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Mediation Comes to an End for the Dakota Tribal Elders and the Walker Art Center

Wednesday, June, 7, 2017

Mediation was completed recently between the Dakota tribal elders and the leaders of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.   The mediation also included an artist involved in a controversial art piece.   The “Scaffold” structure will now be removed. 


The structure, according to the artist, was inspired by the gallows and depicted a number of executions held throughout the history of the country, including the 1862 execution in Mankato when 38 Dakota people were killed.   It was the largest mass execution in US history. 


Multiple protests spurred by the sculpture have delayed the opening of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which has been under renovation for some time.  

The mediation to resolve the matter took hours and determined that the sculpture will be dismantled by a native-owned construction company – a process that will likely take several days.   Once the statue is dismantled, it will be burned in a ceremony by tribal elders.   According to Cheyanne St.  John from the Lower Sioux Indian Community, “It was beyond our comprehension that this could actually happen.  ”

Some who participated in the mediation had lost relatives in the executions held throughout history, and considered it a painful reminder of the events.   They believe it is not something that should be depicted in a sculpture. 


The artist responsible for the sculpture, Sam Durant, apologized for his work and said that he intended the piece to draw attention to “issues surrounding white supremacy and capital punishment. ”  He regrets not speaking to the Dakota people before creating the piece