Field Museum Repatriating Maori Remains

Science Daily has an interesting article up about the Field Museum repatriating, with the assistance of Native Americans, Maori remains back to New Zealand.

The remains were acquired by the Field Museum after the Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition. From Science Daily:

An unusual aspect of this repatriation is the fact that Native Americans are participating. They have been involved at cultural and spiritual ceremonies at The Field Museum preparing for the repatriation. In addition, they will accompany the remains back to New Zealand, assist at the repatriation ceremony there, and conduct follow-up events back in Chicago.
“As First People of these lands, the United States and New Zealand, we want to support each other,” said Joseph Podlasek, Executive Director of the American Indian Center. Repatriation of human remains often occurs without the public’s being informed, which Podlasek calls unfortunate. “Our participation in this repatriation will help shine a light on this kind of thing. It will also set a positive tone and good pattern for future repatriations, in terms of cultural understanding.” “Not only is The Field Museum willing to do this,” he added, “but they are doing it respectfully rather than just sticking the remains in a box and mailing them off.”
Today, The Field Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of Pacific artifacts. Ties between Te Papa (then the Dominion Museum) in Wellington and The Field Museum were forged in the early 20th century. These ties were greatly strengthened when the traveling exhibition “Te Maori” came to The Field Museum in 1986. The most recent witness to the enduring partnership between The Field Museum and the Maori occurred in April 2007 when a delegation of more than 50 New Zealanders visited the Museum to honor the 125th anniversary of the opening of a Maori meeting house that now resides in the Museum.

Interesting example of cooperation all across the board – and one that should be followed by other groups/museums.


One Response

  1. Very cool. New Zealand is my favourite place I’ve never visited. (Thanks to the lyrics of Tim and Neil Finn, from Te Awamutu.)
    It’s interesting to me how groups of people can find common points… even though they may not be the happiest of points. I’ve heard that the First Nations people near me (Pacific Northwest) have some ties with the First Nations people near my girlfriend’s home (the Ainu in Hokkaido).
    I really should look into that and learn more about it… Sigh… I’m lazy.

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