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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)
Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains from near Golden, Colorado, in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Affiliated with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Region: Plains
Cultural Affiliation: Cheyenne

2008
The report is the result of a 1989 repatriation request from the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and a 1993 repatriation request by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe for the remains of culturally affiliated individuals.  A report documenting and assessing the human remains at the NMNH that were potentially culturally affiliated with the Cheyenne was completed in 1992 and the remains of 33 individuals were repatriated by the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in 1993. 

At the time of the 1992 evaluation, the remains of one individual recorded in the museum catalog as a Cheyenne from Colorado could not be located in the museum collections and the cultural affiliation of this individual was not evaluated.  The missing remains were identified in the catalog record as a Cheyenne found on the surface near Golden, Colorado, in 1860 and contributed to the museum by Dr. James H. Ried in 1875.

In 2005, the missing remains numbered P243943 that were originally recorded in the museum records as Cheyenne, were found in storage.  However, the morphology of the remains did not appear to be Native American to the physical anthropologists and did not appear to represent the Cheyenne that was missing.  According to the museum accession records, Ried sent the remains of an African American at the same time that he sent the remains of the Cheyenne.  The African American remains were originally recorded in the museum records as P243584.  Because there was a concern that the remains of the two individuals may have been inadvertently switched during cataloging, a craniometric comparison of the remains of known Native American, African American, and Euro-American ancestry was undertaken.  The craniometric analysis demonstrated that the remains in P243584 strongly classified as an individual of Native American ancestry and the remains in P243943 strongly classified as an individual of African ancestry.  The remains of the Cheyenne and African American were inadvertently switched when first cataloged at the museum in the late nineteenth century. 

The preponderance of evidence indicates that remains of an adult male represented by a cranium in catalog number P243584 are culturally affiliated with the Cheyenne.  The remains were found on the surface near Golden, Colorado, in 1860 and likely represented an individual who had died only a few years earlier.  It is recommended that the remains be offered for repatriation jointly to the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History