Native Americans - Week 8 - Native Remains Essay.docx -...

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NATIVE REMAINS ESSAY: Who Owns the Past?Righting Ruinous WrongsFor centuries, archaeologists and anthropologists have disregarded the pleas of NativeAmericans to cease desecration of their ancestors' graves in the name of science. In an attempt toreverse the past's disastrous Native American policies, in 1990, the United States governmentpassed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) (Pub.L. 101-601; 25 U.S.C. 3001-3013;104 Stat. 3048-3058). NAGPRA, a human rights law seen as asignificant shift in how American archaeology of native remains was conducted, allows NativeAmerican tribes to retrieve archaeological artifacts from federally funded institutions whennative remains can be culturally linked to a modern-day tribe. Forcing archaeologists to consultwith Native tribes regarding the proper disposal of human remains and cultural items, NAGPRAalso requires advanced tribal consultation before construction and development projects occur onfederal or tribal-owned lands (U.S. Department of the Interior).Rightly, this law gives voice to Native Americans in the study of their heritage as theyhave "a sense of deep spirituality and a belief in the connectedness of all Indian people"(Waterman), which undoubtedly should include their ancestors that have long ago passed.To move forward, build trust, and heal inflicted wounds of the past, scientists must workwith native peoples to understand and define the structure and method that the cultural history ofNative Americans is composed and addressed.When Science and Natives Share in Documenting the PastThirty years later, proponents and opponents of NAGPRA continue to argue their positionon the advantages and disadvantages of returning Native American bones and sacred artifacts tomodern-day tribes. Additionally, Native Americans still hold little trust that archaeology's science
will respect ancestral burial rites when researching native remains. Fundamentally at odds withNative Americans' discovery of their ancestral past as being spiritually and ritually tied to theirstate of being, archaeologists' discovery of history relies on the documentation, exploration, andinterpretation of those that came before. As the dead are still a fundamental piece of theircommunity, not returning native remains to be re-buried is seen as leaving spiritual mattersunsettled by modern-day Native Americans.

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Term
Fall
Professor
JanetTucker
Tags
Archaeology, Native Americans in the United States, The Grave, Native Remains Essay

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