Dakota Elders discuss options ahead of 'Scaffold' meeting

Dakota elders met in Minneapolis Tuesday to discuss how to respond to the “Scaffold” installation at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

The controversial addition to the Walker Art Center’s newly renovated sculpture garden partly depicts the mass-hanging of 38 members of the Dakota tribe in Mankato in 1862.

“If they would have come to the Dakota people and met with the elders ahead of time, we never would have allowed this to happen,” said Lower Sioux Elder Sheldon Wolfchild.

Wolfchild was among other members of the Dakota community who gathered at the All My Relations Gallery on Franklin Avenue Tuesday. The meeting, closed to the media, was in preparation for a Wednesday meeting with the artist, Los Angeles-based Sam Durant, the Walker Art Center, and Minneapolis Parks and Recreation.

“It’s mindblowing that in the 21st century that they’re not educated to understand the historical truth as to what happened here in Minnesota,” said Wolfchild. “It’s a horrible thing for us to stop now and deal with this emotionally.”

Part of Tuesday and Wednesday’s discussions include what will happen with the installation. Wolfchild would like to see the display burned in a ceremonial display.

“Personally for myself I would like to see that structure taken down in sections, taken down to Ft. Snelling where they put my grandfather’s gallow,” said Wolfchild, whose ancestor was hanged at Ft. Snelling three years after the mass execution. “Burn that. What a symbol that will be.”

The meeting will take place Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. A press conference is set for 2 p.m.