Department Chair

Andrew D. Nicholls, Ph.D.

Date of Award


Access Control

Open Access

Degree Name

Museum Studies, M.A.


History and Social Studies Education Department


Noelle Wiedemer

First Reader

Noelle Wiedemer

Second Reader

Jason Corwin


The Red Jacket Peace Medal and Ethics of Repatriation

Native Americans have had a long and arduous past. Many generations of tribal nations within the geographical and political context of the United States have experienced genocide, forced relocation, had their land seized, and cultural artifacts and remains stolen since the fifteenth century. Museums have become the primary institutions now owning the majority of variously acquired artifacts of Native American cultural heritage and displaying them in pursuit of scientific study. For the long overdue injustices done to Native Americans, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was established in 1990, under the President George H.W. Bush administration, to aid federally recognized Native American tribal nations to facilitate the repatriation or return of their artifacts being housed in these institutions.

This thesis will do a deep dive into NAGPRA and what it represents to help understand the repatriation of a historically significant artifact known as the Red Jacket Peace Medal back to the Seneca Nation from the Buffalo History Museum. This paper will also expand on the issues of repatriation, review of the law of NAGPRA, along with some historic accounts of other tribes within the State of New York, and lastly, to disclose the ethics of repatriation, along with the importance of objects and case studies affiliated with NAGPRA law and cultural patrimony.