Drawing Together: Comics and the Return of Museum Collections to White Earth Nation

Contributed by Marla Taylor

If you don’t know about the NAGPRA Comics yet, you really should take the time to check them out.

NAGPRA Comics is a community- based, collaboratively produced comic series that tells true stories about repatriation from tribal perspectives. They work with Native American communities to share their experiences with the law, from their point of view. This is an  applied/educational comic series, so it also explains what the law is and how it works. [excerpt from napgracomics.weebly.com]

These comics are amazing teaching tools to introduce students, and members of the public, to the issues surrounding NAGPRA and repatriation. The comics focus on the perspectives of the tribal communities, highlighting their thoughts and experiences. I really love them and regularly recommend them to anyone interested in learning about NAGPRA – so go check it out!

The NAGPRA Comics team is working on several more issues and the Peabody Institute is proud to be a contributor to one upcoming issue.

In 2017, the Peabody Institute repatriated a birch bark scroll and other items of cultural patrimony back to the White Earth Nation of Minnesota. Those items left the reservation in 1909 with Warren K. Moorehead. Moorehead went to White Earth in his capacity as a member of the Board of Indian Commissioners, charged with investigating non-Natives’ rampant land and resource theft and the consequences of disposition, disease, and hunger. Investigations by the Minnesota attorney general and Congress, using the testimony that Moorehead and his team collected, led to the restoration of some lands and resources.

The story in the upcoming comic is complex and rich. We are honored to be a small part of this meaningful project.

Jen Shannon, Program Manager and Curator at the National Museum of the American Indian and member of the NAGPRA Comics team, wrote a fantastic blog for the Ohio History Connection exploring the story and how it will be told in the comic. Her blog includes a glimpse of some draft pages. Take a look for yourself!

You can learn more about our work with White Earth Nation here and here.

Sample draft page of NAGPRA Comics. Courtesy of artist John Swogger.

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