Thursday, 7 June 2012

Repatriated Artefacts Turn up on Market Again - in America

This is an old article, but I highlight it in relation to certain accusations made against "source country governments" by US collectors and dealers. Vicci Votti seven years ago (apparently on the back of some Getty news item) writes about the reclaiming of cultural treasures by Hawaii which have ended up in museums and other collections, largely as a result of looting.  This process was enabled by the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, as well as Hawai'i statutes aimed at according respect to Native Hawaiian burials encountered during development.
However, the financial lure of the illicit trade persists. A recent documentary by private investigator and former broadcast journalist Matt Levi and filmmaker Edgy Lee argued for a link between the crystal methamphetamine drug epidemic and thefts of artifacts from Hawaiian burial sites. And last year, burial objects surfaced on the Big Island market, objects that had been repatriated under the federal law. An investigation ensued but 16 months later, no charges have resulted. 
And have they since?

Vicci Votti, 'In Hawai'i, illicit trade persists despite efforts to protect ancient burials The Honolulu Advertiser, December 4, 2005

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