Sweden Returns 22 Looted Human Skulls to Hawaii

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STOCKHOLM — With a solemn ceremony in Stockholm's antiquities museum, Sweden on Saturday marked the return of 22 skulls looted from a native Hawaiian community mainly in the 17th century.

The symbolic ceremony — attended by guests from Hawaii and the Nordic countries' own indigenous Sami population — was part of Sweden's increased efforts to return indigenous remains collected by scientists across the world in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Swedish government in 2005 ordered its museums to search through their collections, and has since returned more than 20 human remains, mainly to Australia.

The Hawaiian skulls had been returned privately earlier Saturday so that the Hawaiian delegates could perform a ritual according to traditional customs.

Museum director Lars Amreus said he hoped the return would help "fulfill the spiritual circle" of those whose graves had been violated by the Swedish scientists.

"We know that they were collected, although by today's standards: they were looted," Amreus said.

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