Chief Sitting Bull Tatanka-Iyotanka, 59

Standing Rock Reservation, North Dakota
December 15, 1890

Agencies: Unspecified

Cause of death: Not Yet Known

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Last updated: almost 6 years ago


“I have killed, robbed, and injured too many white men to believe in a good peace.” Such were the fateful words of Hunkpapa Lakota Sitting Bull, born in 1831 near the shores of the Grand River located in the Dakota Territory. As a holy man and the tribal chief he led led several attacks on U.S. forts in the West, and he played a role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Still, after several years of exile in Canada he was offered a pardon, which he refused believing the offer be unreliable. But life for his people in Canada was difficult, and he was forced to surrender to U.S. Army Major David Brotherton on July 19, 1881. They were relocated to the Standing Rock Agency in the Dakota Territory.

By 1885, Buffalo Bill included him in his "Wild West" show, and Sitting Bull gained significant popularity. He befriended Annie Oakley (also in "Wild West") and made frequent public appearances. By 1890, he returned to the Agency reservation. Meanwhile, Wovoka (also known as Paiute prophet Jack Wilson) had initiated the Ghost Dance movement, which gained rapid popularity among Native Americans and made U.S. soldiers nervous, probably because they didn’t understand its intent.

U.S. Indian Agent James McLaughlin feared Sitting Bull would become involved in the movement and ordered his arrest on December 15, 1890. Sitting Bull refused to cooperate and a scuffle ensued. A nearby Lakota, Catch-the-Bear, shot the arresting officer, who fired back, killing Sitting Bull. Sixteen people were killed in the skirmish, including eight police officers, Sitting Bull, and seven other Sioux. Two weeks later the massacre at Wounded Knee would take place.

The following is a list of the killed and wounded casualties of the fight:

Henry Bull Head, First Lieutenant of Police, died 82 hour after the fight.
Charles Shave Head, First Sergeant of Police, died 25 hours after the fight.
James Little Eagle, Fourth Sergeant of Police, killed in the fight.
Paul Afraid-of-Soldiers, Private of Police, killed in the fight.
John Armstrong, Special Police, killed in the fight.
David Hawkman, Special Police, killed in the fight.
Alexander Middle, Private of Police, wounded, recovering.
Sitting Bull, killed, 56 years of age.
Crow Foot (Sitting Bull's son), killed, 17 years of age.
Black Bird, killed, 43 years of age.
Catch the Bear, killed, 44 years of age.
Spotted Horn Bull, killed, 56 years of age.
Brave Thunder, No. 1, killed, 46 years of age.
Little Assiniboine, killed, 44 years of age.
Chase Wounded, killed, 24 years of age.
Bull Ghost, wounded, entirely recovered.
Brave Thunder, No. 2, wounded, recovering rapidly.
Strike the Kettle, wounded, now at Fort Sully, a prisoner.

Community and Family Efforts


October 2012 Talk with Sitting Bull's  Great Grandson

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