Tribes Staff Consult On Repatriation Effort
The Fort Peck Tribes Cultural Resource Department staff traveled to Missoula July 24-27. They were accompanied by Tribal Executive Board Education Committee Chairs for consultation on the repatriation of cultural items. Items were categorized by the University of Montana collections staff and former Fort Peck Cultural Resource director Curley Youpee. Youpee advised the collections staff about Native American Graves Protection & Repatriation Act compliance.
According to a press release, the University of Montana has been out of compliance with the federal law regarding the NAGPRA process to repatriate collections the Tribes. NAGPRA requires museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections and to consult regarding the return of these cultural materials to descendants of Tribes and organizations.
Fort Peck Cultural Resource director Dyan Youpee requested repatriation of sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony housed at the University of Montana in May 2021 on behalf of the Fort Peck Tribes. On Monday, July 25, Fort Peck CRD staff and TEB representatives entered the collections room, payed homage to the items and prepped the collection for their travel home. Collections staff had no choice but to mitigate for an immediate â€śtransfer of controlâ€ť agreement, while the CRD staff secured the Fort Peck Tribesâ€™ collection. Collections staff assisted tribes staff with packing efforts.
CRD staff also visited unidentified and unaffiliated Native American human remains which are awaiting burial on the Flathead Indian Reservation.
â€śThe Cultural Resource Department has been working diligently on behalf of the Fort Peck Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes to bring home ancestors and their associated funerary objects from the numerous museums, universities and institu- tions across the country since the passage of NAGPRA,â€ť said the press release.
â€śIâ€™m grateful to have experienced it and to be part of this big step forward and achievement for our people and tribe,â€ť said attendee Betty Bear via social media. â€śIt was a liberating feeling to take back what is rightfully ours.â€ť
Fort Peck Tribal Chairman Floyd Azure described the effort as â€śa victory in repatriating collections long overdue at the University of Montana - Missoula.â€ť