My Favourite Restitution Claim

From an old article by Elkan Allan at Salon.com (2000):

Zuni Indian claims are equally contentious. In 1990, the U.S. Congress required museums to respond to requests from Native Americans for the return of "sacred objects and communally owned cultural patrimony." As a result, private collectors and art dealers, as well as museums, have sent many wooden gods back to New Mexico.

But the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford, England, refused to return a wooden god in its collection. They replied that it was not a real one -- it was made by Frank Hamilton Cushing, an anthropologist. The Zunis retorted that the god was certainly authentic because it was made by Cushing with "Zuni knowledge."

The piece is still in Oxford, but for how long is anybody's guess.

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