Western themed auction includes objects sensitive to Oglala Sioux

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Hasn’t the Catholic world had a lively trade in saint and pope memorabilia, from possessions and tangentially associated objects to actual body parts, for centuries?


Perhaps so, but it is “absolutely forbidden to sell sacred relics” according to Canon Law.

Selling “any item of the pope” is not a problem, though, as it seems somewhat common for him to auction stuff off (and presumably it could be resold by the new owner).


Well therein lies the rub. I don’t think it is a good analogy. The pope isn’t giving out sacred relics either. If he gave out an item to someone and they later resold or gave it away it isn’t a problem. And yes, they sell all sorts of religious and pope themed items.

For sure a pipe from a historical person has value and importance, but is it a “sacred relic”? I would say no because 1) it was given to someone else as a gift, not as a religious item. And 2) pipes in themselves are not sacred relics necessarily.

For around $50 you could be the proud owner an authentic pipe made by Native Americans, Visa and Mastercard accepted.

So I am afraid I can’t support their claims for ownership. It would be a nice gesture to donate it, but I have no idea what sort of financial situation the sellers are in.

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[quote=“Mister44, post:4, topic:79308”]is [a pipe] a “sacred relic”? I would say no because

  1. it was given to someone else as a gift, not as a religious item. And
  2. pipes in themselves are not sacred relics necessarily.

Neither you nor Mr. Rathbun are in a position to make those determinations.


Just to play the devils advocate:

Who is in the position to make those determinations? The people who also want to get the items?



Well I can’t say for sure #1. I don’t know what it meant to the gift giver and the receiver. But neither does anyone else.

Number 2 I can certainly make the determination, because as I said, you can buy a hand made pipe from a Native American today, have it shipped your door. How is a commercial item, even one with some artistic qualities, sacred?

Though a pipe could be sacred if actually blessed and used in religious ceremonies. Sort of how not every crucifix or rosary is a sacred item either.


You’re ignoring the opinion of Trina Lone Hill, the historic preservation officer for the Oglala Sioux, who, in this case, actually does know.

Though a pipe could be sacred if actually blessed and used in religious ceremonies. Sort of how not every crucifix or rosary is a sacred item either.

Since neither you nor Mr. Rathbun are experts in Native American or Sioux history, and Ms. Lone Hill is, I’m going to trust and believe the expert and the representative of her people. Your failure to recognize or understand its significance does not change or define its significance for the people to whom the item actually belongs.


Do you have more information besides the sound bite from the article? Because thus far we are presented with Ms. Lone Hill’s opinions. For all we know, Chief Red Cloud gave out dozens of pipes to friends and guests. Where is the evidence this was a sacred object?

Do you have any other points to present besides an Appeal to Authority?

I said initially, “For sure a pipe from a historical person has value and importance”. Does that make it “sacred”?

I have backed up my opinion not only with the tangible facts that not all pipes are sacred or used for religious reasons (citing their wide spread sale and use even today), and my analogy of crucifixes and rosaries is an accurate one.

Then there is the added legal view, where it was clearly a gift, and thus ownership of the item is clear as well.

No one would be claiming heresy if they auctioned off one of Madonnas cross necklaces.

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You’re comparing Sioux tribal artifacts to Madonna’s costume jewelry? Okay, we’re done here.


What if some noted Catholic objected, but had no relationship with Madonnna?

I’m wondering if you’re going to place one group over another because one group has been more obviously and heinously fucked over.

Anyhow, in the case of the pipe you’re dead wrong. The person giving the pipe was an Oglala leader and certainly had the authority to give a gift. Some tangentially related party can’t come along and invalidate the authority of the original giver of the gift with no more authority than the original giver. Maybe if the gift had been given by someone by mistake, but it was from a person who makes the rules.

Just because they got fucked over, sadly, does not differentiate the people native to North America from every other ethnic group out there. Pretty much everyone has been fucked over at some point. Unless you want to posit the notion that objects can only belong to the culture of origin I think you’re not considering an even application of the kind of justice you want to see here.


I am comparing items that may be considered sacred in some contexts, and not sacred in another. A point you are either failing to grasp or just refuse to acknowledge.

Ironically, I am recognized Member of Potawatomi Tribe, Citizen Band. Does that help validate my opinion?

This isn’t grave robbing. This isn’t finding artifacts on public or tribal land. This isn’t even finding artifacts on private land. It wasn’t even a war trophy. This is a private item given to another person as a sign of friendship many years ago. Sacred or not, it was entrusted to this person many years ago and passed down. For what ever reason the family has decided to sell it. You have failed to come up with a valid argument on why this is either legally or morally wrong other than citing someone’s opinion. (And on a side note, many if academics have a disdain for private collectors, from fossil hunters, to historical artifacts, to other forms of collecting, but that is a side topic.)


To say nothing of the guns. The article makes it sound like the Sioux are their sale as well. They are historically significant to be sure, but they allegedly belonged to the 7th Cav. If so they have never even been in the possession of Native Americans. There are a lot of historical weapons out there that have killed people, that doesn’t normally preclude them from being sold.


Does the descendant of a 7th Cavalry trooper have a legitimate case to prohibit the sale of the guns??

The US federal law which governs the rights to native American artifacts defines sacred objects as

“specific ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents”

I think it’s totally reasonable to ask Trina Lone HIll, or any other interested Sioux, exactly which religious rituals they have been unable to perform during the decades these items have been in the Rathbuns’ possession.


The entire collection belongs to Paul Rathbun, a Colorado resident whose grandfather and great-grandmother gathered the items back when the family owned a general store near Pine Ridge, a sprawling expanse of badlands on southwestern South Dakota and home to the Oglala Sioux. Rathbun said the items have been “sitting in trunks or plastic containers,” and he hopes they will end up in the hands of a group or individual who can properly take care of them. ap story

Was it a general store specializing in whiskey, perchance? A gift is a gift, but some “gifts” are made under disadvantageous circumstances.

The U.S. Army might, they may still be Government Property…

Argument to authority.

@lolipop_jones @clevername

I finally had time to skim through the listings more.

Actually the three guns I saw were all claimed to be Indian guns. (Interestingly, Ms Lone Hill didn’t claim them as well, but they couldn’t be claimed to be sacred items.) Given their age and condition, that is probably so. Who knows where they got them. Some may have been gifts, some may have been taken from a dead foe (which would include other Native Americans), some may have been bought or traded for. The provenance says they were picked up after the massacre while they went to administer aid to survivors and clean up/salvage what was left. Evidently the surviving Lakota didn’t object, or saw it as a fair trade for their help. At any rate, two of them were woefully outdated. The third was more modern, but all three had damage to them that would require repair.

The most interesting one is the first one which shows what they would fairly typically do to firearms to make them more wield-able on horse back. Mainly they would cut the barrel down, and cut the stock down, often decorating it with tacks. (Oddly, there is a cross on this one. Would love to know the history on that.) They would often re-use any of the parts taken off the rifle for other things, such as the metal butt plates sharpened and used as hide scrapers.

http://dyn3.heritagestatic.com/lf?set=path[1%2F4%2F0%2F2%2F2%2F14022389]%2Csizedata[612x500]&call=url[file%3Aproduct.chain] (Copy and paste link)

Note - the Wounded Knee Massacre started when the government tried to disarm the Lakota. Confiscation is bad, mmmkay?