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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Policing patrimony : an interdisciplinary approach to improve the repatriation of Indigenous cultural property in the United States Ball, Carson


Repatriation of Indigenous cultural property is a complex political process. Through examining the ethical frameworks, international procedures and standards, and perspectives of Indigenous descendant communities, this paper suggests what policies and procedures can promote successful repatriation efforts. Furthermore, this paper utilizes the United States as a case study because of its unique approaches for handling repatriation cases. Domestic cases surrounding the repatriation of Indigenous cultural property are dictated by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA), a federal statute that acknowledges cultural sovereignty but is exclusive; whereas, for global repatriation cases, the United States adopted the 1970 UNESCO Convention. Overall, the United States’ system for repatriation was more substantial compared to other nations; however, it still only partially integrates Indigenous people into the repatriation process and leaves an ample number of loopholes that allows looting and illicit trade of cultural property to thrive. To address the challenges that currently exist in the United States’ systems of repatriation and improve global repatriation efforts as a whole, this paper provides a set of six recommendations to promote processes that are more inclusive, less burdensome, and favor Indigenous groups—instead of institutions and private collectors.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International