Men Who Died with Sitting Bull

This post is offered in memory of the dead.

On December 15th 1890, James McLaughlin, the Agent for the Standing Rock Indian Reservation successfully employed the strategy of divide and conquer when he sent his Indian Police force to arrest Sitting Bull. 

The following information is quoted directly from McLaughlin’s correspondence in the Standing Rock Letterpress for outgoing correspondence for December of 1890. The Letterpress book is available for public viewing at the  National Archives located at the Central Plains Region in Kansas City, Missouri.

“Indian killed outright and bodies held by police,

1   Sitting  Bull

2   Black Bird        very bad man

3   Catch the  Bear            ditto

4 Little Assinaboine       ditto

5  Crow Foot, (Sitting Bull’s son, 17 years old, a bad young man)

6  Spotted Horn Bull,  a chief

7  Brave Thunder,   a chief

8  Chase Wounded”

“Casulties in the Police Force,

Henry Tatankapah (Bull Head)  1st Lieut., in command dangerously wounded, 4 wounds.

Charles Kashlah (Shave Head) 1st Sergeant, mortally wounded, since dead.

James Wambdichigalah (Little Eagle) 4th Sergt, killed

Alexander Hoehokah (Middle) Private, Painfully wounded

Paul Akichitah (Afraid of Soldier) Private, Killed

John Armstrong  (special Police    Killed

Hawk Man                    ”               Killed”



  1. Yousei Hime said,

    December 19, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Thank you for sharing this list.

    • December 19, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      Greetings Yousei. Well I offer this list because so often no reference is made to some of these men who died for no valid reason. They all had families/relations who felt their loss in 1890. Others were wounded/injured, like Strikes the Kettle, on that day. The event of these deaths set in motion a chain of events that lead to the massacre at Wounded Knee on December 29th, 1890. December 15th now marks the beginning of the Big Foot Memorial Ride to Wounded Knee.

  2. Yousei Hime said,

    December 19, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    I went to Wikipedia (I know, only semi-reliable) after reading your post. I wanted to know more about what happened, because I was under the impression Sitting Bull had ended his life peacefully, not battling the U.S. I was right. He had resolved things to live peacefully. It was the stupid government (as usual) who screwed things up. Thank you again for sharing these names to be remembered.

    • December 19, 2009 at 7:26 pm

      Oh the joys of Wiki–it’s an interesting way of collecting information indeed. While there is truth to the role of the government in the overall context of what whas happening on the Indian reservations in 1890–the starvation and deprivatons etc–I would lay much responsibility for what happened on Dec. 15 at James McLaughlin’s feet. He was a man who wanted things HIS way–and being a traditional Lakota was not something in line with McLaughlin’s way. And then there was the payback for the failure of the 1889 land commission–which Sitting Bull worked to undermine. Can we say ‘issues’–and I don’t mean rations issues either. So we touch some of the darkness of American history.

  3. Yousei Hime said,

    December 19, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    Did I read it wrong? Wasn’t McLaughlin working for the government? I realize it was his decision. It also sounded like slaughter was not their original plan. Still . . . so sad. And we are so critical of other countries right now. I would be willing to bet many people outside the U.S. are more aware of American transgressions than Americans themselves. Darkness indeed.

    Ok. Spiked eggnog time!

    • December 20, 2009 at 1:38 am

      Hi Yousei. Yes, McLaughlin was working for the government as an Indian Agent in charge of the Standing Rock Reservation. But, there was a conflict going on between the Military, which wanted to be put in charge of the Reservations, and the Civilian Indian Service of the Department of the Interior (eventually evolved into the current Bureau of Indian Affairs) that did not want to give up control of the Reservations. McLaughlin manipulated things to get ‘his’ way. His title was “Major” but he had no rank in the ‘real’ army of the time.
      Eggnog yummy?

    • December 20, 2009 at 7:43 pm

      Um, Yousei has posted this eggnog recipe at her casa, in the comments section to her post, and um, well, just venture forth and see if it ‘agrees’ with your sensibilities. Strong stuff indeed it be!

  4. Yousei Hime said,

    December 20, 2009 at 4:34 am

    Last year, my son wanted me to make real traditional eggnog. I dug out my oldest cookbook, Fanny Farmer. After I read the recipe, I said, “No can do. You’re only 15.” It was loaded with booze. Man does it sound good tonight–sort of a creamy, custardy, alcoholic treat. I might have to make some and hide it. 😉

    • December 20, 2009 at 9:02 am

      “Loaded” eggnog?!! Yeah, you might have to keep that out of taste of your youngster or it could knock ’em into another universe.

  5. ichabod said,

    December 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm

    Hi 47whitebuffalo;

    I have a question for you as you are our historian.

    I understand Sitting Bull’s own people murdered him, but I am not clear as to why. Were they following orders from the government or did they think Sitting Bull betrayed them in the end?

    I am curious as Sitting Bull is represented as a man of integrity and a medicine man. There are many stories of his kindness and fairness.

    There are also stories about his temper and hate for whites, yet he gave to the poor whites in the city.

    A little confusing isn’t it?

