The Last Sovereigns is the story of how Sioux chief Sitting Bull
resisted the white man's ways as a last best hope for the survival
of an indigenous way of life on the Great Plains—a nomadic life
based on buffalo and indigenous plants scattered across the Sioux's
historical territories that were sacred to him and his people.
Robert M. Utley explores the final four years of Sitting Bull's
life of freedom, from 1877 to 1881. To escape American vengeance
for his assumed role in the annihilation of Gen. George Armstrong
Custer's command at the Little Bighorn, Sitting Bull led his
Hunkpapa following into Canada. There he and his people interacted
with the North-West Mounted Police, in particular Maj. James M.
Walsh. The Mounties welcomed the Lakota and permitted them to
remain if they promised to abide by the laws and rules of Queen
Victoria, the White Mother. But the Canadian government wanted the
Indians to return to their homeland and the police made every
effort to persuade them to leave. They were aided by the
diminishing herds of buffalo on which the Indians relied for
sustenance and by the aggressions of Canadian Native groups that
also relied on the buffalo. Sitting Bull and his people endured
hostility, tragedy, heartache, indecision, uncertainty, and
starvation and responded with stubborn resistance to the loss of
their freedom and way of life. In the end, starvation doomed their
sovereignty. This is their story.