Hyperallergic: 'Understanding Why a Harvard Museum Will Return Standing Bear’s Tomahawk'

Published 02 August 2021 in Insights


'Understanding Why a Harvard Museum Will Return Standing Bear’s Tomahawk'

By Hrag Vartanian

Hyperallergic - Podcast

Published 21 July 2021

Attorney Brett Chapman explains why this Ponca heirloom should be returned to Native Americans.

Something incredible happened a few months ago. After Oklahoma lawyer Brett Chapman (Pawnee) started tweeting about the tomahawk of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, which is currently in Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the revered object may actually be going home.

His short messages asked why the tomahawk was in the care of that institution and not with one of the two federally recognized Ponca tribes. The questions raised eyebrows, and as Cassie Packard reported for Hyperallergic, the museum later posted a statement on its website explaining that the museum and the Ponca tribe are “in active discussion about the homecoming of Chief Standing Bear’s pipe tomahawk belonging to the Ponca people.”

Chapman, who has Ponca heritage, joins me for this podcast to explain the history of the tomahawk and why the return of the heirloom is important.

To listen or view the original article please navigate to the Hyperallergic website here

Image Credit: An archival photo of Standing Bear holding the tomahawk that is currently at Harvard University's Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, and a close up of the tomahawk on display at the Peabody (both images via Wikimedia Commons)