An effort to repatriate Native American human remains that were disinterred as part of archaeological excavations will continue this week when a Harvard museum transfers 98 individuals to the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan and other tribes.

The ancestral remains were part of the holdings of Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Boston. They have been identified as coming from seven different counties in Michigan and one unidentified site. Five other Native American groups have connections to the human remains, including the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes.

A delegation of representatives from the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe was set to travel to Boston to receive the human relics, some of which have been at the museum since 1869.

Fifty-one individuals will be reburied at the Nibokaan Ancestral Cemetery on the Saginaw Chippewa’s Isabella Indian Reservation. A public Recommitment to the Earth Ceremony will be held, followed by a Journey Feast at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.

The additional 47 remains will be reburied at sites within the territories of the five other tribes that have been identified as the proper recipients. Peabody Museum is assisting in the repatriation.

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 calls for the identification of ancestral remains in museums and institutions across the country and their reburial on tribal lands. So far, 10,000 remains and more than 1 million funerary and sacred artifacts have been returned under the Act.


Categories: Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Boston

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