“There Are No Indians Left Now But Me”

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When Sitting Bull returned to his own people at Standing Rock Reservation in 1885, he brought with him a gift—Buffalo Bill’s trick horse. He had learned that there were some white men prepared to be friends to the Indian. Now, however, he rediscovered how vulnerable his people were to the crowds of whites who were flowing into the Sioux reservation, hungry for gold and land. The huge acreage already given up by the Sioux was not enough: why leave the rest of this rich land in the hands of ignorant savages? It was perfectly clear to Sitting Bull that his own medicine (his apparent power to change weather, to predict events) was too weak and that, unless something greater came to their aid, his Sioux must become a defeated people in an occupied country who could survive only by aping their conquerors.