Home Forums Who owns the past? Who owns the past? Reply To: Who owns the past?

Jessi Willeto

This question incites a lot of passion in me. I am married to an Indigenous man (Navajo, Mandan, and Hidatsa) and lived on the Navajo reservation for four years. It is a constant battle getting their sacred artifacts back from museums and people that have taken it from their land so long ago. I firmly believe that found artifacts should return to the nation that they belonged to, as long as they have the means to do so. People should not have the right to take the ancient artifacts from the land and claim it as their own, let alone sell it for auction. I understand the need for education, but that can also be achieved by giving it back to the nations and handing over the narrative for them to tell, if they so choose to do so. As for a culture that doesn’t exist anymore, I still retain that argument, that the land/nation should keep the artifacts and help further educate people on their past as a land and as a country. The Aphrodite of Melos is in the Louvre, for example, was presented and given to Louis XVII by The Marquis de Rivière in 1820. Did he have a right to do so? Has the island of Milos attempted or consented to this? More research would need to be done, but it it something to think about.