My history hero: Sitting Bull (1831–90)

Screenwriter Steven Knight chooses Native American leader Sitting Bull as his history hero

Native American leader Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull was a warrior who fought against US forces in Red Cloud’s War (1866–68). He played a key political and strategic role in the Great Sioux War of 1876, and fought at the battle of the Little Bighorn. As settlers encroached on the northern plains, slaughtering buffalo herds and irrevocably disrupting traditional nomadic life, he joined Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Viewed as a leader by his people until the end, Sitting Bull died when an attempt to arrest him ended with his being shot in the chest and head.


How did you first hear about Sitting Bull?

I was an odd child and obsessed with Native American history from the age of nine, especially the Plains Indians – of course Sitting Bull is very prominent in that history. As a teenager, I had pen friends in South Dakota who were descendants of him. I don’t know why I had this obsession. I lived on a housing estate in Birmingham.

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