Yesterday was spent mostly in the field, cleaning up a cemetery. This one little cemetery is in a pretty obscure spot in the woods and at least once a year a popple tree decides to die and fall in the middle of the cemetery. I had to cut it up and haul it out of there, make it look decent. This time of the year my tribe will decorate graves, so it’s my duty to make sure elders can get to them.
This morning was spent keeping the ball rolling on some dispositions for next year. Sending information, email reminders of where we are at in the process helps. Also coordinating a pick up for remains from a prior disposition, from a museum here in Michigan. It snowed a few days ago here, reminding me that time to rebury is becoming an issue. Weather seriously affects the work here, either it be reburial or travel.
Part of this afternoon was spent consulting with the museum I recently sent a repatriation claim to. It was nice for them to call and ask for more information. I can’t stress enough how smoothly things go when both parties are open to discussions. Of course there is differences between tribes and museums on the interpretation of NAGRPA, but if the tribes and museums can talk through their differences and try to achieve some middle ground on an issue, usually productivity ensues. I find many museums realize it’s wrong to house human remains, and they want the most respectful, proper manner in which to return the remains. And on the flip side, I encounter museums who see remains as nothing than historical evidence, not even people. The only purpose the remains serve is to better understand the past. These hardline museums usually will repatriate a set of human remains if the evidence is obvious, but beyond that, there is no budging their stance. But then again, there is no budging my stance that all native remains should be returned back into the ground.