March 26th, 2014 Last Updated on: March 26th, 2014
It's no secret that many Europeans have been infatuated with Native American culture for quite some time. Karl May, a German novelist during the late 1800s, has been credited with creating the German fascination with all things “Wild West”. A museum dedicated to the man is now under fire for displaying Native American scalps and refusing to return them.
British newspaper The Guardian reports, the Karl May Museum in Radebeul near Dresden is in possession of 17 scalps, 3 on display, that were given to the private collection by a friend of the novelist.
For the last four years, activists have been calling for the return of the scalps, whose display in American museums has been illegal since 1990. Yet in spite of these requests the Karl May Museum has made no moves to return the items.
A spokesperson for the descendants of the Ojibwa tribe told The Guardian that displaying the scalps in a museum was “inappropriate and unacceptable”. “These are human remains which should be buried respectfully and should never have been taken from the tribe in the first place,” said Cecil Pavlat, a repatriation specialist working for the tribe, now more commonly known as the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Yet Hans Grunert, the exhibition curator at the Karl May museum said that the exhibits were “part of history”, and that “it is important to the museum that history isn't being falsified in our exhibition”. He conceded that the museum was “prepared to have a conversation” with descendants.
Members of the Chippewa tribe say they are considering staging a protest at a festival celebrating Karl May's legacy in Radebeul in May.
Read more from The Guardian.
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