Environment | Law

Former monument official charged for stealing Indian remains

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

The former superintendent at the Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa has been charged with stealing ancestral remains.

Thomas A. Munson kept the remains in his possession for 12 years, according to an information filed in federal court on December 8. He allegedly took them in July 1990 -- just months before the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act became law.

Johnathan Buffalo, the historic preservation director for the Meskwaki Tribe, previously told The Sioux City Journal that he he believes Munson stole the remains to prevent their reburial under NAGPRA, which was under debate in Congress at the time of the theft.

Munson retired from the National Park Service in 1994. But the remains weren't returned until 2012 and only until an investigation was conducted into his tenure at the monument.

Munson appeared in federal court on Wednesday and is scheduled to return on January 4, 2016. He is expected to plead guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

Get the Story:
Retired official to plead guilty in theft of ancient remains (AP 12/16)
Retired Effigy Mounds official will plead guilty to removing ancient human remains (The Cedar Rapids Gazette 12/17)

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