OTD: Sitting Bull leads 5,000 followers into Canada

On today’s date in 1877, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull led 5,000 followers into Canada, where they asked for protection from the Queen while petitioning for a land reserve.

Also known as Tȟatȟáŋka Íyotȟake, Sitting Bull – born Jumping chuckwuma Badger in 1831 – led his people as chief during decades of resistance against the infringing U.S. government. Following the Great Sioux War of 1876-77, many Lakota surrendered at various locations along the Missouri River and northwestern Nebraska; however, Sitting Bull led a contingent about 5,000-strong across the international border into Canada.

U.S. General Alfred H. Terry was part of a delegation sent to negotiate with the bands but failed to persuade them to surrender and return.

When he reached Canada, Sitting Bull claimed both the U.S. and Canadian sides of the border as traditional Sioux hunting grounds. The Sioux, he argued, had as much right to be there as they did in the southern states.

What’s more, the Sioux were loyal to Britain during the battles for New France and through the War of 1812.

Luckily, Sitting Bull had in his possession a set of medals given to his grandfather by King George III for his support in the American Revolutionary War. Sitting Bull simply wished to live under the justice and protection of Canadian law—and be granted Canadian land.

Unfortunately for Sitting Bull, Canada’s first prime minister Sir John A. Macdonald refused to provide the group with land, food or support. His government saw the Sioux as “American-Indians” who illegally crossed the international boundary into Canada and should leave. The Blackfoot, Cree and Assiniboine also felt the Sioux should leave, accusing them of stealing and depleting the game on their hunting ranges.

After Sitting Bull returned to the U.S., there were fears about an uprising, so police decided to arrest him. He was killed in an ensuing gunfight in December 1890.

After Sitting Bull returned to the U.S., his story gave the Sioux newfound hope, but this caused fears about an imminent uprising, and police decided to arrest him. He was killed in the ensuing gunfight.

After Sitting Bull returned to the U.S., his story gave the Sioux newfound hope but also caused fears about an imminent uprising. Police decided to arrest him, and he was killed in the ensuing gunfight.


In 2014, Canada Post issued a $1.20 stamp (Scott #2763) featuring Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill, an 1885 painting by Will Notman, as part of its “Canadian Photography” issue.

The stamp measures 36 millimetres by 30 millimetres and is available in booklets of six stamps and souvenir sheets of three stamps.

Long-time stamp designer Stephane Huot, of Montréal, designed the stamps, which were printed by the Lowe-Martin Group.

Two official first-day covers – one featuring horizontal shots and the other with vertical shots – were cancelled in Ottawa.

Leave a Reply

Keep up to date with the philatelic community

Sign up to receive our newsletter.

Canadian Stamp News


Canadian Stamp News is Canada's premier source of information about stamp collecting and related fields.

Although we cover the entire world of philatelics, the majority of our readers are Canadian, and we concentrate on the unique circumstances surrounding collecting in our native land.

Send Us Your Event

Running an event? Send it to us and we will display it on Canadian Stamp News!

Submit Event →

Subscribe To 26 Issues For Just $49.99/year

Subscribe today to receive Canada's premier stamp publication. Canadian Stamp News is available in both paper and digital forms.

Subscribe Now