Accepted Paper:

The inevitable future of the Indigenous cultural heritage repatriation movement in Canada   


Stacey Jessiman (Stanford University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will explore the various forces driving the increasingly powerful Indigenous cultural heritage repatriation movement in Canada and then describe the movement’s inevitable outcome.

Paper long abstract:

The paper will first examine key international and domestic legal and ethical frameworks and political forces governing Indigenous cultural heritage repatriation in Canada - from the Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to provincial repatriation legislation, land claims settlement agreements, museum ethics guidelines and the government-funded Royal BC Museum repatriation project. It will then explore the value and importance to Indigenous peoples, museums and Canadian society of repatriating Indigenous material taken without free, prior and informed consent -- including restoring their position as intergenerational mediators of traditional knowledge and histories within holistic cultures, helping heal the harms of the Indian Residential School system, and transforming museum relationships with Indigenous peoples. Ultimately the paper argues that repatriation of Indigenous cultural heritage is a key part of the reconciliation process in Canada and as such, requires implementation of a legal framework similar to the US Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.

Panel WIM-CHAT03
Ethnographic objects, Amerindians and museums