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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)
Executive Summary
Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains of a Choctaw Female in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution

Region: Southeast
Associated Cultures: Choctaw

2010

The remains of one individual were removed from a mound site near Mt. Vernon Arsenal, Alabama.  These remains were identified by the collector, Acting Assistant Surgeon R. M. Reynolds, as Choctaw and he was given information that suggested that these could be the remains of the youngest daughter of a man named Aufaumatauba.  In 2008, a request was made by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for the repatriation of this individual and any associated funerary objects.  This report documents the remains of a single individual in one catalog number for human remains in the NMNH.  Objects sent in by the same collector in three catalog numbers were identified in the collections of the NMNH.
In 1869, Acting Assistant Surgeon R. M. Reynolds removed sherds and lithics from a location or locations near Mount Vernon Arsenal.  He sent these to the Army Medical Museum (AMM) and they were accessioned by the Smithsonian Institution into the Archaeology division.  These objects were considered in this report because a memorandum in the AMM records indicated that they came from the same mound as the human remains cataloged as P243884.  A subsequent review of the accession history did not indicate that this was the case.  Based on the available evidence, it could not be determined that this material fits the category of funerary object.  It is recommended that the NMNH retain this material unless further evidence arises that would indicate that these are funerary objects. 
In 1869, Acting Assistant Surgeon, R. M. Reynolds removed from a mound human remains that he identified as Choctaw.  These remains were accessioned into the collections of the Army Medical Museum (AMM) in December of 1869.  The remains were transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1898 and cataloged in the Division of Physical Anthropology.  The original location of the individual was identified as an Indian mound in the vicinity of Mt. Vernon Arsenal, Alabama.  These remains were described by the collector as being those of a Choctaw female and he notes that the daughter of Chief Aufaumatauba was the last death in the vicinity of the mound before the tribe was moved to the west.  Reynolds’ letter can be interpreted in several ways.  He identified the individual as Choctaw, but did not directly claim that these were the remains of the daughter of Aufaumatauba. 
 Although a small community of Choctaw were living in Mobile at least until 1869, this individual was identified as being affiliated with the community that moved to the west.  There are currently three federally-recognized Choctaw tribes, two of which, the Jena Band of Louisiana and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw, derive from communities whose members did not participate in the initial emigration to Oklahoma.  The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is comprised of individuals whose ancestors were removed from Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana and were then settled in Oklahoma.  Because the Jena Band of Louisiana and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw are located west of Alabama, the potential exists that descendants of this individual are found among these tribes.  Cultural affiliation is determined to exist between the woman and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Jena Band of Louisiana, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw.  It is recommended that these remains be offered for repatriation to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Jena Band of Louisiana, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw.


Repatriation Update
The human remains were repatriated to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the Jena Band of Louisiana, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw in 2010. 

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