Let Us Rebury Our Dead: Native America's Imperfect and Necessary Law

Join CAMCHL and CIPLIT for a special Arts Law Colloquium with Chip Colwell, Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. 

Five decades ago, Native American leaders launched a crusade against museums to reclaim their sacred objects and to rebury their kin. This controversy has exploded in recent years as hundreds of U.S. tribes have used a 1990 landmark federal law—the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act—to recover their looted heritage from more than one thousand museums across America. Many still question how to balance the religious freedoms of Native Americans with the academic freedoms of American scientists, and the arguments continue on about whether the emptying of museum shelves elevates human rights or destroys humanity’s common heritage.

This lecture will focus on NAGPRA's most contentious question: What to do with human remains that cannot be culturally affiliated with living descendants or tribes? Dr. Colwell will examine the historical, legal, and ethical boundaries these skeletal remains present, and share how one museum has navigated one of NAGPRA's most imperfect but necessary sections.

Monday, January 22 at 11:50am to 12:50pm

DePaul University College of Law, Lewis 341 25 E. Jackson Blvd.

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