Indian Tribe Dismantles ‘Offensive’ Minnesota Sculpture, May Burn It Too

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Anders Hagstrom Justice Reporter
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The Dakota Nation Indian tribe announced Friday that its elders will soon meet to decide whether to burn the left over wood from the recently-destroyed “Scaffold” Sculpture in Minneapolis.

The Dakotas successfully lobbied for the sculpture’s removal and dismantling from the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden on June 2 after they argued it was offensive because it resembles the gallows used to hang 38 members of the Dakota tribe in 1862. The wood left over from the destroyed sculpture was set to be burned in a tribal ceremony at Fort Snelling, but the ceremony was cancelled. The Elders’ Friday announcement said they will decide on June 25 whether to burn the wood, the Star Tribune reports.

“When you make art, it has to be positive and negative, not just negative,” said Sioux Elder Sheldon Wolfchild told the Star Tribune. “And for all of us to heal, in this state, in this country, we need to understand that we have to look at each other as common human beings from the heart.”

The sculpture was based on seven sets of gallows used in U.S. executions, one of which was the gallows used to hang the “Dakota 38.” The sculpture’s designer, Sam Durant, said he did extensive research about the hangings and intended his piece of art for “meditation on capital punishment and white supremacy.” He was supportive of the Dakota Nation’s decision to destroy his sculpture.

Some decried the sculpture’s removal and projected burning, however, arguing that the hanging of the Dakota 38 was justified due to the gravity of the crimes they had committed.

“The Dakota killed at least 650 whites, mostly civilians,” Curtis Dahlin told the Pioneer Press. “Among the victims were at least 100 children who were age 10 or under, including babies. Many women were also killed. Most of those the Dakota killed were unarmed and thus unable to defend themselves. In my mind, that was murder.”

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