“REQUESTS FOR REPATRIATION SHOULD BE GIVEN SERIOUS CONSIDERATION”
The MSP for Argyll and Bute, Michael Russell, has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament urging the Scottish Government to support repatriation of the Beothuk remains to Canada.
The skulls of Chief Nonosabasut, and his wife Demasduit, are currently held in the National Museum of Scotland. They were among the last remaining members of the Beothuk tribe of Newfoundland. The remains are considered of vital religious, cultural and ethnic significance to the people of Canada, and there is a growing campaign, led by Chief Mi’sel Joe, of the Miawpukek First Nation band, to return the remains to Canada.
Commenting on the motion, Mr Russell said:
“I have campaigned for many years to support the repatriation of important historical artefacts, where it is sensible and appropriate to do so. When I was Minister for Culture, I campaigned to secure the repatriation of the Lewis Chessmen to Scotland which resulted in some progress, though not enough. I have also had a long standing involvement in the attempt to return the Parthenon Marbles to Greece.
“The Beothuk bodies are an important religious and cultural symbol to the people of Newfoundland. Moreover, the issue is particularly sensitive, given that the artefacts are human remains from a historically important tribe. Increasing calls for their repatriation should therefore be given the most serious consideration.
“The Scottish Government has previously demonstrated a pragmatic approach towards requests for repatriation of artefacts by different countries and communities, taking into account their needs and the circumstances surrounding each request. I look forward to a similar response in this case.”