Some museums and educational institutions are considering a legal challenge to new Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act regulations that require them to consult tribes about “culturally unidentifiable” ancestors.
According to the magazine Nature, the American Museum of Natural History, the Field Museum and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University might challenge the rule. The Peabody has one of the largest collections of Indian ancestors that haven’t been repatriated.
The rule goes into effect May 14. It sets up a process for institutions and tribes to reach an agreement to determine what to do with the remains.
“This is a major departure, going way beyond the intent of the original law,” John O’Shea, a curator at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology, told Nature.
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Rule poses threat to museum bones (Nature 3/31)