Mixed Me­dia

A lec­ture on repa­tri­a­tion at SAR

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO -

Un­til 1924, Na­tive peo­ple were not rec­og­nized as ci­ti­zens in the United States. Fifty-five years later, Congress passed the Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Re­sources Pro­tec­tion Act (ARPA) and in 1990 the Na­tive Amer­i­can Graves Pro­tec­tion and Repa­tri­a­tion Act be­came the law of the land. NAGPRA was en­acted to ad­dress the rights of lin­eal de­scen­dants, In­dian tribes, and Na­tive Hawai­ian or­ga­ni­za­tions to Na­tive Amer­i­can cul­tural items, in­clud­ing hu­man re­mains, fu­ner­ary ob­jects, sa­cred ob­jects, and ob­jects of cul­tural pat­ri­mony.

How­ever, the rights of Na­tive Amer­i­cans to their own cul­tural items ends at the U.S. bor­der. “There are many in­dige­nous hu­man re­mains and cul­tural items lo­cated in pri­vate col­lec­tions and mu­se­ums world­wide, and there’s been a global ef­fort over the past few years to help bring to­gether Na­tive peo­ple to work on this prob­lem,” said Honor Keeler (Chero­kee Na­tion), who is one of the par­tic­i­pants in a free panel dis­cus­sion at the School for Ad­vanced Re­search (SAR) at 6 p.m. on Wed­nes­day, April 19.

Keeler is the direc­tor of the In­ter­na­tional Repa­tri­a­tion Project, which she brought to the Mary­land-based As­so­ci­a­tion on Amer­i­can In­dian Af­fairs. She joins at­tor­neys Kate Fitz Gib­bon, Fitz Gib­bon Law, Santa Fe; and Gregory A. Smith, Hobbs Straus Dean & Walker, Wash­ing­ton, D.C., for the talk “At the Fore­front of Repa­tri­a­tion: New Pol­icy and Im­pact Be­yond the United States.” The mod­er­a­tor is Brian D. Vallo (Pue­blo of Acoma), direc­tor of the In­dian Arts Re­search Cen­ter at SAR.

“My big fo­cus will be on in­ter­na­tional repa­tri­a­tion for in­dige­nous peo­ples world­wide,” Keeler told Pasatiempo. “NAGPRA was an amaz­ing piece of leg­is­la­tion that was passed just fol­low­ing the Na­tional Mu­seum of the Amer­i­can In­dian Act, and ARPA had only come into play in the late ’70s, so many in­dige­nous peo­ple in the U.S. were work­ing to­ward ad­dress­ing this hor­rific is­sue of hav­ing had their an­ces­tors and cul­tural items dug up from graves and stud­ied with­out their free, prior and in­formed con­sent.”

Ed­u­ca­tion is an im­por­tant fo­cus for Na­tive peo­ple hop­ing for the repa­tri­a­tion of revered cul­tural ob­jects from over­seas. “Ed­u­ca­tion is im­por­tant,” she said. “It’s break­ing down those stereo­types and teach­ing about cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion. This is a hu­man rights is­sue.”

The As­so­ci­a­tion on Amer­i­can In­dian Af­fairs was es­tab­lished in 1946. It dates back to a 1922 or­ga­ni­za­tion named Eastern As­so­ci­a­tion on In­dian Af­fairs, which was founded in New York to help a group of Pue­blo peo­ple who were try­ing to pro­tect their land rights.

The School for Ad­vanced Re­search is at 660 Gar­cia St. Call 505-954-7207 or visit www.sar­web.org for more in­for­ma­tion. — Paul Wei­de­man

Repa­tri­a­tion, Mt. Pleas­ant, Michi­gan, Ni­bokan (Place of the Sleep­ing) Ceme­tery, 2013 , photo Mar­cella Had­den, cour­tesy Na­tional Park Ser­vice; be­low, Honor Keeler

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