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


Memorandum submitted by Governor M J Foster Jr, State of Louisiana

  This letter is written to address a very sensitive issue here in the United States, namely the return of human remains to their rightful ancestors. The Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana has received information that the Natural History Museum in London, England has in their possession the remains of two of their Chitimacha ancestors. The Chitimacha have contacted my office, requesting that their ancestors be returned for proper burial. We are aware that the United Kingdom does not, at this time, have repatriation laws in place. We are also aware that museums have in the past repatriated ancestral remains back to their true ancestors, namely the Australian aboriginal remains and the remains of Long Wolf from Brompton Cemetery to Wounded Knee.

  It is my understanding the House of Commons will be holding a Select Committee meeting on Cultural Property: Return and Illicit Trade on March 10, 2000. It has come to our attention that this will be the first time that the English Government has addressed the important issue of human remains housed at museums. It is hoped that after careful deliberation the end result would be a process allowing for the repatriation of human remains.

  I urge you to consider the thoughts and information provided to you by the Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana. I fully support their right to have the return of their two ancestors for proper reburial, which these ancestors so rightfully deserve.

March 2000

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