The World Archaeological Congress is concerned about the cultural origin of the remains being offered for sale, as well as the affront to human dignity resulting from the sale of human body parts. “WAC asks Christie’s to cease trafficking in human remains and requests that all possible measures be taken to discover the cultural origin of this individual,” stated WAC President Claire Smith. “We cannot overlook the possibility that it may be a skull of a American Indian, and the sale should be stopped in order to determine if federal laws apply.”
WAC also requests that US law enforcement investigate this proposed sale. If these remains are found to be Native American, then WAC urges Christie’s to comply with the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act and/or applicable state laws. Regardless of the origin of the remains, WAC urges Christie’s to act in accordance with standards of human decency and withdraw these remains from the auction.
The World Archaeological Congress bases its objection to this sale on the WAC Code of Ethics, which includes the Vermillion Accord on Human Remains and the Tamaki Makau-rau Accord on the Display of Human Remains and Sacred Objects.
Dr. Smith noted that the first principle of the Vermillion Accord declares “Respect for the mortal remains of the dead shall be accorded to all, irrespective of origin, race, religion, nationality, custom and tradition.” She stated “The buying and selling of human remains can not be considered respectful treatment. And the transforming of human remains into a ballot box is poor taste, as well as unethical.”
Claire Smith, President (Australia)