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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History temporarily closes Chumash Life exhibit due to new regulations

SANTA BARBARA, Calif, - Visitors of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History look forward to its renowned Chumash exhibit every day.

“It’s very popular. People here want to understand the history and culture of native people ... that have been here that are here and that will continue to be here," said president and CEO Luke Swetland of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Right now the exhibit is in transition to comply with new federal NAGPRA regulations.

"Require consultation with our tribal partners to help identify NAGPRA eligible objects for repatriation in the future. So before we open the NAGPRA safe zone, we need to consult with and identify those objects," said NAGPRA officer Jonathan Malindine of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

Since the new regulations affect January 12th, the museum has closed its Chumash Life exhibit space while tribal consultation is pending.

"I think it’s fantastic. We’ve been working for years to make sure our museum returns all the ancestors and belongings to tribes," said Malindine.

"Laws like NAGPRA help native communities, restore their cultural patrimony and to bring it back home," said Swetland.

“Everybody has the same fundamental human rights ... the same social rights ... the same cultural rights," said Swetland.

Museum staff are planning temporary covers for the Chumash displays, with text to educate the public about NAGPRA.

"… to help bring the audience along on our NAGPRA journey," said Malindine.

Administrators of the museum are expecting to reopen the exhibit in the next few weeks.

Article Topic Follows: News
native american
Santa Barbara
santa barbara museum of natural history

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Patricia Martellotti

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