Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

KU hopes to return a dozen artifacts to tribes within months

August 10, 2006


Of roughly 3,900 American Indian objects in Kansas University's collections, up to a dozen will be returned to their tribes.

"If the process goes smoothly, we can repatriate most of them in the next three to four months," said Thomas Foor, a University of Montana emeritus professor of anthropology. KU hired Foor in January to oversee repatriation of artifacts to their rightful owners under a federal law.

KU acquired the items over the years from faculty who gathered pieces in their research and from outside donors.

Thus far, Foor has returned a sacred mask to a tribe in Ontario, Canada. He has catalogued KU's collection and notified 200 different groups about what artifacts they may wish to get back. Foor predicts that about a dozen artifacts will be returned, though that number could change as the process continues.

The 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA, established the process for the return of human remains, funerary and sacred objects and pieces of cultural patrimony.

Foor came to KU months after a group of students argued the university was neglecting the artifacts, housed in the former museum of anthropology in Spooner Hall.

The museum closed in 2002 to save KU money and is now called Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections.

Bobbi Rahder, a lecturer of Indigenous Museum Studies whose students voiced concerns about the artifacts, said she viewed Foor's hiring as a positive step.

"It's very exciting to me that they're making a commitment to fulfilling their NAGPRA obligations and they're taking this seriously," she said.

But she hopes KU has a plan for the long-term needs of the collection.

"We are doing the best we can," said Mary Adair, interim director of Anthropological Research and Cultural Collections. "We are listening to what the tribes are telling us. We are responding to their requests. We're doing the best we can."

Adair said the budget includes one permanent part-time collection manager position - a post that's now vacant, but that KU plans to fill. And she said students work as curatorial assistants.

Foor is not working with human remains in KU's collections. Those are handled through a separate process. KU is unable to identify what tribes are affiliated with the bones it holds at this point, Adair said. She said the university is waiting for the regulatory guidelines outlining the process of returning culturally unaffiliated remains before it moves forward.

"The university would like to be proactive in repatriating the remains," she said. "The law does not currently allow us to return them to just any tribe."


Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 8 months ago

Yes, I hate NAGPRA. As a person with an Anthropology degree, it especially irks me. They take all our artifacts that are thousands of years old, just like they are the rightful owners. I'm Irish, so shouldn't the Irish museum give ME an Irish bog body from the middle ages? For christ sake, PLEASE return Kennewick Man so we can know more about the first inhabitants of North America!

prioress 11 years, 8 months ago

Go to the local cemetery; dig up someone's great grandmother; put what is left of her in a box and dump it on the selected relative's front porch.....that's how a native American can feel in some of these circumstances.

armyguy 11 years, 8 months ago

Does any one else wonder why it has taken 16 years for KU to start the process of compliance with the law?

I received several emails immediately after listing a couple of trinket Iroquois items from the 1920's on ebay . One even said that I should return to the tribe, mind you these items were sold as trinkets to tourists. I know about the law and comply with it with out having a large legal team at my disposal. It would only make sense that KU should comply faster than 16 years.

Mike Ford 11 years, 8 months ago


Non-natives complaining about not being able to dig and pillage as they've done since the 1906 antiquities act and even further further back than that. Damn, you can't be ethnocentric and push the concept of phrenology or eugenics to further racism anymore (WHICH WAS DONE BEGINNING WITH THE ARMY SURGEON GENERAL ORDERING CAVALRY SOLDIERS TO DIG UP NATIVE BURIALS IN THE 1860's to justify the inferior treatment of inferior races. This happened to Pawnee scouts here in Kansas in the late 1860's).

Chahta Hapia Hoke! (We are Choctaw), we are Potawatomi, we are Dine', We are Mohawk, We are Absaroka, We are Ho-Chunk, We are Iowa, We are Tsaligi, WE ARE NO LONGER YOUR DEGREE SUBJECTS to desecrate and imprison in some sterile box.

It's time this has happened, the time is overdue.

hipper_than_hip 11 years, 8 months ago

I found an arrowhead on a sandbar in the river; who does that belong to?

