Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions

Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions

Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions

Sacred Objects and Sacred Places: Preserving Tribal Traditions


"Sacred Objects and Sacred Places combines native oral histories, photographs, drawings, and case studies to present current issues of cultural preservations vital to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. Complete with commentaries by curators, native peoples, and archaeologists, this book discusses the repatriation of human remains, the curation and exhibition of sacred masks and medicine bundles, and key cultural compromises for preservation successes in protecting sacred places on private, state and federal lands." "Though the book describes tribal tragedies and examples of cultural theft, Sacred Objects and Sacred Places affirms living traditions. It reveals how the resolution of these controversies in favor of native people will ensure their cultural continuity in a changing and increasingly complex world. The issues of returning human remains, curating sacred objects, and preserving tribal traditions are addressed to provide the reader with a full picture of Native Americans' struggle to keep their heritage alive." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Nationally, as a group of people we all seek preservation….
Tribal preservation will be the key to enhanced social development
and growth for all Indian people. To know what you are, and
where you came from, may determine where you are going.

—ARLY YANAH, Yavapai-Prescott

When we think of historical preservation, I suppose that you think of
something that is old, something that has happened in the past and that
you want to put away on a shelf and bring it out and look at every now
and then … I’m not really sure that that’s the way we want to look at
these things at all. In our way of thinking, everything is a significant
event, and the past is as real as us being here right now. We are all
connected to the things that happened at the beginning of our existence.
And those things live on as they are handed down to us.


This is a book about the ways in which Native Americans seek to preserve tribal traditions and a sense of Indian identity after decades of misguided federal attempts to force them into the cultural mainstream. Given the size and diversity of America’s native population, with over 550 federally registered American Indian tribes (including Native Alaskan villages), this volume cannot be inclusive. Instead, it offers an overview, outlining an important native revival movement to preserve sacred sites, to retain dance and song traditions, to pass on languages, to identify and use sacred plants, and to repatriate human remains and sacred objects to their tribes of origin. Ultimately, Sacred Objects and Sacred Places demonstrates the resilience of native cultures.

I have tried to make the exceedingly complex information in this book readily accessible so that general readers may begin to understand why tribal peoples are so passionate in defending their sacred objects and sacred places. To that end, academic and professional jargon has been reduced as far as possible. In addition, many native voices are heard in the pages that follow. My goal is to increase public support for tribal preservation without revealing secrets or sensitive cultural information.

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