Date of this Version
Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 144.
Editors Catherine Bell and Robert Paterson, along with fifteen contributors, have produced a leading-edge work on the complex topic of First Nations cultural heritage and the law in Canada. A companion volume to First Nations Cultural Heritage and Law: Case Studies, Voices, and Perspectives (2008), it is part of the “Law and Society Series” that promotes interdisciplinary approaches to the study of law and society. Underlying both volumes is the premise that material and intangible cultural heritage are inseparable and fundamental to Indigenous human rights and the continuity and revival of the collective identities of First Nations.
At the heart of the discussions in this book are the challenges faced by First Nations to protect, repatriate, and control their cultural heritage in accordance with their Indigenous laws and protocols within Canada’s present legal regime. The Canadian experience is examined within the contexts of Canadian, U.S., international, and “customary” law. Because Canadian law and policy with respect to repatriation, trade in material culture, and the disposition of human remains and burial goods have been greatly influenced by U.S. law reform, the American experience is referred to throughout. Of particular interest to museum professionals are Catherine Bell’s examination of domestic repatriation and Canadian law reform and James Nafzinger’s critical review of the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) in the United States.