Dakota leaders will bury, not burn, that 'Scaffold' sculpture

The tribal leaders are getting rid of it though.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Plans to burn the pieces of a sculpture that sparked a backlash against the Walker Art Center last spring have been scrapped and Dakota tribal leaders now say the wood will instead be buried. 

Just before its newly expanded Sculpture Garden opened in June, the Walker cancelled plans to include the work called "Scaffold" and it was dismantled by Dakota elders.

The sculpture, a commentary on capital punishment, referenced cases of state-sponsored executions – especially the hanging of 38 Dakota men in Mankato after the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. 

The sculpture's appearance in Minneapolis led to demonstrations from those offended by it. The Walker quickly agreed to remove "Scaffold" and to let Dakota elders decide how the process would be carried out.

When it was dismantled in June some members of the tribe said the tons of wood used in the sculpture would be burned in a ceremony at Fort Snelling. But in recent days tribal elders have told news media the new plan is to bury the material and not tell people where it is. 

Why not burn it?

The decision about how to dispose of the sculpture's pieces is totally up to the tribe. The New York Times reports the artist, Sam Durant, gave the copyright for "Scaffold" to the Dakota people after apologizing for not consulting them before displaying the sculpture in Minnesota.

The Times says the pieces weigh more than 25 tons and it'll take a crane and two trucks to haul them to a burial place. 

Ronald Leith, who serves on a committee of tribal elders, told the Star Tribune spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse was adamant that the wood not be burned, saying it would violate Dakota tradition. 

"Of the four elements — fire, water, air, earth — you cannot use any of the elements in a disparaging fashion without putting yourself in a position of being disrespectful," Leith explained. "To use fire to burn this wood that has a negative stigma attached to it — that is not allowed.”

Tribal member Tom LaBlanc tells WCCO the burial will be on private land with nothing to commemorate the spot. “It won’t be memorialized or anything. It’s kind of a positive move on a negative thing,” said LaBlanc. “We gotta heal.”

There's been no official announcement yet on the plans for disposing of the pieces, but the Star Tribune says that's expected on September 12.

Next Up

butcher and the boar

Butcher & the Boar makes comeback with new ownership

Local hospitality company Jester Concepts has bought the brand. The new location is still being determined.

Hy-Vee

Staff at Mankato Hy-Vee incorrectly diluted COVID vaccines for 62 patients

The retailer says that there is no reason for medical concern.

Screen Shot 2021-02-26 at 7.19.58 PM

Twin Cities man going to great lengths to find beloved dog, missing in northern MN

He's hoping drone operators can help him locate Rowdi, his yellow lab.

Hennepin County Government Center

Some Hennepin County Government Center services will be unavailable during Chauvin's trial

Access to the building will be limited during the trail, which begins March 8.

Street sweeper

Driver, 19, killed in collision with street sweeper

It happened Thursday evening near Thief River Falls.

famous dave's

Famous Dave's to launch its first 'line service' restaurant in the Twin Cities

The new model of restaurant will open in September in Coon Rapids.

State Capitol.

Minnesota's budget outlook improves, now projecting $1.6B surplus

The state was projecting a $1.3 billion deficit in November.

warroad ice road

2.5 mile skating path through Warroad was a hit, now there's an effort to keep it

The "Riverbender Crew" is hoping to buy new equipment to maintain the path this season, and for years to come.

Related

The Walker Art Center will remove one of its new sculptures after protests

The Sculpture Garden is set to reopen on June 3 after two years of renovations.

Minnesota author Marlon James on the Sculpture Garden 'Scaffold' controversy

The A Brief History of Seven Killings author touches on progressive in-fighting, and Facebook's corrosive effect on discussion.

caveman

Minnesotans flock to Minneapolis park to see 'caveman in ice' sculpture

The artist sneakily placed the sculpture in the park hoping it would get people to get off social media and go exploring. And it worked.

North Dakota's famous albino bison, White Cloud, dies at age 20

The National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown says White Cloud died peacefully of old age