Library Speaker Examines the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture

This is a news release issued by the Longmont Public Library and is published here as a public service.

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Dr. Chip Colwell makes his first visit to the Longmont Library on Wednesday, November 28, from 7 to 8 pm, to discuss his 2018 Colorado Book Award winner, Plundered Skulls and Stolen Spirits: Inside the Fight to Reclaim Native America’s Culture. The book reveals Colwell’s personal journey, illuminating how repatriation has transformed both American museums and Native communities. His story suggests that repatriation law has become an imperfect but necessary tool to resolve the collision of worldviews between scientists and Native Americans—to decide the nature of the sacred and the destiny of souls.

Five decades ago, Native American leaders launched a crusade against museums to reclaim their sacred objects and to rebury their kin. This controversy has exploded in recent years as hundreds of tribes have used a landmark federal law to recover their heritage from more than one thousand museums across America. Many still question how to balance the religious freedoms of Native Americans with the academic freedoms of American scientists, and the arguments continue on about whether the emptying of museum shelves elevates human rights or destroys humanity’s common heritage.

Dr. Chip Colwell is the Senior Curator of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Colwell looks at the complex negotiations around who owns the past, including Native American human remains. His work has been highlighted in The New York Times, Denver Post, Archaeology Magazine, and others. He is also the founding editor-in-chief of

Books will be available for purchase.

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