The University of Kansas has begun the process of returning Native American remains and other sacred objects that were recently discovered in its museum collections, the university said.
University officials said in a statement posted online that “culturally unidentified individual remains,” funeral objects and other sacred objects were found in Spooner Hall and Lippincott Hall Annex on the Lawrence campus.
The university is verifying its inventory of Indigenous artifacts it holds across campus.
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A spokesperson did not respond Tuesday to questions about the number of artifacts, specifically how and when they were found, or to which tribes they belong.
The announcement comes 32 years after the passage of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which sets out criteria for tribal nations to reclaim human remains and other objects related to burials.
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Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod initially announced the discovery in a message to the campus Sept. 20. The university had begun efforts to repatriate some items in the past, but the process was not completed, he said.
The university said its repatriation efforts will include forming an advisory committee, consulting with tribal nations, auditing all university collections, securing space for the Indigenous Studies Program, supporting gathering opportunities for the university’s Native American community, and instituting repatriation policies and procedures.
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“The intent in sharing this announcement is to publicly apologize to Native communities and peoples, past, present, and future, and to apologize to the tribal nations across North America,” the university’s statement said.