The Prairie Island Indian Community has filed a claim with the Minnesota Historical Society, requesting repatriation rights to the "Mankato Hanging Rope," the noose used to hang Dakota ancestor Wicanhpi Wastedanpi (Good Little Stars), known also as Chaske, who may have been executed by mistake.

"This sacred item was stolen from Wicanhpi Wastedanpi's grave and kept as a trophy before being donated to the Historical Society," according to a statement from the Prairie Island Tribal Historic Preservation Office. "It should be repatriated immediately to the Dakota people and the Prairie Island Indian Community as the lead claimant."

Chaske had helped protect a doctor's wife, Sarah Wakefield, during the war and been pardoned, according to the Indigenous news site It is claimed that he was mistakenly executed when he responded to a call for "Chaska," which means "first son."

The Minnesota Historical Society said it had received a claim under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) on Feb. 29 from the Prairie Island Indian Community requesting repatriation of the "Mankato Hanging Rope." On Friday, MNHS said two other Dakota tribal nations also have asked to consult on the claim. The rope was used in the Dec. 26, 1862, execution in Mankato of 38 Dakota men who were convicted of "murder and other outrages" against settlers during the bloody, six-week U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

Around 1,600 Dakota people were imprisoned near Fort Snelling during the war; the current permanent exhibition "Many Voices, Many Stories" at Historic Fort Snelling, operated through the Minnesota Historical Society, seeks to shine a more accurate light on the complicated history of the fort, including the many people who were imprisoned there.

Every year, Dakota tribal members complete a memorial ride, traveling by horseback 330 miles from Crow Creek, S.D., to Mankato through the winter to commemorate, remember and mourn what happened there in 1862.

The trauma of the 1862 hangings resurfaced as recently as 2017, when Los Angeles-based artist Sam Durant's sculpture "Scaffold" was set to be unveiled in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden makeover. Protests from Dakota people and allies led to its eventual removal, and the artist and former Walker Art Center director Olga Viso acknowledged the harm and trauma the object had on Indigenous communities, and Dakota people in particular.

In its claim, the Prairie Island Indian Community said that the noose met "the criteria of both an Unassociated Funerary Item and Sacred Item as defined by NAGPRA," according to a statement from the Tribal Historic Preservation Office.

The MNHS returned remains of five individuals listed in ProPublica data to the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council for repatriation in the mid-1990s.

The NAGPRA clarifies and improves the processes for disposition and repatriation of Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects and other objects of cultural significance.

As of Jan. 12, updated NAGPRA regulations require museums to obtain consent from tribes before displaying cultural objects or using them for research. At that time, the Minnesota Historical Society said it was compliant in consulting with tribes before showing Native objects, and that it had returned all funereal and related objects.

Per NAGPRA's 90-day timeframe, the MNHS said it is "diligently reviewing the claim as required by NAGPRA and listening to responses from the Dakota Tribal Nations." It will have more information by May 28. It said that social media accounts claiming that MNHS has already made a determination are inaccurate.

"We acknowledge that this is both a harmful and painful object that does not reflect the mission and values of MNHS today," a statement read on its website. "MNHS is committed to following both the letter and the spirit of the NAGPRA regulations and to working with Indigenous communities as an institution that is a steward of many Native American collections and sacred sites."