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Native tribes want museums to give their ancestors’ remains back



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


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

The law required certain Native American remains to be handed over to culturally affiliated tribes or provable descendants, but by no means did that law result in all of those human remains being given back.  


Sonya Atalay, an archaeologist and professor of anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a former member of the national NAGPRA committee, and Shannon Martin, director of the ZiibiwingCenter of Anishinaabe Culture and Lifeways and a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe, are part of a team that came up with a special way to explain the tribal repatriation experience. 


It's a comic book, titled Journeys to Complete the Work... and Changing the Way We Bring Native American Ancestors Home.


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


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


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