I recently wrote about the research around an upcoming SOF program exploring the spiritual legacy of Sitting Bull. We’ve zeroed in on some possible voices for the show, including Ernie LaPointe (pictured at right), Sitting Bull’s great-grandson. Ernie lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Krista will be interviewing him at his home in late October.

One of the reasons why Krista wants to conduct the interview in Ernie’s home is because she’d like him to show her things — photos, relics, memorabilia — that are evocative of Sitting Bull’s memory. I needed to find out what artifacts he has so I asked if he could give me a rundown. But as soon as the word “artifact” tumbled out of my mouth, Ernie said I would need to speak with his wife, Sonja. From what I could understand, Ernie follows the traditional Lakota way, and therefore does not talk casually about people who have passed on.

Ernie’s wife, who is German, explained that when Krista comes in October we’ll need to bring a gift of tobacco. “Not a pound, just a little,” she said. Ernie will use the tobacco as an offering to his ancestors when he asks their permission to discuss their lives and memory. Sonia also mentioned that if anyone on our production team is “on her moon” (in other words, menstruating), Ernie won’t be able to present certain sacred objects. Apparently Ernie has a prayer room in his house with a sign on the door that reads something like: “Do not enter if you are on your moon.”

We’ve already started talking as a production team about the tobacco: How much should we bring? What kind? Should it be presented in a pouch or a tin? As an associate producer for this show, I’ll be following up on on these kinds of details in the weeks to come.


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Reflections

A pouch of American Spirit pouch tobacco would be very pleasing and appropriate.

A Pouch of Natural American Spirit tobacco would be appreciated and appropriate.

How about putting the tobacco in a beautiful wooden box?

The tobacco needs to be as pure as possible. Find some with no added chemicals, organic is best. You can order a small pouch from some native tobacco stores or order from internet. Present it as a gift when arriving. Chat for a while before getting down to business. Frame your request respectfully again to him at that time. "I have a need" State your request. Do so 3 times in the conversation.

I shudder to think of the politically incorrect and social ramifications of pro-offering tobacco as a gift in today's society other than in the Native Americans Culture.Let's face it smokers are being exiled like pariahs. Maybe it would be more appropriate to offer a fifth of whiskey? Drinking is apparently OK by societal standards. The peace pipe of yesteryear is seen as a threat today. Maybe some medical marijuana would be the socially acceptable smokable weed. Me Oh My, Pow Wow Wow, how times have changed. Personally I think liquor/beer has caused more fights and health problems than tobacco ever could. Second hand alcoholsydrome exists.whether we like to admit or not. Everything the Indians Stood for has/is been taken away, including the use of tobacco. Sad...Very Sad.

I think it was rather cool that they were willing to give you such a gift. Of course, now days one cannot find tobacco that pure. I had some at a Sweat I attended years ago and it was the best tasting tobacco I have ever smoked. However, it is not to be smoked like most people smoke tobacco. In fact, I don't think tobacco was ever meant to be used the way many use it in modern years, but then again, being 1/8 American Indian and never learning my people's way of life because we were not suppose to talk about it, at least not outside of the house, I really don't know much about it. I wish I could have learned more, but with my relatives, we were to say we are White outside the house. I never did figure out why being part American Indian was something to be ashamed of. I take pride in what little I have inherited genetically.

I have some organically grown tobacco that has been cured for over five years I can send you a leaf to present.