oath2 oath3


Sitting Elk, Absaroke, takes an oath that the following account is true. In Absaroke tradition, a warrior would cut a piece of buffalo meat on top of a buffalo skull. He would pierce the meat with an arrow and present it to the sun. He would then touch the meat to his lips, swearing that his words were the truth.

Sitting Elk participated in several battles, and six different times while retreating, he would turn back, dismount, and face the enemy alone... a remarkable show of courage. Once on a hunting party, they were attacked by Flatheads. Sitting Elk dismounted, then discovered the rest of his party had retreated and he was surrounded. He was able to wrestle a horse away from one of the Flatheads and charged after the enemy, getting shot in the shoulder. The Flatheads scattered, then began pursuing Sitting Elk. He turned suddenly to face the charging Flatheads, and one shot at him, hitting him in the leg as their horses collided. After both tumbled to the ground, the Flathead took off running, and Sitting Elk retrieved the Flathead’s rifle. Holding weapons in both hands, he charged after the retreating Flatheads. One turned and shot with a revolver, hitting Sitting Elk in the elbow. The rest of the Flatheads turned and had Sitting Elk hemmed in. As they stopped to reload, Sitting Elk yelled at them “You are women and are better off going home!”, among other things. They charged at him again to no avail, Sitting Elk had been hit several times without serious injury. “My body was full of bullets and I was wild. The sun was low and I was ready to die.” He charged them and they scattered, only to turn and attack him again. This continued for some until his hunting party finally returned and the Flathead retreated for good. Sitting Elk recovered from his wounds, which were all superficial.

This sculpture was inspired by photos and accounts by Edward S. Curtis, 1908.