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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary


Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains and Potential Funerary Objects from Old Crow Village, Alaska, in the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Region: Alaska
Associated Cultures: Native Village of Chuathbaluk

2013
Documentation of the human remains and funerary objects potentially affiliated with the Native Village of Chuathbaluk, Alaska, was initiated in response to an official request from Native Village of Chuathbaluk President Robert Golley, Jr., for the identification and repatriation of human remains and funerary objects from settlements associated with the Native Village of Chuathbaluk. Examination of the relevant museum records indicated that the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) housed two human remains and one funerary object dating to the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries. The human remains and funerary object were acquired from burials at Old Crow Village, Alaska, on June 26, 1930, by Dr. Aleš Hrdlicka of the U.S. National Museum (later NMNH).

Several lines of evidence support the cultural affiliation of the human remains and funerary object to the Native Village of Chuathbaluk. These include the historic record of local Yupik settlement and land use in the vicinity of Chuathbaluk, the ethnographic record of Yupik mortuary customs, the proximity of recorded burial sites to Old Crow Village, and the taphonomic characteristics of the remains themselves. Taken together, this information constitutes a preponderance of evidence in support of the conclusion that the remains and funerary object dating to the historic period are culturally affiliated with the Native Village of Chuathbaluk. Therefore, it is recommended that the human remains of an estimated two indigenous Alaskan individuals in two catalog numbers and one funerary object in one catalog number be made available for repatriation to the Native Village of Chuathbaluk.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History