MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The wood used in the now-dismantled Minneapolis Sculpture Garden piece “Scaffold” won’t be burned in a ceremony at Fort Snelling this week and perhaps won’t be burned at all.

Stephanie Hope Smith, the mediator between Dakota tribal elders and the Walker Art Center, announced this week that the fate of the wood used in the controversial sculpture has yet to be decided by the Dakota leaders. As such, the plan to burn the wood in a formal ceremony won’t happen this week.

“Scaffold,” a wood-and-metal work on capital punishment that drew inspiration from the gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men in Mankato in 1862, was set to be one of the sculptures featured in the newly-renovated Minneapolis Sculpture Garden before protests led museum officials to agreeing to take it down and apologizing for not consulting the Dakota people about the sculpture’s place in the popular garden.

The artist, Los Angeles-based Sam Durant, also apologized to the Dakota, telling the elders that he was sorry for the trauma and suffering his work caused the community, adding that his goal had been to draw attention to capital punishment and white supremacy.

Over the weekend, “Scaffold” was dismantled and removed from the sculpture garden. Smith, the mediator, says the wood used in the sculpture is being held in bins and stored in a secure location owned by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Initially, the plan following the mediation was to have the wood burned in a ceremony at Fort Snelling in St. Paul. On Monday, however, Smith said that the Dakota people intend to have more people in the wider Dakota community participate in the process to determine what happens to the wood.

Until the Dakota hold a larger meeting, there will be no actions taken on the wood, which will remain in the secure Minneapolis location.

Smith says the Dakota elders, in the end, may decide not to burn the wood but to use it for some other purpose or disposed of it in another way.

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is slated to reopen Saturday.

Comments (4)
    1. The 38 Dakota men hanged in Mankato in 1862 were convicted murders and rapists.

  1. It seems wasteful to burn it, repurpose into something useful, a bridge perhaps