Bull chief was born in 1825 into the Absaroke tribe. This tribe lived in the area that would later become Montana and Wyoming. When Bull Chief was a young warrior, he went against the traditional tribe values of fasting and gaining a vision to achieve success. He later set out on a trail to gain recognition for himself but failed. He would return from war parties empty handed. Bull Chief's determination and personal strength helped him to his successes as a hunter, in combat, and in spiritual pursuits.
Bull Chief was a fierce warrior who led his warriors into battle with the United States Army in the Great Plains, raiding white settlements during the course of the 1870s, operating in Apsaroke territory to help his people survive against the westward expansion. But after the wars were over, he moved to the Crow Reservation. In 1908, he met photographer Edward S. Curtis and had his picture taken, an elderly veteran whose war years were long past.