Sitting Bull

Native Indian Tribe

Sitting Bull
He was a noted leader of the Sioux tribe and, together with Chief Crazy Horse and Chief Gall, gained a famous victory at the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25 1876 that ended in a catastrophic defeat for the US and the deaths of George Custer and the 7th Cavalry. The stunned US reaction to the defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn prompted a massive outcry and the US government flooded the area with troops, forcing the Native American Indians to surrender or flee following the battle.

Who was Sitting Bull and why was this Native Indian chief famous? Sitting Bull (c.1831–90) was the famous Sioux war chief who led the Sioux in the fight to retain their lands against settlers in the northern Great Plains and against United States Army troops. He was present at the Battle of Little Bighorn on June 25 1876 against the US troops led by General George Custer (1831-1890). Sitting Bull was killed in 1890 during the Ghost Dance turmoil - refer to the story of the Ghost Dancers.

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

Fast Facts about Sitting Bull

Lifespan of Sitting Bull: 1831 - December 15, 1890
Date of Birth: 1831
Place of Birth: Grand River, South Dakota
Date of Death: December 15, 1890
Place of Death: Grand River, South Dakota, Standing Rock Indian Reservation
Native Name: Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotȟake (born Hoka Psice)
Nickname: Slon-he or "Slow"
Parents: Jumping Bull and Her-Holy-Door
Spouses: Light Hair, Four Robes, Snow-on-Her, Seen-by-her-Nation and Scarlet Woman
Children: One Bull (adopted son), Crow Foot (son), Many Horses (daughter), Walks Looking (adopted daughter) and Annie Oakley (adopted daughter)
Relatives: Big Foot (half brother); White Bull (nephew);
Kicking Bear (nephew); Hohay, adopted brother
Wars: The Sioux Wars (1854 - 1891)
Famous Battles:  Battle of Little Bighorn

Why was Sitting Bull famous?
He was a Teton Dakota Indian Chief. He was the reason the Sioux tribes were united against their struggle to survive on the North American Great Plains and a famous Native Indian leader at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The Tribe of Sitting Bull
He was the tribal chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota who went against the United States policies. The tribe’s enemy was the United States government. The hostility started when the United States took ownership of the Black Hills, which was a sacred area of the Native Americans.

Sitting Bull Timeline
The following Sitting Bull timeline charts the life and his resistance against the encroachment of Soiux tribal lands in Dakota.

Sitting Bull Timeline

  • 1831: Sitting Bull was born near the Grand River, South Dakota
  • 1854: Start of the Sioux Wars (1854 - 1891)
  • 1865: Red Cloud's War (1865–1868). Sitting Bull joined the hostilities during Red Cloud's War and led numerous war parties against Fort Berthold, Fort Stevenson, and Fort Buford from 1865 - 1868
  • 1868: Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 was made in which the US army agreed to abandon the posts along the Bozeman Trail.
  • 1871: The Northern Pacific Railway conducted a survey for a route across the northern plains directly through Hunkpapa Sioux lands
  • 1875: In November 1875, the government ordered all Sioux bands, living outside the Great Sioux Reservation, to re-locate to the reservation
  • 1876: Sitting Bull participated in the 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 joined the Sun Dance alliance, named after this famous ritual, between the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne.
  • 1876: The Battle of the Little Bighorn was fought on 26 June 1876 in which the Native Indian alliance defeated the 7th Cavalry Regiment led by General George Custer
  • 1876: Pursued by U.S. troops, Sitting Bull fled to Canada
  • 1881: Sitting Bull returned to the United States in 1881 and surrendered
  • 1881: Sitting Bull was imprisoned for two years 1881 - 1882
  • 1883: He was allowed to live at Fort Yates, the military post located adjacent to the Standing Rock Agency. Sitting Bull and his band of 186 people were kept separate from the other Hunkpapa who lived at the agency
  • 1884: Sitting Bull toured parts of Canada and the northern United States in a show was called the "Sitting Bull Connection" where he met Annie Oakley and "adopted" her as a daughter. He named her "Little Sure Shot".
  • 1885: Sitting Bull joined Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show for four months
  • 1885: He returned to the Standing Rock Agency and lived peacefully with his people
  • 1888: The Ghost Dance movement was revived by two Paiute shamans, called Wodziwob and Wovoka
  • 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: Fearing the Ghost dancers would start another war Sitting Bull was killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota on December 15, 1890.

Sitting Bull and the Battle of the Little Bighorn
The Battle of the Little Bighorn started when the Americans discovered gold in the Black Hills and owned the sacred area following the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. The Americans forced the natives to live in the Great Sioux Reservation so they can open mining and settlement. The natives who would not live in the reservation were called hostiles by the United States Interior Department. During the Sun Dance Ceremony on the Little Bighorn River, Sitting Bull danced for 36 consecutive hours and sacrificed around 100 pieces of flesh. After his performance, Sitting Bull informed his tribe that he had received a vision that they had won over the American army. True to the vision, on June 1876, they won against the Americans in the Battle of the Rosebud. After a week, they had a very famous victory against General George Armstrong Custer. Sitting Bull had around 1500 men, both Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, against the undermanned American army of about 200 soldiers. The combined force of Sitting Bull had killed the entire regiment including the American general, George Custer. The stunned and furious reaction to the US defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn prompted a massive outcry and the  government flooded the area with troops, forcing the Native American Indians to surrender or flee.

Sitting Bull - The Ghost Dance War (1890 - 1891)
Sitting Bull was killed amid fears of 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.

Death of Sitting Bull
Sitting Bull was killed by Indian police at the Standing Rock reservation in South Dakota on December 15, 1890 during the Ghost Dance turmoil. In 1891, there were about 571 Hunkpapa Lakota that were living in the Standing Rock Indian Reservation of North and South Dakota at the time.

Famous Sitting Bull Quotes
Famous Sitting Bull quotes include the following:

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is mean and evil and the other is good and they fight each other all the time. When asked which one wins I answer, the one I feed the most.”

“It does not take many words to tell the truth”

“The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it.”

“What treaties that the whites have kept, that the red man had broken? Not one. What treaties that the white man gave to us they kept? Not one.”

The Story of Sitting Bull
For additional facts and information refer to:

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

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