Book Launch: Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture by Chip Colwell

MOA and The Department of Anthropology presents:

Book Launch: Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture

Who owns the past? Museums that care for the objects of history or the communities whose ancestors made them?

Five decades ago, Native American leaders launched a crusade against museums to reclaim their sacred objects and to rebury their kin. This controversy has exploded in recent years as hundreds of U.S. tribes have used a landmark federal law to recover their looted heritage from more than one thousand museums across America. Many still question how to balance the religious freedoms of Native Americans with the academic freedoms of American scientists, and the arguments continue on about whether the emptying of museum shelves elevates human rights or destroys humanity’s common heritage.

Presenting a new book, Chip Colwell shares his personal journey to illuminate how repatriation has transformed both American museums and Native communities. This story reveals why U.S. repatriation law has become an imperfect but necessary tool to resolve the collision of worldviews between scientists and Native Americans—to decide the nature of the sacred and the destiny of souls.

Chip Colwell is Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He has published 10 books, and his work has been highlighted in such venues as the New York Times, The Guardian, Archaeology Magazine, and Indian Country Today. He is the founding editor-in-chief of www.sapiens.org, an online magazine dedicating to writing anthropology for the public.

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