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 from Clallam County, Washington in the National Museum of Natural History

Region: Northwest Coast
Associated Cultures: Chemakum, Klallam, Makah, Quileute

This report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) from Clallam County, Washington. Documentation of the remains from this area was initiated in March 1993 in response to a request from the Makah for the return of five individuals. To insure that all remains potentially affiliated with the Makah were identified, all eight sets of remains from Clallam County were documented as part of their request. In addition to the Makah, the other two Native American groups potentially affected by the findings of this report are the Clallam and the Quileute, both of whom are also traditional residents of the northern Olympic Peninsula of Washington.

A total of eight catalogue entries in the Physical Anthropology division of the NMNH were identified as having come from Clallam County, Washington. Five sets of remains were donated by James Swan, a school teacher and naturalist who lived in Neah Bay between 1862 and 1867. Two sets of remains were collected by Albert Reagan, another schoolteacher who taught at the Quileute Reservation in La Push, Washington between 1905 and 1909. The final set of remains was recovered by William Spencer, a military surgeon who was stationed at Fort Townsend from 1878 to 1881. There are no funerary objects in the NMNH associated with the human remains from Clallam County, Washington.

Four of the five crania collected by Swan and one set of remains collected by Reagan, were identified as Makah in the museum records. The fifth cranium donated by Swan and the single cranium donated by Spencer were both identified as Clallam. The identity of the second set of remains collected by Reagan was given as Quileute.

The provenience information for these remains is relatively precise. Two of the individuals identified as Makah were recovered from a cemetery near the old Spanish fort, two have the more general provenience of Neah Bay, and the final set of remains comes from a small island off the coast of La Push. The one Clallam individual collected by Swan was reportedly from New Dungeness, while the provenience of the other is given only as "west coast of Washington Territory." The remains identified as Quileute were recovered from the vicinity of the village of La Push.

Based on the preponderance of available evidence, which includes museum and archival records, ethnographic information on native village locations, the types of mortuary practices indicated, and cultural treatment of the crania, the four sets of remains collected by Swan and identified as Makah were offered for return to the people of Neah Bay.

The fifth set of remains given in the records as Makah actually represents two individuals. Individual A may be affiliated with either the Quileute or the Makah, while Individual B is more likely to be Quileute than Makah based on the sex and provenience information. Accordingly both the Quileute and the Makah were notified of the presence of the remains of Individual A in the NMNH and were consulted about their wishes with regard to the disposition of these remains. Individual B, together with the other cranium donated by Reagan and identified as Quileute, were offered for return to the Quileute people of La Push.

The final two crania evaluated in this report are both identified as Clallam in the museum records. The former was determined to have been equally as likely to be affiliated with the Chemakum as with the Clallam, while the latter was determined to be culturally affiliated with the Clallam based on the sum of the available evidence. The Chemakum tribe is no longer extant, having been partially absorbed into neighboring Clallam villages. Based on the historic circumstances, as well as the provenience and archival information, both sets of remains were offered for return to the Jamestown Clallam in consultation with the other two Clallam communities at Lower Elwha and Port Gamble.

Repatriation Update
The remains of two individuals identified as Clallam were repatriated to the Jamestown S'Klallam of Sequim, WA on October 15, 1996.

Four sets of remains identified as Makah were repatriated to the Makah Tribe of Neah Bay, WA on August 11, 1994.

Back to top

Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History