Press Release: Dokis Ancestral Remains Repatriated to Dokis First Nation

October 26, 2021 Events & Announcements
Three people around a table looking at and signing documents.

The Field Museum has repatriated the remains of six individuals to Dokis First Nation of Canada. The Field and Dokis First Nation have worked closely together for several years to ensure the respectful return of these ancestral human remains to their homeland.

A signing ceremony was held on October 26, in which documents formally transferring the ancestral remains to the Dokis community were signed by representatives from Dokis First Nation, including Dokis Chief Gerry Duquette Jr., and the Museum’s President Julian Siggers.

“We want to express our appreciation to all the wonderful staff, committees, and Board Members involved at the Field Museum,” said Chief Duquette. “It was truly an honour working with everyone, especially Helen Robbins, to close this chapter in our history. The repatriation of these remains will guide their spirits home to peacefully join their ancestors, and we are proud to finally have completed what my late Grandpa Leonard Dokis started so many moons ago.”

“It is our privilege to have welcomed representatives from the Dokis First Nation to the Field Museum for the important occasion of returning these ancestral remains to their descendant community,” Siggers said. “We look forward to maintaining this meaningful relationship.” 

Over the last several years, Dokis First Nation has been leading the “Dead Island Repatriation Project” on behalf and with the consent of First Nation communities within the Robinson Huron Treaty. Dokis representatives and Field Museum staff conducted collaborative research to determine how these six ancestral remains came to be in the Museum’s care: they found that anthropologist Thomas Proctor Hall (1858-1942) removed these individuals from their graves in 1891. At the time, Hall took these remains on behalf of anthropologist Franz Boas (1839-1915) for anthropological exhibits at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. Some of these exhibits, including the remains of these six individuals, became part of the Museum’s collections after the conclusion of the Exposition. 

Since 1990, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) has required United States museums that receive federal funds to repatriate human remains and cultural objects to federally-recognized Indigenous communities. There is no equivalent law for international repatriation requests. However, since 1989, the Field Museum has been willing to consider international requests for the repatriation of human remains when made by a related cultural group, so that the remains can be placed in repose in accordance with the group’s cultural practices.

About Dokis First Nation

Dokis First Nation is a community located on the boundaries that separate the Districts of Parry Sound, Sudbury, and Nipissing, approximately 16 kilometers southwest of Lake Nipissing on the French River. The total membership of the community is steadily climbing, with over 1,071 members and a residential population of approximately 200.  In the summer months, the population increases. The community has a commitment to sustain and improve the quality of life for all its members, both on and off-reserve. Dokis also provides a wide range of health, employment, and administrative services to its members as well as a sustainable lifestyle based on the richness of the natural resources under its care.

About Field Museum

The Field Museum is a forward-thinking scientific leader on a mission to explore, protect, and celebrate nature and culture. From exhibitions that inspire journeys of discovery in visitors young and old, to the groundbreaking research and conservation efforts driven by our 40 million artifacts and specimens, we’re on a mission to spark public engagement with science and uncover solutions for a brighter world.