Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Umatilla tribe to reclaim Maxey artifacts

Whitman will turn over   a number of artifacts to their tribes of origin after a thirteen year process in an effort to further positive relations with local Native Americans.

An undisclosed number of Native American artifacts and human remains currently housed in the Northwest Museum (formerly the Maxey Museum) will be repatriated to the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, museum director and associate professor of history Brian Dott said.

“There are more artifacts than remains, but we do, indeed, have human remains as well,” Dott said.

According to the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, the Umatilla Indians have a right to items of cultural value such as human remains, sacred objects, funerary objects and objects of cultural patrimony that are housed in the Northwest Museum.

Dialogue between the Umatilla tribes and the college about the return of two sets of objects, one of funerary items and another of human remains, began around 1995 and may culminate with their repatriation within the next 30 days, Dott said.

“Most of the materials were donated to the college,” Dott said. “Some in the 1920s and the latest ones in the early 1960s, but most of them [were donated] in the 1940s and 50s.”

Many of the remains and artifacts were found by chance, Dott said.

“For example, there was an expansion of Greenpark Elementary school and they found human remains. They were donated [to the college] and ended up in the museum’s collection.”

Dott said that “since NAGPRA, the college has been amenable to coming to amicable relations and agreements with local tribes; it’s just taken a long time to get the process [of repatriation] going,” citing bureaucracy as its primary hindrance.

Though he has not confirmed exactly how the remains and artifacts will be returned, Dott expects that the Umatilla tribe “will want to have some sort of ceremony on campus and then they will also have a reburial ceremony on their tribal lands near Pendleton.”

Dott said that he does not know whether the ceremony will be open to Whitman students, but will make a campus-wide announcement once a date has been set for the ceremony and repatriation of the artifacts and remains.

Whitman American Indian Association and Local Nations Partnership President Chelsea Marks could not be reached for comment and Student Curator Kirsten Wiant declined to comment on the matter.

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    bobOct 19, 2023 at 3:24 pm

    this is not what i asked for this is a scam