Today was spent reburying remains affiliated to our tribe. They came from two separate museums, both on the east coast. One set we had to put in a claim for and the other set was affiliated to us by the museum. This is what museums are supposed to do, consult with tribes when there is the possibility of affiliation. So many times museums simply lump the majority of their remains into the unaffiliated category. Maybe the museums don’t know what to do, don’t want to return the remains or are plain lazy about doing the work. I was literally shocked when I received a letter from this museum stating “we feel these remains to be affiliated with your tribe, LTBB Odawa”. We promptly contacted them and provided information about Odawa names and the area the remains are from. It was a very good working relationship and we were able to get this old Odawa back into the earth before the ground froze. The other remains we had to put in a claim for. This museum could have affiliated to us, but they knew nothing of our area or our tribe, so a claim gave them the information needed to help with the federal register notice. I found these remains by going over old inventories. It always pays to go over the inventories, again and again.
I had to dust off my snow shoes and venture out into the woods this morning. Normally repatriation isn’t physical work, but when the actual physical work does start, it can be a chore. But it was a wonderful feeling, being outside and finishing the work. It’s important to finish, because these ancestors rely on that. In addition, this was a great way to kick off a few extra days off from work, but I will probably be writing some over the long week-end. There is so much going on with our department, not only with NAGPRA but other projects as well.