Sitting Bull was born in the winter of 1831 to the Lakota Sioux tribe. When Sitting Bull was young he did not have such a brave name as “Sitting Bull.” His name was Slow. He was called Slow because everything he did was slow. He ate slowly, he spoke slowly, and he moved slowly. His father whose name was Returns Again was a great warrior. Returns Again got his name from when he was fighting against another enemy tribe, was and his tribe was heavily out numbered. Most of his men said to give up and return to home. But Returns Again did not. He was brave and even though he was outnumbered he won. He kept going back into battle and that’s why the men called him Returns Again. Slow wanted a name like his father, that he could be proud of. When he was 14 winters of age he went into his first battle. The warriors were going to battle with their enemy the Crow tribe. He was ready to prove to his father that he was a brave fighter. He wanted so desperately to make his father proud.
All of the men were getting their things ready, waiting for Slow’s father to give the signal to go. But Slow takes off without any warning and charges the unsuspecting Crow. The Crow are shocked by his bravery and run away. At dinner that night there was much celebrating of the victory over the Crow. Slow was put in front of everyone and his father passed down a name that was once his. The name, Tatanka Iyotaka, was more commonly known as Sitting Bull.
Returns Again got the name when he and his hunting party were camping out for the night. They were sitting around the fire when they heard a very low rumbling noise. All the men reached for their weapons but Returns Again sat still. He told them to lower their weapons because it was only a friend. An old and wise buffalo bull walked straight through the campsite mumbling five things in the Sioux language. The words he was mumbling were very honorable names. Once the bull was out of sight over the nearest hill the men were still in shock. They decided to give all of the names to Returns Again as an honor. One of which was Sitting Bull. When Returns Again gave that name to Slow he was very honored.
Sitting Bull was always proud of being a Native American. When he was fighting for the Native American land he said, “Is it wrong for me to love my own? Is it wicked for me because my skin is red? Because I am Sioux? Because I was born where my father lived? Because I would die for my people and my country?” This quote was meaningful to many Indians that were fighting racism. “When I was a boy the Lakota owned the world. The sun rose and set on their lands. They sent 10,000 horsemen into battle.” He is also famous for this line when he was becoming the Chief of the Lakota Sioux: “I am here by the will of the Great Spirit, and by his will I am chief.”
I think that Sitting Bull was similar and different to Martin Luther King Jr. He was similar to Martin Luther King because he fought for his people. He did many protests and did not let his people give up hope. But there is a big difference between Martin Luther King Jr. and Chief Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull had to go to many battles to fight for his cause. King led many protests to get equal rights but strongly did not believe in violence.
Sitting Bull never accepted the reservation life that the U.S military was trying to force on his people. So Sitting Bull did all that he could to make it hard on the U.S. government. He frustrated the government when it attempted to reclaim the Great Sioux Reservation after gold was discovered there. It was this reason that the Sioux War of 1875 began. American troops were sent to defend the camp on the Little Bighorn River in Montana. Many Sioux warriors camped out to join the defense and the Battle of Little Bighorn began.
Sitting Bull was one of the great leaders in the Battle of Little Bighorn. Many warriors from both of the Sioux and Cheyenne Native American tribes gathered in Montana to meet with Sitting Bull. They were going to drive the U.S. military out of the Little Bighorn River. Over the next year, the Indians won several battles. The U.S. cavalry was led by Lt. George Custer and The Seventh Cavalry. Lt. Custer was blamed for these defeats because he wanted power and fame. He did not want to retreat when he was clearly outnumbered because he did not see the whole other tribe of recruits for the Native Americans. He was surrounded. When he sent for help no one responded to him. His other cavalries were busy fighting off the Indians somewhere else. He told his men to shoot their horses and use them as protection but he was overrun. He and some of his men were quickly killed and others were held as prisoners of war. Custer’s defeat is known as possibly the “worst military disaster ever.”
After a brutal winter in 1881, Sitting Bull and his men had to surrender to the American troops. Sitting Bull and his group were captured and kept as prisoners as war. Sitting Bull was held at a base for two years. Then he was moved to the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. The officials finally released him in 1885.
In the same year he joined a traveling show called the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show. He toured around Europe for a while. Sitting Bull still remained an important force for his people. When he returned to the U.S.A he counseled the chiefs that admired his wisdom. Without Sitting Bull’s participation the federal government decided it wanted to “break up the tribal lands.” They asked a couple of the “government appointed chiefs” to sign an agreement, stating that the reservation was going to be divided up and dealt out to the chiefs of the different tribes. Sitting Bull was not asked to sign this agreement. There was fighting inside the Lakota tribe and because of the fighting Sitting Bull was murdered.
Sitting Bull was killed in 1890 during an attempt to arrest him by Indian Agency police. He and his son Crow Feet were shot to death when some of his followers tried to prevent the arrest. His death started the massacre of Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. He was buried in Fort Gates, North Dakota. In 1953 his remains were moved to Mobridge, South Dakota, were a “granite shaft” marks his grave.
Sitting Bull is remembered for many things other that the things he was famous for. He was known by his people as a kind man, devoted father and a talented singer. He changed the life of many people and he changed the way Native Americans were thought of all around the world. If Sitting Bull did not stand up for what he believed in Native Americans might still be treated badly only because they were Native American. He was known to many as a hero, and a hero he will stay.
Sitting Bull changed the life of many people. I interviewed Mrs. Koch and she said that she was influenced. When she was learning about people in her history class she felt a sense of pride of being a descendant of the same culture because she relate to the Native American heroes.