December 28th, 2012
The Cayuga Museum of History and Art, in Auburn, NY, returned 21 objects of spiritual significance to the Onondaga Nation. The objects are 19 masks and 2 wampum articles associated with burials.
According to the Nation's press release: "The 1990 Federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) mandates that federally funded museums return Native American “cultural items” to the lineal descendants or culturally-affiliated groups of the people who created them. . . . Even though the Cayuga Museum is not federally funded and so not mandated by NAGPRA law, it has previously returned items to the custody of many Native American nations throughout the country. The Haudenosaunee items remained in the Museum collection because the Museum’s mission is the history and culture of this region. The nature of the items returned was such that they cannot ethically be displayed in a museum exhibit, so the Cayuga Museum Board of Trustees decided to transfer these sacred Haudenosaunee objects to the care of the Onondaga Nation."
As a friendly gesture, Onondaga Faithkeeper Tony Gonyea made a replica of one of the repatriated objects for the Museum to display and it was presented to the Museum on December 19, 2012t.