The thread on Lakota badges of office made me think of the war leader ranks. Within the Lakota warrior system, war leaders could be distinguished on three levels:
1. Blotahunka -- a war (party) leader 2. Blotahunka ataya -- head war leader, also known as ataya zuya itancan 3. Okicize itancan -- head war leader
I'm not entirely sure however, what the distinction between the last two levels is. I believe that the blotahunka ataya or ataya zuya itancan was considered the primary war chief in a certain band like the Oglalas, and that the okicize itancan transcended band affiliation as the head war chief or head war decider of the entire Lakota nation. Yet Red Cloud was a blotahunka ataya, but in later years Crazy Horse was made a okicize itancan; I could therefore imagine the two positions to be equal, as both were head war leader among all Lakotas. So just a different name for the same office perhaps? Or did Crazy Horse indeed hold a superior rank over Red Cloud (albeit in a different timeframe)?
Also, High Backbone (for the Miniconjous) and Sitting Bull (for the Hunkpapas) were both at one time blotahunka ataya.
Note: neither rank is specifically tied to the status of Shirt Wearer, I believe.
It is my understanding that shirt wearers were the most prestigious individuals in the tribe and were chosen by consensus of all concerned. Old Chief Smoke was known as "the last of the great shirt wearers" and it was his responsibility to protect all the members of the tribe.