Sitting bull

Sitting Bull or Tatanka Yotanka , native Indian of North America , belonging to the Hunkpapas ethnic group, one of the seven tribes that made up the powerful people of the Teton Sioux . Indian chief.


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Fight against the invasion
    • 2 Beginning of the war
    • 3 Outside their lands
    • 4 After the war
    • 5 Last days
  • 2 Sources

Biographical synthesis

Sitting Bull was born in 1831 near the Great River , in the current state of South Dakota , United States .

As he grew into a teenager, the first columns of wagons were rolling down the Oregon Trail to the west . However, the Trail was a long way south of the Hunkpapa territory, so until then, no white soldier or colonist had invaded their country.

Sitting Bull was still very young when he was welcomed into the secret community of “Strong Hearts”. Participation in this community of warriors was a great honor. Soon, he would count up to more than sixty personal victories over his enemies. His fame as a warrior grew and he was appointed chief in 1860 . Meanwhile, his tribe had noticed the invasion of the white settlers more and more clearly.

Fight the invasion

More and more settlers flocked to the Great Prairie of the Hunkpapas, and in the West, soldiers were guarding the construction of the new Bozeman Trail, which led from the Oregon Trail to the burgeoning gold diggers’ camps around Virginia City in present-day Virginia City. Montana . To Sitting Bull, the invasion of the whites was as serious a matter of concern as if enemy tribes were planning an invasion, and he viewed their activities with growing resentment.

In 1866 , army troops drove deep into Hunkpapa territory to build Fort Buford at the mouth of the Yellowstone on the Missouri River , present-day North Dakota . Sitting Bull viewed Fort Buford as a threat and responded with several “Strong Hearts” attacks on nearby settlements. The soldiers and settlers were terrified and scared. In 1868Finally, the government was forced to deal with the Indians on a peace agreement. Representatives from both parties met at Fort Laramie. The government declared its willingness to close the Bozeman Trail again, offered the Sioux and their allies a vast territory of their own lands as a durable reserve, and west of that reservation, the territory of the Powder River in Wyoming was to remain forever as hunting area of ​​the Indians.

Accordingly, the agreement stated: “No white person will be authorized to colonize or otherwise dedicate land on the Powder River, nor will he be allowed to cross the territory without the authorization of the Indians.” Sitting Bull, like other Sioux and Cheyenne chiefs , had refused to participate in those conversations. He further noted that although the agreement seemed, at first glance, very generous, in reality it took a large part of their territory from the Sioux.

“The Great Spirit gave us this land and here we are at home. I don’t want my people to be robbed … I want everyone to know that I am against any sale of our land.”

Many other Indian chiefs, including Red Cloud as well , signed and agreed to his transfer to the Sioux reservation. Sitting Bull never signed it. He and other non-signatories to the agreement continued to set up their camps in the Powder River, outside the reservation. He wanted to continue clinging to the old way of life and hunt buffalo and not live on handouts from Washington .

Start of the war

For a time, tribes outside the reservation largely eluded the white settlers. However, it was soon shown that even the Fort Laramie accord was not capable of containing the whites who were getting closer and closer. At first, the soldiers tried to deter the prospectors with force of arms, but they kept coming back again and again. When the soldiers were unable to continue to contain them, the government offered the Indians to purchase the land. Washington sent a delegation to discuss its sale. To this Sitting Bull expressed:

If the great Spirit had wanted me to be a white man, he would have made me white … Is it a wrong to love my people? Am I evil because my skin is red? Why am I a Sioux? God made me an Indian. ”

For two weeks, the middlemen tried everything to convince the Sioux to sell the Back Hills, but no Indian chief dared to sell the sacred land. When the delegation returned to Washington empty-handed, the government settled on an act of force with all the consequences: Should the Indians not accept the sale of the Black Hills, their lands in the Powder River would be taken away, they were not on the Sioux reservation. In November of 1875, the commissioner for Indian affairs announced that all the Indians living in the Powder River posed a threat to the reservation system. Sitting Bull and the other Indian chiefs who had denied their signature were ordered to go immediately to the reservation. As they did not respect this order, army troops were sent to find the enemy Indians and take them by force to the reservation.

When the troops were on the march, thousands of Indian warriors gathered to fight the whites. Sitting Bull had sent emissaries to all the Sioux and Cheyenne tribes inviting them to a great court-martial at Rosebud Creek in Southern Montana.

“We are an Indian island in a sea of ​​whites,” said Sitting Bull. “We have to stick together, because alone we would be overwhelmed by them. Those soldiers want to fight, they want war. Well then they will. ”

Finally, some fifteen thousand Indians had gathered, among them approximately four to five thousand warriors. The camp stretched three miles long by half wide along Rosebud Creek. The war had started.