    • December 20, 2009 at 4:40 pm

      Hello Ichabod. The men who pulled their triggers on Sitting Bull were Indian Policeman chosen by James McLaughlin, the Agent, read man in control of EVERYTHING and Everyone, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The Indian Police were following McLaughlin’s orders. Now the reasons for this event involve everything from differing political, personal, cultural, and spiritual views. CONTROL might be one way to gather all issues. Someone who refuses to be controlled by another creates conflict with the the would be controller.
      A person who understands full well what is happening to their culture, their people and who refuses to submit –well, what oftens to such people?
      Confusion depends upon perspective–what meaning does one make of the information.
      And a little information about Indian Policeman on reservations during the 1800s–even a low paying job is better than NO job and no other way to put food in one’s stomach.

    • December 20, 2009 at 5:06 pm

      ps–regarding if ‘they’–I assume you mean the Indian Policeman–thought that Sitting Bull had betrayed them–I do NOT persume to know the thoughts of those men as they followed McLaughlin’s orders/instructions.

      • ichabod said,

        December 20, 2009 at 5:52 pm

        Hi 47whitebuffalo;

        I do not think anyone really knows, although I was led to understand through something I read some time back that the members of Sitting Bull’s tribe had thought he betrayed them.

        Whenever violence such as this occurs, the truth behind the action is sometimes ambiguous at best.

        When people are suffering on the reserve, and their leader is making coin with their enemies in a Wild West Show, I do not think it would take too much to rile them up.

        James McLaughlin I presume is white, the police were Indians.

        For them to follow the orders of a white man and murder one of their own leaders smacks of treason to their own peoples, no conscience or anger or combination of all three.

        Sad but maybe true.

  6. December 20, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Ichabod–oh my–you’ve got the Wild West/Buffallo Bill connection all wrong–Wild West Shows were viable forms of employment for people who had almost no other venues for making some money. MANY Indians besides Sitting Bull worked for Shows that toured Europe and parts of the world. People who offered such employment were not considered enemies unless they mistreated their ‘performers’. At the point in time that Sitting Bull travelled with Cody’s Wild West Show they were NOT enemies. Furthermore, Cody and others would write letters for Sitting Bull and other Indians to their families and to their Agents–the men in charge of the reservations–regarding everything from problems with horses to rations due family members to getting their wages sent home to their wives and children.
    The ‘picture’ your comments present suffers from serious distortion of the context of the time period and the individuals involved.
    Heads up–ALL Indian reservations of the time period were under the CONTROL of white men like McLaughlin. These people were appointed by the US Government to oversee all aspects of Indians’ lives. The goal was to force the Indians to accept white culture–hence Cultural Geoncide–submit to assimulation or die was the motto of Commissioner T. J. Morgan–his own words.

    • ichabod said,

      December 20, 2009 at 6:46 pm

      Hi 47whitebuffalo;

      I would tend to disagree somewhat based on this. If a peoples lost their land to foreign occupiers for whatever reason and were forced to “perform” in order to make money, like a Tom Thumb in the Circus, wouldn’t that be the utmost in humiliation for a once proud and “free” man who required no “money” in order to survive in times past?

      As a man, I would not view this type of exhibitionism (wild west show) as a compliment to my culture. Racism has been a major factor in how this whole situation has been dealt with from the beginning.

      • December 20, 2009 at 7:16 pm

        For starters–no one was FORCED to perform. Cody’s and other companies put out “calls” for people who were interested and willing to join the shows. No one kidnapped them and forced them to perform. Please keep in mind that Indians were not supposed to even leave the reservation without permission from the Agents. So those employed being able to travel freely everywhere and being paid for displaying their cultural skills, and being able to get beyond the poverty of the reservation were no small things. Some Agents were glad that people could get some money this way and others disliked the ‘freedom’ this employment offered–because when the Indians returned they had learned a great deal and were more difficult for the Agent and his crew to control.

      • December 20, 2009 at 7:18 pm

        Only racism? Let’s identify it correctly as Genocide.
        What would you do to survive against the odds?

  7. ichabod said,

    December 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Hi 47whitebuffalo;

    “Only racism? Let’s identify it correctly as Genocide.
    What would you do to survive against the odds?”

    Excellent point. The similarity between the Indian and the Jews in Europe in the 30’s and forties, the Japanese/Americans during the Second World War, the blacks are all similar to a degree.

    I would do almost anything to survive against the odds, and my anger and frustration would probably rise with my humiliation, unless I was so beaten that the soul just didn’t care anymore.

    • December 21, 2009 at 5:04 pm

      Indians and Indigenous peoples around the world are clearly NOT so beaten that their souls don’t care anymore. They’re alive and kicking–hard:

      • ichabod said,

        December 21, 2009 at 5:28 pm

        Hi 47whitebuffalo;

        I did not intend to suggest that the Indians and Indigenous peoples are so beaten.

        What I meant to say, as with the holocaust, when people arriving at the death camps, some knew they would never leave and entered the gas chamber realizing that would be their last day.

        Were they defeated in spirit? I don’t know. I do think that oppression, starvation and loss of any hope at all can make the soul not care anymore.

        Obviously many Indians and Indigenous peoples are doing quite well today and are nowhere near that state.

  8. October 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

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