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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

The Human Remains of "Curly Head Jack" in the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution: Report and Recommendations for Repatriation

Region: Northwest Coast
Associated Cultures: Modoc

In accordance with 20 U.S.C. Section 80q, the National Museum of the American Indian Act, this report provides an inventory and assessment of human remains identified in museum records as those of "Curly Head Jack" in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Documentation of the remains was undertaken as part of a response to a repatriation request for human remains potentially affiliated to the Klamath Tribes. At the request of the Klamath Tribes, the remains of Curly Head Jack are documented in this separate report in order to expedite their return.

The report documents remains identified in museum records as "Curly Head Jack." Curly Head Jack died while imprisoned at the end of the Modoc War on June 8, 1873. In August 1873, his remains were sent to the Army Medical Museum (AMM) in Washington, D.C. by Assistant Surgeon Edwin Bentley. According to historical accounts, his death was by suicide. His postcranial remains were later transferred to the NMNH in 1898 under accession number 42109. No funerary objects or other cultural materials related to Curly Head Jack are present at the NMNH.

Based on a preponderance of evidence, including documentation provided by the Klamath Tribes, historical records, osteological evidence, and museum archival documentation, we have determined that these remains are those of Curly Head Jack, a Modoc man who died in 1873. The museum has been unable to identify lineal descendants of Curly Head Jack. Representatives of the Klamath Tribes have found living family members of Curly Head Jack, but no lineal descendants. Under the repatriation legislation, lineal descendants have first priority for repatriation claims, followed by the culturally affiliated tribe. These remains are culturally affiliated to the Klamath Tribes of Oregon and the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and it is recommended that the remains be offered for return jointly to these tribes.

Repatriation Update
The human remains of Curly Head Jack were repatriated to descendant family members on June 20, 2007, at the request of the Modoc Tribe of Oklahoma and the Klamath Tribes.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History