Conflicts and misconceptions of the repatriation process

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Ables, Michael Jason
Moore-Jansen, Peer H.

The National Museum of American Indians Act of 1989 (NMAI) and the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) are two viable pieces of legislation that give tribal communities an opportunity to reclaim objects of ancestral heritage. However, the repatriation process uses academic and governmental mandates that support the colonialist perspective. The case study of the Logan Museum of Anthropology is one particular example of the conflicts and misconceptions about repatriation. This case study specifically focuses on the Potawatomi Nation and their interaction with present day NAGPRA legislation. The case study of the Logan Museum of Anthropology raises questions about ownership and the types of evidence used to support a repatriation claim. The role of academia in the context of the NMAI Act and NAGPRA is focused through a variety of disciplinary fields such as anthropology, history, and art history. With the current amendment to NAGPRA, “the CUHR ruling,” the process of repatriation is further convoluted. However, tribal nations are exploring methods of repatriation that entail collaborating with other tribal communities for a common goal. However, because these two pieces of legislation are unclear and lead to personal interpretation, the federal legislation must continue to amend and / or create new legislation to adjust the current mandates.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Program of Liberal Studies