A Public Attack: Eagle Staff Desecrated for Third Time in Duluth

A story about an American Indian eagle staff in Duluth, Minnesota being desecrated for a third time.

A spiritual ceremony was held on Monday, June 24, at the Duluth Civic Center in Duluth, Minnesota to reinstall an eagle staff that had been removed and dumped into nearby bushes over the weekend. This is the third time the sacred object has been desecrated since being added to the civic center grounds in late 2011. The ceremony included prayer and the burning of sage and cedar, with singing in Ojibwe.

The staff, made of ironwood with eagle feathers and ribbons signifying the four directions tied to the top, is considered a flag to the Anishinaabe people, Gwiiwizens Ricky DeFoe, a member of the Duluth American Indian Commission, told Forum News Service. “This is a symbol of the indigenous people,” he said. “To have done that, it’s like a public attack.” 

Last fall the eagle staff was broken in half, according to a report from the Duluth News Tribune.

Micheala Richey, director of the Red Lake Urban Office, said people come to the staff and pray and put down offerings of tobacco.

“It’s sacred to me,” she told Forum News Service. “I’m appalled that someone would do this for the third time. This is our flag."

“Why could something like [the eagle staff] be so offensive?” DeFoe asked. “There is a lot of fear in America of ‘the other.'"

Related: Sonny Skyhawk: What Is the Eagle Staff?