The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) will repatriate a hanging rope to the Prairie Island Indian Community, used in the largest single-day mass execution in U.S. history. Known as “the Mankato Hanging Rope,” it was used in the execution of Wicanhpi Wastedanpi (Chaske), one of the 38 Dakota men hanged on Dec. 26, 1862, following the U.S.-Dakota War. The rope, donated to MNHS in 1869, will be returned under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). 

MNHS director Kent Whitworth stated the rope “is a painful and harmful object that does not reflect the mission and values of MNHS today.” The MNHS Executive Council approved its repatriation as both an Unassociated Funerary Object and a Sacred Object with cultural ties to all federally recognized Dakota Tribes, including Prairie Island. 

The decision followed consultations with Dakota Tribal Nations and research by the Santee Sioux Nation, the Dakota NAGPRA Coalition, and MNHS staff. All 11 federally recognized Dakota Tribal Nations supported Prairie Island’s claim. 

MNHS will submit a Notice of Intent to Repatriate to National NAGPRA for publication in the Federal Register. If no additional claims are made within a month, the rope will be transferred to the Prairie Island Indian Community. Until then, MNHS will care for the rope as a sacred object.