Tribal Organizations Receive Grant to Reclaim Ceremonial Objects

Southeast’s largest tribal organization is attempting to recover ceremonial objects from two museums in California.

The Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska has been awarded a grant to research and prepare claims.

The grant will focus on the Oakland Art Museum, in the San Francisco Bay area, and the Southwest Museum Autry Center, in Los Angeles.

Desiree Duncan is the central council’s Native lands and resources manager.

Claims will be made under terms of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, called “NAGPRA” . The 1990 legislation set up a process for museums and agencies to return human remains, sacred objects and other items to tribal groups.

The council’s $90,000 consultation and documentation grant comes from the National Park Service.

Duncan says her office will assemble a team to find out more about what’s in the California museum collections.

The Autry Center’s online catalog lists 50 Tlingit, 45 Haida and 10 Tsimshian objects, including blankets, bracelets and fish hooks. Some items overlap tribal identification or are from Canada.

The Oakland Museum’s online listings do not appear to include items from Alaska.

The council’s grant will also allow it to continue claims for more than 200 objects in other museums.

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Ed Schoenfeld is Regional News Director for CoastAlaska, a consortium of public radio stations in Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg and Wrangell. He primarily covers Southeast Alaska regional topics, including the state ferry system, transboundary mining, the Tongass National Forest and Native corporations and issues. He has also worked as a manager, editor and reporter for the Juneau Empire newspaper and Juneau public radio station KTOO. He’s also reported for commercial station KINY in Juneau and public stations KPFA in Berkley, WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and WUHY in Philadelphia. He’s lived in Alaska since 1979 and is a contributor to Alaska Public Radio Network newscasts, the Northwest (Public Radio) News Network and National Native News. He is a board member of the Alaska Press Club. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, he lives in Douglas.

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