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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows first went on tour in 1883, within seven years of the last massacre of Indians (at Wounded Knee in 1890), within the decade that the buffalo verged on extinction, and within the generation that the United States absorbed the Great Plains into its dominion. Cody and his performers gave Americans (and Europeans) what they wanted to see and in the process established America’s enduring western myth: gun-happy men on horses fearlessly taking the deserts, the prairies, and the buffalo away from featherdraped Indian warriors.

Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) was born more than a decade before William Cody somewhere in the northern plains near the Black Hills in present-day South Dakota. By the early 1860s, when serious troubles were beginning to flare between the Sioux and the United States, Sitting Bull, then in his early thirties, had already distinguished himself as a daring fighter. Later he would become a man of powerful visions, able, so it seemed, to see the future. He fought for the first time at the age of fourteen against a group of Crows.

Norton, 1994), 130. 15. N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1969), 8, 6, 88. 16. Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain, 10. 17. Robert Utley, The Lance and the Shield (New York: Ballantine, 1993), 285. 18. Utley, 294. 19. Utley, 295. 20. Dee Brown, Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1970), 439. 21. Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, 446. 22. McMurtry, The Colonel and Little Missie, 229.

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