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South Dakota's Great Faces: Spotted Tail

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PIERRE, S.D. – Spotted Tail was a Brule Sioux Chief who was a notable warrior and skilled diplomat. Spotted Tail continuously worked for the good of his people. He is not only a Great Face of South Dakota, but is remembered among great men of our nation.
Spotted Tail’s given name was Sinte Gleska, but he was known as Spotted Tail after a white trapper gave him a raccoon tail, which he wore as a medicine symbol.
Although Spotted Tail had no hereditary claim to chieftainship, tribal leaders passed over the hereditary candidate and chose Spotted Tail as the new chief when Head Chief Little Thunder died. Spotted Tail eventually was appointed chief of all the Sioux at the Rosebud and Spotted Tail Agencies.
Spotted Tail believed in and worked toward signing beneficial treaties for his people. In 1868, he and other chiefs signed the Treaty of Fort Laramie to guarantee their people reservation land. He made several trips to Washington during his life in support of Native Americans.
The untimely death of Spotted Tail came in August of 1881, when he was shot and killed by Crow Dog, a sub-chief. The incident took place near Spotted Tail Agency, which is now known as the Rosebud Agency. Spotted Tail is buried at Rosebud, South Dakota
South Dakota’s Great Faces weekly press release series is a project of the South Dakota Office of Tourism, designed to highlight people who have had significant impacts on South Dakota, particularly in the visitor industry. Click on the special “South Dakota’s Great Faces” link at to access the complete list of articles.
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