Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Harvard Museum Pledges to Return Hair Samples of 700 Native American Children

The samples come from students who were forced to attend government-run boarding schools


November 17, 2022

For over 80 years, Harvard University's Peabody Museum has been in possession of a collection of hair samples taken from 700 Native American children. Last week, the museum disclosed the collection in a formal apology and pledged to return the samples to families and tribal communities.

"We recognize that for many Native American communities, hair holds cultural and spiritual significance," writes the museum, adding that it apologizes "for our complicity in the objectification of Native peoples and for our more than 80-year possession of hair taken from their relatives."

Between 1930 and 1933, anthropologist George Edward Woodbury collected the hair samples from Native American students, who were being forced to attend boarding schools run by the government. Woodbury donated the collection to the Peabody Museum in 1935.


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