University of Kansas returns Native American remains

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) – The University of Kansas has begun the process of returning Native American remains and other sacred objects recently discovered in its museum collections, the university said.

University officials said in a statement posted online that “culturally unidentified individual remains,” funerary items and other sacred objects were found in Spooner Hall and the Lippincott Hall Annex on the Lawrence campus.

The university is checking its inventory of indigenous artifacts it keeps across campus.

The spokesman did not respond Tuesday to questions about the number of artifacts, specifically how and when they were found, or which tribes they belong to.

The announcement comes 32 years after the passage of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which sets criteria for tribal nations to recover human remains and other items related to burials.

Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod initially announced the discovery in a Sept. 20 message to the campus. The university has begun efforts to repatriate some items in the past, but the process is not complete, he said.

The university said its repatriation efforts will include forming an advisory board, consulting with tribal peoples, reviewing all university collections, securing space for the Native Studies Program, supporting gathering opportunities for the university’s Native American community and establishing repatriation policies and procedures.

“The intent of sharing this post is to publicly apologize to Indigenous communities and peoples, past, present and future, and to apologize to tribal nations across North America,” the university said in a statement.

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