It was in this atmosphere that Indian policemen were dispatched to arrest Sitting Bull, a strong opponent of government policy. "You must not let him escape under any circumstances," their orders read. When a violent mob tried to stop them, gunfire erupted. A policeman named Red Tomahawk shot Sitting Bull in the back of the head.
This all happened 100 years ago, but the events are so near, said Carole Barrett, an instructor in Indian studies at the University of Mary in BismarckD., that even today the descendants of Sitting Bull and the descendants of the Indian policemen who killed him bear grudges.
"It was a colossal tragedy for the Sioux people," she said.
The families symbolically laid their differences to rest just this month, in a "wiping of the tears" ceremony on Dec. 15 that marked the end of 100 years of mourning for the Lakota chieftain's death and the bloodshed that ensued.
After hearing of Sitting Bull's death, Big Foot, whom the authorities also wanted to arrest, sought refuge at the Pine Ridge, S. D., reservation. He and his band were intercepted en route.