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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sitting Bull's Gravesite

Sittingbullloc While I've been away, much has happened--including the New York Times story last week on the conflict between family cemeteries and housing development in Georgia and a story about Sitting Bull's grave, which some want to turn into a commercial area.

Erin McClam's very fine story for the Associated Press begins in this way:

Drive from the town of Mobridge west across the Missouri River, clatter four miles down a winding path, and you find it — a modest monument on a lush green bluff.

This simplicity is striking because of the complex history of what lies beneath: The remains of Sitting Bull, the Sioux chief said to have foretold the defeat of Lt. Col. George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876.

It is more striking because of the state of extreme disrepair that befell the resting place of one of the best-known American Indians for half a century, until just two years ago.

It was shot and spat at. On the surrounding grounds bonfires burned and shattered beer bottles glittered. Someone tied a rope around the feather rising from the head of the bust, rigged it to a truck and broke it off.

The site is on what is called fee land, within the boundaries of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe but privately owned, and two years ago two men paid $55,000 for it and began cleaning it up.

They have plans for a $12 million monument complex they hope will honor Sitting Bull’s memory with the dignity missing for so long, and let new generations learn about him.

           These plans have torn open a wound over who will control the great chief’s legacy.

Read the rest of the story here.

Endnotes: The image of Sitting Bull is from our friends at the Library Congress.  And while I was looking for suitable pictures, I came across Phil Konstantin's website with a bunch of pictures of memorials and gravesites

Alfred L. Brophy
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