Working with and for Ancestors examines collaborative partnerships that have developed around the study and care of Indigenous ancestral human remains.

In the interest of reconciliation, museums and research institutions around the world have begun to actively seek input and direction from Indigenous descendants in establishing collections care and research policies. However, true collaboration is difficult, time-consuming, and sometimes awkward. By presenting examples of projects involving ancestral remains that are successfully engaged in collaboration, the book provides encouragement for scientists and descendant communities alike to have open and respectful discussions around the research and care of ancestral human remains. Key themes for discussion include new approaches to the care for ancestors; the development of culturally sensitive museum policies; the emergence of mutually beneficial research partnerships; and emerging issues such as those of intellectual property, digital data, and alternatives to destructive analyses. Critical discussions by leading scholars also identify the remaining challenges in the repatriation process and offer a means to continue moving forward.

This volume will appeal to a broad, interdisciplinary audience interested in collaborative research and management strategies that are aimed at developing mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and descendant communities. This includes students and researchers in archaeology, anthropology, museums studies, and Indigenous communities.

Part 1 Building Relationships: Proceed with Respect and Patience 1 Bearing Witness: What Can Archaeology Contribute in an Indian Residential School Context? 2 Pathway to Decolonizing Collections of Ainu Ancestral Remains: Recent Developments in Repatriation Within Japan 3 The Brandon Indian Residential School Cemetery Project: Working Towards Reconciliation Using Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology 4 Washington’s Non-Forensic Human Skeletal Remains Law and the State Physical Anthropologist: A Collaborative Process and Model for Other States 5 Bii-Azhe Ḡiiwé Iná Daanig (Let’s Bring Them Home): Lessons in Humility, Relationships, and Changing Perspectives Part 2 Caring for the Ancestors: Developments in Museum Collaborations 6 Why We Repatriate: On the Long Arc Toward Justice at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science 7 the Importance of Kaitiakitanga (Guardianship and Care) and Rangahau (Research) for the Karanga Aotearoa Repatriation Programme 8 Toward a Twenty-First-Century Model for the Collaborative Care and Curation of Human Remains 9 The Southern African Human Remains Management Project: Making (P)Reparations in Year One 10 Caring for the Ancestors at the Royal BC Museum Part 3 Learning From the Ancestors: Collaborative Research Projects 11 The Journey Home: Sto:Lō Values and Collaboration in Repatriation 12 the Joy of the Souls: the Return of the Huron-Wendat Ancestors 13 Building Relationships to Shift Accountability: Doing Paleogenomic Research with Indigenous Nations and Ancestors 14 Learning from Ancestors Caring for Ancestors: The Antiquity of Reburial On Bkejwanong 15 New Insights from Old Dog Bones: Dogs as Proxies for Understanding Ancient Human Diets Part 4 Developing Conversations: Doing Better Together 16 The Digital Lives of Ancestors: Ethical and Intellectual Property Considerations Surrounding the 3-D Recording of Human Remains 17 What Next? Changing Ethical Protocols for Human Remains in Museums 18 Provenancing Australian Aboriginal Ancestors: The Importance of Incorporating Traditional Knowledge 19 Ancient Human DNA: Surveying the Evolving Ethical, Social, and Political Landscape Part 5 Moving Forward: There’s Still Work To Do 20 Identity in Applied Repatriation Research and Practice 21 Decolonizing Bioarchaeology? Moving Beyond Collaborative Practice