RAPID CITY, S.D. - Anyone interested in owning a piece of history can log on to ebay.com and buy a buffalo skull allegedly painted by Sitting Bull for Sun Dance purposes.
The price: a paltry $750,000 - only one in stock. The skull is offered for sale by a private collector from Wasaila, Alaska.
The description claims an "Original Sundance Buffalo Skull painted by Hunkpapa Chief Sitting Bull. This sacred relic of the Sioux Nation has been authenticated and verified by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, 19th generation White Buffalo Calf Pipe Carrier and leader of the Lakota Nation.
"It is approximately 150 years old and is painted in ocher paint of the times with red stripes down the snout, representative of the ancient Sundance ceremony."
The description went on to say the forehead is painted blue with white dots representing hails stones, which represent soldiers that would fall at the Battle of the Little Big Horn.
"I went to Alaska and met this man because he said he had artifacts from Crazy Horse's burial site. He was respectful. He then showed me the skull. He said he respected our ways. We had a very short conversation," Looking Horse said. "I didn't know he would try to sell the skull."
Looking Horse said the skull could not be that old. Modern paint was used and the skull looked in good condition. "I said it couldn't be Sitting Bull's. Long ago they used everything that was natural."
The skull was left at the original site of the Sun Dance along with other gifts on the altar of the sacred Sun Dance pole, the description said. It also implied the skull was used prior to the Battle of the Little Big Horn. The skull was then picked up 28 years ago "by an old man from the Dakotas."
The description also implies that Looking Horse said the skull should be returned for the Sun Dance this year and that the Smithsonian was interested in the skull. He said he told the seller the skull should be returned, but did not ask to take it with him. As for the Smithsonian - nothing is known of that request.
The seller is not identified other than an e-mail address, which people are to use if interested in the object.
Attempts to reach Arvol Looking Horse failed because he was participating in the World Prayer Day activities.
This is not the first time ebay.com has carried auction material that is either disrespectful or offensive to American Indian culture. Occasionally visitors to the site will be invited to bid on a Shaman Apprentice program.
The seller, who calls herself Neeshanha, claims in the description that she is a "Native American shaman, spiritualist and herbalist." She does not identify herself with any tribal affiliation, but does sign off with Mitakuye Oyasin, definitely from the Lakota language. The minimum bid to take the two-month long shaman apprentice program is $250.00.
"The Shaman Program is very elite and special program, with daily teachings, lessons and specific instructions," the description states.
"You will learn how to recognize, call upon and utilize the energies and powers from our animal totems to your benefit."
"If you are seeking the truth and a better understanding on your path ... if you want to be a leader and a healer ... if you have the ability to be serious, dedicated and willing to learn ... then this is the program for you," the description states.
Neither of these items are currently listed in ebay.com, but do return occasionally. People who have stumbled onto them have complained to the ebay.com officials. It is not known if the items were removed because of the complaints or if the time had run out. Ebay.com did not respond to questions.
The shaman teacher said she wanted to be contacted before a bid was made and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neither offer is currently on ebay.com
The skull seller's email address is email@example.com.