Montanakids.com | Official Montana Website
HISTORY & PREHISTORY

Related Stories

Indians
Indian TribesMontana's Indian reservations are rich strongholds of Native American heritage.
FIND OUT MORE


Battlefields
BattlefieldsThe annual Custer's Last Stand Reenactment takes place at the Little Bighorn Battlefield.
FIND OUT MORE


Dinosaurs
DinosaursFor 140 million years, dinosaurs ruled the world!
FIND OUT MORE


Buffalo Jumps
Buffalo JumpsPlains Indians began using the "buffalo jump" or pishkun over 2,000 years ago.
FIND OUT MORE


Lewis & Clark
Lewis and ClarkIn 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned an exploration to trace the Missouri River to its source and find a water route to the Pacific Ocean.
FIND OUT MORE


Frontier Life
Frontier LifeWhen President Jefferson commissioned Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery he hoped that the fur trade might open the West to American settlement.
FIND OUT MORE


Early Transportation
Early TransportationFor nearly one hundred years the Missouri River was way most people made their way to Montana.
FIND OUT MORE


Museums
MuseumsTake a walk back in time and discover the diverse collections from days gone by.
FIND OUT MORE


Math & Science Initiative
The Governor's Math and Science Initiative logoThe Governor and First Lady's Math and Science Initiative invites Montana's youth to discover the many opportunities to learn about science and math in K-12 schools and higher education, find out about careers in science and explore Montana's splendid surroundings.
FIND OUT MORE

A long time ago in Big Sky Country...

Montana's Past

The fascinating history of the state will lead you down many roads. Diverse characters and events come together to form the unique state that Montana is today.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull After proving his courage while still a young boy, Tatanka Iyotaka, more widely known as Sitting Bull, was given his name by his father. It describes a buffalo bull sitting in a defiant position, a position Sitting Bull held his entire life. The Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux warrior and spiritual leader was born around 1831 on the Grand River in present-day South Dakota. He became head chief of the Lakota nation around 1868.

Sitting Bull was eventually forced to live up to his name. In 1874, Lieutenant-Colonel Custer led an expedition to the Black Hills in Dakota Territory. The Black Hills area has long been sacred to the Lakota. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 protected these sacred lands from white settlement. But Custer was there to confirm that gold had been discovered in the Black Hills. Custer brought geologists and newspaper reporters with him so that the entire country would know of the discovery. Times were tough out on the eastern seaboard and prospectors were sure to head for the Black Hills as soon as they learned of the discovery. Sitting Bull knew that if the government had its way, his people would soon be kept off their sacred lands.

In the spring of 1876, the U.S. Army began moving in troops to force the free tribes onto reservations. Sitting Bull could not accept this. He called for a Sundance ritual on Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory. Warriors danced and slashed their arms as a sacrifice to the Great Spirit, the Everywhere Spirit. They were preparing for war. Sitting Bull was the last to finish his dancing. He sent Crazy Horse to lead an attack on the US troops nearby. Crazy Horse was successful. In celebration and for safety, the Indian camp was moved to the Little Bighorn River, still in Montana Territory.

The Little Bighorn River was a place of great change for Sitting Bull. Custer's men surprised the encampment, hoping to rid the plains of the free tribes once and for all. But the Seventh Cavalry was defeated. Crazy Horse anticipated Custer's strategy and defeated it. On one hand, the Little Bighorn represented success for the chief. It would seem that all the trials of Sitting Bull's life culminated on that river. It was, after all, an important victory; one of the great victories by the plains Indians against white encroachment. However, Sitting Bull would spend the rest of his life facing the legacy of that victory.

Little Bighorn Battlefield

After being chased for nearly a year, Sitting Bull led his people to Canada where they were safe from U.S. troops. The near-extinction of buffalo herds, however, left the Lakota with no way to feed themselves. Four years after finding asylum in Canada, on July 19, 1881, Sitting Bull surrendered to the commanding officer of Fort Buford in Montana. Though they were promised their own reservation, that promise was not fulfilled. Sitting Bull and his band were shipped from one reservation to another, sometimes held as prisoners and sometimes forced to work in the fields. In 1885, Sitting Bull even joined Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, though he only lasted a few months. Many photographs still exist of Sitting Bull during this period. (Read more about Little Bighorn Battlefield>>)

Thanks for visiting the Montana Kids' Site! We hope you've found the information both educational and entertaining. If you have comments or suggestions on ways we can improve the site please send us email at montanakids@visitmt.com.

You can also help your family plan a trip to Montana. Have your folks request a statewide travel packet by sending their mailing address to travelinfo@visitmt.com.


All contents © 2007, Travel Montana. All rights reserved. Please visit us again at http://montanakids.com
 
Parents try visitmt.com mt.gov COOL MONTANA STORIES HISTORY & PREHISTORY PLANTS & ANIMALS THINGS TO SEE & DO ACTIVITIES & GAMES FACTS & FIGURES AGRICULTURE & BUSINESS KIDS HOME