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Sitting Bull


Sitting Bull:
The Photographs

Compiled by Gregor Lutz

Part 1A - The Celebrity
Part 1B - The Celebrity
Part 2 - Family, Wives & Children
Part 3 - Classification/Clarification
Part 4 - Paintings & Drawings


Recently got back from DC and filmed the repatriation of Sitting Bull's scalp lock and leggings back to Ernie LaPointe and his sisters who attended a later ceremony in the Black Hills. Very moving. The scalp lock (the lock that held his feather up near the crown of his head was cut off by the post surgeon at Fort Yates, Dr Deeble as a souvenier along with the leggins he was wearing...post surgeons also acted as the post undertaker in those days). Both Dr Deeble and the Standing Rock agent McLaughlin both reported in official correspondance that Sitting Bull's body was not mutilated or disfigured, however Dr Deeble in separate a 1893 correspondance to a Dr Shufeldt stated that he had 'reserved' (his word not mine) the leggins and Sitting Bull's scalp lock for himself. Dr Shufeldt said the body was not autopsied.

In another separate piece of correspondance that was found in a letter dated May 21, 1897 by the Fort Yates hospitable steward, Dr von Clossman says that there was much more disfugurement.

"When brought to the hospital old Bull's head was covered with the usual long hair, as worn by all the Indians, but next morning, although the door was locked & the windows nailed down, I discovered on enetering the room, that during the night, he had been dispoiled of his hair & his head was bare as a billard ball. I never could find out, who stole his hair."

On June 19, 1896, Dr Horace Deeble loaned the Smithsonian Sitting Bull's scalp lock and leggins. Dr Deeble had no descendants.

According to the Repatriation Act the hair is human remains. The leggins were stolen. So they were in need of repatriation. In 1999 the Smithsonian sent out letters to all the Lakota tribes looking for the closest living descendants. In February of 2001 a gentleman named Don Tenoso submitted a request for repatriation of the items. During a visit to the Smithsonian office he identified himself as a great grandson of Oscar One Bull, the blood nephew of Sitting Bull, who he claimed that Sitting Bull 'adopted' One Bull as his son in a 'Hunka' ceremony. Don Tenoso was then asked to submit the names of any descendants that should be notified of the request. In late November Ron Little Owl, a member of the Three affiliated tribes of North Dakota, sent a letter identifying Ernie LaPointe and his sisters Marlene Little Spotted Horse-Anderson, and Ethel Little Spotted Horse-Bates as close lineal descendants of Sitting Bull. A new letter was sent to Ernie and his sisters and after Ernie's response in Feb 2002 and after more than five years of research it was determined that Ernie and his sisters were indeed the closest lineal descendants to Sitting Bull.

The debate over the adoption of One Bull raged for quite sometime but no proof that it ever actually happened was offered. However there is mention of Oscar One Bull that seems to implicate him as a member of the police force at the time of Sitting Bull's death. In a letter dated August 18, 1922 sent by superintendent Mossman (McLaughlin was still the senior pulling the strings at the reservation until July 1923 when he took ill and was taken back to DC where he died in August of 1923) it states:

For your information, I will say that Sitting Bull has practically no relatives on this reservation. His nearest of kin now living here (Standing Rock) are One Bull, a nephew, and the wife of Grey Eagle. One Bull while his nephew was one of the men who went as police to arrest Sitting Bull at the time of his death. Grey Eagle is the brother in law of Sitting Bull, and while he was not a policeman at the time he was present for the purpose of assisting in the arrest Sitting Bull.

After the death of Sitting Bull, his immediate family practically all went to Pine Ridge where his wife number two and daughters and grand children are now living.

This should have been intuitive to researchers but it wasn't. After all on a human level when a close family member is killed by your neighbors do you continue to stay in the same neighborhood or do you move? I have found the same true with the Clown family and the killing of Crazy Horse by 'neighbors'.

There was an attempt at reconcilation between family members as Four Robes (one of Sitting Bull's wives) and William Sitting Bull attempted to re-enroll at Standing Rock. Seen By Her Nation (the other Sitting Bull wife) never forgave Grey Eagle for holding the horses while the police went into arrest her husband. However they were turned down in a letter dated May 2, 1908 from the Acting Commissioner named Larralee. The letter states:

Inspector James McLaughlin, in a letter dated April 29, 1908, concurs in your recommendation that the family named be not transferred and enrolled at the Standing Rock Agency. He says that he is well acquainted with the history of William Sitting Bull, and discusses the case as follows:

A reference to the records of the Department will show that the noted Indian, Sitting Bull, father of this William Sitting Bull, was a disturbing element and a source of much trouble on the Standing Rock Reservation. His attitude throughout his life was detrimental to the advancement of the Indians among whom he lived and should this son of his be transferred to the Standing Rock Agency I am fearful that the former adherents of his father would make an effort to install him their leader thereby fostering disaffection among the former followers of Sitting Bull who are now well disposed and steadily advancing in civilization.

The family of Sitting Bull together with about two hundred followers left the Standing Rock Reservation from time to time after the death of Sitting Bull during the Ghost Dance troubles in 1890 and 1891 and were duly enrolled at the Pine Ridge Agency where they have since resided, and I believe that it would be better for the Standing Rock Indians if William Sitting Bull be required to remain at Pine Ridge where he now lives and where he has resided for the past 17 years.

In view of your recommendation and that of Inspector McLaughlin, the office is very unwilling to permit the transfer of William Sitting Bull and family, consisting of himself, wife and child, and his mother, from the Pine Ridge to the Standing Rock Agency.

William Sitting Bull was a deaf mute.

