University Of Arkansas Receives Grant To Study American Indian Remains

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FAYETTEVILLE (KFSM) -- After years in storage, the University of Arkansas now has money to go through hundreds of sets of American Indian remains that were excavated nearly 90 years ago.

The museum collections department at the U of A now has an almost $59,000 grant from the national park services to document and preserve 345 sets of American Indian remains.

One of the university's goals is to use the grant to return the remains to their tribes. Curator of Collections Mary Suter said a lot of the remains are usually finger bones, teeth or the skull.

“One thing we`ll be doing is consulting with the tribes to determine cultural affiliation for the human remains that we have and then we`ll be writing notices that will allow us to repatriate them to the correct tribe,” Suter said.

She said most of the remains are from excavations the museum conducted in eastern and northwest Arkansas dating back to 1929.

“These are remains that for or whatever reason were not associated with a proper burial. So like maybe the field was plowed and there were human remains there,” Suter said.

Suter said finding out which tribes these remains belong to will allow the tribes to rebury their ancestors.

"These are their ancestors and we have to look at it as how we would feel like if someone dug up our great grandmother," she said. "What would we want to do, we would want to have her reburied.”

The grant will also allow the university to bring in a graduate assistant from the anthropology department each semester to help with research and consultation with the tribes.

They have two years to complete the grant and they hope to get started soon.