The Photographs and Images of Sitting Bull


Sitting Bull by Gilbert and Bacon, Philadelphia 1885 (Sitting Bull College Archive)


Late 19th century painting on display at Sitting Bull College that is a painted version of a W. Notman and Son photograph of Sitting Bull. (Sitting Bull College Archive)

In the late 19th Century, Sitting Bull, became one of the most photographed people of the age. Some of these photographs are iconic and readily recognizable to people around the world. While most are less well-known and have received little attention. These photographs, combined with his historic leadership role, have made Sitting Bull one of the most recognizable American Indian leaders of all time. The collection at Sitting Bull College Library comprises the largest permanent display of Sitting Bull photographs anywhere in the world. The collection continues to grow and will eventually feature each of the known unique photographs of Sitting Bull. Gathered together from archives, libraries and private individuals, the collection seeks to honor the memory of the great American Indian leader by creating a permanent display that will continue to inspire future generations. Funding to assemble this collection was provided by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Institute of Museum and Library Services

Funding for this collection was provided by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. You can access more information about IMLS and its ongoing mission below at:

Sitting Bull Photographs

You can access public domain photographs of Sitting Bull that have been made available from the Library of Congress at the links below. Library of Congress has additional images in its collection that can be ordered for nominal fees. Many other archives also protect and care for Sitting Bull photographs as well and are as follows: The State Historical Society of North Dakota, South Dakota State Historical Society, Minnesota Historical Society, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian National Anthropological Archives, North Dakota State University Institute for Regional Studies, McCord Museum and the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. Copies of Sitting Bull photographs can be purchased from each of these various institutions for nominal fees. For more information about the photographs of Sitting Bull, please contact Sitting Bull College Library at 701-854-8008


One the first photographs of Sitting Bull by Orlando Scott Goff in Bismarck, ND, 1881 (courtesy Library of Congress)

Sitting Bull and Buffalo Bill by William Notman & Son of Montreal   

Sitting Bull portrait by D.F. Barry

Sitting Bull wearing long feather headress by D.F. Barry

Sitting Bull wearing protective goggles by Orlando Scott Goff

Sitting Bull: The Photographs


This photo of unknown origin, shows what may be Sitting Bull (third from left) with unidentified others. (Sitting Bull College Archive)

Mr. Gregor Lutz has created a series of documents which combine what is known about the various Sitting Bull photographs with the images themselves. In addition his own research, these documents are based on the pioneering work of Dr. Markus Lindner, who’s 2005 article in North Dakota History lists each of the known photographs. Click on each of the links below to learn more about the broad array of Sitting Bull photographs.

“Part 2: Family, Wives and Children” details the photographs taken of Sitting Bull’s immediate family members.

“Part 3: Classification & Need for Clarification” details photographs that have questions associated with them.

“Part 4: Paintings and Drawings” details some of the many works that have featured Sitting Bull’s image from the first in 1877 to the present day.          sittingbull

“The Celebrity Part A” details the early photographs of Sitting Bull from the earliest in 1878 to the early 1880’s

“The Celebrity Part B” details some of the most famous photographs from the mid-1880’s to 1890.

The Historic Role of Siting Bull

Sitting Bull’s home was on Standing Rock. Standing Rock Tribal Historian and Tourism Coordinator Ladonna Brave Bull Allard has created web pages that detail the life and death of Sitting Bull as well as a page with an extensive list of Sitting Bull’s family and relations. You can access these pages by clicking the link below.


Sitting Bull College Library has a large format copy of this photograph that brings together many of the key Lakota leaders of the day. Sitting Bull illustrates his feelings through body language above. (Courtesy Library of Congress)

Sitting Bull


Early image of Sitting Bull by Rudolph Cronau 1881