1989 28c Great Americans: Sitting Bull

# 2183 - 1989 28c Great Americans: Sitting Bull

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U.S. #2183
1989 28¢ Sitting Bull
Great Americans

  • 46th stamp in the Great Americans Series; fourth in series to honor a Native American leader
  • Named "Sitting Bull" after showing great courage in a battle against the Crow Indians
  • His determination to defend Native American hunting grounds inspired a victory over General Custer's army in the battle of Little Bighorn. 

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Great Americans
Value:  28¢, the surface rate for postcards sent from the US to foreign countries other than Canada and Mexico
First Day of Issue: 
September 14, 1989
First Day City: 
Rapid City, South Dakota
Quantity Issued: 
44,820,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Panes of 100 in sheets of 800
Perforations: 
11
Color:
  Myrtle green

 

Why the stamp was issued:  To pay the surface rate for postcards sent from the US to foreign countries other than Canada and Mexico.

 

About the stamp design:  The pencil sketch on this stamp was created by Robert D. Anderson, based on an 1885 photo taken by D.F. Barry, when Sitting Bull was 54 years old.  The original photo shows Sitting Bull with a large feather in his hair, a white buckskin shirt, braids down to his chest, and a wooden crucifix given to him by Father Pierre Jean De Smet. The final stamp portrait cropped out many of these details, focusing on the details of Sitting Bull’s faces. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Mount Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

 

About the Great Americans Series:  The Great Americans Series was created to replace the Americana Series.  The new series would be characterized by a standard definitive size, simple design, and monochromatic colors. 

 

This simple design included a portrait, “USA,” the denomination, the person’s name, and in some cases, their occupation or reason for recognition.  The first stamp in the new series was issued on December 27, 1980.  It honored Sequoyah and fulfilled the new international postcard rate that would go into effect in January 1981.

 

The Great Americans Series would honor a wider range of people than the previous Prominent Americans and Liberty Series.  While those series mainly honored presidents and politicians, the Great Americans Series featured people from many fields and ethnicities.  They were individuals who were leaders in education, the military, literature, the arts, and human and civil rights.  Plus, while the previous series only honored a few women, the Great Americans featured 15 women.  This was also the first definitive series to honor Native Americans, with five stamps.

 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced most of the stamps, but private firms printed some.  Several stamps saw multiple printings.  The result was many different varieties, with tagging being the key to understanding them.  Though there were also differences in perforations, gum, paper, and ink color.

 

The final stamp in the series was issued on July 17, 1999, honoring Justin S. Morrill.  Spanning 20 years, the Great Americans was the longest-running US definitive series.  It was also the largest series of face-different stamps, with a total of 63.

 

Click here for all the individual stamps and click here for the complete series.

 

History the stamp represents:  The Hunkpapa Lakota leader known as Sitting Bull was born in 1831 near the Grand River in present-day South Dakota. At birth he was named Jumping Badger, but also received the nickname Slow, because he didn’t rush through anything. After showing great courage in a battle against the Crow Indians at age 14, he was given the name “Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down,” which was later shortened to “Sitting Bull.”

 

Sitting Bull had little contact with whites until the Santee Sioux uprising in 1862. When U.S. Army soldiers attacked his village during the Civil War, Sitting Bull led the defense. He also led an attack on a deserted military wagon party. Though he was shot in that altercation, his wounds weren’t serious.

 

In the coming years, Sitting Bull joined in Red Cloud’s War. Red Cloud sought to maintain control of the Powder River Country in Montana. During this time, Sitting Bull led attacks on several forts including Berthold, Stevenson, and Buford. In 1868, the U.S. government agreed to Red Cloud’s demands that they leave Forts Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith. Several other Native American leaders signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie, but Sitting Bull refused, stating, “I wish all to know that I do not propose to sell any part of part of my country.”

 

For several years, Sitting Bull continued to attack American forts and migrating parties. In the early 1870s, surveyors for the Northern Pacific Railroad came to the area to explore a possible route through Hunkpapa lands. Sitting Bull and his followers put up a stiff resistance and forced the surveyors to flee. The surveyors continued to return to the area in the coming years, with increased military support, but were turned away each time. The panic of 1873 then bankrupted most of the railroad’s backers, halting their efforts.

 

Also in the 1870s there was great interest to open the Black Hills for gold mining and settlement. Though the Treaty of Fort Laramie had promised to protect the Sioux and their land, the government sought a way around this. So in 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant ordered that all Sioux in the area move onto the Great Sioux Reservation. An order by the Interior Department then certified all bands living off the reservation as hostile, and gave the military permission to pursue them.

 

During this time, Sitting Bull emerged as a major leader in his tribe. While many other bands had followed the government’s orders to move to the reservation, many didn’t, and took refuge at Sitting Bull’s camp. He even sent his men out to the reservations to recruit warriors. By June 1876, Sitting Bull’s camp had more than 10,000 people in it.

