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Frank Star Comes Out and Ryman Lebeau
Hawk 1890 Wounded Knee Descendants honored newly elected Oglala Sioux Tribe President Frank Star Comes Out, left, and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Chairman Ryman Lebeau on December 3, 2022. Photo by Marlis Afraidolhawk
Public meetings discuss Wounded Knee belongings returned to descendants
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Native Sun News Correspondent

RAPID CITY, South Dakota — A public meeting to discuss sacred belongings recently returned to Wounded Knee descendants took place on December 16, 2022, from 5 PM – 9 PM and December 17 from 2 PM – 9 PM at New Life Church, 415 McArthur St. in Rapid City, SD. At press time, details of the agenda for the 2-day meeting were still being confirmed.

Wounded Knee is the site of an infamous massacre on December 29, 1890, where more than 250 unarmed Lakota men, women, and children were slaughtered by U.S. Army Calvary. A worker in charge of clearing the battlefield stole the belongings from the bodies of the dead, then sold them to a Massachusetts trader who donated them to the Founders’ Museum in Barre, Massachusetts, in 1892.

After decades of negotiations, the museum finally returned about 150 sacred belongings to the Lakota people in ceremonies on November 5, 2022. The collection of belongings includes ceremonial pipes, weapons, moccasins, clothing, and the dried umbilical cords traditionally kept by tribal members throughout their lives.

The items returned to the Lakota people were all authenticated by multiple experts, including tribal experts. They are now in safekeeping at Oglala Community College at Kyle.

For more information about the Rapid City meeting, contact Cedric Broken Nose at 605-441-0600 or email Broken Nose is an active member of the Sitanka takini Wounded Knee Descendants Group. Other contacts for the Rapid City meeting are Ted Ten Fingers (phone 605-389-2431) and Mike He Crow (phone 605-389-4914).

According to Ivan Looking Horse (Cheyenne River Lakota Tribe), an active member of the HAWK 1890 Descendants Group, Lakota culture teaches that the spirits of deceased relatives can remain attached to their belongings if there is no proper ceremony to release the souls back to the spirit world to rejoin their relatives. Looking Horse said, “We only want to allow the restless to rest.”

The upcoming Rapid City meeting is the third public meeting held to discuss what will happen to sacred belongings now that they are returned to the descendants. The gatherings are a joint effort between the HAWK 1890 Descendants Group in the Cheyenne River area and the Sitanka takini Wounded Knee Descendants Group in the Oglala area.

On December 3, 2022, approximately 50 people gathered in Eagle Butte to discuss plans for the sacred belongings. Relatives from Pine Ridge and Standing Rock as well as Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) members attended the meetings, including newly elected tribal presidents Ryman LeBeau of CRST and Frank Star Comes Out, Oglala Sioux tribe. Participants also came from the Crow Creek Reservation and Pierre.

Marlis Afraid of Hawk, (Mnicoujou, enrolled in the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe), a respected elder who holds an office with the HAWK 1890 Descendants Group, said that the December 3 meeting was “the first time in a long time the Descendants came together as one.”

Manny Iron Hawk (Titunwan Okowozu), spokesperson for the HAWK 1890 group, said he was very pleased with the turnout which indicates increased awareness and concern for the sacred belongings. Also, the attendance and the atmosphere of the gathering show that “the relatives want to get involved” in deciding the future of the items brought home.


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