Repatriation Stories from a Far Away Land: Progress and obstacles in the repatriation of Indigenous human remains in the USA
Tuesday, 25 November 2014 from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm (AEDT)
San Francisco, California, USA
London, United Kingdom
The ANU National Centre for Indigenous Studies (NCIS), the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, the National Museum of Australia, and the Australian-American Fulbright Commission presents a talk by Dr. C. Timothy McKeown.
It has been nearly 25 years since the United States enacted sweeping federal legislation regarding the repatriation of Native American human remains and other cultural items. The two federal statutes – the National Museum of the American Indian Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act – require the Smithsonian Institution, all federal agencies, and all institutions that receive federal funds (over 1000 in all) to provide inventories of their collections to Indigenous communities and, upon request, repatriate human remains and associated funerary objects to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Indian tribes and Native Hawaiian organizations. Other provisions require the disposition of Native American human remains and funerary objects recently found on federal or tribal lands (about 1/3 of the land area of the U.S.) to appropriate Indigenous groups as well as apply criminal penalties to the illegal trafficking of such items. The estimated repatriation of the remains of over 60,000 individuals and over a million funerary objects is one of the largest and broadest transfers of “museum property” to date. But much remains to be done as the remains of another 130,000 individuals and a million funerary objects remain on museum shelves. This presentation will review the progress made and obstacles encountered in implementing repatriation law in the U.S. and offer thoughts on the applicability of some of these processes to the repatriation of Australian Indigenous remains from U.S. and other museums.
NCIS Adjunct Fellow, Dr C. Timothy McKeown is a legal anthropologist whose career has focused on the application of anthropological research methodologies to enhance thoughtful policy development, effective statutory implementation, and fact-based judicial resolution. For 18 years, Tim served as a Federal official responsible for drafting regulations implementing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), developing databases to document compliance, establishing a grants program, investigating allegations of failure to comply for possible civil penalties, coordinating the activities of a Secretarial advisory committee, and providing training and technical assistance to nearly 1000 museums and Federal agencies and 700 Indian tribes, Alaska Native corporations, and Native Hawaiian organisations. Since 2010, Tim has also consulted on repatriation of cultural items with several Indian tribes, prepared policy recommendations, and provided training at annual meetings of the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers. The University of Arizona Press recently published his comprehensive review of the legislative history of U.S. Federal repatriation mandates In the Smaller Scope of Conscience: The Struggle for National Repatriation Legislation, 1986-1990 (2013).
When & Where
National Centre for Indigenous Studies, The Australian National University
Led by Professor Mick Dodson, NCIS promotes and initiates cross-disciplinary research and teaching in a wide range of areas of relevance to Indigenous Australians. Through this research, NCIS aims to deepen Australia's understanding of Indigenous cultures and histories and ensure Indigenous knowledge, perspectives and experiences are respected, valued, accessed and incorporated into all learning environments at ANU and beyond. NCIS staff and Higher Degree by Research (HDR) candidates are involved in a range of projects across the field of Indigenous studies.