March 15: Kangiduta (Scarlet Crow) (1867)

Scattered among the 55,000 graves at Congressional Cemetery in Southeast Washington are the final resting places of 36 Native American leaders, diplomats, and tribal members. Many of them ended up there after falling ill during visits to Washington, D.C. to fight for rights, negotiate treaties or settle debts owed to them. One of those cemetery residents died under mysterious circumstances. Kangiduta, or Scarlet Crow, a chief of the Wahpeton Sisseton Sioux Tribe of the Dakota Territory, had come to Washington in 1867 to renegotiate a treaty with the U.S. Government. There was much tension between native nations and the federal government in the 19th Century. Before his work here was done, tragedy struck. Scarlet Crow was reported missing on February 24.

Scarlet Crow’s fellow tribesmen were immediately concerned and requested an official search. An ad was placed in the lost and found section of a local newspaper offering a $100 reward for information. Two weeks after his disappearance, Scarlet Crow’s remains were found in the woods near the Aqueduct Bridge (today’s Key Bridge) in Arlington. His death was made to look like a suicide, but there were many facts to disprove that theory. The cause remains unsolved to this day. Scarlet Crow’s remains were buried in Congressional Cemetery and in 1916, 49 years after his death, the federal government finally placed a marker on his grave. Epiphany’s parish register records the burial of “Scarlet Crow, Counsellor of the Sisseton Sioux.”

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