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'It's unifying people': Wounded Knee ceremonies to include items returned by central Mass. museum

This week the annual remembrance of the 1890 massacre of Native people at Wounded Knee in South Dakota will be a bit different than usual.

That’s because the ceremonies are expected to feature more than 100 items returned this fall to the Oglala Lakota tribe from a museum in Barre, Massachusetts.

The items are believed to have been taken off the bodies of people killed at Wounded Knee.

Chief Henry Red Cloud and others negotiated in April with the Founders Museum in Barre to get the items back. It had taken decades.

This weekend, Red Cloud prepared for another delivery from the central Massachusetts town.

"The community of Barre went and gathered a lot of stuff — gloves, stocking caps, blankets," Red Cloud said.

The clothing is being delivered after days of horrific cold in South Dakota.

Despite the weather, organizers plan to bring the 19th century items back to the Wounded Knee massacre site later this week, for prayers.

"It’s unifying people. It’s bringing people together," Red Cloud said.

Red Cloud said the items from Barre are only a fraction of what is out there. But getting these back has helped people start to heal.

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Earlier in her career she was NPR’s Midwest editor in Washington, D.C., managing editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub and recorded sound for TV networks on global assignments, including the war in Sarajevo and an interview with Fidel Castro.
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