With hard work on the part of tribal members belonging to the Working Group on International Repatriation, the Chickasaw Nation, Lt. Governor (and NCAI President) Jefferson Keel, the Association on American Indian Affairs, and tribal nations in Sacramento last week, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) passed a Resolution in Support of International Repatriation.

The NCAI is the largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the United States. The passage of this Resolution is historic and monumental for Native American communities seeking to repatriate internationally, as it places the majority of Native American nations behind international repatriation efforts, and also supports indigenous communities elsewhere seeking to repatriate.

The Resolution acknowledges the human rights violations that have led to the necessity for international repatriation, stating that “NCAI member tribes, Native [N]ations, and indigenous communities globally are facing a human rights violation whereby Native American ancestral remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony were exhumed, excavated, stolen, exchanged, studied, or taken under duress, without the free, prior, and informed consent of Native Nations and moved beyond the boundaries of Native Nations and the United States.”

The Resolution also states that “this human rights violation is perpetuated through the continued possession, display, study, or profit from our ancestral remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony” and goes on to quote the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which clearly supports Native Nations seeking to repatriate.

The Resolution calls upon the President of the United States, U.S. Congress, and the U.S. government to work with Native Nations and to take action to ensure international repatriations. And it also calls upon the U.N. to convene a special session and committee of indigenous communities to address international repatriation.

Moving forward, this Resolution may be used by Native American communities as a formal document to show that U.S. Native Nations have formally and democratically resolved to support international repatriation efforts among their nations and it will help ensure that international repatriation is addressed both nationally and internationally.

To view the full resolution, please go to: http://www.ncai.org/resources/resolutions/support-for-international-repatriation.

Excerpt of NCAI Resolution in Support of International Repatriation:

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the NCAI hereby supports the NCAI member tribes and other Native nations in their efforts to repatriate from international repositories; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI requests that the State Department, U.S. embassies, U.S. Senators, U.S. Representatives, and other U.S. governmental bodies make themselves available to assist Native nations in international repatriations, and that the U.S. government takes immediate action after consultation with Native nations to adequately address this five hundred-year-old, ongoing human rights issue; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI will advocate on behalf of its member tribes and other Native nations to ensure international repatriation is addressed nationally and internationally; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI urges President Obama and future Presidents of the United States of America to call on Congress to address international repatriation; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NCAI will urge the U.N. to convene a special session and implement a formalized Working Group or Subcommittee comprised of indigenous community members to formally look into this human rights issue; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, NCAI will work with the Association on American Indian Affairs (AAIA) and other organizations to collaborate with Native nations in support of international repatriation…

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