Nfld. & Labrador

Stolen Inuit remains returned to Labrador

The remains of 22 Inuit removed them from gravesites in 1927 and taken to the Chicago Field Museum were reburied Wednesday at a ceremony in northern Labrador.

The remains of 22 Inuit removed from gravesites in 1927 and taken to the U.S. were reburied Wednesday at a ceremony in northern Labrador.

American researcher William Duncan Strong took the remains from the abandoned community of Zoar and brought them to the Chicago Field Museum more than 80 years ago.

More than 75 people attended the reburial.

"What we are doing today is a good thing. What was done 84 years ago was immoral, disrespectful and disgraceful," said Johannes Lampe, Nunatsiavut's minister of culture.

"This is a happy day in heaven for these, our ancestors. We have to welcome back the wandering spirits of these remains."

For John Terriak and his brother, it's a chance to bury the great-grandfather they never knew in the settlement they'd heard of as children.

"To find your ancestors is important to me and I didn't like the idea that someone dug him up, like he's an animal," he said.

Helen Robbins, who works at the Chicago Field Museum where the remains had been held, said the museum was aware of the issue.

"We know that  [William Duncan Strong] knew it was wrong, and the institution knew it was wrong because they tried to cover it up and kept it they had a real awareness the community was unhappy," said Robbins.

There are still more Inuit remains exhumed from different gravesites, waiting to be returned to Labrador.