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U of North Dakota Will Return Native American Remains

September 2, 2022

The University of North Dakota has found Native American “human remains … believed to be partial skeletal remains from dozens of individuals.”

That’s what President Andrew P. Armacost told the campus Wednesday.

“When the federal law known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act was approved in 1990, the university had a responsibility to return ancestors and sacred objects to their tribal lands. Although this effort inexplicably fell short at UND, we are fully committed to righting this wrong,” Armacost said.

He first learned of the issue in March, when some faculty and staff members said they “found on campus sacred objects from Indigenous communities.” The university informed federal agencies and tribes right away.

But “to conduct this process in a dignified and respectful manner, UND made no public statements during the initial contact phase with tribal authorities and the appropriate state and federal agencies. This decision was made in accordance with the guidance and wishes provided by the tribal representatives. During the early stages of this process, we have observed Indigenous customs and traditions in the handling of the ancestors and sacred objects, to the very best of our abilities,” Armacost added.

He said the process would take time. “Repatriation will take time and hard work, perhaps several years. UND will hire the appropriate cultural resource consultants to help with this process. The remaining collection at UND is significant, with dozens of ancestors and several hundred containers of objects taken from Indigenous land and communities, requiring painstaking labor for identification and placement,” he said.

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Scott Jaschik

Scott Jaschik, Editor, is one of the three founders of Inside Higher Ed. With Doug Lederman, he leads the editorial operations of Inside Higher Ed, overseeing news content, opinion pieces, career advice, blogs and other features. Scott is a leading voice on higher education issues, quoted regularly in publications nationwide, and publishing articles on colleges in publications such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere. He has been a judge or screener for the National Magazine Awards, the Online Journalism Awards, the Folio Editorial Excellence Awards, and the Education Writers Association Awards. Scott served as a mentor in the community college fellowship program of the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, of Teachers College, Columbia University. He is a member of the board of the Education Writers Association. From 1999-2003, Scott was editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education. Scott grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and graduated from Cornell University in 1985. He lives in Washington.

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