DNA used to confirm Sitting Bull's hair with descendant

Sitting Bull is a landmark figure in Native American history, who united the Sioux Native American tribes against white settlers that were taking their land.

The secret to healing what ails you lies within your own DNA (photo credit: DREAMSTIME)
The secret to healing what ails you lies within your own DNA
(photo credit: DREAMSTIME)

Researchers from the University of Copenhagen used a new DNA-based method to confirm the descendant of the famous native Lakota chief by using his hair.

The study was published last month in the Science Advances

Sitting Bull is a landmark figure in Native American history, who united the Sioux Native American tribes against white settlers that were taking their land. His first act of resistance against the US government was in 1863 when the US army came after the Santee Sioux in response to the Minnesota Uprising, where 300 Santee Sioux were sentenced to hang. However, President Abraham Lincoln commuted most of the death sentences. 

During the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876, he ensured the safety of the tribe's women and children while the Native American army of over 3,000 men and the smaller American army of 300. Bull had also worked as a performer in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show. 

The UoC study concludes that Ernie LaPointe, a well-known Lakota member is the great-grandchild of Sitting Bull. 

Photos taken from a 2017 Blockchain highlight video showcasing the blockchain learning environment at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. (credit: UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN)Photos taken from a 2017 Blockchain highlight video showcasing the blockchain learning environment at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. (credit: UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN)

Professor Eske Willerslev from the University of Copenhagen’s GLOBE Institute has been working on this DNA-based method since 2007 and is the head of this study. He visited the Lakotas numerous times, partook in Native American ceremonies, and was later allowed to study the Native American chief's DNA by receiving a small sample of his hair, and was later able to confirm the kinship. 

This method in theory can be used to discover the living descendants of other historical figures.

LaPointe has said that the kinship between him and his great-grandfather is important because he wants the right to decide where the earthly remains of his ancestor should be laid to rest, as Sitting Bull has two burial places: one at Fort Yates in North Dakota and one at Mobridge in South Dakota. 

LaPointe is concerned that neither of these sites is properly managed, and that having genetic proof and historical documents can strengthen his position.