THE largest repatriation of museum items in Scotland has been agreed by Glasgow City Council, with artefacts to be returned to Nigeria, India and Native Americans.
Looted bronzes from Benin, a stolen ceremonial sword from India and belongings lifted from massacred Lakota people in South Dakota, USA, will now be given back.
The decision has been made by Glasgow councillors following requests from the descendants of the rightful owners. A cross-party group recommended the items were returned.
David McDonald, departing chairman of Glasgow Life, which manages the museums, told the city administration committee: “The recommendations before us represent the largest repatriation of museum items ever in Scotland and, I believe, the first in the UK to India, so this is a significant moment for the city and the wider debate on the topic of repatriation and decolonisation.”
Bronzes, used in ancestor worship, were taken from the altars at the Royal Court of Benin during an invasion by British forces in 1897. There are 17 in Glasgow’s collection, which were acquired as gifts or from auction houses, and the National Commission of Museums and Monuments of Nigeria, acting on behalf of the Oba of Benin, requested they be returned to Benin City.
The National:
McDonald, who isn’t seeking re-election in May, said: “These items are part of the living culture of Benin and will again be used for their original purpose on their return as well as being displayed in museums.”
The High Commission of India in London requested the return of eight items on behalf of the Government of India and Archaeological Services India. These include building fragments stolen from Hindu temples and shrines as well as a ceremonial sword and scabbard.
Nearly 300 Lakota people were killed by US Army soldiers during the Wounded Knee Massacre in South Dakota in 1890. Belongings taken from the dead were sold to Glasgow by George Crager, the interpreter for performers at the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show, which came to Dennistoun in 1892.
A request for repatriation of 25 artefacts was received from the descendants of the late Marcella LeBeau, a Lakota elder, politician, nurse and military veteran who died at the age of 102 last year. The family is representing the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe, council officials reported.
McDonald said: “These items, the personal belongings of murdered Lakota tribespeople include necklaces, beaded waistcoasts, head dresses, moccasins, a shield cover and children’s leggings.”
He added the city plans to make a financial contribution towards their return. “The items for India and Nigeria are being sponsored by national governments or institutions,” he said. “But the return of these items would otherwise be left up to the descendants themselves.
“We believe it would be an added insult for the city to expect the Lakota people to pay for the return of these items. We are asking officers to finalise arrangements and offer full financial support for the safe and honourable return of these items.”
The estimated cost of repatriation is expected to be between £30,000 and £40,000. LeBeau was behind the campaign for the return of the Ghost Dance Shirt, a sacred item to Native Americans which is believed to have been worn by a Sioux warrior during the massacre, from Kelvingrove Museum in 1998. 
Councillors also agreed eight half-hull shipbuilder’s design models, gifted to Glasgow by Alexander Hall & Co of Aberdeen in 1881, should be transferred to Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum. The Aberdeen museum has offered a 19th century display model of a Clyde-built Scotia as a transfer.
They also decided to return a ship’s bell and honours panel from HMS Glasgow to the Royal Navy. The Navy had gifted the items to Glasgow when the Type-42 destroyer was decommissioned in 2005 but it will now use them on the new HMS Glasgow, a Type-26 frigate.
McDonald said the repatriation decisions should “be just the start” for the council in “delivering cultural justice and the decolonisation of our museums”.
We know there are thousands of National readers who want to debate, argue and go back and forth in the comments section of our stories. We’ve got the most informed readers in Scotland, asking each other the big questions about the future of our country.
Unfortunately, though, these important debates are being spoiled by a vocal minority of trolls who aren’t really interested in the issues, try to derail the conversations, register under fake names, and post vile abuse.
So that’s why we’ve decided to make the ability to comment only available to our paying subscribers. That way, all the trolls who post abuse on our website will have to pay if they want to join the debate – and risk a permanent ban from the account that they subscribe with.
The conversation will go back to what it should be about – people who care passionately about the issues, but disagree constructively on what we should do about them. Let’s get that debate started!
Callum Baird, Editor of The National
We want our comments to be a lively and valuable part of our community – a place where readers can debate and engage with the most important local issues. The ability to comment on our stories is a privilege, not a right, however, and that privilege may be withdrawn if it is abused or misused.
Please report any comments that break our rules.
Last Updated:
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
This website and associated newspapers adhere to the Independent Press Standards Organisation’s Editors’ Code of Practice. If you have a complaint about the editorial content which relates to inaccuracy or intrusion, then please contact the editor here. If you are dissatisfied with the response provided you can contact IPSO here
© 2001-2022. This site is part of Newsquest’s audited local newspaper network. A Gannett Company. Newsquest Media Group Ltd, Loudwater Mill, Station Road, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. HP10 9TY. Registered in England & Wales | 01676637 |
Data returned from the Piano ‘meterActive/meterExpired’ callback event.
As a subscriber, you are shown 80% less display advertising when reading our articles.
Those ads you do see are predominantly from local businesses promoting local services.
These adverts enable local businesses to get in front of their target audience – the local community.
It is important that we continue to promote these adverts as our local businesses need as much support as possible during these challenging times.


Shop Sephari

Leave a Reply