Stop public library from auctioning Native American artifacts

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Mindy Nierenberg
Mindy Nierenberg signed this petition

Medford Public Library is auctioning 19th-century Pacific Northwest Indian artifacts it designated as "surplus goods". In 1880, James G. Swan donated these items to the library. Swan was "known an an American Indian authority who worked as an Indian artifact collector on behalf of the Smithsonian. "Seen as a dying culture, the collecting of Native American artifacts and human remains came into prominence during the late 1800s. Grave looting and robbing were the norm. The passage of the Antiquities Act of 1906 gave anthropologists free legal rein over Native sites, which lead to museums, federal agencies and private collectors amassing large collections filled with Native American cultural objects and human remains. (By 1990, those figures were estimated to be in the millions.) Early museum exhibits depicted Native Americans alongside extinct animals such as dinosaurs. Native people were considered a relic of the past." The 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act requires them to contact the tribes from which these items originated and the library has not provided an answer to whether they have complied with this law. They are raising funds for a new building, much needed in this community of which I am a member, but this is not the way to do it. Please sign this petition asking Medford Public Library to contact the tribes and repatriate these items to their original owners.