Anonymous Buyer Pays $40K and Returns Sacred Pipe to Tribe

Photo on Skinner web site of sacred pipe.

Published May 8, 2018

WELCH, MINNESOTA – A sacred pipe sold at a Boston auction on Saturday for nearly $40,000 is being returned to Minnesota by the individual purchased it. On Monday afternoon, Prairie Island Tribal Council President Shelley Buck said that after the auction, her tribe learned that the buyer had purchased the pipe “for the sole purpose of returning it to the Dakota Oyate (people).”

Skinner’s website described the historic item as follows:

Fine Plains Catlinite Stem and Bowl, mid-19th century, catlinite pipe with lead inlay, both on the bowl and the stem, intricate pattern on stem with thunderbird at the mouthpiece, birds, small animals, and arrows with abstract designs taking up half the top space, small morning stars along the rest of the edges, an old paper label reads: “Indian pipe, Made by a Sioux Chief “White Dog”, who was hung at Mankato Minnesota in 1862 – It was presented as a peace offering to Lieut King by the chief while a prisoner in his…,” lg. of stem 17 3/4, lg. of bowl 8 in.

Provenance: A private Boston collection, has been in the same family since the 1880s.

Last week, Native News Online reported the Lower Sioux Indian Community was attempting to stop the sale of the pipe. The estimated price for the pipe was listed between $15,000 and $20,000.

However, on Saturday, Skinner, Inc. said the pipe was sold for $39,975, nearly twice its estimated value. The buyer has chosen to remain anonymous.

“We are humbled by and grateful for this honorable act. Pidamayaye to the donor for your respect and generosity,” said Buck in a statement released by the tribe.


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