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Federal Rules Prompt Changes at the American Museum of Natural History –

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The following are some of the ways to get in touch with each other: American Museum of Natural HistoryRecently announced, two major halls will be closed for exhibiting Native AmericanObjects as a response to new federal rules regarding the display or study of cultural items.

“The halls we are closing are artifacts of an era when museums such as ours did not respect the values, perspectives and indeed shared humanity of Indigenous peoples,” museum president Sean Decatur wrote in a letter to the museum’s staff on the morning of January 26. “Actions that may feel sudden to some may seem long overdue to others.”

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As part of the natural history museum’s efforts to comply with the new federal rules put into effect this month, the institution will close the Eastern Woodlands and Great Plains galleries this weekend, as well as cover several other display cases that feature Native American cultural items.

Some of the Native American artifacts on display at the Museum on January 12, 2023. Photo by Erin Thompson.

Native American Graves Protection and the new federal regulations Repatriation Act, a law known as NAGPRA first passed in 1990 that established processes and procedures for museums and other institutions to return human remains, funerary objects and other items to “Indian tribes” and “Native Hawaiian organizations”. The law has been criticized for being too slow, and vulnerable to resistance from institutions. This can result in efforts sometimes dragging out for decades.

The new regulations are a great way to get started. On January 12, 2009, the new law came into effectThe aim of the new legislation is to speed up the process by giving institutions five more years to prepare human remains and other funerary items for repatriation.

“As the purpose of the Act and these regulations is the disposition or repatriation of human remains and cultural items, museums and Federal agencies must prioritize requests for storage, treatment, or handling by lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, or NHOs who will be the future caretakers of the human remains or cultural items.” The Department of the Interior wrote. “These requests may require alterations or exceptions to standard curation or preservation practices.”

The museum has undergone a number of changes. First reported by the New York Times.


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