Wanting again on Sitting Bull’s two visits to St. Paul in 1884

Looking back on Sitting Bull's two visits to St. Paul in 1884

On his first journey east of Dakota in March 1884, Sitting Bull rode an elevator in a St. Paul wholesale grocery retailer — promoting autographs on the road for $1.50 a pop to onlookers who got here to gawk on the well-known Lakota chief.

Revered as a holy man by tribal traditionalists and feared by authorities officers because the mastermind behind Lt. Col. George Custer’s final stand in 1876, Sitting Bull ranked with Geronimo and Loopy Horse among the many prime American Indian leaders who clashed with settlers and troopers flooding west.

By then in his 50s, Sitting Bull made two journeys to St. Paul in 1884 — whirlwind excursions that have been punctuated with press briefings, demonstrations of cigar-rolling and a brand new machine known as a phone, ballet and theater performances, even an aborted assassination try.

Federal brokers hoped the journeys to St. Paul would impress Sitting Bull so he’d undertake the white man’s methods. The Lakota chief, in the meantime, used his go to to foyer for extra meals for his ravenous folks again on the Dakota plains.

Particulars of the 2 journeys are chronicled and picked up in a 2003 Ramsey County Historical past article by Mark Diedrich and Paul D. Nelson ( and a2018 weblog put up (

For me, one second captures the unhappy undercurrent of the visits by Sitting Bull, who can be killed in 1890 throughout his arrest at his cabin in South Dakota amid a crackdown of the sacred Ghost Dance on the Standing Rock Reservation.

“One bitter chilly day as we have been passing alongside the streets of St. Paul, Minn., a beggar lady, with a worn, wistful face and pleading eyes, stood in a supplicating angle, her skinny, blue palms outstretched for alms,” Maj. John Burke recalled in 1894.

Carrying a crimson mackinaw blanket to blunt the chilly wind, Sitting Bull plucked out not less than $10 of silver — price about $280 right this moment — and handed it to the girl.

Burke admonished him for giving freely his cash, probably earned from these autograph gross sales. Sitting Bull merely identified how the opulence of St. Paul’s tall buildings contrasted with the hungry lady’s plight.

Minneapolis leaders have been much less enthused to entertain Sitting Bull than St. Paul’s honchos, who took him to a shoe manufacturing facility, two hearth stations and Sunday mass at Assumption Catholic Church, the one place he visited that also stands.

Sitting Bull spent lower than three hours in Minneapolis, taking a practice throughout the river for a go to with lumber baron Thomas Walker, namesake of the long run artwork heart. At all times diplomatic in his feedback to reporters — not less than based on the filters of white language translators — Sitting Bull insisted he appreciated the folks of Minneapolis and St. Paul equally.

However, a Minneapolis journalist criticized the junket and accused Sitting Invoice of murdering white households and “hideous butchery on the inexperienced slopes of the Little Massive Horn,” regardless that he did not take part instantly in Custer’s defeat.One St. Cloud reporter counseled Minneapolis leaders who “declined to observe the instance of St. Paul in making a idiot of itself over the butcherer of Custer and his troopers.”

The attainable assassination try got here on Sitting Bull’s second journey to St. Paul in September 1884, after he attended a play known as “My Associate” on the Grand Opera Home. A witness instructed the St. Paul Globe that the Lakota chief’s entourage was submitting out of the theater when a person carrying a soft-brimmed hat pulled a revolver from his pocket and pointed it at Sitting Bull.

The would-be murderer’s companion wrestled him for the gun, and no shot was fired. By then Sitting Bull’s social gathering had jumped right into a carriage and headed again to the Retailers Lodge. When a reporter tried to interview Sitting Bull concerning the shut name, he was instructed the Lakota chief did not know what had occurred and that officers didn’t wish to scare him.

Ultimately, the U.S. Indian agent who had invited Sitting Bull to journey with him to St. Paul, James McLaughlin, admitted the journeys didn’t persuade theLakota chief to desert his conventional beliefs — saying he remained an “unreconstructed Indian.”

From St. Paul that September, Sitting Bull went on to go to New York. He toured the US and Canada with Buffalo Invoice Cody’s “Wild West” exhibits in 1885, however refused to affix Cody’s trek to England in 1886 so he might stay at dwelling and resist U.S. authorities makes an attempt to interrupt up the Standing Rock Reservation.

In 1888, 4 years after his journeys to St. Paul, Sitting Bull remained defiant. He instructed a missionary he needed his folks to be taught to learn and write, however insisted “the white persons are depraved.” His folks, he stated, mustn’t ever “turn into white folks of their methods. … I’d fairly die an Indian than reside a white man.”

Curt Brown’s tales about Minnesota’s historical past seem every Sunday. Readers can ship him concepts and recommendations at His newest e book appears to be like at 1918 Minnesota, when flu, struggle and fires converged:

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