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The Prairie Island Indian Community soon will be reunited with "Mankato Hanging Rope," an object it claimed was stolen and then donated to the Minnesota Historical Society.

The tribe filed a claim under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) on Feb. 29, requesting the repatriation of the rope which was used in the Dec. 26, 1862, execution of Dakota ancestor Wicanhpi Wastedanpi (Good Little Stars).

Known also as Chaske, the relative might have been executed by mistake and was one of 38 Dakota men hanged following the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The rope became part of MNHS' collection in 1869.

According to a statement from the Prairie Island Tribal Historic Preservation Office, the sacred item was stolen from Wastedanpi's grave and kept as a trophy before being donated to the Historical Society. If no one else attempts to claim it, the rope will be returned to the tribe within 30 days.

In a statement, the Prairie Island Indian Community and its tribal historic preservation office expressed gratitude for the return of the noose used to hang Wastedanpi and reiterated that what happened to the 38 Dakota men will never be forgotten.

"The repatriation of this item stolen from Wastedanpi's grave is important to all Dakota people," said Prairie Island Indian Community Historic Preservation Officer Noah White. "It serves as a vivid reminder of what happened to our relatives and [allows] the process of healing within our Dakota communities to continue."

The Historical Society's governing board agreed the rope is eligible for repatriation as an unassociated funerary object and as a sacred object, with cultural affiliation to Dakota tribes. MNHS consulted with the Dakota Tribal Nations about the sacred object.

"This consultation process has been a deeply meaningful learning experience for all of us at MNHS. I am especially grateful to the Dakota community members who have engaged and provided valuable insights and perspective in recent days and over the years," said Kent Whitworth, MNHS director and CEO.

As part of the repatriation process required by the NAGPRA law, MNHS communicated with all 11 of the federally recognized Dakota Tribal Nations. They agreed to support Prairie Island Indian Community's claim.

The next step requires MNHS to submit a notice of intent to repatriate to National NAGPRA that will become part of the Federal Register. If no one attempts to claim the rope, it will be transferred within 30 days to the Prairie Island Indian Community. Until the time of transfer, the rope will remain in MNHS' care.

This is not the first time that MNHS has been faced with a repatriation action. In the mid-1990s, MNHS returned the remains of five individuals listed in ProPublica data to the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council for repatriation.

NAGPRA updated its rules Jan. 12 on displaying Native objects, requiring museums to obtain consent from tribes before showing cultural objects. MNHS said it is compliant with the new regulations.