Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Yale Faces New Claims Of Stolen Artifacts

New Haven Independent 
Thomas MacMillan, April 16, 2014

A year and a half after Yale returned the last of hundreds of Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru, the Yale Peabody Museum faces a new charge of cultural theft—this time about two carvings from a native Alaskan tribe.

Two Tlingit carvings on display at the museum are stolen property, and should be sent back to their owners in Alaska, according to several students and scholars who spoke Tuesday afternoon at Yale.

That allegation emerged Tuesday afternoon at a panel discussion in Yale’s Hall of Graduate Studies on the topic of artifact repatriation—the returning of museum relics to the people to which they historically belonged.

Yale junior Ashley Dalton presented research on two artifacts currently in the Yale Peabody Natural History Museum’s collection, “totem crest” carvings of a bird and of a bear. Those artifacts were taken, Dalton said, from a Tlingit village in Alaska in 1899 by members of the Harriman expedition. The carvings, one of which marked a funerary site, were taken without permission, along with a host of other Native American artifacts.

More here

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Archaeological Claims to Kumeyaay Ancestral Remains

Steven Newcomb
Indian Country Today Media Network, 15 April 2014 

On December 3, 2013, oral arguments took place in San Francisco as part of a lawsuit that had reached the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. A decision in the case is expected any time now. The suit was initiated by three professors who have sued in an effort to prevent the University of California system from handing over to the Kumeyaay Nation ancestral remains dating back more than 9,000 years. The UC system had agreed to hand over the remains the Kumeyaay prior to the lawsuit.

The Kumeyaaay Cultural Repatriation Committee (KCRC) was formed by resolutions from the various Bands of the Kumeyaay Nation, and Steven Banegas (Barona) is the KCRC Spokesperson. The UC system has argued that the Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee is indispensible to the case but cannot be compelled to join the case because of Indian nation sovereign immunity. The situation has the potential to form a Catch-22 for the professors.

Read more here

Friday, April 18, 2014

Smuggled Cultural Valuables Returned to Bulgaria

FOCUS News Agency
14 April 2014

Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security (SANS), in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, returned cultural valuables, subjects of trafficking, to Bulgaria, FOCUS News Agency reporter said.
Different golden items were handed to the National Museum of History. The event was attended by museum’s director Bozhidar Dimitrov, Bulgarian Minister of Culture Petar Stoyanovich, and SANS Chairperson Vladimir Pisanchev. The returned cultural valuables are of national and world importance. They were rescued and returned to the state as a result of an operation targeting an illegal smuggling channel. “These golden findings are 1,500 years older than the Trojan War and 2,500 years older than all Thracian treasures we know,” said Professor Bozhidar Dimitrov. 

More here

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Junior Folklorist Challenge, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage

What does it take to be a Folklorist?

The Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, in collaboration with ePals Corporation, is asking students to get involved in learning about the folklife and cultural heritage around them. 

The 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge asks students to: “Discover a tradition in your community and share it with the world!”  in the 2014 Junior Folklorist Challenge. 

In the process, students will learn professional skills relating to researching (through interviews and observation), documenting (through audio/visual and written documentation), and interpreting local folklife (by creating a video, podcast, or slide show that tells a story about the tradition they researched). 

Teachers can get their classrooms involved in the project or students can work individually.

Six winners from around the world will receive prizes for projects. Prizes include an opportunity to be published by the Smithsonian, a digital video camera, Field Notes folklorist prize pack of quality field notebooks, and a CD box set from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Entries are due May 26th and will be judged by age groups (8-10), (11-13), (14-18).  “Check It Out” at

Sunday, April 13, 2014

2014 Collection Internship Announcement, Musueum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona

The Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA) is offering a collection management internship that will occur between May 1st and September 30th 2014.  The first review of applications will begin April 14, 2014.  

The duration is flexible but will be for a minimum of 10 weeks and maximum of 6 months.  Housing and a stipend of $300 a week are provided to offset expenses. This internship will provide on the job experience to students that are seeking or have recently completed a certificate or masters in museum studies, biology, natural science, or other appropriate field of study.

The Natural Science Collections Intern will work with the Natural Science Collections Manager on an IMLS funded project to address environmental improvements in the Museum of Northern Arizona’s Zoology Collections (specifically the avian osteology, avian egg and nest, mammal osteology, and mollusk and entomology holdings). This internship offers students an opportunity to gain experience rehousing specimens, labeling and inventorying holdings, updating database records, testing for contaminants in the study skin collections, assisting with packing and move of collections into a new collection facility (Easton Collection Center), and participating in policy and procedure development.

