Native American Grave Protection Legislation in "What this Awl Means" In Janet D. Spector's novel, "What this Awl Means", feminist archaeologist travels to a Wahpeton Dakota village and ethically extracts artifacts with respect being paid to both the anthropological community and Indian cultural customs. The ideals and standards of her study with respect to Native American culture and their deep - rooted connection with their past is commendable. She behaves in a manner that is becoming more common in the anthropological community as a result of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. This act, which I will discuss later, has forever changed the face of anthropology and the way these professionals conduct themselves in the field; moreover, the way Janet D. Spector behaves in "What this Awl Means" serves documentary of ethical and respectful anthropology that has come about through the passing of this legislation.
Spector tries to describe the story of a young Whapeton Dakota woman and the significance of her awl.
This story is embedded within the context of an archaeology excavation in Little Rapids, Minnesota.
Grave desecration has been experienced in the United States for nearly two hundred tears without respect to the Native American's first amendment rights to freedom of religion. Through the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) of 1990, U.S. law addresses not only human remains (also covered in the National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989, which focuses on the return of remains housed at the Smithsonian Institution) but "sacred objects" as well, defined as "ceremonial objects which are needed by traditional Native American religious leaders for the practice of traditional Native American religions by their present day adherents." NAGPRA also defines "cultural patrimony" as "an object having ongoing historical, traditional, or cultural importance central...