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"Mankato Hanging Rope" to be returned to a Dakota tribe in southeastern Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — A noose used in the largest execution in U.S. history will soon be returned to a Native American tribe in southeastern Minnesota. 

On Tuesday, the Minnesota Historical Society announced that it intends to return the item, known as the "Mankato Hanging Rope," to the Prairie Island Indian Community, one of the four federally recognized Dakota tribes in Minnesota. 

The rope was used to hang Wicanhpi Wastedanpi, which translates to Good Little Stars. Also known as Chase, he was one of 38 Dakota men hanged in Mankato following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. According to MNHS, the item was donated to the society and added to its collections in 1869. 

"This is a harmful and painful object that does not reflect the mission and the values of MNHS today," the MNHS said in a statement

In late February, the Dakota tribe requested the repatriation of the item via the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. During the claim process, MNHS said it consulted with all 11 federally-recognized Dakota Tribal Nations, who all expressed unanimous support for Praire Island's claim. 

The MNHS NAGPRA Committee determined that the item was eligible for repatriation. That decision was then approved by the MNHS Executive Council. 

In a statement shared with WCCO, the Prairie Island Tribal Historic Preservation Office said the tribe is "grateful" for the historical society's decision to return the item.

"What happened to 38 of our relatives will never be forgotten," the statement said. "The repatriation of this item stolen from Wastedanpi's grave is important to all Dakota people. It serves as a vivid reminder of what happened to our relatives and allow the process of healing within our Dakota communities to continue."

The MNHS said it will submit a notice of intent to repatriate to NAGPRA for publication in the Federal Register. If there are no additional claims within 30 days of publication, the item will be transferred to the tribe. Meanwhile, MNHS said it will "continue to care for the item as a sacred object" until the process is complete. 

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