Sitting Bull consistently opposed the government and became the first nationally known defender of the rights of Native Americans. He served as the military leader for all the plains tribes, fighting the U.S. army for control of the sacred homeland. Born in 1831 near Grand River, Dakota Territory, in what is now known as South Dakota. At age 10 he killed his very first buffalo. Four years later, he went with his uncle and father to raid a Crow Camp. His father renamed him Sitting Bull for his bravery. It was said that he could communicate with animals and see visions of the future. He then joined the String Heart Warrior Society and the Silent Eaters, this group endured the welfare of the tribe. He led the expansion of the Sioux hunting grounds into westward territory. His first Battle against the U.S. Army was in July of 1863. They had come after the Santee Sioux because of the previous Minnesota uprising. Federal agents kept food from the Sioux reservations along the Minnesota river. This is what caused the uprising. Approximately 300 Sioux were arrested, while 39 were actually accused. Sitting Bull battled the U.S. Army again at the Battle of Killdeer Mountain on July 28, 1964. Face offs like these made Sitting Bull realize that he would never sign a treaty, forcing people off their land and onto a reservation. Despite his efforts, chief Red Cloud signed a treaty along with 24 other tribal leaders. The treaty would create the Great Sioux Reservation. The reservation gave the Sioux additional land including parts of South Dakota, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Sitting Bull’s anti treaty beliefs gained him over eighteen hundred followers. He became supreme leader of the bands of Lakota Sioux. Members of other tribes soon joined him. In 1874 gold was discovered on the Sioux reservation.The treaty was violated when the United States forced the tribe out of the reservation, giving an unrealistic amount of time for Sitting Bull to move everyone 240 miles away in the freezing cold. Sitting Bull refused to give up, he faced General George Crook on June 17, 1876. He won victory in the Battle of Rosebud. Him and his forces then moved to the valley of the Little Bighorn River. Sitting Bull became known as a leader and holy man. Little Bighorn River is where he performed his famous 36 hour straight dance. The dance made 50 sacrificial cuts on each of his arms before he fell into a trace. When he woke up, he said that he had a vision of U.S. soldiers falling like grasshoppers from the sky. It was believed that it represented the defeat of the army. On June 25th General George Custer led 600 men to enter the valley. Sitting Bull was in charge of the women and children. He ensured that they were safe while Crazy Horse led his army to victory. After the U.S. government failed to get rid of the Sioux, they became angry and redoubled their efforts. Many white settlers invaded much of the Native Americans land, the buffalo population drastically decreased. The Sioux depended on these Buffalo for survival. Sitting Bull led his people into Canada, where they would be safe from invasion. Sitting Bull eventually surrendered in July of 1881 for the Sake of his people. He was a prisoner of war in South Dakota’s Fort Randall for two years before being moved to Standing Rock Reservation. Sitting Bull occasionally traveled and gained friendships with people outside of the reservation. One friend he met was Annie Oakly, a sharpshooter who he nicknamed “Little Sure Shot”. Sitting Bull and Annie performed in the Buffalo Cody's Wild West Show featuring Buffalo Bill. He was in the show's opening act. This is when he signed autographs and met President Grover Cleveland. He was often mocked and booed on stage which made him leave the show and never return. Standing Rock Reservation soon became the center of controversy when the Ghost Dance Movement started gaining traction. Indian police became worried that Sitting Bull would join the movement, so they set out to arrest him. On December 15, 1890 the police tried to arrest Sitting Bull quietly at 6:00am but he refused. A crowd began to gather from all the comotion and a member of the police shot Sitting Bull, instantly killing him. He was buried at Fort Yates Military Cemetery originally but his family reburied him near Mobridge, South Dakota, overlooking the Missouri River. A true hero willing to sacrifice it all for his people. Throughout his life Sitting Bull struggled to keep Native American customs and freedoms alive. #IAm Sitting Bull.
“As individual fingers we can easily be broken , but together we make a mighty fist”,