Society for East Asian Anthropology
Oral Presentation Session
The repatriation and reburial of Indigenous ancestral remains is a crucial issue in current archeology. In the case of Japan, since the end of the 19th century, the Ainu graves have been violated by travelers and scholars who collected their ancestral human remains for research data. At the moment, these remains are stored in Japanese universities and overseas research institutes and museums as research collections. We are aware that Indigenous peoples strongly demand the return of the remains of their ancestral remains and the right to hold reburial ceremonies as a part of their rights restoration movement. It is also widely known that these rights are guaranteed under the UNDRIP.
However, the views of archaeologists and academic society concerning this issue are diverse. Many people think that repatriation and reburial are losses of valuable research collections and material for future research. More importantly, this problem is not limited to history. We must anticipate that Ainu graves will be excavated by rescue excavation following land development projects in the near future. In that case, there is not enough discussion about how to handle the excavated human remains.
In my talk, I will discuss archaeologists' responsibility toward repatriation and reburial of Indigenous human remains. What we can as archaeologists do to help solve past negative heritage? How should we address this issue? I will present a view from the perspective of archaeologists and make recommendations for establishing new relationships between Indigenous peoples and researchers.