Hair Collection FAQ

How are the hair samples cared for?

  • The hair samples are stored in a secure location with the other human remains stewarded by the Field Museum. Each sample is now housed in an acid-free envelope, and the envelopes are housed in acid-free boxes.

What steps is the Field Museum taking to address and repatriate these hair samples?

  • The Field Museum sent letters in late May 2023 to all of the Indian Tribes in the United States and First Nations in Canada that are possibly affiliated with an individual represented by one of the 111 hair samples. These letters are a first step in initiating consultation, and the Center for Repatriation is committed to working collaboratively with Tribes and Nations to ensure the repatriation of each hair sample.

Has there been any destructive scientific study of the North American hair samples?

  • As far as we know, there has not been any destructive scientific research conducted on any of the North American hair samples housed at the Field Museum.

Were any of the hair samples taken from individuals at Indian Boarding Schools?

  • We do not know, but it is possible. The records indicate that some of the hair is from children and some is from adults. At this time, we do not have geographic information related to the collection of each sample, only parental lineage, or where parental lineage is not clearly indicated, tribal affiliation.

Are there additional hair samples at the Field Museum and where are they from?

  • Yes. The Field Museum stewards collections of hair samples that were acquired during the first half of the 20th century from other parts of the world, including Africa, Central America, the Middle East, and the Pacific, as well as some samples that are of unknown origin. The Museum is also committed to consultation and repatriating these hair samples.

Are there other forms of hair taken from Native Americans and First Nations in the Field Museum collections?

  • Yes. The collections contain other forms of hair, aside from samples, including cultural items that incorporate human hair. The Museum is also committed to repatriating these other forms of hair to the appropriate Indian Tribes and First Nations. All hair collected from Native Americans has been or will be addressed in NAGPRA Summaries or Inventories.