Sitting Bull's great grandson, Ernie LaPointe, recounts the Sitting Bull family oral history and how he became Sitting Bull's voice.
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The picture is of Sitting Bull's great grandson Ernie LaPointe at a tender age with his Mother.
Sitting Bull's Braid and Leggings
A braid of the great Lakota leader Sitting Bull's hair and the leggings he wore when he was murdered in 1890 were stolen from his body by the US Army mortician during his burial. They were loaned to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC in 1896 for display purposes. The mortician died leaving the hair and leggings without an heir or beneficiary.
In 2003 the Smithsonian embarked on a quest to find the true descendants of Sitting Bull. After four years of research, they found that Ernie LaPointe and his three half sisters Lydia, Marlene, and Ethel were his closest living lineal descendants. Ernie accepted the hair and leggings on behalf of the family in December 2007.
Obtaining Sitting Bull's DNA
During the repatriation, one of the world's leading DNA specialists, Dr. Eske Willerslev, called LaPointe from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark and asked if he could have some of the hair to determine Sitting Bull's DNA. LaPointe told Dr. Willerslev he would have to ask Sitting Bull's spirit in a ceremony. Puzzled but willing, Dr. Willerslev flew to South Dakota to participate in the ceremony. During the ceremony Dr. Willerslev had an encounter with Sitting Bull's spirit that he could not explain. Sitting Bull's spirit went down his throat and looked into his heart and said he was allowed to take three inches of his braid.
Dr. Willerslev took the three inches and was able to obtain the DNA from the braid's hair follicles.
Becoming Sitting Bull's Voice
The purpose of the DNA was to determine whether the DNA of the hair matched the DNA of the bones buried in Sitting Bull's grave to see if it is really Sitting Bull's body in the grave. Published news articles, books, and other media have questioned whether the bones are really Sitting Bull's. Verifying that the bones in the grave are Sitting Bull's is a sensitive subject. To some, the grave site represents tourist dollars and a place to picnic or party. Since Sitting Bull is no longer alive, it requires someone to represent what would have been his wishes and thus speak on his behalf.
LaPointe's journey to become that credible voice for his great grandfather has had its challenges. He came back to his Lakota culture and spirituality after suffering from PTSD following the Vietnam War, a long bout with alcoholism, and being homeless for over three years. He performed his first Sun Dance in 1993 and now carries and prays with a sacred Lakota pipe. Participating in his culture and spirituality have helped LaPointe overcome these difficult challenges and helped prepare him to become the credible voice of his great grandfather that he is today.
Between his genes, all the Sitting Bull oral history his mother told him as a youngster, and his spiritual connection with his great grandfather, he knows he is the one that must speak for him. Otherwise Sitting Bull will have no voice in his own legacy and wrongful and inaccurate stories told about him would live on as facts.
LaPointe will seek Sitting Bull's consent in a ceremony to see if he should have the bones dug up. If they are Sitting Bull's bones then he will find a more private place for his great grandfather's body where his resting place will no longer be viewed as a tourist attraction.
We Need Your Help!
The principal photography on our documentary, Sitting Bull's Voice,is nearly done. However, we do need your help. There are still a few unfinished scenes, along with the editing and marketing to be done. With your generosity, we will be able to put the finishing touches on our documentary in a fashion befitting a story of this stature. Any additional funds beyond our stated goal will go to further strengthen our marketing efforts and help us to afford a known talent to narrate our film.
The principal team for our documentary includes not only Bill Matson and Ernie LaPointe, but the twice nominated for the WGA best screenplay Tim Prokop (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0698599/).
Preceding is translated below into the German language:
Sitting Bull's Zopf und Leggings
Die Skalplocke und die Leggings, die Sitting Bull zum Zeitpunkt seines Todes im Jahr 1890 getragen hatte, wurden vom US Armee Bestatter gestolen. 1896 uebergab er die Haarlocke und die Leggings dem Smithsonian Institut im Washington, DC zu Ausstellungszwecken. Als der Bestatter starb verblieben die Leggings und die Skalplocke im Museum, da er keine Verwandten hatte. Im Jahr 2003 suchte das Smithsonian Insitut nach den wahren Nachko mmen von Sitting Bull. Nach 4 Jahren Nachforschung fand das Smithsonian Instutut, das Ernie LaPointe seine drei Halbschwestern die einzigen naechsten lebenden Verwandten in direkter Linie sind. 2007 akzeptierte LaPointe die Haarlocke und Leggings.
Dr. Eske Willerslev von der Universitaet Kopenhagen in Daenemark fragte LaPointe ob er Sitting Bull’s DNA erstellen duerfe. Nach einer Lakota Zeremonie an der Dr.Willerslev teilnahm, reiste er mit circa 8 cm von Sitting Bull’s Haar nach Hause.
Sitting Bull’s Stimme
Das DNA soll klarstellen ob die Haare und die Ueberreste in Sitting Bull’s Grab identisch sind. Wir erzaehlen den langen Weg wie LaPointe zur Stimme seines Grossvaters wurde. Vom Vietnamkrieg, Alkoholismus, Heimatlosigkeit und zurueck zum Lakota Lebensweg. Die Gene, die muendliche Ueberlieferung seiner Mutter und durch die spirituelle Verbindung mit seinem Grossvater weiss er, das er fuer Sitting Bull sprechen muss. Ohne ihn wuerde Sitting Bull keine Stimme haben in seinem eigenen Vermaechtnis und nur die falschen und inkorrekten Geschichten wuerden ueber ihn erzaehlt werden.
Wir brauchen Ihre
Hilfe Die hauptsaechlichen Filmaufnahmen fuer unsere Doku Sitting Bull’s Voice sind fast abgeschlossen. Trotzdem brauchen wir Ihre Hilfe!!! Wir haben noch einige wichtige Szenen zu filmen und dann natuerlich das Schneiden des Filmes und das Marketing. Mit Ihrer Grosszuegigkeit koennen wir die letzten, aber so wichtigen Verschoenerungen und Aenderungen vornehmen.
Not until after 12:07 am February 21, 2012 and only if we meet or surpass our funding goal.
A pledge is a promise to a specific amount of money at a future date. For example if someone pledged $100 to our project, Sitting Bull's Voice, then the pledge or promise to pay the $100 will not take place until after 12:07 am February 21, 2012 and only if the projected raises the full $20,000.