The Appropriation of Native American Cultural Property: Comparing the U.S. and French Contexts
Author(s): Michelle Turner
When Native American sacred objects were recently auctioned off as art in Paris, many Americans were shocked by the headlines. American institutions and archaeologists continue to face their own histories of appropriation of Native American culture and objects, but many in the U.S. still seem surprised by the extent to which European institutions resist calls for more sensitive handling of cultural property. Others see a disparity between a widespread acknowledgement of the need to repatriate Holocaust-looted objects, while similar issues are not always acknowledged when it comes to objects that originated from indigenous groups. But are there genuine differences between American and European responses to appropriations of cultural property? If so, is Europe just catching up, or are there significant legal and cultural factors that account for the differences? This paper will explore understandings of cultural property in the U.S. and in France and compare relevant aspects of the legal frameworks in each country. It will discuss how these frameworks protect, or fail to protect, Native American interests in what happens to cultural property and will also consider how we can move forward towards increased, and more just, protection for sacred objects and other cultural property.
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The Appropriation of Native American Cultural Property: Comparing the U.S. and French Contexts. Michelle Turner. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398220)
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