Skip top nav and go to the page contentSkip top nav and go to the left navigation
Repatriation Office
Website Search Fields:
Department of Anthropology  
Repatriation Office - Department of Anthropology
Home | What is Repatriation? | Consultation & Repatriation | Collections | Repatriation Reports | FAQ | Contact
Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains and Associated Funerary Objects from Wainwright, Alaska , in the National Museum of Natural History

Region: Alaska
Associated Cultures: Inupiat, 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 within the geographical boundaries of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. This report is the first of four reports prepared in response to a claim filed by the North Slope Borough. This report pertains to remains from the Wainwright region of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation.

Documentation of the remains from this region was initiated in June 1994 in response to a claim from Ms. Jana Harcharek, Liaison Officer, Inupiat History, Language and Culture Commission, North Slope Borough Planning Department, for the return of any culturally affiliated remains from Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. This claim included all human remains and associated funerary objects from Point Barrow, Wainwright, Anaktuvuk Pass, and Point Hope.

Remains of four individuals in the Physical Anthropology division of the NMNH were identified as having come from the Wainwright region. Two sets of remains and associated funerary objects are from the site of Nunagiak, dating to the 6-11th centuries AD. One set of remains is from the historic village of Ataniq, and one undated set remains was removed from the margin of the Utukok River.

A consideration of the cultural history of the region indicates that cultural affiliation exists between the remains from Ataniq, the remains from the Utukok River, and the present inhabitants of Wainright. It was, therefore, recommended that these remains be offered for repatriation.

Affiliation for the Nunagiak remains is more difficult to assess. This consists of the remains of two individuals and associated funerary objects represented by approximately 30 catalogue numbers. It was recommended that the Repatriation Office consult with the people in Wainright, through the Liaison Officer in the Inupiat History, Language, and Culture Commission of the North Slope Borough, concerning their feelings about the uncertain degree of affiliation with the remains from this site, and their wishes for disposition of the remains.

Back to top

Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History