Additional Material related to NAGPRA at 20: Museum Collections and Reconnections.
"NAGPRA at 20: Museum Collections and Reconnections," an article in the most recent volume of Museum Anthropology (Volume 33, Issue 2, pages 105-124), describes relationships that developed between the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) and three Indian Tribes. These relationships began with NAGPRA and its mandate and went on to flourish beyond the issue of repatriation. In this page, the authors post supplemental material that will provide greater context and dimension to these three important stories.
Beaver Canoe Prow Piece
In the article, the authors tell the story of the only canoe to have survived the U.S. Navy’s bombardment of the Tlingit village of Angoon, Alaska, in 1882. The prow piece of that canoe would later become part of the AMNH’s ethnographic collection. The museum repatriated the canoe prow to Kootznoowoo, Incorporated, in 1999 and it arrived in Angoon on the 117th anniversary of the bombardment. The following video captures the October 26, 1999, repatriation ceremony: here. It begins as the prow piece arrives from Juneau via ferry where more than half the village turned out to welcome it. This video also features Mark Jacobs and Peter Jack, two Tlingit elders, recounting the story of the bombardment, and Harold Jacobs describing how he came to discover this important item among the collections of the AMNH. To provide the viewer with a greater understanding of the proceedings, Garfield George, the current caretaker of the canoe prow piece, has provided captions for the video.
The authors tell the story of the Willamette Meteorite, the largest ever found in the United States, its journey from Oregon to the AMNH and its connection to the Clackamas people who call it Tomanowos. Although the meteorite was the subject of a repatriation claim, the AMNH and the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde (which includes Clackamas members), reached an agreement that ensures access to the meteorite by members of the tribe for religious, historical, and cultural purposes while maintaining its continued presence at the AMNH for scientific and educational purposes. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde and the AMNH celebrated the 10th anniversary of their historic agreement in June 2010. The authors provide links to a video that AMNH posted to its website and to a special insert about Tomanowos and the celebration that the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde included in its monthly newsletter, Smoke Signals: here.
Additional information about the history and culture of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde is available at the Tribe’s website: here.
A Rediscovering of Caddo Heritage
The authors describe a highly collaborative relationship between members of the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma, archaeologists and the AMNH that led to the documentation and repatriation of a large collection of funerary objects from the historic Clements Site in eastern Texas. This research also resulted in the publication of two scholarly works one of which is accessible on-line: The Clements Site (41CS25): A Late 17th- to Early 18th-Century Nasoni Caddo Settlement and Cemetery (here).
Many of the funerary objects that the AMNH repatriated from the Clements Site are ceramic vessels that exhibit engraved and incised design motifs, along with distinctive forms that are characteristic of Caddo pottery. To underscore the on-going importance of this ceramic tradition, the authors also include two videos of the Caddo Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Office’s recent workshop that provided instruction on traditional pottery making techniques: here. John E. Miller III, who has spent more than 30 years replicating Caddo pottery styles, led the workshop. The first video is a short slide show that provides an overview of the class from beginning to end. The second video features a more extensive look at portions of the workshop.
Additionally, the Caddo Nation Heritage Museum maintains permanent exhibits of traditional pottery. The engraved bottles, bowls and jars currently on display represent the Caddoan traditions from ca. 1000 AD to the late 1600's contact period. For more information about this institution and its collections, please go to the Caddo Nation Heritage Museum’s website: here.