BREMEN, Germany (KHON2) — A ceremony was held to hand over ancestral remains from eight people from the Übersee-Museum Bremen to representatives of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) on Tuesday, Feb. 8.

Research showed four of the remains were given to the museum by individuals.

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Prof. Hugo Schauinsland, the Founding Director of the Übersee-Museum gave two sets of remains to the museum in 1897.

Hermann von Eelking gave a set of remains in 1865.

Kurt-Felix Franke gave a set of remains in 1934.

It is unknown how the other four were gotten.

In recent years, Europe has witnessed the development of a distinct awareness that for ethical reasons in particular, it is absolutely imperative to thoroughly investigate the circumstances under which the collections held in museums were created. This relates especially to collections of human remains. The assessment of whether a scientific interest can justify bringing human remains from another culture to Germany to then exhibit and investigate them is now fundamentally different to how it was in colonial times. Questions as to the legitimacy of this supposed ownership are also fortunately answered in a different way today. We therefore have the responsibility, the moral duty, and the historic opportunity to put an end to the wrong that has been done. We cannot make amends. We can only sincerely ask for your forgiveness and express our remorse for what was done to your people and your ancestors.

Dr. Andreas Bovenschulte
Bremen’s Mayor

OHA representatives will collect remains from four different institutions in Germany and one in Austria.

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OHA in partnership with other Native Hawaiian community members have a goal to repatriate as many ancestral remains (iwi kupuna) internationally.