In 1935, the Spiro Mounts were protected by law, and government-funded excavations began. Today, more than 65 public institutions in the United States and dozens of museums around the world hold artefacts of Spiro culture in their collections, including the Smithsonian, the Louvre and the British Museum.
What makes the new exhibition so special is that its observers worked directly with the descendants of the Spiro culture before displaying these artifacts. Before putting the exhibition together, they contacted representatives of the Gado people, the Visita and other tribes, which was a necessary way to present their story.
“The exhibition was not set up from a museum perspective from the beginning, but from a tribal and community perspective,” says Singleton.
Finding a balance between the need for respect and the need for information on the one hand and the need for information and presentation on the other is a difficult task for museums and Native American tribes. In 1990, The Native American Cemetery Protection and Return Act (Nagpra) makes that process easier.
“For decades, archaeologists have discovered and excavated these objects,” said director Kelly Mosteller. Citizen Potavatomi Nation Cultural Heritage Center In Shawney, Oklahoma. “Then the museums displayed these objects and said, ‘Visit us and learn more about these mythical people.’ We were often considered exotic items. “
With the introduction of the Nagpra Act, the United States Congress recognized that the remains of ancestors should be treated with “dignity and respect at all times,” meaning all remains, cemeteries, sacred objects, and cultural artifacts found on Native American sites. Excavations in federal or tribal areas should be returned to the communities to which they belong. In addition, each agency receiving federal support should draw up a list of Native American artefacts in its collection and consult with local tribal groups.
“The Nagbra Act provides a mechanism to manage our Native American collections and return burial items and other cultural items,” said Jane-Le Thomas, Director of Nagpra Affairs at Indiana University. “It is about the sovereignty of the tribe. It’s about respect. ”
Spiro culture in museums
There are Spiro Mounts in Oklahoma and other places where people can learn about other Mississippi cultures in Oklahoma.
It is a three-hour drive west of Oklahoma City Spiro Mounts Archaeological Center, The only prehistoric site of Native American culture in Oklahoma is open to the public. During scheduled tours, visitors can explore the rich culture and way of life of these ancient Mississippians, while the museum’s website contains a wealth of research data and copies of key artifacts from the Spiro Mounts and the surrounding archeological excavations.
Other museums in Oklahoma have a collection of artefacts from spiro culture Sam Noble Natural History Museum From the University of Oklahoma in Norman Gilgree Museum In Tulsa, Volarock In Bartlesville, it is Red River Museum In Idaho, it is Leflor County Museum And this Oklahoma Historical Center In Oklahoma City.
This article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com