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Short Bull Family History

President Short Bull’s family has a rich history in the area fighting in the Battle of Little BigHorn and acted alongside Buffalo Bill Cody. The Short Bull ancestors worked hard to preserve Lakota history, culture, and traditions.

I am very proud of my great grandfather Short Bull, 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. Unfortunately, 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 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, my great grandfather 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.

During the period from 1890-1920, many in the United States believed that the Indian was the "Vanishing American", because disease and assimilation seemed destined to obliterate the American Indian from the landscape of identified North American minorities. As a result, many American and European ethnologists undertook research to preserve information on tribal languages, culture, history, and religious practices. My great grandfather 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. There is an excellent article on Short Bull in the summer edition (1992) of the American Indian Art magazine entitled "Short Bull - Lakota Visionary, Historian and Artist".

Taking pride in our ancestors reflects the commitment of Lakota people, and especially of Oglala Lakota College's staff and students, to preserving our Lakota history, culture, traditions and heritage.


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