Dakota elders will meet June 25 to discuss what to do with the wood from “Scaffold,” the sculpture modeled partly on the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in 1862.
The mediator handling meetings since controversy over the sculpture erupted two weeks ago said in a statement Thursday that Dakota leaders will gather in Sisseton, S.D., to discuss next steps. “Scaffold” was dismantled last weekend after Dakota activists and allies protested its inclusion in the renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which will reopen Saturday.
“The main focus was to get the structure down. Now the main focus will shift to what happens to the wood,” wrote Stephanie Hope Smith, who has been facilitating talks between Dakota elders and officials of Walker Art Center, which had acquired the sculpture by Los Angeles artist Sam Durant.
A May 31 agreement between the Dakota, the Walker and Durant had called for the wood-and-steel work to be dismantled, then transported to Fort Snelling for a ceremonial burning. But since then, Dakota community members have called for more time and a broader group of elders and spiritual leaders to decide whether and how to burn the wood. Last week, Robert Larsen, president of the Lower Sioux Indian Community, suggested using the wood to “build something positive.”
On her blog, Hope Smith said the elders “wish to take time, slow down and allow more voices.”
Until the June 25 meeting, the wood from “Scaffold” is being stored in an undisclosed spot by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The Sculpture Garden is a partnership between the Walker, which owns the art, and the park board, which owns the land.