Kicking Bear

Lakota Sioux Chief Kicking Bear

Fast Facts about Kicking Bear
Who was Kicking Bear and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Summary: Summary: Kicking Bear (c.18491877) was a famous chief of the Lakota Sioux tribe. He was a leading figure in the resistance to white settlement on Sioux tribal land. Kicking Bear fought with the Indian tribe confederation that defeated General Custer at the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 and was one of the famous Ghost Dancers.

The following fact sheet contains interesting facts, background history and information about the life of Kicking Bear and the events in history that led to his fame as a great Native American Indian leader.

Fast Facts about Kicking Bear

  • Tribe: Sioux
  • Clan: Oglala Lakota Sioux
  • Role: War Chief and Holy Man
  • Lifespan of Kicking Bear: 1846 - 1904
  • Alternative name: Mato Wanartaka
  • Place of Birth: Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
  • Date of Birth: March 18, 1846
  • Date of Death: May 28, 1904
  • Place of Death: Manderson-White Horse Creek
  • Name of Father: Black Fox (Great Kicking Bear)
  • Name of Mother: Iron Cedar Woman
  • Name of Wife: Woodpecker Woman, the daughter of Chief Big Foot
  • Famous relatives: Crazy Horse (first cousin), Flying Hawk (brother) and Chief Sitting Bull (uncle)
  • Native Indian Allies: Cheyenne
  • Native Indian Enemies: Crow and Pawnee
  • Wars: The Sioux Wars (1854 - 1891)
  • Famous Battles: Battle of the Little Bighorn
  • A Sioux leader during the Ghost Dance War (1890 - 1891)

Kicking Bear
Kicking Bear was born on March 18, 1846 as an Oglala Lakota Sioux. Originally, he was given the name Mato Wanartaka. His father was Black Fox who did not hold any revered position within the tribe, but Kicking Bear was made a chief during the period known as the Sioux Wars (1854 - 1891). Kicking Bear strongly opposed the white encroachment of Sioux lands and resisted against white expansion.

Kicking Bear - The Ghost Dance War (1890 - 1891)
Kicking Bear became famous for his involvement in the Ghost Dance movement. The Ghost Dance movement was revived in Nevada in the year of 1888 by two Paiute shamans, called Wodziwob and Wovoka. The Ghost Dance was part of a mystical ceremony designed to re-establish the Native Indian culture and restore the environment to pre-European levels.  The dance was believed to help recover the riches the Native Americans once had with lush fields and abundant herds of bison and to rejoin the people with their ancestors. It also included the promise of the white men being swallowed up by the earth. The Ghost Dancers wore Ghost shirts, of white muslin which the Native Americans believed that no enemy weapon could pierce a Ghost shirt.

Early Life of Kicking Bear
Kicking Bear married Woodpecker Woman who was the daughter of Chief Big Foot in the Lakota Nation. Kicking Bear offered several horses to obtain her hand in marriage, which he was able to capture during the clashes with the Crow Native Indians. As a result of the betrothal and subsequent marriage, Kicking Bear became a respected member of the Lakota Sioux.

Kicking Bear Timeline
The following Kicking Bear timeline charts the resistance of this great Sioux war chief against the encroachment of tribal lands in Dakota.

1846, Kicking Bear was born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota
1854: Start of the Sioux Wars (1854 - 1891)
1876: Kicking Bear participated in the Great Sioux War of 1876, aka the Black Hills War, which was sparked by the discovery of gold in the Black Hills of Dakota. The Black Hills War was a series of battles and negotiations which occurred between 1876 and 1877
1876: On 5 June 1876 Chief Sitting Bull created the Sun Dance alliance, named after this famous ritual, between the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne. During the event Sitting Bull has a vision of "soldiers falling into his camp like grasshoppers from the sky." and prophesizes a great victory
26 June 1876: The Battle of the Little Bighorn in which the Native Indian alliance defeated the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by General George Custer
1889: Kicking Bear traveled to Nevada to learn the new Ghost Dance religion
1890: Kicking Bear demonstrates the Ghost Dance to Sitting Bull and the Sioux at the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in October 1890
1890: The Ghost Dance War (December 29, 1890 - January 15, 1891)
1890: The Ghost Dance movement ended when the Wounded Knee Massacre occurred on December 29, 1890
1890: Kicking Bear was imprisoned in Fort Sheridan, Illinois
1891: Kicking Bear was released on the humiliating condition that he joined the European tour of the Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show
1892: He returned to his family the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
1904: Kicking Bear died on May 28, 1904 at the age of 51 years old

The Story of Kicking Bear
For additional facts and information refer to:

Sitting Bull
Ghost Dancers
Sioux War
Famous Native Indians
Native Indian Tribes Index

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Updated 2018-01-01

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