The sheriff found a human skull eroding from the riverbank several years ago, and determined it was a Native American who died over a thousand years ago; who does that belong to?

The dead have no such cares or worries, only the living trouble themselves with such nonsense.

KsLadybug 11 years, 8 months ago

It's interesting to me to read what NON Native Americans have to say.

Katie Van Blaricum 11 years, 8 months ago

Digging up someone's great grandmother is different than digging up their possible ancestor who lived 12,000 years ago. Like I said, I demand an Irish bog body!

kcwarpony 11 years, 8 months ago

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the law (NAGPRA) does not apply to remains that predate 1492 or that can't be connected to present-day tribes.$file/0235994.pdf?openelement

If that is the case than it would seem that any findings from Kennewick Man should not effect any treaties or land claims made after 1492, or with any present-day tribes, for the same reasons. All the tribes were trying to do was give respect and rebury the remains.

In a well-known statement made after the death of his father, Nez Perce leader Chief Joseph said: "A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild animal."

Mike Ford 11 years, 8 months ago


Please learn to spell! secondly, the Indigenous peoples of this continent have endured 5 centuries of religion that came on a boat. The people that came on the boat and the people they left behind have a well-documented history of killing in the name of religion both in Europe and here.

All of this searching and studying became in vogue 100 years ago when the myth of the "vanishing race" was put forth. Sorry- we're still here. When the majority of tribal people were made U.S. citizens and tribal citizens between 1924 and 1950, the 14th amendment applied to tribal people also. It gave us equal protection from discrimination even though Indigenous People were the last people in the country afforded the freedom of religion with the American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978. The "Patriots/zealots?" of this country have spent the last 200 years trying to divorce us of our cultural and spiritual connection to the land. They put our ancestors in jail if they didn't give up their kids to go to boarding schools where many of them died. They withheld food if the elders practiced tribal traditions. They have attempted dehumanization through the collecting of our bones, the denial of our origin stories which predate European contact by many millenia, and the incendiarilly offensive comments they make. All because they are jealous that we HAVE a prolonged history on this continent that also reminds them of their sins.

Lastly, the NAGPRA act was passed by W Senior with the intent of undermining tribal histories that go back thousands of years by limiting when the cut-off date occured and saying tribes couldn't go back beyond that arbitrary time. The Anthros and Archies leaned on W Senior for this provision. Maybe W Senior's guilty conscience over the Skull and Crossbones Society notoriety made W Daddy sign the bill in the first place. Lastly, may oppression end, and may archies and anthros get REAL jobs that don't exploit the histories of others without their permission. We know who we are and we don't need you to tell us this.

Mike Ford 11 years, 8 months ago


I'm right and you don't have a life!

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

Whatever happened to the anasazi ? there was a huge debate for years about that, then it just dried up....Not to be overly callus,BUT, I do have to say that anyone who thinks their ancestors do not have blood on their hands is delusional........a large driving force of human migration was one group overthrowing another group and kicking them off of their lands....Hell, my ancestry is a log book of losers either getting driven to a boggy island or our woes at the next group kicking our butts to get a piece of the islands.... I try to understand the anger of losing ones history and culture piece by piece and the respect it.....BUT, If the takeover of north america had happened 400 years earlier we would not of had this conversation....The indiginous peoples would of either been killed to a man or bred out....That sounds harsh, but it is a fact of the ancient world....the more agressive and technolgicaly advanced cultures usualy wins....unless the less advanced culture has sheer numbers on its ancestors painted themselves blue and took heads...until the romansa came and forced them to advance culturally....right or wrong sh!t happens.

Mike Ford 11 years, 8 months ago

To put gitrdone's opinion in perspective, The Five Nations created a bottleneck on the availability of firearms to other tribes in the western great lakes area 4 centuries ago. The Five Nations didn't like the Huron Confederacy attempting to attain guns. The Five Nations tribes almost wiped out the Huron Peoples and chased them west to Lake Michigan. Two centuries later, the survivors of this violence were known as Wiandots, not the Petuns or Tionantates they were previously. Notice what I left out here? this was post-contact. Who supplied the guns and the rivalries, the British and the French colonists. It wasn't like this before contact.

