SITTING BULL VS. LT COL. GEORGE CUSTER




“ Wichasa Wakan”  Sitting Bull

 Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer


THE SIOUX NATION —  SITTING BULL  —  Hunkapapa Lakota

The truth about The Holy Man, the visionary leader Sitting Bull, important as a man of visions and his place in the Lakota…  What most Americans remember about him was his defeat of Lieutenant Colonel George Custer and portrayed as the bad guy.  It was Lt. Col. Custer who attacked, with bad recon, too early,o backup, older weapons, bad field position, split his forces, and underestimated the enemy. Custer was the aggressor and his ego killed 200+ of his men.

They were not aggressive till their land and food were taken away.  The simplistic life style of the true Americans, the Indian Nation, and in one particular case the Sioux, is one of the largest groups of Native American tribes and First Nations peoples in North America and never treated fairly by the US government.

I have met and parlayed with a few on my trips out west and they are wonderful people never forgetting who they are and were.  We screwed them and violated our own treaties, we tried to starve them, we attacked them, we killed millions of Bison, their basic food and supplement for clothing, tents, survival in winter, because we wanted their land.  No, it was  an act of stupidity and greed by the United States…   We covered over our indiscretions, told to forget or never new the great truths about the confrontations and we were wrong… And tried to make a hero of Custer.


The Sioux Are…

The term “Sioux”  can refer to any ethnic group within the Great Sioux Nation which differ in some small customs, like accents, in the majority of the nation’s three major Language Dialects.  They are 180,000 strong. 

They are Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota., the Three Major Tribes under the banner of the Sioux Nation. There are other members smaller tribes slightly different customs but they are Sioux.   The ones I have contacted and met were warm, friendly, hospitable and devoted to their heritage and besieged with problems economically speaking and a youth generation questing for education and jobs.  There are four additional sub-chapters within the primary tribes.


Sitting Bull and War Chief Crazy Horse…  
Tribes had councils and designated positions.  One of the leaders, there were others, the War Chief Crazy Horse and his son were significant persons of the Sioux Tribe.  

Crazy Horse ( Tȟašúŋke Witkó ) His-Horse-Is-Crazy (1840 – September 5, 1877) was a Lakota war leader of the Oglala band in the 19th century. He took up arms against the United States federal government to fight against encroachment by white American settlers on Native American territory and to preserve the traditional way of life of the Lakota people. 
His participation in several famous battles of the 
Black Hills War on the northern Great Plains, among them the Fetterman Fight in 1866 in which he acted as a decoy and the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876 in which he led a war party to victory, earned him great respect from both his enemies and his own people.

In September 1877, four months after surrendering to US troops under General George Crook, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American warriors and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Sitting Bull.  Sitting Bull was a Hunkpapa Lakota  (sometimes pronounced Hunk-a-papa)  He was a great warrior, but he was also a Holy man of great powers and a visionary.  But not a chief in a sense, he was their spiritual man - a Holy Man, not a chief but he had equivalent power, and was well respected.

Later as the tribes of the Lakota , Dakota and  Nakota came together into the Sioux Nation,  he became the Leader-in-Chief of all the tribes.  He would lead his people during years of resistance to United States government prejudices and policies.  Sitting Bull had a spiritual premonition of his most famous victory and  visionaries are held in strong reverence by the tribe.

Again for clarification, though mainly remembered as a warrior and political leader, Sitting Bull was a Lakota “Wichasa Wakan,” a type of holy man believed to have the gift of spiritual insight and prophecy.  You can even see it in his portrait.  He is sitting yet showing great power and enormity of strength, courage and resource.  Thus the bull is sitting, but he is still a bull and can be the warrior yet instead of his lance and bow, he grasps a peace pipe.

The Great Sioux Nation scattered, some to Canada and others surrendered to the reservations. The United States Government demanded that the Lakota nation move to the reservations. The people finally surrendered after being cold and hungry and moved on the reservations. The government still insisted buying the Black Hills from the Lakota people. The Hills were their holy land.   

The Great Plains were the last Native American holdout in America. As settlers colonized the far west before the Civil War, few had put down roots in the Plains due to its dry weather and large Indian population. But after the Civil War, far-west land became scarcer and the U.S. government granted ten percent of Plains land to settlers and railroads. A confrontation between the Plains Indians against the settlers and government forces was inevitable.

