Monday, January 25, 2010

treasures recovered

I'm a great believer in giving things back to the people they belong to, once that has been determined. We also had massive excavations when our dams were built - we know that maori rock art went under water - but how many other treasures did? What happened to anything that was found during those engineering jobs - I suppose they could say they never found anything, but it hardly seems realistic when you think of all the farmers with adze that they have found and any road that is built, always seems to turn up something interesting.

By CHERYL WITTENAUER The Associated Press
"Some U.S. military veterans are finding work helping sort through a massive government archaeological collection that has been neglected for decades.
Prehistoric and historic pottery, stone tools, arrowheads, Indian beads, necklaces, earrings and ear spools, and ceremonial artifacts, even human remains, were collected. The items then sat in boxes and paper bags in university museums as well as private basements, garages and tool sheds.
The collection dates to the 1930s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started building dozens of locks, dams and reservoirs, and the ground beneath them was excavated for archaeological treasures.
In recent weeks, U.S. veterans — many disabled — have begun processing, cataloguing, digitizing and archiving the collection as part of a one-year $3.5 million project, funded with federal stimulus money.
It's part of the corps' effort to find American Indian cultural items and return them to tribes or their descendants — something all federal agencies must do under a 1990 law."
This is good work.

Hat tip Buffalo Post

1 comment:

Edward said...

You're right. This is good work. The institutions in NZ aren't bad, but the private collections are another matter. And of course the laws (historic places act; conservation act; protected objects act etc.) don't work in retrospect. Hence, through a combination of previous pillaging, modern destruction due to unfounded fears of land confiscation (farmers and developers, i'm looking at you), and a lack of being able to police it, taonga and archaeological materials are often destroyed/privately kept.
I also think a few of the French museums (and others) need to think about returning a few things to Maori.