The Relationship Between Museums And First Nations Peoples On The Issue Of Repatriation

2118 Words Dec 3rd, 2016 9 Pages
This paper will attempt to illustrate the relationship between museums and First Nations peoples in regards to the issue of repatriation. Using the example of the Haida Gwaii First Nations and their successful and on-going campaign towards repatriation within Canada, this paper will address the discussions and perspectives of both the anthropologists (archaeologists) and First Nations people in the academic and non-academic fields. The division of views on the issue of repatriation are loosely categorised into three groups: archaeologists, anthropologists and scientists that value scientific knowledge over the humanity of the remains, the return of ancestors that are believed by First Nations to have been stolen and stripped of their humanity and therefore should be returned, and finally the middle ground in which there are Indigenous academics and non-Indigenous academics that strive to return human remains and in cases where it is not possible, treat them in a more respectful and culturally sensitive manner. Looking first to the complicated relationship between First Nations peoples and the institutions that collect ancestral remains (mainly universities and museums), it is easy to the that this relationship is based on inequality of power and knowledge. This inequality lays its routes in the colonial history of anthropology and museums collecting human remains for the “betterment of science and knowledge” (Jenkins 2008, 114). The Eighteenth Century Enlightment ideas in…
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