Lots of phone time again today. It slows down the writing but it’s necessary. After the holidays, I had to remind museums of our projects before the break. A National Forest from Michigan is officially moving forward with their disposition, so that was a relief to hear them put the finishing touches on their request into National NAGPRA. If we can get one more museum to commit to a disposition for the spring review committee meeting, that would be great. But one is better than none.
One of the museums I have worked with over the last 6 months has an interesting issue to work out. One of the professors literally took the remains off campus and is storing them at his private facility. The remains are in the legal possession of the university but this professor is acting completely rogue and totally disregarding not only the stipulations of NAGPRA, but the rules of the university as well. The university wants to return the remains to the tribe, but first, it has to arrange its own internal matters. I don’t think this so uncommon. For years, even decades of professors having complete control over collections of remains leads them to the wrong conclusion they own the remains and will not give them back under any circumstances. This is one extreme case but I think it warrants attention. It makes me think what other museum staff would go to such measures to keep Indian remains out of the hands of living Indians. Repatriation of human remains can be a very touchy subject, all the way around.