The same can be said about the intertribal warfare between the Choctaws and the Chickasaws in the 1700's. Who caused this warfare? the British and the French traders. There was war before contact, but technology, brought by Europeans in the form of guns, caused this killing to be accelerated. Here we are 4 centuries later, being questioned by the People who brought both the physical and biological weapons with them. They brought this on, and yet they still want to know why what their ancestors did in the past caused what's happened to this point. Where's their concept of history? I know..... It's being hypothesized by an anthro or an archie that's never bothered to speak to tribal people. They already know everything.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

Leaving the idiots who killed the buff for their hides only out of this for a second I have to tell you most cultures use every scrap out of a animal they butcher.....That is like saying ibp is noble and spiritual because they serve you up cow placenta in their sausage.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

And blaming the british and french for your inter tribal wars is a pretty telling statement on your objectivity.....i know we blue eyed white devils came with our shiny pots and knives(it's called metal, useful trick that) and our beads and googaws and hypnotized entire nations of idiginous people to do our evil bidding.....Oh ya i forgot booze...We were also drug pushers.....I'd be gnashing my teeth to if I came from such a pure and noble people who were completely faultless and blameless and peed pure rosewater...

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

I'm not twisting anything...I just get sick and tired allways hearing the same old spin .....i fully admit to the crimes and misdeeds of my ancestors and will try to engage in conversation with that knowledge tempering my responses....What I will not do however is listen to people tell me how their ancestors lived in a Utopian society until my ancestors showed up.....If I used the same tactics i would be called a white supremest....When I start hearing people fessing up that their ancestors were just as screwed up in their own way as us evil whiteys then i will listen with an open mind. as to generational oppression.....that will probably go on until the last vestige of indiginous culture is assimilated into the larger culture....I don't like it but that is what is going to happen and what has happened to every other culture in history and is going on world wide as we speak.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

Actualy chemical and biological warfare is documented waay before we even stepped foot onto this continent.....Diseased animal carcasses flung over castle walls....troops pulling back would poison wells or "accidently" leave amphoras of wine that had a special honey in it....honey from bees near belladonna bushes. This would cause severe physical and mental symptoms that would leave the drinkers completley helpless.Lets see what else...Oh ya, the chinese would barrage enemy troops with fine ground red pepper before a charge and would also poison their arrows...and the infected blanket was a very old least five ancient cultures used that before the discovery of iron.....But i guess all these cultures were "white" ....I'm sure the assyrians, the huns, the goths and a thousand other tribes and cultures like hearing themselves lumped under a generic name...

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

create discord? Tschuk brought up how we should call people by their original names...I brought up a similar thread and I'm creating discord? Oh yes i remember I cannot say anything that may be the slightest bit aggressive or augmentative when it concerns this issue....I am supposed to say trite little cliches like.."they are such a spiritual people"... and the obiquous "they used every part of the buffalo"....And now I'm also supposed to talk about my 1/98 cherokee blood ?...B*LL SH!T! First white people, native americans HATE it when you tell them your pathetic ratio of tribal blood....And why is it allways cherokee? Secondly you look like damm fools trying to indoctrinate yourself in their religions, or the watered down tourist trap idiot cults that mishmash a bunch or differant belief systems into a generic hippy pablum. the sheer fact we are having this conversation and the issue of artifact repatriation is in the courts means the system is a hell of a lot more fair than it was....But it is not a black and white issue.....Scientist should have a chance of documenting and studying artifacts.....And corpses do yield valuable info.....on the other hand the indian nations do have cause to be upset about it and use legal means to stop it.....This issue can be discussed in a logical fashion....And I will continue to "create discord" if people continue to use a pc double standard of what on the other foot people would be screamin racism.

Kelly Powell 11 years, 8 months ago

they allready have....Any ancient grave site found in europe is for my later rant, that was not aimed at you in particular but at a broad range of people.

