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Body of Mille Lacs Spiritual Leader Released to Family After Protest

The body of a Mille Lacs spiritual leader has been returned to the family instead of being subjected to an autopsy, which goes against tribal beliefs.
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Mushkoob Aubid, 65, a drumkeeper and brother of an elected official of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, walked on Saturday, February 7 at Cloquet Memorial Hospital, reports the Duluth News Tribune.

Aubid had been in a serious car accident the night before and his body was then taken to the medical school at the University of Minnesota Duluth, where an autopsy was set for Tuesday. But that goes against the family’s spiritual beliefs.

“We just want to prepare his body for his journey to the next world,” his widow, Winnie LaPrairie, told the Duluth News Tribune. “This is the way it’s been done for thousands of years.”

Spiritual beliefs require that the body remain intact, the mouth be sewn shut, and the deceased be properly washed and dressed.

Band attorneys and administrators told the Tribune that a forced autopsy would violate the American Indian Religious Freedom Act.

Family members lit a fire outside the school at around 5:30 on Sunday and started singing traditional songs, reports the Duluth News Tribune.

A district judge ordered the return of Aubid’s body to the family Sunday night and the his body was released Monday morning, reports the Duluth News Tribune.