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Detail of Plateau Bag (NMNH catalog no. E204234)

Executive Summary

Inventory and Assessment of the Funerary Objects in the Pierite Collection

Region: Southeast
Associated Cultures: Tunica

In compliance with 20 U.S.C. 80q et seq. (Public Law 101-185), the National Museum of the American Indian Act, and Public Law 104-278 (NMAI Act Amendments of 1996), this report provides an inventory and assessment of the funerary objects in Accession No. 325070 (the Pierite collection), housed in the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The Museum holds no human remains associated with these objects.

Documentation of the objects was initiated in April 1996 in response to a request from the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe for the return of culturally affiliated human remains and funerary objects. A total of 13 objects, represented by nine Archeology catalog numbers were documented in this report. The objects, donated by Joseph A. Pierite, Jr., are historic in age, and were recovered from a series of Tunica graves near Marksville, in Avoyelles Parish, Louisiana. They were accessioned into the Museum's Archeology collections on 4 October 1976.

Based on the sum of available evidence, which includes museum records, archival records, and published accounts, it was found that the objects were unassociated funerary objects culturally affiliated with the Tunica. While the NMNH had a colorable claim with respect to its right of possession for this collection, it was recommended that all 13 objects be offered for return to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, and that the appropriate tribal authorities be consulted regarding the disposition of the objects. This recommendation is based on the secure affiliation and identification of the objects, their limited scientific research value, the existence of a tribal Museum to preserve and retain these objects, and their pre-accession status as part of a larger collection of human remains and funerary objects whose reinterment was compelled by tribal members.

Repatriation Update
These objects were deaccessioned for repatriation on November 23, 1998.

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