Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture
Chip Colwell is Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He has published 10 books, most recently Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture (University of Chicago Press). His work has been highlighted in such venues as the New York Times, The Guardian, and Indian Country Today. He is the founding editor-in-chief of www.sapiens.org, a popular online magazine about anthropological discoveries and thinking.
Five decades ago, Native American leaders launched a crusade against museums to reclaim their sacred objects and to rebury their kin. The repatriation controversy has grown in recent years as hundreds of tribes have used a landmark federal law to recover their looted heritage from American museums across the United States. This lecture presents Colwell’s new book, an unflinching insider’s view of the tangled debate over who owns the past. Colwell will share his personal journey to understand how repatriation has transformed both museums and tribes, along with the stories of four objects from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and how they were created, collected, and returned to their sources. These tales reveal the complicated process that involves not merely obeying the law but negotiating the thin lines between identity and morality, spirituality and politics.