Harvard Holds Remains Of 19 Enslaved People, 7,000 Native Americans: Report

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Harvard University still holds the human remains of almost 20 people who were enslaved and thousands of Native Americans, according to a leaked draft report written by a faculty committee.

Per NBC News, an unfinalized draft report obtained by the Harvard Crimson urges the university to return the remains of 7,000 Native Americans and at least 19 enslaved persons back to their descendants' families. The report was put together by a steering committee tasked to handle Harvard's collection of human remains.

According to the Harvard Crimson, the leaked report states that Harvard's vast collection of remains highlights “the University’s engagement and complicity” with slavery and colonialism.

“Moreover, we know that skeletal remains were utilized to promote spurious and racist ideas of difference to confirm existing social hierarchies and structures,” the draft report says.

The remains are held in the Harvard Peabody Museum of Ethnology and Archaeology, per the Crimson. The report suggests that the remains should be out of the hands of the university museum and decided on by their descendants' communities.

The Steering Committee on Human Remains in Harvard Museum Collections, the body behind the draft report, was formed after a separate group released a 134-page report on April 26 addressing the university's ties to slavery.

After the April 26 report was released by the Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, the university pledged $100 million to “remedy the persistent educational and social harms that human bondage caused.”

“Harvard benefited from and in some ways perpetuated practices that were profoundly immoral,” Lawrence S. Bacow, director of the museum and University President, wrote in a statement following the release of the initial report. “Consequently, I believe we bear a moral responsibility to do what we can to address the persistent corrosive effects of those historical practices on individuals, on Harvard, and on our society.” 

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