by Benjamin Kensok
Sitting Bull – whose name roughly translates from “Tatanka Iyotake” – is remembered as a great leader of the Hunkpapa Lakota. In his early days as chief, his people and land were faced with a grave threat: the United States. These invaders continuously violated treaties by occupying the sacred Black Hills. Through these hardships, he united several tribes to combat the Americans. His people were driven into exile and were eventually subjected to reservation life in the United States. However, his ongoing devotion to the Hunkpapa never ceased. After his death, his memorable contributions to the Lakota were not forgotten, and many share his aspirations toward Indigenous freedom.
The image above shows the Hunkpapa leader wearing a feather and holding a sacred pipe.
Agent McLaughlin forced the Lakota to conform to a whiter American society. Sitting Bull actively opposed his efforts by promoting traditional Hunkpapa customs.
Sitting Bull was a symbol of freedom for his people. In times of struggle, he united many tribes to counter the U.S. invasion.
The Lakota chief’s gravesite is in Fort Yates, ND, near the Grand River. He is remembered as an iconic chief. His legacy of preserving the Black Hills and Indigenous rights is carried on today.