Leadership, Accomplishment and Cultural Celebration

Sitting Bull

The Paths of Great Sioux Leaders

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Part of the Great Americans series, this portrait of Sitting Bull was designed by Robert D. Anderson and based on photographs from the National Anthropological Archives of the Smithsonian Institution. Issued in Rapid City, South Dakota, September 14, 1989.

Sitting Bull (Tatanka Iyotanka)

Chief and Holy Man of the Hunkpapa Dakota

Determined Defender, Inspirational Patriot, and Educator

Tatanka Iyotaka, or a large bull buffalo at rest, remained resistant to takeover until his death, and was to be the last chief to surrender his rifle. Like Crazy Horse, he served as a combined military, spiritual and political leader, standing firm against land intrusion by those who would talk peace and not guarantee it. At the Battle of the Little Bighorn against General Custer, his spiritual vision of victory was powerful enough to inspire his warriors to succeed. When famine forced him finally to deliver himself and his band into the hands of the United States Army, he still refused to sell his land. Today, once again inspired by the visionary hope of their leader, Sitting Bull College has as its motto that of the great Hunkpapa leader: “Let us put our minds together and see what life we can make for our children.”

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Medicine drum belonging to Sitting Bull.
23/2202 Courtesy, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.