Easter Island natives are demanding their statue be returned in exchange for a replica.
The British Museum in London has held this Hoa Hakananai’a statue for more than 150 years. The statue is one of the spiritually important stone structures of the Rapa Nui people who live on Chile’s Easter Island.
“You have kept him for 150 years, just give us some months,” Tarita Alarcón Rape, governor of Easter Island stated.
The Rapa Nui people are a Chilean Indigenous group that gained self-administration over Easter Island last year. They are known for their famous statues, the creation and placement of which vexed archaeologists for generations. They are now thought to have been wobbled into place with ropes.
There are approximately 900 of the statues on Easter Island and each one is a representation of a tribal leader, that is considered to be a living incarnation of their spirit, which means many of the Rapa Nui are unable to visit their ancestor if they can’t afford to travel to London.
A delegation of Rapa Nui met with representatives of the museum to discuss options of return. The museum says they are only discussing a temporary return, but a sculptor has offered to switch the statue with an exact replica, free of charge.