Feds Petitioned to Investigate Sale of Native Objects by East Coast School

Sealaska Stories in the News 
June 26 2015

Sealaska Heritage Institute is asking the federal government to investigate whether the planned sale of a Native American art collection by a Massachusetts school is legal under repatriation laws.

The Andover Newton Theological School (ANTS) is moving to sell the collection, which contains 1,100 objects, including 125 works of Native American art representing fifty-two tribes in the United States and Canada that have been accessible to the public through the Peabody Essex Museum.

The sale may run afoul of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAPGRA) because the school receives and/or processes federal student aid funds, wrote SHI President Rosita Worl in a letter sent on June 22 to David Tarler, a program officer in NAGPRA’S Training, Civil Enforcement and Regulations Division.

“I respectfully request that an investigation be undertaken immediately to forestall the sale of any Native American objects until a determination can be made if ANTS has fully complied with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act,” said Worl, former Chair of the federal NAGPRA Review Committee. “Should the collection go into private hands, an important part of the artistic, cultural, and spiritual heritage of Native Americans will be lost.”