In Michigan, all the tribes try to meet every 3 months to discuss NAGRPA related matters. We have formed an alliance to deal with NAGPRA issues. For dispositions, this works great, as these are really joint claims for older human remains. Not only are dispositions discussed, but possible repatriations of remains that come from an area that is shared by two or more tribes. Joint repatriation claims are very common, or in many instances, one tribe will actually make the claim of affiliation, with support letters from the other neighboring tribes. We (the tribes) are of the consensus that all un-earthed Indian remains should be reburied, and we are finding many museums who feel the same way. Group effort has been a great tool for the return many ancestors.
Not all repatriation claims for human remains are joint claims. Some of our succesful claim have been strictly to LTBB Odawa, but these remains were within the middle of our reservation. When remains are from an area that borders another tribe, we always seek that tribe’s support. As a matter of respect and acknowledgement that we are all really one tribe, the Anishnaabe. I spoke with a museum today with whom we have a claim for remains in right now (the all important on-going consultation process). She asked if in pre-contact times, if our tribe would have identified themselves as Odawa or Anishnaabe. I said it would have been Anishnaabe and we still identify ourselves as Anishnaabe. Just because most of the history books state the tribes in Michigan as Ottawa, Chippewa, etc. doesn’t mean that’s accurate. The perceptions are so different. An anthropologist will want to label somebody into a specific group. You ask a Michigan Indian and a common answer will be “I’m Odawa or Ojibwe or Potawatomi but it’s all Anishnaabe”.