Understanding Why a Harvard Museum Will Return Standing Bear’s Tomahawk
Something incredible happened a few months ago. After Oklahoma lawyer Brett Chapman (Pawnee) started tweeting about the tomahawk of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, which is currently in Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the revered object may actually be going home.
His short messages asked why the tomahawk was in the care of that institution and not with one of the two federally recognized Ponca tribes. The questions raised eyebrows, and as Cassie Packard reported for Hyperallergic, the museum later posted a statement on its website explaining that the museum and the Ponca tribe are “in active discussion about the homecoming of Chief Standing Bear’s pipe tomahawk belonging to the Ponca people.”
Chapman, who has Ponca heritage, joins me for this podcast to explain the history of the tomahawk and why the return of the heirloom is important.