Sitting Bull – Freedom Fighter

Day 222 of Colourisation Project – December 15

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Here in Australia the name, Tatanka Iyotanke may not mean anything to you. But you may recall him as Sitting Bull, the warrior Indian, who along with his Sioux tribe was the fodder of Hollywood fabrications foisted upon us as impressionable youths who knew no better in the 1950s and 1960s. The West was always ‘wild’ and the Indians were always cast as the baddies and John Wayne made his fortune out of creating a cowboy mythology, infamous for its mistreatment and stereotyping of Native Americans.

Photographer: David Frances Barry – Sitting Bull – Coloured by Loredana Crupi

Like his father, Jumping Buffalo, Sitting Bull was regarded as a warrior of great courage and as the Supreme Chief of the Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux Nation, Sitting Bull hoped for peaceful co-existence with the white man. However the discovery of Gold in the Black Hills of Dakota, which was sacred to the tribe, led to the US Government forcing all Indians to live within a ‘Reservation’ so they could have access to the gold.

Sitting Bull refused believing that reservations were like prisons and he would not be “shut up in a corral.” In 1876 Sitting Bull led successful battles against American forces in the Battle of the Rosebud and a week later the now famous Battle at Little Bighorn against General George Armstrong Custer, wiping out the American general and his undermanned force of just over 200 men.

Although the battle is considered one of the greatest victories for the Native Americans in the fight against the United States Army, more troops were soon deployed to South Dakota forcing Sitting Bull to retreat to Canada where he remained for four years. In 1881, Sitting Bull returned and surrendered to the United States. He was then forced to live in a reservation, where he was held prisoner until 1883.

By 1889 Sitting Bull joined other native Americans in taking up the ‘Ghost Dance’, a ceremony aimed at ridding the land of white people and restoring the Native American way of life. Fearing Sitting Bull’s influence on the movement, authorities ordered his arrest.

A gunfight ensued during which six policemen, seven Indians, two horses and Sitting Bull were all killed on this day, December 15, 1890. He was 59 years old.

You can listen to and watch the tragic tale of Sitting Bull, in this clever little 3 minute video clip put together very succinctly by talented musician and artist, Jeffrey Lewis.

Sitting Bull


“No white man controls our footsteps. If we must die, we die defending our rights.”   –  Tatanka Iyotanke  / Sitting Bull

This entry was posted in Colorization, Colourisation, Hollywood, Photography, USA and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Sitting Bull – Freedom Fighter

  1. Pingback: ‘Colourful’ Buffalo Bill | Random Phoughts

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