Wounded Knee Massacre artifacts — once touted as ‘a curiosity’ — returned to Lakota Sioux 


As It Happens6:27Wounded Knee Massacre artifacts — once touted as ‘a curiosity’ — returned to Lakota Sioux

The return of artifacts from the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota will assist Lakota Sioux elders begin to heal from their trauma, and provides younger folks an opportunity to find out about their historical past, says Kevin Killer.

A Massachusetts museum says it’ll return about 150 Sioux objects, a few of that are believed to have a direct hyperlink to the 1890 bloodbath wherein U.S. troopers killed greater than 250 Lakota males, ladies and youngsters.

“I hope it is a starting of a path of therapeutic,” Killer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, instructed As It Happens Nil Köksal. 

The objects — which had been stored on the Founders Museum in Barre, Mass., for greater than a century — embody weapons, pipes, moccasins, arrows and clothes. 

Their return is a part of a broader effort by the museum to repatriate its Native American assortment, and the museum will stay closed to the general public till that course of is full. 

“This shouldn’t be our historical past of Barre. This is the Lakota Sioux’s historical past, and we should always honour the Lakota Sioux and what they need,” Ann Meilus, president of the museum’s board of administrators, mentioned in a information convention.

Changing narratives of historical past 

On Dec. 29, 1890, U.S. Calvary troops opened hearth at a camp on the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, close to Wounded Knee Creek, killing greater than 250 folks and wounding greater than 50. Twenty-five troopers had been additionally killed.

“It was a reasonably unhappy day, I believe, in lots of people’s histories, particularly our nations,” Killer mentioned.

It was one of many deadliest massacres in U.S. historical past. But for generations, it was celebrated as a victory for the U.S. military, and its artifacts had been paraded across the nation and the world as curiosities in travelling exhibits and museums.

The return of the artifacts, Killer mentioned, displays society’s altering narratives about Indigenous historical past.

This Feb. 7, 2012, photograph exhibits a cross on a grave on the Wounded Knee National Historic landmark in South Dakota. (Rapid City Journal/The Associated Press)

At the time, the U.S. referred to the incident not as a bloodbath — however as a battle. The troopers had been despatched to disarm the Lakota, a few of whom had been taking part in a non secular ceremony referred to as the Ghost Dance, which white settlers noticed as a menace and a precursor to struggle.

“Media was actually irresponsible, too,” Killer mentioned. “They had been truly drumming up a few of this dialogue and the fever for struggle.”

In the top, 20 of the troopers concerned had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the U.S.’s highest army distinction.

Artifacts from the grisly occasion are scattered across the U.S. and the world, at varied museums. Those in Barre had been acquired from Frank Root, a Nineteenth-century travelling shoe salesman who collected the objects on his journeys, and once had a street present that rivalled P.T. Barnum’s extravaganzas, Meilus mentioned.

Root is believed to have taken some the its from the lifeless at Wounded Knee when he was employed to clear the sphere, stories Native News Online, citing the museum’s information. 

“In the early 1900s it was virtually a curiosity/circus act/one thing to stare upon. And now … we’re in a distinct time within the 2020s,” Killer mentioned.

“It’s simply the pendulum of time, you already know, mainly swinging again the opposite method and saying, OK, how will we honour and acknowledge the historical past of loads of our communities?”

Tens of 1000’s of stolen artifacts

The objects being returned are only a tiny fraction of an estimated 870,000 Native American artifacts — together with almost 110,000 human stays — within the possession of the U.S.’s most prestigious faculties, museums and even the federal authorities.

All of these things, Killer says, needs to be returned below the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

He says his tribe has already been in contact with establishments in California and Switzerland about organizing the return of different artifacts.

A man, visible from the chest up, stands outside in a suit and tie and frowns as he looks over his shoulder. His long black hair is tied back. Behind him is a crowd of people, but they're out of focus.
Kevin Killer, pictured right here in 2017, is the president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. (James Nord/The Associated Press)

The Founder Museum objects are due to be formally handed over at a ceremony on Nov. 5.

Wendell Yellow Bull, a descendant of Wounded Knee sufferer Joseph Horn Cloud, mentioned they are going to be saved at Oglala Lakota College till tribal leaders determine what to do with them.

“Upon the return of the objects, there shall be a mass assembly and a really meticulous dialogue on how and what we’re going to do with the objects,” he mentioned. 

“Most of all, there are objects from the bloodbath website, so loads of preparations and ceremonies should happen to ensure that us to proceed ahead.”

Killer hopes the ceremony shall be helpful for elders and youth, alike.

“I believe for the older technology, it is going to be slightly bit more durable as a result of, you already know, over their lifetime, they’ve had to endure a lot greater than our technology,” he mentioned.

In each Canada and the U.S., Indigenous populations are rising, which suggests there are loads of younger folks. The median age for the Oglála Lakhóta nation, he mentioned, is about 25.

“I believe it is a studying alternative for [youth], but in addition a method to see that, you already know, the narratives which have been instructed about us are altering, and it is altering of their lifetime,” he mentioned.

He says the return of the objects is a solution to prayer his ancestors made greater than a century in the past.

“That is one thing that we consider deeply — that, you already know, when any individual says a prayer about one thing, it units an intention for not solely their technology, however future generations to fulfil.”


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