Lakota Tatanka Iyotake, famously known as Sitting Bull, was initially named Jumping Badger. He earned his name Sitting Bull and maintained its strong definition in numerous acts. But how did he get his new name?
Sitting Bull’s warriors lost faith in his bravery. He calmly took his pipe and smoked during a battle with the US Army while bullets flew over his head. After a while, he kept his pipe and walked home calmly. His men’s faith was restored.
Who is Sitting Bull?
Sitting Bull was born Lakota Tatanka Iyotake in 1831 near Grand River, Dakota Territory, now known as South Dakota. He was born in the Hunkpapa division of Teton Sioux. Sitting Bull is credited for uniting the Sioux people under his chieftain. He is also remembered for his lifelong distrust of white Americans and stubbornness to submit to domination. (Source: Britannica)
Sitting Bull was the son of Returns-Again, a famous Sioux warrior. He was initially named Jumping Badger before becoming Sitting Bull. At 14, Iyotake joined his first war party and quickly earned a reputation for fearlessness in warfare. This is where he also earned the name Sitting Bull.
Iyotake rose to prominence as a leader of the mighty Strong Heart warrior organization and eventually became a member of the Silent Eaters, a select group dedicated to tribal welfare. (Source: History)
Iyotake’s first contact with white soldiers was in June 1863, as part of the US Army’s vengeance against the Santee Sioux for the “Minnesota Massacre,” in which his people, the Teton Sioux, were not involved. He was regularly in conflict with the army over the next five years, as the army invaded Sioux hunting areas and wreaked havoc on the Indian economy. (Source: Britannica)
By 1866, Iyotake was named principal chief of the northern hunting Sioux, with Crazy Horse, the Oglala Sioux’s leader, as his vice-chief. Sitting Bull, known for his bravery and intelligence, was named chief of the entire Sioux nation a year later, in 1867.
Sitting Bull was well-known for his ability in close-quarters combat, and he amassed a collection of red feathers to symbolize war scars. As word of his legend spread, his fellow warriors began shouting “Sitting Bull, I am he!” to scare their opponents during battle. (Source: History)
Sitting Bull was known and remembered in the battles he led against the white Americans then claimed international fame when he joined Buffalo Bills’ Wild West Show in 1885. But one of his acts of bravery was during a battle in 1872.
The Sioux and the US Army clashed during a campaign to obstruct the Northern Pacific Railroad’s development. Sitting Bull strolled out and took a seat in front of the troops’ ranks to symbolize his contempt for them. He invited several others to join him and began to leisurely smoke his tobacco pipe, oblivious to the hail of bullets zipping by his head. When he was done, Sitting Bull carefully cleaned his pipe and simply walked off. (Source: History)
Iyotake died on December 15, 1890. He was killed while his warriors were trying to rescue him from arrest. His remains lay in Mobridge, South Dakota. A granite shaft marks his final resting place. (Source: Britannica)
The Battle of Little Bighorn
The Battle of Little Bighorn, also known as Custer’s Last Stand, was fought on June 25, 1896, in Little Bighorn River in the Montana territory.
Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse rejected the United States government’s efforts to confine their people to Indian reservations in the mid-nineteenth century. After gold was discovered in South Dakota’s Black Hills in 1875, the United States Army broke earlier treaties and occupied the region.
Due to this betrayal, many Sioux and Cheyenne tribespeople left their reservations to join Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse in Montana. More than 10,000 Native Americans had assembled in a camp along the Little Bighorn River by the late spring of 1876.
Custer’s 600 men entered the Little Bighorn Valley at midday on June 25. News of Custer’s attack spread among the Native Americans. Sitting Bull rallied the warriors while Crazy Horse led many Indians to meet Custer’s attack.
Custer’s desperate attempts to regroup his forces failed miserably. Up to 3,000 Native Americans ambushed Custer and approximately 200 men from his regiment; Custer and his soldiers died within an hour. (Source: History)