Recovering the Past

A Collaborative Approach

This exhibition is no longer on display at the Museum.

Dr Holly Cusack-McVeigh, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies, Indiana University-Purdue University talks about a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)  investigation that resulted in the largest single recovery of Native American human remains, cultural items and foreign artefacts.

The  complex criminal investigation launched in November 2013 resulted in a collection that is noted for its "astounding global and temporal scope". It includes material culture from places as diverse as Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Haiti , Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic), Indonesia, Iraq, Italy, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Tibet, and various regions within the United States.

This case study highlights the collaborative efforts between academia, museums, Indigenous communities and law enforcement agencies, and explores the innovative approach used to deal with the issues related to recovery and repatriation. By embracing these kinds of collaborative efforts, institutions send a powerful message about their shared sense of responsibility in protecting cultural heritage. This case stands to help those who work to protect cultural heritage in conveying an important message to those who exploit it. 

Dr Cusack-McVeigh is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Museum Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis. She holds appointments as a Public Scholar of Collections and Community Curation and, as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Native American and Indigenous Studies. She is also a Research Affiliate at Ethnology Department of the University of Alaska Museum of the North and Affiliate Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her work explores issues of repatriation, looting, and cultural heritage protection among Indigenous groups. 

Dr Cusack-McVeigh is currently in New Zealand as a Visiting Scholar working with the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme and National Services Te Paerangi, Te Papa.

This free talk is presented by National Services Te Paerangi in partnership with Canterbury Museum.

For bookings of more than six people please telephone our Education and Public Programmes Team on 03 366 9429 x 817 or email with the details of your group. 


This exhibition is no longer on display at the Museum.
28 July 2017 12.30 pm – 1.30 pm Event Full
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