Politics

After go to from Sioux leaders, Barre Museum says it can consider assortment for repatriation


The Barre Museum Association this week voted to begin the method to return objects that after belonged to indigenous folks. The vote comes just a few days after native leaders from South Dakota visited the museum to put declare to their ancestors’ belongings.

Renee and Manny Iron Hawk, from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and Chief Henry Red Cloud, who represents the Oglala Lakota, a part of the Sioux nation, stood outdoors the general public library which homes the tiny Barre Museum. Before entering into, they burned sage to “smudge,” a ritual to purify themselves out of respect for the ancestors whose objects they’re about to see

“I share this smudge with everybody, all the light-skinned people that are here,” Red Cloud stated.

Red Cloud believes objects within the museum had been taken off the our bodies of native individuals who had been killed by white troopers in Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on Dec. 29, 1890. Hundreds had been massacred, together with Manny Iron Hawk’s grandfather, Ghost Horse.

Iron Hawk stated their ancestors are with them.

“I do believe they’re here today, waiting for their items to return,” he stated. “I am glad, today, very happy. And I’m also sad spiritually, but these things are coming to the right way now.”

Native folks have come right here since not less than the early Nineteen Nineties making an attempt to get issues again.

The museum has greater than 200 objects, not all native, in dimly lit glass cupboards. Some could have been handled with arsenic for preservation, so dealing with them is sophisticated.

Before the pandemic, the museum was open six instances a yr.

Ann Meilus, president of the Barre Museum Association, stated the objects had been donated to the museum within the late 1800s by resident Frank Root.

“Root was a showman,” Meilus stated. “He played up the Wounded Knee massacre, unfortunately, as his shtick to get people to come and view the Native American artifacts.”

Meilus stated there may be documentation displaying a whole lot of the objects had been bought to vacationers by Lakota folks, and he or she stated some objects had been mislabeled to interact the imaginations of tourists.

“I highly doubt if they really are off the bodies of the  people at Wounded Knee. But that nevertheless does not curb the awful tragedy that happened at Wounded Knee. We would like resolution to this,” Meilus stated. “I’ve been dealing with this for over 20 years.”

Meilus stated the museum has had contact with completely different native folks in regards to the objects for many years. She stated she needs to ensure the museum is coping with the authorized tribal council.

But a decision is within the works.

The Barre Museum Association is located in the same building as the public library in Barre, Massachusetts. (Nancy Eve Cohen/NEPM)
The Barre Museum Association is positioned in the identical constructing as the general public library in Barre, Massachusetts. (Nancy Eve Cohen/NEPM)

“I shake your hand with a warm heart. Greetings to you,” Chief Red Cloud stated after visiting the museum, addressing a crowd of supporters inside a close-by church. “It’s an honor for me to be here. To be able to view the collection across the street. But better yet, going to be able to take the items home.”

Red Cloud stated within the early Nineteen Nineties, his cousins, uncle and aunts additionally visited Barre, making an attempt to get issues again. He stated a lock of human hair, a part of a scalp, was returned later that decade. He stated when somebody dies, a spirit-releasing ceremony has to happen.

“And that didn’t happen for the ancestors across the street over here,” Red Cloud stated. “So they’re stuck in this limbo. They’re stuck here. So we’re going to make a way. The items are going to be be going home. But it’s going to take some time.”

Manny Iron Hawk additionally stood earlier than the gang, holding up {a photograph} of his grandmother.

“My grandma here, she survived the Wounded Knee massacre at the age of ten,” he said.

Iron Hawk told the story that was passed down from his grandmother, to his mother, to him. His grandmother always remembered how her grandmother took care of her during the massacre.

“As soon as the shooting starts, your grandma grabs you by the hand and runs to the nearest ravine. ‘Run, run, run! Because the cavalry is going to come after you. They’re going to hunt you down and kill you,’ ” he stated.

Iron Hawk’s grandfather and his son had been killed, defending their folks.

“So that’s the trauma that we have today, the Wounded Knee descendants. There’s a point we need to start healing and it began today,” Iron Hawk stated. “Thank you.”

Red Cloud stated he noticed a variety of objects within the museum that he believes will probably be returned.

“A ghost dance shirt. I saw a saddle. I saw a headdress,” he stated. “I saw moccasins of various sizes. I saw headgear, representing our tribe. I saw clothing that that our ancestors would have worn in that era.”

He stated he additionally noticed human hair, a part of a scalp.

Meilus, the museum board president, doubts that. She stated a number of the objects are embellished with horse hair. But the museum, which has solely about $300, will apply for grants to rent a specialist to guage the whole assortment.

“Anything that’s clearly spiritually associated with a tribe or used for funerary purposes or has human body parts — if there is anything left in the museum that has human body parts — that we would repatriate it to the proper tribe or attempt to identify the proper tribe,” she stated.

Museum officers plan to comply with a federal repatriation regulation, despite the fact that they aren’t sure by it, Meilus stated, as a result of the museum has not obtained federal funding.

Meilus stated there may be “a certain quantity of disappointment about doubtlessly breaking apart the gathering.”

But, she stated, “If something brings the Lakota Sioux folks closure for what occurred at Wounded Knee — if we now have to surrender some stuff, if that will get them one step nearer to closing, the trauma that they’ve suffered — I’m all for it.”

Renee Iron Hawk, the secretary of the Wounded Knee Descendants Association, said she supports following the repatriation law and having experts evaluate items. Still, she said, “I simply don’t need all that paperwork, pink tape to stop us from receiving again our family members’ objects.”

She said when someone dies in her culture, after a year, they hold a ceremony.

“I’d counsel {that a} ‘Wiping of the Tears’ happen with our family members’ artifacts returned. And possibly we might do it right here with you guys since they’ve been amongst you for thus lengthy,” she said. “Maybe you have to wipe your tears too.”

Red Cloud said it could be a year or more before items that belonged to those massacred at Wounded Knee are returned. But on this day, he said, his inner spirit was happy.

Then, he sang a unity song honoring the descendants and the people of Barre, encouraging the residents to remind the museum to return the items.

This story is a manufacturing of New England News Collaborative. It was initially revealed by New England Public Media.



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