Environment | Law

Ex-official under probe for keeping ancestral remains in a box






A hole dug into a burial mound at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa. Photo from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

A former National Park Service superintendent is under federal investigation for keeping a box of ancestral remains in his garage, The Sioux City Journal reports.

Tom Munson, who retired in 1994, admits that he took the remains from the Effigy Mounds National Monument in 1990. They were finally returned after a new superintendent took over in 2011.

"It was kind of a stomach-turning anger and disappointment," Johnathan Buffalo, the historic preservation director for the Meskwaki Tribe, told the paper.

Buffalo sits on a committee that investigated how the items were taken. He believes Munson didn't want them to be returned to tribes under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, which was about to take effect in 1990.

"He thought he was protecting something. He didn't see us as human beings," Buffalo told the paper. "He just saw a science project."

Some of the remains date back 1,000 and 2,000 years and were found in burial grounds at the monument. Buffalo said they will be repatriated to tribes for reburial.

Get the Story:
Feds investigate handling of ancient remains in Iowa (The Sioux City Journal 5/27)

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