Cherokee Morning Song

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sitting Bull. An Injustice To A Great Man

December 17, 1890:
Sitting Bull and the police killed during his arrest were buried with honor. On this day, members of the Hunkpapa Sioux arrived at Big Foot's camp of Minneconjou Sioux, seeking refuge. However, this day would also see the issuance of an arrest warrant for Big Foot himself for his part as a "troublemaker" in the Ghost Dance Religion.
Description of the photographs: 1) Sitting Bull Monument sits on a bluff high above the Missouri River near Mobridge, S.D. 2) The funeral of the Standing Rock Agency Indian Police who were killed during the attempted arrest of Sitting Bull. 3) Chief Spotted Eagle (Big Foot)
Sitting Bull , betrayed by his own while alive and again on the day of his burial.
The following is from the book: Sitting Bull: Champion of the Sioux : a Biography
By Stanley Vestal
That Domination of Sitting Bull, of which McLaughlin speaks, was resented and feared at Standing Rock long after his resonant voice and slow, emphatic utterance was silenced. Few men have been loved so well, or hated so fiercely as Sitting Bull. But now on December 17, on the day of his burial, his friends had fled, his enemies-
and especially the relatives of the dead policemen- were strong and bitter, and the lukewarm made haste to mount the bandwagon of the victorious faction.
This is not the place to tell how the brave policemen (many of them once Sitting Bull's boys, whom he had trained to the warpath) buried their fallen comrades with military honors and all the pomp which Standing Rock's little church and state could afford. They deserved honor for their courage in attempting his arrest, and the granite shaft above their common tomb in the Roman Catholic cemetery at Standing Rock will long keep their memory in the minds of men. It is said that the funeral cortege of the valiant men extended all the way from the Dead House to the cemetery, and the photographs of the burial would seem to bear out the story.
Sitting Bull was so hated by the mourners that they would not consent to have him laid out with their dead. So great was the excitement, the uncertainty, that, as Father Bernard puts it "it was deemed unwise to give the chief a public funeral." Sitting Bull was not a Catholic nor a Christian of any recognized sect; his body was in the hand of the military; he was buried in one corner of the post cemetery at Fort Yates.
J.F. Waggoner , then a soldier at the post detailed for work in the carpenter shop, made the box for Sitting Bull. For nobody troubled to go to Mandan to buy a coffin for the chief. He made the box 2 by 2 by 6 feet 4 inches, and while he was working at it, soldiers kept coming in, each of them driving a nail in Sitting Bull's coffin. Private Waggoner, who knew Sitting Bull well, said he did not think such an act was much of an honor, anymore than if it had been the coffin of any other major general. "For he was surely a fighter, a thinker, a chief, and a gentleman. He had eaten a many a meal at my house, and I cannot but speak well of Sitting Bull."
Mr. Waggoner goes on, "There were no police in my shop while I was working, and no officers there to give orders - for a wonder." When the box was finished, he took it to the Dead House, and they put the body into it. "We buried him just as he came in, wrapped in a blanket frozen stiff with blood. He was not scalped. He had seven bullet wounds in his body, and his jaw was around under his left ear. He was a big man, he filled that box chock-a-block . They had to sit on the lid to close it. The lid was not nailed down."
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