These letters were obtained following Ernie LaPointe's oral history and from his oral history knowing where to look and what to look for. Ernie said his mother told him of a chance meeting between Standing Holy and Oscar One Bull in which his mother was present. Standing Holy and William Sitting Bull and Angeline LaPointe were in a buggy out on the plains when a rider approached. It was Oscar One Bull. Standing Holy wrapped a blanket around her head and told One Bull to go away. One Bull tried to be nice, Standing Holy wouldn't stand for it and finally One Bull left. When Angeline questioned her mother about the man, Standing Holy told her "it was because of him that your grandfather was killed". According to Ernie, One Bull was the spy in Sitting Bull's camp and whenever Sitting Bull held council One Bull would ride immediately afterwards to the school house in Little Eagle and telegraph to McLaughlin the results. Sitting Bull became suspicious that there was a spy so when he decided to leave the Rez for Pine Ridge to discuss what to do about the Ghost Dance with Red Cloud he held the council at night and proposed to leave early the next morning. The schoolhouse was closed so One Bull rode all night to Fort Yates to inform McLaughlin and then rode back (killing his horse in the process) but made it back to his tipi before the police could arrive. Later it was said he was teamstering in Bismark, but with the family fleeing to Pine Ridge, I surmise McLaughlin needed a family member on his side to help sell his story to the remaining Sitting Bull followers still on the rez to keep peace.

However in a bit of irony one of the greatest advocates for returning the hair and leggins to Ernie was a worker at the Smithsonian from Standing Rock who happened to be the step great granddaughter of Bullhead (the leader of the police that killed Sitting Bull).

Bringing things back to the present the scalp lock had no grey hairs...however out of respect there will not be any pictures of the scalp lock and the hair will be returned to Sitting Bull however I will not say at this time how that will happen. The leggins were in excellent condition. They were dark blue with a red zigzag sewn down the seams...I do have video of this along with his rifle which will not be repatriated because it is a weapon which will appear in Ernie's DVD on Sitting Bull in Part Two. One of the leading DNA experts in the world from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark (he is a big Sitting Bull fan and has posters of Sitting Bull at home, he is also the expert working with an the Oregon dig that found human dung dated back 40-50,000 years whose DNA was Native American specific which the findings will be published in the very near future, most likely in some anthropology journal) is performing the DNA link between Ernie and his sisters and the lock of hair, providing the hair was not treated while being preserved with any chemicals that might destroy the DNA molecules. This DNA will be on record for not only any challenges to Ernie and his sisters but it will be on record to dispell any stories about whose bones lie in Mobridge.

According to what Ernie learned from his Mom, Sitting Bull's body was beaten to a pulp. After exhuming the bones in 1953, in the autospy which was attended by Ernie's Mom Angeline LaPointe, Clarence Grey Eagle, and Clarence Grey Eagle's interpreter whose name I do not have (Clarence Grey Eagle did not understand English well enough to be without an interpreter) observed the front part of his skull was missing due to a beating with a blunt instrument. There was quite a bit of canvas with the body collaborating the story of his body being put into a canvas sack to keep it all together. Also one of the upper arm bones was missing of the major bones (many of the smaller bones were not recovered as it seems as though the emphasis was on recovering the main skeletal bones). This seemed to collarorate the story told by photographer Frank Fiske on the link below as reported by the Fargo Forum on April 12, 1953.


— Brock


The following publications contain information about Sitting Bull:

Article: "The Sioux Described by a Man Who Lived With them Five Years." • The Luzerne Union • Wilkes-Barre, Pensylvania • 19 July 1876 • Page 1.

Article: "War With the Sioux: Indian Fights and Fighers; Part III End of the Sioux War" by Cyrus Townsend Brady • Pearson's Magazine • November 1904.

Article: "Weird Powers of Indian Medicine Men" by Col. Richard I. Dodge • Real West • Vol. VII, No. 37 • September 1964.

Article: "Annie Oakley, Little Miss Sureshot" by Louise Chevey • Real West, No. 56, November 1967.

Article: "The Picture Post Card: Custer's Last Battle" by Bob Finnegan • Hobbies–The Magazine for Collectors • April 1968.

Article: "Was It Only Custer's Folly?" by Carl W. Breihan • Golden West: True Stories of the Old West • Vol. 4, No. 5 • July 1968.

Article: "What Really Happened at Little Big Horn?" by Stephanie C. Shulsinger Real West Magazine September 1973.

Article: "Custer's Revenge" by Joseph Mizrahi There was a time for peace and a time for war. The Sioux had fought and won at Little Bighorn, but the Red Man's defeat of Custer had enraged Washington. Fourteen years later, the end of the Indian had come. Oldtimers Wild West No. 1 February 1977.

Article: "Ghosts on the Little Bighorn" by Robert Paul Jordan After a 1983 prairie fire cleared brush along Montana's Little Bighorn River, archaeologists recovered artifacts that shed new light on Custer's Last Stand. Robert Paul Jordan reports on the still controversial 1876 battle. Photographs by Scott Rutherford The National Geographic Magazine December 1986.

Book: The Lance and the Shield: The Life and Times of Sitting Bull by Robert M. Utley Henry Holt & Co. 1993.

Article: "Sitting Bull" by Robert M. Utley After the Little Bighorn, the famed chief of the Sioux was viewed as the conqueror of Custer, but historian Robert M. Utley relates how whites had a difficult time figuring out just who the man was. Greasy Grass, Annual of the Custer Battlefield Historical & Museum Association Vol. 10 May 1994.

Article: "Sitting Bull: The True Story" by Christiane Whiteswan Sterne Manataka American Indian Council https://www.manataka.org/page55.html Accessed June 27, 2020.

Article: "Annie Oakley Was Chief Sitting Bull's Adopted Daughter" by Emly Mack Wide Open Country Annie Oakley Was Chief Sitting Bull's Adopted Daughter Accessed June 26, 2021.


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