Photo: Sitting Bull Wears the Crucifix

Note: Since there is no baptismal record of Sitting Bull converting to the Catholic Faith, and Father DeSmet never mentions it, it is doubtful. Nevertheless, he wore the Crucifix and was very friendly to Father DeSmet, the only white man he trusted. Perhaps, we hope, he was baptized. God knows. Mark Armstrong of Catholic Lane posted an article on the subject here.

Accounts accuse Sitting Bull of cruel atrocities during the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. How so, I do not know. There was a war. He had seen too many broken promises from the US government. So, he and his allies decided to fight. General Custer was defeated and killed, of course, in that famed battle. Eventually, Sitting Bull was captured and used in wild west shows with Buffalo Bill Cody. Witness, too, the betrayal of the US in regard to the Nez Pierce and their chief, Joseph. After fruitless negotiations with the relentless obstinacy of President Ulysses Grant and the US government, his people decided to flee their home and head for asylum in Canada only to be cut off in 1877 near the border and taken prisoners. They were confined to a reservation in Washington State. Grant put all the Indians he could round-up on reservations while forbidding the Catholic Indians to have the ministry of priests.

Also Dr. Taylor Marshall has an entry on the subject with the photo, which is cropped in the usual photos of the chief. Check out the photo and Dr. Marshall’s entry here.

From the historical book “Sacred Encounters”, page 130, is a
photo of the Sioux Indian Chief, Sitting Bull, wearing a
crucifix 1885. It also says: “Brass Crucifix, Europe, mid-19th
century brass, wood”. And further: “While at sitting Bull‟s
camp in June 1868, (Father) De Smet presented this crucifix
to American Horse, a principal war leader of the Sioux. A
similar cross was given to Two Bears”.

What is so special about this crucifix that was commonly
used by the 19th Century Jesuits and throughout the
Catholic world in earlier times? The word “Calvary” means
“the skull”. Here is the story of the skull and bones that is
beneath Our Lord‟s feet in the photo (upper right):
(Original printing by The Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1958 –
Meditation on the Sorrowful Mysteries, pg. 63):

“. . . The hill on which Christ was crucified is the hill under which
Adam, the first man, was buried. Noah brought the body of Adam with
him, at the time of the Flood, and it later was deposited in the hill now
known as Calvary. It was at three o‟clock in the afternoon, the ninth
hour of the day, that Adam ate the forbidden fruit and committed the
original sin we all inherited. Adam‟s first son was Cain, a murderer.
And the first death ever to occur in the human race was murder – of
the innocent, second son of Adam, whose name was Abel.
It was at three o‟clock in the afternoon of March 25, on the sixth day
of the week, that Jesus said: „Father, into Thy hands I commend my
spirit‟ (Luke 23:46), lowered His head and died; at the same moment of
the day, on the same day of the same month, on which Adam had
committed original sin. These are loving remembrances God has
established for us so as to let the beautiful mysteries of our Faith be
simple and childlike to us, in every manner of appreciation. At the very
hour when Adam brought death in the world, did the Second Adam,
Jesus, by His dying, destroy death! . . .”

[There are many more references in this book to biblical events that
took place on the 25th of March at three o‟clock in the afternoon.]
Father De Smet and the many Jesuit missionaries of the 1800‟s gave
hundreds of these crucifixes to their many converts, so that they
would always be reminded of the story of creation and why Our Lord
died for their salvation.
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