Associated Cultures: Inupiat, Yu'pik, NANA Regional Corporation
In compliance with the repatriation provisions of Public Law 101-185 (20 U.S.C. Section 80q), the National Museum of the American Indian Act, this report provides an inventory and assessment of cultural affiliation of the human remains in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) from within the geographical boundaries of the NANA Regional Corporation in northwest Alaska.
Documentation of the remains from this region was initiated in January 1996 in response to a claim from Ms. Rachel Craig for the return of any culturally affiliated remains from the geographical area of the NANA Corporation.
Remains of four individuals represented by four catalogue numbers in the Physical Anthropology Division of the NMNH were identified as having come from the area. Two sets of remains are from the historic site of Kikiktavig, which underlies the present community of Kotzebue. A third set of remains was taken from the present community of Kobuk. The fourth set of remains was removed from the mouth of the Kugruk River, near the present-day community of Deering. On the basis of the degree of preservation and, in the case of the former three sets of remains, contextual information, all remains are thought to date to the last several hundred years. There were no funerary objects associated with these remains in the collections.
A consideration of the recent cultural history of the region indicate that cultural affiliation exists between the 18-20th century skeletal populations and the requestors. It is, therefore, recommended that these human remains be offered for repatriation. The Native Village of Kotzebue and the Kikiktagruk Inupiat Corporation were notified concerning the two sets of remains from present-day Kotzebue. These remains were deaccessioned for repatriation on June 28, 1996 to the NANA Regional Corporation and the Northwest Arctic Borough. The Native Village of Kobuk was notified concerning the single set of remains from this settlement and the remains were deaccessioned for repatriation on June 28, 1996 to the NANA Regional Corporation and the Northwest Arctic Borough. Deering is the nearest extant Native community to the mouth of the Kugruk River; thus, the Native Village of Deering was notified of the existence of remains from this locality. These remains were deaccessioned for repatriation on June 28, 1996 to the NANA Regional Corporation and the Northwest Arctic Borough. There are no village corporations for Kobuk or Deering.
The fifth set of remains was removed from the bank of the Alatna River, in the Doyon Limited, Alaska region. Local oral history indicates, however, that these represent the remains of a young woman from Selawik, in northwest Alaska, who died while visiting relatives on the Alatna River in 1875-1880. Associated funerary objects consist of beads, buttons, and portions of a sled. After consultations among themselves, the communities of Alatna and Allakaket, in central Alaska, and Selawik, in northwest Alaska, agreed that the remains should be offered to Selawik for repatriation.
These remains were deaccessioned for repatriation on June 28, 1996 to the NANA Regional Corporation and the Northwest Arctic Borough.
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