Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum submitted by the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office

Re:  Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade Item (1604; AS 1242. Male Skull; Narragansett; Rhode Island)

  Asco Wequassin (greetings), Mr Speaker:

  I am John Brown, Tribal Preservation Officer of the (Federally recognised and acknowledged sovereign) Narragansett Indian Tribe. In the early 1600s, when the English people began making contact with my people, the Narragansett Tribal Nation, our ancestral territory covered beyond what is now the entirety of the state of Rhode Island in the New England region of the United States of America. At the beginning of the colonial era, we had direct government to government relations with the British Government and established several treaties with the same.

  Much history has crossed between us since that time and many things have changed for each of us. Recently, we have received information that the skull of one of our ancestors is listed in the collection of the Natural History Museum of London. This ancestor's remains are identified as 1604; AS1242. Male Skull; Narragansett; Rhode Island.

  We are heartened to be informed that the House of Commons, in Committee, is addressing the issue of Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade. It is our understanding that under English Common Law, the dead cannot be owned. May one of the fruits of this Committee's deliberations be the return of the remains of this Narragansett, to the Narragansett Nation, for proper ceremony and re-burial. We also seek any Narragansett held in British collections.

  My people's journey from the time and place since our first contact with your people has been a rough road of many valleys and peaks. May our mutual path from this time forward be a more even road, paved with truth, respect and honorable relations.

  I am directly reachable by phone at: Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office, PO Box 700, Wyoming RI 02898 and by phone at: 1401 2411865; fax 1401 5394217.

  Tau-botdan-tamock Wut-che Warne (we are giving thanks for all things).

March 2000

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