Sacred Objects From Massachusetts Museum To Be Returned To Sioux

About 150 items considered sacred by the Sioux peoples and stored in a small Massachusetts museum for more than a century are being returned, museum and tribal officials said Monday.

The items, including weapons, pipes, moccasins and clothing – around seven or eight of which are believed to have a direct connection to the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre – are to be officially handed over at a ceremony scheduled for Nov. 5, Ann Meilus, chairman of the board of the Founders Museum in Barre, told a press conference on a day that several in attendance said is more commonly celebrated as Indigenous Peoples Day.

“It’s not our Barre story. This is Lakota Sioux history, and we must honor the Lakota Sioux and what they desire,” she said.

It is a repatriation project that has taken decades to prepare.

Returning the items is a chance to “start that healing process,” said Kevin Killer, president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

The returned items represent just a tiny fraction of the estimated 870,000 Native American artifacts — including nearly 110,000 human remains — in the possession of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, museums, and even the federal government that, under federal law, are supposed to be returned to tribes under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, often referred to as NAGPRA.

While the Barre Museum argues that as a private institution that does not receive federal funding it is not subject to NAGPRA, the return of items from its collection owned by Native tribes is the right thing to do. do, Meilus said.

Wendell Yellow Bull, a descendant of Wounded Knee victim Joseph Horn Cloud, said the items would be stored at Oglala Lakota College until tribal leaders decide what to do with them.

“When the items return, there will be a mass meeting and a very careful discussion about how and what we are going to do with the items,” he said. “Above all, there are artefacts from the site of the massacre, so a lot of preparation and ceremony needs to take place for us to move forward.”

More than 200 men, women, children and elderly people were killed on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in December 1890 in one of the worst massacres of Native Americans in the country. Congress issued a formal apology to the Sioux Nation for the 1991 massacre.

The Barre Museum acquired its Native collection from Frank Root, a 19th-century native of the town about 70 miles west of Boston. He was a traveling shoe salesman who collected items on his travels and once hosted a road show that rivaled the extravaganzas of PT Barnum, Meilus said.

The items returned to the Sioux people have all been authenticated by multiple experts, including tribal experts. The museum has other native artifacts that are not believed to have come from the Sioux.

Artist Michael He Crow has used his expertise in traditional Lakota Sioux artwork and crafts.

“I am able to recognize some of the designs and colors that the Lakota used at that time,” he said.

There was a time when specific designs could be assigned to a particular family, but because those designs have been replicated and replicated so many times over the years, that’s now nearly impossible, he said.

About Carlos V. Mitchell

Check Also

The WV Mine Wars Museum will close the 2022 season | New

MATEWAN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Mine Wars Museum will wrap up its eighth season …