Betty J. Sankadota Washburn, great-great granddaughter of Kiowa Chief Set-Tainte (Satanta), spoke at the Satanta Chamber Commerce of Banquet on February 4, 2023. Wearing a red shawl with yellow fringe, the traditional war colors of the Kiowa, Washburn recounted learning the Kiowa language as a child and told the story of her famous ancestor who himself was known as “Orator of the Plains.”
Washburn noted that Satanta is remembered as a warrior who fought to preserve the native way of life. Satanta himself spoke of this when he said, “I love to roam over the wide prairie, and when I do it I feel free and happy; but, when we settle down we grow pale and die.” Washburn concluded her remarks by presenting as a gift to the Haskell County Historical Society, a replica of the red tipi in which Satanta himself lived.
Kendall Washburn, Washburn’s son, spoke next. He received the name Set-tainte (White Bear) from his grandfather, Clarence Sankadota, who had also carried the name. Sankadota was the great grandson of the original Set-tainte, who died in 1878. Set-tainte’s oldest son, Grey Goose, was Clarence’s grandfather. Washburn spoke to the issues surrounding the controversy over the use of Native American mascots, noting that the White Bear Descendants have a history of protecting the legacy of Chief Satanta.
Washburn noted that the descendants’ worked in the 1990s to bring Chief Satanta’s war shield to the Fort Sill National Historic Landmark and Museum from the Hearst Museum in Berkeley, California, where the item had been in storage. Washburn used this example to remind his listeners that the resilience and strength of native people’s is something that must remain on full display at all times. With this, Wasburn presented to the community of Satanta a letter of support written on behalf of the White Bear Descendants endorsing the community’s continued respectful use of the Kiowa symbols and traditions..
The letter was accepted on behalf of the community by Ryan Burrows who was honored by Washburn with the gift of a White Bear Descendants vest, the very one he was wearing. Washburn praised Burrows for his work in preserving Satanta history through a local history project done during Satanta Summer Learning in 2021. Washburn then gifted current Princess Satanta, Kara Kunselman, a blanket. Kevin Wagner, father of current Chief Satanta Sean Wagner, accepted a blanket for Sean who was on a school trip. Chamber President Nicki McLain was also given a blanket in honor of her work in the community.
The evening ended as those in attendance listened to the descendants lead a traditional Kiowa song often shared at pow-wows. The Chief Satanta White Bear Descendants plan to return to Satanta this May for the community’s annual Satanta Day Celebration, which is held on the second Saturday of May each year.