Wednesday, December 4, 2019

R.I.P. By Cheri Kay Clifton (Part 2)

In October, I posted an article about  how a few famous legendary men and women's lives ended and where they now "rest in peace." I want to add four Native American leaders who also changed the course of history:

 Hunkpapa Lakota Sitting Bull, holy man and tribal chief, led several attacks on U.S. forts in the West and played a role in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Years later, he was offered a pardon.  By 1885, Buffalo Bill had him in his Wild West Show and Sitting Bull gained significant popularity.  He befriended, Annie Oakley and often made public appearances. However, in 1890, after returning to the Agency reservation and during the Ghost Dance Movement, he was accused of encouraging Indian rebellion and his arrest was ordered.  Sitting Bull refused to cooperate and a scuffle ensued.  A nearby Lakota, Catch-the-Bear, shot the arresting officer, who fired back, killing Sitting Bull. Sixteen people were killed in the skirmish, including eight police officers, Sitting Bull, and seven other Sioux. Two weeks later the massacre at Wounded Knee would take place.  Age 59, Sitting Bull was initially buried at Fort Yates, ND, the remains were supposedly dug up in 1953 and moved to Mobridge, SD off U.S. 12.

Crazy Horse, literally "His-Horse-Is-Crazy" was a leader of the Oglala Lakota. He took up arms against the United States Federal government to fight against encroachments on the territories and way of life of the Lakota people, including leading a war party to victory at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Four months after surrendering to U.S. troops under General Cook, in May 1877, Crazy Horse was fatally wounded by a bayonet-wielding military guard, while allegedly resisting imprisonment at Camp Robinson in present-day Nebraska. His remains were given to his elderly parents who secretly buried the 35 year-old Sioux leader somewhere in the wilds near Nebraska’s Red Cloud Agency.  No marker exists showing his final resting place.  He ranks among the most notable and iconic of Native American tribal members and was honored by the U.S. Postal Service in 1982 with a 13¢ Great Americans series postage stamp.

Red Cloud was another highly respected leader of the Oglala Lakota. He led from 1868 to 1909 and was one of the most capable Native American opponents the United States Army faced.  After finally signing the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868), Red Cloud led his people in the important transition of reservation life. He continued fighting for his people, even after being forced onto the reservation.  He outlived all the other major Lakota leaders of the Indian Wars. He died in 1909 at age 88 on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he was buried. He is quoted as saying in his old age, “They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one – They promised to take our land…and they took it.”

Last but not least is one of the most recognizable names in the world, Geronimo. After years on the warpath, Chiricahua Apache warrior, Geronimo achieved fame when he turned himself in for the final time in 1886. He traveled with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show and made appearances at fairs and gatherings before dying in the prisoner of war camp in 1909, never achieving the freedom he had been promised. He died quietly of pneumonia in the post hospital at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 1909 a few months before his 80th birthday. He was buried in the fort’s Apache cemetery, but tribal legend says his remains were secretly removed to the Arizona Mountains of his youth.

There are so many stories of where the famous legends lie.  As you’ve read, some of the stories of how they died, though sad, were almost as interesting as how they lived. I could go on & on, but have to end somewhere!

Happy Holiday Trails,

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  1. I've seen the marker for Geronimo's grave site but had no idea it might not be his real resting place. I agree that these stories are interesting, Cheri. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  2. And thank you, Caroline, for stopping by. Happy Holidays to you and yours!


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