Noose used in largest-ever US mass execution will be returned to Minnesota tribe

The Minnesota Historical Society announced that the noose used in the largest mass execution in U.S. history will be returned to the Dakota Nation.

After a 30-day notice period required by federal law, the society will return to the Prairie Islands Indian Community what is known as the Mankato Noose, which was used to hang Wicampi Wastedampi (“Good Little Stars” in English, also known as Chaske), one of 38 Dakota men executed at Mankato after the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. The noose has been in the society’s collection since 1869 but is not on public display out of respect for the Dakota people.

“This is harmful and painful material and does not reflect the mission and values ​​of MNHS today,” the association said in a statement Tuesday.

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The association said all 11 other federally recognized Dakota tribal nations have said they support the Prairie Island community’s claim, which was made under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, a federal law that establishes a process for museums and federal agencies to return certain Native American cultural property, including burial goods and sacred objects, to tribes or direct descendants of those people.

Prairie Island tribal government officials expressed gratitude for the decision to return the noose.

The Minnesota Historical Society has announced its intention to return the noose used in the largest mass execution in American history to the local Dakota tribe. (Fox News)

“What happened to 38 of our relatives will never be forgotten,” tribe historic preservation director Noah White said in a statement. “The return of these items stolen from the Weistedampi grave is important to all Dakota people as it serves as a vivid reminder of what happened to our relatives” and will allow the “healing process to continue within the Dakota community.”

On December 26, 1862, 38 Dakota men were hanged by order of former President Abraham Lincoln. They were among 303 people originally sentenced to death in a military tribunal that historians have described as a farce, with some lasting less than five minutes. Furthermore, the Native American men were not allowed counsel and could not understand how the trial was proceeding. Lincoln later pardoned most of them. Historians believe that Wicampi Wastedampi himself was probably executed by mistake.

In a donation letter still in the Society’s possession, Captain J. K. Arnold wrote that he removed the noose from Wicampi Wastedampi’s grave and hid it so that it would not be sent to Washington with the other nooses used in hangings.

The six-week U.S.-Dakota War in 1862 broke out in southwestern Minnesota after decades of tensions between settlers and the Dakota and government authorities’ failure to honor treaty promises, according to the association. Many Dakotas confined to small reservations were starving when a group of Dakota men attacked white settlers.

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By the time the rebellion was over, more than 600 settlers, including women and children, had died. The society says that while it does not keep records of Dakota casualties, fewer than 1,000 of a population of more than 7,000 participated in the rebellion. Many of the survivors were forcibly removed from Minnesota.