31 Days of History: 19 July

On this day in 1881 (128 years ago) Chief Sitting Bull surrendered to United States troops at Fort Buford, North Dakota.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull was a Lakota Sioux who is notable in American and Native American history for his role in the major victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn against Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer and the U.S. 7th Cavalry Regiment on 25 June 1876. Seven months after the battle, Sitting Bull and his group left the United States and headed north. They eventually stopped at Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, Canada, where he remained until 1881, at which time he surrendered to American forces. He died in 1890 in South Dakota.


In the National Museum of the American Indian, you can find a Henry Model 1860 .44 caliber repeating rifle that was presented to Sitting Bull on 6 June 1875 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Inscribed into the side are the words, “Sitting Bull. from The President, for bravery and friendship.”

Across the National Mall, on the third floor of the American History Museum, you can find the buckskin coat work by Lt. Col. Custer. It’s not known if he was wearing it when he died. The coat was donated by his widow in 1912.

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