IT IS more than 20 years since the sacred Lakota Ghost Dance shirt was returned to descendants of the community of its origin.

While initial attempts to have the shirt, thought to have been worn at the Battle of Wounded Knee in 1890, when 250 Lakota Sioux men, women and children were massacred by the United States 7th Cavalry, repatriated were refused, Glasgow City Council agreed that it should be given back and it was returned in 2000.

Now, the city has received a further request for repatriation of 25 artefacts from Cheyenne River and Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribes, in South Dakota, along with two separate requests from other nations.

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25 Lakota cultural items sold and donated to the city’s museum collection by George Crager in 1892 could be returned after a request was made to the city’s museum service.

And a request has been made for the return of 17 Benin bronzes to Nigeria, some of which are currently on display in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum from National Commission of Museums and Monuments, in Nigeria, while High Commission of India made requests for the return of six or seven architectural antiquities from Kanpur, Gwalior and Bihar, and also a 14th century ceremonial sword (tulwar) and scabbard.

HeraldScotland: Katie Dey, seven, looks on at Benin bronzes on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and MuseumKatie Dey, seven, looks on at Benin bronzes on display at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

A Working Group for Repatriation of Artefacts report due to go before Glasgow City Council’s City Administration Committee on Thursday will recommend members approve the return of the items to their original communities.

Descendants of the late Marcella LeBeau on Cheyenne River and Pine Ridge Reservations, South Dakota wrote to Glasgow museums earlier this year requesting the cultural items.

The Le Beau family are representing the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe and have received guidance and support from the 19th Generation Keeper of the White Buffalo Calf Pipe, spiritual leader Chief Arvol Looking Horse.

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The Lakota items in the city’s museum collection that belong to the Oceti Sakowin convey the continuity of the ancestors who created the items. The Marcella LeBeau family are direct Oceti Sakowin descendants of the Wounded Knee massacre.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow Museum's have received requests for artefacts to be returnedGlasgow Museum's have received requests for artefacts to be returned

Duncan Dornan, head of museums for Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow has a really positive history in relation to repatriation. When the Ghost shirt was returned to the Wounded Knee community that was very much at the forefront of the UK sector and something of a blueprint. Since then we have continued to maintain and build relationships internationally and it that is really fundamental to this. Having trust is important to getting a respectful and constructive for all parties.

"These requests are the results of lengthy discussions and while it might seem the three requests have come at once, it is coincidental and follow long periods of discussions. It is important that people know about the history of these objects and we have to be open and transparent about how they arrived in the city. With Wounded knee these objects continue to be of spiritual and emotional significance and the return of them remains enormously important. The return is a way of Glasgow cementing the very positive and constructive relationships with communities around the world. Morally it is the the right thing to do."

Of the 25 objects requested, some were taken from the Wounded Knee Massacre site following the battle in December 1890, some were personal items belonging to named ancestors and the remainder are ceremonial items, all of which represent the belief, history and values of the Oceti Sakowin.

In 1892, Kelvingrove Museum obtained a ‘collection of Indian Relics’ from Crager, interpreter for the Lakota performers at the Buffalo Bull Wild West Show in Dennistoun.

HeraldScotland: Ghost Dance Shirt returned home in 2000Ghost Dance Shirt returned home in 2000

In the case of the bronze, the requested objects were taken from ancestral altars at the Royal Court of Benin during the British Punitive Expedition of 1897. GCC’s Museums subsequently acquired them from various sources in Britain as gifts, bequests and from auction houses. It is estimated it could cost in the region of £30,000 and a further £30,000 to £40,000 for the Lakota Sioux artefacts to be returned.

Six of the artefacts were stolen by the donors from Hindu temples and shrines in different States in India during the 19th Century, while the seventh was illegally purchased as a result of theft from the owner, sold and smuggled out of India. All seven items were subsequently gifted to the city’s museum collection.

As well as the repatriation of artefacts, eight half-hull shipbuilder’s design models, gifted to Glasgow by Alexander Hall & Co of Aberdeen in 1881, are set to be transferred to Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum. 
They were part of the 1881 Naval and Marine Exhibition in Glasgow but haven’t been displayed in the city in the last 10 years. The Aberdeen museum has offered a nineteenth century display model of a Clyde-built Scotia as a transfer.
A ship’s bell and honours panel from HMS Glasgow, gifted by the Royal Navy in 2005, are expected to be returned. The Type-42 destroyer, built by Swan Hunter on the Tyne in the 1970s, was decommissioned in 2005.
The items were gifted to the city chambers but are currently in storage. A new HMS Glasgow, a Type-26 frigate, will be commissioned in 2026 and the Royal Navy has asked if the bell and honours board could be used on the vessel.