sitting bull's kindness

philadelphia, 1885

2016, oil, 40"h x 58"w

49. Sitting Bull's Kindness, Philadelphi

From June 1885 to October 1885, Buffalo Bill Cody had the Lakota Chief, Sitting Bull, join his Wild West show that was touring most of the large cities in the United States. One of the Wild West Show's stops, on that tour, was in Philadelphia - where the local newspaper described Sitting Bull as “The Celebrated Chief of the Sioux Indians”.

Unbeknown to Sitting Bull, the 1880s was a time of great poverty for many of the newly arrived immigrants, to the United States, who were living in the large cities. And during my research process for this painting, I was told by Sitting Bull's great-grandson (Ernie LaPointe) how he learned, from the oral history passed down through his family, that his great- grandfather was shocked by all the poverty that he had seen on the streets – especially when he saw children begging. Ernie explained that because the children in the Lakota society were always nurtured, well cared for and taught not to be beggars - his great grandfather could never fully understand why the "white people" would neglect their children and allow them to become beggars.

When Sitting Bull arrived in Philadelphia, he was a very popular attraction - so much so that people would line up to meet him and they would pay the equivalent of two dollars for his autograph. According to his great-grandson, Sitting Bull gave all the money, that he made from those autographs, to the “ragged looking” white children he encountered on the streets of Philadelphia.

Contrary to myth, Sitting Bull did not hate white people. And with this painting of Sitting Bull handing out money to some needy children, that he saw on a Philadelphia street corner, I wanted to show the kindness and the compassion that Sitting Bull demonstrated, throughout his entire life, for “anyone” who was in need.