Tuesday, 1 July 2014
The Two Sitting Bulls
By A. Hyatt Verrill
From Real Western Stories, February 1954. Digitized by Doug Frizzle, June 2014.
VERY FEW persons realize that there were two Sioux Indians named Sitting Bull. And,, as a result, there has been a great deal of confusion (as well as much misinformation), regarding them. The first, and original, Sitting Bull was an Oglala Sioux chief, who died several months before the
Battle of the Little Big Horn took place. He
was peacefully-inclined and friendly to the whites. He was a signer of the
Treaty of 1867, which provided that, “As long as the grass shall grow and
waters flow,” the land in question would belong to the Sioux. As usual, this
promise was soon broken by the whites.
While on a visit to
Washington, Chief Sitting Bull was
presented with a rifle by President Grant, and the gun is now in the Museum of
the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in New
The other, and more famous, Sitting Bull, was a Hunkpapa Sioux. He was a shaman, or medicine man, but was never a chief and was not even noted as a warrior. Although it has been stated that he was a leader in the
of the Little Big Horn, he was ‘‘making medicine” in the hills ten miles away
at the time it took place, and was not even aware that the battle had taken
place until he returned to the Sioux camp.
According to Chief Dewey Beard, who took part in the battle, Sitting Bull went at night to the battlefield, and locating Custer's body, "made medicine” so that the spirits of the two men could converse. When he returned to the camp, he told the Indians that Custer's spirit had warmed him that he would be treacherously killed by the whites in the seventh month of the fifteenth year following, that being 1890.
Although he had taken no part in the battle, the government made him the scapegoat and Sitting Bull fled to
Later, he returned to the United
States and was placed under arrest. However,
he was soon set free, as there was no charge that could be brought on which to
Later, when the famous Ghost Dance came into vogue, Sitting Bull was again arrested and charged with inciting the Indians to revolt, although the Ghost Dance was a purely religious ceremony and had nothing to do with warfare. As he was being taken into the fort, Sitting Bull was shot and killed by one of the Indian police, who claimed that he was trying to escape. However, the other Indians present declared that he was assassinated by order of the Army officers, which was more probably the truth; the Government had long “had it in” for Sitting Bull, and was only too glad to be rid of him.
If his murder was planned, it was managed very cleverly, for his death took place in the seventh month of the fifteenth year after he had allegedly talked with Custer’s spirit, and exactly as it had been foretold.
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- As an armed forces brat, we lived in Rockcliff (Ottawa), Namao (Edmonton), Southport (Portage La Prairie), Manitoba, and Dad retired to St. Margaret's Bay, NS.
Working with the Federal Govenment for 25 years, Canadian Hydrographic Service, mostly. Now married to Gail Kelly, with two grown children, Luke and Denyse. Retired to my woodlot at Stillwater Lake, NS, on the rainy days I study the life and work of A. Hyatt Verrill 1871-1954.