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Indian tribes reach agreement on remains

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  • Sonja Keohane
    Indian tribes reach agreement on remains Oct. 17, 2000 |
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 17, 2000
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      Indian tribes reach agreement on remains

      Oct. 17, 2000 | 5:18 p.m.

      By STEVEN K. PAULSON Associated Press Writer

      DENVER (AP) -- The remains of 350 unidentified Indians stored in the
      basement of the Colorado History Museum for the past century will be
      returned to 12 Indian tribes under an unusual agreement.

      Instead of waiting for state museum officials to sort out the identities, the
      tribes are working together to return the remains to their proper homes,
      said Ute Mountain Ute Chairman Ernest House Sr.

      ``In the Indian world, once the remains are not turned back to the Earth
      where it came from, there is a soul that is still out there still wandering out
      on the Plains,'' he said Tuesday.

      The remains, ranging from skeletons to bone fragments, represent bodies
      that were discovered during construction projects, erosion and farming since
      Colorado became a state in 1876, said Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, who helped
      broker the agreement.

      The 1990 Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act requires
      remains to be returned to tribes, but it imposes strict requirements on
      those listed as culturally unidentifiable to make sure they are returned to
      the proper tribe since tribal customs vary.

      Museum officials have returned four sets of skeletal remains over the past
      10 years to the Ute and Pawnee tribes.

      They have several hundred more boxes of remains from Pueblo Indians
      who lived hundreds of years ago in southwest Colorado that will not be
      covered by the agreement. Those will remain in a special vault in the
      museum basement.

      Other tribes signing the agreement included the Northern Utes, the
      Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, the Comanche Tribe of
      Oklahoma, the Fort Sill Apache Tribe, the Kiowa of Oklahoma, the Northern
      Cheyenne, the Northern Ute, the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, the Oglala
      Sioux, the Rosebud Sioux, and the Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota,
      the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara. All of the tribes passed through Colorado
      at one time or another.

      The tribes hope to have a ceremony next spring to turn over the remains
      for burial, House said.

      They plan to identify all the remains before burying them, a task that could
      be difficult since DNA testing requires a distant relative, and the tribes are
      not sure where to start.

      Nationwide, some 14,000 human remains have been returned to tribes
      under the 1990 law out of 200,000 that had been identified nationally as of
      last year.

      ------

      On the Net:

      Museum: <http://coloradohistory.org/colorado--history--museum>
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