New York Times: Berlin Museum Returns Artifacts to Indigenous People of Alaska

May 16, 2018, The New York Times

"The foundation overseeing state museums in Berlin returned nine artifacts to indigenous communities in Alaska on Wednesday after it determined that they had been taken from a burial site in the 1880s.

 Image via  The New York Times

Image via The New York Times

“The objects were taken from graves without permission of the native people, and thus unlawfully,” said Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees Berlin's publicly funded museums. “Therefore, they don’t belong in our museums,” he added.

The items, which included several masks, a wooden idol and a baby basket, had been in the collection of Berlin’s Ethnographic Museum, though they were never exhibited publicly. Between 1882 and 1884, they were taken by Johan Adrian Jacobsen, a Norwegian adventurer and amateur ethnographer acting on behalf of the museum.

In front of members of the media, Mr. Parzinger handed a fragment of a large wooden mask to John F.C. Johnson, a representative of the Alaskan Chugach people. Both men, wearing white cotton gloves, held the mask between them for photographers."

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