AGENCY VILLAGE, S.D. - The Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota Nation is making plans to repatriate the remains of 273 Dakota ancestors from the University of Minnesota.
Executive director for the Association on Indian American Affairs Jerry Flute said the remains of the 273 Dakota individuals, as well their burial artifacts, were looted from burial mounds throughout Minnesota in the late 1800s and were taken to universities where they were catalogued and studied.
"These were willful disinterments by archaeologists, mostly from mounds all over Minnesota. They excavated the remains, taking them to Hamlin University for study," Mr. Flute said. "We know by burial mound where they came from and how many were taken from each one, along with the artifacts they were buried with," Mr. Flute said.
A final planning meeting was held May 7 when Dakota Oyate discussed whether or not to allow South Dakota Public Television to film a documentary, according to Mr. Flute, who said the official reburial ceremonies are scheduled to begin May 16 and the actual re internment will take place May 19.
Of the 273 remains, 196 are identified as "Dakota," and representatives from many Dakota nations as well as drum groups and spiritual leaders and Akicita from various Dakota bands have been invited to attend the reburial ceremony. They plan to build 37 scaffolds. The Minnesota Indian Affairs Council purchased red felt to wrap around the individual remains. Each morning, more than 200 women and children will carry the remains, wrapped in sage to the scaffolds and at night they will rest on buffalo robes in tipis.
Mr. Flute said Chief Melvin Isnana of the Standing Buffalo Reserve in Canada plans to bring a bus load of elders to participate in the reburial.