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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

With A Lock of Hair for Remembrance: Nakota and Central Dakota Legacy at the Smithsonian Institution

Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Assiniboine, Brule Sioux, Chippewa, Ojibwa, Sioux, Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux, Yankton Sioux, Yanktonai Sioux

This report summarizes the documentation for the Nakota ( Assiniboine ) and Central Dakota (Yanktonai and Yankton) human remains housed at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Institution. In response to the Devils Lake Yanktonai (now Spirit Lake Nation) and the Yankton Sioux repatriation requests, documentation of human remains was conducted with the use of museum accession records, card catalogs, and other information, as well as computer listings. Although separate claims were made by the Yanktonai and the Yankton, certain discrepancies in the source documents (for example, the lack of clear distinction between Yanktonai and Yankton human remains) led to the inclusion of all three groups ( Assiniboine, Yanktonai, and Yankton) in this report. These discrepancies in the records were due in part to the close relationship between the Central Dakota and Nakota in terms of linguistics, biology, and culture.

The findings of this report are based on the NMNH's computer catalog reports, the annotated Otis 1880 List of Specimens, 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 Original historical documents at the National Archives and Records Administration were consulted for background information on the U.S. Army surgeons/collectors and for the one named Yanktonai individual. The Smithsonian Institution Archives was a valuable source of information for some of the collectors who made early contributions to the Museum's physical anthropology holdings.

Two of the individuals addressed in this report (one Yanktonai and one Yankton) have been counterclaimed by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux on the basis of provenience. Both the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe of Fort Totten, North Dakota (comprising Yanktonai and Sisseton Sioux) and the Yankton Sioux Tribe of Marty, South Dakota have authorized the Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Cultural Affairs Committee to act on their behalf in accepting these remains for repatriation. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Cultural Affairs Committee has also requested the return of a culturally affiliated Sisseton individual recovered from the vicinity of Fort Totten.

As a result of examining the records throughout the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives and Records Administration, the Repatriation Office has identified sixteen individuals who are culturally affiliated with the three tribes who are the subject of this report: five Assiniboine, four Yanktonai (one of whom is a named individual), and seven Yankton.

The Sisseton-Wahpeton have also requested the return of a fourth individual, but these remains were found to be of Chippewa affiliation and are recommended for repatriation to the Chippewa descendants.

Repatriation Update
The Yankton and Yanktonai remains were repatriated to the Yankton Sioux and Devils Lake Sioux Tribes in 1995. A seventeenth individual is known to have been of mixed Yankton and Brule parentage and with permission of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, was repatriated in 1995 to the Yankton Sioux Tribe. An eighteenth individual listed in the NMNH computer catalog as Yankton was found to be of indeterminate Dakota affiliation and after consultation with the Yankton was repatriated to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 1995. A nineteenth individual, affiliated with the Sisseton, is addressed in this report at the request of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Cultural Affairs Committee. The remains of this individual were repatriated in 1995 to the Devils Lake Sioux Tribe, with permission of the Sisseton-Wahpeton. The Assiniboine remains were repatriated in September 1996 to the representatives from the Fort Belknap and Fort Peck Indian Reservations.

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