Sitting Bull’s Rifle Up For Sale In Upcoming Auction

Sitting Bull’s Rifle Up For Sale In Upcoming Auction

An upcoming Cowan’s Auction will be selling Larry Ness’ collection of frontier-era firearms, including Sitting Bull’s rifle.

Officially titled the Frontier Firearms from the Lifetime Collection of Larry Ness auction, this assortment of frontier-era-related firearms will be up for sale on June 8th, hosted by Cowan’s. There are 244 lots in this auction, the majority of which are frontier-era rifles that have a connection to Native Americans. Many of these guns were owned, used and decorated by Native Americans of the frontier-era Dakota region, but the most famous by far is Sitting Bull’s rifle.

Sitting Bull's Rifle

Sitting Bull, a Hunkpapa Lakota leader in the Dakota Territory during the 1800s, is likely most famous for supposedly foreseeing a great victory over American forces just three weeks before the Battle of the Little Bighorn where Lt. Col. Custer made his last stand. Even excluding this prophetic vision, Sitting Bull led a very interesting life that is worth reading about, but it came to an end on December 15th, 1890, in South Dakota. After returning to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, fears of him promoting a suspected Native uprising lead to the order for his arrest. While attempting to do so, reservation police shot and killed him. Documentation included with the rifle being sold suggests that it was taken from Sitting Bull’s cabin on the day of his death. The rifle is a Winchester 1st Model 1876 lever-action chambered for .45-75 with a 28-inch octagonal barrel.

Sitting Bull rifle with document

Sitting Bull’s rifle has been owned by multiple museums and private collectors over the years, and it’s expected to sell for $40,000 to $60,000 in the upcoming Cowan’s auction. If that’s a bit out of your price range, there will be plenty of other interesting, Native American-related firearms for sale that will be much less expensive. The collector, Larry Ness, was a banker in South Dakota for almost 50 years. Many of the other treasures he accumulated during this period will be featured in the June 8th auction.

Cowan's Auction Larry Ness Collection
A sampling of some of the other items for sale from the Larry Ness collection.

To learn more about the firearms listed in this auction or how to bid, please visit

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