Artifacts from the injured knee reveal the slow recovery rate. lifestyle – Darik News

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BARE, Mass. — One by one, objects allegedly taken from Native Americans killed in Wounded Knee Creek emerged from dark, disorganized display cases, where they sat for more than a century in a museum in rural Massachusetts.

Moccasins, necklaces, dresses, ceremonial pipes, tools and other items were carefully placed on a white background as a photographer took photographs under bright studio lights.

It was an important step in returning the scores of objects displayed at the Founders Museum in Barre to tribes in South Dakota who had sought them since the 1990s.

“It’s real personal,” said Leola One Feather of the Ogla Sioux tribe, as she observed the process last week as part of a two-person tribal delegation. “Losing these items can be sad for them, but it’s even more sad for us because we’ve been looking for them for so long.”

Recent efforts to bring back human remains and other culturally significant objects such as those in the Founders Museum represent important and grim moments for the tribes. But they also underscore the slow pace and important work.

Some 870,000 Native American artifacts—including about 110,000 human remains—that must be returned to tribes under federal law are still in the possession of colleges, museums and other institutions across the country, according to data maintained by the National Parks Associated Press. Service as per review.

The University of California, Berkeley tops the list, followed by Ohio History Connection, the state’s historical society. State museums and universities in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Alabama, Illinois and Kansas as well as Harvard University round out other top institutions.

And that doesn’t even count items held by private institutions such as the Founding Museum, which maintains it does not receive federal funding and therefore controls return under the Native American Graves Preservation and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, 1990 law. does not do. Tribal goods by entities receiving federal funds.

“It’s been more than three decades,” says Shannon O’Laughlin, chief executive officer of the Association on American Indian Affairs, a national group that assists tribes with repatriation. . Adequate reports and studies. It is turnaround time. ,

Museum officials say they have stepped up efforts with additional funding and staff, but continue to struggle to identify artifacts collected during the early years of archaeology. They also say that the federal rules governing repatriation are time-consuming and cumbersome.

Dan Moguloff, an assistant vice chancellor at UC Berkeley, says the university is “committed to bringing back a full 123,000 artifacts in the coming years at a pace that works for the tribes.”

In January, the university returned the remains of at least 20 victims of the Indian Island Massacre of 1860 to the Viot tribe in Humboldt County, California. But its Phoebe A. The Hearst Museum of Anthropology still houses more than 9,000 ancestral remains, mainly from tribes in the Bay Area.

“We acknowledge that we have caused great loss and pain to the Native American people,” Moguloff said. “Our work will not be completed until all the ancestors have come home.”

In the Ohio History Connection, officials are working to create an inter-tribal burial ground to help bury ancestral remains for tribes forced to relocate from Ohio as the nation expands, according to the Organization of American Indian Relations. says Alex Wesso, director of.

The institution took similar steps in 2016 when it established a cemetery in northeastern Ohio for the Delaware tribes of Oklahoma to re-bury about 90 ancestors that had been stored for centuries in museums in Pennsylvania.

The complex case, with its more than 7,000 ancestral remains and 110,000 objects dating back thousands of years, makes it difficult to determine to which modern tribe or tribes they should be returned, Wessaw said.

At the Founders Museum, about 70 miles west of Boston, among the challenges is determining what really resulted from the Wounded Knee massacre, says Ann Miles, the museum’s board president.

Some tribe members say more than 200 of the items are from massacre victims, but Miles said museum officials believe there are fewer than a dozen, dating back to a tribe more than a decade ago. Based on discussion with the member.

The collection was donated by a 19th-century traveling showman, Barre native Frank Root, who claimed to have acquired the items from a mass grave digger after the massacre.

Among the macabre collection was a lock of hair allegedly cut from the skull of the Chief Spotted Elk, which was returned to the museum in 1999 to one of the descendants of the Lakota Sioux leader. It also includes a “ghost shirt”, a sacred garment that some tribe members have. Sadly supposedly that could make them bulletproof.

“That’s kind of exaggerating things,” Miles said of Root. “Indeed, we’re not sure if any of the objects were from the injured knee.”

More than 200 men, women, children, and the elderly were massacred on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 1890, one of the most gruesome massacres of Native Americans in the country. These killings marked a pivotal moment in the frontier battles waged by the US military against the tribesmen.

The US Department of the Interior recently proposed changes to the federal repatriation process that set more precise time limits, clearer definitions and heavier penalties for noncompliance.

Tribe leaders say those moves are long overdue, but do not address other fundamental problems, such as insufficient federal funding to allow tribes to carry out repatriation work.

Brian Vallow, former governor of the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico, says many tribes still object to the requirements that they explain the cultural significance of the item sought for repatriation, including how they are used in tribal ceremonies. 2020 Repatriation of 20 ancestors from the National Museum of Finland and their re-burial in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

“That knowledge belongs only to us,” he said. “It’s never shared.”

Stacey Larvie, the historic preservation officer for the Ponca Tribe in Nebraska, is the hopeful museum leader, conscientious in seeking to reform the past in the wake of a national reckoning on racism that has reverberated through the country in recent years.

Last month, she went to Harvard with a tribal delegation to receive the tomahawk of her ancestor, Native American civil rights leader Chief Standing Bear. She is also working with the university’s Peabody Museum to potentially repatriate other items important to her tribe.

“We’re catching up with decades of things being thrown down the rug,” Larvi said. “But I believe their hearts are in the right place.”

Back at the founding museum, Jeffrey Not Help Him, an Oglala Sioux member whose family survived the Wounded Knee massacre, hopes the items can return home this fall, as the museum has suggested.

“We look forward to putting them in a good place,” Not Help Him said. “A place of honor.”


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