It’s been awhile since I sat down, cracked open some books and started writing an honest to goodness repatriation claim! The majority of today was spent doing just that. I love it when half a dozen books are open on the desk, pages tagged, previous claims being referenced and putting the pieces together for repatriation. I am currently working on a claim for a sacred object. I have written previous claims for the same items, from different museums, both of which were succesful. This one should be no different. I am beefing it up, since I know more about writing claims than before. Two main things have to be addressed under a claim in NAGPRA. Is cultural affiliation established and does the item requested fall under one of the categories of NAGPRA. We believe this to be a sacred item. Proving cultural affiliation will be much easier, since we know where the item came from and the date the item left the tribe.
The hardest part in writing a claim for a sacred item is proving to the museum that the item is indeed sacred and the museum does not have the right of possession for that item. This is where consultations are important, and implementing oral traditions when needed, because not everything is written down. We use as much as we can, but the written source is not the end all be all source of information.