More than 250 boxes filled with bones and sacred relics of dozens of Indigenous ancestors were found in the basement of the University of North Dakota (UND) earlier this year, university officials said Wednesday. did.
UND is required to report any Native American human remains or sacred items encountered to the Federal Commission. Despite the Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) law enacted 32 years ago, current university officials only learned about the item this year.
Native News Online reported that the bodies dated from the 1940s to the 1980s and may have been seized directly from sacred burial mounds. The university is currently working on repatriating the remains and items.
Artifacts found include headdresses, war bonnets and ceremonial pipes, according to UND. Since its discovery, the tribe has helped the university move relics and items to temperature-controlled locations, and began conducting the necessary spiritual practices.
“When a federal law known as the Native American Grave Preservation and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) was passed in 1990, universities were charged with returning ancestral and sacred objects to tribal lands. We are committed to putting it right,” UND Chairman Andrew Armacost said in a statement.
“On campus, we have formed a NAGPRA Compliance Committee to work with tribal representatives to guide repatriation efforts, explain cultural protocols, and help meet state and federal law requirements. .”
Native News Online reported that while searching for missing sacred items, school faculty found artifacts and cultural items stored in the basement of a “derelict anthropology building.” . UND Professor Rain Lyons (Chippewa Turtle of the Indians Her Mountain Band) said she and her fellow staff immediately reported their findings to the university.
“In that moment, my heart sank into my stomach,” Lyons told the outlet. ”
Lyons said he wondered how the incident happened because the law requires the UND to catalog the items and report them to the federal commission. Armacost said the violation was “mysterious.”
The university has begun the process of returning the remains and artifacts to the indigenous community.
“Our main goal now is to work diligently until all our ancestors and sacred objects return home, no matter how long it takes.” immediately reached out to representatives of half a dozen tribal nations, a number that has now grown to 13 and will continue to grow.”
The Tribal State has asked the university to refrain from announcing the discovery until initial communication with the community involved has been completed.
“We didn’t need a lot of media until we had a solid plan,” Diane Derosier, the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate tribe’s historic preservation officer, told Native News Online. One of five North Dakota tribes involved in consultations with the University. “We were able to get [the remains] Move them to a safe place without making a fuss. “
The university hired Native American Grave Repatriation and Protection Act (NAGPRA) consultant Jim Jones (Ojibwe’s Reach Lake Band) to begin cataloging and researching the tribal affiliation of each ancestor and object. The process could take years, according to an Armacost statement.
UND also launched a repatriation webpage, outlining the process of returning the goods and bodies to the tribes. This webpage provides on-campus support for students and staff affected by this discovery.
Newsweek We have reached out to Scott Davis, Executive Director of the Indian Affairs Commission, for comment.