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    Description

    Sitting Bull's Top Hat, Presented to Him by President Chester Arthur. Descended through Sitting Bull's family to his great-grandson, Ernie La Porte. Tatanka Iyotake, known to us as Sitting Bull, became a major celebrity in his last years. In a real sense that began at the 1883 event when he received this hat.

    Sitting Bull was invited to attend and give a speech at a celebration to mark the designation of Bismarck as the capitol of the Dakota Territory. Arthur was to attend as well, however he was fatigued and asked his chief of staff to present the fine, German-made beaver top hat to the former chief (in those days the finest hats came from European makers). It is pictured in LaPointe's book, Sitting Bull his Life and Legacy, and on pages 86-89 he gives a detailed account of the event. LaPointe's letter of authentication as well as a copy of his book accompany this lot. Sitting Bull gave a speech at the ceremony, but it would not have set well with his audiences. He told the Bismarck crowd that they were a disgrace for coveting and destroying the land. However, the "translator" delivered a completely different version which drew a standing ovation from the crowd.

    Among them was a clever man named Alvaren Allen, who saw great commercial potential here. Allen approached Indian agent McLaughlin for permission to add the chief to his travelling show, where he toured along with a then-unknown young crack shot named Phoebe Ann Mosley, better known as Annie Oakley. A bond formed between the two which lasted through their later days performing in Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Sitting Bull traveled with Allen's show for just a short time, continuing to make impassioned speeches on behalf of his people which were completely changed by the interpreters. In 1885 he joined Cody's traveling show, where he was a star attraction and quickly learned that he could earn a nice income by charging for his autograph.

    Sitting Bull was famous for bestowing gifts on people he encountered, and while on tour he gave his top hat to a St. Louis hotel employee. It resurfaced in a 2005 auction, and LaPointe was able to procure his ancestor's hat from the buyer. It is in good condition, and is accompanied by its original J. G. Volz & Co. box, which is complete but deteriorating somewhat. A wonderful artifact from the great Sioux leader with a great back story!


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2013
    24th Sunday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 9
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,853

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