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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Shota (Smoke), an Oglala Lakota Chief

Region: Plains
Associated Cultures: Oglala Lakota Sioux, Sioux

This report summarizes the documentation for the remains of Shota (Smoke), an Oglala Lakota chief. Smithsonian Institution record groups accessed for this case include the National Museum of Natural History's computer database for anthropology; the anthropology ledger books, card catalog, and accession records; and former Army Medical Museum catalog and accession records, now housed in the National Anthropological Archives and in the Repatriation Office. The Army Medical Museum records include transmittal lists and correspondence sent by the original collector of Chief Smoke's remains. Original historical documents at the National Archives and Records Administration were consulted for background information on the collector, on Smoke's association with Fort Laramie, Wyoming, where he and his band lived for about twenty years, and on the names of Smoke's immediate descendents. Library sources were also used for additional background information.

The remains of Chief Smoke were included in the Oglala Sioux Tribe's 1988 request for the return of all human remains associated with the Oglala Sioux, either by cultural affiliation or by association with the tribe's traditional territory. Subsequently, the late Severt Young Bear, a lineal descendent of Chief Smoke, requested the return of the Chief's remains. He supplied the Repatriation Office with an affidavit containing his formal request for repatriation of Smoke's remains and any associated funerary objects, and the names of his forefathers back to the Chief. He asserted that any other lineal descendants were aware of and did not contest his claim, and provided verification that power of attorney resided in his nephew, Mr. Donald M. Ragona. The Tribal Council has not responded to telephone calls and correspondence from the Smithsonian asking for clarification of their position regarding Mr. Young Bear's claim. Mr. Young Bear died before the repatriation documentation could be completed. His sister, Elizabeth Young Bear, now the senior lineal descendent of Chief Smoke, desires to resolve the issue and has become the new claimant. Mr. Ragona has revised Severt Young Bear's affidavit, as Elizabeth is now the requesting party. Copies of the relevant correspondence regarding these potentially conflicting claims are attached to this report.

Examination of museum and archival records has confirmed the identity of the remains as Chief Smoke, and, beyond a reasonable doubt, the relationship of the claimant as a lineal descendent. No funerary objects or other cultural materials are present.

Repatriation Update
The remains were returned in 1993 to Mr. Donald M. Ragona, the legal representative of the claimant.

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