Founded in 1928, MNA is an AAM accredited, private 501(c)3 museum.  Its mission is to “inspire a sense of love and responsibility for the beauty and diversity of the Colorado Plateau through collecting, studying, interpreting, and preserving the region’s natural and cultural heritage”.  The collections include cultural (ethnology, archaeology, and fine art) objects and natural science (botany, zoology, geology, and paleontology) specimens, archives and a Library. In 2009 MNA completed the construction of the new Easton Collection Center (more information at a platinum level LEED certified building.  

MNA is located in Flagstaff, AZ (pop. 61,270) at an elevation of 7000’ in the cool Ponderosa pine forests at the base of the San Francisco Peaks. The area includes several national forests (Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott), National Parks and Monuments (Grand Canyon, Wupatki, Walnut Crater, and Sunset Crater), a ski resort (Snow Bowl), Arboretum, Lowell Observatory, Northern Arizona University, and numerous other attractions.

To apply submit a letter of interest, resume, and 3 letters of reference to:
Human Resources Manager
Museum of Northern Arizona
3101 N. Fort Valley Road
Flagstaff, AZ 86001

or email in MS Word Format to 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Zuni Ask Europe To Return Sacred Art

The New York Times
Rachel Donadio, April 8, 2014

Octavius Seowtewa, an elder of the Native American Zuni tribe from New Mexico, was sitting in a Paris cafe late last month, scrolling through his iPhone pictures of Ahayuda, carved and decorated wooden poles that are considered sacred to the Zuni. They were taken at his recent meetings with representatives of major European museums, whom he is hoping he can persuade to return the artifacts.

Mr. Seowtewa, who exudes a quiet persistence and was dressed that day in a black leather blazer, dark slacks and a button-down shirt, acknowledged that he hadn’t had much luck in his meetings at the Musée du Quai Branly here or at the Ethnological Museum in Berlin, among others. But he said he was just getting started.

Since 1978, the Zuni have been more proactive than other Native American tribes in reclaiming ceremonial objects: in their case, more than 100 Ahayuda, also called war gods, from institutions and collections in the United States. The Zuni have taken advantage of federal legislation that requires all United States institutions to return objects considered sacred by Native Americans to individual tribes or risk losing federal funding. But those laws do not apply in Europe. Here, the Zuni case is a moral one. “That’s all there is,” Mr. Seowtewa said. “We believe if you listen to us about the power these objects have to our community, that these are exemplars of sacred objects, of communally owned objects,” then museums will consider sending them back, he added.

More here

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Getty Musuem to Return 12th Century New Testament to Greek Monastery

Los Angeles Times, David Ng
April 7, 2014

The Getty Museum has announced that it is voluntarily returning a 12th-century Byzantine illuminated New Testament to a monastery in Greece after learning that the item had been illegally removed from the Monastery of Dionysiou more than 50 years ago.

Officials at the Getty said in a release on Monday that the museum acquired the manuscript in 1983 as part of a "large, well-documented" collection. 

The manuscript is currently at the Getty Center in Brentwood as part of the exhibition "Heaven and Earth: Byzantine Illumination at the Cultural Crossroad." It has been featured in 14 exhibitions at the Getty, and was loaned to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1997 for its exhibition "The Glory of Byzantium." 

The Getty said it conducted research into the manuscript with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports over the last six weeks.

"Based on new information that came to light through this process, the museum decided that the right course of action was to return the manuscript to the Holy Monastery of Dionysiou from which it disappeared over 50 years ago," said Timothy Potts, director of Getty Museum, in a statement.

More here.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sudan Museum Looted

April 2, 2014 

Sudanese archaeological heritage site of prehistoric Naptan civilization has been looted, Sudanese official disclosed on Wednesday.

The National Authority for Antiquities and Museums (SNAAM) said that three valuable artifacts have been stolen from Jabal Al-barkal museum in Nile river state 200 Kilometers from capital Khartoum.

SNAAM director-general Ali Abdel-Rahman told APA on Wednesday that the stolen artifacts were three statues linked to royal burial ceremonies in Sudan’s ancient Napatan civilization.

More here