Associated Cultures: Athapaskan, Di'haii, Gw'ichin, Inupiat, Nunamiut, Arctic Slope Regional Corporation
In compliance with the repatriation provisions of
Public Law 101-185 (20 U.S.C. Section 80q), the National
Museum of the American Indian Act, this report provides
an inventory and assessment of cultural affiliation
of the human remains in the National Museum of Natural
History (NMNH) from the Anaktuvuk Pass area within
the geographical boundaries of the Arctic Slope Regional
Corporation and the North Slope Borough. Documentation
of the remains from this region was initiated in June
1994 in response to a request from Ms. Jana Harcharek,
Liaison Officer, Inupiat History, Language and Culture
Division, North Slope Borough Planning Department,
for the return of any culturally affiliated remains
from the North Slope Borough. This claim encompassed
the territories of the communities of Point Barrow,
Wainwright, Anaktuvuk Pass, and Point Hope.
This report addresses the North Slope claim with a
review of the human remains and funerary objects from
at or near Anaktuvuk Pass. Separate reports cover the
human remains and funerary objects from Wainwright,
Point Hope, and Barrow. These reports are available,
upon request, from the Repatriation Office. All reports
in response to the repatriation claim are sent to the
Inupiat History, Language and Culture Division, North
Slope Borough Planning Department and other Native
organizations in the North Slope.
The skeletal remains of two individuals, represented by two catalog numbers, in the Physical Anthropology division of the NMNH were identified as having come from Anaktuvuk Pass. Five catalog numbers in the Archaeology collection have been identified as funerary objects.
A consideration of the history of the region shows that the burials and associated artifacts date to a period (ca. A.D. 1700-1900) in which both the Nunamiut Inupiat and the Di'haii Athapaskans occupied the Anaktuvuk Pass region. The skeletal remains and associated artifacts are certainly affiliated with one of these two groups. The ability to distinguish the skeletons of the Nunamiut and Di'haii from one another is not possible based on presently available information. The use of cranial morphology to determine probable affiliation of these remains could be pursued should this prove desirable. The archaeological data are similarly insufficient to determine cultural affiliation at this time.
The Repatriation Office recommended that these remains and associated funerary objects be repatriated to the Nunamiut or Di'haii, or both groups, following consultation. Further discussion of the matter with the appropriate Di'haii and Nunamiut communities may reveal further information regarding the affiliation of these individuals, or lead to a consensus on the appropriate disposition of these remains. There is, however, sufficient evidence that one set of unassociated funerary objects is affiliated with the Di'haii Athapaskans, and it was recommended that these be offered for repatriation to the appropriate Di'haii groups. The affected communities were notified of these findings in 1995, but consultation has not resolved the affiliation and repatriation has not taken place.
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