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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects from the Cook Inlet Region Incorporated, Alaska, in the National Museum of Natural History

Region: Alaska
Associated Cultures: Alutiiq, Athapaskan, Dena'ina, Koniag Regional Corporation

In compliance with 20 U.S.C. Section 80q (Public Law 101-185, the National Museum of the American Indian Act), this report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains and associated funerary objects in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) potentially affiliated with the peoples of the Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated.

Preliminary documentation of the remains and possible associated funerary objects in the Cook Inlet region was initiated in 1987, prior to the passage of the pertinent legislation, in response to informational requests from Ms. Lydia L. Hays, Executive Director of the CIRI Foundation, on behalf of Cook Inlet Region, Incorporated (CIRI). The Repatriation Office began case research in response to a formal repatriation request by Chief Paul Theodore on behalf of the Knik Tribal Council in January 1993. Chief Theodore's request addressed the specific area of interest to the Knik Tribal Council, and it was determined that the NMNH has no human remains from the Knik area. Research into the CIRI and Knik requests found that the only human remains from within the Cook Inlet region are from sites near the communities of Ninilchik and Seldovia. The Repatriation Office contacted representatives of these communities to inform them of the preliminary results. The Repatriation Office received a request for repatriation from the Ninilchik Traditional Council in December 1994, and opened a separate case in response.

A total of two sets of remains from the Cook Inlet Region were considered in this report. These remains were initially identified by place of origin. The remains reported here were collected for the Smithsonian Institution in 1895 and 1934 by museum personnel. The records of these individuals are in Smithsonian Institution archival collections and provide detailed evidence on the circumstances under which the remains were collected. It is important to note that the ongoing documentation of the entire NMNH collection may identify other remains which have not been included in this report. The incomplete nature of the museum records, errors in the data, and the possibility that some remains are mis-identified in the current records all contribute to the possibility that other human remains from the Cook Inlet region are in the collection.

Based on the available archival and geographic information, both sets of remains under review were determined to be affiliated with communities in the Cook Inlet region. Accordingly, the final report was sent to the various potentially affected Alaska Native communities in the Cook Inlet Region and the Chugach Alaska Corporation region, as well as representatives of regional Native organizations.

Repatriation Update
One set of remains from Anchor Point was repatriated to the Ninilchik Village Traditional Council in August of 1995. One partial set of human remains from McNeil Canyon, Kachemak Bay, has not been requested by any community or regional group.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History