“The Soft-Hearted Sioux” And “Tecumseh’s Speech To The Osages”

Zitkala-Sa’s story The Soft-Hearted Sioux and Tecumseh’s Speech to the Osages have certain similarities and differences. For example, both works are based on the experiences of Native Americans and their conflicting relationships with white people. The main character in Zitkala-Sa’s story is the young Sioux who leaves his tribe to go to the mission school. It can be argued that success for this character is connecting his people to the white men’s values and Christian beliefs about killing. The main character in the Speech to the Osages is the speaker, or Tecumseh himself, and success for him is the ability to unite Native American tribes to fight against white colonists.

Both characters face limitations placed on them by the society because of race. Thus, Tecumseh believes that his people’s race is part of what makes the white people want to conquer their lands and kill them. This is seen in many parts of his speech, such as: “The white men despise and cheat the Indians; they abuse and insult them; they do not think the red men sufficiently good to live” (“Tecumseh’s speech to the osages,” 1811, par. 10). In turn, the limitations perceived by the young man from The Soft-Hearted Sioux are represented by the expectations other people have from him. Thus, because he is Sioux, his family expects him to become a hunter and kill animals for food, clothes, and shelter (Levine et al., 2017). When he goes to the mission school, he learns more about the culture of the white people. They teach him about the Bible and their beliefs so that he could be “sent back to [his] people to preach Christianity to them” (Zitkala-Sa, 1985, p. 110). Again, he is subjected to certain expectations caused by his race and origin.

However, it can be stated that neither Tecumseh nor the young man from Zitkala-Sa’s story have achieved success, although they worked hard for it. Tecumseh failed to convince the Osages to join the confederation, and many other tribes have also refused to do it, because of either fear or pride. The Soft-Hearted Sioux, in turn, eventually becomes a warrior to save his father from starvation, abandoning his convictions about killing animals.


Levine, R. S., Elliott, M. A., Gustafason, S. M., Hungerford, A., & Loeffelholz, M. (2017). The Norton anthology of American literature, volume a (9th ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

Tecumseh’s speech to the Osages. (1811). History Is A Weapon. Web.

Zitkala-Sa. (1985). American Indian stories. Bison Books.