Editorial: Ancestors come home to Nisqually Tribe

"A wooden box on a shelf at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History is not a fitting final resting place for American Indians from South Sound.

We are pleased that Smithsonian officials have agreed to send the skeletal remains of six members of the Nisqually tribe back to South Sound for proper burial.

Carmen Kalama, vice chairman of the tribe, is right when she says, “It’s time to put them to final rest.”

The unidentified American Indians arrived in the nation’s capital at different times. Three sets of the Nisqually remains are those of children, two are teenagers and the other was 25 to 35 years old. Three have been identified as female.

Since the passage of a federal law in 1989, the Smithsonian has “repatriated” or offered to return less than one-third of the 18,000 sets of skeletal remains of American Indians it has in its care. The process isn’t simple, sometimes requiring months of research to ensure that the remains are returned to the appropriate tribe.

“This issue has taken a long time to bring to conclusion,” said Cynthia Iyall, tribal chairwoman. She declared herself “thrilled” that the tribe will take custody of the remains and honor them in a proper ceremony."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Nisqually tribe links to past (The Olympian 6/12)

Relevant Links:
National NAGPRA - http://www.cr.nps.gov/nagpra

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