The majority of my day was spent drafting chapters for our repatriation manual. The ideas are coming together nicely, most of what I am doing now is laying out the steps I have followed in writing a claim. Of course this will be added upon with the advice from other tribes, but this is a start for now. Actually writing down the steps made me realize just how much goes into a claim. It’s no wonder it takes 6 months to a year to secure an item. When I first started my job, my boss said getting an item or two back in a year is pretty good. I naturally scoffed at that, saying in a year we should get more then one item back. Well, experience has taught me that it can take up to a year to complete a claim, from initiating the research to picking the item up. Now my strategy is to crank out as many claims as possible and work with the museums on the claims as they review them. I shoot for 3-5 items a year, including human remains.
Other people have been contributing great ideas for the manual thus far. I see myself as a collector of the information and putting the information together. When I tell people about the manual, they are excited for such a product and then give me their advice. The travel is starting to pick up for this project, I have my first out of state consultation 12 days from now, and each month I will be on a trip pertaining to this grant. Throw in (hopefully) repatriation trips and NAGPRA will be taking up a large part of my life. But that’s okay, it needs to be done and I am in a position now to commit to seeing some of it done. But I will have to unplug from the world of NAGPRA for a few days, I am going out to Minnesota for ceremonies tomorrow. Some friends and elders from out there invited my family and myself to what is called Big Drum. It’s a great honor to be invited so I am making the trek. To me, participating in the ceremonies is critical. Now, when I visit a museum and they have a Big Drum, I can honestly say I have been to that ceremony, I saw the people who conduct it and experienced it first hand, and yes, by all means that is a sacred object and object of cultural patrimony.