The wood from the controversial sculpture ‘Scaffold‘ will be buried, not burned, local Native leaders say. Several news outlets have provided accounts, including MPR and the StarTribune. According to the MPR story:
Tribal elders decided the original plan to destroy the work in a ceremonial fire at Fort Snelling was inappropriate, said Ronald P. Leith, a Dakota member who was involved in negotiations …
The Walker Art Center erected Scaffold earlier this year, a new addition for the reopening of its renowned outdoor sculpture garden. The work was supposed to be a commentary on capital punishment, a conglomeration of several historic gallows. But the sculpture’s most prominent feature was the massive gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in Mankato following the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862.
Native people found Scaffold offensive and hurtful, as the hanging of the Dakota 38 (plus 2 additional hangings later at Fort Snelling) continues to be a deeply painful part of their history. A white artist did the piece and Dakota people weren’t consulted. Following the controversy, the Walker agreed to remove the sculpture.
The wood will be buried in an undisclosed location, a decision which reflects the issues that arose following the mass hanging.
“During 1862, when the original scaffold was dismantled and the prisoners were buried … there was a deluge of scavengers, grave diggers, that went after the wood — souvenir, hunter types,” said Leith. “We have a concern that if we were to disclose where the wood was going, we might see a repeat of that same thing.”