By the late 1860s, most Native Americans had been forced onto so-called Indian reservations or killed outright. Vowing to avoid the same fate, the Plains Indians settled in for a long and fierce holdout.

In the hopes of squashing the Indians’ livelihood, the government allowed the railroads to kill scores of buffalo herds to lay railroad tracks. They also urged hunters to kill as many buffalo as possible without oversight and encouraged trains to stop so passengers could massacre buffalo for sport.   The more the whites needlessly slaughtered buffalo, the angrier the Indians grew. Some staged brutal attacks on settlers and railroad workers without regard to age or gender.

To the Indians, the railroad represented an end to their livelihood, since for millennia they’d relied on free-roaming buffalo to survive. By the time Custer arrived on the scene in 1866, the war between the army and the Plains Indians was in full force.

The Sioux (Lakota) Nation refused to sell their sacred lands. The United States Government introduced the Sell or Starve Bill or the Agreement of 1877. The Lakota people starved but refused to sell their sacred land so the US Congress illegally took the Black Hills from the Great Sioux Nation. 

The Allotment Act of 1888 allotted Indian lands into 160-acre lots to individuals to divide the nation. The Act of 1889 broke up the Great Sioux Nation into smaller reservations, the remainder of which exist today at about one half their original size in 1889.

Many of the Lakota people began believed in the Ghost Dance experiences as the movement spread to the reservations. The U. S. Army feared the unity through prayer among the Tribes and ordered the arrest of Sitting Bull on the Standing Rock Reservation. In the process of the arrest Sitting Bull was shot by Indian Police on December 15, 1890.

Sitting Bull,  I like to think of him as a real hero to his people in war and peace, is very much like Mahatma Gandhiji.  His thoughts and statements have a strong similarity with the little man of great stature and conviction.   He cared.  He said:

•   “ Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children”.
•   “ The white man knows how to make everything, but he does not know how to distribute it”.
•   “ Behold, my friends, the spring is come; the earth has gladly received the embraces of the sun,  and we shall soon see the results of their love”!

FROM “JUMPING BADGER” TO “SLOW” TO “SITTING BULL”…   He was originally named “Jumping Badger.”  Sitting Bull was born around 1831 into the Hunkpapa a Lakota Sioux tribe that roamed the Great Plains.  He was initially called “Jumping Badger” by his family, but earned the boyhood nickname “Slow” for his quiet and deliberate demeanor. 

The future chief killed his first buffalo when he was just 10 years old.  At 14, he joined a Hunkpapa raiding party and distinguished himself by knocking a Crow warrior from his horse with a tomahawk.  In celebration of the boy’s bravery, his father relinquished his own name and transferred it to his son. From then on, Slow became known as Tatanka-Iyotanka, or “Sitting Bull.”

Sitting Bull was credited with several legendary acts of bravery. Sitting Bull was renowned for his skill in close quarters fighting and collected several red feathers representing wounds sustained in battle. As word of his exploits spread, his fellow warriors took to yelling, “Sitting Bull, I am he!” to intimidate their enemies during combat. 

The most stunning display of his courage came in 1872, when the Sioux clashed with the US Army during a campaign to block construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad. s a symbol of his contempt for the soldiers, the middle-aged chief strolled out into the open and took a seat in front of their lines. Inviting several others to join him, he proceeded to have a long, leisurely smoke from his tobacco pipe, all the while ignoring the hail of bullets whizzing by his head. 

Upon finishing his pipe, Siting Bull carefully cleaned it and then walked off, still seemingly oblivious to the gunfire around him. His nephew White Bull would later call the act of defiance “the bravest deed possible.”

He Was The First Man To Become Chief Of The Entire Lakota Sioux Nation…  
Sitting Bull’s camp was located in the Big Horn Mountains.   In the 1860s, Sitting Bull emerged as one of the fiercest opponents of white encroachment on Sioux land. His resistance usually took the form of raids on livestock and hit-and-run attacks against military outposts, including several against Fort Buford in North Dakota.  Visionary and war chief.

Knowing that the Indians required unity to face down the might of the US Army, Sitting Bull’s uncle Four Horns eventually spearheaded a campaign to make the war chief the supreme leader of all the autonomous bands of Lakota Sioux—a position that had never before existed.

