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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)
Executive Summary
Assessment of Unassociated Funerary Objects from the Memaloose Islands, Washington and Oregon, at the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Region: Northwest Coast
Associated Cultures: Wasco, Wishram, White Salmon, Hood River, Warm Springs, Yakama, Chinook

2006
In compliance with 20 U.S.C. 80q et seq. (Public Law 101-185), the National Museum of the American Indian Act, this report provides an inventory and assessment of objects from the Memaloose islands in Oregon and Washington, donated by Edward Spitzka in 1921, in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution (SI). The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation submitted a repatriation request in February of 1988 for the return of human remains from the Memaloose islands. After further consultation, funerary objects were also added to the request and both human remains and funerary objects from the Memaloose islands were evaluated in a 1993 Repatriation Office report. Sixty-six catalog numbers of human remains and 164 catalog numbers of funerary objects from Upper and Lower Memaloose islands were repatriated to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation in 1994. In June of 1999, representatives of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Reservation visited the NMNH and viewed Chinookan objects listed with a provenience of "Mameluke Island" in the Ethnology Division of the NMNH collections. Based on the information they reviewed during this visit, they felt that the objects were likely from one of the Memaloose islands. They submitted a repatriation request in August 1999. The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Reservation have since withdrawn their repatriation request. However, these objects still fall within the original request from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation.

This report documents 13 objects from ten catalog numbers in the collection of the NMNH potentially from the Memaloose islands, Washington or Oregon. These objects are cataloged in the Ethnology Division of the NMNH collections. Although they were collected by Joseph Simms, they were donated to the NMNH by Edward Spitzka in 1921, after the death of the collector in 1920.

Based on the available evidence, ten objects in eight catalog numbers were taken from one of the Memaloose islands on the Columbia River. These islands include Upper Memaloose Island in Klickitat County, Washington, and Lower Memaloose and Grave islands in Wasco County, Oregon. The Repatriation Office is unable to identify the specific island from which the objects were obtained. All three islands were used exclusively for burial purposes during the historic period. Furthermore, most of the objects were broken or have holes bored, drilled or carved through them, a mark of "killing" or "decommissioning" an item to be placed in a grave. The objects are, therefore, likely to be funerary, having been intentionally placed with human remains at the time of death or later. The provenience of the remaining three objects in two catalog numbers discussed in this report is not certain and they cannot be determined to be funerary.

Based on an evaluation of information from consultations with Native American tribes and ethnohistoric and artifactual evidence, the funerary objects from the Memaloose islands discussed in this report are culturally affiliated to the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation. All three of the Memaloose islands discussed here were used historically by both of these tribes. This is consistent with the finding of the 1993 NMNH Repatriation Office report evaluating human remains and funerary objects from Upper and Lower Memaloose islands. This report also confirms that Grave Island was likely used by the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation as a burial area.

A relationship of shared group identity links the Wasco, Wishram, White Salmon and Hood River peoples buried on the Memaloose islands and the present-day Wasco, Wishram, White Salmon and Hood River peoples represented today by Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation. The Repatriation Office recommends that the NMNH offer for return the ten funerary objects from the Memaloose islands still at the NMNH to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation.

Repatriation Update
These funerary objects were repatriated to the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation on May 9, 2007.

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