Sitting Bull was not only war chief but also spiritual leader, shaman or medicine man, and he asked, according to the old ritual, the help of the Great Spirit. In the meantime, he was forty-five years old, a vigorous man, nearly five feet tall, with a powerful head and a hooked nose, and marks of pox scars. His movements were still slow and deliberate and he limped off his crippled left foot from a wound on his first warrior foray.

He had painted his hands and feet red and his back in blue stripes, which must represent the sky . A warrior brother knelt beside her. With a sharp awl, he lifted fifty small strips of fur from Sitting Bull’s arms, from shoulder to wrist. While the blood flowed and the wounds were sewn up, Sitting Bull began the slow, rhythmic dance, according to the ancient custom; He stood up and crouched on the balls of his feet, turning his face towards the sun and praying.

He danced without interruption for a whole day and night and continued well into the next day, without eating or drinking, until he fell exhausted to the ground. Then, he had a vision of the dream for which he had prayed in prayer. He saw soldiers fall from the sky like grasshoppers, heads bowed, their hats falling from, in the middle of the Sioux encampment. When Sitting Bull regained consciousness, he announced a great victory for the Sioux. As he danced and prayed, three columns of the army were approaching from the south, east, and west, to the Indian camp. The first column that was sighted by the Indian sentries on June 16 , was that of General George Crook. The next morning, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, under the command of Mad Horse , carried out a surprise attack on Crook, who was camped with his soldiers on the bank of the Rosebud. Rosebud’s battle ended in a draw. Crook was saved by his trackers.

After that battle, the Sioux and Cheyenne moved their camp to the western bank of the Little Bighom River. A week later, Sitting Bull would see his vision of a great victory dream come true.

On the afternoon of June 25 , 1876, the Sioux and Cheyenne camp was attacked by the Seventh Cavalry Regiment, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Custer, the famous Indian hunter. He was so confident, so convinced of victory that day that he attacked without any precautionary measures. He had no idea of ​​the true strength of the Indian camp. He sent his soldiers into battle without waiting for reinforcements from the other army units, which were on their way there. He also made a serious and fatal tactical error when he divided his forces against a numerically much more powerful enemy. Custer could not even save his troops on the other side of the river. His five cavalry battalions were surrounded and neutralized on a low hill, directly next to the river, following the battle that would be calledBattle of Little Big Horn .

Sitting Bull let Crazy Horse and the other Indian chiefs face the enemy. He was on his horse with a Winchester and a .45 revolver, watching the battle and, from afar, planning strategy. Custer and his troops disappeared in clouds of gunpowder and dust, while trying to save his life. When the dust settled, they were all dead on the hill, without their weapons and clothes. Many of the fallen were without their hair. Custer, however, no. When his body was found, he had gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

The next day, Indian scouts reported that military reinforcements were approaching. Sitting Bull and the other Indian chiefs decided to end the battle, dismantle the camp, and go to the Bighom Mountains. Along the way, they divided into small groups, which disappeared into the mountains in different directions.

“All my warriors were brave and did not know fear. The soldiers who died were also brave men, but they had no chance to fight or flee. They were surrounded too tightly by our warriors … We did not abandon our land to fight. against them, but they came to bring us death and they found death themselves. ”

Off their lands

Sitting Bull and his followers were chased by Colonel Nelson Miles across Montana. Three times that fall , Sitting Bull declared himself open to a meeting with the colonel. In one of these encounters, both men were sitting on their horses in the middle of a clearing in the forest; to one side, they watched a line of Indians; to the other, a line of cavalrymen. Miles tried to convince the chief of the Sioux to surrender, surrender his weapons, and go peacefully to the reservation. Yet Sitting Bull still insisted that his people had to be allowed to live in the Black Hills and in the territory along the Powder River, as had been ensured in the Fort Laramie agreement. He said:

“The Great Spirit wanted me to be an Indian, not a reservation Indian and I have no intention of becoming one of them.”

At the meeting, no agreement was reached and the fighting continued. When winter came , the Indians barely had food and ammunition. Some leaders of the Sioux and Cheyennes surrendered. Tired of being constantly chased, they handed their weapons to Miles and led their people to the reservation. Miles continued to hunt down groups that were resisting. His soldiers continued to attack Indian villages when the temperature had dropped below zero.

In February of 1877 , Sitting Bull fled with his tribe to Canada through the border to take refuge there. Meanwhile, the Indians had lost everything they had fought for. Due to government pressure, the Indian chiefs of the reservation had relented and eventually agreed to give up the Black Hills and the territory in the Powder River. A third of the territory that had been recognized in the 1868 agreement had been taken away from them. With the exception of Sitting Bull and his Hunkpapas in Canada, all Sioux and Cheyennes had been locked up in their smaller and smaller reservation.