Sitting Bull was elevated to his new rank sometime around 1869. Other hunting bands later flocked to his banner, and by the mid-1870s his group also included several Cheyenne and Arapaho.

During a Sun Dance ceremony in early June 1876, he made 50 sacrificial cuts into each arm and danced for hours before falling into a trance. When he awoke, he claimed to have witnessed soldiers tumbling into his camp like grasshoppers falling from the sky—a vision he interpreted to mean that the Sioux would soon win a great victory. 



The SEVENTH CALVARY “ Custer’s Last Stand 

Under skies darkened by smoke, gunfire and flying arrows, 210 men of the U.S. Army’s 7th Cavalry Unit led by Lt. Colonel George Armstrong Custer confronted thousands of fierce Sioux and Cheyenne warriors on June 25, 1876, near the Little Big Horn River in present-day Montana. The engagement was one in a series of battles and negotiations between Plains Indians and U.S. forces over control of Western territory, collectively known as the Sioux Wars. 

In less than an hour, the Indians had won the Battle of the Little Bighorn, massacring Custer and every one of his men. The battle has been ennobled as “Custer’s Last Stand” —but in truth, Custer and his men never stood a fighting chance.


Custer’s Early Life Was Less Than Auspicious… George Armstrong Custer, born in Ohio in 1839, earned a certificate for teaching grammar school in 1856 but had much grander goals. The following year, he entered the US Military Academy at West Point, where he was a less-than-stellar cadet: 


Custer Graduated Dead Last In His Class Of 1861… When the Civil War broke out in April 1861, Custer joined the Union Army’s Cavalry and soon proved himself a competent, reliable soldier in battles such as the First Battle of Bull Run and the Battle of Gettysburg. He was promoted several times and by the time the war ended, he was a Major General in charge of a Cavalry division.
Throughout the war, Custer showed bravery and resilience time and again. He supposedly had 11 horses shot out from under him yet was only wounded once. His dogged pursuit of the Army of Northern Virginia is often partially credited for helping to end the Civil War.


Custer Went Awol And Was Court-martialed By The Us Army… Custer’s first assignment was helping Major General Winfield S Hancock carry out a shock-and-awe campaign to overwhelm the Indians. At the end of the campaign, Custer deserted and joined his wife at Fort Riley. He was court-martialed in 1867 and suspended without rank and pay for one year.

Despite Custer’s now-tarnished reputation, the army still needed him to fight Indians. In September 1868, he returned to duty before his court-martial sentence was up and re-took command of the 7th Cavalry. On November 28, he led a campaign against a village of Cheyenne led by Chief Black Kettle, killing all Indian warriors present and earning himself a reputation as a ruthless Indian fighter.

Over the next several years, Custer discovered that fighting Indians was much different than fighting Confederate soldiers.The Plains Indians were spread out and elusive. They rode fast ponies and knew the terrain better than Custer ever could. They were also ferocious and resolute fighters since they were not just fighting for their individual lives but their entire culture.

Sitting Bull And Crazy Horse Were Battle-Hardened Warriors…  In 1873, Custer faced a group of attacking Lakota Indians at the Northern Pacific Railroad Survey at Yellowstone. It was his first encounter with Lakota leaderSitting Bull and Crazy Horse, but it wouldn’t be his last. Little did Custer know at the time the two Indians would play a role in his death a few years later.

In 1868, the U.S. government had signed a treaty recognizing South Dakota’s Black Hills as part of the Great Sioux Reservation. However, after gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874, the government had a change of heart and decided to break the treaty and take over the land.   Custer was tasked with relocating all Indians in the area to reservations by January 31, 1876. Any Indian who didn’t comply would be considered hostile.

The Native Americans, however, didn’t take the deception lying down. Those that could, left their reservations and traveled to Montana to join forces with Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse at their fast-growing camp. Thousands strong, the group eventually settled on banks of the Little Bighorn River.

Background To The Battle Of The Little Bighorn River…  The US Army dispatched three columns of soldiers, including Custer and his 7th Cavalry, to round up the Indians and return them to their reservations.  The plan was for Custer’s cavalry and Brigadier General Alfred Terry’s infantry to rendezvous with troops under the command of Colonel John Gibbon and Brigadier General George Crook. They’d then find the Indians, surround them and force their surrender.

