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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)
Executive Summary
Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains Potentially Affiliated to the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk Tribes in the National Museum of Natural History
Region: Northeast
Associated Cultures: Ho-Chunk, Winnebago

2001
In compliance with Public Law 101-185, the National Museum of the American Indian Act, this report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains in the possession or control of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) potentially affiliated with the Winnebago and Ho-Chunk tribes.

The report documents remains in seven catalog numbers constituting a minimum of seven individuals in the collections at the NMNH.

One set of human remains was collected from a Winnebago grave near Fort Randall, South Dakota, and was sent to the Army Medical Museum (AMM) by Acting Assistant Army Surgeon G. P. Hachenberg in 1869. These remains were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1898.

The human remains of two individuals were collected by Stephen Taylor from an unknown site near Blue River, Wisconsin, and were sent to the National Institute for the Promotion of Science sometime prior to 1862. These remains were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1862 when the Smithsonian absorbed the last of the National Institute’s collections. The remains were then transferred to the AMM in 1869. Finally, the remains were transferred back to the Smithsonian Institution in 1898.The remains were identified in accession and catalog records as Winnebago and were probably assigned this cultural affiliation by the original collector.

Human remains representing at least four individuals were collected by an unknown person from a mound group located near Rock Lake, Wisconsin. The Reverend Stephen D. Peet sent these remains to the AMM in 1885.The remains were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1898 and 1904. Although the exact site from which the remains were removed is unknown, the description of the excavated context suggests that they were from a Late Woodland period mound group. However, there is also evidence that suggests these remains may represent intrusive burials related to the Middle Mississippian or Oneota cultures. Therefore, the age and cultural associations of the remains cannot be determined at this time.

The preponderance of evidence indicates that a single set of remains from near Fort Randall, South Dakota, and the remains of two individuals from Blue River, Wisconsin, are culturally affiliated with the Winnebago/HoChunk.  It is recommended that the remains of these three individuals in three catalog numbers be offered for return to the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska and the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin.

The preponderance of evidence indicates that the remains from near Rock Lake, Wisconsin, cannot be culturally affiliated with the Winnebago/Ho-Chunk or with any other tribe at this time.  It is not possible to demonstrate the earlier identifiable group to which these remains belong, and it is not possible to demonstrate the existence of a reasonable relationship of shared group identity between these remains and any present day tribe.  It was recommended that the remains representing a minimum of four individuals in four catalog entries be retained at the NMNH until the cultural affiliation of these remains is established.

Repatriation Update
The remains of two individuals from Blue River were repatriated to the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin on October 28, 2004

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History