Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference, "Healing the Divide," Association on American Indian Affairs

Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference

Healing the Divide

We-Ko-Pa Resort, Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Scottsdale, AZ/USA

November 12-14, 2019


Without culture, we cannot exist as distinct and sovereign peoples.  The mission of the Association is to fight to strengthen Native American Cultural Sovereignty.  The Association has been a leader in protecting Cultural Sovereignty – the things that make us who we are – through its Repatriation, International Repatriation and Protection of Sacred Sites initiatives, as well as ensuring that culture is passed on through its Youth initiatives. The Association has advocated for the protection and repatriation of cultural items and sacred lands for almost 100 years, including the development of the National Museum of the American Indian Act, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and the Safeguarding Tribal Objects of Patrimony Act and other new legislation that will support the return and protection of our Cultural Heritage. The Association also provides training and technical assistance to Tribes and others, and is involved with repatriation of private collections both domestically and internationally from institutions, individuals and auctions.

Healing the Divide. The 2019 Association on American Indian Affairs’ Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference – Healing the Divide – will seek to foster a space of healing, sharing and learning open to all. For centuries, Indigenous Peoples have endured forced and violent assimilation, theft of religious and cultural practices, mockery and misappropriation of their cultural identities, and the continued display and sale of their most sacred cultural patrimony needed for ongoing health. These policies and attitudes have resulted in the loss of culture, religion, language and other ancestral knowledge bases, culminating in the historic trauma that all of Indian Country experiences today. Together, as a community of Tribal leaders, Tribal cultural resource practitioners, federal and state agents, foreign and domestic museums and institutions, academics, artists, dealers, collectors, and youth, we can heal the divide, illuminate answers and develop respectful consultation practices.

Throughout the three-day event, the Conference will aim to build a community, establish partnerships, and provide educational opportunities for all participants. Tribal officials, Tribal cultural resource practitioners, Native elders and youth will gather in ceremony and dialogue to support, teach and share about challenges on our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Non-Indian practitioners will engage in educational workshops and training to better understand those challenges. Ultimately, we will all come together through dynamic panels, breakout sessions, workshops, and networking opportunities to unite Tribes, federal agencies, foreign and domestic museums, dealers, collectors, auction houses, academics, and others to better our processes and the way in which we work with one another and establish a healthy future for all of us involved in repatriation.

The Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference will bring together all parties needed for this work and build the community of:

  • Tribal leaders, elders, youth and traditionalists

  • Tribal Historic Preservation Officers and Cultural Resources Staff

  • Government agencies

  • Tribal organizations

  • Museum curators and officials from Tribes, U.S. and foreign institutions

  • Lawyers

  • Arts and Antiquities Professionals

The first day of the Conference will be dedicated to setting the stage and tone for healing and understanding among all participants of the Conference, and important inter-Tribal exchanges. Topics that will be a part of the Fifth Annual Repatriation Conference will include:

  • Cultural Requirements for Healing from Historic Trauma

  • Incorporating Youth and Tribal Communities into Repatriation Practices and Advocacy

  • Working with Federal Agencies and Foreign and Domestic Institutions

  • Interacting with Private Collectors and Auction Houses

  • Exploring Tribal Custom and Culture to Develop Tribal Laws and Processes

  • Learning From Other Successful Repatriations

  • Developing New Advocacy to Support Successful Repatriation Efforts

We look forward to seeing you and working together! 

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