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Sitting Bull (1831-1890), Native American Chief

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Sitting Bull portrait

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Sitting Bull and the Great Sioux Wars

Sitting Bull was the Indian (native American) chief who united the various Sioux tribes in their struggle to survive on the North American Great Plains after gold was found in the Black Hills of South Dakota by Custer's expedition in 1874. He was named Jumping Badger at birth and was born somewhere along the along the Yellowstone River in Montana. Although there were many battles between the Sioux and the US army during the 1860s, the period known as the Great Sioux Wars began in the 1870s and was seen as the only way to deter the hoards of white settlers that descended on the sacred Black Hills.

In 1876 Sitting Bull and the Sioux tribes defeated the American forces (US army) in the Battle of the Rosebud and just a week later had a vision in which he saw many soldiers falling upside down into the Lakota Sioux camp. This was taken as proof of an imminent major victory over the US army. Thereafter, with thousands of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors he defeated the greatly outnumbered American troops under Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

After spending several years living in Canada with his band of 186 people Sitting Bull surrendered on 19 July 1881 to the US forces as they were on the brink of starvation and desperation. He was forced to settle on the Standing Rock Indian reservation where they were kept separate from other Hunkpapa warriors. But in 1890 Sitting Bull was arrested by the US authorities and the Indian Agency Police who feared his growing influence over the other tribes and his possibe support for the Ghost Dance movement. As Sitting Bull was forcibly removed from his home a 'gunfight' started and he was shot in the head and killed. It is claimed that the gunfight started after Sitting Bull's followers fired on the arresting Standing Rock policemen.

After his death he was laid to rest at Fort Yates in North Dakota and, in 1953, his remains were moved by his Lakota family to their final resting place in Mobridge, South Dakota - believed to be his birthplace. A monument to him was erected there.

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