Education | Law

Religious college warned again about handing of tribal collection






The Gooch Kuyéik Náxw, or Halibut Hook with Wolf Spirit, is a sacred Tlingit object. Photo: Sealaska Heritage Institute

A religious institution in Massachusetts is again facing questions about its tribal artifact collection.

In September 2015, the Department of the Interior told the Andover Newton Theological School that it was not in compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Some 18 months later, the college has yet to complete an inventory of its collection, The New York Times reported.

“Is Andover being negligent or incompetent?” David Tarler of DOI's NAPGRA office told the paper. “Are they confused about the law but acting in good faith? I can’t answer that question.”

Sealaska Heritage Institute of Alaska is waiting on the inventory because the college's collection includes Gooch Kuyéik Náxw, a sacred fishhook that belongs to the Tlingit people. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe is seeking a lock of hair that belonged to a chief, The Times reported.

NAGPRA, which became law in 1990, requires museums and other institutions that receive federal funds to identify whether their collections include tribal property. The items may then be returned to tribes or lineal descendants of the original owners.

Read More on the Story:
New Yale Partner Faulted for Handling of Tribal Artifacts (The New York Times 5/10)

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Religious college with Native artifacts in violation of NAGPRA (October 21, 2015)