 

Then on June 25, 1876, American Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer discovered the camp, though he underestimated the number of people there. He then launched an attack at the camp, along the Little Big Horn River. Though Sitting Bull didn’t fight, he’d previously had a vision of U.S. soldiers being killed as they entered the camp. His followers trusted his vision and fought back. Custer’s men were overwhelmed and retreated, but the tribes then launched a counter-attack and wiped out the attacking American force.

 

Sitting Bull’s follower’s believed his vision had brought them victory and celebrated. However, the American public was shocked and outraged over Custer’s death and the government’s knowledge of the Sioux living outside the reservation. So the government then flooded the area with thousands more soldiers. But Sitting Bull refused to surrender. In May 1877, he led his followers into Canada, where he remained in exile for four years. He was even offered a pardon and a chance to return, but refused.

 

While in Canada, Sitting Bull befriended the mounted police as well as Crowfoot, the leader of the Blackfeet, a long-time enemy of his tribe. However, his presence in Canada increased tensions between that nation and the U.S. Additionally, there were fewer buffalo to hunt, so his people were starving. Eventually Sitting Bull was desperate for his people, so he and 186 of his followers returned to America and surrendered on July 19, 1881. He proclaimed, “I, Takanka Iyotanka, wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.”

 

Sitting Bull and his followers then spent 20 months at Fort Randall as prisoners of war, before returning north to live on the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1884, Sitting Bull was invited to tour Canada and the northern U.S. in a show called the “Sitting Bull Connection.” During this tour, he met and befriended Annie Oakley. He was impressed with her shooting ability and symbolically adopted her as his daughter. He called her “Little Sure Shot,” a name she used throughout her career.

The following year, Sitting Bull was again invited to travel, this time as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. He received $50 a week to ride around the arena. He also gave speeches urging education for children and improving relations between the Sioux and whites.

 

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the Ghost Dance Movement took root. The movement sought a return to tradition and called on tribes to dance and chant for their deceased relatives to rise up and bring back the buffalo. While Sitting Bull didn’t appear to participate in the movement, he allowed the dancers to come to his camp. The Indian Agents at Standing Rock Reservation believed he was going to leave the reservation with the dancers and ordered his arrest.

 

The arrest was planned for 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 1890. That morning, 39 police officers and four volunteers surrounded and entered Sitting Bull’s house. They told him he was under arrest and had to mount a horse to meet with the Indian Affairs agent. Sitting Bull refused and the officers used force. This enraged his followers, leading to an all-out fight in which Sitting Bull was shot twice. He died that afternoon. Three years later, his cabin on the Grand River was moved to Chicago to be placed on exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

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U.S. #2183
1989 28¢ Sitting Bull
Great Americans

  • 46th stamp in the Great Americans Series; fourth in series to honor a Native American leader
  • Named "Sitting Bull" after showing great courage in a battle against the Crow Indians
  • His determination to defend Native American hunting grounds inspired a victory over General Custer's army in the battle of Little Bighorn. 

Stamp Category:  Definitive
Series: 
Great Americans
Value:  28¢, the surface rate for postcards sent from the US to foreign countries other than Canada and Mexico
First Day of Issue: 
September 14, 1989
First Day City: 
Rapid City, South Dakota
Quantity Issued: 
44,820,000
Printed by: 
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: 
Engraved
Format: 
Panes of 100 in sheets of 800
Perforations: 
11
Color:
  Myrtle green

 

Why the stamp was issued:  To pay the surface rate for postcards sent from the US to foreign countries other than Canada and Mexico.

 

About the stamp design:  The pencil sketch on this stamp was created by Robert D. Anderson, based on an 1885 photo taken by D.F. Barry, when Sitting Bull was 54 years old.  The original photo shows Sitting Bull with a large feather in his hair, a white buckskin shirt, braids down to his chest, and a wooden crucifix given to him by Father Pierre Jean De Smet. The final stamp portrait cropped out many of these details, focusing on the details of Sitting Bull’s faces. 

 

First Day City:  The First Day ceremony for this stamp was held at the Mount Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, in Rapid City, South Dakota. 

 

About the Great Americans Series:  The Great Americans Series was created to replace the Americana Series.  The new series would be characterized by a standard definitive size, simple design, and monochromatic colors. 

 

This simple design included a portrait, “USA,” the denomination, the person’s name, and in some cases, their occupation or reason for recognition.  The first stamp in the new series was issued on December 27, 1980.  It honored Sequoyah and fulfilled the new international postcard rate that would go into effect in January 1981.

 

The Great Americans Series would honor a wider range of people than the previous Prominent Americans and Liberty Series.  While those series mainly honored presidents and politicians, the Great Americans Series featured people from many fields and ethnicities.  They were individuals who were leaders in education, the military, literature, the arts, and human and civil rights.  Plus, while the previous series only honored a few women, the Great Americans featured 15 women.  This was also the first definitive series to honor Native Americans, with five stamps.

 

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) produced most of the stamps, but private firms printed some.  Several stamps saw multiple printings.  The result was many different varieties, with tagging being the key to understanding them.  Though there were also differences in perforations, gum, paper, and ink color.

 

The final stamp in the series was issued on July 17, 1999, honoring Justin S. Morrill.  Spanning 20 years, the Great Americans was the longest-running US definitive series.  It was also the largest series of face-different stamps, with a total of 63.

