Repatriation Ceremony: "iwi kūpuna" return to Hawai'i

The event was streamed live.

Göttingen University hands over iwi kūpuna from collections to Hawaiian descendants

When the anatomist Georg Thilenius excavated a number of skulls and skeletons on the island of Maui in 1897, he violated the prevailing Hawaiian laws: these prohibited the removal of human remains from burial sites. Nevertheless, the stolen bones reached the University of Göttingen via the Hamburg Museum of Eth-nology in 1953. On Wednesday 9 February 2022, they were returned to their descendants from Hawai'i during a ceremonial event.

"With this return, we express our deep respect for and solidarity with the Hawaiian culture," said the President of the University of Göttingen, Professor Metin Tolan. The bones come from 13 individuals, as discovered by scientists working on the Volkswagen Foundation-funded research project “Sensitive provenances: human remains from colonial contexts in the collections of the University of Göttingen”. The focus was on the Blu-menbach Collection and the Anthropological Collection.

"Our investigations enabled us to determine where at least some of the remains came from and how they ended up in the two collections," explains Dr Marie Luisa Allemeyer from the Centre for Collection Develop-ment of the University of Göttingen. In the mid-19th century, for example, a ship's doctor sent the remains of four individuals to the Institute for Anatomy and Surgery in Braunschweig. Via the founding director of the State Natural History Museum in Braunschweig, they finally came into the hands of a Göttingen medical stu-dent, who gave them to the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Göttingen in 1934.

As a public ceremony Göttingen University is hosting a press- and photography event on:
Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 5:30 pm
at Alte Mensa, Wilhelmsplatz 3, 37073 Göttingen
The event will be streamed live on the internet.

For Q&A will be present:

Darion Akins, US-Generalkonsul aus Hamburg
Edward Halealoha Ayau, Vertreter für das Office of Hawaiian Affairs
Prof. Dr. Metin Tolan, Präsident der Universität Göttingen
Dr. Marie Luisa Allemeyer, Direktorin der Zentralen Kustodie
Prof. Dr. Regina Bendix, Institut für Kulturanthropologie / Europäische Ethnologie