A year and a half after Yale returned the last of hundreds of Machu Picchu artifacts to Peru, the Yale Peabody Museum faces a new charge of cultural theft—this time about two carvings from a native Alaskan tribe.
Two Tlingit carvings on display at the museum are stolen property, and should be sent back to their owners in Alaska, according to several students and scholars who spoke Tuesday afternoon at Yale.
That allegation emerged Tuesday afternoon at a panel discussion in Yale’s Hall of Graduate Studies on the topic of artifact repatriation—the returning of museum relics to the people to which they historically belonged.
Yale junior Ashley Dalton presented research on two artifacts currently in the Yale Peabody Natural History Museum’s collection, “totem crest” carvings of a bird and of a bear. Those artifacts were taken, Dalton said, from a Tlingit village in Alaska in 1899 by members of the Harriman expedition. The carvings, one of which marked a funerary site, were taken without permission, along with a host of other Native American artifacts.