Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Wendy Butts



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Liberal Studies


Liberal Studies

Committee Chair

Jeremy Killian

Committee Member

Leslie Luebbers

Committee Member

Edward Maclin


The impetus for this dissertation was a meeting with several subject matter experts belonging to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, who shared their interest in garnering enough public support to pressure eleven institutions into returning burial belongings disinterred from the Etowah Mounds. As such, the objective of this historical research was to support the Tribe’s goal by raising public awareness of their decades-long repatriation challenges. In order to accomplish that objective, as a backdrop, this dissertation undertook a comprehensive examination of pertinent pre- and post- contact events surrounding Muskogean-speaking people of the Southeast region, which provided context for why present-day descendants remained unsuccessful at reclaiming their ancestral belongings. That interpretive research was further strengthened by the seven subject matter experts who expounded on the Tribe’s repatriation experiences and the significance of reburying ancestral belongings on original homelands. Also conducted as part of the historical focus of this dissertation was an evaluation of repatriation law, barriers hindering the repatriation process, and proposed strategies for removing barriers. Because biased proclivities toward Native Americans negatively impacted repatriation, also examined were strategies for strengthening relations between Indigenous groups and institutions, along with a review of updated policies implemented by the eleven institutions that sought to correct culturally inappropriate practices. Finally, to provide a philosophical explanation for why repatriations were hindered, The Vermillion Accord On Human Remains ethical code was used as a framework to support the suggestion that when institutions reject Indigenous ‘respect’ ideologies that honor ancestral remains, their Eurocentric beliefs could hinder the repatriation process. Throughout the dissertation, scholarly Indigenous sources were cited which ensured that an evenhanded accounting of Muscogee (Creek) history was achieved.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access