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Monday, August 2, 1999 Published at 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK


Ghost shirt dances back

The ghost shirt was kept in Glasgow for over a century

A relic believed to have been worn by a Sioux warrior killed in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre has been returned to its native land from Scotland.

The ghost dance shirt was officially handed back to descendants of the battle victims at a special ceremony in South Dakota on Sunday.

BBC Scotland Arts Correspondent Pauline McLean on the shirt's return
The relic was presented to Glasgow 107 years ago when Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show visited the city.

But following the Lakota Sioux Indians' request for its return, the local council agreed to repatriate the shirt last November.

Sioux warriors believed the shirt would protect them in battle and lead to the return of their land.

[ image: The ceremony was in South Dakota]
The ceremony was in South Dakota
The relic was displayed for more than a century in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow after George Crager, a member of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, gave it to the museum in 1891.

The weekend ceremonies in South Dakota signified the end of a four-year effort to return the garment.

Glasgow City Council voted last November to return it after the city residents supported the move.

A total of 29 descendants of the victims stood around the mass grave in the state capital of Pierre as Zack Bear Shield offered prayers at the ceremony.

Orville Sully, a member of the Wounded Knee Survivors' Association, told those who were present: "Today is a good day. The spirit of the man that wore that shirt is smiling down."

Sense of closure

Association secretary Marcella LeBeau, who spearheaded the effort to get the shirt back, said: "This will bring about a sense of closure to a sad and horrible event. Now healing can begin."

Glasgow City Councillor Liz Cameron presented the garment to descendant Sterling Hollow Horn, who carried it to the cemetery.

Standing in front of the grave's stone marker, Hollow Horn and fellow representative Marie Fox Belly unfolded the shirt to the sound of bagpipes.

Bullet holes could be seen at the left side of the fringed cloth shirt.

Strong bond

Councillor Cameron said the repatriation had created a strong bond between Glasgow residents and the Lakota.

She told the Indian descendants: "You are a part of our history now."

Accounts differ as to how many died when the 7th Cavalry clashed with the Indians at Wounded Knee.

The Lakota Sioux say the troops massacred as many as 400 Indians, although official government figures show considerably fewer than that died on the battlefield.

From now on, the shirt will be kept at a state museum until the Sioux can build a museum of their own to house it.

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