Repatriation Guidelines for Indigenous Peoples

LOA will respond to all requests for information from indigenous peoples about archaeological materials and/or ancestral remains in the LOA’s collections.  Each request will be reviewed by the LOA Committee and dealt with by the LOA in an open and constructive manner, on a case-by-case basis.  The LOA welcomes inquiries from indigenous peoples with respect to the repatriation process and timing.

 

How to Request Information 

Requests for information about materials in the LOA’s collections should be addressed to the LOA Director.   

Because the LOA classifies archaeological materials by geographic location, LOA requires that requests for information include one of the following: 

  • a topographical map of the indigenous peoples’ traditional territory, showing boundaries and geographic features; or
  • a complete list of archaeological sites, including Borden site number, for the area of concern.  Such a list is available from the British Columbia Archaeology Branch.

The LOA will provide inventories of any catalogued materials from sites in the collection within the requested territory.

 

Process for Repatriation of Archaeological Materials and/or Ancestral Remains 

The repatriation process can be long and complicated as complex issues often arise.  For this reason, all requests for repatriation of cultural materials and ancestral remains must be considered on their own merits. Typical steps in the repatriation process for indigenous peoples in British Columbia are provided below.  Because each repatriation request is unique, the order and number of steps may vary.  The LOA works with indigenous peoples from other parts of the world in a similar manner, however, additional requirements or steps may apply.

LOA is a repository for archaeological materials collected under HCA Permit and/or Cultural Heritage Permit(s),  and as such it is required to comply with all requirements and conditions imposed under such permits.  Before initiating the formal process of repatriation, the LOA requires an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (e.g., a Band/Council Resolution or equivalent) requesting the repatriation of specific collections. Official requests for repatriation typically follow after information about LOA’s collections has been shared with the requesting indigenous people.  For further information regarding the repatriation process, please refer to Section 15: Requests for Repatriation in LOA’s Policies and Procedures.

 

Initial Communication 

  1. Initial communication may come from an indigenous peoples to LOA or from LOA to indigenous peoples.  Indigenous peoples requesting repatriation should clearly identify the indigenous peoples and/or individuals making the claim and state the reasons for the request.
  2. Indigenous peoples must provide a map of their territory or site numbers and names within the territory.
  3. LOA prepares a complete inventory of all catalogued materials for the areas/sites identified by the requesting indigenous people. The inventory may include ancestral remains and associated materials, artifacts and belongings including those from non-burial context, documentation including field notes, photographs and soil or other samples.

 

The Beginning of the Work 

  1. Indigenous peoples are encouraged to visit the LOA to view the cultural materials and ancestral remains in the collections covered under their repatriation request.  To schedule a visit, interested indigenous peoples make an appointment with the LOA Manager.  There is no limit on the number of visits.
  2. LOA will endeavour to follow protocol instructions shared by the requesting indigenous people for the care of any ancestral remains covered by the repatriation request while such ancestral remains are in LOA’s possession.
  3. LOA will work with the requesting indigenous people to determine potential overlapping indigenous peoples’ territories.
  4. LOA will contact the Office of the University Counsel at UBC and the British Columbia Archaeology Branch (if cultural materials and ancestral remains were collected under an HCA Permit) to advise that a repatriation request has been received.

 

Beginning the Legal Process

  1. If the requesting indigenous people decide to proceed with their repatriation request, they must provide LOA with an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (for example, a Band or Council Resolution) listing all cultural materials and ancestral remains to be repatriated, using the LOA identification numbers contained in the inventories provided earlier by LOA.   If a repatriation committee or similar group is acting on behalf of an indigenous people, LOA requires an official resolution from the requesting indigenous people (for example a copy of a Band/Council resolution) authorizing the committees work in addition to the official resolution listing all cultural materials and ancestral remains to be repatriated, using the LOA identification numbers contained in the inventories provided earlier by LOA.
  2. LOA meets to discuss the repatriation request.  LOA works on a presumption of a favourable disposition towards such requests.  LOA’s decision is communicated to the requesting indigenous people.  If LOA has any concerns, these will also be communicated to the indigenous people.
  3. Where overlapping indigenous peoples have been identified,
    1. the requesting indigenous people must send a copy of a “Letter of Intention to Repatriate” to each identified overlapping indigenous people with a request that they respond to both the requesting indigenous people and the LOA by a specified date; and
    2. the LOA Director will send a separate communication to each overlapping indigenous people advising of the Letter of Intention to Repatriate package they will receive from the requesting indigenous people and requesting the overlapping indigenous peoples respond to the LOA Director with their comments by the specified date.     In the event of conflicting claims between the requesting indigenous people and the overlapping indigenous peoples, the LOA will inform the parties that a conflict exists and will defer its decision about repatriation until after the conflict has been resolved.  In the case of materials that are claimed by two or more indigenous peoples, the LOA will require a release from all such indigenous peoples before the materials can be repatriated to a particular indigenous people.

 

Making Arrangements for the Repatriation 

  1. After the closing date for responses to the Letter of Intention to Repatriate, the requesting indigenous people and LOA will finalize the list of cultural materials and ancestral remains for repatriation.
  2. The requesting indigenous people will post a public notice (in a local newspaper, for example) notifying neighbouring groups of their intention to repatriate.  Such notice must contain the names and Borden site numbers of the archaeological sites.
  3. The LOA will prepare a Transfer Agreement for the  Office of the University Counsel, UBC for review.  The Office of the University Counsel will review and finalize the Transfer Agreement and provide two originals signed by UBC’s authorized signatories to the LOA.
  4. If any individuals designated by the requesting indigenous people to sign the Transfer Agreement on their behalf cannot travel to LOA for the repatriation, LOA will send the two originals to the indigenous people to be signed by those individuals in advance.  The remaining signatories representing the indigenous people and LOA will sign both copies on the day of the repatriation.
  5. The requesting indigenous people and LOA will work out the details for the repatriation ceremony.  If the indigenous peoples desire press coverage, LOA will contact UBC Public Affairs to assist with press releases.
  6. On the day of the repatriation, one signed original of the Transfer Agreement is given to the requesting indigenous people and one original is retained by UBC in the Office of the University Counsel.  LOA will make a copy of the signed Transfer Agreement  for their files and deliver the original to the Office of the University Counsel within two business days.
  7. If the repatriated cultural materials and ancestral remains had been collected under HCA Permit,  LOA will advise the British Columbia Archaeology Branch that the repatriation has been completed.