It’s one thing to know that the history books got so much wrong. It’s another to hear it directly from the source – and so soon after the event actually happened – and then to realize that so many books still got it wrong!
Just 18 months after the Battle of the Little Bighorn, Hunkpapa Sioux chief Sitting Bull told what happened that day to Martin Marty of Indiana, a Benedictine abbot who lived with the Sioux and spoke their language, the Missoulian’s Kim Briggeman reports here.
Martin followed Sitting Bull and his people to Canada after battle and stayed with them for eight days, and took down Sitting Bull’s story and then passed it along to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.
As Briggeman writes:
The American accounts of the battle are all wrong, the Hunkpapa chief claims. The Indians had 11 days warning that the soldiers were coming. Lt. George Custer’s Seventh Cavalrymen were too tired to fight, the horses broken down by hard travel and no food. The soldiers “had been so long in the saddle that they were overcome by sleep,” Sitting Bull said.
There were not the massive numbers of Indians involved in the fight as most reports had it, but they still outnumbered Custer’s men six to one. The annihilation was over in a few minutes.
“Our powder was scarce, and we killed the soldiers with our war clubs,” the chief told Marty. “The soldiers … were killed so quick they did not have time to fight us.”
Sitting Bull said the Sioux did not recognize Custer in the fight, and they did not know him to call him “Long Hair.”