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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of Human Remains from the Belcher Site, Caddo Parish, Louisiana, in the Collections of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institituion

Region: Southeast
Associated Cultures: Caddo

A repatriation request from the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma resulted in an assessment of cultural affiliation of human remains from the Belcher site in Caddo Parish, Louisiana.  This report documented the human remains of a minimum of 12 individuals in the collections of the NMNH that are cataloged in nine numbers.  These remains are among those excavated by Clarence Webb between 1936 and 1939.  Webb excavated a number of other remains and associated and unassociated funerary objects from this site, but only 12 individuals from Webb’s excavation are present at the NMNH.  These individuals were removed from Burials 5, 11, and 12.

The Belcher site is in an area described by Webb (1959:1) as “near the historic center of the Caddoan area.”  This region along the Great Bend of the Red River was the location of archaeologically defined groups that are ancestral to the Kadohadacho, one of the tribal groups that united in the nineteenth century to become the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.  The site was utilized between A.D. 1200 and A.D. 1700.  The people who occupied the Belcher site were ancestors of the federally-recognized Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.  A relationship of shared group identity was demonstrated to exist between the individuals from the Belcher site and the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.  The remains of a minimum of 12 individuals represented by nine catalog numbers are culturally affiliated to the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.  This report recommends that these remains be made available for repatriation to the Caddo Tribe of Oklahoma.

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Smithsonian Institute - National Mueseum of Natural History