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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)
Executive Summary
Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains Potentially Affiliated with the Pembina Chippewa in the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Chippewa, Pembina, Sioux

2006
This report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains potentially affiliated with the Pembina Band of Chippewa Indians. This report is in response to a 2003 request from the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

The report documents the remains of five individuals in five catalog numbers in the collections of the NMNH.

The remains of four individuals are present in the NMNH collections from an unknown location near Walhalla (formerly St. Joseph) in northeastern North Dakota. These individuals were killed in a skirmish between the Chippewa and Sioux in 1858. They were removed from the site by U.S. Army Assistant Surgeon Ezra Woodruff in 1874. The remains were then sent to the Army Medical Museum by Dr. Woodruff in 1874. They were transferred to the National Museum of Natural History in 1898.

At the time that Dr. Woodruff sent the remains to the Army Medical Museum, he noted that the remains of two of the individuals were those of Chippewa men by the names of “Shoggan” and “Mule” who were killed in the incident. Woodruff noted that both men were members of the Pembina Band of Chippewa, and Mule was a son of the Pembina chief Red Bear. Efforts by the Repatriation Office and the federally recognized tribes descended from the Pembina Band to identify potential lineal descendents of these two named individuals have not been successful. Non-lineal relatives of Mule, descendents of his brothers and father, have been identified among the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians.

In addition to the two named individuals, remains of two unknown individuals, represented by a cranium and a mandible, were also removed from the site by Woodruff and sent to the Army Medical Museum as a single individual. Woodruff did not suggest a tribal affiliation for these remains, which he noted were found on the surface. Woodruff may have been uncertain of their affiliation because he had been told that the Sioux killed in the conflict had not been buried and their bodies were left on the surface. Taphonomic evidence suggests the cranium had not been buried and was probably that of a Sioux individual, while the mandible was probably was probably from a grave that had been previously disturbed and was likely from an unknown Chippewa individual. Recommendations for the disposition of the Sioux individual’s remains will be presented in a forthcoming Repatriation Office report responding to Sioux requests for repatriation.

Although living relatives of Mule have been identified, they do not have the same standing to claim human remains as lineal descendents. Under the repatriation laws, when lineal descendents cannot be identified, decisions on the disposition of remains are made by the federally recognized tribal governments representing the descendents of the Historic Pembina Band; the earlier identifiable group to which Mule belonged. The Historic Pembina Band today is represented by Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians . It is recommended that the remains of Mule be offered for return jointly to the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians.

No descendents or other relatives of Shoggan or the other unnamed Chippewa individual were identified. The preponderance of the evidence indicates that these individuals were also members of the Historic Pembina Band when they were killed in 1858. Therefore, the preponderance of the evidence indicates that these Chippewa remains are culturally affiliated to the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians . It is recommended that the remains of Shoggan and this unknown Chippewa individual be offered for return jointly to the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians .

Remains of a fifth individua l were collected by an unknown person at an unknown date from an unknown site near Fort Pembina, North Dakota. The remains came into the possession of Assistant Surgeon Woodruff sometime in late June or early July of 1874. The remains were then sent to the Army Medical Museum by Dr. Woodruff in 1874. They were transferred to the National Museum of Natural History in 1898. Dr. Woodruff identified the remains of this individual as belonging to “a daughter of Yellow Hawk a chief of the Pembina Band of the Chippewa Indians.” Efforts by the Repatriation Office and the federally recognized tribes descended from the Pembina Band to identify potential lineal descendents or living non-lineal relatives of this young woman have not been successful.

Although the original site from which these remains were removed is unknown, the specific cultural attribution ascribed by Woodruff as “Pembina Band of the Chippewa Indians” constitutes a preponderance of evidence in support of a cultural affiliation with the Historic Pembina Band Chippewa. The descendents of the Historic Pembina Band today are represented by the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians. Therefore, it is recommended that the remains of this individual be offered for return to the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians .

It is recommended that the remains of the four Chippewa individuals, Shoggan, Mule, the daughter of Yellow Hawk, and one unnamed individual, be offered for return jointly to the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy’s Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians . Assessment and recommendations for the remains of the fifth individual described here, probably a Sioux, will be presented in a Repatriation Office report responding to Sioux requests for repatriation.

Repatriation Update

The remains of the four Chippewa individuals discussed above, and remains of two additional Chippewa individuals from Fort Abercrombe, North Dakota (See Eastern Dakota Report), were repatriated jointly to representatives of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, the Chippewa-Cree of the Rocky Boy's Reservation, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, and the White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians on July 12, 2006. The repatriation took place at the Red Bear family cemetery on the Turtle Mountain reservation in North Dakota and descendants of the Red Bear family participated in the ceremonies and reburial of the remains.

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