Mayo issues an apology 156 years in the making

For 156 years, the Santee Dakota people have waited for what happened in a casino conference room in Santee, Neb., a few weeks ago.

The Mayo Clinic apologized for the desecration of Marpiya Okinajin, known as “Cut Nose,” who was hanged in 1862 in Mankato, Minn., one of 38 Native Americans executed under orders from President Abraham Lincoln in the largest mass execution in U.S. history.

The Santee tribe was forced from Minnesota.

Cut Nose was buried in a shallow grave. But a doctor dug up the body, “carted the corpse to his office, dissected it, melted off the flesh and made a skeleton he studied and allowed his children to play with,” columnist Matthew Hansen writes at the Omaha World Herald.

The doctor was William Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, where Cut Nose’s skull remained on display until it was returned in 1998. Mayo had a practice in Le Sueur, Minn.

Earlier this year, officials of the Mayo Clinic contacted a descendant who is also a Mayo employee, and asked if it would be OK to establish a scholarship that would allow one Native American student a year to go to medical school free.

She said it would, but for some unfinished business. An apology.

So about two weeks ago, in announcing the scholarship in Nebraska, the Mayo Clinic apologized, Hansen says.

(h/t: Mike Dougherty)