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.