UTAH (ABC4) – The Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnology at Harvard University announced on Nov. 10 that they will be returning hair samples of Native American children and their ingenuous relatives collected by anthropologist George Edward Woodbury between 1930 and 1933 to their respective tribes.
Tribal nations in Utah that were associated with the Woodbury Collection are the Ute Tribe, San Juan Southern Piute Tribe, Shoshone Tribe and Navajo Tribe. One of the collecting locations listed is the Bureau of Indian Affairs: Uintah and Ouray Agency in Fort Duchesne, Utah.
“The Peabody Museum apologizes to Indigenous families and tribal nations for our complicity in the objectification of Native peoples and for our more than 80-year possession of hair taken from their relatives,” said Jane Pickering, the director of the museum, in a statement.
Around 700 of the samples were taken from children attending U.S. Indian boarding schools, according to the statement. The names of the children and their tribal affiliations were attached to the samples. The museum estimates nearly 300 tribal nations were represented among the youths.
The collection also includes hair collected from individuals at hospitals in Canada and other locations in Asia, Central America, South America and Oceania.
“We recognize that for many Native American communities, hair holds cultural and spiritual significance and the Museum is fully committed to the return of hair back to families and tribal communities,” Pickering said.
The museum is currently developing a process to return the samples.