LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, a Dakota historian and director of Sacred Stone Camp in Standing Rock, recounts the fateful day that Tȟatȟaŋka Iyotȟaŋka (Sitting Bull) was murdered.
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My name is LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, I’m an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and we are part of Sitting Bull’s people. Sitting Bull as you know, is a legend among our people but he’s also our relative, a family member, and goes down in history.
He’s known by the whole world. What did Sitting Bull stand for? Resistance. What did Sitting Bull stand for? His people. Why was this important? Because Sitting Bull understood who he was, who his people were, and where he belonged in this world. Just as Sitting Bull did, we continue to stand with those same thoughts, ideas and memories. As we come up [to present day], and as I’ve said and have been saying, history’s repeating itself. In 1890 in September, The Bismarck Tribune was writing stories about the Indians “uprising” and the Indians “rioting.” We see the same thing today.
On December 15th, in the early morning, soldiers from Fort Yates and 47 Indian police went down to Sitting Bull’s campsite at five o’clock in the morning. They walked out to his cabin, pounded on the door and demanded for him to get up. As they went into the cabin, they told him he had to come to the agency and Sitting Bull got up saying, “Ohan, ohan.” [He] started getting ready, told his wife to get his clothes, told his son to go get his horse, and as he was getting dressed, the camp was stirring. The people could hear all the motions, the horses and the people moving so they all started getting out of their tents and began gathering. As they were gathering the people stood in front of the cabin and as Sitting Bull came out, Officer Red Tomahawk was on one side, Lt. Bull Head on another side with Shaved Head in the back. They came out to the front [of the cabin] and Catch the Bear yelled, “Where are you taking our chief?”
Catch the Bear then raised his gun and as he shot Bull Head, Bull Head shot Sitting Bull in the side, Sitting Bull went down, then Red Tomahawk shot him in the back of the head. In a matter of seconds, Sitting Bull dies.
And then the whole camp is in chaos. I don’t think at that time all the 47 Indian police understood what was happening. They didn’t understand that this man (Sitting Bull) had died. For us, it was the beginning a change in our lives.
We went through this time from 1890 to present in this kind of lull. Now in this movement and in this time, we are continuing to stand up. As we face December 15th, the day Sitting Bull was killed, we are still standing. We will continue to stand. To fight for our water. To fight for our way of life and we will be here, on this land, to stand up for our people, for the water, for the land. We will not back down. We will not stop. We will be here.”