A Grim Find: Native American Remains in a Display Case

5/21/2018 - Chancellor's Leadership Professor of History Ari Kelman in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Louellyn White came to Pennsylvania to search for graves of native children who died after their Carlisle Indian School masters sent them out to work as maids and farmhands.

But as she hunted for burial records in the dusky, seldom-used library of the Byberry Quaker Meeting in Philadelphia, she made a horrifying discovery: a yellowed skull, labeled as Native American, set in a display case among a collection of rocks and fossils.

“Broadly speaking, there’s increased cultural sensitivity around these kinds of issues — sacred items, spiritual items, bones, all of it,” said Ari Kelman, a chancellor’s leadership professor of history of the University of California at Davis and author of A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling Over the Memory of Sand Creek. But at the same time, “there’s a longstanding sense on the part of some collectors that their property rights trump the human rights of tribal peoples.”

Read the full story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Filed under: