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Tatanka Iyotake: Reimagining Sitting Bull

Tatanka Iyotake: Reimagining Sitting Bull

Krista Tippett of “On Being”, aired on American Public Media, is rerunning one of my favourite episodes this week, which interviews Sitting Bull’s great grandson, Ernie LaPointe, with an audio version available for download on site.  Sitting Bull’s actual name was Tatanka Iyotake, but the White man gave him the name Sitting Bull.  From what I understand, Tatanka means Buffalo, so I think his name was related to the Buffalo.

This episode discusses some the history and spiritual beliefs of the Sioux, especially concerning Sitting Bull, as well as the music.  Some of the songs include a song sung to Sitting Bull, called Sitting Bull, and two others, available for download as MP3.

In the video below, which is the unedited interview, LaPointe shares some of the oral stories, which passed down some of the Lakota history.  His mother showed him what is compassion and generosity through example and stories, because the ceremonies were illegal.  Anyone who did the ceremonies, including burning sweet grass could end up in jail for doing so not too many years ago.  He kept these stories in his heart and soul, because his mother swore him to secrecy, saying, “You do not tell anyone these stories or that you are related to Sitting Bull, because the government historians will come after you, because you are not telling what they are telling.”

In 1994, his aunt told him to come out of the shadows and let the world know there are direct descendants of Tataka Iyotake, still living today and tell the stories your mother told you.  LaPointe tries to live the stories of his great grandfather, because he has his spiritual life and speaks his language.  He communicates with his spirits by talking to them in Lakota.

According to LaPointe, while Lakota tell stories and make each other laugh, life is still difficult because people do not know who they are.

His grandfather did not hate the army when they came, but at the same time, nobody owned the land.  “You respected the land.  You respected every living thing.  This is the spiritual way of life.  It’s engrained within you.  It’s in your DNA, I guess you might say.”

LaPointe is a war veteran, but somewhere in his heart, he always knew he respected the earth.

Tippett and LaPointe talk about the Battle of Little Big Horn and Tatanka Iyotake, who devoted his way of life to the Lakota spiritual way of life.  He did not do things for the glory or boasting.  He was a humble man, who had many coos, which I maybe misspelling, which are symbolized by the eagle feathers in his headdress.

The Black Hills were sacred to Tatanka Iyotake and are still sacred to the Lakota today.  LaPointe said that a picture of the Black Hills was taken from space it looked like a heart.

Tippett asked him about the wasichu within the government, which he discusses in his book.

He also explains the Sun Dance, among other spiritual ceremonies, objects, and symbols, all of which just comes naturally, no one can tell you, you just know.  These ceremonies and rituals can bring about healing.  He stated that before healing can start, one has to feel the pain.

LaPointe also discusses family, the people, how they take care of each other, and a woman’s moon, which is her wisdom.

The unedited version (below) with LaPointe below does not include the music, with Cedric Good House, as the shorter edited version (51 minutes) does, but it is still an interesting two hours.  Sitting Bull’s song, which people sang to him during his lifetime, starts at the 37:30 mark in the edited version with Good House.  It does not include the song that Sitting Bull is said to have sung called Song at Fort Buford or the Cricket Song sung by Sissy Good House.  People may download all three songs, as well as the podcast, on the American Public Media website.  Also included are more items not included in the podcast and non-downloadable music used in the episode.

The video below also does not include the interview with Carole Barrett, found in the edited version.  Thus, the video below is the complete two-hour interview with Sitting Bull's great grandson.  At the beginning of the video, which is difficult to hear, Tippett gives LaPointe a gift or rather a humble offering for his wisdom and respect for the Lakota.  It is offered with respect, humility, and humbleness.  The offering was kinnikinnick, traditional pipe tobacco.

Below is Sitting Bull’s art:

About Mriana

Mriana is a humanist and the author of "A Source of Misery", who grew up in the Church of God, Anderson Indiana. After she became an adult, she joined the Episcopal Church, but later left the Church and became a humanist. She has two grown sons and raises cats. Mriana raised her sons in the Episcopal Church, but in their teen years, they left the Church and she soon followed. One of her sons became a "Tao Buddhist" and the other a None, creating his own world view. She enjoys writing, reading, science, philosophy, psychology, and other subjects. Mriana is also an animal lover, who cares for their welfare as living beings, who are part of the earth. She is a huge Star Trek fan in a little body.
  • joe paterno

    What a wonderful posting.  So much information.  The depiction of 'wasichu' is very telling, to say the least.  
    I believe the word you were looking for is 'coup'.  This spelling may have come from the French. 
    The pictoral drawings done on cloth are known as ledger drawings.  Santa Fe is one place to see such depictions. 

    • I never could spell French words.  They are phonetically messed up, at least for the English phonetics.  lol

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