The colonization of the United States and its formation as an independent nation is a history drowning in the blood of the land’s original occupants. Though the harms are irrevocable, new efforts are being made to undo the persisting sense of entitlement concerning appropriating Indigenous lands, traditions, and bodies — both living and dead. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History recently finalized the release of 403 sets of Native American remains, as well as 83 lots of funerary items, returning them to the Chickasaw Nation in March of this year.
“This repatriation is a huge milestone for our institution and our tribal partners,” Katie Blount, MDAH director, told the Clarion Ledger. “We are committed to the repatriation of human remains and cultural objects in the department’s archaeological collections.”
The objects, which constitute the largest return of stolen Native American antiquities in Mississippi’s history, were removed from the region of Mississippi north of the Yazoo and Yalobusha rivers. The majority of these remains were disinterred from the Mississippi Delta and range from 750 to 1,800 years old, making them the historic purview of the Chickasaw Nation, who recently welcomed their ancestors home.
“We see the repatriation process as an act of love,” explained Amber Hood, director of Historic Preservation and Repatriation for the Chickasaw Nation, as quoted in the Associated Press. “These are our grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles, and cousins from long ago.”
The action of returning grave-robbed Native Americans and their burial possessions from state archives to their rightful place is based on a federal law, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This legislation mandates that institutions that receive federal funding, including museums and schools, return human remains, funerary objects, and other sacred items to their Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian descendants. Though passed more than 30 years ago, NAGPRA is still in a frustratingly slow rollout.
However, strides have been made this week, as MDAH launched a new NAGPRA website that makes its efforts, tribal partners, and processes more transparent. It will also feature internship opportunities, Tribal stories, collections updates, and repatriation progress reports. Meg Cook, the MDAH’s director of archaeology, said repatriations of remains are now the main priority for the state’s archaeology collection, and an ethical responsibility in alignment with its mission of preserving Mississippi’s history.
“Our goal is to engage the public in NAGPRA and to provide information about our collections in a way that hasn’t been done before,” said Cook in an MDAH press release. “The most important part is remembering that these remains are people, and their families want to see that they are reburied.”
I won’t bother you with talk about how obscenely decadent and out of touch the Frieze art fair is. And yet…
Curators Tahnee Ahtone, La Tanya S. Autry, Frederica Simmons, Dan Cameron, and Jeremy Dennis offered the public a window into their curatorial processes through the work they produced during their fellowships.
Who says tragedy has to be tragic? Co-presented with National Black Theatre, this fresh, Pulitzer-winning take on a classic centers Black joy and liberation.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Jeremy Dennis presents an exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Dan Cameron presents an email exhibition to offer insight into his curatorial process.
For the triennial’s eighth edition, work by more than 70 artists is featured in 12 exhibitions and a polyphonic program, installed at various locations throughout the German city.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Frederica Simmons presents an email exhibition to offer insight into their curatorial process.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, La Tanya S. Autry presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This exhibition explores the work and short-but-impactful life of the groundbreaking ceramic artist. Now on view at the New Orleans Museum of Art.
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Tahnee Ahtone presents an email exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
This week: Why does the internet hate Amber Heard? Will Congress recognize the Palestinian Nakba? And other urgent questions.
Artist Dan Jian makes the point that landscapes and memory are one and the same.