Anthropology, Department of


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Published in Nebraska Anthropologist Vol. 13 (1996-1997). Copyright © Jennifer Wiggins; published by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln AnthroGroup.


In 1990, many believed that Native Americans were aided in their fight for equality and justice with the passing of the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). This act did not, however, include items of intellectual property such as photographs. It is now vitally important, as we enter the technological age, that Native Americans regain control of their images, beliefs, and religion that are captured on film. However, it is not feasible that all photographs depicting Native Americans can be returned. Those to which they do have a viable reclaimance are the photographs that show private religious ceremonies, which were taken by anthropologists and photographers between the mid-1800's and early 1900's. These religious photographs, now held by museums, represent the intellectual property of the whole tribe and thus should be returned.

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