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[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Repatriation, Pesticides and Tribal Risk Communication: NAGPRA and New Communication Paradigms

Emily Sherinian, MPH, USAID, 2100 M Street NW, Suite 203, Washington, DC 20052, David F. Goldsmith, MSPH, PhD, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, George Washington University, 2100 M Street, NW, Suite 203, Washington, DC 20052, 202-994-1734, eohdfg@gwumc.edu, and Thomas Oh,
Apex Environmental, Inc., 15850 Crabbs Branch Way, Suite 200, Rockville, MD 20855.

Background: The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA, 1990) requires the inventory and return of human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, and objects of cultural patrimony to the appropriate tribe. In 1996, a stipulation was added to require notification of known pesticide or other chemical contamination when sacred artifacts returned. We reviewed the public health implications of pesticide contaminated sacred objects and propose re-invention of risk communication for greater consultation for tribes when interacting with scientists/museums. Case Examples: The Hopi and Seneca Nations provide examples of differential responses to similar repatriation scenarios. The Hopi were the first community to have major repatriation in the late 1990s, and they originally welcomed Katsina messengers and other sacred objects back to their homes. However, later knowledge that Katsina friends were preserved with arsenic and mercury (and other chemicals) led to refusal to accept subsequent transfers. Two bands of the Seneca Nation conducted toxicology tests of their sacred Tribal objects in the late 1990s and, one decided to accept the cultural artifacts, and the other returned them to the museum. These examples suggest differential Tribal response to risk communication about hazards related to preservatives applied to Tribal religious and cultural items. This also suggests a strong need for cross-cultural assessment of risk communication and risk determination processes in order to ensure Tribal voices in repatriation of preserved objects. Scientists and museum officials engaged in NAGPRA activities must learn to listen to mixed Tribal voices concerning repatriation of cultural and sacred artifacts.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Pesticides, Native Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

[ Recorded presentation ] Recorded presentation

Environmental Health and Native Communities

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA