January 1, 2000 Issue 29 - Special Edition

Another Circle Mended
The Return of the Ghost Dance Shirt
(By Garnet1654)

The "Glasgow Ghost Dance Shirt" accompanied by Chief Eugene Ryan of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

On the weekend of July 31, the Lakota people were witness to the mending of another circle. The so-called "Glasgow Ghost Dance Shirt" came home----to Eagle Butte, S.D. and then to Wounded Knee, S.D. This shirt had been in Scotland for over 100 years.

In 1992, John Earl and his wife were visiting Scotland, from Atlanta, Ga. The shirt was in a corner of an exhibit commemorating the 500 year anniversary of Christopher Columbus's voyage.

John says, "The shirt found me. When I first saw it, my heart stopped. It is of a value that is very difficult to communicate to someone who is not a Native American."

Upon his return to the U.S., John notified attorney Mario Gonzales about the shirt. Mr. Gonzales represents the Wounded Knee Survivors Association. The Association debated the best way to bring the shirt home. Finally, Marcella LeBeau, the secretary of the Association, traveled to Scotland with her son and John Earl, to plead for the return of the shirt.

John Earl relating how the Ghost Dance Shirt found him.

     

"For the remaining descendants, it will bring closure to this sad and horrible event in the history of our people and the return of the ghost dance shirt will bring about some healing.

"The sacred shirt was stolen from the back of a warrior whose body was buried naked in a mass grave. No culture in the world would do this." Said LeBeau.

John Earl also says, "The shirt is not really the issue. It is about the treatment of the Lakota people by the US. It is about the rebuilding of self-esteem and of a nation suppressed.

LeBeau's main concern is for the youth, who need to know first hand their history, to come to terms with that history and be able to move forward.

The ceremonies to welcome the shirt home began in Eagle Butte, with a "wiping away the tears." On Saturday, many descendants of Wounded Knee voiced their feelings about receiving the shirt. The visitors from Scotland also spoke of friendship and healing. A particularly poignant part of the service was when bagpiper Craig Hazelbaker played a special song written for the occasion.

On Sunday, the shirt traveled to Wounded Knee, where more ceremonies were held. The Survivors Association covered the site of the mass graves with star quilts. At the close of the ceremonies, the quilts were gifted to the Scot visitors, John Earl, and Craig Hazelbaker. During the gifting, four eagles flew overhead, to welcome the shirt home.

"The sacred ghost dance shirt is present for viewing and the paying of respect and honor as it makes the full circle, Wounded Knee, Glasgow, Scotland, Cheyenne River, and back to Wounded Knee, said Marcella LeBeau.

back to the Best of 99 page