Tuesday 7 February 2023, 14:30Passed
February 2023
Tuesday 7
14:30 - 16:30
0 to 99 years old

Haudenosaunee Sacred Object Return Ceremony

Ceremony to commemorate the return of sacred objects to the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. Auditorium. February 7, 2023 at 2:30 pm.
Tuesday 7 February 2023, 14:30Passed
MEG, Chiara Cosenza

MEG is about to return to their nation of origin, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, two objects acquired without consent nearly 200 years ago. This is the first restitution of sacred objects by the MEG, which as Museum of the City of Geneva, is committed to facilitating the unconditional return of human remains, funerary goods and sacred objects to their rightful owners.
This ceremony will take place in the presence of the media and the public.

Three members of the Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee will be in attendance and will perform a ceremony to mark the return of these artifacts to their nations. They are Kenneth Deer (Mohawk Nation), Brennen Ferguson (Tuscarora Nation) and Clayton Logan (Seneca Nation).

Ceremony program

  • Address by Mr. Sami KANAAN, Administrative Counselor of the City of Geneva, in charge of the Department of Culture and Digital Transition
  • speech by Mrs. Carine Ayélé DURAND, director of the MEG
  • speech by Mr. Brennen FERGUSON (Tuscarora Nation)
  • speech by Mr. Clayton LOGAN (Seneca Nation)
  • official presentation of the sacred objects by Mr. KANAAN and Mrs. DURAND to the Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee
  • note: due to the sacredness of the mask to the Haudenosaunee, it will not be displayed and will be in a closed box

  • tobacco burning ceremony by Clayton LOGAN to welcome the return of the sacred objects to their nations
  • note: The Haudenosaunee do not wish to have the tobacco burning ceremony filmed or photographed. We thank you for respecting their request.
  • explanation of the ceremony by Brennen FERGUSON
  • questions from the audience

Return after 200 years in Switzerland

The City of Geneva, represented by the MEG, the Museum of Ethnography of Geneva, has received a formal request for the return of objects from the External Relations Committee of the Haudenosaunee Confederation.
The Haudenosaunee Confederation is one of the oldest political entities still active in the world without interruption. It has a constitution that predates the arrival of Europeans.
The heritage items concerned by this request are a mask (ref. K000121) and a rattle (ref. K000130) that were donated in 1825 to the Musée académique (ancestor of the Musée archéologique and the Musée d'ethnographie de Genève) by the historian and politician Amédée-Pierre-Jules Pictet de Sergy (1795-1888).
The management of the MEG and the management of the Department of Culture and Digital Transition of the City of Geneva have given their approval to this request for restitution in view of the following elements:

  • The Haudenosaunee are the traditional owners of the mask and rattle.
  • The mask and rattle have a cultural value that makes them unsuitable for display.
  • The mask and rattle have cultural value that ensures the well-being of the Haudenosaunee.

Following the request of the Haudenosaunee and the positive notice of the MEG, the Administrative Council of the City of Geneva has taken note that the Haudenosaunee Confederation declares itself the traditional owner of these objects which it considers sacred and that their cultural value makes them unsuitable for exhibition in the sense of art. 25 of the ICOM code of ethics and arts. 11, 12 and 31 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Additional information on the Haudenosaunee

The Haudenosaunee, or "Longhouse People", commonly referred to as "Iroquois" or "Six Nations", are members of a confederacy called the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.
The Haudenosaunee include the Seneca, Cayuga, Oneida, Onondaga, Mohawk and Tuscarora and live on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.
The return of the Haudenosaunee sacred objects marks the beginning of the official commemoration of the centennial of the arrival of Iroquois Chief Deskaheh in Geneva in 1923 and 1924.
Deskaheh is described as the first indigenous person to have dared to raise in 1923 in Geneva, the problem of the loss of autonomy, the dispossession and the destruction of the political, social and economic structures of the indigenous peoples by the colonizing states.
The Administrative Council of the City of Geneva has decided to organize this centenary with dignity through a series of events that will take place in Geneva until 2024 with the contribution of the Haudenosaunee External Relations Committee, the SREC (Service of External Relations and Communication), the DOCIP (Center for Documentation, Research and Information on Indigenous Peoples), the SEVE (Service of Green Spaces and the Environment) and the MEG (Museum of Ethnography).

The second highlight of the centenary commemoration will be the planting in the Parc des Bastions of a Tree of Peace offered by the Haudenosaunee Confederation to thevCity of Geneva on February 9, 2023 at 10:30 am.

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Vitrine de l'exposition permanente du Musée d'Ethnographie de Genève avec des explications concernant les deux objets sacrés retirés de l'exposition et restitués à la Confédération Haudenosaunee lors d'une cérémonie qui se tiendra le 7 février 2023
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Musée d'ethnographie de Genève (MEG)
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Yesterday's stars are they that different from contemporary ones ? (history / politics), Are museums meeting places ? (encounters), Is history written by the victors ? (expression rights)

About the location

Boulevard Carl-VOGT 65, 1205 Genève