University of Minnesota: University of Minnesota to repatriate Mimbres objects to descendant tribes

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents today authorized the repatriation of objects from a collection of Mimbres-affiliated cultural artifacts, a significant step forward in an effort to honor the University’s ethical, moral and legal obligations. Though the recommendation for repatriation came forward based on a variety of considerations, including ethical and policy considerations, these actions will also support compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA).

“Today’s repatriation determination is another milestone for our institution and our Tribal partners,” Board Chair Ken Powell said after the resolution was approved. “This is an opportunity to reaffirm the mission of the University of Minnesota. While the law maps out the decisions to be made, it is the moral and ethical calling of our land grant university that inspires and guides us, demanding that we act justly by repatriating that which was never ours. We cannot undo our past. We can accept responsibility for it. That means more than acknowledgements and apologies. Today, the University is exhibiting the values of what it means to be a land grant institution by authorizing the repatriation of the Mimbres objects to their rightful home with their Native peoples.”

Read the full text of Chair Powell’s statement from Friday’s meeting here.

The Board’s action authorizes University leadership to advance the ongoing consultation with the appropriate Tribal Nations of the Southwest and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) regarding repatriation. The University is committed to working to complete these necessary conversations with care and coordinate next steps with the Tribal Nations involved. Ultimately, the University will return the Mimbres objects it holds, consistent with the many Tribal consultations that have taken place, research into the ancestral lineage of the objects and any additional obligations the University may have under NAGPRA.

The remains of Mimbres ancestors associated with the objects previously held at the Weisman Art Museum currently reside at Hamline University’s Osteology Repository under an agreement with MIAC. The University intends to coordinate with MIAC on a process to repatriate these remains.

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