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Museum in Germany balks at repatriating scalps to tribes in US

Filed Under: Education | Law | World
More on: germany, michigan, museums, nagpra, soo tribe

A scene from the Indianerkinderfest at the Karl May Museum in Germany. Photo from Facebook

The Karl May Museum in Germany is holding onto 17 scalps despite requests from tribes to repatriate them for reburial.

Some of the scalps were put on display in public, drawing an angry reaction from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan and other tribes. The museum eventually decided to place them in storage but won't return them unless a clear link can be shown to a particular tribe.

“We don’t want to give this back to one tribe, and then another one comes and insists that it was theirs,” curator Hans Grunert told The New York Times.

Cecil Pavlat, a cultural repatriation specialist for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe, visited the museum in June to discuss the issue. The tribe and the museum agreed to try to verify the identity of one scalp that is believed to be from an Ojibwe ancestor.

Get the Story:
Lost in Translation: Germany’s Fascination With the American Old West (the New York Times 8/18)

Related Stories:
Tribes seek return of scalps on display at museum in Germany (03/12)
Spiegel: Artist accused of stealing sacred stone from Venezuela (10/07)

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