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Native American Faces

Short Bull

Sioux Indian (c 1845 - 1915)


Short Bull, a member of the Sioux tribe, was born in about 1845. He was a warrior who fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and a medicine man who brought the Ghost Dance religion to the Lakotas.

After the murder of Sitting Bull and the events that led up to Wounded Knee Massacre Short Bull was imprisoned at Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

In 1891 Short Bull was released from custody and he was permitted to join Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West Show. He remained for several years and made several trips to Europe.

Through many miscalculations by federal and army officials, the Ghost Dance religion resulted in the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. After the Massacre, Short Bull was sent to serve a prison term at Ft. Sheridan, near Chicago. Because they wanted to remove the Ghost Dance leaders' influence, the federal government agreed to Buffalo Bill Cody's request that the prisoners be released (1891) to tour with Cody in his Wild West show. Short Bull toured with the show in Europe and the United States over the next two years.

In 1894, Short Bull was invited by Thomas Edison to appear along with Annie Oakley in a film utilizing the kinetograph, the prototype of a movie camera. In 1893, Buffalo Bill Cody utilized Short Bull as an actor and a consultant in making a film that re-enacted the Wounded Knee Massacre.

Around the turn of the century many American and European ethnologists undertook research to preserve information on tribal languages, culture, history, and religious practices. Short Bull was a source to a number of these ethnologists who recorded his recollections through recorded conversations and his pictographs. There are pictographs in museums in the United States, France and Germany. Short Bull died on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota in 1915.

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