Associated Cultures: Arikara, Iowa, Kansa, Mandan, Missouri, Omaha, Osage, Oto, Pawnee, Ponca, Quapaw, Wichita
In compliance with the National Museum of the American Indian Act (20 U.S.C. Section 80q), this report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains and associated funerary objects from Steed-Kisker phase (A.D.1000-1250) archaeological sites in Missouri, housed in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Assessment of the cultural affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase and documentation of human remains and associated funerary objects was initiated in response to request from the Pawnee Tribe in 1994 for an evaluation of the Steed-Kisker phase remains at the NMNH. The Pawnee Tribe subsequently claimed the remains were affiliated with the Central Plains tradition and therefore were subject to repatriation under a previous joint request by the Arikara, Pawnee, and Wichita. The Central Plains tradition has been determined to be affiliated with the Arikara, Pawnee, and Wichita in a previous assessment. This report assesses the cultural affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase and documents the human remains and funerary objects at the NMNH.
The NMNH contains 19 sets of remains representing a minimum of 53 individuals and 133 funerary objects from the Steed-Kisker site, five funerary objects from the Nolan C mound, and 40 funerary objects from the Shepherd mound. In sum, the remains of a minimum of 53 individuals and 178 funerary objects from the Steed-Kisker phase are at theNMNH. These human remains and funerary objects were obtained in 1938 and 1939 by Waldo Wedel during Smithsonian sponsored excavations in Platte County, Missouri.
Archaeological, physical anthropological, and oral history evidence are reviewed in this report to assess the cultural affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase. The Steed-Kisker phase people have previously been suggested to be affiliated with a number of tribes with divergent histories. It has been suggested, for example, that they were affiliated with Middle Mississippian peoples who occupied the prehistoric site of Cahokia. While the identity of the tribes that occupied Cahokia is not exactly known for certain, it is thought they may have been Algonquian, Siouan, and Muskogean speakers. Steed-Kisker has also been suggested to be affiliated with the Central Plains tradition (Arikara, Pawnee, and Wichita ), the Middle Missouri tradition ( Mandan ), and the Chiwere Siouan ( Iowa, Missouri, Oto) and Dhegihan Siouan speakers (Kansa, Omaha, Osage, Ponca, Quapaw) of the Oneota tradition. All of these groups were determined by the NMNH to be possible descendants of the Steed-Kisker phase, but the preponderance of this evidence does not support the affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase with any one of these traditions and it was recommended that the remains be held at the NMNH until the cultural affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase remains were determined.
The Pawnee Tribe disputed this assessment and contended that the preponderance of evidence indicates that the Steed-Kisker phase is affiliated with the Central Plains Tradition and therefore ancestral to the Pawnee, Arikara, and Wichita. The Native American Repatriation Review Committee was asked to review the disagreement between the NMNH and the Pawnee Tribe on the cultural affiliation of the Steed-Kisker phase. After consideration of evidence supplied by the NMNH and the Pawnee Tribe, the Native American Repatriation Review Committee recommended that the human remains and funerary objects be repatriated to the Pawnee Tribe and that tribes that may be potentially affiliated with the Steed-Kisker phase be notified of the intent to repatriate and be given a 60-day opportunity to make a claim for the Steed-Kisker phase human remains and funerary objects. Several tribes responded to the notice and the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Kaw Tribe of Oklahoma, Otoe-Missouria Nation of Oklahoma, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, and Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma agreed to a joint repatriation, which occurred in October 1997.
Back to top