Sitting Bull (1834?–1890), a Sioux chief, warrior, and medicine man. He was the best-known Indian leader of his era because of his efforts to protect tribal lands, his leadership at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and his appearances in the Wild West shows of Buffalo Bill (William Cody).
Sitting Bull was a member of the Hunkpapa band of Teton Sioux. He was fiercely opposed to white encroachment on Indian lands. In 1868 Sitting Bull accepted a treaty that restricted the Sioux to reservations but guaranteed them hunting rights off the reservation. When whites poured onto Sioux lands in the Black Hills following the discovery of gold in 1874, he became head of a war council of Sioux and Cheyennes formed to resist the whites. It was said that before the Battle of the Little Bighorn in June, 1876, Sitting Bull had a vision of the fight and of the Indian victory. The Sioux believed that he helped them win by “making medicine"— invoking supernatural assistance—during the battle. Within a few months, however, they were forced onto reservations, and Sitting Bull and his followers fled to Canada.
Gradually, however, they returned, and in 1881 Sitting Bull himself went onto a Dakota reservation. In the mid-1880's he made many personal appearances in eastern states, including those with Buffalo Bill's show. Then, when he was converted to the Ghost Dance, a mystical religion that promised restoration of Indian lands, government agents ordered his arrest. He was shot and killed in December, 1890, during a gun battle between his followers and Indian police sent to arrest him.