June 16, 2007

Who controls Sitting Bull?

Battle Over Memorializing Sitting Bull

What one side wants:The two men who want to turn Sitting Bull's resting place into a memorial complex are Rhett Albers, an environmental consultant who is white, and Bryan Defender, who owns the sanitation system for the Standing Rock tribe and is enrolled there.

They say people who come to the banks of the Missouri to see the site are confused--wondering: Well, where is the rest of it?

Their plan for the site would stream visitors through an "interpretive center," focused on the four Sioux ideals they say Sitting Bull represented: Fortitude, generosity, bravery and wisdom.

Other features under consideration are a snack bar, offices and meeting rooms, a gift shop and a restaurant serving wild game and American Indian dishes.
What the other side wants:LaPointe, 58, believes the plans for a memorial complex atop his great-grandfather's grave are doing worse--cashing in.

"They want to use our grandfather," he says, speaking for his three sisters, "as a tourist attraction."

So this February he drafted a letter. He sent it to an assortment of Sioux tribes, including Standing Rock, which claims Sitting Bull.

"North Dakota, South Dakota and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe have not honored their promise for proper care and maintenance of our Grandfather's burial sites," the letter said.

It called for a "final reburial"--in Montana, at the site of Little Bighorn.

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