Man confirmed to be great-grandson of Sitting Bull utilizing DNA from centuries-old lock of hair

A lock of hair from legendary Lakota chief Sitting Bull’s head had been saved for over a century in Washington’s Smithsonian Establishment at room temperature in a glass field. Now, Sitting Bull’s lock of hair has been used to show {that a} man named Ernie Lapointe is his great-grandson. 

Lapointe mentioned that “through the years, many individuals have tried to query the connection that I and my sisters must Sitting Bull.”

A crew of scientists led by Eske Willerslev of the College of Cambridge and Lundbeck Basis GeoGenetics Centre published their results within the journal Science Advances. They in contrast the DNA from the lock of hair, which had been transferred to Lapointe’s possession in 2007 after new legal guidelines on the repatriation of museum objects had been handed. 

Hair from Lakota Sioux chief Sitting Bull’s scalp lock, from which DNA was extracted for evaluation.

Eske Willerslev

In a press release, Willerslev known as Sitting Bull his “hero, ever since I used to be a boy.” So, when he realized Lapointe had acquired the chief’s lock of hair, he noticed a chance.

“I wrote to Lapointe and defined that I specialised within the evaluation of historic DNA, and that I used to be an admirer of Sitting Bull, and I’d take into account it an awesome honor if I might be allowed to match the DNA of Ernie and his sisters with the DNA of the Native American chief’s hair when it was returned to them,” he mentioned.

Willerslev and his crew of fellow scientists confronted a large number of points. First, Lapointe mentioned he was associated to Sitting Bull on his mom’s aspect, which meant {that a} mitochondrial method — which might examine the DNA within the mitochondria that passes from mom to offspring — wouldn’t work. 

So the scientists looked for autosomal DNA within the genetic fragments they extracted from Sitting Bull’s hair. It took them 14 years to search out useable DNA from the 5-centimeter piece of hair. 

The crew then in contrast Sitting Bull’s DNA to samples from Lapointe and different Lakota Sioux — and a match confirmed that Lapointe is his great-grandson and closest dwelling descendant. 

by William Notman
Sitting Bull

Nationwide Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Establishment

Tatanka-Iyotanka, often known as Sitting Bull to many, was a Native American and navy chief who famously led 1,500 Lakota warriors to victory over Common Custer on the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. He was assassinated in 1890 by Indian company police employed by the U.S. authorities.

Whereas nobody is aware of for sure the place Sitting Bull was buried, there are two official burial websites: Fort Yates, North Dakota, and Mobridge, South Dakota. Lapointe believes that his great-grandfather rests at Mobridge, a spot that has no important connection to Sitting Bull, and hopes that the DNA proof that solidified his bloodline will enable him to relocate his great-grandfather to “a extra acceptable location.” 

Whereas the affirmation of Sitting Bull’s lineage is a scientific triumph for the analysis crew, they’re additionally excited by what their discovery means for different historic figures. 

“In precept, you can examine whoever you need – from outlaws like Jesse James to the Russian tsar’s household, the Romanovs. If there may be entry to previous DNA – sometimes extracted from bones, hair or enamel, they are often examined in the identical manner,” Willerslev mentioned. | Man confirmed to be great-grandson of Sitting Bull utilizing DNA from centuries-old lock of hair


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