Ethical research standards

This assignment is a film review for the documentary Bones of Contention I did for my ANP 203 archaeology course. Produced and released by Seaborne in 1995, Bones of Contention has been seen as one of the most impartial filmic discussion of controversial issues surrounding the scientific/archaeological uses of bones and human remains of Native American and the debate for their repatriation.

The film mainly offers three different points from Native American tribe members and scientists in regard to the usages of human remains. The first one represents many of the contemporary tribe members’ views, that the usage of their ancestors’ bones mark the continuation of colonial exploitations and are disrespectful to their ancestors. They do not want some other scientists to tell them what their traditions and history really are. The second one is from the perspective of several scientists and archaeologists, who believe that it is necessary to study the human remains of those tribe ancestors, in order to reconstruct a story-telling of the past for both the euro-Americans and Native Americans, while laws like American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 would hinder their progress and researches. The third one comes from a group of Native Americans and scientists, who think both sides should balance out the scientific researches and tribes’ needs for bones repatriations, while letting tribe members participate in those excavation programs as both researchers and consolers, and allowing museums to rightfully display the findings, is helpful for both Native Americans and scientists.

This film is a great discussion of the role of ethics when conducting anthropological researches and for me is still the most inspiring one, since it impartially give opportunity for each side to express their opinions without altering the contents with bias.

ANP 203 Assignment 4