Book Committee strives to guide librarians, educators, parents, grandparents, and other interested adults to the best books for children published each year.

Western Writers of America: Best Western Juvenile Nonfiction

Founded in 1953, Western Writers of America annually honors distinguished writing about the American West with the Spur Awards.

AICL 2019 Best Books Award Winner

Established in 2006 by Dr. Debbie Reese of Nambé Pueblo, American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL) provides critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books.

Book Reviews

Recommended: SPOTTED TAIL
by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

Nineteenth-century Sicangu Lakota leader Spotted Tail (Sinte Gleska) is the subject of a new biography for middle grades, by David Heska Wanbli Weiden (Spotted Tail, Reycraft Books, 2019). Spotted Tail was highly influential, but is generally less well-known than other Plains leaders of his time such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull.

The book's four sections or chapters -- Early Years, Warrior, Family Life, and The Chief -- are followed by two pages that explain some Lakota customs, and 2 pages appropriately titled "A Short History of the Lakota People." (It's very short.)

This story of Spotted Tail's life opens with a description of his participation, as a boy, in a buffalo hunt. It ends with a brief account of his 1881 murder and its eventual repercussions for Indian law, and some paragraphs...

Read the Full Review

Throughout this detailed biography of Spotted Tail (1823–1881), debut author Weiden links conflicts from the Lakota warrior and mediator’s time to the present day. With remarkable bravery, Spotted Tail fought against the U.S. Army; after time in prison, where he learned English, he became a skilled negotiator. Weiden describes the lawsuit that emerged from the U.S. government’s theft of the Black Hills, sacred to the Lakota people, after gold was found there. Spotted Tail’s people were given a cash settlement, which their honor would not let them touch: “Currently,” Weiden concludes, “the money sits in a bank account.” After the subject’s children were promised an excellent education in a white-run school, he discovered that, in reality, they were being trained as menial laborers: “It wasn’t until 1978 that American Indian parents were given the right to stop their children from being taken to these schools.” Mixed-media artwork combines crisp photographs of Native land with art by Yellowhawk, including portraits and battle scenes done in the style of earlier Native art, painted on leaves from white settlers’ accounting ledgers. Ages 9–up (October 2019)

Book Details