Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotake, known as Sitting Bull, was a Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux (Húŋkpapȟa / Očhéthi Šakówiŋ) holy man and leader who played a significant role in the resistance of Native American tribes to the westward expansion of the United States. He was born in the Grand River Valley of present-day South Dakota around 1831.
Sitting Bull was a leader of the Sioux tribe, who were deeply connected to the land and relied on buffalo hunting for their livelihood. As the American government began to take over their land and restrict their access to hunting grounds, Sitting Bull and other chiefs resisted.
One of the most famous incidents in Sitting Bull's life was the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, where a coalition of Native American tribes led by Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse defeated the U.S. Army's 7th Cavalry, led by George Custer. This battle, also known as Custer's Last Stand, was a major victory for the Native American tribes, but it also marked the beginning of the end for their way of life.
After the Battle of Little Bighorn, the U.S. government increased its efforts to subdue the Sioux and other tribes, and Sitting Bull and his people were forced to flee to Canada. They eventually returned to the United States and settled on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota.
In 1885, Sitting Bull went "Wild Westing," joining Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West and befriending Annie Oakley, calling her "Little Sure Shot." Sitting Bull was paid well to ride around the arena once per show, and made a small fortune selling pictures of himself as well as autographs, but he tended to give most of the money he earned to homeless people and beggers he met on his travels.
Sitting Bull continued to resist the government's attempts to assimilate Native Americans into mainstream American culture, and he became a symbol of Native American resistance. In 1890, he led the Ghost Dance movement, a religious movement that promised to restore the land and way of life of the Native American tribes. The movement alarmed the government, and a group of Indian police was sent to arrest Sitting Bull. During the confrontation, Sitting Bull was shot and killed on December 15, 1890.
Sitting Bull had been gifted a horse named Rico from the Wild West show by Buffalo Bill, and when the gunfire erupted the horse reared his head and began to dance, as it had been trained to do. He bowed, then stood up and pawed the ground, reared up, and leaped into the air. He cantered around and around in a circle. He did all of this while shots erupted around him that would claim the life of 16 men and two horses, but Rico was never touched by a bullet.
Sitting Bull's death marked the end of an era for Native American resistance to the U.S. government's westward expansion. His legacy, however, lives on. He is remembered as a fearless warrior and a champion of Native American rights. His memory continues to inspire Native American activism and the fight for Native American sovereignty.