Property

In June 1971 Clyde Bellecourte led a group of American Indian Movement members to the site of an archaeological excavation in Minnesota. To the consternation of the students digging there, they confiscated the artifacts and filled in the trenches. This event helped trigger national attention to a long history of excavation of Indian burials that began as soon as Europeans came to North America. The stuggle over who should control Native remains and objects became part of the sovereignty movement in the 1970s and resulted in the passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in 1990. This section discusses Native ideas about the meaning of ownership and property; explains what led up to NAGPRA and how it is being implemented; and highlights some of the efforts of scholars to understand why this conflict about Native cultural property occurred and why the implementation of NAGPRA is so complicated.

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