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Vatican Says They're Gifts; Indigenous Groups Want Them Back

President of the Metis community, Cassidy Caron, speaks to the media in St. Peter's Square after their meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, Monday, March 28, 2022. The restitution of Indigenous and colonial-era artifacts, a pressing debate for museums and national collections across Europe, is one of the many agenda items awaiting Francis on his trip to Canada, which begins Sunday.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File )
President of the Metis community, Cassidy Caron, speaks to the media in St. Peter's Square after their meeting with Pope Francis at The Vatican, Monday, March 28, 2022. The restitution of Indigenous and colonial-era artifacts, a pressing debate for museums and national collections across Europe, is one of the many agenda items awaiting Francis on his trip to Canada, which begins Sunday. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia, File )

Vatican City (AP) -- The Vatican Museums are home to some of the most magnificent artworks in the world, from Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel to ancient Egyptian antiquities and a pavilion full of papal chariots. But one of the museum’s least-visited collections is becoming its most contested before Pope Francis’ trip to Canada.

The Vatican’s Anima Mundi Ethnological Museum, located near the food court and right before the main exit, houses tens of thousands of artifacts and art made by Indigenous peoples from around the world, much of it sent to Rome by Catholic missionaries for a 1925 exhibition in the Vatican gardens.