Native American Tales

Tantanka Iyotake’s Dancing Horse

Tantanka Iyotake's Dancing HorseTantanka Iyotake’s Dancing Horse

Brule Sioux

Tantanka Iyotake, or Sitting Bull, had joined Wild Bill’s Circus and had traveled with him for some time. When the two parted ways, Wild Bill gave Sitting Bull a sombrero and a white dancing horse.

At the time, the idea was for all natives to act white and develop white customs, but some still believed they could bring back old times with a ghost dance. A ghost dance was performed at Wounded Knee, the soldiers thought it was an uprising, but it was just a dance. Many women and children were killed.

Sitting Bull defended the dancers, but people said he was holding back progress. One day, he was dragged from his cabin, naked, and he was shot. A big fight started after Sitting Bull was killed. Fifteen people ended up dead.

The dancing horse heard the gunshots and thought it was back in the circus. So it started to dance. It did all the tricks it had performed in the circus long after the bloodshed was over. The horse was not hurt at all, even though it had danced through bullets. The horse honored its master the only way it knew how. This was how both Sitting Bull and the horse because a legend to the people.


Sitting Bull was considered to be a leader among the native people. He made a prediction that the natives would defeat a large amount of white people and it did happen. When Sitting Bull stood up for the ghost dancers was win he was marked as an enemy. He really was murdered outside of his house because people thought he might back someone else up. That’s pretty sad. There’s no mention of the horse though.


People are scared of what they don’t understand. These people were just wanting some comfort from their dance, but it was seen as an uprising. The world everyone had known was coming to an end. If your world was coming to an end, wouldn’t you want some comfort, from something? These people were on their last-ditch effort. Maybe a ghost dance would work to restore their way of life, but it didn’t happen. They were attacked instead.

Sitting Bull only wanted to defend them, but because he was defending something the white people weren’t sure about, he was killed as well.

Things are not always what they seem and we shouldn’t rush to try to destroy something we’re not sure about.


Such a sad story.

Weigh In

Do you think you would have been more open-minded about the ghost dance?

Do you think Sitting Bull is someone to be admired?


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