Re: Rights and Access

Claire Farrer (Claire_Farrer@MACGATE.CSUCHICO.EDU)
Wed, 11 May 1994 11:19:07 -0800

Dear Colleagues,

Recently a policy maker (unknown to me) at The Field Museum in Chicago
decided that access to its Native American, or , if you prefer, Indian,
collections would be denied to all who were not members of the tribe/group in
question without written permission from the appropriate tribal council.

This means that, for instance, a Cherokee person cannot
examine/study/see/research material from the Navajo tribe without Navajo
tribal permission. Obviously, it also means that Anglos cannot
examine/research any collections from any tribe without written permission as
well. This strikes me as capricious, rather than a legitimate interpretation
of the NAGPRA, as Museum people have maintained.

It also, if followed logically, means that only the dead can write obituaries
(or read them), only Danes can work with Danish material, and Alex Haley
could not have written of his Roots, since the material from the Dutch,
English, French, and Portugese records would have been denied to him as an
African-descendant. It probably also means, if extended logically, that no
American person can examine the Declaration of Independence, or any other
document, without being a direct descendant of the framers and signers. Does
this strike any one else as being ludicrous?

Claire R. Farrer