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National Museum of Finland Repatriates Some Mesa Verde Items

Friday, October 11, 2019

HELSINKI, FINLAND—National Parks Traveler reports that the National Museum of Finland will hand over the remains of 20 individuals and 28 artifacts removed from what is now Mesa Verde National Park in the late nineteenth century to representatives of the 26 federally recognized Native American tribes traditionally associated with the park. In 1891, Gustaf Nordenskiöld, a young Swedish man, stopped in southwestern Colorado while on a world tour to study the cliff dwellings. He made sketches, took photographs, excavated 20 graves, and collected some 600 objects, including bowls, ladles, baskets, pots, mugs, corn cobs, woven sandals, mats, snowshoes, pouches, tools, arrows, and metates. He was arrested for theft, but eventually released and allowed to leave the country with the human remains and the objects. “The collection of artifacts and human remains by Gustaf Nordenskiöld and others played an important role in the signing of the 1906 Antiquities Act, protecting cultural resources, and the establishment of Mesa Verde National Park,” said park information officer Cristy Brown. Park officials will work with the repatriating tribes to return and rebury the remains and artifacts. “The repatriating tribes are the leaders of this effort,” Brown explained, “but we are proud to be able to fulfill our role when the time comes.” To read about an effort to document the temporary dwellings of Native Americans in Colorado, go to "A Western Wiki-pedia."

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