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Digital repatriation is one aspect of heritage preservation work that has been increasingly gaining popularity due to its effectiveness in assisting Indigenous communities in connecting with museum collections located at various institutions around the world. It is not simply an alternative for physical repatriation; rather, the two can be used in conjunction, particularly with the incorporation of 3D technology. While digital repatriation can provide new opportunities, it is also a contested concept (Boast and Enote 2013) that is still in the process of shaping future collaborative practices while being shaped by ongoing projects and their outcomes. In this paper, we explore how this technology, structure from motion (SFM) 3D modeling and scanning, provides innovative methods that are especially well suited for successfully contributing to a wide array of heritage preservation objectives. Three-dimensional technology is effective in providing alternative ways to connect with collection pieces and providing origin communities access to museum collections. It can alleviate concerns of chemical exposure from contamination, concerns for the fragility of items, the expense of insurance and transportation, or the need to remove pieces from origin communities. As artifacts transform in the repatriation process by gaining new life and meaning when they enter the contemporary reality of the origin community, the use of 3D technology, as part of this collaboration, can assist Indigenous communities in fulfilling their own visions of heritage preservation.
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