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Library Returns to Indian Nation Items Taken at Wounded Knee

February 15, 1993

BARRE, Mass. (AP) _ A library that for nearly a century has displayed artifacts taken from Sioux Indians massacred by the U.S. cavalry at Wounded Knee is returning the items to South Dakota.

The Woods Memorial Library Association and the Oglala Sioux agreed that the original items will be returned to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

The association and representatives of the Sioux nation then will seek funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to pay Sioux artists to make duplicates of the artifacts. The replicas, along with contemporary Indian artworks, will be displayed in a museum here.

″This way everyone will win,″ said Mario Gonzalez of Black Hawk, S.D., lawyer for the Wounded Knee Survivors Association. ″We would get the originals, the Indians would get employment and the museum will get duplicates.″

″It sounds like an ideal situation,″ John P. Cirelli, president of the 37-member library association, said Saturday.

More than 200 unarmed women, children and elderly men were killed by the 7th Cavalry at Wounded Knee, S.D., in 1890. Congress issued a formal apology to the Sioux Nation for the massacre in 1991.

Cirelli said the items were donated around the turn of the century by Frank P. Root, a local resident and collector who apparently got them from soldiers clearing the scene of the massacre.

The estimated 1,000 items include a ceremonial shirt, medicine man’s bag, prayer pipes, dolls, cradle boards, clothing and hair ornaments.

The Sioux, who are seeking to establish a national monument at Wounded Knee, learned of the collection in Barre last fall from Robert Goss, an anthropology professor at Worcester State College.

A 1990 federal law requires museums receiving federal funds to return human remains as well as funeral, sacred and cultural objects to either the families of the Indians or the tribe.

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