Known to non-Native Americans as Chief War Eagle, the man buried atop the bluff overlooking the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers is better known as Waŋbdí Okíčhize among the Dakota (Santee Sioux). A monument honoring the man is located near his burial site, which watches over the rivers’ confluence near Sioux City.
Waŋbdí Okíčhize actually translates to Little Eagle. But, he was referred to as War Eagle by non-Natives. Born around 1785 in Wisconsin or Minnesota, War Eagle was actually known as a man of peace. He supposedly left the tribe to avoid a battle over who would be chief.
War Eagle supported the American government during the War of 1812, working with Native Americans to persuade them to work with the United States against Britain. Later, he lived and worked along the Mississippi River.
He married in 1830 and was soon adopted into the Yankton Sioux tribe. He later became the tribe’s leader and worked with the U.S. and other tribes to broker treaties.
His daughters married a fur trader, whose marker is located a few steps from War Eagle’s monument in Sioux City’s War Eagle Park.
He died in 1851 at about the age of 66. War Eagle’s monument depicts the chief holding a pipe, standing high above the rivers, which overlook Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota.
Several years ago, the monument was removed due to erosion along the bluff. An issue occurred because it took quite a few years to return the statue to its rightful spot. Since it was restored, visitors pay respect and take in the beautiful view from near the monument.
When in Sioux City, we recommend visiting the War Eagle monument.