Old injuries

A Closer Look

The name Taopi means “Wounded Man” in the Dakota language. Bishop Henry Whipple said that Taopi's childhood name was different. It was “Shaking Soul” (Nagixkan). The story of how Taopi got his adult name is recorded in the papers of Henry Sibley. In the papers, there is an eyewitness report of a battle between the Dakota and the Ojibwe in 1842. This report, offered below, is quite graphic.

Report from the Sibley papers:

“A young man, since bearing the name of ‘Ta-o-pee.’ or ‘His Wounded,’ had received a ball, which transversed his body, and issued forth near the point of the shoulder blade. He approached me, imitating the motions of a stag, the blood pouring from both apertures of his wound, as well as from his mouth. He said to me ‘Comrade, I wish to smoke.’ I took a pipe from an Indian nearby, which had a broad flat stem, and having filled and lighted it, I handed it to Ta-o-pee, who began to smoke, and at each expiration, the clear red blood gushed from his mouth and covered the whole length of the pipe stem. I felt certain his injury would prove almost immediately fatal, and I told him so, and he replied calmly, that he himself did not believe he could live long."

Henry Whipple also gave his perspective on the incident.

“The deliverance from death was so marked that his superstitious people looked with a kind of awe on him, as if the great Spirit had spared him for some great end...from this time on, he bore the name of Taopi, or ‘the wounded one.’ "

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