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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Human Remains in the National Museum of Natural History
Associated With the Battle Near Emigrant Springs,Oregon

Region: Northwest Coast
Associated Cultures: Bannock, Nez Perce, Paiute, Umatilla, Warm Springs

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 the human remains associated with the battle near Emigrant Springs, Oregon in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Documentation of the remains was undertaken as part of the inventory of human remains collected from the Columbia Plateau, initiated at the request of several Columbia Plateau Tribes and groups. Because the remains discussed in this report are named individuals, it was decided to document these remains in a separate report to expedite their return.

One set of remains is identified in Museum records as pertaining to an individual identified as 'Charlie,' the brother-in-law of the Paiute Chief Egan. Charlie's remains were taken from the field following a battle between Umatilla warriors and the allied Paiutes and Bannocks, that took place on 14 and 15 July 1878.

An additional set of remains identified as pertaining to Chief Egan, was also taken from the battlefield and sent to the Army Medical Museum (AMM). Because the remains exhibited a gunshot wound, they were cataloged at the AMM under the Pathological Section, and were thus retained by the AMM when that institution transferred its Anatomical Section collections to the Smithsonian in 1898 and 1904.

Based on the sum of the available evidence, which includes information from the Museum's catalog and accession files, AMM records, archival records housed in the National Archives and the National Anthropological Archives, published historical accounts, oral histories, and physical anthropological evidence, the remains identified as Charlie are culturally affiliated with the Paiute, and were recommended for repatriation to his lineal descendants. The remains identified as Chief Egan were also available for return based on an agreement between the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) and the NMNH. It is recommended that Chief Egan's remains be repatriated to the senior lineal descendant of Chief Egan.

Tribes potentially affected by the findings of this report are the northern Paiute tribes, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Nez Perce Tribe, and the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe.

Repatriation Update
The remains of these two named individuals were repatriated to their descendents within the Burns Paiute Tribe of Burns, OR on April 29, 1999.

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