"I love the land and the buffalo. I will not part with it. I want you to understand well what I say. A long time ago this land belonged to our fathers, but when I go up to the river I see camps of soldiers in these banks. These soldiers cut down my timber, they kill my buffalo. And when I see that my heart feels like bursting." --Chief Satanta
Becoming a Town
Until 1912 the present townsite of Satanta was all cattle range. That year, the Santa Fe Railroad extended its line from Dodge City to Satanta, and named the townsite "Satanta." So severe was the negative reaction for naming a town after an Indian that it was the last town the Railroad agreed to name.
The townsite was surveyed and the first lot was purchased by James S. Patrick, a well known real estate dealer and abstractor who lived in Santa Fe, which was the county seat of Haskell County at that time.
Mr. Patrick moved a frame building which he had built in the front yard of his ranch at Santa Fe to Satanta, arriving with it the same day that the first train arrived in Satanta on October 22, 1912.
A Native American Heritage
The town of Satanta was named after Chief Satanta, a chief and warrior of the Kiowa Indian tribe. It should be pointed out that Satanta is the white man's corruption of Set-t'ainte, the Kiowa word for White Bear.
Chief Satanta was a tall, finely formed man with a very erect bearing and a piercing glance. He was rebellious and brutal as a warrior and Chief but was eloquent in speaking and represented his tribe in many meetings with governmental officials. He could, in fact, speak five different languages fluently -- four Indian toungues and Spanish. (Newspapers reported that those who could not understand a word he said were fascinated by the rhythmic tone of his voice.) Government reports said, "his manly boldness and directness, along with a keen sense of humor, made him a favorite with army officers in spite of his known hostility to the white man's laws and civilization." He was termed, "The Orator of the Plains."
He was among the signers of the 1867 Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty. At the treaty, he spoke: "I came to say that the Kiowas and Commanches have made with you a peace. The word shall last until the whites break their contract and invite the horrors of war. [The white man] once came to trade, now he comes to fight. He once came as a citizen, now he comes as a soldier. We thank the Great Spirit that all these wrongs are now to cease and the old days of peace and friendship are to come again -- You have patiently heard our complaints. To you they have seemed trifling, to us they are everything -- For your sake, the green grass shall not be stained with the blood of the whites. Your people shall be our people, and peace shall be our mutual heritage."
Unfortunately, following that impressive speech, everyone did not live happily everafter. Soon the government withdrew many of their promises. For instance, instead of having all the land south of the Arkansas River promised them for hunting, they were soon forced to live and hunt only on a reservation near Ft. Sill, and that was one of the many agreements the government failed to fulfill. Discouraged by the white man's broken promises, Satanta's people felt they had no choice but revenge.
Because of his participation in continued raids in southwestern Kansas, southeastern Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas, Chief Satanta was arrested and imprisoned on three separate occasions. On October 11, 1878 while serving out a life sentence in a prison in Huntsville, Texas, he complained of an injury or that his "heart was bad" (there is some disagreement which) to the prison physician. He was taken to the prison hospital on the prison's second floor, but before treatment could be given the erie chant of the Kiowa death song was heard as Satanta plunged headfirst from the second-story balcony to the ground below, ending his long resistence to the white man's injustice to his people. From "Satanta's Passing Show" by Tom Ungles, Haskell County Monitor-Chief Thursday, May 6, 1982.
In his book Satanta: The Life and Death of a War Chief, Charles M. Robinson III said, "...it would have been in character for Satanta, in his last act as a Kiowa warrior, to deprive the whites of victory by taking his own life. They had his corpse, but not his obedience. And for a warrior, that is an honorable death."
Chief Satanta was buried unceremoniously in Huntsville in a cemetery for deceased prison inmates and those whose bodies are unclaimed. Years later, in 1963, the Kiowa Indians arranged for Satanta's remains to be moved to Fort Sill, Oklahoma. There the chief has one of the cemetery's most elaborate gravesites. Citizens of the community of Satanta arranged for a headstone.