By Eric Holder
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2021 Jun 16, 10:12am
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Small museums and private institutions that accept federal CARES Act money or other stimulus funds could be forced to relinquish thousands of Indigenous items and ancestral remains now in their collections.Under the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA), museums or other institutions that accept federal funding must compile an inventory of Indigenous cultural items and initiate repatriation of the collections and remains to tribes or family members.At least two museums are now facing possible scrutiny — the nonprofit Favell Museum of Native American Artifacts and Contemporary Western Art in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and the End of the Trail Museum, which is connected to the Trees of Mystery gift shop in the redwood forest in Klamath, California.Hundreds of other small museums and institutions could also face scrutiny of their Indigenous collections if they have accepted federal funds.“This will likely have an impact on private collections that previously did not have NAGPRA obligations,” Melanie O'Brien, manager for the national NAGPRA program, wrote in an email to Indian Country Today.....Data provided by the NAGPRA office in Washington, D.C., indicate the Favell Museum received two loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to “aid small businesses in maintaining a work force during the COVID-19 pandemic.”The museum received a loan for $24,200 on May 6, 2020, and one for $24,273 on Jan. 23, 2021, according to data collected at USAspending.gov.As of May 11, the museum’s website stated that it “receives no government funds and little money from grants.”Founded by Klamath Falls businessman Eugene “Gene” Favell and his wife, Winifred, the museum opened in 1972 with the family’s private collection of artifacts, including Indigenous baskets collected by Favell’s mother, Ruth.Today, the museum is home to more than 100,000 Native artifacts, including a fire opal arrowhead from Nevada’s Black Rock Desert along with other arrowheads, obsidian knives, Native clothing, stone tools, beadwork, baskets and pottery, according to the museum website. It also houses a collection of contemporary Western artists, including an original painting by Charles M. Russell, and century-old photos of Native people from Edward Curtis....About 200 miles southwest of the Favell Museum, the End of the Trail museum operates as part of the Trees of Mystery roadside attraction in northern California.Trees of Mystery has received three federal Small Business Administration loans totaling $650,000 related to the pandemic, according to USAspending.gov.On April 28, 2020, and again on Feb. 25, 2021, Trees of Mystery received two SBA loans, each for $250,000, to provide help in maintaining a work force during the pandemic. The business also received a $150,000 loan from the SBA on June 11, 2020, to help restore the company to pre-disaster conditions, according to government records.According to the Trees of Mystery website, the End of the Trail Museum is attached to the gift shop, which provides the only access into the free museum....The museum opened on March 10, 1968, largely to display items collected by Marylee Thompson.It is described on the museum’s website as “one of the largest privately owned world class museums,” and cites “artifacts and history of the First Americans.” Photos on the website show display cases filled with basketry, cradle boards, drums, masks, carvings, Native clothing and other items....
Just give any Indian who lays a claim on an artifact a bottle of whiskey and be done with it.