IUPUI Liberal Arts Faculty, Students Assist in Repatriation of Massive Artifact Collection

U.S. Department of State’s Aleisha Woodward, center, and National Cultural Heritage Administration of China Deputy Administrator Hu Bing, to her left, inspect ancient Chinese artifacts after a repatriation ceremony in Indianapolis on Feb. 28. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

A most unusual ceremony played out Feb. 28 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in downtown Indianapolis, as members of China’s national cultural heritage administration and U.S. embassy gathered alongside FBI agents and officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Department of State.

On the side of the meeting room sat a few of the 361 artifacts — some thousands of years old — that were once in an Indiana man’s residence but were soon to return home to China after this repatriation ceremony of unparalleled magnitude in the history of the FBI’s Art Crime Team, a rapid-deployment team of 16 special agents from around the country who have specialized training and expertise in fine arts, antiquities and cultural property.

The ceremony drew worldwide attention, with a number of Chinese news crews on hand to document the handoff.

Associate professor Holly Cusack-McVeigh, center, was joined by students Rebekah Ryan, Emily Hanawalt, Liz Ale, Rebecca Jacobs and Brianna Jackson, from left, at the repatriation ceremony. Photo by James Brosher, Indiana University

And sprinkled among the crowd were students and faculty from the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, seeing the fruits of their labor — with more work still to be done.

“It was such immediate gratification to see the look on the delegates’ faces as they opened those objects that we’ve been delicately preparing for years,” said Liz Ale, a second-year museum studies graduate student.

In the fall of 2013, when FBI agents had just begun to uncover the bizarre story of Donald Miller’s home artifact collection, one of their first calls was to IUPUI associate professor of anthropology and museum studies Holly Cusack-McVeigh.

Could she help shed light on the magnitude of the collection? And could she mobilize a group that could move these delicate pieces with dignity and safety?

“On April 1, 2014, we had over two dozen current or former students from anthropology and museum studies on-site helping FBI agents,” Cusack-McVeigh recalled. “It was absolutely astounding to see a collection of this global scale.”

In conjunction with the authorities, Cusack-McVeigh and her IUPUI contingent began the process of moving items and then cleaning and identifying them off-site. The collection was museum-like in its size (42,000 pieces) and scope, but questions about where the items came from and their legality — headlines in the United States centered around the human remains of over 500 individuals, mostly Native Americans — weren’t easily answered.

But with the help of IUPUI’s team, hundreds of pieces are returning to their rightful homes. Two years ago, some 70 items were repatriated to the Peruvian government at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. Now, Chinese officials are taking home priceless pieces.

“This repatriation ceremony is important because of our current political climate and because our Chinese counterparts care deeply about their cultural heritage,” Cusack-McVeigh said. “The members of both delegations are working together because we care about these issues and recognize the value to the country of origin.”

And the work isn’t even close to complete. The IUPUI students are helping to package the Chinese artifacts for shipping across the globe, and then they’ll continue examining, cleaning, identifying and packaging thousands more for delivery to other countries and to Native American tribes in the U.S. in what amounts to amazing on-the-job training in anthropology and museum studies.

“This has been a one-of-a-kind opportunity for my students to take what they’re learning in the classroom and apply it to the real world, but also to apply it to something that is very relevant, very current and incredibly meaningful,” Cusack-McVeigh said. “This is as much a human rights issue as anything, and that is what my students are learning both in the classroom and here, as they work countless hours to help get all of these objects back where they belong.”

Read the original article from IUPUI News’ John Schwarb

Two IUPUI Students Heading to Spain to Cover FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup

IUPUI Sports Capital Journalism Program students Frank Bonner and Ryan Gregory, from left, are covering the 16-nation FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup in Tenerife, Spain. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

The lineup of major sporting events covered by IUPUI students in the Sports Capital Journalism Program reads like a sports journalist’s bucket list: Olympic Games, Final Fours, Indianapolis 500s and the College Football Playoff.

It’s a list no other college program can match, and another spotlight event will be added this week as two journalism students fly to Tenerife, Spain, for the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup. Teams from 16 nations, including the two-time defending champion U.S. team, will compete Sept. 22-30 to determine the world’s best.

Ryan Gregory, a junior from Fort Wayne majoring in sports journalism, and Frank Bonner, a graduate student from Indianapolis studying sports journalism, are making the trip along with Malcolm Moran, director of the Sports Capital Journalism Program. They’ll be writing stories primarily for USAB.com, USA Basketball’s official website, working from press row and interviewing players and coaches at arguably the biggest event in the sport.

“A lot of countries focus on this tournament more than the Olympics, because basketball can get overshadowed there. For this event, the whole focus is pure basketball,” Moran said.

“We’ve had students who have covered women’s basketball games in the Olympics, but this is the first time we’ve done the World Cup.”

The Sports Capital Journalism Program is part of the Department of Journalism and Public Relations in the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. Students who take part in the program’s remarkable range of top-shelf sports opportunities have their expenses completely covered, which also differentiates IUPUI’s offering from many other schools.

The students will arrive in Spain with plenty of experience covering events. Gregory has covered the Indianapolis Colts, Indiana Fever and Indy Fuel, as well as the NCAA Division I Swimming and Diving Championships last year at the IU Natatorium. Bonner, before entering the sports journalism graduate school program, was a sports reporter at the Columbus Republic for two years.

“We have two seasoned veterans, and that’s important because there are going to be logistical challenges, your patience is tested, you’re dealing with all that — and you’re dealing with it somewhere else in the world,” Moran said.

The event can be a challenge for students, with the time commitment of nearly two weeks, including games and travel, in the heart of the semester. But the students’ professors are supportive of the trip, and there is time for classwork between games.

There’s plenty of studying to go around, as FIBA rules are different from what American fans and journalists are used to. The court is slightly smaller, timeouts can only be called by coaches and teams may inbound the ball without an official first touching it, similar to throw-ins in soccer.

“I want to be familiar with the tournament itself before learning the players,” Gregory said. “I feel like those details will come.”

Moran, who will travel with the students as an advisor and editor, covered the creation of USA Basketball nearly three decades ago while writing for The New York Times. He also wrote extensively about U.S. women’s team coach Dawn Staley and assistant coach Jennifer Rizzotti when they played in college.

The U.S. women’s team is vying for its third consecutive gold medal, a feat it has never achieved in the Women’s World Cup.