More than 200 sacred objects that were in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian were returned last week to the Yurok Tribe in northern California, as reported in an Associated Press piece published by the Times Leader on Aug. 15.
The collection of items, which includes white deerskins, condor feathers and head dresses of woodpecker scalps, is one of the largest to be repatriated by the museum. Ranging from hundreds to maybe even thousands of years old, the objects were once part of the collection of George Gustav Heye, though the tribe does not know how he obtained them.
“It’s part of the fabric of who we are and why we are,” Javier Kinney, who helped transport the items from the Smithsonian’s facility in Suitland-Silver Hill, Md., told the AP.
The tribe, which has about 5,500 members, plans to use some of the objects in ceremonies, but some will be displayed in its cultural center.
To learn more about the law that requires museums and government agencies to repatriate Native American objects and remains, read Key Federal Agencies Not Fully Complying with NAGPRA, published on AIR on Aug. 6, 2010.