TITLE: Support for the Establishment of Cooperative Relationships Regarding International Institutions Housing Native American Human Remains, Funerary Objects, and Items of Cultural Patrimony
WHEREAS, we, the members of the National Congress of American Indians of the United States, invoking the divine blessing of the Creator upon our efforts and purposes, in order to preserve for ourselves and our descendants the inherent sovereign rights of our Indian nations, rights secured under Indian treaties and agreements with the United States, and all other rights and benefits to which we are entitled under the laws and Constitution of the United States, to enlighten the public toward a better understanding of the Indian people, to preserve Indian cultural values, and otherwise promote the health, safety and welfare of the Indian people, do hereby establish and submit the following resolution; and
WHEREAS, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was established in 1944 and is the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments; and
WHEREAS, the protection of sacred places and objects including the remains of our ancestors is of paramount concern for tribal nations in fulfilling our sacred duties to honor these ancestors; and
WHEREAS, the United States passed the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act which in its subsequent implementation has led to the establishment of many successful partnerships between tribal governments, museums, and other institutions that have housed items of cultural significance to the tribes; and
WHEREAS, the United Nations adopted the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2007 which contains in article 12 language that addresses these concerns about the desecration of our burial sites and human remains, and states the intentions of the United Nations Member States to work internationally to redress the past and continuing abuse of our ancestral human remains, funerary objects, and items of cultural patrimony; and
WHEREAS, at the 2012 Annual Convention, NCAI’s membership adopted Resolution #SAC-12-008, Support for International Repatriation, expressing support for tribes engaging in international repatriation efforts and requested the President and Congress to address these ongoing issues; and
WHEREAS, tribal nations have established a working relationship with the Karl May Museum of Germany and other institutions; and
WHEREAS, these relationships have initiated a process of educating these institutions that objects in their collections are not just of historical significance but that they also have a continuing spiritual and cultural life for tribes and their citizens; and
WHEREAS, these institutions have expressed a desire to have a broad showing of support from tribal nations and intertribal organizations for to continue this work and create new partnerships with affected tribes.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that NCAI reaffirms Resolution #SAC-12-008, Support for International Repatriation, and furthermore supports member tribes, such as the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and other tribal nations, in their efforts to repatriate from international repositories through collaborative and diplomatic avenues; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this resolution shall be the policy of the NCAI until it is withdrawn or modified by subsequent resolution.
The foregoing resolution was adopted by the General Assembly at the 2014 Annual Session of the National Congress of American Indians, held at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, October 26-31, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia, with a quorum present.