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date: 21 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In North America, the repatriation of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony from museums and federal institutions to American Indians who can demonstrate ‘cultural affiliation’ to the remains and objects has been required by federal legislation. While the legal requirement exists, however, political issues hinging on those human remains exist as well. The conflict between American Indian groups and archaeologists revolves not around conflicts between religious or scientific ideas, but rather around the inconsistent retention of American Indian dead in relation to the dead of other ethnic or social groups in the United States. This chapter provides a brief history of the relations between American Indians and archaeologists, discusses the laws requiring repatriation of American Indian remains and objects, and then discusses the ways that human remains can create political and ethical concerns.

Keywords: American Indians, repatriation, moundbuilder controversy, Kennewick Man, Spirit Cave Man, politics of the past

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