Berlin Ethnological Museum returns looted objects to Alaska

Berlin Ethnological Museum returns looted objects to Alaska

Germany has returned nine objects belonging to Alaska Indians after determining that they were looted in graves.

The Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which oversees all the museums in the German capital, explained in a statement last week that burial objects from Alaska were brought to Berlin between 1882 and 1884 commissioned by the then Royal Museum of Ethnology.

But, "to this day, everything shows that the objects come from a looting of tombs and not from an approved archaeological excavation," explained the Foundation.

Objects, including two broken masks and a wooden idol, were delivered from a representative from Chugach, Alaska.

"The objects were removed from the graves without the consent of the indigenous people and, therefore, were illegally removed," explained Hermann Parzinger, president of the foundation.

He added that, "as such, they do not belong to our museums."

The region of Chugach, in southwestern Alaska, has been inhabited for thousands of years by the Sugpiaq village, also know as Alutiiq.

Museums in Europe are under pressure to return objects that have been acquired illegally or unethically. Research into German objects is mainly focused on the art and objects looted from Jews during the Nazi regime.

However, the foundation has also begun to investigate the origins of human remainsincluding 1,000 skulls and especially from Ethiopia, brought to Europe during colonial times for "scientific" racial research.

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