Sacred artifacts given as a gift from Chief Spotted Tail to Cicero Newell donated to South Dakota State Historical Society

PIERRE, S.D.(DRGNews)- A Lakota statesman’s gift to a U.S. Indian Agent roughly 140 years ago was officially donated to the South Dakota Historical Society during an event Wednesday morning at Georgia Morse Middle School in Pierre.

Chief (Sinte Gleska) Spotted Tail and Major Cicero (sis-er-oh) Newell became good friends in the 1870s. As a sign of that friendship, Spotted Tail gave a headdress, clothing, moccasins and other accessories to Newell.

State Historical Society Director Dr. Ben Jones said seeing the items now is like going back in a time machine.

James Newell said each generation of his family was told what Cicero wanted to be done with the gift.

In 2022, Newell and his son Eric called Chief John Spotted Tail, wanting to return the items.

Spotted Tail said the call he received from Newell was completely unexpected.

Spotted Tail said the next morning, he and his wife Tamara Stands and Looks Back-Spotted Tail packed their vehicle and started the drive to Washington state to see if the sacred artifacts were authentic. Once confirmed, the items were repatriated to the Spotted Tail family in August of 2022. He said the family donated the items to the South Dakota Historical Society in order to share them “with all who wish to learn from and honor our shared history, ensuring that the legacy of our people endures for all present and future generations.”

Sinte Gleska was one of the leaders who signed the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which was designed to bring peace between the U.S. government and several regional tribes. Sinte Gleska settled with his people on what would become the Rosebud Indian Reservation and remained a powerful leader until his death in 1881. Sinte Gleska University in Mission is named for him.