Tremendous Event! 12-15 October: Reparation Days 2017 & #NativeAmerican Remains in German Museums

There are hundreds, and doubtless thousands of Native American sacred items, objects and human remains in Germany. Before and after, but especially during their colonial period (1871-start of WWI) graverobbing, looting and theft by German “scientists” took place around the world, including North America. This past week I participated in Reparation Days 2017, with final event the Conference: Prussian Colonial Heritage, and added their signature to a powerful resolution along with representatives from Japan, Australia, Tanzania, Namibia and others who had been robbed, and which Germany had repeatedly denied and/or minimized reparations for the genocide. Many just know the European Jewish Holocaust, but the 1st genocide took place in Africa, but it gets far less, if any, attention and it is not taught in German schools or any of their colonial crimes.

This is a huge, on-going issue as the Humboldt Forum is now being constructed. It is a multimillion dollar recreation of their emperor’s palace, which will house all of this loot taken, including the bodies of the dead. Finally, the peoples and communities most affected are being denied a voice and place in the decision-making process of recognition and repatriation.

The English version of the resolution and press release is below the German one, and you’ll see the list of speakers and representatives, that included myself and Wanbli Gleska Tohake, my mentor and sponsor in AIM Central Texas, who is Lakota from Rosebud Reservation. The decolonization struggle continues worldwide.

It begins: “We, the undersigned speakers, presenters and participants of the transnational conference “Prussian Colonial Heritage: Sacred Objects and Human Remains in Berlin Museums” on October 14/15, 2017 in the Centre Français de Berlin recognize that communities all over the world have lost a considerable part of their cultural heritage, including even “sensitive materials” – comprising “sacred objects” and “human remains” – by force and fraud in the wake of colonial conquests.”  Read the full resolution here at the Berlin Post-Kolonial website.

Other photos from the venue made by me.

 

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12 &15 October: A Workshop on Native Issues Then A Conference on “Stolen Sacred Objects & Human Remains”

And if you don’t know the backstory on this: here’s a briefer. The Humboldt Forum is a German state funded multimillion-dollar recreation of a Prussian emperor’s palace. Began in 2013, scheduled for finish in 2019, it will house the multiple thousands of looted and stolen indigenous and other cultural objects from around the world, including human remains.
There has been an on-going protest against the project, especially as reparations for colonial genocide are being met with resistance and apathy by many Germans, and like the “new” airport (did they ever finish it?) has been troubled with internal and external problems. There are those who work with or in association with the Humboldt Forum who agree items were stolen and should be returned, that continue to internally advocate for change. This conference gives voice to encourage they and others to be more demonstrative in their advocacy.

French art historian Bénédicte Savoy recently quit the project, to the great consternation of the Forum, because of the continued ignoring of unethical procurement Humboldt has the opportunity to correct, but thus far does not. Even in the consultation work on the items and remains, indigenous persons, peoples and tribes are ignored in favor of Eurocentric German opinion.

I’ll be speaking on and sharing information about stolen sacred items, objects and human remains on 15 October at this conference. Learn more about the event and other details at the Facebook page.


 

On 12 Oct. I’ll be giving a workshop at the Brebit event “Fachtag ‘Entwicklungshilfe’ oder Reparationen?” Themes of rethinking Columbus Day, indigenous activism, and contemporary issues. Find more details at their event page

 

Current Native American Related Projects

notyourmascot

No Native Mascots – Keep Racism Out of Wembley

Helping raise awareness of the inherent racist and disrespect of native mascots, in particular the Washington American football team who is scheduled to play on October 30, 2016 inLondon UK.

Research Study on Native American Suicide/Causal Factors

Although one of the smallest demographic groups in the USA and most countries around the world, the indigenous or native peoples have some of the highest rates of suicides, especially among the young. In a number of native communities, often small and materially impoverished, numbers have reached epidemic proportions. There are many contributing factors, but the basis for all returns to the invasion/colonization and continued oppression by European/Eurocentric entities. Historic context is always critical, but how can we help stem the flowing tide of hopelessness and death? As a MSU graduate student, counselor and parent, it is one of my aims to help find and expand on ways to help the People.

Project with Timo Kiesel (Glokal.org)

Addressing and educating about Native American mascot usage and stereotyping in Germany, which has been conclusively been shown to harm natives, especially children.The objectification, romanticization and stereotyping of Native Americans, the deep misinformation about US and native history and current reality.

Stop Misuse of Native American Spirituality & Ceremony

In cooperation with Native American Association of Germany (NAAoG) and other native and non-native allies raising awareness, educating on the subject of cultural appropriation with aims to end the rampant misuse of native ceremonies for profit.

Description: “In the search for meaning and direction in life outside of their own cultural background, the appropriation of Native American beliefs or spirituality, traditions and life-ways has been steadily growing in recent years. Without regard for or knowledge of the impact upon native cultures, especially in historic context.

This is an educational project to facilitate understanding between natives and non-natives about hobbyist activities in Europe, and the impact participation with them can have on further cultural appropriation. Instead, there are respectful, appropriate ways to participate with and learn about native cultures and peoples.”

Repatriation of Humans Remains

Many museums in Germany (such as the Karl May Museum), collectors and others have native/indigenous human remains in violation of international mandates, supporting objectification of marginalized populations. Again, in part, this stems from the objectification, romanticization and stereotyping of Native Americans, especially in considering natives relevant primarily in past tense.

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