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:
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
of the shoulder blade. He approached me, imitating the motions
of a stag, the blood pouring from both apertures of his wound,
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
to smoke, and at each expiration, the clear red blood gushed
from his mouth and covered the whole length of the pipe stem.
certain his injury would prove almost immediately fatal, and I
told him so, and he replied calmly, that he himself did not
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