By Ronald A. Reis
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Additional resources for Sitting Bull (Legends of the Wild West)
Father Pierre-Jean De Smet (or Black Robe) was chosen as the white man’s emissary to the Hunkpapa chief. The priest’s mission to Sitting Bull’s camp, deep in hostile Indian Territory, could be a dangerous one, not only for him, but his entire contingent. Yet on June 19, 1868, when De Smet entered the Hunkpapa village flying a flag displaying the image of the Virgin Mary, Sitting Bull had the priest’s baggage carried into his own tepee. A few hours later, De Smet awoke from a nap to find Sitting Bull crouched beside him.
An agreement of some sort to pacify the people was an urgent necessity. Peace Talkers It was the largest gathering of Plains Indian tribes ever. From the north came the Blackfeet and Crow. From the west, the Shoshone arrived. Out of the northeast came the Arikara, Hitatsa, and Mandan. From the south streamed the Arapaho, and, of course, the mighty Cheyenne. Since what would be called the Great Indian Treaty Council at Fort Laramie, in Wyoming Territory, was within Lakota territory, there were Hunkpapa as well.
Fort Rice was never an imposing post. According to Robert Utley, “It [Fort Rice] occupied a grassy flat less than a mile wide, bordered on the east by the river and on all other sides by low hills webbed by ravines that afforded excellent cover for Indians who wanted to approach unseen. A palisade with blockhouses enclosed rude structures fashioned from green cottonwood. ” The Sioux simply wanted the fort destroyed and its inhabitants dispersed or annihilated. On July 28, 1865, with Sitting Bull in the lead, a band of 300 warriors from several tribes charged Fort Rice from the north, west, and south.