"Dances With Wolves" was one of the least interesting things he ever did
July 28, 2016 10:31 PM   Subscribe

David Bald Eagle, Lakota Chief, Musician, Cowboy, and Actor, Dies At 97.

David William Bald Eagle, who died on Friday aged 97, was born in a tipi on 8th April 1919, in Cherry Creek, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Reservation in South Dakota. His name in Lakota translates as Wounded in Winter Beautiful Bald Eagle. In his long, extraordinary life, he was a champion dancer — both ballroom and Lakota styles — a touring musician, a rodeo cowboy, a tribal chief, an actor, a stunt double, and a war hero. He danced with Marilyn Monroe. He drove race cars. He parachuted into enemy gunfire at Normandy. He played professional baseball. He was a leader not just of his tribe, but also of the United Native Nations. Bald Eagle advocated for indigenous people and their rights and worked continuously to preserve Lakota stories until the day he died.

"I know we can't go back there, back to where we were," he told the Rapid City Journal in 2003. "But we can tell the young ones how it was and they can remember, and they can bring it back. They can return."

To learn more about the late Chief's legacy, check out this multi-part interview produced by the WoLakota Project, an initiative dedicated to promoting the oral traditions, wisdom, culture and language of the Oceti Sakowin Oyate -- the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people to whom Bald Eagle was deeply dedicated.
posted by Hermione Granger (25 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Wow. What a life. I spent 6 months on the Cheyenne River Reservation during school and never heard of this man, for all I know I met him as I worked at the hospital there. What a huge, huge man. And a great post.

posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:57 PM on July 28, 2016 [4 favorites]

Gone way, way too young (no sarcasm - 97 years is too short a time for such an amazing person).

posted by Joey Michaels at 12:20 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

. wow what a life.
posted by smoke at 12:41 AM on July 29, 2016

Thank you for this wonderful post.

posted by fraula at 1:34 AM on July 29, 2016

posted by Pendragon at 2:05 AM on July 29, 2016

I've wondered for a long time what it was like to report to boot camp of the army that screwed your grandparents.

posted by ridgerunner at 3:02 AM on July 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I can't wait to dig into this.

Meanwhile, related, Daniele Bolleli just finished an amazing, epic four-part podcast on the life of Crazy Horse over at History on Fire.
posted by kanewai at 3:21 AM on July 29, 2016

Sounds as though he truly walked the Red Road. The last of the free Native Anericans are now passing from living memory & that makes me sad.
posted by Devils Rancher at 3:55 AM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by sallybrown at 4:18 AM on July 29, 2016

posted by gusandrews at 6:00 AM on July 29, 2016

Thanks for the post Hermione. I learned about an amazing human being.
posted by pixlboi at 6:49 AM on July 29, 2016

I am so incredibly moved. What a singular life and person.

posted by avoision at 8:07 AM on July 29, 2016

posted by Elly Vortex at 8:36 AM on July 29, 2016

Can we please not do the "last of their kind" thing here?

I have a Native American friend who struggles what feels like daily with the erasure of her culture and some really boneheaded ideas about whether that culture exists anymore. There are plenty of Native Americans around with voices that are being ignored, and I think it'd be a much better tribute to this individual to seek them out rather than to pretend they don't exist anymore.

posted by Aleyn at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2016 [10 favorites]

posted by allthinky at 9:54 AM on July 29, 2016

Indian country country has overcome much in the past 50 years. And there are new drums, and new songs.
posted by Twang at 11:13 AM on July 29, 2016

posted by BlueHorse at 11:23 AM on July 29, 2016

What a guy!

posted by janell at 11:44 AM on July 29, 2016

posted by Splunge at 11:49 AM on July 29, 2016


Asnikiye el wowahwa.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:40 PM on July 29, 2016

Can we please not do the "last of their kind" thing here?

If that's what you thought I meant, I'm sorry, you misread me. What I meant was that he knew & remembered Native Americans who lived on the plains before being forced onto reservations, and it's that living memory I was lamenting. The cultures, oral & written traditions live on, sure. I celebrate that.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:54 PM on July 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

posted by Autumn Leaf at 4:54 PM on July 29, 2016

posted by pjmoy at 9:58 PM on July 29, 2016

posted by Fibognocchi at 9:00 PM on July 31, 2016

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