KU apologizes after finding indigenous ancestors in museum collection

LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) – The University of Kansas has issued an apology to the Native community and reinvigorated repatriation efforts after Native American ancestors were found in its museum collections.

The University of Kansas claims that it has become an institution with an outstanding record of research and innovation. Unfortunately, he said that many historical research practices were based on colonialism. He said he is now working to repair the damage caused by these practices.

KU said a recent “re-disclosure” from the Natural History Museum and the Spencer Museum of Art revealed that the university is in possession of “culturally unidentified individual remains”, grave goods, sacred objects and objects of cultural heritage. These were found in Spooner Hall and the Lippincott Hall Annex.

The university sent a letter to students on September 20 letting the community know that it had been informed that it had Native American ancestors in its museum collections. He said an effort to repatriate these items had been started – but was never completed.

“The continued possession of these human remains causes great pain to many in the Indigenous community and beyond,” KU noted.

Currently, KU said it is verifying on-campus inventory previously developed in accordance with the requirements of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which accurately documents its past repatriation efforts. As a university, it said it must continue to be mindful of the difficult truths that individual remains and culturally unidentified objects remain on its campus.

“The university has a responsibility to tribal nations and the Native American community to pursue a relationship based on dignity, respect and enduring support,” a school spokesperson said.

Provost and Executive Chancellor Barbara A. Bichelmeyer has apologized to the Indigenous community and acknowledges the painful repatriation process.

To fully understand the implications of the incident, KU said it will prioritize the needs of Indigenous students and the Native American community while continuing to support, listen and learn.

Through a commitment to creating meaningful memory of KU, he said his repatriation process will include the following steps:

  • Form an advisory committee with representatives from the Office of Native American Initiatives, the Native Studies program, Native staff and faculty, and appropriate experts.
  • Consultation with Tribal Nations in accordance with NAGPRA.
  • Support the need for spiritual leaders for students, staff and faculty.
  • Audit all KU collections to present up-to-date and accurate information.
  • Secure space for the Native Studies Program outside of Lippincott Hall.
  • Supporting opportunities for the KU Indigenous community to come together.
  • Implement the facility’s repatriation policies and procedures.

The university has indicated that it is fully committed to taking culturally appropriate action as directed by an advisory committee.

“The intent of sharing this announcement is to publicly apologize to Indigenous communities and peoples, past, present, and future, and to apologize to the tribal nations of North America,” the University said in a statement. a statement.

KU noted that in line with NAGPRA and its institutional values, it will continue to facilitate appropriate repatriation efforts that include NAGPRA protocols.

The KU Student Senate is due to meet at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19 to discuss a new resolution that includes an explanation from the University on why the remains were held, a dedicated space for the Indigenous Studies curriculum , as well as closing the campus for a day to teach Indigenous history. The meeting will be held at the Kansas Memorial Union at the Alderson Auditorium, 1301 Jayhawk Blvd.

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