Crook was delayed but Terry, Custer and Gibbon met-up in mid-June and after a scouting party found an Indian trail headed toward Little Big Horn Valley, they decided Custer should move in, surround the Indians and await reinforcements.

Custer forged ahead but things didn’t go as planned. Around midday on June 25, his scouts located Sitting Bull’s camp. Instead of waiting for reinforcements, however, Custer planned a surprise attack for the next day. He moved it up when he thought the Indians had discovered his position.

Custer divided his more than 600 men into four groups. He ordered one small battalion to stay with the supply train and the other two, led by Captain Frederick Benteen and Major Marcus Reno, to attack from the south and prevent the Indians from escaping. Custer would lead the final group—210 men strong—and planned to attack from the north.

Reno’s group attacked first but swiftly embarked on a disorganized retreat after realizing they were completely outnumbered. By the time they’d regrouped, at least 30 troops were dead.

Benteen’s troops came to Reno’s aid and the combined battalions joined forces on what is now known as Reno Hill. They remained there despite Custer’s order: “Benteen. Come on, Big Village, Be quick, Bring packs. P.S. Bring packs.”


Custer’s ‘Last Stand’ Became A Slaughter…  The exact events of Custer’s Last Stand are unclear. What is known is that neither Benteen or Reno helped Custer despite admitting later they’d heard heavy gunfire coming from Custer’s position. Custer and his men were left to face scores of war-hungry Indians alone. Some historians believe many of Custer’s men panicked, dismounted from their horses and were shot dead as they fled.

No one knows when Custer realized he was in trouble since no eyewitness from his troops lived to tell the tale. The Sioux and Cheyenne warriors led by Crazy Horse brutally attacked with Winchester, Henry and Spencer repeating rifles as well as bows and arrows.

Most of Custer’s men were armed with Springfield single-shot carbine rifles and Colt .45 revolvers; they were easily outgunned. Custer’s line and command structure quickly collapsed, and soon it was every man for himself.


Custer Died By Two Bullet Wounds… In the end, Custer found himself on the defensive with nowhere to hide and nowhere to run and was killed along with every man in his battalion. His body was found near Custer Hill, also known as Last Stand Hill, alongside the bodies of 40 of his men, including his brother and nephew, and dozens of dead horses.

Custer had suffered two bullet wounds, one near his heart and one in the head. It’s unclear which wound killed him or if the head wound happened before or after he died. In the heat of battle, it’s unlikely the Indian who shot Custer knew he’d just killed a U.S. Army icon. Even so, once word spread that Custer was dead, many Native Americans claimed to be his executioner.

After the battle, Indians stripped, scalped and dismembered their enemy’s corpses on the battlefield, possibly because they believed the souls of disfigured bodies were doomed to walk the earth forever.

Reports vary about what happened to Custer’s body. Some say it was stripped but not scalped or damaged because he wore buckskins and not a standard blue army uniform and the Indians mistook him for an innocent bystander.

Another report says his body was spared because he’d had an affair with a Cheyenne woman. Still another source claimed Custer’s corpse was mutilated and his eardrums punctured because he refused to listen to the Indians.

The American Reaction To Little Big Horn Spelled Doom For The Plains Indians…  
The Battle of the Little Big Horn didn’t end with the massacre of Custer and his men. The Indians quickly regrouped and pursued Reno’s and Benteen’s battalions. The troops fought valiantly until General Terry’s reinforcements finally arrived.

Now it was the Indians who were outnumbered so they packed up camp and fled, bringing the largest defeat of the U.S. Army during the Plains Indian Wars to an end.

The Indians reveled in their victory for a time, but their celebration was short-lived, as was their freedom. When word of Custer’s death reached Americans proudly celebrating their nation’s centennial on July 4, they demanded retribution.

The U.S. Army intensified their efforts to hunt down all Indian outlaws and either wipe them out or force them back onto reservations. Within a year, most had been rounded up or killed.

In May 1877, Crazy Horse surrendered at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, where he was later bayoneted and killed after an altercation with an army officer. After fleeing to Canada, Sitting Bull eventually surrendered in 1881 and lived on Standing Rock Reservation until he was killed by Indian agent policemen during a conflict at his house in 1890.

