The Story behind our name White Shield, Inc.
Our company name gives honor to Chief White Shield (Nah T Asuútaáka) of the Arikara Tribe. White Shield became chief in 1866. He had a reputation as a humble man and a strong outspoken leader, and this continued throughout his life. Born in 1798 when the Sahnish lived in the Grand River Villages in what is now South Dakota, he recalled seeing the Lewis and Clark expedition at age six, when they stopped at the Sahnish village in the fall of 1804.When he grew to manhood, he married Ka-wit. They had three children. Two daughters, Smoke/Tobacco Woman and Yellow Calf Woman, who died as a child, they also had a son named Comet who also died as a child.
It has been told that he would not pose for a painting, so Regis de Trobriand drew him on the sly. In the sketch, he appears not like a handsome man. He had long black hair, large mouth with thin lips, and only of average height. He was thin and nervous with a lined face and had his body painted blue with white and red strips, which twisted on his chest and go down the length of his arms. He was wrapped in a blanket, which covered his left shoulder. He seemed to scorn ornament as adding nothing to his dignity. He wore neither necklace, bracelets, plumes, nor shells in his hair. Being a humble man, he was what he was, and that was enough for him.
He again faced United States Army Captain William Clark as a young man in 1824. Clark had written to the President of the United States asking permission to ͚annihilate the Arikara͛ with help from the Dakota if they did not sign the 1825 treaty. The Chief spoke on behalf of his people and disaster was averted.
After the treaty of 1851, White Shield was asked to share the new head Chiefship with War Chief Iron Bear. He was chosen because of his wisdom, eloquence, bravery, honesty and his strong desire to help his people. The Sahnish people were satisfied with the new Head Chief. They knew him as a fierce warrior and a strong-hearted leader, when he went on the warpath to right a wrong done to Sahnish. When Chief Iron Bear died in 1867 White Shield became sole head chief of the Arikara people. White Shield School, founded in 1952, is named after White Shield and his great grand daughter, Margaret Breuer.
There are many stories told of Chief White Shield. June 6, 1869, during a battle with the Sioux, he rode out between the hostile lines and shouted “I am old. my teeth are bad. I cant eat corn. I am ready to die, will my enemy meet me will my enemy come”
The earliest recorded Chief was White Shield with Star or Old Star as second chief. The Arikara were also victims of incredibly corrupt traders and Government officials who upon receiving annuities meant for the Ree, would hold off the distribution of the goods until they had opened the boxes, taken dry goods to sell through their trading posts and substitute condemned flour from the trader͛s stock for fresh flour and so fourth. When White Shield refused to sign for annuities, Agent Mahlon Wilkinson be infuriated and declared White Shield deposed from his chieftainship. He told White Shield that “he was getting too old. Age troubles your brain and you talk and act like an old fool.” White Shield replied, “I am old it is true, but not so old as to not see things as they are, And even if, as you say, I were only an old fool, I would prefer a hundred times to be an honest fool than a stealing rascal like you”.
The Arikara people currently reside on the Fort Berthold Reservation of North Dakota and primarily in the town that honors sports the Chief͛s name and within the surrounding area. The tribal headquarters is located in the town of White Shield and boasts a cultural center that is dedicated to honor and preserve the cultural and historical traditions of the Arikara.