Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Depopulation Pyramids

During the colonization of the United States museums and the federal government routinely stole the human remains of Indigenous people. Many of America's universities still hold on to these remains today even though the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act ordered that they be returned.

The National Park Service has created a database of all the Native American human remains that institutions have reported under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This data is self-reported by insititutions and some institutions have failed to report the remains in their possession.

ProPublica has mapped out where Native American remains have been taken from. In Does Your Local Museum or University Still Have Native American Remains? ProPublica has used the National Park Service database to visualize where the remains were stolen from and the percentage which have been returned. On this map each county has a pyramid marker. The height of each pyramid or peak shows the minimum amount of remains taken from that county. The color of each pyramid represents the percentage of the remains which have been made available for return to Native American tribes. If you hover over a county on the map you can view the exact number of human remains reported by institutions that were taken from the county and the percentage made available for return.

Of course counties are territorial areas which were imposed during the colonization of Native American land. You can use the impressive Native Land interactive map to view Indigenous territories. This map attempts to show the territorial and language ranges of Indigenous people across the whole world. 

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