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No rest for Sitting Bull

A recent Associated Press story about the return of artifacts to descendants of Sitting Bull by the National Museum of Natural History and statements by Ernie LaPointe that his [Sitting Bull's] remains should again be moved causes one to think. When relatives decided in the early 1950s to move Sitting Bull's remains to the Mobridge site, elders at that time recalled being at the Catholic boarding school in Fort Yates, N.D. They recalled the Army wagons coming into the fort and the contents of the wagons were well covered. ''A nun took us aside and told us there was a fight, Sitting Bull was killed, and his body was in one of the wagons,'' an elderly lady from Porcupine told us.

Lakota and Dakota have their own words for relatives: Hena tiwahe wanjipi, ''they are one family coming from a common ancestor,'' or hena wicobe pi, ''they are of the same blood.'' Aunt Lillian Hawk Shield Fast Horse (deceased), who is of the family, was concerned that the relatives who made the decision to move his remains in the early 1950s did not consult with the close relatives here on Standing Rock. ''Hunkake unwanjipina,'' she said. Translation: We are descended from one ancestor.

Today the Lakota and Dakota are living partly under white man's laws, which does not comprehend our complex kinship system. The people are forgetting their relatives. There are matters that can and should be part of any decision to again move Sitting Bull's remains. He is renowned, not only in this country but around the world. It would seem to be in order for those descendants who want to again move the remains to at least acknowledge the Dakota and Lakota culture by meeting and discussing with as many relatives who are interested if it is respectful to again move Chief Sitting Bull's grave to the cemetery in Montana.

Tuwa okicize ed ktepi, hantash tukten hink'paya, ena kiyena h'api. (Apologies to experts in our language.) It was the custom that when one was killed in war, they were buried close to where they fell. The old one from Porcupine said that he should have been laid to rest there by the Grand River.

- Mary Louise Defender Wilson

Shields, N.D.