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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains and Funerary Objects Potentially Affiliated with the Brule Sioux in the National Museum of Natural History

Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Brule Sioux, Sioux

This report provides an inventory and assessment of human remains and funerary objects in the National Museum of Natural History affiliated with the Brule Sioux, also known as the Sicangu Lakota, who reside on the Rosebud and Lower Brule Reservations in South Dakota.

Documentation of human remains of Brule affiliation was begun in 1997 in response to the Rosebud Sioux Tribe's request for the return of culturally affiliated human remains and funerary objects. This report addresses the remains of forty-three individuals collected from sites located within traditional Brule territory, in today's South Dakota and Nebraska. Thirty-one individuals were collected between 1868 and 1880 for the Army Medical Museum by U.S. Army medical officers; ten were collected for the Smithsonian by Ferdinand V. Hayden, a geologist who accompanied an 1856 exploring expedition into the Upper Missouri region; one was acquired by Thaddeus Culbertson, the brother of an American Fur Company principal, who traveled up the Missouri River in 1850; and one was collected in 1947 during River Basin Surveys/Missouri Basin Project work for the Fort Randall Reservoir. One funerary object associated with the grave of one Brule individual and twenty-three beads collected from the site of a Brule cemetery were located in the museum's collections and are described in this report.

The cultural affiliation of the human remains described in this report was determined through consideration of the territories occupied and used by the nineteenth century Lakota; the sites of historic contacts or conflicts with the Brule, neighboring tribes, and the U.S. Army; and the knowledge and reliability of the collectors. These criteria have been further evaluated against archival military records, published accounts, physical anthropological observations, and consultation with tribal members.

It was recommended that all of the human remains and funerary objects documented in this report be offered for repatriation to the representatives of the Rosebud and Lower Brule Sioux Tribes.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History