Mass. college cancels sale of Native objects

JUNEAU — A Massachusetts theology college has abandoned plans to sell off art from 52 Native tribes, including Tlingit and Haida items, as the federal government investigates.

The Andover Newton Theological School could face penalties for quietly planning the sale of 80 Native art pieces this summer, possibly violating a federal law that would require some times to be returned to the tribes, reported KTOO-FM .

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., has displayed the collection since the 1940s and alerted hundreds of tribal leaders to Andover Newton’s plans.

Sealaska Heritage Institute president Rosita Worl was among those leaders. The school intended to auction off a Tlingit halibut hook that Worl said is sacred.

“The halibut hook has spiritual dimensions to it and in this particular case, we have a halibut hook with a wolf,” she said.

According to Worl, the items were originally collected as punishment by missionaries associated with the school.

“It was through their own missionaries going out into the field and collecting objects,” she said. “I tell the story over and over again . they collected our sins.”

Peabody Essex Museum President Dan Monroe says the school seemed confused from the outset, with no inventory or summary of objects and the apparent assumption that the museum could tell them what items were subject to repatriation.

Monroe says only the tribes have a say in that.

“No other party can make those identifications,” said Monroe.

Andover Newton is being investigated because it may have violated the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, according to David Tarler of the Washington, D.C., NAGPRA office.

Schools or museums that receive government funding could be required to return certain tribal items.

Andover Newton is a private school, but Tarler said even indirect financial assistance, like student loans, could count.

The school could face penalties that range from $5,000 for each failure to comply to up to about $21,000, or .25 percent of the school’s annual budget — whichever is less, he said. There could also be aggravating circumstances, he said.

Andover Newton president Martin Copenhaver didn’t comment but forwarded KTOO-FM a letter that said the school “will proceed to repatriate artifacts . if feasible and appropriate ways can be found to do so.”

More in News

The Norwegian Sun in port on Oct. 25, 2023. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for t​​he week of May 11

Here’s what to expect this week.

Members of the Thunder Mountain High School culinary arts team prepare their three-course meal during the National ProStart Invitational in Baltimore on April 26-28. (Photo by Rebecca Giedosh-Ruge)
TMHS culinary arts team serves a meal of kings at national competition

Five students who won state competition bring Alaskan crab and salmon to “Top Chef”-style event.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, May 15, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, listens to discussion on the Senate floor on Wednesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
A look at some of the bills that failed to pass the Alaska Legislature this year

Parts of a long-term plan to bring state revenue and expenses into line again failed to advance.

Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, stares at a pile stack of budget amendments on Tuesday. (James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska lawmakers expand food stamp program with goal of preventing hunger, application backlogs

More Alaskans will be able to access food stamps following lawmakers’ vote… Continue reading

Nathan Jackson (left) and John Hagen accept awards at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska President’s Awards banquet. (Courtesy photo)
Haines artists get belated recognition for iconic Tlingit and Haida logo

Nathan Jackson and John Hagen created the design that has been on tribal materials since the ‘70s.

Dori Thompson pours hooligan into a heating tank on May 2. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)
Hooligan oil cooked at culture camp ‘it’s pure magic’

Two-day process of extracting oil from fish remains the same as thousands of years ago.

Shorebirds forage on July 17, 2019, along the edge of Cook Inlet by the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage. The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill that will enable carbon storage in reservoirs deep below Cook Inlet. The carbon-storage bill include numerous other provisions aimed at improving energy supplies and deliverability in Cook Inlet and elsewhere. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska Legislature passes carbon-storage bill with additional energy provisions

The Alaska Legislature has passed a bill that combines carbon storage, new… Continue reading

Most Read