Sitting Bull stayed four years in Canada. The Canadian government tolerated it, although it denied its people food and other aid. The Sioux had to starve most of the time, as buffalo and other game species had also been practically wiped out. Little by little, hungry and full of nostalgia for their homeland, they set out for the United States and surrendered to the border soldiers. Their clothes hung in rags. As of the summer of 1881 , the Sitting Bull tribe had been reduced to less than two hundred people. On July 19, the Indian chief also crossed the border. He surrendered at Fort Buford, where his victorious warriors had once terrified soldiers and settlers alike. He handed his Winchester to his eight-year-old son, Crow’s Foot, and gestured for the son to pass it to Major David Brotherton. Even in his deep defeat, he still declared fully confident of himself:

“The land under my feet is my land again. I have never sold it, I have never given it to anyone ”.

Two years he was a prisoner of war at Fort Randell. In 1883 , he was released and authorized to return to his birthplace, on the Grand River, near the Standing Rock Reservation.

After the war

After the war ended, this red-skinned Indian had become a celebrity; He was probably the best known Indian in the whole country and everyone knew that he had beaten Custer. He received letters from all over the world, he was interviewed by press reporters, and Indian chiefs visited him for advice.

Sitting Bull next to Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill , the famous explorer and showman, visited him in 1885 . He convinced the Indian chief to participate in the Wild West Show through the Eastern States and Canada. Billed as “Custer’s Victor,” Sitting Bull was the big draw. Onlookers lined up to see him and buy a photograph with his autograph, which cost 25 cents. Most of the money he gave to poor children waiting outside. from the theater and followed him everywhere.At the end of the tour, the Indian chief received a gift from Buffalo Bill: a gray horse, which was taught to sit and lift one hoof when he heard a shot. When in 1886 Buffalo Bill asked Sitting Bull if he wanted to go with the Wild West Show to England, the Indian chief turned him down.

“I do not favor our cause if I am dressed like that. Besides, they need me here. They say that, again, they want to take more land away from us. ”

Last days

The Sioux had already lost the Black Hills and the lands of the Powder River. Now the government required them to sell a large part of their reserve so that the whites could settle there. Sitting Bull was radically against giving up even more land, regardless of the price. At a Sioux assembly, Sitting Bull proposed that a scale be carried and the land sold pound for pound. That’s how stubborn he was and so effectively prevented negotiations that reserve officials tried everything to prevent him from public opinion on the matter.

The Sioux had already lost the Black Hills and the lands of the Powder River. Now the government required them to sell a large part of their reserve so that the whites could settle there. Sitting Bull was radically against giving up even more land, regardless of the price. At a Sioux assembly, Sitting Bull proposed that a scale be carried and the land sold pound for pound. That’s how stubborn he was and so effectively prevented negotiations that reserve officials tried everything to prevent him from public opinion on the matter.

Other Indian chiefs of the Sioux feared their land would be taken away, regardless of whether they were willing to sell or not. Therefore, they finally agreed to sell some 44,550 square kilometers. The Great Sioux Reservation was divided into five small reservations and each Sioux family received approximately 1.28 square kilometers as their own land.

Sitting Bull was a shaman who had lived in close communication with the Great Spirit, but had his doubts about the new belief, as preached by Wovoka. The prophet preached the return of the bison and the time when the Indians would once again regain their land. Sitting Bull allowed the other members of the tribe to follow the prophet or not, so they gathered every day in front of his hut to dance, pray, and seek visions of dreams, which seemed to the soldiers a form of insurrection.

The 15 of December of 1890 , shortly before dawn, forty-three Indian policemen under the command of Lieutenant Henry Bull Head, surrounded Sitting Bull’s cabin. Bull Head and a few others entered the hut, rudely roused Sitting Bull, ordered him to dress, and dragged him outside, where some 150 followers of the Indian chief had gathered. When they began to protest, they were interrupted by the voices of Sitting Bull:

“I will not go. Do with me what you want. I will not go.”

The policemen tried to push their way through the angry crowd. A shot was fired, hitting Lieutenant Bull Head in the side. As he fell, he turned and fired at Sitting Bull. Sergeant Red Tomahawk, who until then was pushing Sitting Bull from behind, shot the Indian chief in the head. When the shooting ended, there were six police officers and eight of Sitting Bull’s supporters dead or mortally wounded, including his seventeen-year-old son, Pata de Cuervo. The Indian policemen sought protection in the hut until they were rescued two hours later by soldiers. When Sitting Bull died that morning, he was not yet sixty years old.

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