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Native Americans, Archaeology, and Repatriation
ANTH 264
Spring 2009 not offered
Crosslisting: AMST 277

This course examines the politics of archaeology in relation to Native Americans and the question of repatriation. From the moment of the European entry into the New World, questions of Native American origins and the nature of the cultures discovered there have fascinated the minds of the discoverers, the colonists, and the dominant settler societies. North American archaeology originated as a systematic way to try to answer these questions. As prongs of Western power and privilege, dominant culture and science too often go unexamined, yet create deep epistemological divisions. The historical relationship between Native Americans and archaeologists has been a complicated and often problematic one, since archaeologists have not always consulted with those whose forebears they studied and did not always take into account the effects of their research on them--especially given the fact that many indigenous cultures regard the unearthing of their ancestral remains a violation, and that they have often been used in the service of racism. In addition, Native Americans have their own tribal histories independent of archaeological evidence. In 1990, the U.S. Congress passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act that requires museums to inventory and return Native American human remains, sacred and funerary objects, and objects of cultural patrimony for which the appropriate tribal relationships can be established. This legislation continues to have wide-reaching implications for Native Americans, which has necessitated the cooperation between Native Americans and archaeologists, physical anthropologists, and museum curators. Today, many tribes have active archaeology and preservation offices and have contributed to the development of indigenous archaeology, yet the federal mandate to repatriate remains fraught with problems.

Essential Capabilities: Effective Citizenship, Ethical Reasoning
The course engages ethical issues dealing with the original inhabitants of North America and their sovereignty claims, as well as issues of religious freedom, and the right to protect their dead. It also examines US policy and the role of the citizenry in complying with federal law relating to issues of repatriation (returning Native remains). The course grapples with the tensions between the aims of the field of Archeology to "uncover the past" and how this goal often conflict with Native American assertions that the past should remain buried.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS ANTH
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None

Last Updated on MAY-19-2024
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