As High Country News describes it, the Hoopa Tribal Museum is more like a borrowing library than a display museum. If you’re a member of the northern California tribe, you can check out the museum’s artifacts to use in ceremonies. Pretty cool.
There’s one strange catch, however. Some of the artifacts are poisoned, literally. Museum staff keep them quarantined in a special room because they’re not safe for would-be borrowers to handle, wear, or keep in their homes. But at least one lab is now developing a cost-effective method for cleaning the artifacts—something tribes could afford and do themselves, High Country News reports.
The poisons, including mercury, arsenic and DDT, are a legacy from European American anthropologists who took the artifacts from tribes during the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Anthropologists dipped their stolen clothes, headbands, and prayer sticks in toxic solutions to keep insects from damaging them. Then the scientists put the artifacts into glass-covered museum displays, no touching allowed. This happened not only to objects belonging to the Hoopa, but to tribes all over the U.S. (1)
However the real poison in this case is not the poison it self.
The real poison is the attitude we have towards things.
We have destroyed the meaning of living.
We have turned things into objects. (αντι-κείμενα)
We have lost the sacred nature of everyday being.
And we try to find consolation in our idolization of everyday objects.
We admired those things.
Things the tribes used just for… everyday chores!
And now we want to give them back.
As if these tribes did not know how to blend with nature, how to be one with the cosmos even if someone stole their… basket…
Who’s the real primitive?