Column: Highway patrol logo honors Lakota man
"The American Indian symbol of the North Dakota Highway Department is the profile of an actual Lakota Indian.

Marcellus Red Tomahawk was a warrior who actively fought against the whites during the early years of Dakota Territory. He later settled on the Standing Rock Reservation, becoming a member of the Bureau of Indian Affairs police force.

He was part of several peace negotiations, served as a Lakota goodwill ambassador and met with U.S. presidents. Red Tomahawk is most remembered as the man who shot and killed Sitting Bull.

Tacanke Luta (Tacanipiluta), Red Tomahawk, was born in the late fall of 1849 in Montana Territory. His father, Sintemaza, Peter Iron Tail, was from the Yantonai tribe, and his mother, Wamlisapa, Black Eagle, was a member of the Hunkpapa tribe. Red Tomahawk was the name of his paternal grandfather.

While Red Tomahawk was growing up, the whites began to make inroads into Montana and Dakota Territory, land he considered given to the Lakota by the Great Spirit. By 1862, he started going out with Lakota warriors to harass these intruders in the hope that it would discourage others from following them.

When military forts were built in Indian territory to protect the whites, Red Tomahawk and the other warriors began to harass the soldiers. At Fort Rice, in northern Dakota Territory, he was active in driving off the soldiers' cattle and horses and making surprise attacks on the fort.

By the mid-1870s, Red Tomahawk realized that the soldiers could not be defeated, and he joined other Lakotas as they settled on the Standing Rock Reservation south of Bismarck. When Sitting Bull convinced many Indians to leave the reservation and join him to flee west into Montana, Red Tomahawk remained at Standing Rock."

Get the Story:
Curt Eriksmoen: The man behind the Highway Patrol logo (The Bismarck Tribune 10/25)