Saturday, September 26, 2009


Yesterday the Spokesman-Review published a front page article concerning the repatriation of Indian artifacts and remains. Several local tribes, including the Spokane, received items stolen many years ago from graves or sacred sites. This action allows some small measure of healing from the depravities of past aggression against Native peoples.

This article also sparks a personal memory for me.

Back in the early part of 1990, I participated in another effort to repatriate human remains to the Spokane Reservation. My family helped create a suitable resting place for remains disturbed by the changing water levels along the Spokane River, as well as several sets of bones taken from our lands many years ago. For a young man of 19, it was a heavy task to handle the bones of our ancestors, but then again, everyone felt the sobering effects caused by the disturbance of these remains. To this day, it is still incomprehensible to me that Indian graves were ever seen as objects fit for scientific inquiry or for a museum gallery. The memory of our racist past is not so far removed.

But on a positive note, I'm grateful that people are finally beginning to recognize the dignity of Native peoples and to respect the worth of our sacred heritage.


cieldequimper said...

I wish I knew. I wish someone at high level would say sorry.
Hope the girls are better.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 was an acknowledgement by the US Congress of past wrongs in this regard. I'm not complaining about the change in the right direction; I just think it's odd that it took until 1990 to get this kind of legislation.

cieldequimper said...

100 years after Wounded Knee is a hell of a long time. It may have been an acknowledgement but other goverments have officially apologized. I believe Australia did it fairly recently. Not that it changes much...
Sorry for the tirade, I feel very passionately about these things. Not because I'm an "pretendian" as many are in Europe, ;-) but because my boyfriend is Northern Cheyenne.

Barry Moses (Sulustu) said...

You're right. 100 years is a long time to wait.

My aunt was living on the Blood Indian Reserve in Canada at the time PM Stephen Harper apologized for the Indian boarding schools. She saw him on television and said he looked stiff, like he was simply going through the motions.

It probably doesn't change much, but an apology is nice to hear.

Does your boyfriend live in France? How did you meet?

cieldequimper said...

Oops, sorry, this is getting too private for a public place! For some reason Outlook hasn't been working on my PC lately so I can't e-mail you. But feel free to e-mail me and I'll tell you.


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