Mr. LaPointe stressed that the picture of Sitting Bull in the media and in books is mostly presented in a manner that does not represent his real way of being. LaPointe emphasized that the Chief who especially in movies is widely presented as a bloodthirsty savage has rather to be seen as a native leader who stood in for his people and who tried to protect his culture and natural resources from colonialist newcomers.
The false image of Sitting Bull relates to the battle at Little Big Horn in 1876 where the Lakota people defeated the army of General Custer. However, Mr. LaPointe clarified that the underlying principle of the Lakota people disapproves of killing each other and that it is considered honorable to respect life as such, also that of the enemies. While normally in Lakota culture, disputes are regarded as games and solved as such, the extreme circumstances of land appropriation in the nineteenth century forced the Lakota people to take up arms.
The Lakota nation, whose people live in the state of South Dakota in the United States, has to struggle with an oversimplification and commercialization of its culture. Pow wows, traditions and cultural heritage of the Lakota people have become subject to the tourist industry. Mr. LaPointe therefore aims to give speeches and lectures in order to present the truth and to educate about the Lakota culture.
Mr. LaPointe’s visit to Rovaniemi is connected to his exhibition dealing with the truth about his great-grandfather, opening on June 12 at Vapriikke Museum,Tampere, Finland and lasting until November 8. In 2008, the exhibition resided in Bremen, Germany. In order to teach native and non-native people about the Lakota culture and Sitting Bull, whose Lakota name Tatanka Iyotake accurately translates to Buffalo Bull Who Sits Down, Mr. LaPointe also founded the non-governmental organization Sitting Bull Family Foundation.
Ernie LaPointe was accompanied by his wife Sonja, who presented and explained several songs of the Lakota culture.
This public lecture was endorsed by the ARKTIS Graduate School.