 

Click here for all the individual stamps and click here for the complete series.

 

History the stamp represents:  The Hunkpapa Lakota leader known as Sitting Bull was born in 1831 near the Grand River in present-day South Dakota. At birth he was named Jumping Badger, but also received the nickname Slow, because he didn’t rush through anything. After showing great courage in a battle against the Crow Indians at age 14, he was given the name “Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down,” which was later shortened to “Sitting Bull.”

 

Sitting Bull had little contact with whites until the Santee Sioux uprising in 1862. When U.S. Army soldiers attacked his village during the Civil War, Sitting Bull led the defense. He also led an attack on a deserted military wagon party. Though he was shot in that altercation, his wounds weren’t serious.

 

In the coming years, Sitting Bull joined in Red Cloud’s War. Red Cloud sought to maintain control of the Powder River Country in Montana. During this time, Sitting Bull led attacks on several forts including Berthold, Stevenson, and Buford. In 1868, the U.S. government agreed to Red Cloud’s demands that they leave Forts Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith. Several other Native American leaders signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie, but Sitting Bull refused, stating, “I wish all to know that I do not propose to sell any part of part of my country.”

 

For several years, Sitting Bull continued to attack American forts and migrating parties. In the early 1870s, surveyors for the Northern Pacific Railroad came to the area to explore a possible route through Hunkpapa lands. Sitting Bull and his followers put up a stiff resistance and forced the surveyors to flee. The surveyors continued to return to the area in the coming years, with increased military support, but were turned away each time. The panic of 1873 then bankrupted most of the railroad’s backers, halting their efforts.

 

Also in the 1870s there was great interest to open the Black Hills for gold mining and settlement. Though the Treaty of Fort Laramie had promised to protect the Sioux and their land, the government sought a way around this. So in 1875, President Ulysses S. Grant ordered that all Sioux in the area move onto the Great Sioux Reservation. An order by the Interior Department then certified all bands living off the reservation as hostile, and gave the military permission to pursue them.

 

During this time, Sitting Bull emerged as a major leader in his tribe. While many other bands had followed the government’s orders to move to the reservation, many didn’t, and took refuge at Sitting Bull’s camp. He even sent his men out to the reservations to recruit warriors. By June 1876, Sitting Bull’s camp had more than 10,000 people in it.

 

Then on June 25, 1876, American Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer discovered the camp, though he underestimated the number of people there. He then launched an attack at the camp, along the Little Big Horn River. Though Sitting Bull didn’t fight, he’d previously had a vision of U.S. soldiers being killed as they entered the camp. His followers trusted his vision and fought back. Custer’s men were overwhelmed and retreated, but the tribes then launched a counter-attack and wiped out the attacking American force.

 

Sitting Bull’s follower’s believed his vision had brought them victory and celebrated. However, the American public was shocked and outraged over Custer’s death and the government’s knowledge of the Sioux living outside the reservation. So the government then flooded the area with thousands more soldiers. But Sitting Bull refused to surrender. In May 1877, he led his followers into Canada, where he remained in exile for four years. He was even offered a pardon and a chance to return, but refused.

 

While in Canada, Sitting Bull befriended the mounted police as well as Crowfoot, the leader of the Blackfeet, a long-time enemy of his tribe. However, his presence in Canada increased tensions between that nation and the U.S. Additionally, there were fewer buffalo to hunt, so his people were starving. Eventually Sitting Bull was desperate for his people, so he and 186 of his followers returned to America and surrendered on July 19, 1881. He proclaimed, “I, Takanka Iyotanka, wish it to be remembered that I was the last man of my tribe to surrender my rifle.”

 

Sitting Bull and his followers then spent 20 months at Fort Randall as prisoners of war, before returning north to live on the Standing Rock Reservation. In 1884, Sitting Bull was invited to tour Canada and the northern U.S. in a show called the “Sitting Bull Connection.” During this tour, he met and befriended Annie Oakley. He was impressed with her shooting ability and symbolically adopted her as his daughter. He called her “Little Sure Shot,” a name she used throughout her career.

The following year, Sitting Bull was again invited to travel, this time as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. He received $50 a week to ride around the arena. He also gave speeches urging education for children and improving relations between the Sioux and whites.

 

In the late 1880s and early 1890s, the Ghost Dance Movement took root. The movement sought a return to tradition and called on tribes to dance and chant for their deceased relatives to rise up and bring back the buffalo. While Sitting Bull didn’t appear to participate in the movement, he allowed the dancers to come to his camp. The Indian Agents at Standing Rock Reservation believed he was going to leave the reservation with the dancers and ordered his arrest.

 

The arrest was planned for 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 1890. That morning, 39 police officers and four volunteers surrounded and entered Sitting Bull’s house. They told him he was under arrest and had to mount a horse to meet with the Indian Affairs agent. Sitting Bull refused and the officers used force. This enraged his followers, leading to an all-out fight in which Sitting Bull was shot twice. He died that afternoon. Three years later, his cabin on the Grand River was moved to Chicago to be placed on exhibit at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.