IUPUI faculty and students help FBI identify cultural artifacts

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis anthropology and museum studies faculty and students are assisting the FBI in identifying and preserving cultural artifacts found in the home of a Rush County, Ind., man.

The FBI and its multidisciplinary team are working on repatriating items of cultural patrimony.

Larry J. Zimmerman, professor of anthropology and museum studies; Holly Cusack-McVeigh, assistant professor of anthropology and museum studies; and Charmayne “Charli” Champion-Shaw, director of the Office of America Indian Programs at IUPUI, are among the art, cultural and museum experts working as consultants at the site about 35 miles southeast of Indianapolis.

“Our job is to assist the FBI in the identification of artifacts, help as liaisons with Native Americans and take care of the artifacts in keeping with best museum practices and FBI evidential procedures,” Zimmerman said. Zimmerman also holds the title of Public Scholar of Native American Representation, a shared position with the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art.

Students and alumni of museum studies classes taught by Cusack-McVeigh, also Public Scholar of Collections and Community Curation, are helping to handle the artifacts as they are registered, photographed and packaged.

The IUPUI faculty and students participated in an FBI briefing April 1 and a press conference April 2 about the matter. At this time, the IUPUI professors and students are not available for additional media interviews.