More than 100 Indigenous cultural items were voluntarily returned to Indigenous people during a “participatory rematriation” the weekend before Thanksgiving.
Precolumbian pottery, Native American grinding stones taken during construction decades ago, burden baskets found in an attic, ancient arrowheads, and endangered abalone shells are among the items returned to the care of the intertribal Indigenous women led Sogorea Te’ Land Trust.
The invitation to return found, stolen, and misappropriate cultural items was shared on social media as part of an effort to encourage non-Indigenous people to “go beyond just giving thanks and give things taken back” this holiday season.
Many of the returned items hold immense cultural significance for Indigenous people and the act of their return contributes to healing the historical harms of their theft for both those giving and those receiving them.
Other items including a collection of inherited jewelry, were returned because the guest felt they did not really have a connection to the items and they should go to the community they had come from.
The returned objects displayed with excerpts of text from letters to the Trust and direct messages from social media, the participatory exhibition shares a piece of the story of colonization and rematriation in an urban landscape at a time of changing social consciousness.
All returned items originating from within the territory will be returned to the Confederated Villages of Lisjan Nation and all other items will be rematriated to Indigenous people of the lineage of their creation.