Indigenous tribes want museums to return the remains of their ancestors

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Museums across the country have between 300,000 and 600,000 Native American human remains in their collections.

In 1990, the federal government passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

The law required that certain Native American remains be turned over to culturally affiliated tribes or to provable descendants, but this law in no way resulted in the return of all these human remains.

Sonya atalay, archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and former member of the national committee of NAGPRA, and Shannon Martin, director of the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinaabe Culture and Lifeways and a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe, are part of a team that has found a special way to explain the experience of tribal repatriation.

It’s a comic, titled Travel to complete the job … and change the way we bring Native American ancestors home.

Atalay and Martin joined In the USA to discuss the new comic. Listen above to hear where the idea to present the news in this medium came from, what they see as the impact and importance of repatriation, and what the relationship between museums and tribes looks like. today.

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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