(Ivy Vainio/For the Pine Journal)
Eagle staffs presented during Grand Entry at Fond du Lac Reservation's 2010 Veteran's Powwow, held at Mash-Ka-Wisen Center’s powwow grounds in Sawyer, MN.

A Public Attack: Eagle Staff Desecrated for Third Time in Duluth


A spiritual ceremony was held on Monday, June 24, at the Duluth Civic Center in Duluth, Minnesota to reinstall an eagle staff that had been removed and dumped into nearby bushes over the weekend. This is the third time the sacred object has been desecrated since being added to the civic center grounds in late 2011. The ceremony included prayer and the burning of sage and cedar, with singing in Ojibwe.

The staff, made of ironwood with eagle feathers and ribbons signifying the four directions tied to the top, is considered a flag to the Anishinaabe people, Gwiiwizens Ricky DeFoe, a member of the Duluth American Indian Commission, told Forum News Service. “This is a symbol of the indigenous people,” he said. “To have done that, it’s like a public attack.” 

Last fall the eagle staff was broken in half, according to a report from the Duluth News Tribune.

Micheala Richey, director of the Red Lake Urban Office, said people come to the staff and pray and put down offerings of tobacco.

“It’s sacred to me,” she told Forum News Service. “I’m appalled that someone would do this for the third time. This is our flag."

“Why could something like [the eagle staff] be so offensive?” DeFoe asked. “There is a lot of fear in America of ‘the other.'"

Related: Sonny Skyhawk: What Is the Eagle Staff?

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Carol Reynolds's picture
Carol Reynolds
Submitted by Carol Reynolds on
Doesn't surprise me that someone did this as there are still so many racist people against the Native people in this country.Think they hate us because they wish they were here first & wish they were Native also.Only very bad people would do such a thing.So sorry this happened.It should never happen at all!!!!!!

Temple Riddle's picture
Temple Riddle
Submitted by Temple Riddle on
Doesn't surprise me as in 1983 in Duluth a gas station was giving gas to others but told my very Native looking husband they just ran out of gas as he went on selling to non-Indians. Hmmm 30 years ago? Well Paula Deene only 27 years ago and look at the fuss over that. The SACRED Eagle Staff is far worse then the "N" word. That is stick and stones on the staff and names on the "n" word. Prejudice is alive and well in Duluth 30 years later.

Len Griffin's picture
Len Griffin
Submitted by Len Griffin on
The Eagle Staff is sacred...not holy. It defines our culture and to trash it is a great insult to all Indians. It is like a 100 year old family Bible. it's not just a book it is the heritage recordings of a family.

Vallorie Scott's picture
Vallorie Scott
Submitted by Vallorie Scott on
It's because they know that they are the intruders and they think that by trying to keep us down they have won something. They don't understand that they only serve to make us stronger.

Karry Kelley's picture
Karry Kelley
Submitted by Karry Kelley on
I wonder if it's the same person doing this or if it's random acts of vandalism. It's not acceptable either way, but I sure do hope that it isn't one person targeting the Civic Center.

Two Bears Growling's picture
Two Bears Growling
Submitted by Two Bears Growling on
Very true, racism, bigotry & hatred are ALL very much alive & well in the year 2013. Just last weekend I ran into a native family who have good kids & are a good family that never gets into any trouble. That being said, this family & their children went to a little yard sale some washichu had. Before they even got to look at anything the people accused these folks of stealing! What an insult! Just because these folks & some of their children were wearing certain regalia! We have many good families all across Indian Country who are not thieves just because they like to wear certain pieces of regalia daily. The same goes for folks of other skin colors & ethnicities as well. Racism, bigotry & hatred are an evil thing my friends.................don't give these vicious & evil ones a chance to accuse you of wrong doings. Always live in a good way that brings pride to our Creator. With that all said, never tolerate being accused of things you & your family did not do! Stand up to those who are liars & let them know without a doubt you know what they are! Proud to be a First Nations person 24/7/365!