Guidelines for NAGPRA Pottery: Relocation and Management
Tribes with cultural affiliation to the Arizona State Museum (ASM) pottery collections were invited to two consultation workshops in November 2001 and November 2003. Additional consultations were held with various tribal communities unable to make the previous consultations held at ASM. The consultations were held to specifically seek advice and recommendations on the impending move of the pottery collection from its disparate storage locations to one new storage vault. As a result of the consultations, the following guidelines are being proposed to reflect cultural concerns articulated by tribal representatives.
For the purposes of these guidelines the term, “NAGPRA related items”, means associated and unassociated funerary objects, sacred objects and objects of cultural patrimony as defined in P.L. 101-601 Section 2. (25 USC. 3001). The ASM fully supports the goals of P.L. 101-601 and affirms its obligations to comply with the letter and spirit of its provisions.
The ASM acknowledges that there are ceramics eligible for repatriation under NAGPRA and culturally affiliated tribes have received summaries and inventories of these collections in compliance with NAGPRA. The ASM recognizes that objects eligible for repatriation may require additional time from culturally affiliated tribes to facilitate repatriation due to a variety of circumstances. Until a formal request for repatriation is initiated by a tribal claimant, the ASM will maintain the objects in trust. The ASM will strive to provide storage, handling and care conditions in accord with the wishes of concerned tribes as indicated by on-going consultation and dialogue with authorized tribal representatives, insofar as operationally possible with available museum resources.
During the relocation of the pottery collection, access through direct handling, viewing, and physical proximity will be restricted to designated museum staff. Visitation of NAGPRA related items by tribal representatives for religious purposes is subject to approval from and authorized tribal representative as per tribal consultation recommendations.
Research requests for NAGPRA related pottery will conform to existing museum policy regarding access to culturally sensitive materials.
NAGPRA related items will be separated from other pottery collections within the vault. Due to the constraints of building requirements, the NAGPRA related items are unable to be stored in complete isolation but will be closed from view.
Handling and movement of NAGPRA related material will be avoided when feasible and will be kept to a minimum when absolutely necessary. During the move, professional museum staff, and trained students supervised by staff will handle NAGPRA pottery. Recognized professional standards of handling collections as defined by museum collections policy and conservation guidelines will be used. NAGPRA related items will not be re-assembled and treated.
The packing and transport of the pottery to the new vault will employ museum standards that minimize movement and promote stabilization. The ASM will use techniques and materials (including natural products) that do not endanger the physical and cultural integrity of the pottery. The ASM will communicate with culturally affiliated tribes when NAGPRA related materials require additional movement.
The ASM recognizes its obligation to care for cultural items with sensitivity and respect for their relationship to the cultures of tribal communities. The ASM will strive to resolve questions on the disposition and care of sensitive materials through cooperative and prompt discussions between the ASM and the appropriate tribal community.
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