Sacred pipe tied to U.S.-Dakota War to go to auction in Boston

An important relic from the U.S.-Dakota War is scheduled to go to auction this weekend. But at least one Minnesota Native American tribe is trying to block the sale.

Skinner Auctioneers lists the catlinite pipe among the items for sale at its Saturday auction in Boston, at an estimated value of $15,000 to $20,000.

A label on the pipe, according to the auction catalog, says it was crafted by a Sioux chief named White Dog, one of 38 Dakota men hanged in Mankato in 1862. It was the largest mass execution in U.S. history. The label says White Dog gave the pipe to a U.S. soldier as a peace offering while he was imprisoned.

In a statement Tuesday, the Lower Sioux Indian Community, which is based in Redwood County, said that its tribal historic preservation officer and other interested parties are discussing with Skinner "alternatives that may prevent the sale of the sacred item."

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The current owner of the pipe is not identified, though the auction catalog notes that it has been in the same family since the 1880s.

The auction company has not yet responded to a request for comment.

The U.S.-Dakota war spanned six weeks in August and September of 1862, in a conflict that left hundreds of Dakota people, settlers and federal soldiers dead in the southern part of the state, along the Minnesota River.

The Dakota went to war over a long list of grievances, including the slow delivery of promised government payments and food supplies. After the fighting ended, the remaining Dakota were driven out of Minnesota, ending up primarily in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota and Canada.