IT TAKES over 20 years since the sacred Lakota Ghost Dance shirt was returned to the descendants of the original community.
While early attempts to have the shirt, thought to have been worn at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, when 250 Lakota Sioux men, women and children were slaughtered by the 7th United States Cavalry, repatriated were refused, Glasgow City Council agreed it should be returned and it was returned in 2000.
Now the city has received a new request to repatriate 25 artifacts from the Cheyenne River and Oglala Lakota Sioux tribes in South Dakota, as well as two separate requests from other nations.
Read more: Collection of Benin bronzes looted from Glasgow could be repatriated to Nigeria
25 Lakota cultural objects sold and donated to the city museum collection by George Crager in 1892 could be returned after a request was made to the city museums department.
And a request has been made for the return of 17 Beninese bronzes to Nigeria, some of which are currently on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow of the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, Nigeria, while the High Commission of the India has made demands for the return of six or seven architectural antiquities from Kanpur, Gwalior and Bihar, as well as a ceremonial sword (tulwar) and scabbard from the 14th century.
A report from the Artifacts Repatriation Task Force due to be presented to Glasgow City Council’s City Council Committee on Thursday will recommend members approve the return of the objects to their home communities.
Descendants of the late Marcella LeBeau of the Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge reservations in South Dakota wrote to museums in Glasgow earlier this year asking for the cultural artifacts.
The Le Beau family represents the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe and have received guidance and support from the 19th generation caretaker of White Buffalo Calf Pipe, Spiritual Leader Arvol Looking Horse.
Read more: Parents of balcony death victim Kirsty Maxwell try to help others
The Lakota objects in the collection of the city museum that belong to the Oceti Sakowin convey the continuity of the ancestors who created the objects. The Marcella LeBeau family is the direct descendant of Oceti Sakowin of the Wounded Knee Massacre.
Duncan Dornan, Head of Museums for Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow has a really positive history of repatriation. When the Ghost shirt was returned to the Wounded Knee community it was at the forefront of the UK sector and something of a role model. Since then, we have continued to maintain and establish international relations and it is really fundamental for that. Having trust is important to achieve a respectful and constructive relationship for all parties.
“These requests are the result of long discussions and although it may seem that the three requests came at the same time, it is a coincidence and after long periods of discussions. It is important that people know the history of these objects and we must be open and transparent about how they arrived in the city. With Wounded knee, these objects continue to have spiritual and emotional significance and their return remains extremely important. The return is a way for Glasgow to cement very positive and constructive relationships with communities around the world.Morally, it’s the right thing to do.
Of the 25 items requested, some were taken from the site of the Wounded Knee massacre after the December 1890 battle, some were personal items belonging to named ancestors and the rest are ceremonial items, all of which represent belief, the history and values of the Oceti. Sakovin.
In 1892 the Kelvingrove Museum obtained a “Collection of Indian Relics” from Crager, performer for Lakota performers at the Buffalo Bull Wild West Show in Dennistoun.
In the case of the bronze, the objects requested were taken from the ancestral altars of the Royal Court of Benin during the British Punitive Expedition of 1897. The GCC Museums then acquired them from various sources in Britain as gifts, bequests and auction houses. It is estimated that it could cost around £30,000 and an additional £30,000 to £40,000 for the Lakota Sioux artifacts to be returned.
Six of the artifacts were stolen by the donors from Hindu temples and shrines in different states of India in the 19th century, while the seventh was illegally purchased following theft from the owner, sold and smuggled out of the ‘India. The seven objects were then donated to the collection of the city museum.
In addition to the repatriation of the artefacts, eight half-hull construction models, donated to Glasgow by Alexander Hall & Co of Aberdeen in 1881, are to be transferred to the Art Gallery and Museum of Aberdeen.
They were part of the 1881 Naval and Maritime Exhibition in Glasgow but have not been displayed in the city for the past 10 years. Aberdeen Museum donated a 19th century display model of a Clyde-built Scotia as a transfer.
A ship’s bell and panel of honor from HMS Glasgow, donated by the Royal Navy in 2005, are expected to be returned. The Type-42 destroyer, built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne in the 1970s, was decommissioned in 2005.
The items have been donated to City Chambers but are currently in storage. A new HMS Glasgow, a Type 26 frigate, will be commissioned in 2026 and the Royal Navy has asked if the bell and roll of honors can be used on the ship.