Chief regrets UND still holds tribal artifacts, remains
By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press
BISMARCK, ND (AP) — The president of the University of North Dakota apologized Wednesday for the school’s possession of Native American artifacts and human remains that should have been returned to tribes decades ago in under federal law.
The Grand Forks-based school is working to repatriate the artifacts and remains to several tribal nations, though the process could take several years, UND President Andrew Armacost said.
“I sincerely express my deepest apologies and regrets that the UND has not already repatriated these ancestors and sacred objects as they should have been years ago,” he said in a statement. communicated.
Faculty and staff first raised the issue months ago, and the university has been working on it ever since.
Armacost, in a video news conference, said partial skeletal remains of dozens of individuals, along with around 250 boxes of sacred artifacts, were found in March. The process of finding artifacts the university might have in its possession began late last year.
Laine Lyons, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa and director of development at the school’s College of Arts and Sciences, was in tears as she described her emotions as she searched for artifacts but found a box containing human remains.
“I felt betrayed, angry and sad,” she said at Wednesday’s press conference. At the time, she felt that the UND was “another institution that did not do the right thing”.
Lyons is a member of the university’s repatriation committee which is working to return artifacts and remains.
University officials believe the human remains and artifacts were taken from sacred burial mounds “over the decades” from the 1940s to the 1980s, Armacost said.
The university was to return the remains years ago under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act that was approved in 1990.
“We believe that repatriation activities have already taken place at UND, but how and why ancestors and sacred objects remain on our campus is a mystery that we will have to answer during our work,” he said. declared.
Some 870,000 Native American artifacts — including nearly 110,000 human remains — that should be returned to tribes under federal law remain in the possession of universities, museums and other institutions across the country, according to a study by the Associated Press on data kept by the national park. Service.
The university immediately contacted several Discovery Tribal Nations but initially made no public statement, based on consultations with tribal officials, he said.
The university will hire cultural resource consultants to help with the repatriation, Armacost said. The school also offers counseling services to Native American students, faculty, and staff.
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