THE granddaughter of a Sioux Indian chief who fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn where General Custer was killed will today present the case for the return of a sacred relic belonging to her Lakota tribe which has been in Glasgow's custody for more than 100 years, writes William Tinning.
The Lakota Sioux want a Ghost Shirt taken from a fallen warrior at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890 and presented to the city in 1892, returned.
Marcella Le Beau, a member of Wounded Knee Survivors' Association, will address a public hearing in Glasgow, organised by the council, which will hear arguments for the repatriation of the Lakota Ghost Dance Shirt.
Mrs Le Beau visited Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum yesterday where the relic is on show. She has brought a replica of the Ghost Shirt from her home in South Dakota, made by descendants of the tribe, which she hopes will be acceptable to officials at Glasgow Museums and Arts Galleries as a replacement.
The council's head of curatorial services, Mr Mark O'Neill, will put the case at the hearing for the relic's retention.
He said he was hopeful a solution could be reached which would allow the people of Glasgow to go on seeing the shirt and also meet the needs of the Lakota people. This could involve ''alternating displays'' in both locations.
Today's hearing follows consultations involving the public over the request for the shirt's repatriation. Five years ago its return was rejected.
The council had a change of heart in September, when arts and culture convener, Councillor Liz Cameron, said it was time to take the matter forward.
A working group, chaired by Councillor John Lynch, has been examining the implications of the Sioux request since April.
It is a sensitive issue with museum directors fearing that once any concession to repatriation is made, the ''floodgates could be opened''.
Mr John Earl, an American lawyer who first discovered the significance of the Ghost Shirt during a visit to Glasgow in 1992, said last night: ''I hope the city council and the survivors' association will reach an agreement for the return of the shirt.''
The arts and culture committee will make a final decision next Thursday.