Mike Ford 11 years, 8 months ago

Marion, in returning to the pointless rant of hours ago, You cited all of these sites to visit for information that you didn't think I knew about. Wow, without these sites, would you know anything? No, because you're not tribal, you're academic. There's nothing more that labels people of your ilk than your ethnocentric, academia-based rants. I know why certain people moved certain places. It's called availability of food and disagreements with other leaders. The Kaw left the Osage on this premise, as did the Chickasaw left the Choctaw millenia ago. The Ho-chunk splintered, and from them the Ioway, Otoe, and Missouria Tribes headed south from Green Bay to Missouri and Kansas, as either Oneotan or Middle Mississippian Peoples. I knew the enemie's anthro terminology so that they know better than to talk down to me. The above references are examples of Indigenous knowledge that trumps desecration for a grade and a grant. To be honest, I take the Vine Deloria, Jr. angle on the Bering Strait theory. It's anthro hyperboly. Again, we know our history, and we're tired of office bodies with pith hats messing with our ancestors. I work nine to five in a blue-collar field, and supply my own resources and my own knowledge of my culture. Why don't you research you're own people and leave the Indigneous People of this continent alone.

kcwarpony 11 years, 8 months ago

Speaking for myself, I am not "so called 'Native American'"(I sometimes use the term "non Native" but only to avoid calling someone "white"). I am American Indian. It says so on the birth certificate issued by the State and it is the official term used by the federal government, "American Indian/Native Alaskan". IMO the flawed pc term "Native American" needs to stop being used, it is incorrect. Any person born in this country called America, is "Native" American. Who was it that said the pre-Columbian was utopian? Any Indian that knows their peoples history would not dare make such a claim. The years following my ancestors creation were not easy, so says our creation stories. But lets not be mistaken, the arrival of the Europeans did not help matters. The British and French used us to their own advantage in trying to secure a foothold on this continent. They used the Bible to show the men that they should be the ones, and only ones, leading the tribal governments. Before things had been in balance between men and women. Women were involved with everything equally right along side the men. That was the first "divide and conquer" method they used. The second was the guns they brought and tribal civil wars they encouraged. Once we lost balance, everything else falls out of place. We have been trying to regain it ever since.
I, myself, have never understood how studying old human remains will help with feeding and clothing our children, keeping a roof over their heads, educating them, and providing for our elders. We work to survive today, not worry about who was here first. Our culture will never completely die out. Not with all the nosebleeds, wannabes, crystal jammers, and culture vultures stealing and selling our ceremonies to people who do not know better and in most cases, don't want to know better (those would be the white ones telling us how to be Indians). That leads to misinformation about our ways and because of that, those of us who do know who we are, where we come from, and try to live tradish in this white world, are the ones who pay the price. We are the ones that are told we don't know what we're talking about, that we are standing in the way of research, or our beliefs are silly and stupid. Enough is enough. Is it so hard to understand the message here? Like any child who has been treated unfairly and pushed around, (yes, "child", considering the government policy has been a paternalistic one), all they want is their stuff back and to be left alone. But that could just be me...

geekin_topekan 11 years, 8 months ago

I doubt that N.America was Utopia back in the day.I am sure it was a he!! of a lot safer though. The white devils considered natives as primitive and uncivilized.I would have to beg to differ. I believe that a culture that can build mesa verde and the temples of maya are far from primitive. Uncivilized?Americans can't live without detroying their own evironment.How is that civilized? Native people and the repatriation issue aren't without there bad guys either.Watch who receives these artifacts and what evetually happens to them. I was heavily involved in these reburials in my day.I had several bodies in my car driving through Nebraska at midnight in a snowstorm because some "activists/representatives"wanted to use these people for personal gain.I just wanted them back in the ground.I wasn't in fear for my life or anything.Just wanting to do what was right. "They"wanted to give them, away as door prizes at a sacred summer dance(natives know what i'm talking about)so the elders could pat them on the back and say what great warriors they are for bringing the ancestors home and blahblahblah.I don't know how I was choosen for that particular mission.Just sort of happened. I also promised myself and the people that they would be reburied with dignity so I will shut up now. Just watch who and where the items go to and what they do with them.thats my message.Peace.

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