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American Museum of Natural History curator at NIU

Published: Saturday, April 5, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

How should archaeologists and museums handle Native American materials? Twenty-five years after the Native American Graves and Protection Repatriation Act, have Native American and scientific communities learned to work together?

David Hurst Thomas, curator in the Anthropology Division at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, will explore these topics in two upcoming lectures at Northern Illinois University.

Thomas will present, “Alpine Archaeology in the American West: Indians in Unexpected Places” at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Cole Hall. He also will present “Repatriating Science, Race and Identity: Are We Still Fighting the Skull Wars?” at noon Thursday at the Center for Latino and Latin American Studies.

Both talks are free and open to the public. Students are encouraged to attend the lectures, where they will learn more about careers and professional ethics in anthropology, archaeology and museums.

A member of the National Academy of Science, Thomas has organized and directed more than 100 archaeological excavations in the American Southeast, Southwest and Great Basin, including the discovery of Gatecliff Shelter in Nevada, the deepest archaeological rock shelter in the Americas.

Thomas is one of the founding trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian. His scholarly research focuses on redefining the relationship between the Native American and anthropological communities.

His 2001 book, “Skull Wars: Kennewick Man, Archaeology, and the Battle for Native American Identity,” traces the development of the existing tensions in these relationships over the past two centuries, while seeking ways to build bridges between the groups’ diverse perspectives.

Both talks are sponsored by The Graduate School, the Department of Anthropology and the Anthropology Museum at NIU.

For more information, call 815-753-2520 or email AnthroMuseum@niu.edu.

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