Soft Hearted Sioux by Zitkala-Sa (2011).

Characters

Young Tree: A young male teen - sixteen years old. An male of Indian heritage is expected to get married and become a warrior. He is uncertain of what he wants to do with his future. Does not necessarily want to become a warrior or get married.

Elder Oak: An aged Father - The father is respective of the Grandmother and agrees that the son should seek a wife. However, being a great warrior, he expects the son to hunt and master the trade as a hunter before finding a wife (Reddish and Lewis 2011).

Morning Flower: A Mother - Mother also eager for her son to select a wife talks with her mother about the different young girls in the tribe that are available.

Evening Flower: A Grandmother - Often brings up the topic of the grandson following in the family tradition of finding a wife. Plays matchmaker to the grandson.

Leading Man: A Medicine Man - For many years has been the source of medical advice, spiritual guidance, and wisdom as the tribe's spokesman. He is considered an authority on all matters that the tribe faces (Reddish and Lewis 2011). He is sought after to determine if the young man is worthy of having an audience to speak about his newfound faith.

Synopsis

Young Tree: I am disturbed by the desire of my Father, Mother and Grandmother. There is this struggle within to conform to my Indian heritage which is to become a hunter and a warrior and fight to defend and feed my people. I want to leave this tribe and learn more about reading and writing. I would like to go to school in the east and learn more about the missions that visit us each spring.

Young Tree: I have chosen to join the missionaries and bring the gospel of the Christian faith to my people. I am excited to return home after being away for many years. I long to see my Father and Mother. I love them very much and hope all is well. It is my hearts desire to lead them to God before they die. I know I no longer look like my family and fellow tribesmen as I now wear a suit and carry a bible. I attend church services and pray to God every day. Reading my bible and eating my meals indoors at a table with chairs. These ways will seem strange to my family but I look forward to telling them about school, and the love that God has for them.

I pray that my people will be open to hearing about God and recognize His love that is for all people.

Elder Oak: My son has shamed me before Leading Man though I long to see Young Tree and hold him close. He is very important to me steal. I hold onto my life waiting to see him again.

When he returns I will hold him close and ask him to rejoin us find a wife and settle down to start a family.

Morning Flower: How I miss my son and long for his return. I pray he will come home soon, Evening Flower is now home with our ancestors but she watches for the day she can see her grandchildren.

Elder Oak: My son has returned I thank the spirits that he is well and unharmed by the white man's war. I pray that he will listen to Leading Man and abandon his new Great Spirit. He prays for me in the name of this God but I cannot accept the prayers. I am feeling weaker by the day. I cannot get food and fear we will starve and be left behind by Leading Man.

Young Tree: Father, Mother there is a God that loves you and wants only that you accept His love. He will heal those that call on His name in faith. I pray that my Father's heart will open and let in God's love. I am hopeful for the chance to speak to our tribe at the next tribal meeting to share the gospel. It is this Friday evening.

I will ask Leading Man's permission to speak. The people are gathering to hear me speak. I am so nervous. I hope Leading Man will not turn them against me.

Leading Man: Do not listen to this outsider. He comes dressed in the enemy's clothes and talking in the enemy's tongue. Do not allow yourself to be fooled by his lies. It is time for us to move on to find food for our families. Let us leave here.

Elder Oak. We are hungry and son has not went out to find food for us. We will die here. I love my son and cannot reject him even now. I am prepared to meet the death spirit.

Young Tree: I will go and find food for my father and mother. I cannot steal from the settlers over the hill. This is illegal and a sin before God.

Elder Oak: My son would let me die before defying his God. So be it. Son there is food in the white settlers field.

Young Tree: I must save my father's life. I will steal a cow from the white man and feed my family.

Commentator: The young missionary decides to shed his new found faith in order to get food for his dying father and mother. He steals a cow from a nearby settler. The owner of the cattle discovers Young Tree escaping with the meat and chases him. They struggle and the settler is killed.

Young Tree: I have killed a man, I will turn myself into the white man and face my punishment as a Sioux. I know that my God is with me even when I have failed Him and my father, Elder Oak.

Class Discussion:

Compare this to modern times when a father expects his son to follow in his footsteps and choose a career, or run the family business.

The young man does not appear interested in following the predetermined path that both parents and his grandmother expect of him. Much like a young man today that chooses not to attend college or drop out in pursuit of a future much different of what was expected by his family.

How does the situation compare to life today?

Compared to today, this could compare to a father, mother, and grandmother who were Hollywood actors and actresses and expected their son to be involved in the entertainment industry.

What are some differences between the culture of the Indians in this story and Americans today?

Since most Americans are not as committed to their original cultural heritage as they are to the American culture, ties would be based on careers. If a young many had a family heritage based in the entertainment industry, the decision to become a priest or preacher may be met with some conflict by the family.

How might the family respond to a son unwilling to accept the role expected of him?

The family of today might turn against a son that tried to bring a religious theology that contradicted and went against the lifestyle they lived.

Sioux Background

What is the role of men in the Sioux nation?

The Sioux were warriors and often fought with other tribes and the armies of the American settlers over land rights. They used horses for hunting and traveled over the plains of the Dakotas.

The men were expected to hunt for food, protect the family from invaders and go to war against other Indian tribesmen or American soldiers.

How did the Sioux view children?

Children were very important to the Sioux and were considered sacred (Snow Owl, 2004).

The culture was…