|“The elders told us that they need to come home out of respect,” says Vincent Randall, a Yavapai-Apache who works on repatriation issues. “Otherwise the consequences of fooling around with these things are alcoholism, suicide, domestic violence and all of society’s woes.” Photo Terry Snowball / National Museum of American Indian|
Whitewashing History and Harboring Native Remains
The Smithsonian paid bounties for Native American skulls for racist studies resulting in grave robbing, executions of Native people and the Massacre at Sand Creek. Today, the Smithsonian refuses to make the facts public, and delays the return of Native American remains to their homelands for reburial.
January 13, 2023
In a new database showing institutions harboring Native American remains -- the Smithsonian is missing.
The Smithsonian is concealing from the public its collection of more than 10,000 Native remains, and the dark history of its racist skull collection -- for the purpose of intelligence studies based on race -- which led to grave robbing. It was one reason for the Massacre at Sand Creek.
This week, ProPublica released an extensive database of museums, universities, and others who are harboring Native American remains. The absence of data from the Smithsonian is glaring. The Smithsonian is dodging the Native American Grave and Protection Repatriation Act.
Pawnee Professor James Riding In, in a series of interviews with Censored News, described the Smithsonian's study of Native American skulls, and the bounties paid for Native American remains, which led to executions, grave robbing and the Massacre at Sand Creek.
The discovery of the brain of Ishi at the Smithsonian, which the Smithsonian initially would not return for reburial in California until there was a public outcry, led to our investigations into the Smithsonian's horrific history and collection of Native American remains.
Today, we are republishing our series. The research began more than 20 years ago.
After we began exposing the Smithsonian's racist studies and collection of Native American remains, in the years that followed, the Smithsonian refused to respond to our questions.
Smithsonian -- Without Ethics or Morality
Collection of Native Skulls
Censored News shows where remains of Dine', Oglala, Tohono O'odham, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Muscogee and other on the Trail of Tears were removed and being held.
Smithsonian dodges Native American Graves and Repatriation Act
About the author
Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years. She began at the Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She served as a correspondent for Lakota Times, Associated Press and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she began Censored News to show what was being censored. Now a collective, with no ads, grants or salaries, Censored News has 22 million page views. She has a master's degree in international health focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases.
Copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News