Episode 05: The Road to Repatriation

Peabody Museum Director Ryan Wheeler discusses repatriation and sacred artifacts with members of White Earth Nation.

Since the beginning of time, human beings have documented their experiences for future generations—on caves, tablets, scrolls and parchment. Now imagine a world where these records were lost. What if the Magna Carta were placed in a drawer, never to be seen again?

In this episode of EQ, we meet Anishinaabeg members of White Earth Nation. Their search for one of their nation’s founding documents led them to Andover, where a large birch scroll containing ancient accounts from their ancestors languished undiscovered for more than a century.

Phillips Academy’s Robert S. Peabody Museum is home to one of the nation’s major repositories of Native American archaeological collections. Founded in 1901, its first curator was the legendary Warren King Moorehead, known as “the dean of American archaeology.” So how did Moorehead come into possession of this sacred scroll and many other artifacts? And what does this discovery mean to its people and their future?

Join archaeologist and Peabody Museum director Ryan Wheeler and three members of White Earth Nation, who recently met at the museum to tell the story behind the lost scroll, recount its incredible journey and describe ongoing repatriation collaboration.

Andover Magazine Article

Read more about White Earth Nation and the repatriation of their sacred scroll in the winter 2017 issue of Andover magazine and read Ryan Wheeler’s reflections on visiting the tribe in Minnesota in summer 2016.

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