“The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs had previously shared in June 2021 that Ponca representatives would travel in September to retrieve it.”
It has been a year since this demand was originally made. Was it really that important?
The College Fix reports:
Tribal reps a no show to pick up tomahawk they demanded back from Harvard
Native American leaders still have not gone to retrieve a tomahawk from Harvard University, nearly a year after the school agreed to return the artifact.
The Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard told The College Fix it “deaccessioned the Standing Bear pipe tomahawk to the Ponca tribal nations last fall,” meaning that it no longer displays the item (pictured) publicly. The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs had previously shared in June 2021 that Ponca representatives would travel in September to retrieve it.
Chief Standing Bear was the first person to get the U.S. government to acknowledge Native Americans as “persons” under the law and entitled to Constitutional protections. He gifted the tomahawk to one of his attorneys, John Webster, whose estate later sold it, and eventually a collector bought it and donated it to Harvard.
“The nature, timing etc. of the physical transfer to the Ponca is a matter for the tribal governments and I refer you to them for that information,” museum director Jane Pickering told The Fix on April 22.
Pickering did not answer questions about steps the museum took to return the tomahawk, the reasons for canceling the initial trip, costs for maintaining the tomahawk and whether Harvard would be open to sending a representative to the tribe’s headquarters in Nebraska.
The Harvard Crimson reported that COVID concerns in October led the tribal representatives to cancel the trip.
The Fix reached out to the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska to ask whether it plans to travel to retrieve the artifact, what the obstacles have been to traveling and whether it would be open to having a Harvard representative bring the tomahawk to Nebraska. The tribe did not respond to these inquiries through their website on April 18 nor an email to its listed address on April 25.
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