After being exhumed from their graves without permission in the early 20th century, the remains of several Ainu people are expected to return to Japan from two Australian museums. The Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported that, during a June 8 visit to the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, Australian Ambassador Richard Court said the two museums “have agreed to the return of the three sets of Ainu remains” and await a formal request from the association. It would be the first repatriation of Ainu remains by a foreign country.
According to the Japan Times, Australia alerted Japan in May to the remains held by two institutions, including the National Museum of Australia. The bones were exported to Australia between 1911 and 1936 for anthropological research. The Ainu are an indigenous people of both Japan and Russia whose traditional homes include the islands of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and Kuril. It was only in 2008 that Japan officially recognized them as such, following decades of assimilation and discrimination.
Brigit Katz at Smithsonian.com explained that, with Japan’s passage of the 1899 Hokkaido Former Aborigine Protection Act, which encouraged them to practice agriculture, the Ainu were labeled “former aborigines” and thus people to be assimilated. Their culture was considered “primitive,” and anthropologists in the 20th century studied their supposedly obsolete way of life. This research was almost always done without consent from the Ainu, and sometimes with deceptive tactics. For instance, researchers took blood samples under the guise of being medical professionals interested in addressing the Ainu smallpox epidemics.
In 2013, following a yearlong survey, Japan’s Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology stated “that the bones of over 1,600 Ainu are still being stored at 11 universities across the country,” according to the Japan Times. The return of those stolen remains, as well as others outside the country, has been slow. Last July, the bones of 12 Ainu were reburied after a court-mediated settlement with Hokkaido University. This January, the Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory announced it would return an Ainu skull, and in March Hokkaido University agreed to repatriate remains disinterred in the 1930s. Australia’s return of Ainu remains could set an important precedent for overseas repatriation, helping to heal a history of cultural degradation.
NYC’s Flatiron Building Sells for a Whopping $190M
The sale to outsider bidder Jacob Garlick puts an end to the protracted legal battle between the iconic skyscraper’s five former owners.
The Best Memes Roasting the “We ❤️ NYC” Campaign
A graphic designer on Twitter created a hilarious send-up of the universally reviled logo, and the rest is history.
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
MCA Chicago Presents On Stage: Frictions
Will Rawls, Shamel Pitts | TRIBE, and Barak adé Soleil explore Blackness, queerness, movement, and dance in performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Did You Know These Museums Were Free for New Yorkers?
The “Free Admission” campaign is advocating to make ticket pricing information more transparent to visitors, who may be confused or misled by institutions’ language.
Haggerty Museum of Art Presents Tomás Saraceno in Dialogue With Dr. Somesh Roy
The artist and researcher will explore soot’s effects on climate change and public health in this online conversation.
AI Images Visualizing Trump’s Arrest Send Internet Into a Frenzy
The pictures, created using Midjourney, depict the former president’s greatest fantasy: being dragged away by police in front of the cameras.
Some AI Artworks Now Eligible for Copyright
New guidance from the US Copyright Office sets some policies around AI-generated images.
McKnight Visual Artist Fellows Discussion Series at the Minneapolis Institute of Art
The series features 2021 Fellows David Bowen, Mara Duvra, Rotem Tamir, Ben Moren, and Dyani White Hawk in conversation with renowned curators and critics.
NYC Hispanic Society Workers to Strike Indefinitely
One worker said the museum’s “skeletal” workforce bars the institution from functioning to its potential.
In Search of Inclusive South Asian Futurisms
We have been dangerously siloed for far too long by colonial constructs of race, nation, and time that separate, divide, and deny us our very being.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
What Do Shtreimels and Cowboy Hats Have in Common?
A chance meeting on the subway introduced photographer Francesca Magnani to the multicultural world of Brooklyn milliner Richard Faison.
Richard Hull Completes the Picture
Once known for his abstracted portraits, the Chicago artist is now exploring new directions.