‘Custer’s Last Stand’ Was A Manufactured Legacy… 

The Battle of the Little Bighorn—aka Custer’s Last Stand—is steeped in controversy. To this day, many people question his actions that fateful day. He’s often accused of arrogance for not following the original battle plan and leading his men to certain death. Yet its possible Custer believed reinforcements were on the way and wanted to strike before the Indians dispersed; it’s unlikely he expected such a well-armed attack.

It’s also argued that Reno and Benteen were simply cowards who ignored Custer’s orders when the fighting unexpectedly got tough, leaving Custer and his men to fight a losing battle. In their defense, though, they may have believed that following Custer’s orders was a suicide mission.

The dead at the Battle of the Little Big Horn were given a quick burial where they fell by the first soldiers who arrived at the scene. Custer was later disinterred and reburied at West Point. Other troops were also disinterred for private burials.

In 1881, a memorial was erected in honor of those who lost their lives. A trench was dug below the memorial to re-inter the remaining battlefield remains and a marker was erected where each soldier had fallen in battle.

While Custer never had the chance to defend his actions at the Battle of Little Big Horn, he needn’t have worried about his legacy because his widow Libbie had it safely in hand: She wanted her husband to go down in honor and boldly promoted him as a brave hero cut down in the prime of his life while defending his country.

It seems Libbie Custer’s efforts paid off. No matter how it’s interpreted over 140 years later, the Battle of Little Big Horn is still one of the most recognized events in US history.

 

ED-OP-This Was My World…
A couple of decades ago, my late wife and I had a connection with several beautiful and proud native Americans we met while I was doing articles on  the Sioux, Cheyenne,  Apache, Cherokee, Seminole and the Miccosukee tribes, and as it was a cumulative research with several others and myself, with interviews she accompanied me on over the years.  I have a passion for learning and understanding other cultures and she had a smile that opened doors.

Though Dolly was a Methodist and I am Jewish, our birth rights, it never mattered, nor even spoken about, not one bit for 31 years.  But we both shared how we believed not what we were told…our love, we felt that Love was God’s gift to us and we were one with nature and I called her my tree hugger.  And I lived and loved my tree hugger.  

We both loved animals, the mountains, the prairies and the woods.  We hiked and were at the top of Mt. Le Conte in the smokies in the Cherokee tribal lands after having breakfast with one of their chiefs…  Looking north standing at the edge of the cliff, her attention was drawn to a gnarly tree barely grasping with its roots to the rock.   It’s in the picture over her right shoulder.

My weather radio was bleeping that we were about to get impending rain or snow.  The fog was rolling in, and the trails get very slick, wet snow and decaying leaves and very dangerous.  The signs were telling us to leave, and then she said to me:

“Look at Gods work, he made the tree strong to survive and he made these mountains so we could get closer to him”.   She believed your path is based on not what a person may say but what a person does for others is accountable.  It was so close to beliefs of the native peoples

The commonality of all of the tribes was their connection with the land, they called the land,  Mother of Earth (not to be confused with Mother Nature)  and the great Father in the sky was a pure religion immersed in traditions, homage and respect  and with lots of common sense.   

How noble a person and leader was Sitting Bull, a true leader who defended his people to the last and his land from the great onslaught and his eventual murder, it was not an accident. 


2018 History Comes Around
A statement that has been in my mind for years and is addressed every day is one that came from an interview with a Sioux Chief who said to me, “Who is more guilty, the liar or the person repeating what the liar said”.    The crazy part was while in Cherokee, having breakfast with a tribal leader he expressed the same, similar statement of the importance of truth and what a lesson in this day and age.

Especially after our last election in 2016 and the tactics and falsehoods portrayed made this one statement the most important statement of all.  When I undertook helping the LAO peoples in Congress I received a similar remark from one of their elders.  Amazing diversity in cultures but customs and truths are the same and prevail.

The Native American Indian culture is totally immersed in itself, you are born into it. There are many fake shamans and fake medicine men out there proposing to convert you which is not welcomed by the tribes nor do they proselytize. 

Here is authenticity for you to read:   http://www.native-languages.org/religion.htm