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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

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

Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Arapaho, Arikara, Caddo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Oglala Lakota Sioux, Osage, Pawnee, Sioux, Wichita

In compliance with the National Museum of the American Indian Act (20 U.S.C. Section 80q), this report provides an inventory and assessment of the human remains and associated funerary objects from Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado, housed in the collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), that are potentially affiliated with the Pawnee Tribe. Documentation of remains and associated funerary objects from this area was initiated in response to requests in 1992 and 1994 from the Pawnee Tribe for an evaluation of remains housed at the NMNH and listed in Census Report on Human Remains Ancestral to the Pawnee Tribe at the Smithsonian Institution, prepared by Roger Echo-Hawk. In that report, the remains potentially affiliated with the Pawnee Tribe were arranged into four groups and this grouping has been retained in the present report. This report documents the human and archaeological remains from Groups II, III, and IV listed in the census report.

The remains from Group I, which consists of 12 sets of protohistoric and historic Pawnee remains, were evaluated by the Repatriation Office in an earlier report, People of the Stars: Pawnee Heritage and the Smithsonian Institution. That report recommended that the remains of 12 individuals be returned to the Pawnee for repatriation.

Group II consists of 15 sets of remains, representing 17 individuals, that were recovered from Central Plains Tradition archaeological contexts in Nebraska . Of these, 13 sets of remains, representing a minimum of 14 individuals, can be attributed to the Central Plains Tradition. A preponderance of the evidence shows that the Central Plains Tradition is ancestral to the Pawnee and Arikara tribes.

The remaining two sets of remains in Group II, representing three individuals from the Central Plains Tradition archaeological contexts, but may not be Central Plains Tradition people.

Group III contains 13 sets of remains, representing 14 individuals, that were collected in the 1860s and 1870s by U.S. Army personnel in Kansas and Colorado for the Army Medical Museum in Washington, D.C. All of the remains likely date to the historic period. Of the 13 sets, one set of human remains is affiliated with the Cheyenne and has been repatriated to that tribe. The other 12 sets have limited documentation and may be affiliated with any of the tribes that the military was in contact with in the area. These tribes include the Arapaho, Caddo, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Oglala, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita. The Repatriation Office may undertake cranial studies that may help to identify the specific tribal affiliation of these remains and will contact each tribe regarding the possible cultural affiliation of these remains.

Group IV consists of 15 sets of remains, representing 17 individuals, that come from contexts predating A.D. 1000 and have no known specific tribal cultural affiliation.

Repatriation Update
The Repatriation Office consulted with Pawnee representatives and repatriated the remains as Group II in 1995.

The Repatriation Office repatriated 13 sets of remains identified as Group II to the Pawnee Tribe in 1995. The Pawnee have been authorized by cooperative resolutions from the Wichita and Three Affiliated Tribes (Arikara, Hidatsa, and Mandan ) to be responsible for the decisions involving the repatriation of human remains from the Central Plains Tradition.

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