CHIEF SITTING BULL
Of the Hunkpapa Band of the Lakota Nation
The Chief was born, about 1831, on The Grand River, (Missouri River) near
the present day town of Mobridge, South Dakota. His father was Tatanka Iyotake,
(Sitting Bull) and his mother was Tiopa Wakan Win (Her Holy Door)
The early name of the child is unknown to me, but at age fourteen, he joined a
war party, and rode against a band of the Crow Nation, where he counted his first
“Coup” Upon his return his father gave him his own name “Sitting Bull”, which
refers to a Buffalo Bull, sitting back on it’s haunches, in a stubborn, unruly,
difficult to control manner. His father took the name Tatanka Psica (Jumping Bull)
In 1857, Sitting Bull, a tenacious, and brave warrior, became chief of the
Hunkpapa Sioux, at about the age of twenty six.
Throughout his life, Sitting Bull struggled to preserve the Native American way
of life, an attribute which attracted many followers. During the month of June,
1876, he, along with his people, and the many who had been drawn to his doctrine,
including numerous Arapaho and Cheyenne, were camped along the West bank
of The Greasy Grass River, (Little Big Horn) near present day Crow Agency,
Montana. Best estimates suggest a camp of about 6000 people, with about 2000 of
the number being warriors.
Traditionally, warriors would meet an enemy several miles away from the main
camp, and fight the battle away from noncombatants, to avoid danger to Women,
Children and the Elderly. Custer’s forces approached the Native American
encampment undetected, thus, indicating that the Indians were unaware that the
Army was in the area.
Sitting Bull had experienced a vision in which the Native Americans won a
decisive victory over the Horse Soldiers, and Custer’s defeat was the fulfillment of
Sitting Bull and his people were pursued relentlessly after the Little Big Horn
battle. They moved to Canada, and lived there for a period of about three years, but
many longed for life on the plains of their homeland. They returned home, and most,
including Chief Sitting Bull, lived out their days on the Standing Rock
Reservation, in and around Fort Yates, North Dakota.
Sitting Bull died on December 15th, 1890, at the hands of the Indian Police at Fort
Yates, when they came to arrest him, to keep him from participating in, and
encouraging the people to dance the the Ghost Dance. Native Americans believed
that the Ghost Dance would return them to the old way of free life on the plains, and
most were prepared to fight to the death to regain such a beloved existence.
There are two burial sites for Chief Sitting Bull, the first is at Fort Yates, North
Dakota, where he lay until 1953, when a group of men, authorized by The Chief’s
Grandchildren came by night to remove his remains, to be taken back to the site of
his birth at Mobridge, South Dakota.
Native Americans are split on the question of whether the party was successful.
Nevertheless, a new grave was established at Mobridge. Whether it contains the
remains of Chief Sitting Bull is an unanswered question.