Repatriation, the #KarlMayMuseum & #Racism in #Germany – Why I had to complete this #documentary #ForgetWinnetou!

6yrs later.

6 years after I was contacted by an American shocked by the fact the Karl May Museum was displaying human remains. Beginning in 2014, I wrote several articles on the situation published at Indian Country Today, the largest Native news outlet in the USA. The work goes on, and some progress is being made but apathy is a constant.

And don’t dare say, “You have to be patient, these things take time”. Why? Because that is solely based on White time and privilege. They don’t need any praise for this either, many treated the topic and Natives shamefully. This is only a first step as there are 1000’s of human remains in German museums that need to be returned, not merely discussed, decided or rationalized by those not from other cultures.

There are multiple 1000’s of important cultural items that were stolen and coerced, often taken from massacre sites that deserve to be with or controlled by those to who they are most important. And YES, there are Native scientists, archaeologists and specialists trained for just these things like anyone else. Native North Americans are often left out of serious conversations on repatriation in Germany, just like they are wrongly left out of conversations on racism.

The continued minimization of stereotypes and hobbyism (by some Natives, too), and the objectification and dehumanization of Native peoples, cultures and histories that is common and accepted in Germany is was what facilitated and kept these human remains away from their ancestral lands and family for so long. There’s apathy but also resentment and outrage that anyone dare challenge German culture (!!) of….racism, which is what appropriation, caricatures, and misrepresentation of Natives and “others” is classified under.

I am very glad the Native nation and families finally will have their relative repatriated, but the length of time and the fact a human scalp had been on display and no one thought about anything about it but “Wow!” until someone finally questioned. A visiting American, who contacted me searching for wider coverage and Native contact on the issue.

Please check out the article at DEUTSCHE WELLE, and the video from 2014 where my interview begins around 3:00. It goes to show how little the topic of racism, Eurocentrism and imperialism are seriously discussed relating to (mis)use of Native peoples, cultures and histories in Germany.

This and other situations somewhat set the stage for me to pursue to completion this documentary FORGET WINNETOU! LOVING IN THE WRONG WAY (2018).


My past articles and appearances on the topic of these human remains:

Karl May Museum Reneges on Agreement to Return #NativeAmerican Scalps

 

 

 

12 &15 October: A Workshop on Native Issues Then A Conference on “Stolen Sacred Objects & Human Remains”

And if you don’t know the backstory on this: here’s a briefer. The Humboldt Forum is a German state funded multimillion-dollar recreation of a Prussian emperor’s palace. Began in 2013, scheduled for finish in 2019, it will house the multiple thousands of looted and stolen indigenous and other cultural objects from around the world, including human remains.

There has been an on-going protest against the project, especially as reparations for colonial genocide are being met with resistance and apathy by many Germans, and like the “new” airport (did they ever finish it?) has been troubled with internal and external problems. There are those who work with or in association with the Humboldt Forum who agree items were stolen and should be returned, that continue to internally advocate for change, and these conference gives voice to encourage they and others to be more demonstrative in their advocacy.

French art historian Bénédicte Savoy recently quit the project, to the great consternation of the Forum, because of the continued ignoring of unethical procurement Humboldt has the opportunity to correct, but thus far does not. Even in the consultation work on the items and remains, indigenous persons, peoples and tribes are ignored in favor of Eurocentric German opinion.

Director, Red Haircrow will be speaking on and sharing information about stolen sacred items, objects and human remains on 15 October at this conference. Learn more about the event and other details at the Facebook page.


On 12 Oct. Red will be giving a workshop at the Brebit event “Fachtag ‘Entwicklungshilfe’ oder Reparationen?” Themes of rethinking Columbus Day, indigenous activism, and contemporary issues. Find more details at their event page.