Inuit remains taken from Labrador in late 1920s to be returned

Staff ~ The Telegram
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A Chicago museum has announced it will return Inuit remains to Labrador that were removed from the land in the late 1920s.
The remains of 22 individuals were removed without consent from an abandoned Moravian church mission in the former community of Zoar on Labrador's north coast during the Rawson-MacMillan Sub-Arctic expedition of 1927-28.
The Field Museum of Natural History says it had a limited understanding of how the remains came into its collections until researchers analyzed historical documents, including the journals of anthropologist William Duncan Strong. He dug up the bodies from marked graves despite opposition from residents of Nain and Hopedale, and otherwise misled the community about his activities, a news release states.
"We are deeply saddened by this incident," said John McCarter, museum president. He said Strong's actions did not comply with past or present archeology ethics.
The museum has agreed to cover all costs associated with returning the remains to Labrador.
With the support of Nunatsiavut government, the museum and the Torngasok Cultural Centre have been in consultation since 2008 to arrange for a respectful return of the remains.
Attempts to identify the remains have had limited success. Johannes Lampe, Nunatsiavut's minister of culture, recreation and tourism, encourages anyone with roots in Zoar to come forward.
"The removal of these remains was immoral, disrespectful and disgraceful,"?he said. "While we can't change the past, we can do the right thing now and ensure these individuals are returned to their rightful resting place."
The remains are supposed to be repatriated next summer.

Organizations: Chicago museum, Moravian church, Field Museum of Natural History Torngasok Cultural Centre

Geographic location: Labrador, Zoar, Nunatsiavut Nain Hopedale

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Recent comments

  • Saucy Face
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    Very classy and thoughtful move. Now if we can only get our Beothuk artifacts back from Britain.