Native Americans Seek Return of Looted Items from Wounded Knee Massacre
July 24, 2022
Cited article by Dana Hedgpeth, The Washington Post
HRRC urges the Barre Museum in Massachusetts to quickly and amicably return the artifacts requested by the Native American group, HAWK 1890. These will not be the first items with a similar history that have been returned (see Ghost Dance Shirt). The return of such artifacts help heal past traumas and support recognition of the continued struggles of Native Americans.
As many as 200 artifacts have been identified in a rural museum in Barre, Massachusetts that originate from the Wounded Knee Massacre. These items were stolen from the bodies of the 250 Lakota men, women, and children who were killed by the U.S. Army in 1890. Some of the items have been traced to a gravedigger, Frank Root, who used the items as a part of a traveling Wild West roadshow before donating them in 1892 to the museum in Barre.
The HAWK 1890 group -- which stands for Heartbeat at Wounded Knee and includes American Indians whose relatives were slain in or survived the massacre -- has been working to get these artifacts returned to the Oglala Lakota and the Cheyenne River Sioux tribes. While it is reported that they were close to a deal with the museum, it seems the arrangements have stalled and museum staff have stated that they must follow protocols to ensure the items are properly returned. The Native Americans believe the dead from Wounded Knee are stuck in limbo until proper funerary practices can be made, involving the recovery of the artifacts looted from their bodies.