Chief Sitting Bull Lesson for Kids: Biography & Facts

Instructor: Elizabeth Hance

Elizabeth has taught elementary and middle school special education, and has a master's degree in reading education.

One of the most important Native American leaders and historical figures in the American West, Chief Sitting Bull, actually took a big stand. In this lesson, you'll learn why Sitting Bull is known for his courage and his strength in the face of danger.

More than a Chief

Chief Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull, born about 1831 in what's now South Dakota, was not just a chief, or brave leader of a Native American tribe. He was also a spiritual leader and a warrior who was especially known for the visions he would have. Early in life, he became a warrior leader and had powerful visions that seemed to predict the future. It was during this time that white Americans were moving into and taking the lands and territory that belonged to Native American people. Sitting Bull was worried for his people and stood up against American soldiers beginning in 1863. In the late 1860s, Sitting Bull became a chief of the Lakota Sioux nation.

Sitting Bull Takes a Stand

Have you ever wanted to take something that wasn't yours? Well, that's similar to what happened when white soldiers realized that there was gold in a territory called the Black Hills that belonged to Native American tribes. The American government had even signed a treaty, or an official agreement, promising that they wouldn't go onto that land. But promises were broken, and fights broke out. The government wanted to move all Native Americans onto reservations, areas of land set aside for and governed by Native Americans.

Sitting Bull wears a traditional Native American headdress.

Chief Sitting Bull was suspicious, and rightly so, of the reservations and of any promises made by the Americans. He and his people refused to leave their land. The Lakota people were victorious, fighting off American soldiers at the Battle of the Rosebud, and later, at one of the most famous battles of all time, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, against George Custer. Although Sitting Bull didn't fight at the Little Bighorn, he had a vision that predicted victory for his people, and his vision came true.

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