Throughout history, the name “Sitting Bull” stands out. But Ernie LaPointe lets his audience know that this is a created name and that his great grandfather’s true name, Tatanka Iyotake, is actually Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down. In his presentations, Mr. LaPointe introduces himself and traces his connection to the famous, but incorrectly remembered, Lakota (“Allied to All Living Things”) leader and medicine man. Then Mr. LaPointe, answers audience questions about ceremonies whose meaning and protocol he continues to perform and perpetuate. And he shares stories and cultural values passed down to him from his mother, a medicine woman. For example, in the Lakota language, there is no word for freedom because it is already here. And there is no word for goodbye.
The Lakota culture is learned through storytelling, being shown by example, and by looking and listening to the elders. Raised in the 1950’s, when it was against the law to burn sage or sweet grass or even sing sacred songs, the culture went underground. In 1992, when Ernie LaPointe was told it was time to speak, he “came out of the shadows” to talk about his ancestors and his culture. Since then Mr. LaPointe’s presentations have been standing-room-only, including his lecture series in Germany and Finland, speaking to anthropologists and professors at Toledo University, addressing Native American groups at the University of Michigan and the University of Notre Dame, and appearing for the Smithsonian Associates in Liberty, New York: “Yours is the only presentation to receive a standing ovation from college professors and high school history teachers. You really educated the educators about Lakota culture.” Wally Mertes.
Audiences are hungry to understand how the Lakota Nation survived atrocities, how they once lived and continue to co-exist with Mother Earth, with the Creator’s Creations. Sitting Bull / Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down advised, ”Let us put our minds together and see what we can do for the children.” Ernie LaPointe counsels, “We need to work together. Not with violence, but with negotiations and with the Truth that we speak, the Truth that we know…My own ceremonial connections tell me that Mother Earth is a Mother who cares for her children very much. And she’s not going to harm them, but her children are harming her…for some pieces of paper with pictures of dead presidents on them.”
For more information about the Sitting Bull program, call American Historical Theatre: 215-625-0986