News FocusScience and Native Rights

In Search of Sitting Bull

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Science  08 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6001, pp. 172-173
DOI: 10.1126/science.330.6001.172-a

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Three years ago, following a Native American ceremony, Ernie LaPointe, a great-grandson of famed Lakota warrior and holy man Sitting Bull, who defeated George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn, gave a piece of Sitting Bull's hair to ancient DNA expert Eske Willerslev for DNA analysis. Sitting Bull is so revered that any results may stir strong feelings in a community that has been distrustful of scientists seeking to study the remains of their ancestors (see lead story). Yet the tale of a cutting-edge geneticist and a Native American working together on the chief's remains may also suggest a way forward.