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

Arapaho Repatriation: the Human Remains

Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Arapaho, Kiowa

This report summarizes the documentation for the Northern and Southern Arapaho human remains housed at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution. In response to the repatriation requests of the Northern Arapaho and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, documentation of human remains was conducted with the use of museum accession records, card catalogs, and other information, as well as computer listings. This report reviews and evaluates the presently available evidence on the cultural affiliation of these remains.

The findings of this report are based the NMNH's Department of Anthropology master catalog, transmittal lists, and correspondence sent to the Army Medical Museum (AMM) by the original collectors (now found in the National Anthropological Archives at NMNH), and the NMNH ledger books, catalog card files, and original accession documents where applicable. Original historical documents at the National Archives were consulted for background information on the U.S. Army surgeons/collectors, and for the one named Arapaho individual.

The remains considered in this report are grouped into three categories of cultural affiliation: Arapaho, Unknown, and Other. Nine individuals are affiliated with the Arapaho and are recommended for repatriation to the Arapaho. The nine Arapaho include a single named individual, Wauk-a-bet, who may have living relatives, and it was recommended that an attempt be made to identify living descendants prior to release of these remains.

The four catalog numbers for which cultural affiliation was indeterminate, were placed in the Unknown category. These remains may include individuals which have no cultural affiliation to the Arapaho. The Repatriation Office recommends that the status of these individuals be discussed with the appropriate Arapaho tribal representatives following a careful review of this report. Two individuals in the Other category were inaccurately designated as Arapaho in the original records, and have been found to belong to other ethnic groups. One is probably Kiowa, and may be considered for repatriation to that tribe, and the other is a white Euro-American.

The Arapaho people are divided in two governmentally independent groups, the Northern Arapaho in Wyoming and the Southern Arapaho in Oklahoma. The disposition of the remains in question should be determined by the entire Arapaho tribe. As part of the documentation, individual remains have been identified as affiliated with either the Northern or Southern Arapaho. These identifications, however, are for informational purposes only and are not intended to determine the disposition of the remains, which is the sole right of the Arapaho people.

Repatriation Update
Following discussions between representatives of the Northern Arapaho, the Southern Arapaho, and the NMNH Repatriation Office, the Southern Arapaho requested the return of the individuals found to be Southern Arapaho. A group of seven Southern Arapaho remains were repatriated to a delegation which came to the NMNH in June 1994. These included two individuals killed at the Sand Creek Massacre, four individuals from Oklahoma, and one individual from Kansas. The Southern Arapaho delegates attempted to locate the family of the one named individual, Wauk-a-bet, but were unsuccessful.

Back to top

Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History