Harvard museum still trying to repatriate thousands of Indigenous remains

Harvard University’s Peabody Museum has one of the largest collections of Native American remains in the United States and is moving forward with efforts to repatriate them, along with 15 remains of “enslaved or likely to have been enslaved individuals.”

“We must begin to confront the reality of a past in which academic curiosity and opportunity overwhelmed humanity,” said Harvard President Lawrence Bacow.

Harvard’s “Steering Committee on Human Remains in University Museum Collections” issued its report this fall, explaining how it plans to move forward.

Harvard alumni and students wrote Bacow criticizing the report for what they said was its glaring failure “to recognize the unique opportunity to seek reconciliation with its Indigenous community.”

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Meet Tyeastia Green, the woman tapped to jump start Minneapolis’ stalled racial equity work

Last spring, the city of Minneapolis hired Tyeastia Green to restart the racial justice work that collapsed after most staff in the city’s Division of Race and Equity quit in frustration. Mayor Frey’s budget proposes that Green lead a newly created Department of Racial Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging.

Green’s putting together an ambitious agenda, including the annual publication of the “Minneapolis Inequity Report,” more robust and ongoing racial equity trainings for city employees, and fundraising for projects she can’t do within her city budget.

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News: Fond du Lac dedicates new cemetery following 2017 grave desecration, our photo-op Governor, and more

In this post:

  • Fond du Lac band dedicates new cemetery for historic grave desecrated during road project
  • Our photo-op Governor
  • Canadian museum repatriates sacred item taken by missionary 150 years ago
  • Sacheen Littlefeather walks on; she declined Oscar on behalf of Brando
  • Cherokee Nation ongoing lawsuit against the federal government to account for how it’s managed Tribal assets
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East Phillips Urban Farm shows the City of Minneapolis’ disregard for its promises to stop systemic racism

Roof Depot site.

East Phillips community leaders have a dream: To increase the livability of their notoriously polluted neighborhood. And they have a plan:  Renovate the former Roof Depot and Sears warehouse site into a community-owned multi-use resource. It would include an indoor Urban Farm – producing healthy foods in what is now a food desert –  space for small business, jobs training programs, low-income housing, and a large solar array.

Six years ago, the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI) was negotiating to buy the Roof Depot site, but the city of Minneapolis intervened and bought the property. The city wants the land to consolidate its Water Works Maintenance Facility, currently in Southeast Minneapolis, with Public Works operations already on Hiawatha Avenue next to the Roof Depot site. 

The city is blocking what would be a community asset and replacing it with a project that harms neighborhood livability.

The city is breaking multiple promises its made, and policies its passed, to address the kinds of racial injustice that exist in East Phillips.

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Weekend Reads: Land Back, a court win, and the latest Enbridge criticism

In this post:

  • Native Nations in Wisconsin get big property tax win
  • Wisconsin Point returned to Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa
  • The hyperbole keeps coming from Enbridge and its backers
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Pope’s Residential School apology draws mixed reaction around Turtle Island

Pope Francis apologized to the Indigenous peoples of Canada this week for the evil and atrocities committed against their children through the Catholic-run residential school system.

“I am deeply sorry — sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous peoples,” the Pope said, according to the Washington Post. “It is painful to think of how the firm soil of values, language and culture that made up the authentic identity of your peoples was eroded, and that you have continued to pay the price of this,” Francis said, in his native Spanish.

Some in Indian Country accepted the apology. Some saw it as long overdue. Others felt it was a good step, but lacked specificity. Still others are waiting to see if the Pope’s words would be followed by concrete actions.

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U of M is repatriating Indigenous remains, expanding Native American tuition assistance, and more

The University of Minnesota has taken a step forward in efforts to repatriate Mimbres remains and cultural objects dug up by University professors and students as part of an archeological dig from 1928-1931.

It’s one of several actions the University has taken in response to a July, 2020 resolution from the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) “to take swift and immediate actions to address institutional racism and improve the school’s relationship with Minnesota’s 11 federally recognized tribal nations.”

MIAC is a liaison to Minnesota state government for those Tribes.

Other University actions include:

  • Expanding tuition assistance to Native American students
  • Investigating claims of abusive medical research on children from the Red Lake Nation
  • Addressing land issues with the Fond du Lac Band
  • Establishing wild rice research protocols
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Events: Updates on reparations work and East Phillips Urban Farm proposal, fundraiser for Dakota Community Center

In this post:

  • MN Council of Churches announces dates for conversations around truth telling, reparations
  • Fundraiser for a Dakota Community Center this Saturday
  • Community meeting set on East Phillips’ efforts to redevelop Roof Depot site into a community amenity rather than a public works yard
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Newly released federal report begins to document extent of Boarding School damage to Indian children

The U.S. Department of Interior this month released its first report documenting the historical and ongoing trauma the boarding school system inflicted on Indian children, their families, and their communities. It’s a first step in national efforts towards truth telling, education, and repair with Indigenous communities.

The Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative Investigative Report:

  • Confirms the United States created the boarding school system to force cultural assimilation and dispossession Indigenous peoples of their lands.
  • Identifies 408 boarding schools across 37 states that the U.S. government operated or supported. Roughly half of them “may have received support or involvement from a religious institution or organization.”
  • Identifies at least 53 burial sites for children who lived in boarding schools — with more discoveries expected. Approximately 19 boarding schools accounted for the deaths of more than 500 American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian children. That number is expected to rise.
  • Identifies more than 1,000 other Federal and non-Federal institutions, “including Indian day schools, sanitariums, asylums, orphanages, and stand-alone dormitories that may have involved education of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian people, mainly Indian children.”
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Federal legislation moves on Boarding School accountability, Tribal Civics Guide released, and more

In this post:

  • Federal bill pushes for Indian Boarding School accountability; testimony from survivors sought
  • Tribal Civics Guide released
  • Finding language that affirms kinship with the natural world
  • State court in India makes ‘Rights of Nature’ ruling
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