Repatriation of Indigenous human remains 'takes time,' despite federal law
How are museums where we live faring in returning sacred Indigenous objects and human remains, more than thirty years after a federal law mandated "repatriation"?
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, was passed by Congress in 1990. It called for federal agencies and federally-funded museums to repatriate Native American cultural items, including sacred objects and in many cases human remains.
A recent in-depth report from ProPublica found that museums and institutions across the country had failed to "expeditiously" meet that federal law where it concerns human remains.
For example, the nearby Harvard Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology has made just 39% of the more than 10,000 Native American remains it reported to the federal government “available for return.”
ProPublica reporters Mary Hudetz and Logan Jaffe join us. Kate Seltzer with Connecticut Public’s investigative team, The Accountability Project, shares what she found when she checked in with museums where we live.
Plus, Connecticut Humanities executive director Jason Mancini addresses a "trust deficit" among tribes.
"Working with tribes takes time. Relationships don't happen automatically because a piece of legislation happens... that takes years, it takes trust-building. And one of the challenges with Connecticut is there's a trust deficit with tribal communities."
"Let's not lose sight of the fact that you know, three of the tribes are only state-recognized, and have very little resources to do anything, and don't have deep tribal economies to support this kind of work. So I think we need to consider all of that in the equation."
- Mary Hudetz: Member, Crow Tribe; Reporter, ProPublica; Former President, Native American Journalists Association
- Logan Jaffe: Reporter, ProPublica
- Kate Seltzer: Howard Center for Investigative Reporting Fellow, The Accountability Project
- Jason Mancini: Executive Director, Connecticut Humanities; Former Director, Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
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