|A depiction of one scene at Sand Creek by witness Howling Wolf Cheyenne
“In life, they were not respected. They were forced to march. Removed,” said Danelle Gutierrez, the tribal historic preservation officer for the Big Pine Paiute Tribe of the Owens Valley. “Even in death, they aren’t respected.”
ProPublica journalists Mary Hudetz (Apsaalooke/Crow), Logan Jaffe and Ash Ngu were interested in investigating whether the promises of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, considered landmark human rights legislation, had been fulfilled.
Institutions reported making the remains of more than 2,300 Native Americans available for return to the Standing Rock Lakota Nation.
The tribe was also eligible to claim more than 14,100 associated funerary objects.
Institutions continue to hold the remains of at least 1,200 Native Americans taken from counties known to be of interest to Standing Rock.
Milwaukee Public Museum 238
Dept. of Defense 184
Omaha District (181)
St. Paul District (2)
National Museum of Health and Medicine (1)
Harvard Univ., Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology 168
Univ. of Wisconsin, Oshkosh 133
Illinois State Museum 52
Univ. of Wisconsin, La Crosse 49
Oshkosh Public Museum 48
Trinidad State Junior College 46
Center for American Archeology, Kampsville Archeological Center 45
Univ. of Wyoming, Dept. of Anthropology 43
Hastings Museum 30
American Museum of Natural History 27
Field Museum 22
Dept. of the Interior 20
Wyoming State Office (7)
Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge (4)
Great Plains Region, Wyoming Area Office (3)
Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge (3)
Wisconsin Historical Society 20
Museum Division (15)
Historic Preservation Division (5)
Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Dept. of Anthropology 18
Univ. of Michigan, Museum of Anthropology 13
History Nebraska, (formerly Nebraska State Historical Society) 12
Grand Rapids Public Museum 9
Neville Public Museum 7
Ball State Univ., Dept. of Anthropology 6
South Dakota State Historical Society, State Archaeological Research Center 6
Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Dept. of Anthropology 6
Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, Dept. of Anthropology 4
Univ. of Nebraska State Museum 3
Brigham Young Univ., Museum of Peoples and Cultures 2
Oberlin College 2
Rochester Museum and Science Center 2
Southern Illinois Univ., Carbondale, Center for Archaeological Investigations 2
Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer 2
Univ. of Northern Colorado 2
Cass County Historical Society Museum 1
Cleveland Museum of Natural History 1
Florida State Univ., Dept. of Anthropology 1
Indiana Univ., Dept. of Anthropology 1
Montana Historical Society 1
Montana State Univ., Museum of the Rockies 1
Natural History Museum of Utah 1
New York Univ., College of Dentistry 1
Springfield Science Museum 1
State Historical Society of Iowa 1
Tioga Point Museum 1
Univ. of California, Berkeley 1
Univ. of Kentucky, William S. Webb Museum of Anthropology 1
Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, Museum of Anthropology 1
Univ. of Pennsylvania, Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Cheyenne and Arapaho: The Sand Creek Massacre
Ten institutions hold the largest number of ancestors not being returned
|(Above) The University of California Berkeley has Native American remains taken from the areas shown. The orange symbol designates a large number have not been made available for return to their homelands.
|For the complete list go to https://projects.propublica.org/repatriation-nagpra-database/tribe/tohono-oodham-nation-arizona/
"An Interior Department spokesperson said it complies with its legal obligations and that its bureaus (such as the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management) are not required to begin the repatriation of “culturally unidentifiable human remains” unless a tribe or Native Hawaiian organization makes a formal request." -- ProPublica
The 10,245 remains along with 1,500 funerary objects were excavated from Moundville and other sites in Hale and Tuscaloosa counties in the 1930s.
They are all believed to belong to the Muskogean language-speaking tribes, who were prominent in those areas of Alabama before being forced out during the Trail of Tears.
In 1990, Congress passed a law recognizing the unequal treatment of Native American remains and set up a process for tribes to request their return from museums and other institutions that had them. The law, known as the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act or NAGPRA, sought to address this human rights issue by giving Indigenous peoples a way to reclaim their dead.
But 33 years after the law’s passage, at least half of the remains of more than 210,000 Native Americans have yet to be returned. Tribes have struggled to reclaim them in part because of a lack of federal funding for repatriation and because institutions face little to no consequences for violating the law or dragging their feet.
This database allows you to search for information on the roughly 600 federally funded institutions that reported having such remains to the Department of the Interior. While the data is self-reported, it is a starting point for understanding the damage done by generations of Americans who stole, collected and displayed the remains and possessions of the continent’s Indigenous peoples — and the work done by tribes and institutions to repatriate those Native ancestors since.
About the author
Brenda Norrell has been a news reporter in Indian country for 40 years. She began at the Navajo Times during the 18 years that she lived on the Navajo Nation. She served as a correspondent for Lakota Times, Associated Press and USA Today. After serving as a longtime staff reporter for Indian Country Today, she began Censored News to show what was being censored. Now a collective, with no ads, grants or salaries, Censored News has 22 million page views. She has a master's degree in international health focused on water, nutrition and infectious diseases.
Article copyright Brenda Norrell, Censored News